Con Man Season 2 Review


By: Jaclyn Cascio (@jaclynator)

Meet Wray Nerely. A down-on-his-luck, talented character actor who wants to escape the sci-fi world he began in, waiting for the big breakout role of his career. Which just might be Doctor Cop Lawyer. Meanwhile, he endures (and participates in) shenanigans and outlandish antics and even performs in a musical! By the way, welcome to season two of Con Man!

For you recluses who don’t know about the star-studded and nerdy web-series created by Alan Tudyk, Nathan Fillion, and PJ Haarsma, let me catch you up before we delve into season two review territory. Con Man is a show loosely based on experiences of the creators as they navigate the world of sci-fi and conventions. We get to see the behind-the-scenes stories of celebrities and their fan interactions in a greatly dramatized and incredibly humorous way. Con Man specifically focuses on Wray (played by Alan Tudyk), an actor well known in the sci-fi community for his role as a pilot of a spacecraft in the beloved cancelled series called Spectrum. (If you’re thinking that sounds an awful lot like Firefly, you’re right!)

Season one of Con Man introduced us to Wray as he rolled through the comic book convention circuit and all the craziness that comes with it. He dealt with hilarious interactions with fans and comical help and advice from his convention booker, Bobbie (Mindy Sterling), his convention assistant, Karen (Felicia Day), his friend Lenny (Nolan North), former Spectrum castmates like Jack Moore (Nathan Fillion), and more.

Season two of Con Man picks up shortly after season one left off. Wray is desperate to get out of the sci-fi game, and Jack turns him onto a highly anticipated television show being produced called Doctor Cop Lawyer, starring Doctor Officer Blade Slater, Esquire. (Yes. It’s ridiculous. But we all watched Doogie Howser, M.D. once upon a time. So how ridiculous is it, really?) While Wray tirelessly pursues the part (and often shoots himself in the foot during the process), Jack and the rest of the Spectrum cast are trying desperately to get a Spectrum movie off the ground.

Now down to the nitty gritty of season two.

The show took a different twist at the start of the season. Where we had begun to become used to Wray working the convention circuit in season one, season two brought us into Wray’s home and his interactions with people in his personal life, his agents, and even filming a commercial. While the episodes were important in telling Wray’s story, they certainly weren’t the highlights of the season, and drifted from the overall premise of the story and its namesake – CON Man. Not to say that I was disappointed in any way. Con Man can do no wrong in the comedy department as far as I can tell. But the second half of the season brought sardonic comedy to new heights!

For me, the hilarity really began to kick in at episodes seven and eight, where Lou Ferrigno made his first appearance in the series. Playing himself, he has a dream to produce and star in a musical adaptation of the story “Of Mice and Men: I’m with Stupid.” The irreverence in the title alone is a hook you can bite into. In a boiler room in the Long Con convention building, with a door locked from the outside, Ferrigno slowly accumulates people to put on his passion project. And the great thing about the musical is that it’s actually pretty good!

From there, Wray begins his ultimate struggle at Shock-a-Con with the lost Hemsworth brother, Girth (Liam McIntyre) for the lead role of Doctor Cop Lawyer, culminating in a run-through of a promotional obstacle course that is far too realistic for anyone’s safety, and an emotional outburst from Wray at a huge panel that was ultimately unnecessary.

So we have a musical highlight for season two of Con Man and so many small jokes written into the show that it’s almost hard to keep up. You’ll find a running gag through the season about Australian actors (who are “more American” according to Jack Moore’s team) taking over all the roles available, and the Hemsworth brothers who just keep showing up. “They’re like zebras,” Bobbie says. “They group together in a herd so you can’t tell how many of them there actually are!” There’s a male landlord who is a female stuntman, and Jack Moore is secretly sporting quite the hairpiece to cover his shiny dome. Wray knocks back drinks to stop Tiffany (Skyler Day) from being inebriated at the convention, and he takes so many hits to the face during a commercial it’s hard to believe he didn’t walk away with a concussion. These bits are barely the tip of the iceberg of brilliantly ironic and witty humor that season two of Con Man brings to the table.

However, the success of Con Man isn’t based on hilarious story lines and jokes alone. The characters themselves and all their inherent quirks will keep you laughing. Tudyk directed all of season one of Con Man and half of the season two episodes, while also starring in the web series as Wray, perfectly capturing the earnest desperation of the character and flawlessly dealing hilarious lines and performing physical comedy with the best of them. Wray makes us cheer with him and sometimes believe he might be the only sane character on the show. And other times, we can’t help but shake our heads and chuckle as he leaps without looking and consequently often ends up with his foot in his mouth, awkwardly wondering where he went wrong. (It makes you wonder if we’re all Wray Nerely sometimes.)

Tudyk is supported by actress Mindy Sterling as Bobbie (first Wray’s convention booker and eventually his agent). Sterling manages to make us laugh with her portrayal of Bobbie’s over-sexualized antics and her “you’re only as old as you feel” attitude. She is over-the-top but generally well intentioned, and if we’re being honest, we all have a friend (or two) who is just like her. And like Wray, we keep our Bobbies around, because we foolishly believe the good outweighs the bad just enough to make it worth it.

Also supporting Tudyk is Nolan North, playing the role of Lenny. A motion-capture actor (who believes himself to be in direct competition with the precioussssss Andy Serkis), Lenny is a supportive friend to Wray, helping him with lines and acting, and trying to give advice. The irony is that it might not be Wray who is the most reasonable of all the characters. With the exception of his mo-cap obsession, Lenny might ultimately be the most normal of the group. (Normal being a relative term, in this case.)

Lastly, who can forget Nathan Fillion in the role of Jack Moore, who played the captain of the starship on the show Spectrum? (Yes. Firefly reference. We know.) Fillion does a wonderful job playing Jack, the actor who managed to find success as an action star after Spectrum, but ultimately finds himself beginning to be beat out of roles by Australians. Fillion is able to walk the fine line between playing an egotistical character and an ignorant character who doesn’t realize he’s being egotistical.

The rest of the main cast is rounded out by Dawn (Amy Acker), a manic co-star from Spectrum who has an insatiable desire for Wray and Brenda (Liza Lapira), another co-star who gained weight after Spectrum ended and is desperately trying to lose it or evade the henchman of the weight loss companies she was supposed to be representing. Stutter (Henry Rollins), a Spectrum co-star with an affinity for guns and conservatism who is perpetually prepared to take out Girth Hemsworth, is joined by Tiffany, the child star from Spectrum who grew up to be an alcohol and drug dependent floosy. And beyond them, there are other brilliant roles like Girth, one of the many Australian Hemsworth brothers in competition with Wray for the lead role in Doctor Cop Lawyer. Karen, the convention assistant with a penchant for copying the look of the celebrity she assists (to act as a decoy if needed) is in attendance with Lou Ferrigno at Long Con, put on by Bucky (Brooke Dillman). Bucky is always carrying a pink stool and personal microphone and speaker, in case of announcements. And boy, does she have a story about how she got her nickname! Diego Alfonso (Jon Huertas) is the director Wray desperately tries to impress to get the role for Doctor Cop Lawyer, and Randy Lane (Tahmoh Penikett) is the stunt man for Wray in a commercial who knows how to lay on the guilt nice and thick.

While Con Man has many identifiable actors and actresses in leading roles of the show, cameo spotting during season two can be another amazingly fun part of watching the show. Folks like Stan Lee or Casper Van Dien (Starship Troopers) might be easy to pick out, but there are tons of extremely subtle cameos from celebrities. At the 2016 San Diego Comic Con panel for, creators commented that there are more friends and colleagues willing to act in the series than there are parts available. That being said, Con Man certainly does a wonderful job filling those slots. I challenge you to spot all the cameos. And after you check IMDb and find out you missed some (which you will), I promise that watching season 2 again will be just as fun (if not more) than the first time.

The only real downside to the show is that it can be inaccessible to people who find themselves new to the nerdy fandoms of pop culture. In fact, this was reportedly a point of contention when networks were looking at Con Man as a regular television series. There was also some concern that fans might feel mocked by the content of the show. However, Tudyk and company chose to stay true to their fans and trust in the intelligence and humor of their supporters. That choice was wisely made; in reality, the viewers the show attracts are already “in the know,” and will love every cameo and appearance of their favorite nerd stars. Comic book convention attendees already have an idea of the geeky surprises fandoms can offer and are sure to recognize that they are being laughed with, not at. The support is undeniable, the proof coming from the incredible amount of money raised by fans to produce the show initially. The crowd-funded project set records with Indiegogo, raising more than $1 million within the first 24 hours and ultimately raising $3.1 million total.

Season one of Con Man was released on Vimeo in 2015 and is free to view online. However, to watch the second season, subscribe to Comic Con HQ. As a bonus, more episodes are not the only treat season two brought for us. Check out the show’s website where you can buy merchandise, including the Con Man comic book (for only $3.00 per issue), and read about the fictional cancelled television series that starred Wray and Jack. If you want to do something more interactive, you can download the Con Man game on iOS or Android systems for free (with in-app purchases). The game allows you to build your own comic book convention, book celebrities to attend, and then defend the convention from aliens determined to burn it down.

There is no current news about an upcoming season three of Con Man, but Fillion said in late January of this year, “We’re going to know very, very soon. At this point, there’s no reason not to do a season three.” So watch Con Man and keep your ears open for more news about the show!

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