SDCC 2013: Top 10 Must-See Live-Action TV Panels

“Community” creator Dan Harmon at San Diego Comic-Con 2011

San Diego Comic-Con is almost upon us, and as we prepare for the inevitable onslaught of back problems, dehydration, and potential trampling to death, we’re figuring out which of the many, many, many, many, many panels at this year’s show are worth our time, assuming we can get in.

So, we’re combing the convention schedules for the greatest and best of all panels — and because nothing says “Internet” like Top 10 lists, we’ve created a series of Top Tens based around the different types of panels at the con, to let you know what to attend, or desperately try to attend, or pretend you’re attending if you can’t make it to the con with, you know, dolls and stuff.

Okay, that just got creepy very fast.

Here’s 10 of the must-see TV panels — hey, remember when “Must-See TV” was an actual thing? — that are based around live-action shows.  We’ll take a look at animated/Adult Swim panels later this week.

The panels, in chronological order:

10. Preview Night Pilot Screenings – “Almost Human,” “The Originals,” “The Tomorrow People,” “The 100” (Wednesday July 17 , 6 p.m.-10 p.m., Ballroom 20):  Aside from definite articles being back “in” when it comes to show titles,  these are all shows that have individual panels at the con, and this is your chance to catch a few without dealing with those insane lines, or to decide which ones you’d like to catch individually later on.  There’s vampires, mutants, androids and delinquents in a post-apocalyptic Earth!  What more y’all ask for?

9. TV Guide Magazine Celebrates “The X-FIles'” 20th Anniversary (Thursday July 18, 3:30 p.m.-4;30 p.m., Ballroom 20): Though it lacks David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, this compilation of many of the classics series’ best writers/producers is likely going to be a must-see at the show…which probably means you won’t get in.  Look, we’re just being realistic.  I particularly want to go for the presence of the reclusive writer/actor Darin Morgan, who wrote several of the series’ most weird and wonderful episodes, including “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” and “Jose Chung’s ’From Outer Space,'” along with portraying the Flukeman and the shape-changing Eddie Van Blundht.  Man, that is a brain we’d love to pick.

8. “Hannibal: Feed Your Fear” (Thursday, July 18 6:45 p.m.-7:45 p.m.,  Room 6A): “Hannibal” was one of the pleasant surprises (pleasant in terms of quality, not so much content) of the past TV season, a visually-stunning ride through the world of men who battle monsters…and in some cases, are monsters themselves.  Bryan Fuller, the brilliant mind behind this show, along with such cult hits as “Wonderfalls” and “Pushing Daisies,” is someone who always gives a great panel, and the panel also includes the likes of star Hugh Dancy and David Slade, the director of many episodes.  Just be careful how you schedule your dinner plans around this.

7. Inside “The Big Bang Theory” Writers’ Room (Friday July 19 10 a.m.-11 a.m., Ballroom 20): You might find this one a slight easier to get into than a usual “Big Bang Theory” panel, as it’s the show’s writers, rather than their stars — but it has the potential to be an insightful look into how they craft the characters and all those references.   Also, there might be a “Soft Kitty” sign-along.  We’re figurin’.

6. AMC’s “The Walking Dead” (Friday July 19, 1:35 p.m.-2:30 p.m., Hall H): Look, you’re not getting into this one, even though it’s in the 6,000-o- so-seat Hall H.  You’re going to have to deal with the people who’ve hobo-camped out the previous night and who’ve been squatting throughout other panels over the day.  Getting into this one would be like…well, battling through a horde of Walkers, only with slightly less bloodshed.  But if you DO make it, there’s creator Robert Kirkman, the cast, an in-depth discussion of Season Three and a preview of Season 4.  Only question is: Is the juice worth the squeeze?

5. “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” on ABC (Friday July 19, 1:45 p.m.-3 p.m., Ballroom 20): On our “you’re not gettin’ in” scale, we’re uncertain — it’s usually possible to get into a preview for a TV show that hasn’t premiered yet and hasn’t established a fan base, but on the other hand, you’re looking at a Joss Whedon-helmed spinoff from one of the most popular comics and movies ever made.  And given that this is an hour-and-15-minute panel, odds are likely there will be at least a partial preview of the pilot.  We say go for it, but get in line early.  Not the night before.  We applaud the efforts of those who do do that, but you just miss so much cool stuff as a result.

4. “Game of Thrones” Panel and Q&A Session (Friday July 19, 2;50 p.m.-3:45 p.m. Hall H): Yeah, you’re screwed.  This is pretty much going to be the most popular panel at the con, with the cast, producers and George R.R. Martin…hey, what’s he doing here?!  GET BACK TO WRITING BOOK SIX!…sorry.  And it’s due to be moderated by Elvis Mitchell, a brilliant critic who should provide a really interesting rhythm to the proceedings.  PLUS: They’ll announce Season 4’s premiere date, most likely.  If you can get in, we salute you.

3. BBC America’s “Orphan Black” (Friday, July 19, 7 p.m.-8 p.m., Room 7 AB): This clone-conspiracy drama has come out of nowhere to become one of the best things on TV, and here’s your chance to talk to the creators and star(s) Tatiana Maslany…hey, they’re only bringing one of her?  RIP!  If you get the chance, ask the creators if they’ve ever seen a similarly-themed cable movie called “Anna to the Infinite Power” from the 1980s.  That thing FREAKED me out as a kid.  Children should not be exposed to clone conspiracies.

We’re actually more excited for this one than the “Doctor Who” panel, which might-possibly-maybe-we’re-not-sure introduce the actor playing the new Doctor.  Will it be a ginger this time?

2. “Supernatural” Special Video Presentation and Q&A (Sunday July 21, 10 a.m.-11 a.m.): “Supernatural” has one of the most fanatic (and occasionally unsettling) fan bases in pop culture right now, and the show’s stars and creators are most grateful to said fan base — see the sheer number of meta episodes they’ve done. This promises to be a rowdy and energetic panel — and hopefully will offer some hints as to what will happen beyond the killer cliffhanger to Season 8, which literally saw the angels fall from Heaven.

1. “Community”: Celebrating the Fans (Sunday, July 21, 1:50 p.m.-2:45 p.m.): Potentially either the greatest or most awkward panel at the show, maybe both.  The show’s fifth season features the return of creator Dan Harmon, who sat out Season Four after being ousted by the production company…and has already gotten into trouble for his less-than-flattering comments on said fourth season online.  What will he say?  What will the actors say?  Will they speak freely about the fourth season, or the now-departed Chevy Chase, whom it was strongly suggested was as big a pain in the butt as his “Saturday Night Live” days?  Whatever the case, it’s enough to get this perpetually-on-the-bubble show in Comic-Con’s biggest venue.  You MIGHT be able to get a seat, but we’ll see.

TWO HONORABLE MENTIONS:

Comic-Con: Advance Screening of “The Blacklist” and Panel Session with James Spader: We’re hearing good things about this new NBC thriller with Spader as a master criminal who turns himself in to help catch other master criminals…but really, we’re just weirdly excited about the prospect of a panel with James Spader.  Will he bring his dry-creepy Spadery goodness to Comic-Con?  We’ll see. (Thursday, July 18, 3 p.m.-4 p.m., Room 6A)

“Veronica Mars” Special Video Presentation and Q&A: Technically, this is for a movie, albeit a movie of a TV show, which is why it’s on the “Honorable Mention” list, but this will still be one of the biggest panels at the show, if the Kickstarter campaign for the movie was any indication.  Let’s hope you picked the backing option that guaranteed you a seat.

Whew!  We’re just WRITING about PART of the panels for the show, and we’re already exhausted!  Next week is going to be a killer!

Keep reading MTV Geek for our picks for panels in other areas — including animated/Adult Swim shows at Comic-Con!

Planning to attend any of these TV panels, or were there some we left out that have you excited?  Let us know!