Con Man: Alan Tudyk for the Win (Review)


Bobbi, Wray and Karen in Wray's room in Con Man.

Having come late to the Con Man Web Series (which started as an Indiegogo project a mere  six months ago), it was with keen excitement,  and not a little fanboy giddiness, that the entire first season was rented via Vimeo online. This project, which is being written and directed by Alan Tudyk (Firefly, Serenity, Tucker and Dale Vs Evil), is a great “spot the guest star” series that is an epic  win for the performer.

Con Man, which is short for Convention Man (“Because it sounds cooler” according to the show’s publicity campaign.) follows the adventures of Tudyk’s character who, like Alan, played a pilot in a very short-lived television science fiction show. Wray Nerely (Tudyk) is an actor who, like the name implies, is nearly a star.

While the science fiction conventions Wray attends allow him to be adored by the fans of Spectrum, the Con Man version of Firefly, his career has stalled out. Frustrated and anxious Nerely has issues with his convention organizer, the fans, his aide, friends and just about everyone he meets and interacts with.

Nerely’s co-star from the cancelled series, Jack Moore (Nathan Fillion) has the success that Wray dreams of.  Films, fame and rubbing elbows with the world’s celebrities make up the life of Moore post Spectrum.

The first four episodes of Con Man take place prior to, during, and just after a science fiction convention. Guest stars are: Sean Astin, Nathan Fillion, Felicia Day, Nolan North, Will Wheaton and  Mindy Sterling.

The dialogue is brilliant. Obviously Tudyk has written the lines based upon comments heard at conventions.  In episode one, Stalled, the  exchange between Nerely and a fan, while both are on the toilet  in adjoining stalls, is priceless. The obnoxious fan, who will not take no for an answer, is voiced by The Greg Wilson:

“Did you ever see that show Spectrum?”

“No.”

“Greatest canceled TV show ever.”

While that exchange screams Firefly, it also has that element of truth about the fans who inhabit the convention world.  References to the Joss Whedon series abound, as do other film nods and winks. Nolan North appears in what looks suspiciously like one of the soldiers from Galaxy Quest (a comedy film about another popular canceled science fiction series).  There is also a fan who clearly is a reference to Mystique from X-Men as well (she drops off some bourbon balls).

Fans of Nolan North will be impressed to see that not only is the man hysterically funny at Comic Con but he can do “proper comedy” as well. Granted the man is an actor of great skills and range, but to many he is the “video game’ voice of Nathan Drake – Uncharted, Desmond Miles – Assassin’s Creed, The Prince  – Prince of Persia and about a million other video game characters.

Felicia Day plays the “con” volunteer (who dresses exactly like Nerely) and does her usual perfect job with precise comic delivery that many only dream of. In some ways, Con Man feels like it belongs firmly  in The Guild territory. Fans of that web series will remember that Fillion also appeared in an episode of the long running show that Day created,  wrote and starred in. The web series made Day the pinup girl for geeks and nerds everywhere.

Fillion has a cameo in Con Man where he gets some great lines, delivered as only the Castle star can. Nerely gets a call from his now very famous former co-star and Wray asks Moore to put in a good word for him with Clint Eastwood (He has an audition for an Eastwood western):

Moore: “All famous people don’t know other famous people, Wray…But yeah I know him. He borrowed my lawn mower. He owes me a favor.”

Tudyk is the real star here, his comic timing is superb and his character’s visit to the convention is one long comedy of errors. From his booking agent not putting him in first class to his mixing a pain pill and alcohol before a platinum member meet and greet, the performer sails through each catastrophic event with ease.

In Retarding It All Up Wray tries to recover from the platinum party and his “I hate Science Fiction gaffe” from the night before. As Nerely begins his talk at the scheduled Q&A the actor in Tudyk appears to channel his “inner Joss.”  He speech pattern and tone appear to be a spot on imitation of Whedon that is truly funny.

Available on Vimeo, Con Man is geek gold. Fun to watch, amusing enough that if one watches it in a crowed public place they should prepare to be embarrassed (not shooting your drink through your nose embarrassed but close).  This is an epic “win” of a web series where spotting the celeb guest stars is almost as much fun as the show itself.

Kudos to all involved. There is not one clunky performance from any of the actors on this series.  Special mention goes to Mindy Sterling and while all the scenes were funny…The Nolan North monologue about Mo-Cap was hysterical as was the laptop gag with Tudyk and the cup of coffee.

Head over to Vimeo and check this out, as if fans needed urging,  and prepare to laugh hard and a lot. Con Man; Alan Tudyk as Wray Nerely  from Spectrum (a thinly disguised Tudyk from Firefly) is comedy brilliance on demand.

 

Author: Mike's Film Talk

Former Actor, Former Writer, Former Journalist, USAF Veteran, http://MikesFilmTalk.com Former Member Nevada Film Critics Society

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