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San Diego Comic-Con 2011: The 10 Must-Attend TV Panels

While the movie studios are a less dynamic force at this year's Comic-Con International, the television industry is more than picking up the slack. The four-day event features well over 50 TV-related panels dedicated to new shows (Fox's Terra Nova, CBS's Person of Interest), returning shows (Showtime's Dexter, CBS's The Big Bang Theory) and even cancelled shows (The WB's Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, ABC's Lost). We went through the schedule and picked out the ten panels you won't want to miss, even if it means standing in lines that seem to last longer than an especially terrible episode of Glee. One note: we focused on ongoing/returning shows and franchises, since you'll be able to see all the new fall series on your home TV in just a few months and talking about old episodes of Buffy and Lost is what the Internet and our own TWoP forums are for.

10) Battlestar: So Say We All
What: Richard Hatch -- the original Apollo, not the original Survivor -- headlines a panel that unites Battlestar creative types past and present. Joining him is BSG science consultant Kevin Grazier and Michael Taylor, co-exec producer on the re-imagined Galactica, as well as the prequel series Caprica and the upcoming TV movie (and potential launching pad for a new series) Blood and Chrome.
When and Where: Thursday, 11:45AM, Room 6BCF
Why We're Excited: SyFy hasn't scheduled any other Blood and Chrome related events during this year's Con, so we're looking forward to soaking up whatever details Taylor can share. Also, it's always great to see that Hatch is still as big a BSG geek as those of us in the audience.

9) Wilfred
What: FX's quirky series about a boy and a dog (well, to be more accurate, a man-dressed-in-a-dog-outfit) makes its Comic-Con debut, bringing along both of its stars Jason Gunn and Elijah "Frodo" Wood and other key creative personnel.
When and Where: Thursday, 6:15PM, Room 6A
Why We're Excited: Wilfred has become one of our favorite summer shows and it'll be interesting to hear how the creators adapted the original Australian version for consumption on these shores. Also, Frodo!

8) The Walking Dead
What: The highest-rated series in AMC's history (based on the still-popular ongoing comic-book series) returns to San Diego after its memorable first-season sneak-peek here last year. Showrunner Frank Darabont and the comic's creator Robert Kirkman are back with cast members Andrew Lincoln, Sarah Wayne Callis and Laurie Holden. What, no zombies?
When and Where: Friday, 11:15AM, Ballroom 20
Why We're Excited: With one successful season under its belt, The Walking Dead seems poised to become a stronger, tighter show in its sophomore year. And since Darabont cooked up such a killer promo reel last time around, we're expecting to see some great stuff in this season's extended trailer.

7) Doctor Who
What: The 11th Doctor Matt Smith sets down the TARDIS in the Con's biggest venue to preview the next batch of episodes, which start airing on BBC America in late summer.
When and Where: Sunday, 12:30PM, Hall H
Why We're Excited: Unlike your own GP, this Doctor is actually fun to spend time with. Also, we want some assurances that the second half of this season will be a notable improvement over the first.

6) Spartacus: Vengeance
What: Starz's guilty-pleasure gladiator series went through a major overhaul between Seasons One and Two, losing its former leading man (Andy Whitfield, who had to bow out due to his treatment for non-Hodgkins lymphoma) and replacing him with fellow Aussie Liam McIntyre. At least the always-entertaining Lucy Lawless will be present on the panel to welcome the new guy on the block.
When and Where: Friday, 5:45PM, Room 6BCF
Why We're Excited: The first series Blood and Sand was rip-roaring, blood-soaked, nudity-filled trashy entertainment at its finest. Here's hoping Vengeance is more of the same.

5) Chuck
What: Having escaped the network axe four times already, NBC's beloved, ratings-challenged spy serial pays its final visit to the fans that have kept it on the air.
When and Where: Saturday, 10AM, Ballroom 20
Why We're Excited: Since everyone involved has openly acknowledged that this is Chuck's last hurrah, expect the panel to turn into a lively, funny farewell. And hopefully there will be another Jeffster! performance to kick off the festivities.

4) Archer
What: FX's animated spy spoof may just be the funniest, most imaginative cartoon currently on the air. It's certainly hard to argue with the talent of the vocal cast, which includes H. Jon Benjamin, Chris Parnell and Judy Greer, all of whom will be present to crack wise for our enjoyment.
When and Where: Thursday, 4pm, Indigo Ballroom, Hilton San Diego Bayfront
Why We're Excited: Did you see the part where we called Archer "the funniest, most imaginative cartoon currently on the air"? Because it is.

3) True Blood
What: Forget those virginal Twilight vamps. This HBO serial explores the seriously sexy side of vampirism, lycanthropism, faerieism...and pretty much every other mystical -ism you can think of.
When and Where: Friday, 5:30PM, Ballroom 20
Why We're Excited: Because even when it... uh, sucks (as many seem to feel it does this season), no show brings the crazy like True Blood brings the crazy.

2) Community
What: Picking the best live-action comedy series on the air is always a toss-up between NBC's Parks and Rec and Community. Since the Parks crew isn't going to be at the Con this year, we'll give this round to Community.
When and Where: Saturday, 1PM, Indigo Ballroom, Hilton San Diego Bayfront
Why We're Excited: Because breathing the same air as Joel McHale, Gillian Jacobs, Donald Glover and Danny Pudi is an opportunity that should not be missed.

1) Game of Thrones
What: Based on the blockbuster series of fantasy novels (the fifth installment of which is currently burning up the bestseller lists), Game of Thrones was 2011's breakout cable hit. People are now buying the books in droves to find out who lives and, more importantly, who dies next.
When and Where: Thursday, 3PM, Ballroom 20
Why We're Excited: With George R.R. Martin himself moderating a panel that includes Jason Momoa and fan favorite Peter Dinklage, this will be a love-in for all wanna-be citizens of Westeros.

Honorable Mentions:
A One-on-One with Pee-wee Herman (Thursday, 1:15PM, Hall H): Because he's a survivor.

Children's Hospital (Friday, 1:30PM, Indigo Ballroom, Hilton San Diego Bayfront): Because the cast is hysterical.

The Simpsons (Saturday, 1PM, Ballroom 20): Because at 23 seasons, it's the longest-running continuous series at the Con. Respect.

MythBusters (Saturday, 7:45PM, Room 6BCF): Because they do great work.

Fringe (Saturday, 4:30pm, Ballroom 20): Because, like Chuck, it's always on the verge of cancellation.

Young Justice (Sunday, 10AM, Room 7AB): Because, so far, it's holding up to the standard set by previous DC Animated series. (R.I.P. Justice League Unlimited and Batman Beyond).

Sons of Anarchy (Sunday, 3:30PM, Hall H): Because Kurt Sutter can always be counted on to say something completely fucking crazy.

It's Tubey Time! Make sure that your favorite shows, actors, reality stars and characters get the recognition they deserve by voting in our annual Tubey awards. It's where fans have total control over what rates as the best and worst of the past year in a variety of categories. Vote now!

TAGS: Comic-Con

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