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SHADOWHUNTERS: Preview and Q & A Panel [ABC Family, NYCC 2015]

Katherine McNamara, Emeraude Toubia, Matthew Daddario, Harry Shum Shadowhunters NYCC 2015

ABC Family’s Shadowhunters NYCC 2015 Q & A, and preview. Today was my day to make up, for missing out on last year’s  New York Comic Con Young Adult highlight (Vampire Diaries), and I wasn’t sure whether to regard it as a penance. For all the good that has come out of the genre (Harry Potter, Divergent, The Hunger Games), there will always be the shadow of Twilight (sheath your fangs, sparklepusses, I’m not picking a fight). Thankfully, author Cassandra Clare has enough good material (and an even better fan base) to warrant a second adaptation attempt – one that not only could redeem the film, but made for an enjoyable NYCC panel experience. Given the fan reaction, I got the sense that the source material needs no introduction; so I’m taking the out, and going straight to panel.

The preview clip had a lot going for it; and without giving away any details, the series may be something of a high-water mark for ABC Family, in terms of FX, themes, and tone. Somehow, even seeing a more satisfactory depiction of their beloved characters in action didn’t compare with seeing the talent involved live. As an ‘outsider,’ I found audience reaction to the panel as fascinating as anything else. To the cast & crew’s credit, I guess, I wasn’t even creeped out by it (Twilight fans got scary, after a while – I know: strike two….).

After all the adoration, Cassandra Clare got a few points out of the way. She was happy to have a full season already wrapped, as putting one’s heart & soul into a pilot – that may never go to series – can be an ordeal. On the question of what she looks forward to the most, from the series, she noted a ‘Malec’ first kiss, between Alec & Magnus (Mathew Daddario & Harry Shum). That would turn out to be the kick-off to panel theme on diversity, and pushing envelopes. The general consensus, regarding the best aspect of the Shadow World, was that it amounted to an open audition – anyone could get in. She was only hands-on for the casting process; but she trusts that this production will do better by the material (and fans) than the film.

Not a whole lot of time was spent discussing the Mortal Instruments film (or any at all, really); but fans weren’t nearly as cordial towards it as the showrunners on hand. Almost as if to make up for it, EP Ed Decter did suggest that the series could expand from its source material – even draw from some of the author’s other sources. The fans liked that idea.

As revered as ‘Cassie’ was, series producer/ director, McG, was the panel ringleader – egging on cast members, and enabling fans in ways likely to stay with them forever (full cast hugs & kisses, getting to address the audience, and a seat on the panel could do that, sure).

As for the cast: yes, there was a squeal warning in effect; but the panelists (Alberto Rosende, Dominic Sherwood, Katherine McNamara, Emeraude Toubia, and Luke Garroway, along with Daddario & Shum) did earn it.

For ‘Kat’ McNamara, the best part about playing Clarissa Fray was the opportunity to live up to the character. She also won ‘biggest bruise,’ coming out of physical training (apparently, they were all pretty much troopers) since she has the fortitude of a peach. On the question of which series prop she would like to take from the set, she cited her artistic affinity for Clary, choosing something more ‘artistic’ than a Seraph Blade (I’ll let fans figure out what that was).

Alberto Rosende considered Simon Lewis’ place as defined by his loyalty – particularly to Clary. He took up the diversity issue, noting that “Simon is Simon,” regardless of the portrayer’s background. Later, his character’s heritage was further addressed – for anyone who missed that particular detail, in the film: Simon will be Jewish.

Emeraude loved Isabelle Lightwood’s passion, and thought that best defined her place in the cast; but where souvenirs were concerns, she wanted Izzy’s whip (Alberto also wanted Izzy’s whip – but just to keep it away from Emeraude). To Emeraude’s point, about guys not liking to whipped as often as they claim: mostly it’s about liking the whipper, not the whipping. You can reach me at 555….

‘Dom’ Sherwood was drawn to Jace Wayland’s arrogance, and contempt for his own mortality. He considered his time on Vampire Academy as preparing him more for this year’s Con, than a role on Shadowhunters. During the casting process, one of Cassie’s aides had dismissed him as seeming “too mean.” That was a selling point for Cassie, and the actor now played to his bad boy appeal, for the audience (the British accent didn’t hurt), taunting & teasing his castmates throughout. He once considered a slap to his character, from Clary, to be his series highlight; but has since thought better of it, after Kat’s follow through. He did take the time to credit the entire crew, and heaped praise upon co-star, Isaiah Mustafa; so not such a meanie.

As the resident elder statesman of the cast (and famous for some obscure scented product), Isaiah regarded Luke Garroway as the bringer of law & order the show, and the figure of adult responsibility. While McG teased that “with a name like Garroway, he had to be black,” Cassie noted that she had based the character on her own step-father; so news of landing the ‘Old Spice Guy’ for the role tickled her mom, some.

Magnus Bane (a name the moderator thought worthy of his children) actor, Harry Shum (still remembered fondly for his turn on Glee, by some in the crowd), teased the moral grey area, occupied by his character, as an opportunity to take the role “either way.”

Regarding technical details: the series will pay closer attention to things like weaponry, fighting styles, and character runes. Despite one description as sophisticated gum tattoos, the evolution of individual runes will play a part in the show mythology. Dom was credited as having learned the most tricks with his Seraph Blade. Supposedly, McG told him to go home & play with his sword, and he did.

Everyone on the panel thought it cool to be a Shadowhunter IRL, and considered the show’s themes both topical & encouraging. Mathew Daddario related the Shadow World, as the sort of world not everyone can get used to, to the current state of LGBT affairs – along with his role – while Kat was left encouraged by the uplifting bond formed by Cary & Izzy (as a ‘mean girl’ take seems like the more obvious direction).

Personally, I was left encouraged that all those screams, squeals, and tears came over a fan fave with some substance to it (- and that was strike three, Twilight fans: I’m out).

Leave your thoughts on the Shadowhunters NYCC 2015 panel in the comments section below. For more Shadowhunters photos, videos, and information, visit our Shadowhunters Page, subscribe to us by Email, “follow” us on TwitterTumblrGoogle+ or “like” us on Facebook. Shadowhunters has been scheduled for a Jan. 16 launch, at 9;00pm, EST, with ABC Family airing a preview special (Beyond the Shadows: The Making of Shadowhunters) on Dec. 06, at 9:30pm, EST.

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About the author

Sam Joseph

Sam is an Avid consumer/observer of Geek culture, and collector of Fanboy media from earliest memory. Armchair sociologist and futurist. Honest critic with satirical if not absurdist­­ wit with some experience in comics/ animation production.

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