Thursday was a big first day for live-blogging at San Diego Comic-Con.
Friday (July 25) started with “Big Bang Theory,” which I'll write up later, but didn't live-blog.
Now it's time for chaos, with live-blogs for “The Walking Dead,” “Game of Thrones” and “Arrow,” plus possibly “The Originals,” depending on timing.
Up first? The Hall H panel for “The Walking Dead,” which is likely to be as big as any panel at Comic-Con, featuring stars Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Steven Yeun, Lauren Cohan, Danai Gurira, Melissa McBride, Chad Coleman and Michael Cudlitz, showrunner Scott Gimple, franchise creator Robert Kirkman, long-running EPs Gale Anne Hurd and Dave Alpert, producer-director-makeup genius Greg Nicotero and moderator Chris Hardwick, who might as well be on the panel himself.
Let's see what goes down!
12:25 p.m. We're running a bit late. But we'll be starting soon.
12:28 p.m. We're getting some footage. I won't record it. I want them to be comfortable bringing it. I don't know if it's just a sizzle reel for last season, or if there's new footage. But first? Mr. Chris Hardwick, who promises “a bunch of videos.” He was just on the set four weeks ago. “This season is apparently going to be brutal, intense,” Hardwick says.
12:31 p.m. Sunday, October 12 is our premiere date, airing at 9 p.m. as you'd expect.
12:31 p.m. We left people in a train car. Do they ever make it out? “Do they ever make it out of the train car? Do you know what? I'm not gonna answer it,” Gimple says. And we're about to get a clip from Season 5… Episode 15? No. It's a joke reel from “Walking Dead: The Sitcom.” Andrew Lincoln with long gray hair and a beard is playing cards with Glenn. They've been in the train car for a while. Maggie's there and she's knitting. And apparently they've been eating… CARL! And Daryl has gone all Brandon-in-“Apocalypse Now.” “It's sorta like 'Cheers' at Terminus,” Gimple says before getting serious.
12:35 p.m. What is this season's theme? “I think they did find out that you can't come back from the things that you've done, you have to live with them. But also the things that you've done make you formidable,” Gimple says. “This season is going to define these characters.” “We're going to see the story of Terminus. We're going to see how it happens,” he adds.
12:36 p.m. Robert Kirkman says that we're going to bring in some comic book events very early and says that, at the end of the day, this season will be very close to the comics. “There's going to be some cool stuff ahead,” Kirkman says, teasing that things comics fans have been looking forward to will be coming.
12:37 p.m. “Mega Kung-Fu Grip Rick is the Rick we've had in the comics for a while,” Kirkman says at Hardwick's prompting. “They're all very capable and they're all ready to do what they have to do to survive,” Kirkman says. On the Blu-Ray, Rick's censored line from the finale will be there in its full F-word splendor. F-yeah!
12:38 p.m. Hurd says that we have some suburban environments that are “tick, chigger and mosquito-free zones.” Hurd suggests that we could start reading the comic book if we want to do more. Kirkman is very encouraging of the comic-reading ideas. Hurd says that the season has some “pretty spectacular scope” and “you'll see us take some pretty big leaps with the characters and the set-pieces, bigger than ever.”
12:40 p.m. David Alpert says that continuing the “Wire” employment plan, Seth Gilliam is joining the case, which I think we already knew.
12:41 p.m. “This season there's a lot of really interesting walker set-pieces,” Nicotero says. They're filming episode seven now and he promises a set piece where “they come across a room that's flooded” and it features a gross, bloated walker. We've got a picture and it's kinda gross, but not quite Well Walker-level gross. The water-logged walker appears to have a bloated wattle. How does Nicotero compare the look of Season 5? He says we'll revisit some places we'll recognize and there'll be new worlds as well, showing the expanding world.
12:43 p.m. Hurd promises something “special” for us. “We don't necessarily get the awards love, so that makes us even more deeply appreciative of what you guys want,” she says. It's the first sneak people IN THE WORLD of Season 5.
12:44 p.m. “They're screwing with the wrong people,” Rick says, censored, starting the footage. Lots of creepy Termites. Apparently there will, indeed, be a field trip to Washington to cure things. “We're not splitting up again,” somebody says. “We will make the dead die and the living will have this world again,” Cudlitz says. “We've all done something,” Carl says. Michonne and her blade! Rick having a stand-off in a church! There's definitely more punching and stabbing and shooting in this trailer than in most of last season. Cudlitz crying in the road! A bus flipping! An explosion with zombie bodies flying! Seth Gilliam as a preacher! And badass Rick with a riffle! Oh and Beth appears to still be alive, as if you thought she wasn't.
12:48 p.m. The actors take the stage. Lots of cheers for Andrew Lincoln, but there remains no question that the loudest cheers are for Norman Reedus.
12:48 p.m. Hardwick is glad to have Angry Rick back. “It's been fun,” Lincoln says. “It was great being reigned in by Hershel, but there's something about getting my gun back…” Lincoln says. He's sporting a bushy beard. How does he prepare? “Like most people, I just learn my lines and I'm very quiet and very focused,” Lincoln says. That's a set-up for a video of Lincoln preparing. “I think people need to know the man behind the Rick,” Hardwick says. It's footage of Lincoln freaking out behind-the-scenes to get into character, punching things and beating up fences and speaking in tongues, basically. That actually seems to have been real and not a joke. “That's so embarrassing. Did that look as crazy as it sounded?” Lincoln asks. “That's what I was doing before I came out here.”
12:51 p.m. Steven Yeun time. “I think everyone in this apocalypse has gotten their potential completely unlocked,” he says. “Now, he has love, he has friendship, he has family. He has things to protect,” Yeun says. Is Glenn whole again, reunited with Maggie? “He held out hope and it got him to that place,” Yeun says of Glenn's journey. He thinks Glenn is carrying on the legacy of the characters who have passed.
12:53 p.m. And how is Maggie readjusting? Lauren Cohan says the physicality of the show exhausts them, which makes it easier to get emotional. “Since that day, I now pour blood over my head to get into character,” Cohan jokes. “You do what you need to do and sometimes you need to kill seven to 10 people at a time,” Cohan says. Could these characters ever have a normal life? “I think we can all agree that once this happens in the world, no one's ever going to be the same after,” Cohan says.
12:54 p.m. This is Michael Cudlitz's first time at Comic-Con. How did he get into playing Abraham? “He's a punk in the comic,” Cudlitz jokes of the physical contrast between Comic Book Abraham and TV Abraham. “It's all about attitude, mostly. He's a badass,” Cudlitz says, claiming he found the middle ground. Cudlitz's red hair looks MUCH better on this panel than it did last season. He praises the cast and writers for welcoming him. The first season for him was moving into somebody's house and sleeping on the couch. “And this year they built me a room,” he says.
12:56 p.m. People like Danai Gurira now. We might not have been so sure last year, but Michonne had a great season. “I've really actually loved both sides of her and I love that this character probes me to both sides,” she says. She admits she's consistently having to catch up with Michonne's physicality, but she liked staying connected to the emotional stuff beneath the surface. “She's vulnerable and that can be tough for her, because she's enjoyed being tough, but that's not all she is,” Gurira says. “She keeps me on my toes, which is great.
12:58 p.m. Hardwick brings Melissa McBride a bouquet of flowers. She's choosing somebody to bring them to, but nobody wants them. In the end, she gives them to Reedus, which is sweet. We're cheering because she got a Saturn Award. How does McBride feel about Carol and what she's now prepared to do? “She is kinda prepared to do anything. It's coming to do terms with the fact that this is the world where it is and this is what you have to do now,” she says, calling Carol “a very empathetic character.” “At her center she feels justified and it comes from a place of caring,” McBride says of The Lizzy Thing and other things that happened last season.
1:01 p.m. “If you don't have the heart, you don't have the hope,” Chad Coleman says of how his character was able to make piece with Carol. “I saw someone who was incredibly brave in an incredibly harsh world and that's why I was able to forgive her,” Coleman says. He says that sustaining community is important to his character. “Destroying that community just lessens the hope that much more. It's a twisted world, but that's what hope looks like now. It doesn't look warm and fuzzy like maybe in the real world. But that's what it is,” he says.
1:02 p.m. We're glad to have Beth in the trailer and to know she's out there somewhere. “I can't tell you really anything about where she is next season. But I can tell you that she's gotten a lot stronger,” Emily Kinney says. “She's lived a little now. She's not just an innocent teenager anymore,” Kinney says. “She's taking a different kind of strength into Season 5 and she's going to have to use everything she's got,” she closes.
1:05 p.m. “I thought they were gonna kill me off Episode 2,” Reedus says of whether he anticipated Daryl's journey. “This is a job that we love going through and you never know where things are going to go,” Reedus says, talking about how exhausting the journey is.
1:05 p.m. “He looked like just a cuddly little Ewok,” Lincoln says of Carl's evolution over the years. We see a picture of Young Carl. So young! And Chandler Riggs comes out with a tub of pudding! “That's not what I expected. I enjoy it now,” Riggs says of his associations with pudding, taking a big bite. He's 15 now. He has a learner's permit to drive. And his voice is deepening. It's a bit funny. “Growing up on the show has been so much fun,” Riggs says, praising his co-workers and mentors. He's spent 1/3rd of his life on the show.
1:08 p.m. Audience questions. A girl with braces asks Normal Reedus what he sees of himself in Daryl. She's flustered. “There's a whole bunch of me in Daryl and a whole bunch of me in Daryl. Whoa. That sounds weird,” he says. “I'm definitely as awkward as Daryl is, obviously,” he says. He also has trouble trusting people. “We're both cut from the same cloth, just from different parts of the world, maybe,” Reedus says.
1:10 p.m. Button Lady returns to ask a question. Does McBride think Carol was looking for Suicide-by-Tyreese? “I think she was ready to accept the fate that he chose for her,” McBride explains. “But she never expected that he would forgive her,” McBride says.
1:12 p.m. A differently-abled questioner wants to know if there will ever be a disabled walker? “I think you can't count anything out. There's some amazing minds that are right behind that curtain,” Yuen says. “Maybe you just sparked some amazing creatively,” Yuen adds, with Scott Gimple running out. Apparently there was a disabled walker in Episode 6 when The Governor went to get the oxygen tanks. He promises all sorts of different types of walkers. And Gimple takes a spoonful of pudding. Danai says that her “pets” were amputees and she looks forward to more diversity.
1:15 p.m. A talking zombie shows up to ask a question and gets cloaked in Button Lady's garment. One of the buttons falls off and he happily takes it. He wants to know what the cast is doing to raise awareness of Infected Individuals. Everybody is amused. Chris Hardwick makes the answer about him. “In August there's the marathon Walking for Walkers,” Cohan says. The panel tells the zombie to sleep it off. “Look at the flowers,” McBride tells him.
1:17 p.m. What character death impacted each of them most? “It would have to be my wife, I suppose,” Lincoln says, but he admits that he misses Scott Wilson and told Gimple. “He said 'That's the point,'” Lincoln recalls. “I would say Jeff Demunn and Scott Wilson,” Yuen says, because Glenn had so many moments with those people, while he also learned a lot from them in real life. Was Meryl's death hard for Daryl or freeing? “A little bit of both, I think,” Reedus suggests, noting that Daryl has found his self-worth through the community and Meryl would have held him back.
1:20 p.m. How do they get into character? Other than Andrew. Yuen says that in the five seconds before filming they're all “f***ing freaking out.” “We're really performing the craziest tasks on the show, so you have to be a little crazy,” Cohan says. Gurira says that she does jump-rope and listens to music for particularly intense scenes. But sometimes it's easier and that isn't required.
1:22 p.m. Norman is taking selfies with Kinney and now a selfie with us.
1:23 p.m. Last question already? A questioner wants to say nice things to Robert Kirkman, who returns to the stage. “This had better be good. I went up steps for this,” Kirkman says. The question, though, is for everybody. It's yet another question about process. Lincoln listens to music a lot. “Prince helps me,” Lincoln says, praising “Purple Rain.” For Lori's death, he listened to another scene over and over again. “It kinda wears on my a bit,” Kirkman says of going into dark places for days at an end. “I think that's why it helps that I do so many other projects,” Kirkman notes. “It's fun digging into the darkness in imaginary characters souls,” he says.
1:27 p.m. And now we're reshowing the trailer.
That's all, folks…