REVIEW: THE ZETA PROJECT

MAIN CAST
Diedrich Bader (Batman: TBATB)
Julie Nathanson (Sofia The First)
Kurtwood Smith (That 70s Show)
Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville)
Lauren Tom (Futurama)
RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST~
Miguel Sandoval (Medium)
Ethan Embry (Eagle Eye)
Tara Strong (Batman: TAS)
Earl Boen (The Terminator)
Eli Marienthal (American Pie)
Stacy Keach (The Bourne Legacy)
Conchata Ferrell (Two and a Half Men)
Frank Welker (Transformers)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Will Friedle (Batman Beyond)
Kevin Conroy (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Adam Baldwin (Chuck)
Tom Kenney (Super Hero Squad)
Chad Lowe (Floating)
Keith Szarabajka (Angel)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
Michael Dorn (Ted 2)
Dave Coulier (Full House)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Kate Jackson (Charlie’s Angel)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Robert Costanzo (Batman: TAS)
Richard Moll (Scary Movie 2)
Steven Weber (13 Reasons Why)
Joey Lawrence (Melissa & Joey)
Chris Demetral (Lois & Clark)
Lukas Haas (Inception)
Mae Whitman (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2012)
Michael McKean (This is Spinal Tap)
Wil Wheaton (The Big Bang Theory)
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In this Batman Beyond spinoff, Zeta, an assassination & infiltrator robot, rebels against its programming. The authorities think it has been reprogrammed by their enemies, and tries to bring Zeta in for reprogramming. Zeta goes on the run, trying to find his creators and assisted by an orphan girl, Ro.
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As a spin off for a character introduced in Batman Beyond, this cartoon series went beyond the scope of adventure. Zeta was an experimental infiltration robot equipped with weaponry and a holographic self-projector that allows it to assume any identity. However, negating his own programming, he refused to kill. He fled his employers merely attempting to find his creator to prove that he is acting on his own free will. The government doesn’t know that, and hunt him down as they think he is rogue. Along the way Zeta hooks up with Ro, a teenage girl, and they assist each other in their treks.
165770_fullDiedrich Bader (The Drew Carey Show) lends his voice to the peaceful, naive and near-human robot, sounding the least bit threatening and true to Zeta’s nature. The friendship between the child-like Zeta and Ro is genuinely portrayed. The supporting characters who chase him are great, including the government agents, and a young genius whom at one point reprogrammed Zeta. The Zeta Project is indeed a combination of Short Circuit and The Fugitive, balanced out by fantastic action, excellent characterization, and plenty of comedic moments.  In one episode, Batman Beyond even makes a cool guest appearance. Sadly, KidsWB canceled this exceptional show after 2 seasons, leaving Ro and Zeta’s quest hanging.

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: CHUCK – CHUCK VERSUS THE SANTA SUIT

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CAST

Zachary Levi (Heroes Reborn)
Yvonne Strahovski (Batman: Bad Blood)
Adam Baldwin (Firefly)
Joshua Gomez (Invasion)
Sarah Lancaster (Saved By The Bell: The New Class)
Ryan McPartlin (J. Edgar)
Mark Christopher Lawrence (Halloween II)
Scott Krinsky (Transformers 3)
Vik Sahay (eXistenZ)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Brandon Routh (Legends of Tomorrow)
Mekenna Melvin (The Bad Guys)
Mo Collins (Knocked Up)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Bonita Friedericy (Veronica Mars)

chuck-vs-the-crown-vic-chuck-and-sarah-677994_400_225It’s Christmas Eve at the Buy More and customer panic abounds because the Omen has infected the world’s computers. A local television reporter conducting a live newscast from the store explains the situation to the viewing audience. Big Mike interrupts, stepping in front of the camera and telling the reporter he thinks the virus is really a gag and isn’t dangerous. He tells everyone not to panic and to remember the true meaning of Christmas. Buying stuff. He announces there are no virus problems at Buy More. Lester then takes his own cue in front of the camera and neuters Mike’s pronouncement by admitting the virus is everywhere at Buy More. In a high security penitentiary, two guards watch the live newscast from the Buy More and discuss the danger of the Omen since every cell at the prison is locked via electronic doors connected to a mainframe. With their attention focused on the television, they fail to notice one of the prison doors opening. An unseen inmate quietly gets out, then ambushes and kills the two guards. The mystery prisoner then puts on one of their uniforms and takes their weapons.
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At the Woodcombs’, Ellie is panicked because they’re six hours away from a Christmas party and have yet to even put up a tree. As she scrambles to find the Christmas tree topper her father gave her years ago, Awesome tells her to relax and be Zen about it. Ellie explains that Christmas was her first memory, and she wants Clara’s first memory to be special. Awesome asks what he needs to do in order to make her happy. Ellie asks for a real tree, lights, fake snow and a picture of Clara on Santa’s lap. He admits it’s a tall order, and Ellie agrees. That’s why she recruited someone to help. She picks up the phone and speed dials Sarah. Sarah picks up and tells Ellie “Project Santa” is under control. They just need to get the tree and snow. Chuck calls Sarah via video conference from Morgan and Casey’s place. She tells him Ellie is freaking about Christmas Eve. Chuck tells her it wouldn’t be Christmas without a little Bartowski drama. He tells her there’s still no progress on finding the origins of the Omen virus. Sarah thinks whoever is behind it will slip up eventually. She promises no one will ruin their Christmas. Before signing off, she tells Chuck to tell Casey his “Mr. Pippers the Preppy Polar Bear” has arrived. Morgan gets on the screen and says that’s probably one of their favorite childhood toys but why did Casey buy one? Casey tells them he bought it on eBay for Alex because her mom told him it was something she used to play with as a kid. Casey wonders if it’s a dumb idea. Chuck and Morgan think it’s touching. Morgan tells Casey he thinks he’s actually beginning to exhibit signs of real human emotion.
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Just then Beckman pops up on the screen and tells them she knows who is behind the Omen virus. Sarah is leaving Castle loaded with Christmas stuff when the elevator door unexpectedly opens to reveal… Shaw! He says, “Merry Christmas, Sarah. Did you miss me?” Sarah immediately takes a defensive posture while Shaw initiates the Intersect, and they begin to fight. Sarah is no match for an Intersect-loaded Shaw, and she’s pummelled into unconsciousness. She awakens to find herself bound and hanging from the Castle ceiling. Shaw asks if she’s comfy and checks the progress of the virus. He tells her it will only be a few hours before the virus fully launches. Sarah asks why he initiated the Omen. He tells her, “Why stay in jail when I can break out, release the virus and take over the CIA” before duct taping her mouth. Sarah’s phone rings and Shaw picks up. It’s Chuck. “Hello nerd,” Shaw tells Chuck. He orders Chuck to turn on the monitor. With Casey and Morgan standing behind him, Chuck turns on the monitor to see Shaw standing in front of a helpless bound and gagged Sarah. Shaw tells Chuck the story of Krampus, the German Santa Claus. Krampus visits kids on Christmas Eve, but instead of giving the bad kids a lump of coal, he makes sure they don’t wake up to see Christmas morning. Chuck demands he let her go. Shaw tells him he has no Sarah, no Intersect so he’s got nothing. He orders Chuck to lock down Castle and break into Decker’s CIA office to retrieve the Macau device. He’s got three hours or Sarah dies. Shaw stops the transmission and asks Sarah if she’s impressed. He’s implicated Chuck in a massive conspiracy and has captured his girl all from an 8 x 8 prison cell. Sarah asks how he connected with Decker. He tells her during his integration he was able to disseminate all of Decker’s secrets and, after a little blackmail, was able to recruit him.
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Back at Casey and Morgan’s, Chuck is in a quasi-catatonic state thinking about his next move while Casey and Morgan look on with concern. Chuck snaps out of it and announces he has a plan. He tells Morgan to have the nerds (Jeff and Lester) reverse engineer the Omen. He needs to know what will happen when it activates. He tells Casey to find alternate routes into Castle so they have options in case he can’t get the Macau device. Casey reminds Chuck that breaking into the CIA alone is suicide. Chuck, Casey and Morgan speak to Beckman on the monitor. Chuck asks her what’s the best way to get into the CIA. She tells him there’s only one way, with her.  Shaw has Sarah tied up and that he is behind the Omen. Chuck tries to call Sarah, but Shaw answers the phone call. Shaw tells Chuck that he wants him break into Decker office to steal something. Chuck then tells Casey & Morgan’s plan.Shaw lowered the temperature at Castle to make Sarah freeze to death. While talking to Sarah, Shaw tricks her so he can record her voice. Meanwhile Jeff & Lester work on the Omen. Meanwhile Chuck tries to steal Caroline’s id card.Shaw finds out that Sarah has escaped. Casey and Sarah tries to take Shaw down, but failed.Chuck & Beckman break into Decker’s office, but have set off the alarm. Beckman kisses Chuck to make it look like the officer’s think they were making out in Decker’s office.
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The store is inundated with angry shoppers frustrated with the Omen. Chuck gets another call from Shaw disguised as Sarah telling him that Shaw’s been captured by Casey and to hurry up and get to Castle. At the end of the conversation, Shaw makes the mistake of calling Chuck “dear.” Chuck immediately knows it isn’t really Sarah because she never calls him that. Chuck tells Morgan about the bogus call, and Morgan reminds him that last time Shaw was around he blew up the Buy More. Chuck looks around the store and realizes it’s filled with people and tells Morgan to close for the day. Morgan makes an announcement, and the place clears. As the store empties, Ellie sees Chuck and tells him about the botched Santa photo and wonders why Sarah isn’t answering her phone. Although initially reluctant to tell her about Shaw, he fesses up. She tells him she wants to help. Chuck demands she go home because he has to know she’s safe. Shaw has Sarah tied up again but this time on a chair chained to the floor. Hypothermia is creeping in and she’s slipping in and out of consciousness. Shaw comes up to her and plants a kiss on her mouth, repulsing Sarah who calls him a sick S.O.B. Shaw tells her he was checking to see if there was any spark there. “No,” he says. “Ice cold.” Sarah tries to plead with Shaw, telling him she didn’t know she was killing his wife. She was a young agent only trying to do her job. Shaw ignores her. Back at the Buy More, Jeff and Lester are amped on endless cups of Subway coffee. They explain to Chuck and Morgan they think Omen is a hoax. In fact, the virus is only infecting government computers. But they’re not sure where all that info is going. Chuck and Morgan guess it’s Shaw trying to create Intersect 3.0 using all the CIA databases.
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With the CIA’s databases wiped clean and in Shaw’s head, the agency will be forced to rely on him for intel. They’d have to reinstate him as an agent. Chuck tells Morgan he has a plan.The elevator door at Castle opens, alarming Shaw who draws his gun. He finds the Macau device on the elevator floor. At that moment Chuck calls Shaw and tells him that now, since he has the device, he can let Sarah go. He tells him the Buy More is empty, and he can come up and kill him. Before Shaw goes up to meet Chuck, he uses the Macau device to upload the Omen data into his Intersect glasses. He will now be virtually unstoppable. He slaps Sarah awake and tells her to watch the monitor because he wants her to watch as he kills Chuck. He tells Sarah because she killed his wife, she’ll pay by not having Chuck anymore. In the locked Castle interrogation room, Casey struggles on the floor, nursing his gunshot wound. He discovers the “Mr. Pippers the Preppy Polar Bear” Sarah was to deliver to him before Shaw showed. He realizes he can record a message on the bear for Alex to hear if he should die. He begins by apologizing for not always being there for her through the years and says he’s sorry he has to say it to an electronic bear. He then realizes he can probably cannibalize the electronics of the bear to try and disengage the door and get out. He gets to work taking Mr. Pippers apart.Shaw goes upstairs and enters the Buy More. He walks past a hidden Morgan who sneaks into the elevator and goes downstairs to get Sarah. Once in the store, Chuck reveals himself to Shaw and tells him if he wants to shoot him now he can, but he doesn’t think that’s what he has in mind. Shaw confirms Chuck’s assumptions and puts his gun down. He then puts the Intersect glasses on assuming he will download the Intersect 3.0. After he’s done, he tells Chuck he’s been thinking about this moment for a long time. With that, Chuck punches him right in the face, and it’s then Shaw realizes Chuck put the Omen on the Macau device, and he’s actually just uploaded the virus into his brain.
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Without the Intersect, they’re evenly matched.While Shaw and Chuck battle to the death upstairs, Morgan arrives at Castle to see Sarah near frozen. He tries to wake her up but gets no response. Casey manages to rewire the door using the talking bear parts and escapes. Morgan tries to pick her up but she’s tied to the chair and the chair is locked to the ground. Just then Casey emerges and shoots the lock, freeing the chair. They both grab Sarah and carry her away. Upstairs, Chuck has Shaw where he wants him, but Shaw manages to grab the gun. He points the gun at Chuck and tells him, “You’re good Chuck, but you’re not lucky” and just when he’s about to fire, Ellie smacks him on the back of the head and knocks him out. She never left the store like Chuck had asked. The whole team including Beckman is at the Buy More watching a newscast about the Omen and how it’s no longer a threat. Beckman tells the team they all have an open invitation to rejoin the CIA. She wishes everyone a nice holiday. Before she leaves, Sarah asks Beckman if she has somewhere to go for the holiday and invites her to Ellie’s party. Ellie reminds everyone that her party’s now a bust. Chuck asks Beckman if she’d consider helping to make the party happen after all. She’s reluctant, citing “taxpayer dollars” but succumbs to the holiday sprit. Back at the Woodcombs’ place, Ellie’s getting everything she wished for: a Christmas tree, Santa, fake snow and family. Chuck tells Ellie he knows without their mom and dad it can never be a perfect Christmas, but she’ll always have him around. She admits it felt pretty good taking down Shaw. She thinks their dad would be proud. Casey gives Alex the “Mr. Pippers the Preppy Polar Bear” and tells her she probably shouldn’t listen to the recording because things got pretty grim.
He should just tell her in person that he loves her. He knows the bear won’t make up for all the lost holidays. Alex disagrees and thinks it’s perfect. Casey then tells her she should reconsider Morgan because he’s not such a bad guy. Sarah thanks Chuck and tells him when she was captive Shaw kissed her. Chuck tells her that he had to kiss Beckman. Beckman then asks Chuck for a private word with Sarah. Beckman tells Sarah that Shaw has asked her to visit him in prison. Beckman thinks she shouldn’t go. Sarah goes anyway. In the visitors’ room, Shaw tells her that, in Hungary, he set something in motion she can’t do anything about. He asks her, “Does Chuck know about the baby?”thumb_chuckversusthesantasuit6A great Christmas episode, thou a darker one, it was great to see Brandon Routh Back playing a delighfully evil character and we get tosee just how much Chuck has grown from the the first Season. All in all a great Xmas episode.

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: CHUCK – CHUCK VERSUS THE SANTA CLAUS

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CAST

Zachary Levi (Heroes Reborn)
Yvonne Strahovski (Batman: Bad Blood)
Adam Baldwin (Firefly)
Joshua Gomez (Invasion)
Sarah Lancaster (Saved By The Bell: The New Class)
Ryan McPartlin (J. Edgar)
Mark Christopher Lawrence (Halloween II)
Scott Krinsky (Transformers 3)
Vik Sahay (eXistenZ)
Bonita Friedericy (Veronica Mars)
Julia Ling (Love Sick Diaries)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Tony Hale (The Heat)
Jed Rees (Deadpool)
Reginald VelJohnson (Die Hard)
Michael Rooker (Guardians of The Galaxy)

The morning before Christmas, a high-speed chase occurs near a Burbank, California shopping center, ultimately ending with the fugitive crashing his car through the Buy More front doors. Nathan “Needlenose Ned” Rhyerson (Jed Rees) exits the car and, desperate to buy presents for his children, takes Chuck Bartowski (Zachary Levi), Ellie Bartowski (Sarah Lancaster), Devon Woodcomb (Ryan McPartlin), and all the Buy More employees hostage. Ned communicates with the police via Chuck, and LAPD Lieutenant Frank Mauser (Michael Rooker) negotiates the release of Emmett Milbarge (Tony Hale) as a sign of good faith.

Meanwhile, Sarah Walker (Yvonne Strahovski) and John Casey (Adam Baldwin) watch news coverage of the situation and sneak into the store to rescue Chuck so that the media attention does not compromise his cover, only to be thwarted by Ned. Suddenly, Mauser exchanges himself for two hostages: Chuck’s handlers Casey and Sarah.


When Mauser enters, Chuck flashes on his watch, identifying him as a Fulcrum agent. Mauser tells Chuck that he knows that Casey and Sarah are CIA and that they are protecting an unknown asset. He reveals that Ned is a Fulcrum agent who caused the disturbance so Mauser could infiltrate the Buy More. At this point, it is revealed that Ned is far more competent than the hostages were led to believe, having intentionally shot Casey in the foot and separated Chuck from his handlers. Mauser threatens to shoot the hostages if Chuck does not reveal where Bryce Larkin and the government database the Intersect are. Chuck reveals to Mauser that the Intersect has been uploaded to his brain. As Mauser escorts him from the Buy More, Chuck urges Devon to disarm Ned. As Chuck is taken in an ambulance to a Fulcrum facility, Devon, Jeff Barnes (Scott Krinsky), Lester Patel (Vik Sahay), Big Mike (Mark Christopher Lawrence), and Morgan Grimes (Joshua Gomez) make a plan. Lester unsuccessfully tries to tackle Ned, but Morgan manages to distract Ned long for Big Mike and Devon to tackle him and end the hostage situation.

Meanwhile, Sarah and Casey learn that Ned is unmarried and had earlier called Mauser rather than his wife, as the hostages were led to believe. They follow the ambulance containing Chuck and Mauser and shoot its tires, sending the vehicle into a Christmas tree lot and allowing Chuck to escape. After a brief fight, Mauser surrenders, confident that Fulcrum will rescue him. To protect Chuck, Sarah executes Mauser. Unknown to Sarah, Chuck watches the entire confrontation in horror from afar. She lies to Chuck and tells him that Mauser has been arrested. At the Buy More, Ellie and Morgan’s girlfriend Anna Wu (Julia Ling) praise Lester for his act of bravery. Morgan watches as Lester grabs Anna and kisses her, turning away before Anna pulls away from Lester in disgust. The episode closes with both Morgan and Chuck heartbroken, Morgan believing Anna to be unfaithful, and Chuck believing Sarah to be a murderer.

Chuck vs. Santa Claus is a great episode. It’s got twists, turns, Fulcrum agents, and a heady does of sappy TV holiday spirit. Everyone in Chuck’s life is rounded up in one place in a hostage situation, bringing the peril ever closer (and personal) to the guy. And characteristic of the rest of the show, it’s got geeky shoutouts, too; I love that the hostage-taker is named Ned Ryerson. Which brings us to the gem in this crown: it’s the “Die Hard” episode. And it doesn’t take that lightly, either. It weaves the hostage scenario into the overall serialized plot, the humor therein is great, and they actually brought in Reginald VelJohnson to reprise his “Die Hard” role. That’s right, he’s actually Officer Al Powell! And they made him Big Mike’s cousin!

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: CHUCK – CHUCK VERSUS THE CROWN VIC

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CAST

Zachary Levi (Heroes Reborn)
Yvonne Strahovski (Batman: Bad Blood)
Adam Baldwin (Firefly)
Joshua Gomez (Invasion)
Sarah Lancaster (Saved By The Bell: The New Class)
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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Ryan McPartlin (J. Edgar)
Mark Christopher Lawrence (Halloween II)
Scott Krinsky (Transformers 3)
Vik Sahay (eXistenZ)
Bonita Friedericy (Veronica Mars)
Julia Ling (Love Sick Diaries)
Tony Todd (Candyman)
Michael Wiseman (Vegas)

chuck-vs-the-crown-vic-chuck-and-sarah-677994_400_225Chuck escorts Lester and Jeff to do an install on a private boat owned by philanthropist Lon Kirk (Michael Wiseman) to keep the two out of trouble. However Jeff and Lester still go below deck, where they find men counting a substantial amount of money. Chuck flashes on one of the bills and realizes that it’s counterfeit. Beckman begins to brief Chuck and Casey, but Sarah—who skipped work at the Wienerlicious—is absent. The two attempt to cover for her before she arrives late. Beckman orders Chuck and Sarah to infiltrate a charity casino being run by Kirk to investigate the counterfeiting operation. Chuck later remarks to Sarah how he expected her to be “halfway to Bryce,” but she tells him that this is her assignment. Regardless, the situation between them remains strained and is only made worse when, at the charity event that night, Chuck grows increasingly jealous while Sarah flirts with Kirk as part of the operation. He loses $100,000 at a roulette wheel as a result of trying to show up the philanthropist, but also flashes on an attache to the Taiwanese ambassador, whom he sees Kirk arguing with.
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The next morning Chuck watches Casey washing his prized 1985 Crown Vic, and asks what Beckman meant by Sarah using any means necessary to get close to Kirk as part of her investigation. Casey plays on Chuck’s jealousy by telling him Sarah will be seducing Kirk. Chuck goes back to work, where Morgan, who is having lunch with Anna and her parents, calls him to say he thinks he sees Sarah on someone’s boat. Chuck heads down to the marina to check up on things, while Casey angrily shows him a full team is in place keeping watch on things. Just as Kirk and Sarah are on their way below deck, one of Kirk’s men is bringing a crate on board which triggers a flash. Chuck believes the crate contains the counterfeit plates. The team moves in based on the Intersect intel, but discover medical supplies instead. Due to the humiliation of the botched op, Beckman benches the team.
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An angry Sarah, professing to believe that Chuck’s flash was faked out of jealousy, confronts him. He insists it was genuine. The heated discussion turns towards Bryce and their kiss,[1] and soon leads to an argument when Chuck asks if she had kissed him when they thought they were going to die because he just happened to be there, or if she actually felt something for him. Sarah angrily tells him it was a mistake that would not be repeated. During a briefing with Beckman and Graham, Casey and Sarah both appear suspicious that Chuck’s flash was fraudulent because of his jealousy. Afterward, an annoyed Casey demands to know if Sarah compromised herself with Chuck. Sarah somberly asks Casey if he’s ever wanted to have a normal life, to which he responds that sacrificing that to protect the nation and its people was the right choice. Sarah agrees to talk to Chuck, and if she cannot fix things, will request reassignment.
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Chuck returns to work where Morgan sends him a picture of himself taking a cruise with Anna and her parents, and catches a glimpse of one of Kirk’s crates. Chuck realizes Kirk put the counterfeit plates on the boat belonging to the attache whom Anna’s parents work for, but Casey refuses to act since Beckman has benched the team. Chuck then turns to Sarah, who initially tries to postpone the conversation. Chuck insists anyway, and after explaining and telling her Morgan and Anna are on the boat, she unhesitatingly jumps to help (against standing orders from Beckman and Graham). They are joined by Casey at the marina, who also decides to disregard his orders and join them in stopping Kirk. Chuck spots and flashes on a GPS transponder fixed to the Tawainese attache’s boat, and when he also flashes on a crate Kirk is loading onto his own boat, realizes that he’s going to destroy the plates and kill the attache, along with Morgan, Anna and her parents.
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While Sarah and Chuck use their cover to distract Kirk (Sarah wanting to go with Kirk, and Chuck as her jealous boyfriend), Casey sneaks aboard and disables the guards. A fight breaks out and Kirk disappears into the cabin. Chuck pursues him, but is nearly hit when Kirk fires off the missile (knocking himself unconscious from the blast at the same time). Casey and Sarah secure the boat, but the missile is now homing in on the GPS beacon. Chuck resets the missile’s homing device, but this sends it back to them. With no other choice, Chuck uses the GPS built into Casey’s Crown Vic and redirects the missile, destroying the car. Later at the Buy More holiday party, Chuck and Sarah reconcile their relationship and agree to remain friends. Meanwhile, Beckman calls Casey to inform him the new Intersect is nearly ready and that it would soon be time to “take care of Bartowski.”

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Another entertaining episode of “Chuck”. Loved hearing an approximation (to avoid copyright infringement) of the “James Bond Theme” as we see Chuck enter a casino with Sarah and say his alias like James Bond would say his own name when introducing himself. Morgan himself was hilarious when trying to impress Anna’s parents especially when he smokes a pipe and mentions Popeye as the person he idolized when he did that! The Buy More Christmas…uh, Holiday party was also pretty funny with the dreidel gambling and Run-DMC’s Christmas song playing in the background.

REVIEW: JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED – TASK FORCE X

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MAIN CAST

Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Carl Lumbly (Alias)
Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville)

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GUEST CAST

Adam Baldwin (Chuck)
Juliet Landau (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Donal Gibson (Braveheart)
Alan Rachins (Showgirls)
Chris Cox (Family Guy)
CCH Pounder (Avatar)

mv5bnjk3mti1nzk2of5bml5banbnxkftztywodqzndez-_v1_uy317_cr820214317_al_At Belle Reve Correctional, Floyd Lawton, aka the hitman Deadshot, is being led to execution, displaying defiance for his fate, even towards the priest. Upon entering the execution chamber, however, it is to find another man who hands some official papers over to the warden. After reading them, the warden orders Deadshot to be released and handed over to the newcomer. On the drive away from the prison, Lawton’s savior introduces himself as U.S. Colonel Rick Flagg who wants Deadshot to assist in a top-secret mission. Flagg also reveals that miniature devices have been infiltrated into Deadshot’s body and will kill him if he does not cooperate. The mission is a simple break-in and theft – from the Justice League’s Watchtower HQ.
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They arrive at a warehouse formerly used by Lex Luthor and thus very secure against super-hero surveillance. Lawton is introduced to the rest of “Task Force X”: explosives expert Bette Sans-Souci, a.k.a. “Plastique”; inventor George Harkness, a.k.a. “Captain Boomerang”; and planning expert Temple Fugate, a.k.a. “The Clock King”. With the exception of Flagg, they are all criminals being offered amnesty in exchange for their services. The plan is to infiltrate the Watchtower disguised as members of its support staff, at a time when only three major obstacles are aboard: Green Lantern John Stewart, Captain Atom, and J’onn J’onzz. Flagg warns the other members of Task Force X that there is to be no unnecessary killing. While the others go to the tower, Fugate will stay at base coordinating their progress.
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The first phase goes off perfectly: The squad ambushes a group of four Watchtower staff members before they are teleported up. Once there, Flagg uses a device in a pair of prop glasses in order to cause a computer to break down thus enabling them to proceed without a security check. Deadshot and Plastique then head to the lower levels and into the generator room, while Flagg and Boomerang make their way to the high-security storage area. Plastique sets off a bomb on the reactor to cause a diversion from Boomerang’s breakthrough into the vault. There, Flagg takes control of the “package”: a powerful combat robot called the Annihilator. The damage to the reactor causes a radiation leak and an evacuation is ordered. Captain Atom flies down to contain the reactor explosion and reports to J’onn that it was done intentionally.
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Deadshot and Plastique sprint up to join Flagg and Boomerang and together they and the Annihilator make their way to the bridge. Along the way, they are stopped by Shining Knight, Vigilante, and Atom-Smasher, but manage to defeat them with the Annihilator’s help. Reaching the bridge, they are confronted by J’onn, who easily defeats them until the Annihilator literally tears him in half, disabling him long enough for the team to reach the transporter. J’onn recovers and defeats the Annihilator, but Plastique gets him to stand back by holding a bomb above the throat of an unconscious Atom-Smasher, and he is forced to allow the others to mount the transporter platform. Just as Plastique is about to join them, Captain Atom arrives and tackles her and one of her bombs goes flying. Deadshot detonates it with a shot from his pistol and, in the confusion, three of Task Force X and the Annihilator transport away. Plastique is left behind, severely wounded. J’onn checks the transporter console, which has been sabotaged and blows up before he can trace the coordinates.
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Flagg turns the Annihilator over to Amanda Waller and Tala of Project Cadmus. Before leaving, Waller commends Flagg, telling him his father would be proud of him. Deadshot bids everyone a cheerful goodbye, but Flagg decks him with a punch and informs him that he is to serve in Task Force X for five years before he can go free, otherwise he can go back to prison for execution. Deadshot snidely asks Flagg how Waller is blackmailing him, to which Flagg gives a sneer of contempt and states that he isn’t being blackmailed at all: He is a patriot who serves his country loyally. Aboard the Watchtower, J’onn has discovered that Vance, a member of the bridge crew, passed inside information to Cadmus, using an anti-telepathy device to mask his thoughts. J’onn is tempted to wipe Vance’s mind, but Stewart tells him it would be pointless since Vance has already leaked everything he knows, and they can’t trust any of their staff now.mv5bnjk3mti1nzk2of5bml5banbnxkftztywodqzndez-_v1_uy317_cr820214317_al_Task Force X really does stand as one of the best examples of what Justice League Unlimited had to offer – a show starring a bunch of random characters that found time to tell an engaging story and humanize each of them a bit. Sure, it plays into a grand over-arching plot, but – on its own terms – Task Force X is really just an example of what the DC animated universe did really well. A fun story well told featuring an interesting cast.

REVIEW: INDEPENDENCE DAY

CAST

Will Smith (Suicide Squad)
Bill Pullman (The Grudge)
Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park)
Mary McDonnell (Battlestar Galactica)
Judd Hirsch (Tower Heist)
Robert Loggia (Psycho II)
Randy Quaid (Kingpin)
Margaret Colin (Gotham)
James Rebhorn (Meet The Parents)
Vivica A. Fox (Idle Hands)
Harvey Fierstein (Kull The Conqueror)
Adam Baldwin (Firefly)
Brent Spiner (Star Trek: TNG)
James Duval (Gone In 60 Seconds)
Lisa Jakub (Mrs. Doubtfire)
Giuseppe Andrews (Cabin Fever)
Mae Whitman (Boogeyman 2)
Bill Smitrovich (Iron Man)
Kiersten Warren (13 Going on 30)
Harry Connick Jr. (The Iron Giant)
Frank Welker (Transformers)
Erick Avari (Stargate)

On July 2, 1996, an enormous alien mothership that has one fourth the mass of the Moon enters orbit around Earth, deploying 36 smaller spacecraft, each 15 miles (24 km) wide, that take positions over some of Earth’s major cities and military bases. David Levinson, an MIT-trained satellite technician, decodes a signal embedded in the global satellite transmissions that he determines is a timer counting down to a coordinated attack. With the help of his former wife, White House Communications Director Constance Spano, Levinson, and his father Julius, gain access to the Oval Office and warn President Thomas J. Whitmore that the aliens are hostile. Whitmore orders large-scale evacuations of New York City, Los Angeles, and Washington D.C., but it is too late; the timer reaches zero and the ships activate devastating directed-energy weapons, killing millions. Whitmore, the Levinsons, and a few others, narrowly escape aboard Air Force One as the capital is destroyed, along with other locations over which the ships are positioned.On July 3, international military leaders begin ordering individual counterattacks. Their aviation forces attack destroyer ships positioned above the ruins of the cities, but they are protected by force fields. Each destroyer launches a swarm of attack fighters, which wipe out the human fighter squadrons. Captain Steven Hiller, a pilot with the Marine Corps squadron VMFA-314 based out of Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, survives by luring his attacker to the enclosed spaces of the Grand Canyon and sacrificing his plane, forcing the alien to crash-land. He subdues the injured alien pilot and flags down a convoy of refugees, hitching a ride with former combat pilot Russell Casse. They transport the unconscious alien to nearby Area 51 where Whitmore’s group has landed. Through Secretary of Defense Albert Nimzicki, they learn that a faction of the government has been involved in a UFO conspiracy since 1947, when one of the invaders’ attack fighters crashed in Roswell. Area 51 houses the refurbished alien fighter and three alien corpses recovered from the crash.When eccentric scientist Brackish Okun examines the alien captured by Hiller, it regains consciousness and attacks. It telepathically invades Okun’s mind and uses his vocal cords to communicate with Whitmore before launching a psychic attack against him. Whitmore sees visions of the alien’s plans: their entire civilization travels from planet to planet, exterminating all indigenous life and harvesting the planet of all natural resources. After Secret Service agents and military personnel kill the alien, Whitmore reluctantly authorizes a nuclear attack; a B-2 Spirit fires a nuclear cruise missile at an alien destroyer positioned above Houston, but the ship remains intact.On July 4, Levinson demonstrates that the key to defeating the aliens lies in deactivating their force fields, and devises a way to do so by uploading a computer virus into the mothership. He proposes using the refurbished alien fighter to implement the plan, which Hiller volunteers to pilot. The two are able to implant the virus and deploy a nuclear weapon on board the mothership. With military pilots in short supply, Whitmore enlists the help of volunteers with flight experience, including Casse, and leads an attack on a destroyer ship bearing down on Area 51. With the alien’s shields deactivated, the fighters are able to inflict damage but their supply of missiles is quickly exhausted. As the destroyer prepares to fire on the base, the last missile, equipped on Casse’s plane, jams, and Casse decides to sacrifice his own life. He flies his plane kamikaze-style into the directed-energy weapon port, which results in an explosion that destroys the ship. Human resistance forces around the world successfully destroy the other craft using this vulnerability. As humankind is rejoicing in victory, Hiller and Levinson return to Area 51 unharmed and reunite with their families. They and military officers nearby accompany Whitmore and his daughter in watching the wreckage from the mothership burn up, resembling a fireworks display as it enters Earth’s atmosphere.Independence Day is arguably one of the greatest SF disaster movies of all time. With REM’s ‘It’s the end of the world’ sampled near the beginning of the movie, you definitely know that Roland Emmerich’s view about alien encounters is more akin to War of the Worlds than E.T. Filled with stunning special effects, stirring music, unpretentious sentimentality and laced with good natured humour there is no need to bemoan the lack of character development or obvious narrative coincidences. There is no pretence at being a great cinematic masterpiece examining deep philosophical themes. This is a two hour long, ludicrously enjoyable, preposterously pompous, unbelievably incredible ‘backs against the wall’ slice of SF fantasy which still entertains after numerous viewings.

REVIEW: CHUCK VERSUS THE AISLE OF TERROR

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CHUCK VERSUS THE AISLE OF TERROR

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CAST

Zachary Levi (Heroes Reborn)
Yvonne Strahovski (Batman: Bad Blood)
Adam Baldwin (Firefly)
Joshua Gomez (Invasion)
Sarah Lancaster (Saved By The Bell: The New Class)
Ryan McPartlin (J. Edgar)
Mark Christopher Lawrence (Halloween II)
Scott Krinsky (Transformers 3)
Vik Sahay (eXistenZ)
Bonita Friedericy (Veronica Mars)

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GUEST CAST

Linda Hamilton (The Terminator)
Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street)
Morgan Fairchild (Roswell)

Image result for chuck versus the aisle of terrorDr. Stanley Wheelwright (Robert Englund) walks through a secured area at Volkoff Industries. When a guard (Roland Kickinger) stops him, Wheelwright claims he is just looking for the fitness centre, but the guard grabs him and demands identification. Wheelwright feigns an asthma attack, and uses his “inhaler” to spray a toxin into the guard’s face. Wheelwright reveals to a security camera that his nerve gas, Atroxium, is fully functional and can send people into permanent nightmares. An observer, Mary Bartowski (Linda Hamilton), walks out and claims that she knows a buyer in Los Angeles.
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Two weeks later, immediately after “Chuck Versus the Couch Lock”, Mary calls her son Chuck and they arrange to meet for the first time in years at Griffith Park. As Chuck walks toward the playground, Mary sneaks up on his backup, Sarah Walker, and they hold each other at gunpoint. Chuck introduces them as his mother and girlfriend, and Mary reveals that she is deep undercover in the Volkoff organization. She claims that there is no evidence of this, because her CIA records were expunged when she went undercover in Project Isis. She informs them that she broke cover so the CIA could obtain Wheelwright and the Atroxium, telling Chuck to explain the information to General Beckman by telling her he flashed on Wheelwright. Chuck is arranged to pose as Volkoff’s most trusted buyer, so Wheelwright can be taken into custody when he tries to sell the Atroxium. Beckman approves the mission, and Casey lets Morgan join the team after his help in “Chuck Versus the Couch Lock”. Later, Chuck informs Casey and Morgan that he has found his mother.
Image result for chuck versus the aisle of terrorChuck, using his usual cover of “Charles Carmichael”, meets Wheelwright at a restaurant. As Wheelwright starts to talk about price, Mary arrives unexpectedly. To keep her cover intact, Mary reveals Chuck as a CIA agent. Knowing that Chuck is wearing a ballistic vest, Mary shoots at his heart. Sarah approaches them, but Mary shoots at her, as well as a security camera (disabling Morgan and Casey’s security feed on her), and she and Wheelwright escape with the Atroxium.
Image result for chuck versus the aisle of terrorMary later returns at the Buy More and kidnaps Chuck at gunpoint. As he enters her car, he activates a tracking device on his phone. While she drives, she reveals that although she had to sabotage the mission and kidnap Chuck to maintain her cover, she will still give them Wheelwright, as he is too dangerous. She leads Chuck to Wheelwright’s portable laboratory, where both he and the atroxium are hidden. Mary finds out that Chuck has activated his distress tracking device and flees, and Sarah and Casey arrive to find Chuck, an unconscious Wheelwright, and the Atroxium.
Image result for chuck versus the aisle of terrorWith Wheelwright in custody at Castle, Chuck and Sarah starts dismantling the atroxium’s container. Suddenly, a timer starts counting down from five minutes. Wheelwright reveals that the only way to disarm it is with his thumbprint. Although he initially refuses to give it, they hold him at gunpoint and point out that he too would be affected if the atroxium where released. He reluctantly gives his thumbprint, but it instead accelerates the countdown, and the toxin is released. Wheelwright reveals that, having been the human test subject for his own toxin, he has learned to suppress fear. Chuck locks down Castle, sealing Sarah safely in a holding cell and chases Wheelwright to the Buy More. Chuck then puts the store on lock-down, but Wheelwright then drugs him with a more concentrated dose from his inhaler which then makes Chuck see even more horrifying visions.
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As Chuck runs through the store, he is further terrorized by the various Halloween decorations. Chuck hallucinates that Mary kills Sarah when Wheelwright finds him and they stumble upon the “Aisle of Terror”, which the scientist uses to torture Chuck into unlocking the store. However, Chuck gains control of the situation and displays various terror-inducing images(for mentally ill patients), making the scientist again susceptible to fear. Wheelwright runs out the aisle and is clothes-lined by Sarah. Chuck manages to suppress the fear by closing his eyes, until Wheelwright gives up the antitoxin. Wheelwright is again taken into custody.
Image result for chuck versus the aisle of terrorMeanwhile, Casey searches for information on Project Isis with Pierce, an expert on expunged missions. Casey informs Morgan that Mary was telling the truth, just to keep Morgan from telling Chuck the real truth: Project Isis was ended 20 years ago after Mary went rogue. As Mary goes to meet Chuck and Ellie, she is captured by several masked individuals. Chuck attempts to rescue her, and he unmasks one of the captors, revealing her to be Sarah. Sarah tells him that she is protecting his “blind spot” (Chuck’s influenced judgement about his mother), and Mary is taken away. Chuck then reveals to Ellie the truth about Mary being a spy.Image result for chuck versus the aisle of terrorAs a huge Nightmare on Elm Street fan growing up, I loved seeing Robert Englund, who in the opening few minutes, had me wishing he could play Freddy again, as we saw the effects of Wheelwright’s toxin, which caused “a gigantic nightmare you never wake up from!” The visual of Englund’s jaw opening wide even evoked a similar image in Wes Craven’s New Nightmare. Englund was a lot of fun switching from the bumbling, soft-spoken doctor to the more openly evil, and sadistic villain Wheelwright truly was. Another classic Halloween themed epsiode.