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Nathan Fillion

Nathan Fillion - "Drive" Tv Series - Wonder Con 2007 Panel - Allyson Beatrice Report

Thursday 8 March 2007, by Webmaster

Timless in San Francisco

On Friday night I took off from work about an hour early to jet on over to the Drive set to pick up a Drive staff writer so that we could drive the 400 miles up to San Francisco to attend the Drive panel at Wondercon to learn more about Drive.

Well, that’s not the whole truth. I had boxes of postcards I intended to distribute to fandom to promote my book, and both the staff writer and I needed to get out of L.A. anyway for a weekend in a nice hotel what with the room service and the sleeping in and the shopping on Market Street. The shopping was cut short when all the shops and streets closed down for the Chinese New Year parade, which is just as well, because my debt didn’t need to expand due to Beauty Days at Neiman Marcus.

The Drive panel was on Sunday. Sadly, Exec Producer and all-around cutiehead Tim Minear couldn’t make it due to writing episode 104 while cutting 101 and producing 103 while juggling rattlesnakes and yodeling the HMS Pinafore. You gotta see him do it, it’s a total trip.

We got to the ballroom a bit early, so I suffered through a half an episode of Jericho, a show I mostly know from hours of pained phonecalls from Strega, who recaps it for Television Without Pity. She suffers so you don’t have to. There was a panel afterwards with some writers and Skeet Ulrich, who kept a baseball cap drawn close to his eyes, so all one could see was a shadow and a mouth. I wanted to slap it off his head, which is a weird conditioned response due to my mom’s constant complaint about my brother wearing a hat in the house. I’m sure that Skeet is a fine man, indoor-hat-wearing notwithstanding.

Next up was the Drive panel, which opened...oddly. The video was a series of scenes from the original pilot, featuring actors who were replaced long ago and scenes since reshot. This was followed by a promo featuring the new scenes with the new actors driving the same cars as the old actors. It was a promo clusterfuck.

Happily, my confusion was broken by watching Nathan Fillion play with an adorable toddler in pigtails behind the stage. I had one of those ultra-girly moments of pure love for Fillion because he can make a toddler laugh. I had to smack my ovaries around to break the maternal lovespell.

The moderator, a tired, humorless TV Guide writer, introduced the panel, starting with director Greg Yaitanes, and following with Fillion, who played conductor to an orchestra of screams and applause. Drive creator Ben Queen and actor Kristin Lehman were the unfortunate two who had to follow Fillion on stage, because by the time he finished playing the Ode to Browncoat Joy, there was little leftover for Queen and Lehman.

Just wait til next year, though. Lehman is a goddess, and since I’ve been fortunate enough to see her work on Drive, I know how she holds her own glow in a beat-up pickup truck inches from the giant-planet-gravitational pull charm of Fillion. She’s smooth and cool like Haagen Dazs. Though, please no slash. It would be hodgeberry slash. The two seem to connect...wait, this isn’t a Drive review, and I’m not allowed to spoil. So back to the panel.

The best explanation of what Drive is came from Fillion’s brilliant exercise in audience participation.

He started by asking for two volunteers from the audience. Once chosen, he pulled his plane boarding pass from his pocket and tore it in half.

He said that his friend, PJ Haarsma, just wrote a new book, and that the first person to get his half of the boarding pass to PJ would get a free signed copy of the book.

“How do we get in touch with him?” a random voice called out.

Nathan said, “How do you find him? Exactly. That’s how Drive works. Go. Good luck.”

When asked why the actors signed on to Drive, they both got all melty about Tim, and his enormous talented brain (though, um, his head is normal sized), complimenting his wry wit. Nathan didn’t know that Kristin had worked with Tim ten years before, on a show called StrangeWorld, which was Tim’s first experience with the thirteen episode television show. It was a lovingly creepy sci-fi show, and I recommend it if you can manage to get your hands on it.

Ben Queen explained that the idea for Drive was inspired by The Gumball Rally, and that when he was pitching the series he carried around little matchbox cars for visual aids, and that they ended up using the actual cars in Drive. Except bigger. If anyone can find me a tricked out Chevy Impala matchbox, I’d be most grateful.

I took about a dozen pics of the panel and a pair of adorable fans wearing Drive t-shirts, but I haven’t developed them, nor have I figured out how to post pics to my blog.

And then the panel was over and we drove the 400 miles back to Los Angeles and I ate a whole bag of Welch’s Fruit Snacks.

The end.