Television Listings

TV panels at Comic-Con kept fans intrigued

By James Hibberd

SAN DIEGO (Hollywood Reporter) - Ratings may be softening for serialized TV shows, but at Comic-Con hard-core fans were as adoring as ever, and the cast and creators of returning shows received rock star receptions.

Panels for NBC's "Heroes," ABC's "Lost" and NBC's "Chuck" were among the convention's most popular. All three shows are resetting their storylines next year to various degrees.

For "Lost," fans camped overnight outside the San Diego Convention Center for seats in the cavernous Hall H, a space Comic-Con typically schedules for high-profile film panels like "Avatar."

During the entertaining and carefully produced session, producers confirmed fan suspicions that several deceased characters would be coming back for the final season. Elizabeth Mitchell and Jeremy Davies will be back on the show, along with Ian Somerhalder ("Vampire Diaries"), and almost certainly more.

Last May's finale concluded with a bomb exploding that could reset the last several years of the character's lives. The final season, producers say, will in some ways resemble the first.

In the first season, the characters "were running around the jungle, things felt intense and surprising and there was a sense of emotional discovery about the characters," said executive producer Carlton Cuse. "We have a way that we're going to be able to do that in the final season too."

The show will also employ a new narrative device that's unique to the final season.

"The time-travel season is over, the flash-forward season is over," executive producer Damon Lindelof said. "We're going to do something different."

As for lingering mysteries about the show's story, "everything that matters we're gonna answer," Lindelof assured.

'HEROES' WELCOME

"Heroes" also received a rapturous response. Producers provided some details about next season's plot: The heroes will return to normal lives -- but what will "normal" mean exactly?

"Do you hide? Do you assimilate?" asked creator Tim Kring. "It's a chance to go back and strip away some of the story elements that make the show harder to relate to. With Claire in college, and Parkman is a detective and Peter is a paramedic, it's an entry point into the show that's easier for the audience."

The rock star reception for "Chuck" was almost literal, with the show's mock-rock-duo Jeffster introducing the panel to Queen's "Fat Bottomed Girls" and bringing the audience to its feet. Though Comic-Con panelists usually thank attending fans, star Zachary Levi and others displayed a deeper-than-usual appreciation for critics and viewers who helped convince NBC to give the show a third season.

"We have the best fans in the world who will go and eat multiple Subway sandwiches." Levi said, referring to a fan campaign to save the show. "You guys are incredible, I love you so much. Thank you so much."

The second season concluded with computer geek/secret agent Chuck quitting the Buy More and gaining kung fu superpowers. The cast addressed how the twist will change the show.

"The 'Chuck-fu' -- he can't just know kung fu all the time, otherwise his handlers are obsolete," Levi said. "So our very talented and wise creators, they've structured it so the powers have a window, a shelf life, there's a glitch in the system ... I have my powers, but they don't necessarily last. That's the secret."

(Editing by Sheri Linden at Reuters)

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