Hatched from the mind of Alan Tudyk, Con Man centres on Wray Nerely (Tudyk), a down-on-his-luck actor who is consumed by the never-ending fandom that has plagued him since the demise of the sci-fi hit TV show he co-starred in called “Spectrum”. Whilst he still hasn’t found the level of stardom he’s desperately seeking, his Spectrum co-star and good friend, Jack Moore (Nathan Fillion), has gone on to become a major celebrity. The first two episodes show Wray begrudgingly attending a sci-fi convention whilst trying to land the part in a Clint Eastwood movie and dealing with trying to get first class on a plane and surviving the Beigh-Con onslaught.
Crowdfunded through Indiegogo, this series became a record hit for crowdfunding by raising more than $1 million in 24 hours and more than $3.1 million overall, so it’s clear that the fans were behind this 100% and it isn’t hard to see why. Very much like Joss Whedon, Wil Wheaton and Felicia Day (all of which make guest appearances), Alan Tudyk is someone who’s very much, more than anything, in touch with his fans and understands what they want, and that makes Con Man all the more honest and personal. It approaches the themes of fame and fandom, yet puts a very satirical twist on them by creating an almost alternate side to the realities of sci-fi conventions.
In the first two episodes, it’s evident that Wray has a very ambivalent relationship with both the show he’s most recognised for and the nerds who lapped it up, and it’s played out really well with a great pace to it. Even though he gets to hang out with guys like Sean Astin (playing himself), he still hits many lows like the constant uncomfortable travelling, being asked for autographs in bathrooms, and trying to land the next big project. It’s satirically entertaining to watch, and despite the fact of it being crowdfunded, it does play out like a professional TV series, plus Tudyk clearly has the chops for being a solid director/screenwriter.
Having constantly entertained through his performances in Firefly/Serenity, Dodgeball and Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, Tudyk doesn’t disappoint here as he’s constantly amusing to watch and has brilliant note-perfect deadpan delivery. All the supporting guest performers are great fun as well, with Mindy Sterling clearly having a blast as Wray’s “manager”, Felicia Day brilliantly channelling the same fan energy she herself has been exposed to as the giddy convention volunteer, and Wil Wheaton having a brilliant cameo as an aggressive Air Marshal.
With Con Man, Alan Tudyk has made a deeply personal project for the fans thanks to them, and it’s really because of them and their support that Alan Tudyk is the man he is today. Thanks to them, he’s able to create a story that’s amusing, enjoyable and witty, but one yet still containing that element of truth to his own experience. It’s hard to tell where Wray’s journey will go from here following the opening episodes, but if it’s anything like as what’s seen here, then this will no doubt, like a certain cancelled sci-fi show Tudyk himself was involved in, become a cult classic with hopefully many more episodes and seasons to follow.