Robert Tiemstra ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Is a work still technically pandering if the author genuinely believes in what they are writing about? There’s a Transformers film that halfheartedly sets its entire third act in China, and then there’s 90% of the cast of Firefly, Nolan North, Seth Green, and Felicia Day starring in a series about thinly veiled parodies of themselves attending cons, and the phrase “Preaching to the Choir” just doesn’t seem sufficient anymore. The choir is not only getting preached to, it is also the preacher! Before this metaphor runs away with the article, let’s get one thing clear: Con Man is a passion project in the most perfect definition of the term. Funded on Indiegogo by 46,000 fans, largely because studios just didn’t get the pitch, Con Man sounds like if the first and third acts of Galaxy Quest ran away from home to start a television show together.
But the main attraction of the Con Man panel was not the show itself, but the passionate producers of said product. Present was writer, director, & star Alan Tudyk, producer PJ Haarsma, Nathan Fillion, Felicia Day, Nolan North, and Seth Green, among others. The horsing around started right out of the gate, as Tudyk and Fillion enter behind cardboard cutouts of each other and Tudyk bears the dubious honorific “Everyone’s favorite dead pilot”. The chemistry between the entire team was palpable as they played with fans and each other (and played is the right word for it). The memorable moments were too numerous to mention as Seth Green and Nathan Fillion made a fan famous on instagram, Nolan North pretended he’s still waiting for his big break into video games, Felicia Day calls herself “The Sean Bean of Women” and Alan Tudyk (in the rare position of being the straight man to the rest of his cast) finds as many ways as possible to thank the indiegogo supporters in the span of an hour.
Fans of these creators also got a special treat in the form of a single scene from the pilot of Con Men, which featured Tudyk providing video game voiceover for a picky producer (Gina Torres) who tries tactfully to remind him that his voice does not sound like a supersoldier and more like a wimp. It’s a funny scene, web series production values disguised with genuinely funny performances from North, Tudyk, and Torres. As a director, Tudyk knows how to play to his own comedic strengths with improvisation and guttural noises (something his fellow panelists were eager to remind the crowd through a series of impersonations), though only time will tell if Tudyk possesses any cinematic skill besides uncanny comedic timing.
The question on everyone’s mind (perhaps a little prematurely) is whether Con Men is destined to be a 7 episode miniseries or a full run television show. The panel played it close to their respective chests, but with the references to a game in development, and a truly massive social media presence, it is clear this web series is here to stay. Though when asked about the prospects of a second season, Nathan Fillion was quick to quip: “I’m going to cancel it… just as it’s getting really good. It’s all [Alan] knows!!!”