HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: TUCKER AND DALE VS EVIL

CAST

Tyler Labine (Rise of The Planet of The Apes)
Alan Tudyk (Powerless)
Katrina Bowden (Scary Movie 5)
Jesse Moss (Ginger Snaps)
Chelan Simmons (Final Destination 3)
Phillip Granger (The Killing)
Brandon Jay McLaren (Power Rangers SPD)
Christie Laing (Arrow)
Travis Nelson (Wild Roses)
Sasha Craig (Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue)

A reporter and cameraman sneak into a closed off murder scene looking for anything the police missed in the hopes of breaking a bigger story. They are ambushed by a crazed man with half of his face badly injured. Allison, Chad, Chloe, Chuck, Jason, Naomi, Todd, Mitch and Mike are going camping in West Virginia. While at a gas station, they encounter Tucker and Dale, two well-meaning hillbillies who have just bought the vacation home of their dreams: a run-down lakefront cabin, deep in the woods. On Tucker’s advice, Dale tries to talk to Allison, but because of his inferiority complex and appearance, he only scares her and her friends.Tucker and Dale arrive at their decrepit cabin and begin repairing it. Nearby in the woods, Chad tells a story about the “Memorial Day Massacre”, a hillbilly attack which took place 20 years ago. The college kids go skinny-dipping where Tucker and Dale are fishing, and Allison, startled, hits her head. Tucker and Dale save her, but her friends think she was kidnapped. When Allison wakes up in Tucker and Dale’s cabin the next day, she is initially scared but befriends the two hillbillies. The other college kids arrive at the cabin to save Allison from her “psychopathic captors”, and Chuck runs away to get the police. While Dale and Allison are inside the cabin, Tucker angers some bees and frantically waves around his chainsaw, which the college kids misinterpret as hostility. They scatter through the woods, and Mitch accidentally impales himself on a broken tree, killing him. After finding Mitch’s body, Chad persuades the others that they are in a battle for survival.Alison’s friends follow Tucker and Dale back to their cabin and see Allison helping out with construction of an outhouse, but they assume she is digging her own grave. The college kids attack, but Todd and Mike end up accidentally killing themselves, and Allison is accidentally knocked unconscious again by Dale’s shovel. The other kids assume the hillbillies killed them when they see Tucker trying to save Mike from the wood chipper. Tucker and Dale think the college kids are suicidal and that contacting the police will make them murder suspects. Chuck arrives back with a sheriff, who expresses doubt over Tucker and Dale’s suicide pact theory. The sheriff goes inside the cabin and accidentally kills himself, and Chuck accidentally kills himself with the sheriff’s gun. Chad reappears and attempts to shoot Tucker and Dale but only manages to capture Tucker, whom he ties upside down to a tree. Chad then tortures Tucker and cuts Tucker’s fingers. He then sends a message to Dale to come and get Tucker.Dale leaves to rescue Tucker while Chad and Naomi return to the cabin to save Allison. When Allison tries to explain the situation, they accuse her of having Stockholm syndrome. Tucker and Dale return, and Allison attempts to lead a calm discussion. Chad says his grandmother told him that his father was killed in the Memorial Day Massacre, and his mother was the lone survivor. Jason and Chloe break in to save everyone, and a fire breaks out. Tucker, Dale, and Allison escape; Naomi, Chloe and Jason die, and Chad, insane and scarred, vows revenge. After a car crash, an injured Tucker tells Dale that Chad has taken Allison to an old sawmill, where he forcibly kisses her. Dale rescues Allison, and the two barricade themselves inside an upstairs office, where they discover news clippings that reveal Chad’s father to be the killer and rapist, not one of the victims. Chad becomes enraged, and Dale stops his attack by throwing a box of chamomile tea at Chad, which triggers a severe asthma attack. Chad, while standing near a window, convulses and falls to his apparent death.The police and a news crew arrive late at the cabin and broadcast a news report stating that the deaths appear to be the result of a suicide pact and a deranged killer; the reporter and cameraman are the two from the opening scene. Tucker watches the report on the news while convalescing in the hospital. Dale enters, and they discuss Tucker’s recovery. Tucker asks Dale whether he managed to invite Allison on a date and is happy to hear the two of them are going bowling. Later that night at the bowling alley, the two profess their feelings for each other and kiss.This film has instant cult classic written all over it as the standard hillbilly survival horror is turned on its head. You can’t help but root for the hapless pair but also groan in enjoyable frustration as the teens start to drop dead in lots of extremely gory accidents. A total joy from start to finish.

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER

ABRAHAM LINCOLN 1

CAST

Benjamin Walker (The War Boys)
Dominic Cooper (Dracula Untold)
Anthony Mackie (Captain America: Civil War)
Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Swiss Army Man)
Rufus Sewell (Hercules)
Marton Csokas (The Bourne Supremacy)
Jimmi Simpson (Westworld)
Joseph Mawle (Game of Thrones)
Alan Tudyk (Powerless)

In 1818, Abraham Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) lives in Indiana with his parents, Nancy (Robin McLeavy) and Thomas (Joseph Mawle), who works at a plantation owned by Jack Barts (Marton Csokas). There, Lincoln rushes to the aid of his friend, a young African American boy, William Johnson (Anthony Mackie), being beaten by a slaver. Because of his son’s actions, Thomas is fired. That night, Lincoln sees Barts break into his house and attack Nancy. She falls ill the following day, and dies shortly afterwards. Thomas tells Lincoln that Barts poisoned Nancy.
Nine years later in 1827, a vengeful Lincoln tries to kill Barts at the docks, but Barts, who is actually a vampire, overpowers him. However, before Barts can kill him, Lincoln is rescued by Henry Sturgess (Dominic Cooper). Sturgess explains that vampires exist, and offers to teach Lincoln to be a vampire hunter. Lincoln accepts and, after a decade of training, travels to Springfield, Illinois. During his training, Sturgess tells Lincoln that the vampires in America descend from Adam (Rufus Sewell), a vampire who owns a plantation in New Orleans with his sister, Vadoma (Erin Wasson). Sturgess also tells Lincoln of the vampires’ weakness, silver, and presents him with a silver pocket watch.
In Springfield, Lincoln befriends shopkeeper Joshua Speed (Jimmi Simpson), and meets Mary Todd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). Though Sturgess warned him not to form any close relationships, Lincoln develops romantic feelings for Mary. Lincoln successfully finds and defeats Barts. Before dying, Barts reveals that Sturgess is also a vampire. Lincoln confronts Sturgess, who reveals that, several years ago, he was attacked and bitten by Adam. Because Sturgess’ soul was impure, he became a vampire, and that prevented him from harming Adam or any other vampire (since “Only the living can kill the dead”). Sturgess has since been training vampire hunters, hoping to destroy Adam.
Disappointed, Lincoln decides to abandon his mission. However, Adam learns of his activities and kidnaps Johnson to lure Lincoln into a trap at his plantation. Adam captures Lincoln and tries to recruit him, revealing his plans to turn the United States into a nation of the undead. Speed rescues his friends, and they escape to Ohio. Lincoln marries Mary and begins his political career, campaigning to abolish slavery. It is at this time in the movie Lincoln symbolically puts on the top hat which he dons the rest of the movie. Sturgess warns Lincoln that the slave trade keeps vampires under control, as vampires use slaves for food, and if Lincoln interferes, the vampires will retaliate. After Lincoln’s election as President of the United States of America, he moves to the White House with Mary, where they have a son, William Wallace Lincoln (Cameron M. Brown). William is later bitten by Vadoma and dies.Confederate President Jefferson Davis (John Rothman) convinces Adam to deploy his vampires on the front lines. Lincoln orders the confiscation of all the silverware in the area and has it melted to produce silver weapons. Speed, believing that Lincoln is tearing the nation apart, defects and informs Adam that Lincoln will transport the silver by train. On the train, Adam and Vadoma, who have set fire to the upcoming trestle, attack Lincoln, Sturgess, and Johnson. During the fight, in which Speed is killed, Adam learns that the train holds only rocks. Lincoln reveals that Speed’s betrayal was a ruse to lure Adam into a trap. Lincoln uses his watch to stab Adam, killing him, and the three escape the train before it explodes. Meanwhile, Mary and the ex-slaves have transported the silver to Gettysburg through the Underground Railroad.The now leaderless Confederate vampires stage a final, massive assault and are met head on by the Union. Armed with their silver weapons, the Union soldiers destroy the vampires and eventually win the battle. During that battle, Mary confronts Vadoma, the vampire that killed her son, and kills her. Nearly two years later, on April 14, 1865, Sturgess tells Lincoln that the remaining vampires have fled the country. Sturgess tries to convince Lincoln to allow him to turn Lincoln into a vampire, so that he can become immortal and continue to fight vampires, but Lincoln declines. In modern times, Sturgess approaches a man at a bar in Washington, D.C. as he once approached Lincoln.This is a surprising, clever story that includes just enough historical facts to make it almost plausible. A lot of blood, but still recommended.

REVIEW: ALADDIN (2019)

Starring

Will Smith (Men In Black)
Mena Massoud (Strange But True)
Naomi Scott (Power Rangers)
Marwan Kenzari (Ben-Hur)
Navid Negahban (Legion)
Nasim Pedrad (Scream Queens)
Billy Magnussen (Into The Woods)
Numan Acar (Kokowash)
Alan Tudyk (Firefly)
Frank Welker (Transformers)

Marwan Kenzari and Mena Massoud in Aladdin (2019)Aladdin, a kind-hearted street urchin living in the Arabian city of Agrabah along with his pet monkey Abu, rescues and befriends Princess Jasmine, who has snuck out of the palace to explore, tired of her sheltered life. Meanwhile, the grand vizier, Jafar schemes to overthrow Jasmine’s father as the Sultan. He, along with his pet parrot sidekick Iago, seeks a magic lamp hidden in the Cave of Wonders that will grant him three wishes. Only one person is worthy to enter: “the diamond in the rough”, whom he decides is Aladdin. Aladdin is captured and Jafar persuades him to retrieve the lamp. Inside the cave, Aladdin finds a magic carpet and obtains the lamp. He gives it to Jafar, who double crosses him and throws him back into the cave, though Abu steals the lamp back.Navid Negahban, Numan Acar, Nasim Pedrad, and Naomi Scott in Aladdin (2019)Trapped in the cave, Aladdin rubs the lamp, unwittingly summoning an omnipotent Genie, who lives inside it. Genie explains that he has the power to grant Aladdin three wishes. Aladdin tricks Genie into freeing them from the cave without using a wish. After they get out of the cave, Aladdin uses his first official wish to become a prince to impress Jasmine, and promises to use his third wish to free Genie from servitude.Naomi Scott and Mena Massoud in Aladdin (2019)Aladdin enters Agrabah as Prince Ali of Ababwa, arriving in an extravagant spectacle—including Abu, whom Genie has transformed into an elephant. However, Jasmine is unimpressed by his first presentation, including an assortment of gifts and jams. The two later bond when he takes her on a ride on the magic carpet to show her the world she wants to see while Genie goes out with Jasmine’s handmaiden Dalia. When Jasmine tricks Aladdin into revealing his true identity, he convinces her that he is actually a prince and only dressed like a peasant to meet the citizens of Agrabah beforehand. Jafar discovers Aladdin’s identity and to test his theory, throws Aladdin into the sea. Aladdin loses consciousness and awakens having been saved by Genie, at the cost of his second wish. They then expose Jafar, who is arrested and imprisoned in the dungeon. The Sultan offers Aladdin the position as heir to the throne. Fearing he will lose Jasmine if the truth is revealed, Aladdin needs Genie with him now and refuses to free him, much to Genie’s disappointment.Naomi Scott in Aladdin (2019)Iago snatches one of the guards’ keys and he frees Jafar. Jafar stealthily steals the lamp from Aladdin and becomes Genie’s new master. He uses his first two wishes to become Sultan and then to become the world’s most powerful sorcerer, imprisoning the guards and Jasmine’s pet tiger Rajah. He then exposes Aladdin’s identity to Jasmine and exiles him and Abu to a frozen wasteland. He threatens to kill the Sultan and Dalia unless she agrees to marry him. At the wedding ceremony, Aladdin and Abu return, having been rescued by the magic carpet and Jasmine steals back the lamp. Furious, Jafar transforms Iago into a roc to give chase and overpowers them.Mena Massoud in Aladdin (2019)Aladdin stalls by taunting Jafar for being second only to Genie in terms of raw power, thereby tricking him into using his last wish to become the most powerful being in the universe. Due to the grey area in that wish, Genie is free to interpret it as he wishes and turns Jafar into a genie himself. Being chained to the lamp without a master, Jafar gets trapped inside, dragging Iago inside with him. Genie throws Jafar’s lamp to the Cave of Wonders and Aladdin keeps his promise, using his last wish to free Genie and turn him human. The Sultan declares that Jasmine will be the next ruler and tells her that Aladdin is a good person, outlines how worthy he is and tells her as Sultan, she can overturn the law that requires her to marry a prince. Jasmine follows Aladdin to the outside of the palace where she “orders him” to come and face the Sultan, she and Aladdin then share a passionate kiss. Genie marries Dalia and leaves to explore the world and start a family with her. Aladdin and Jasmine get married and start a new life.Naomi Scott and Mena Massoud in Aladdin (2019)I know everyone wants to compare this to the Animated version, but don’t. Take it as it comes and you will thoroughly enjoy it. It does stay pretty faithful to the animated version I think. Will Smith as the genie could never be the Robin Williams genie, but I don’t think he tries to. He does fantastically well in his own right.  think kids will love this and I would definitely recommend it.

REVIEW: DOOM PATROL – SEASON 1

Doom Patrol (2019)

Starirng

Diane Guerrero (Justice League vs The Fatal Five)
April Bowlby (Two and a Half Men)
Joivan Wade (the First Purge)
Alan Tudyk (Firefly)
Matt Bomer (The Magnificent Seven)
Brendan Fraser (The Mummy)
Timothy Dalton (Flash Gordon)

Doom Patrol (2019)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Julie McNiven (Mad Men)
Julian Richings (Man of Steel)
Kyle Clements (2 Guns)
Alan Heckner (The Mule)
Ashley Dougherty (Dynasty)
Phil Morris (Smallville)
Curtis Armstrong (American Dad)
Alec Mapa (Ugly Betty)
Lilli Birdsell (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Mark Sheppard (Battlestar Galactica)
Ted Sutherland (Rise)
Will Kemp (Reign)
Alimi Ballard (Sabrina: TTW)
Jasmine Kaur (Ender’s Game)
Lesa Wilson (Stargirl)
Bethany Anne Lind (Flight)
Ethan McDowell (The Gifted)
Jon Briddell (Nightmare Tenant)
Tommy Snider (Baskets)
Max Martini (The Order)
Joan Van Ark (Knots Landing)
Pisay Pao (Z Nation)
Susan Williams (The Accountant)
Devan Long (Bosch)
Edward Asner (Elf)
Haley Strode (Gangster Squad)
Victoria Blade (Chicago Fire)

Penultimate Patrol (2019)When I watched the first episode of Doom Patrol, I was immediately excited by what I saw: a great-looking, well-written story about surprisingly human superhumans with powers that were more than power fantasies. With the finale in the rear-view mirror, it’s time to look back and see if the show stuck to its ideas and made good on its promises.
In short, Doom Patrol is an incredibly special show – as a superhero/comic-book show, as a DC Universe show, and as just, you know, a dang TV show.April Bowlby and Joivan Wade in Doom Patrol (2019)At its roots, Doom Patrol is a show about people with disabilities. People with differences that separate them from “normal” people. They hide their disfigurements, struggle, and shame themselves. They stand out not as a matter of choice, but just by existing. And the show, the story, never loses sight of that. Through their adventures, the Patrol meets a sentient, teleporting, genderqueer street, a guy who gets special powers from eating beard hair (it’s gross), and a cockroach with a god complex. They get sucked into a donkey that farts words, end up inside a snowglobe with characters that would freak out the people who made Return to Oz, and break into a government facility that houses, among other things, carnivorous butts.Doom Patrol is a show that fully embraces its weirdness in a way very few shows manage. But throughout this, our characters continue to struggle and fight against the forces that work against them: a reality that wants to write their narratives for them, a government agency that wants to track, monitor, and use them because they don’t fit neatly into the idea of normalcy, and a few overprotective father figures with questionable ideas of what it means to protect their children or their charges.Diane Guerrero in Doom Patrol (2019)Together, the team validates each others’ struggles. Cliff immediately accepts Crazy Jane, and the eventual dive into her mind helps him understand that only she can put herself back together – and that it’s with the strength of her relationships that she can start to try to do it. Larry Trainor was a gay man living in mid-century America. When he was forcibly united with the Negative Spirit, the idea of hiding his real self from his loved ones became very literal, and the disfigurement he held for himself in his mind became real – and toxic. It wasn’t until he started to communicate with the spirit that he was able to find peace with his own truth. Cyborg, who I’ve previously described as a Justice-League-grade hero had to push his way out from under his helicopter-parent father to truly become himself and to find an even ground on which he could communicate with that father. The group went through therapy together, even if there was a rat inside Cliff’s head for it.Brendan Fraser, Diane Guerrero, and Riley Shanahan in Doom Patrol (2019)And while these characters were working through their collective and individual traumas, we got an incredibly good-looking show with stellar character designs and great visual effects. The arc that took the characters to Nurnheim stands out as an especially good-looking part of the show with some wild monsters for the characters to fight off, making them look like a superhero team for the first time.Riley Shanahan in Doom Patrol (2019)And few shows are so compassionate toward their characters. No show is perfect, especially when handling as many sensitive issues – disability, mental and physical trauma, sexual assault, hate, internalized ableism, just to start the list – but I don’t know if I’ve seen any show do it with such aplomb. This is a show about people with very real barriers to living normal lives, not super-geniuses who can take off their power armor, and it lets us into all of their struggles and loves them through it. With reports that suggest the show will see a second season, I can only cross my fingers and hope we’ll see more of these incredible characters.

REVIEW: TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON

CAST

Shia LaBeouf (Eagle Eye)
Rosie Huntington-Whiteley (Mad Max: Fury Road)
Josh Duhamel (Paradise Lost)
John Turturro (Exodus: Gods and Kings)
Tyrese Gibson (2 Fast 2 Furious)
Patrick Dempsey (Made of Honor)
Kevin Dunn (Samantha Who?)
Julie White (Lincoln)
John Malkovich (Red)
Frances McDormand (Hail, Caesar!)
Keiko Agena (13 Reasons Why)
Lester Speight (Faster)
Josh Kelly (Jarhead 2)
Alan Tudyk (Firefly)
Mark Ryan (Robin of Sherwood)
Ken Jeong (The Hangover)
Glenn Morshower (Supergirl)
Buzz Aldrin (The Big Bang Theory)
Elya Baskin (Heroes)
Peter Cullen (Dungeons & Dragons)
Hugo Weaving (The Matrix)
Leonard Nimoy (Star Trek)
Jess Harnell (Little Nicky)
James Remar (Mortal Kombat: Annihilation)
Francesco Quinn (Hell Ride)
George Coe (The West Wing)
Reno Wilson (Mike & Molly)
Tom Kenny (The Powerpuff Girls)
John DiMaggio (Futurama)
Keith Szarabajka (Angel)
Greg Berg (The Muppets)
Lindsey Ginter (S.W.A.T.)
Anthony Azizi (Lost)
Robert Foxworth (Beyond The Stars)

Ravil Isyanov (Octopus)

In 1961, the “Ark”, a Cybertronian spacecraft carrying an invention capable of ending the war between the benevolent Autobots and the malevolent Decepticons, crash lands on the dark side of Earth’s Moon. The crash is detected on Earth by NASA, and the President authorizes a mission to put a man on the Moon as a cover for investigating the spacecraft. In 1969, the crew of Apollo 11 lands on the Moon.In the present, the Autobots assist the United States military in preventing major conflicts around the globe. During a mission to Chernobyl to investigate suspected alien technology, Optimus Prime finds a fuel cell from the “Ark”, discovering that it had survived its journey from Cybertron. The Autobots are then attacked by Shockwave, a Decepticon scientist, who manages to escape. After learning of the top-secret mission to the Moon, the Autobots travel there to explore the “Ark”. They discover a comatose Sentinel Prime – Optimus’ predecessor as leader of the Autobots – and the Pillars he created as a means of establishing a Space Bridge between two points to teleport matter. After returning to Earth, Optimus uses the energy of his Matrix of Leadership to revive Sentinel Prime.Meanwhile, Sam Witwicky is frustrated that he is unable to work with the Autobots or find a job. He also becomes envious of the close relationship between his new girlfriend, Carly Spencer, and her boss Dylan Gould. After finding work, Sam is provided information by his eccentric co-worker Jerry Wang about the “Ark”, before Jerry is assassinated by the Decepticon Laserbeak. Sam contacts the now-independently wealthy Sector 7 Agent Seymour Simmons, and together they realize that the Decepticons and their leader, Megatron, are murdering people connected to the American and Russian space missions to the “Ark”. They locate two surviving Russian cosmonauts, who reveal satellite photos of hundreds of Pillars being stockpiled on the Moon. Sam realizes that the Decepticons raided the “Ark” long before the Apollo 11 mission to the moon and intentionally left Sentinel and the five Pillars behind to lure the Autobots into a trap with Sentinel being the key to activating the Pillars and the Decepticons lacking the means to revive him. The Autobots rush to return Sentinel to their base for protection, but Sentinel betrays them and murders the Autobot Ironhide, revealing he had made a deal with Megatron to ensure Cybertron’s survival.Sentinel uses the Pillars to transport hundreds of concealed Decepticons from the Moon to Earth. Carly is later captured by Gould, who is revealed to be in service of the Decepticons. The Autobots are exiled from Earth at the demand of the Decepticons to avoid war, but as their ship leaves Earth it is destroyed by Megatron’s second-in-command, Starscream, seemingly killing the Autobots. The Decepticons, led by Megatron and Sentinel, invade Chicago as their agents place Pillars around the world. Gould reveals to Carly that the Decepticons plan to transport their homeworld of Cybertron to the Solar System, then to enslave humanity and use Earth’s resources to rebuild their world. Sam teams up with former USAF Chief Robert Epps and ex-NEST soldiers to go into Chicago to save Carly, but they are nearly killed by Decepticon forces before the Autobots intervene, revealing they concealed themselves during the launch of their ship to convince the Decepticons they were destroyed.Working together, the Autobots and human soldiers manage to rescue Carly and kill Laserbeak, Starscream, Soundwave and Shockwave, with Optimus using Shockwave’s arm-cannon to blast the Control Pillar, disabling the Space Bridge. Sam confronts Gould as he reactivates the Control Pillar, and knocks Gould into the Pillar, electrocuting him. Bumblebee and Ratchet arrive and destroy the Control Pillar, permanently disabling the Bridge and causing the partially transported Cybertron to implode. Optimus and Sentinel fight while Carly convinces Megatron that he will be replaced by Sentinel as leader of the Decepticons. Sentinel severs Optimus’ right arm, and is about to execute him when Megatron intervenes, incapacitating Sentinel. Megatron slyly proposes a truce, having the desire to become the one in charge again, but Optimus instead attacks Megatron, decapitating and killing him. Sentinel pleads for his life, but Optimus executes him too for betraying his own principles. With the Decepticons defeated, Carly and Sam are reunited and the Autobots accept that, with Cybertron gone for good, Earth is now their home.Ultimately, Bay’s primary success here is casting. In addition to Dempsey (pleasingly cynical), Dark of the Moon boasts an elaborate roster of recognizable, exceptional professionals, like John Malkovich (ridiculous), Frances McDormand (deadly serious), Ken Jeong (psychotic), and Alan Tudyk (over-the-top), who give the film color. McDormand in particular adds a level of gravitas to the first half of the movie that really greases the wheels, and even though she’s relegated to the far back in the last third, she shares her time with returning player John Turturro, with whom she has amusing chemistry. Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, Kevin Dunn, and Julie White also return. Everything else is action, action, action. This time, Bay is better with his action geography and choreography, illustrating fights from a distance and turning down the dust clouds a little bit.

REVIEW: THE TICK – SEASON 2

The Tick (2017)

MAIN CAST

Peter Serafinowicz (Spy)
Griffin Newman (Draft Day)
Valorie Curry (Blair Witch)
Brendan Hines (Lie To Me)
Yara Martinez (Jane The Virgin)
Scott Speiser (6 Ways To Die)

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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Happy Anderson (The Knick)
François Chau (Lost)
John Hodgman (Arthur)
Patricia Kalember (Signs)
Marc Kudisch (Smash)
Alan Tudyk (Doom Patrol)
Tom O’Keefe (The Gifted)
Joshua Schubart (After)
Adam Henry Garcia (Royal Pains)
Steven Ogg (The Walking Dead)
Lucas Dixon (A Picture of You)
Brian Faherty (Measure of a Man)
Grant Harrison (Snafu)
Jade Elysan (Bonding)
Clara Wong (Louie)
Liz Vassey (Two and a Half Men)
Clé Bennett (Heroes Reborn)

MV5BMTg3MjY1MDUxMV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzczNTU2NzM@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,675,1000_AL_Certain comedies get better as they go along, when the writers and the actors have all had a chance to gel and figure out what everyone’s strengths and weakness are. That’s certainly true of Amazon’s The Tick, as it feels almost like an entirely new show at the start of season 2. Some of that is certainly due to the show’s continued refinement of Tick’s (Peter Serafinowicz) suit (or is it his body?), The new suit is much more practical, and it allows for a greater range of motion for the man wearing it, which in turn lets The Tick worry less about how its title character looks and more about the level of self-awareness it wants to infuse into its ongoing story of hopelessly flawed superheroes fighting crime in a city called the City.The Dark Crystal_BreaAt times it felt as though season 1 of The Tick was an attempt for the show to find how it fit with the current glut of superhero films and TV series as much as it was about the effort of Tick and his nascent sidekick, Arthur (Griffin Newman), to root out evil and discover their place among the alleged pantheon of heroes sworn to protecting the City. Tone and pacing were common issues throughout the first season, which were then exacerbated by a protracted midseason break (almost six months). And still, even upon the series’ return, the balance between humor and superhero action felt off and the serialized nature of the series couldn’t quite turn a plot involving the return of the Terror (Jackie Earle Haley) into the kind of energized storytelling previous incarnations of The Tick enjoyed.the-tick-season-2-peter-serafinowiczThat isn’t an issue for season 2, which returns a funnier, faster-paced, and far more confident series than it was in season 1. From the first episode on, The Tick feels very much like the buddy comedy it was meant to be. Serafinowicz and Newman enjoy an easy chemistry with one another, which along with the self-aware, super-heroic dialogue, becomes key to the season’s early success. It helps that Arthur is fully committed to his role as a superhero, and that his family is (for the most part) supportive of his decision to pursue a life of crimefighting while also being an accountant. Removing the will they or won’t they from Tick and Arthur’s relationship gets the series off on the right foot, allowing the show to lean into the absurdity of its premise and its characters by making it all seem perfectly normal for these two heroes.dimsSeason 2 has some help in the normalizing department, as the defeat of the Terror has brought a huge influx of extremely weird (and often ridiculous) heroes and villains to the City, thanks in large part to A.E.G.I.S (The Tick’s cheeky riff on S.H.I.E.L.D.) re-opening a branch in Tick and Arthur’s neck of the woods. That opens the door for the series to get precisely as weird as it need to, introducing characters like Steve Ogg’s semi-retired Flexon (a Tick analogue to Marvel’s Mr. Fantastic), John Hodgman’s Hobbes, and Marc Kudisch as the hyper masculine, tough-as-nails head of A.E.G.I.S., Tyrannosaurus ‘Ty’ Rathbone. Part of what has made The Tick an enduring character since the 1980s is the ever-changing community of oddballs he is surrounded by. While Arthur is and will always be the Watson to his dim-bulb Sherlock Holmes, the franchise has proven adept at introducing new characters who are inherently ridiculous but just serious enough to work, and to keep things fresh, interesting, and funny.zUOS95Hv_400x400Season 2 also introduces a new plot line for Arthur’s sister Dot (Valerie Curry), as she begins to wonder whether or not Arthur’s the only one in the family destined to spend their spare time seeking justice. This thread works to give Tick and Arthur some breathing room, but it also spares Curry from being primarily relegated to reacting to the danger her onscreen sibling finds himself in. In her expanded role, Dot manages to get into some trouble and forge a bond with Overkill (Scott Speiser), which, in turn, offers that character a chance to be something more than a spoof on hyper-violent vigilante characters who rose to prominence in the ‘90s. The biggest improvements in season 2, however, are in how the season is structured. Though the overarching narrative of the season is still serialized, each episode functions on its own as a complete episode of television. Having a distinct beginning, middle, and end focuses the story and the comedy on more specific elements integral to the episode at hand. As a result, the jokes are funnier, the action livelier, and the story threads more compelling.the-tick-season-2-peter-serafinowicz-griffin-newman-interview-slice-600x200All in all, The Tick returns with the terrific new season of television. More heroes, more villains — all of them ridiculous in their own way — means more opportunities for laughs and for superhero action. Much like the Tick’s costume, the series received the right kind of upgrade in between seasons, and in doing so has become a real contender in the world of superhero TV.

REVIEW: SANTA CLARITA DIET – SEASON 3

Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant in Santa Clarita Diet (2017)

MAIN CAST

Drew Barrymore (Charlies Angels)
Timothy Olyphant (Hitman)
Liv Hewson (Inhumans)
Skyler Gisondo (The Amazing Spider-Man)

Santa Clarita Diet (2017)
RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Natalie Morales (Powerless)
Goran Visnjic (The Girl In The Dragon Tatoo)
Leo Howard (Conan The Barbarian)
Zachary Knighton (Flashforward)
Maggie Lawson (Two and a Half Men)
Joel McHale (Happy Time Murders)
Jonathan Slavin (Speechless)
Ethan Suplee (The Ranch)
Shalita Grant (Bones)
Alan Tudyk (Doom Patrol)
Thomas Lennon (The Order)
Matthew Glave (Argo)
Ramona Young (Legends of Tomorrow)
Linda Lavin (Wanderlust)
Malcolm Barrett (Swimfan)
Mary Elizabeth Ellis (New Girl)

17362723_340606059674192_6261011132851321202_nThere are few things more joyful than the sight of Drew Barrymore having fun. I always feel she’s earned it. And never does she seem to have more fun than as undead suburban mum – or “mombie”, if you will – in zombie sitcom – or “zomcom”, if you will – Santa Clarita Diet, whose third series has just dropped with a bloody squelch on Netflix.santa-clarita-dietFans will recall that we left Sheila (Barrymore) and Joel (Timothy Olyphant) Hammond after they had just blown up the clam farm responsible for turning Sheila and others into undead flesh-eaters and had been discovered harbouring a still-talking decapitated head in their basement by their police officer neighbour Anne. That’s Gary, whom Sheila killed when she was still learning to curb her new murderous instincts, but who came back to life, because, well, it’s a zomcom.17800340_348027332265398_4751450473229260878_nThe third series expands the Hammonds’ and the show’s universe. Anne is cleaving close, having decided that the resurrected Sheila is a divine instrument and that Anne’s purpose is to help her to murder Nazis. For her, it’s God’s work, news of which is to be shared with her church. For Sheila, it’s the most ethically securable lunch, and very much to be kept to themselves. Rival realtors Chris and Christa Caldwell – magnificently vicious creations both – are back, Gary’s decomposing head (they forgot his serum) is full of ideas for the Hammonds’ estate agency, and the relationship between Abby (Liv Hewson) and Eric (Skyler Gisondo, who has all the command of Michael Cera without the tics) is deepening without losing any of its almost heartbreaking charm or laughs.993877_493271127545501_7030441332169042474_nThe Hammonds are still on a fairly tight murder schedule, but rather than it forming the centrepiece of every episode, this season is letting the Serbian mythology, which seems to hold the key to explaining Sheila’s predicament, take a more prominent role. I hope it takes a while to unlock, because one of the people from that vampire-’n’-assorted-other-lore-rich country who has arrived in California to track Sheila and her ilk down is played by Goran Višnjić, displaying the kind of comic chops you never dreamed of when he was poor, tormented Dr Luka Kovač in ER.9244cf84-fa2c-4528-9492-20fabb04d5aa-scd_108_unit_00291_r_cropSo there are changes (the gore remains a constant, and still not quite cartoonish enough to stop me needing a sick bucket), but Santa Clarita Diet’s core strength remains: the portrait of a marriage under comic but emotionally resonant strain. It’s played for laughs – and one-liners, visual gags, callbacks and fleeting asides abound (“And there’s so many more of them around these days!” says a delighted Joel as they rejoice briefly in their Nazis-as-lobster-tank-for-Sheila idea) – but it asks us what we’d do for love and how far we’d go for our partners. Joel has just about got used to his new husbandly role as accessory to multiple murder, but in season three the couple begin to realise the other ramifications of Sheila’s condition. Her immortality means she will outlive her entire family – unless she bites them and they join her in her bloodthirsty ways. Santa Clarita Diet remains a gorgeously flavourful one. Fill up.