As the P.A. announcer counted down the last 20 minutes of the Con in 5 minute intervals she began to sound eerily like every automated self-destruct sequence in recent movie history. And when she counted 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… everyone on the Exhibition floor cheered. Another Con in the bag. They only seem to get bigger and Sunday was no exception. Typically the slowest of the four-day Con, known as Kids Day, Sunday’s Exhibition floor was just as packed and musty as any other day. And there was still plenty of panels to cover. None greater than the Starship Smackdown… the only way to finish out the Con.
The general idea of the Smackdown edition XI panel goes a little like this: 16 starships from any Sci-Fi/pop-culture movie or television series can be chosen to compete, 10 from the panel and 6 from the audience–the only requirement as they be “real” as in not animated. They are pitted head-to-head in 8 first round matchups and move along accordingly like the NCAA bracket. This year’s panel included of Robert Meyer Burnettt (The Hills Run Red producer), Jeff Bond (Geek Monthly editor), Steve Melching (The Clone Wars writer), Daren Dochterman (GI Joe production illustrator), Mary Forest (writer/comedian) and Mark A. Altman (DOA: Dead or Alive). But more importantly, below is the list of this year’s contestants and their first round match-ups:
- Battlestar Galactica (new edition) vs. Starship Dave (Meet Dave)
- NCSA Protector (Galaxy Quest) vs. Starship of the Imagination (Carl Sagan)
- Serenity (Firefly) vs. Heart of Gold (Hitchhiker’s Guide)
- Enterprise 1701-D (New Generation) vs. Millenium Falcon (Star Wars)
- Spaceship that abducts Brian (Life of Brian) vs. 3 Cylon Base Stars (old ed.)
- V Mothership (V) vs. Tardis (Dr. Who)
- White Star (Babylon 5) vs. Imperial Star Destroyer (Star Wars)
- Axiom (Wall-E) vs. War Rocket Ajax (Flash Gordon)
As you can see, the Smackdown is run a little tongue-in-cheek even as a few of the more passionate souls in the panel and audience declare that everyone must stop laughing, that this is “very serious business.” The second round added a little wrinkle as the panel chose captains for each starship out of hat–that would heat up the debate. The panel selectees were great, debates were impassioned, in-depth and hilarious and not without impressions of various starship captains and singing of theme songs. Needless to say, Captain (or should we say Admiral?) James T. Kirk in an Imperial Star Destroyer took home victory, knocking of Capt. Meryl Stubbing in the Millenium Falcon in the final round. Another Con well fought.