WARNING: Major spoilers for Con Man episodes 7 and 8
I’m kind of kicking myself for only now getting with the program where Alan Tudyk’s Con Man is concerned.
It has everything I’ve ever wanted in that it stars some of my favorite actors — especially from the sci-fi realm. There are shades of Firefly, which is logical considering the presence of Tudyk and Nathan Fillion. It’s super funny. The guest star roster is ridiculous (in an amazing way). It’s well written. And it revolves around the convention circuit. Or at least this season, it’s convention circuit adjacent. It really doesn’t get to that part of the universe until episodes 7 and 8.
Before that it’s all about Wray Nerely trying to break out of genre TV to do something more substantive…at least that’s what he thinks. But this is Hollywood and sometimes things happen in baby steps. So to get a chance to audition for a “cool” procedural-type show where the main character is — get this — a doctor, a cop and a lawyer, he finds he has to lower himself and do a commercial first.
It’s all very hilarious to see unfold. Although I must admit, seeing Wray don the astronaut space suit while he’s harnessed to the high heavens, was way more uncomfortable than I thought it would be. But it paid off. Sort of. He didn’t exactly get the go ahead to audition for the role he wanted. Instead of the lead, he auditioned for the familiar part of the sidekick. What separates this supporting role is the fact this doctor has a lisp and a limp. What character actors have to go through. Right?
The audition seemed train wreck-worthy but it turned out that the director (played by Castle and This is Us star Jon Huertas) — who wasn’t even in the room and was watching everything via Facetime or some other live streaming app — saw Wray’s tirade and immediately decided he found the man who could do Dr. Officer Blade Slater, Esquire, justice. Please tell me the guy also has a PhD in there somewhere as well.
Of course Wray thought he had it all in the bag. Not so fast. The curse of the Australian actors rears its ugly (actually very handsome) head. In what’s been a running joke all season long, the Australians — well, mostly the Hemsworths — are taking all of the TV jobs leaving the American actors in the dust. Wray finds out he’s up against a Hemsworth (one nobody’s ever heard of — apparently there’s an endless supply of Aussie Hemsworths in this world. Who knew?) for the role of Doctor. Officer. Lawyer.
Until Wray hears whether he has the job or not, he’s doing his pal Jack (Fillion) a solid and he kinda sorta agrees to reunite with the Spectrum cast for the movie version of the cancelled TV show. He’s a reluctant player, of course. After all, he’s trying to distance himself from Spectrum and anything sci-fi related. Which, in my opinion, isn’t that easy to do.
In the seventh and eighth episodes, he finds himself a panelist at the Long Con, wearing a Spectrum t-shirt ready to get his Spectrum on and do his part in spreading the love paving the way for the movie. It all goes wrong when instead he gets locked in a room with a preppily-dressed Lou Ferrigno aka TV’s The Incredible Hulk.
Ferrigno’s pushing his passion project. It’s a musical version of John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. He and Wray workshop the thing right then and there. Meanwhile, their absences are felt as Bucky’s (Brooke Dillman) forced to vamp for the super fans that are there to see their favorite sci-fi actors. However, what really becomes important is whether Ferrigno is playing Lennie or George.
Lou: I’m playing George. You’re Lennie.
Wray: I’m the hulking man that you want to make angry? He’s the size of a grizzly bear.
Wray: You’re George? Slim…Slim…quick…slim and quick?
Thankfully, this way-the-heck off-Broadway production (near L.A.’s Staples Center) called I’m With Stupid does get staged with Lou playing Lennie. Thankfully.
As time passes, more and more people find themselves 1) locked in the same room as Lou and Wray; and 2) they are enlisted into making contributions to the musical either as actors or behind-the-scenes players.
Pretty soon, they have everyone and everything they need and the show goes on. There are songs that sound kind of optimistic. Meanwhile, much of the action is very dark, depressing and violent. The staging is way over the top. I can’t get enough of it, actually.
Not only is Ferrigno spearheading I’m with Stupid but Leslie Jordan (Hearts Afire, Will & Grace, American Horror Story) is one of the cast members. Joining in are a few of Con Man‘s repertory regulars: Mindy Sterling (the Austin Powers franchise), Felicia Day (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Supernatural), and Nolan North (Port Charles, Pretty Little Liars).
As an aside, please watch Season 2 Episode 5, the one where North leads an e-Motion Capture acting class. It’s brilliant. I laughed so hard.
Anyway, after working the kinks out, Bucky the convention founder opens the door and rails against them all for ruining the entire day. I loved her line:
Bucky: People are going to think that the Long Con is a scam!
Anyway, things are smoothed over quickly when it’s decided they’ll do the play for the masses attending the convention. The whole thing goes viral. Jack announces they’ve been invited to Chaka-Con (sp?). I’m with Stupid is headed towards the real off-Broadway. However, it won’t be moving ahead with Wray. Lou gives him the word that his presence won’t be needed. They’re going with a name actor instead. Preferably someone British. I can’t. I just love these jokes.
But that’s okay. Wray is still one of two in contention for Doctor Cop Lawyer. Plus, he’s got the Spectrum movie that he’s really reluctant to have anything to do with.
-Long Con? Chaka-Con? I love the names of these cons.
-The beginning of episode 8 gave me some serious Firefly feels. Loved seeing Fillion and Tudyk in a spaceship again.
-Lou’s perkiness, preppiness and lack of self-awareness were adorable. I mean, he actually thought he should play George.
-Felicia dressed as Lou’s decoy was also hilarious, especially when she disappeared and came back complete with “muscles.”
-One of the many bright spots is Mindy Sterling’s Bobbie. The woman’s delusions knows no bounds. She also has no boundaries. Her flirting with Leslie and thinking she can audition for roles meant for 20-year-olds is also endearing in its ridiculousness.
-I can’t with this Doctor Cop Lawyer tv show. You know that must be in the works at some broadcast network, right? On ABC’s General Hospital, there’s a priest who’s also a surgeon. That’s close enough, I think. It doesn’t hurt that said doctor priest is played by Supernatural‘s Matt Cohen, who is part of Comic-Con HQ’s other series, Kings of Con. This is a show I will be catching up on as well. So look for something from me on that front.