Comic-Con’s TV curiosities

Shows like 'Glee' and 'Nurse Jackie' an odd fit for fanboy event

“The Big Bang Theory” and “Chuck” — sure. “Family Guy” and “Fringe” — no-brainers. But “Glee?” “Nurse Jackie?” “Community?”

The major TV studios will be swarming Comic-Con in San Diego this week in an effort to tubthump their wares to the pop culture-loving nerd herd, even with shows that don’t on the surface seem a natural fit with the confab’s comicbook, fantasy and sci-fi milieu.

But as the gathering, which opens today and runs through Sunday, fest has grown over the years, so has its audience. The fanboys are slowly losing ground to the more casual enthusiasts who are drawn by the promise of spectacle, sneak peeks and plenty of swag.

“Comic-Con is much broader than people expect,” said Chris Alexander, senior VP of corporate communications and publicity for 20th Century Fox Television. “There is tremendous crossover between the sci-fi fan, the musical fan and even the Broadway fan.”

This approach begs the question: How will the hordes of folks dressed as Optimus Prime and Daredevil take to shows outside of their comfort zone. Turns out, “Glee” was a big hit in its Comic-Con debut last year.

“The panel was overflowing. We saw comic fans, parents with young kids and teenagers,” Alexander said.

Warner Bros. TV is well-endowed for Comic-Con with a number of shows that hit the sweet spot of the hardcore Comic-Con-goer, among them CW newcomer “Nikita,” “Smallville,” “Big Bang,” “V,” “Fringe” and “Human Target.”

“There are certain things we look for in shows before we bring them to Comic-Con,” said Lisa Gregorian, chief marketing officer of Warner Bros. TV Group, which has 14 series represented at the confab. “We have been attending Comic-Con a lot longer than we have had a booth. We know the audience.”

Confab also offers nets a fantastic laboratory for gauging how shows are received by auds, even non-genre shows. Showtime has taken to adapting skeins to fit the Comic-Con profile with its panel dubbed “the Anti-Heroes of Showtime,” which pitches the lead characters of “Dexter,” “Nurse Jackie,” “Weeds” and “Californication” as being akin to flawed superheroes. Sure, it’s a stretch, but it underscores how eager Hollywood is to reach the Comic-Con demo.

“We know the Comic-Con audience is into ‘Dexter,'” said Len Fogge, Showtime’s exec VP of creative, marketing, research and digital media. “With the notion of expanding our marketing, the theme of antiheroes came up. It’s the perfect method to expand our characters to this audience.”

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