REVIEW: CAPRICA – PART 2

 

Starring

Eric Stoltz (The Butterfly Effect)
Esai Morales (Titans)
Paula Malcomson (The Hunger Games)
Alessandra Torresani (The Big Bang Theory)
Magda Apanowicz (You)
Sasha Roiz (Grimm)
Brian Markinson (Sanctuary)
Polly Walker (Pennyworth)

Caprica (2009)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Kendall Cross (X-Men 2)
Peter Wingfield (Highlander: The Series)
Andrew Airlie (Fifty Shades of Grey)
Hiro Kanagawa (Izombie)
Panou (Flash Gordon)
Zak Santiago (Shooter)
Bridget Hoffman (Darkman)
Scott Porter (Speed Racer)
John Pyper-Ferguson (The Last Ship)
Anita Torrance (Smallville)
Genevieve Buechner (The Final Cut)
Ben Cotton (Stargate: Atlantis)
Teryl Rothery (Stargate SG.1)
Patton Oswalt (Veronica Mars)
Ryan Kennedy (Smallville)
Christopher Heyerdahl (Van Helsing)
Calum Worthy (American Vandal)
Tom McBeath (Stargate SG.1)
Aleks Paunovic (Van Helsing)
Elisabeth Rosen (Cult of Chucky)
Sina Najafi (Stargate SG.1)
Carmen Moore (Flash Gordon)
Mike Dopud (Arrow)

Esai Morales in Caprica (2009)Nothing would’ve made me happier than to deem Syfy’s decision to cancel Caprica a grave and unwarranted one, but that’s something which simply can’t happen. Bear with me now, because there’s a reason for saying this. As a defender of the series when it was on the brink of cancellation, there’s no joy in stating that it’s easy to see why Ron Moore and David Eick’s offshoot from Battlestar Galactica received the axe when it did. Though far from faultless, the first half of the series established a fine foundation for a world rife for exploration: the mechanics of a society that would ultimately create a sentient lifeform, robots which would rebel and eventually annihilate most of the human race. But concept’s only part of the journey, and Caprica saw tonal and storytelling issues that shaped it into a rough, erratic exploration of those ideas, reaching an especially stagnant point at the beginning of this second half. It’s a shame, then, that the writers and producers finally discover their rhythm in the last five-and-a-half episodes, as it truly becomes the series I had hoped it’d become.Paula Malcomson in Caprica (2009)The story revolves around the polytheistic, technologically-advanced colony of Caprica roughly sixty years before “the downfall”, focusing on the conflict between, and within, two families: The Graystones, and the Adamas. Lawyer Joseph Adams (Esai Morales) lives a somewhat normal life with his wife and two children, Tamara and Billy, attempting to juggle his high-profile stature in the legal realm with his domestic life. He fights a bit with keeping himself as distanced as he can from his unsavory lineage, the Tauron mob Ha’la’tha, though it’s hard since the organization funded his education and requires his services regularly — usually by messages delivered through his brother, Sam (Sasha Roiz). BSG devotees with get a jolt in seeing the blossoming of young “Billy” in this environment early on, watching the growth of the semi-troubled youth that’d transform into the disquieting, powerful Galactica commander Bill Adama.Magda Apanowicz in Caprica (2009)Caprica’s central draw, however, is the Graystones. Daniel Graystone (Eric Stoltz) heads a tech development firm working on a mechanized super-soldier that’s just not cutting the mustard, all the while generating profit (60% of net, to be exact) with virtual reality headsets — holobands — that connect to a network of fully-interactive, realistic digital worlds. Graystone’s seemingly safe digital construct quickly broke down into a laissez-faire underground, filled with hacked sections that exploit sex, drug-use, and violence. Daniel’s daughter, a silver-tongued high-school student named Zoe (Alessandra Torresani) who battles with her mother Amanda (Paula Malcomson) over authority, frequents the holoband V-Club with boyfriend Ben (Avan Jogia) and timid best friend Lacy (Magda Apanowicz), yet they’re beyond the carnal satisfaction that the place has to offer. Instead, they’ve found purpose in monotheistic religious belief within an activist organization, the Soldiers of The One (STO), and, in the process, created an exact digital copy of Zoe who will somehow aid the resistance.Eric Stoltz and Paula Malcomson in Caprica (2009)Caprica utilized a cliffhanger episode at the end of the first half of the season, one that leaves the mortality of several characters up in the air. It’s uncertain whether the depression-driven grief that Amanda’s been going through truly led her to suicide; similarly, we’re unsure if the full-throttle abrasiveness that Zoe was enacting inside the U-87 Cylon body destroyed her at the end. Then, Syfy opted to go on a very lengthy mid-season break (read: they shelved the episodes), leaving curious minds in the dark for roughly seven months and, effectively, knocking the wind out of Caprica. Already, the series wasn’t on the strongest of legs; as mentioned before, it establishes a fine world that explores the emotions coursing through decisions to either reject or embrace digital memories of loved ones, while also giving some deep-rooted glimpses into the underpinnings of Moore and Eick’s Emmy-winning Battlestar Galactica. Yet it wasn’t all gelling together as of yet, only improving as the series went along but ultimately lacking the joie du vivre that pumped its inspiration forward.Eric Stoltz in Caprica (2009)Therefore, when Caprica’s second half starts off sluggish and overbearingly dour, it’s almost like a death toll. Let’s be perfectly honest here: the first three installments following a seven-month hiatus end up being misfired glut, something the series couldn’t withstand at that point. Starting with a jump-forward in time that echoes the end of Battlestar Galactica’s second season, it throws the story in a pit of depression, despair, and cutthroat politics surrounding Daniel that bloats beyond its boundaries. When the Ha’la’tha use killing one’s mother — someone unassociated with the crime syndicate — as a sign of loyalty, when the STO enact murderous power moves over their religious heads, or when Zoe’s avatar is bludgeoned to near-death for simply looking like the STO terrorist she’s perceived to be, the tone gets molasses-level thick and fairly objectionable. It’s as if Moore and Eick are overcompensating so their audience knows they’re not pulling any punches, while the output they produce leans toward ham-handed and hard-faced discomfort — and extremely awkward in “Things We Lock Away”, a sloppily glued-together hodgepodge of poorly-orchestrated arena brawls in New Cap City and intent Lacy/STO development.Esai Morales in Caprica (2009)None of Caprica’s issues root in the performances, however, or the production design. From the ground up, Moore and Eick continue the shrewdly-cast and stylish thrust of science-fiction with a fine vein of suspense, capturing the city’s expanses with a unique blend of metropolitan polish, futuristic gris-gris, and slick ’50s-esque allure. Locations like the Graystone mansion sport angular windows and a glaring pour of cold light, while the Adama household encapsulates a warm yet dark demeanor. These fitting aesthetic touches cradle some exceptional dramatic performances, including Eric Stoltz and Esai Morales whom have come into their own as tried-and-true denizens of Caprica. The same can be said for Magda Apanowicz as Lacy, who takes the complications surrounding a semi-innocent girl lost in the world of terrorism and runs with them with stalwart momentum. Lacy’s role, which gets sloshed around in the first half of the season, begins to grow more focused as she embeds further into the STO (and learns of her affinity with post-Zoe Cylons). The faces of Caprica are what keep the series afloat, both during the well-executed and bungled stretches in the show.Still from CapricaReally, the issues hinge on a general question: “What’s the driving force behind Caprica?” At first, the series closed in on the machinations of the Cylon origins, as well as exploring monotheism vs. polytheism, the benefits and hindrances of an abandon-free V-World, and the reluctance for people to let go of those whom have died. Upon the second half of Caprica, all that’s somewhat switched out for direct drama involving the robots’ “creator”, as well as concentration on the gangster Adama network and the blossoming of the terrorist organization as idealists — which, by the way, the STO material’s fairly bland and oddly-executed during that stretch. In essence, it starts to go down a fairly generic path of aggressive human drama, leaving the intrigue behind Zoe’s presence somewhat alone for a two-hour burst. It’s pretty clear that the minds behind the show tinkered with some new (and time-weathered) ideas to try and wrangle together a new audience. And it didn’t really pan out as such.Caprica with Eric StoltzFortunately, the creative team seems to have had an inclination towards this. Starting with “False Labor”, Caprica begins to see an awakening, as if they both discover where their weaknesses lie and resurrect the spirit of Battlestar Galactica — which carries over in “Blowback”, marking the first of five episodes that Syfy shelved around the time of cancellation. In this episode, Daniel attempts to recreate Zoe’s “resurrection” software, while in the process using an avatar of Amanda as a basis for comparison. Since he knows all the mannerisms and minutiae of his wife, he’s able to determine exactly how human or inhuman she’s acting, and the content that unfolds as he dissects this digital Amanda can be both penetrating and emotionally stirring. On top of that, Lacy gets her first hearty taste of the STO’s domineering, contentious presence, while meeting other “recruits” similar to her. Moreover, it rediscovers its tonality; difficult drama remains, but the way it’s handled regains the excitement of its inspiration. In short, it gets good. Really, really good.With Syfy cancelling the show and five episodes still left to run, the big question likely will be: “Does it get a proper, strong conclusion?” Piggybacking off the regained proficiency that it rediscovers in “Blowback”, Caprica sprints through the remaining episodes as if it knows that the end’s coming, losing its abandon in a furious, gripping rush that certainly echoes to Battlestar Galactica’s aptitude in 11th-hour intensity. It hits the accelerator and really doesn’t stop until an unquestionably finite conclusion, bringing together Daniel’s hunt for Zoe’s avatar in V-World and the unsavory connections between Graystone Industries and the Tauron mob to a very fine, robust head. Moreover, the content surrounding Lacy’s presence in the STO finally reaches a meaningful point, instead of evoking the sensation that it’s a time-killing subplot like it did at first. But, much like the conclusion of Battlestar Galactica, it also ditches some sensibility in lieu of excitement, breaking some of its own rules and established character mannerisms just to find a definite close. When it all melts together, though, it’ll be worth gritting one’s teeth through a few questionable moments.Those who’ve watched Caprica and cashed in their chips owe it to themselves to check out the tense follow-through, with the knowledge that the tone’s anything but consistent. There’s only a handful of great moments scattered within; however, there are assuredly some really great moments, ones that ensnare the type of essence I’d hoped would resonate in a depiction of the pre-Cylon world. In the middle of that, along with blatant reflection on the current climate of terrorism, it also provokes thought about the extents that some might go to preserve the memories and essence of those they love, and whether the recreation of an individual would push the boundaries of their belief structure. Caprica’s an intelligent show at its core, one with a complex network of emotion buttons that simply never properly learned how and when to push them. What’s a shame is that the show reveals a few glimmers at the end that suggest it might’ve found out how, ones that likely hadn’t even been seen by those that made the decision to power down this tale of the pre-war Cylon race.

REVIEW: BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (2004) – SEASON 3

Starring

Edward James Olmos (Blade Runner)
Mary McDonnell (Donnie Darko)
Katee Sackhoff (Riddick)
Jamie Bamber (Marcella)
James Callis (Flashforward)
Tricia Helfer (Powers)
Grace Park (Hawaii Five-0)
Michael Hogan (Red Riding Hood)
Aaron Douglas (Chaos)
Nicki Clyne (Saved!)
Tahmoh Penikett (Dollhouse)
Kandyse McClure (Mother’s Day)
Alessandro Juliani (Smallville)

Callum Keith Rennie and Katee Sackhoff in Battlestar Galactica (2004)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Donnelly Rhodes (Legends of Tomorrow)
Rekha Sharma (V)
Lucy Lawless (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Michael Trucco (Sabrina: TTW)
Callum Keith Rennie (Impulse)
Kate Vernon (Heores)
Matthew Bennett (Stargate SG.1)
Dean Stockwell (Quantum Leap)
Luciana Carro (Helix)
Leah Cairns (Interstellar)
Dominic Zamprogna (Stargate Universe)
Colin Lawrence (Watchmen)
Richard Hatch (InAlienable)
Rick Worthy (The Vampire Diaries)
Amanda Plummer (The Hunger Games)
Eileen Pedde (Juno)
Ty Olsson (War of TPOTA)
Ryan Robbins (Sanctuary)
Jen Halley (Red Riding Hood)
Erica Cerra (Power Rangers)
Emilie Ullerup (Sanctuary)
Bodie Olmos (Walkout)
Alisen Down (Smallville)
Sebastian Spence (First Wave)
Tiffany Lyndall-Knight (I, Robot)
Rachel Hayward (12 Rounds 2)
Carl Lumbly (Supergirl)
Aleks Paunovic (Van Helsing)
Don Thompson (Slither)
G. Patrick Currie (Stargate SG.1)
Bruce Davison (X-Men)
Gabrielle Rose (Dark Angel)
Lucinda Jenney (Rain Man)
Samantha Ferris (Shattered)
Jerry Wasserman (Watchmen)
Bryce Hodgson (X-Men)
Georgia Craig (Catch and Release)
Mark Sheppard (Doom Patrol)
Chelah Horsdal (You Me Her)
Keegan Connor Tracy (Bates Motel)

 

Mary McDonnell, Edward James Olmos, Jamie Bamber, James Callis, Michael Hogan, Grace Park, Tahmoh Penikett, and Tricia Helfer in Battlestar Galactica (2004)When we left Adama and crew in the second season things had turned upside down to say the least. “One Year Later” took on a whole new meaning as the survivors of the Cylon attack settled down on a humble world that came to be known as New Caprica. The election of Baltar as President of the Colonies proved to be a rather large mistake as it was his own ineptitude that brought about the appearance of the Cylon fleet. The second season ended with the Cylons imprisoning mankind and the Adamas jumping away with both Battlestars. To say that the outlook was bleak would be an understatement and through much of the third season the show explores what life was like under Cylon rule.Jamie Bamber in Battlestar Galactica (2004)When season three begins it’s quite evident that this was a very different Battlestar Galactica. For one thing Admiral Adama had a killer moustache, Apollo got chunky presumably from eating too many Twinkies, and just about everyone else we cared about was stuck on the planet (aside from Helo and Dee, though we really don’t care about Dee). I didn’t think it was really possible considering the human race has been on the run from extinction but if the tone of Galactica could have gotten any more somber; New Caprica did the trick.Edward James Olmos, Grace Park, and Tahmoh Penikett in Battlestar Galactica (2004)Starbuck, Tigh, Anders, Tyrol, Cally, Roslin, Gaeta, and yes, even Baltar were all stuck on the surface with the rest of the colonies. They became an encampment under Cylon supervision though they were still allowed to congregate and kind of, sort of live out a normal life. At least as normal as possible with an artificially intelligent gun pointed at your head. For some strange reason the Cylons chose to use their resources to keep humanity alive. Their goal was never truly made clear but it certainly seemed that they’d rather have humanity under their metallic boots than erased out of the food chain.Mary McDonnell and Richard Hatch in Battlestar Galactica (2004)As the New Caprica storyline progresses there are some revelations that have resounding effects throughout the rest of the season. One of the biggest things to come about from all of this involves Gaius Baltar. As president of the colonies he has been forced into servitude by the Cylons and does all manner of unscrupulous things during his administration. The people loath him and they want him dead but little do they know that he did most of his devious acts at the wrong end of a pistol. He becomes a pariah before long and has found himself reluctantly siding with the Cylons.Grace Park and Eileen Pedde in Battlestar Galactica (2004)To be quite honest, so much happens on New Caprica that it would be difficult to discuss everything here. I will say that as interesting, and I suppose necessary, as this aspect was it did change the dynamic of the show. It was no longer the show that people had come to expect thanks to it being landlocked. Sure the characters were still the same and it allowed a lot of room for development but there’s no getting around the fact that it felt different, even if it only lasted for a couple of episodes. I guess it was designed that way so that the inevitable rescue of the colonies in “Exodus” was as climactic as it was. Trust me on this one, if you haven’t seen it this was one of the best moments EVER in Galactica.Edward James Olmos, Michael Hogan, and Grace Park in Battlestar Galactica (2004)From there the show returns to some form of normalcy. The people are trying to fit into their old roles from over a year ago and they struggle on many personal levels to accept what happened. The characters are scarred from the past and it’s enjoyable to watch as Galactica delves into that pain as the show moves forward. One episode that explores that is “Unfinished Business” which pits the crew of Galactica against each other in a boxing ring. This is essentially Battlestar’s version of Fight Club but it works on so many levels. Likewise towards the end of the season the two-part “Crossroads” takes a look at Baltar and the crimes he orchestrated against humanity. Without giving away details I will say that this episode features one of the greatest monologues ever delivered in a science fiction series. I got goosebumps watching this particular scene the first time and every time after it was just as satisfying.Mary McDonnell, Edward James Olmos, James Callis, Michael Hogan, and Tricia Helfer in Battlestar Galactica (2004)In between “Exodus” and “Crossroads” there are plenty of other episodes that stand out and explore interesting components of daily life aboard the colonies. “Hero” brings a figure from the past to light and delivers some interesting tidbits regarding Adama’s actions prior to the Cylon attack. “The Eye of Jupiter” is fascinating as it delves deeper into the prophetic writings of the founding colony. “Dirty Hands” examines societal issues and class structure among the survivors in a very interesting way. And finally “Maelstrom” was definitely a great look at the character of Kara Thrace. Now, as with the previous season of Galactica there are many storylines that run through these individual episodes. The aforementioned New Caprica angle is probably the most prominent but others that play a role include Sharon and Helo’s child Hera, Roslin’s struggle with cancer (again), and the ever frustrating Lee and Starbuck relationship.James Callis and Tricia Helfer in Battlestar Galactica (2004)As much as I didn’t like Lee and Dee getting together, I must admit that the way Galactica played Lee and Starbuck got obnoxious after a while. Due to Kara’s personal issues she closes up and becomes standoffish at all of the wrong moments. I suppose it’s a testament to the writing that you’ll feel the anger and frustrating that Lee does when this happens, but it’s annoying just the same. “Unfinished Business” was definitely a nice way for these two to work out their issues and resolve some feelings. I particularly liked the way Anders responded to their fight as it basically mirrored what I was thinking at the time.Edward James Olmos in Battlestar Galactica (2004)After the escape from New Caprica, the colonies and Cylons kind of go their separate ways. They are both still clamoring for Earth and seeking out clues of its existence and location but they spend a great deal of time away from each other. This kind of dulls the senses a bit and takes some of the core out of the series though some episodes towards the middle of the season and the end reunite these enemies gloriously. So much of the Cylon existence is called into question and you’ll be left scratching your head trying to unravel the mystery. It stands as a testament to the writing of Battlestar Galactica that this clue searching never gets old. That being said not every episode in this season stands out unfortunately. Some of the standalone tales such as “The Passage” and “A Day in the Life” falter at times and fail to delivery the familiar payoff we’re used to with this show. “Woman King” also comes across as somewhat weaker than the others but it does give Helo’s character a chance to shine. As with any show it’s necessary at times to flesh out the secondary characters and though it slows the series down somewhat, these moments still hold some merit.Lucy Lawless and James Callis in Battlestar Galactica (2004)Right up until the end, the third season is one that will keep you guessing and that’s a good thing. This is a series that makes you think and draws emotion out of you. There are many powerful moments scattered throughout these twenty episodes and to be quite honest when compared to the previous seasons, I feel that the third is the strongest. This is one of the finest science fiction productions ever to grace television and I applaud Ron Moore, David Eick, and the rest of the team for their creative vision.

REVIEW: BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (2004) – SEASON 2

Starring

Edward James Olmos (Blade Runner)
Mary McDonnell (Donnie Darko)
Katee Sackhoff (Riddick)
Jamie Bamber (Marcella)
James Callis (Flashforward)
Tricia Helfer (Powers)
Grace Park (Hawaii Five-0)
Michael Hogan (Red Riding Hood)
Aaron Douglas (Chaos)
Nicki Clyne (Saved!)
Tahmoh Penikett (Dollhouse)
Kandyse McClure (Mother’s Day)
Paul Campbell (Knight Rider)
Alessandro Juliani (Smallville)

Tahmoh Penikett and Katee Sackhoff in Battlestar Galactica (2004)Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Samuel Witwer (Smallville)
Donnelly Rhodes (Legends of Tomorrow)
Rekha Sharma (V)
Callum Keith Rennie (Impulse)
Lucy Lawless (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Matthew Bennett (Stargate SG.1)
Dean Stockwell (Quantum Leap)
Rick Worthy (The Vampire Diaries)
Richard Hatch (InAlienable)
Lorena Gale (The Exorcism of Emily Rose)
Michael Trucco (Sabrina: TTW)
Michelle Forbes (Powers)
Graham Beckel (The Loft)
Leah Cairns (Interstellar)
Bodie Olmos (Walkout)
Luciana Carro (Helix)
Kate Vernon (Heores)
Alonso Oyarzun (Reindeer Games)
Jen Halley (Red Riding Hood)
Ty Olsson (War of TPOTA)
Aleks Paunovic (Van Helsing)
Malcolm Stewart (Jumanji)
Dominic Zamprogna (Stargate Universe)
James Remar (BLack Lightning)
Patricia Idlette (Ginger Snaps 2)
Benjamin Ayres (The Vampire Diaries)
Don Thompson (Watchmen)
Fulvio Cecere (Valentine)
John Pyper-Ferguson (Caprica)
Sebastian Spence (First Waves)
Mike Dopud (Arrow)
Vincent Gale (Bates Motel)
Colm Feore (Thor)
David Richmond-Peck (Sanctuary)
Claudette Mink (Paycheck)
Bill Duke (Black Lightning)
Christopher Jacot (Slasher)
John Heard (Home Alone)
Kavan Smith (Staragte Atlantis)
Stefanie von Pfetten (Cracked)
Erica Cerra (Power Rangers)
Alisen Down (Smallville)
David Kaye (Beast Wars)
Colin Lawrence (Watchmen)

Some cynical individual, at some time, blurted out that “there’s always room for improvement” about an accomplishment or achievement that was fine in its own right. In the spectrum of film and television, it’s true that all material can be tightened, focused, and made even more compelling with practice; but oftentimes creative teams fall back into comfort zones and neglect to spit-shine where improvement is needed. Ronald Moore and David Eick, the creators of the reimagined Battlestar Galactica series, understand this concept. They accomplished something intriguing, thrilling, and dramatically magnetic with their initial 2003 miniseries and, later, a full subsequent season that grappled the structure of the three-hour introduction — characters, mythos, and stunning production merits through striking photography and convincing computer effects — and ran with it. However, there’s always room for improvement, and Battlestar Galactica’s second season finds a deeper focus and more thrill-inducing pace that fully ratchets the series into the stratosphere of superb science-fiction creations.Nicki Clyne and Aaron Douglas in Battlestar Galactica (2004)The first season constructs a “reboot” of the highest accord, taking the original content from the 1978 television series and shaping it into an edgy and modern production in the vein of “West Wing … in space”. Grecian mythology, military-heavy hierarchal bickering, and the relationships between people on the space ship Galactica — both tender and volatile — are all sparked into action when the Cylons, humanity’s slave-like machines evolved into enlightened yet vengeful beings, attack their creators after 40 years of recoiled hibernation. These attacks, which left around 50,000 humans alive, wiped out sixteen of the individuals in-line for the presidency over the “colonies”, which left Secretary of Education Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell, Dances With Wolves) as the next in line. Somehow, this all gyrates around the weasel-like scheming of Dr. Gaius Baltar (James Callis, Bridget Jones’ Diary), who inadvertently fell for the whims of a blonde-haired Cylon (Tricia Helfer) and revealed humanity’s defense secrets — and, now, follows orders from the sultry “machine” in the confines of his own mind, with her as little more than an illusion reminding him of his “importance” as one of God’s pawns. Monotheistic God, not polytheistic, but that’ll become important later on.After its thrilling two-part miniseries and a handful of tense cat-and-mouse episodes at the start, the first season (which should be viewed before continuing this review, as the context here relies on the fact that you’ve seen the first season) coasts along a stream of dynamic back-and-forths between Galactica’s Commander Bill Adama (Edward James Olmos, Blade Runner) and President Roslin — leading to a point where Adama is stretched out on the ship’s command center deck, bleeding from gunshot wounds incurred by an assassination attempt. Season Two picks up directly after the shooting, showing how the military hierarchy moves its pieces around Adama’s incapacitation. His XO (second in command) Saul Tigh (Michael Hogan) wrestles with his alcohol addiction as he tries to juggle an unwanted leadership position, shrug off his wife Ellen’s (Kate Vernon) passenger-seat manipulation of the Galactica’s workings, and make the colonies understand why President Roslin has been arrested for subordination. On top of that, we’re also watching the way Adama’s ailment affects his son, Captain Lee Adama (Jamie Bamber), as his allegiance to the Colonial fleet sways between loyalty to his father and his belief in what the theologically-focused President Roslin is trying to accomplish.Richard Hatch and Michael Hogan in Battlestar Galactica (2004)But, as Battlestar Galactica veterans know, that core quarrel really only scoops up the top layer of the conflicts that lie underneath the Colonial fleet’s hunt for a safe, habitable planet — whether it be the fabled planet Earth, the newly-discovered planet of Kobol, or beyond. Season Two also finds a deeper focus on Kara Thrace (Katee Sackhoff, “Nip/Tuck”), aka Starbuck, as more than a novel imitation of the classic series’ character, concentrating on the depth of her belief in the gods, her bull-headedness giving way to a need for deeper connections with others, and a particular point where she’s, dare I say it, made hopelessly vulnerable in the episode “The Farm”. This happens on Cylon-occupied Caprica, the colonies’ once-thriving central metropolis, where she and Lieutenant ‘Helo’ Agathon (Tahmoh Penikett, “Dollhouse”) are attempting to locate a way off the planet and back to Galactica with the “Arrow of Apollo” in their possession. There, they interact with a second version of the “Sharon” model of Cylon (Grace Park), pregnant with Helo’s child and rebellious against her kind. Along those same lines, we also see how the cluster of Colonial soldiers stranded on Kobol — deck chief Galen Tyrol (Aaron Douglas) and his “knuckledragger” subordinates, as well as Vice President Baltar — find a way to survive until they’re able to make an escape attempt.Mary McDonnell and Katee Sackhoff in Battlestar Galactica (2004)Though the introductory season of Battlestar Galactica triumphs for establishing the storyline’s intricacies, a broad spectrum of characters, and suspenseful density, Ron Moore and David Eick still had a handful of creaks in the series’ bow that needed repair — such as tighter concentration on the political banter and more focused balancing between space warfare and non-CIC dramatics. Though intriguing to some, including myself, those elements also tended to bog down the pacing to a degree that could deter some from its deliberate concentration on policy. It’s important, and necessary, for a lengthy story to grow beyond its limitations, and the Moore / Eick team hone the introductory season’s successes into a poised, pulsating blend of drama and thrills that bolsters its initial successes forward two-fold. Everything that underscores the series’ quality — superb, straight-faced acting, slickly detailed cinematography ranging from cold and dark to acidic and overblown, and some of the best music on television, period — persists into the second season, now attached to a sense of obvious plot refinement.Jamie Bamber and Katee Sackhoff in Battlestar Galactica (2004)

does it differ? Well, this season knows when and how to play its cards, where the initial season struggles in knowing exactly what to do with the substantially impressive content that it’s generating. The thematic density that it crams into this season is staggering; the complications of martial law (military control of the government), delicateness around following an idealist (dying) leader with religion as their driving force, technology’s advancement and control over our everyday activity, the necessity of black market trade, and, eventually, the power of government-mandated control over population control. All of these elements are timely and meaningful, even allegorical to conflicts present in modern society, and they’re handled with a specific panache in this second season that remains vigilant throughout. But they’re not overtly heavy-handed; sly incorporation allows us to view these elements merely on the surface for service of the story or as deeper insights — whichever suits the viewer.James Remar and Jamie Bamber in Battlestar Galactica (2004)On top of that, Moore and Eick have set sights on how to tie these heady elements in with the bustling activity of operatic space battles, and they’ve succeeded in a way that maintains the series’ accessibility. The hyper-elaborate technobabble prevalent in other series — such as bits and pieces about a ship that “made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs” and about “trionic initiators in the warp coil” — gets tossed aside to allow for a direct focus on human interactions, such as ebbs and flows between father and son in authoritative positions, the fear and fatigue within a crew that’s never given much of a chance to relax, and an affinity with Laura Roslin as she succumbs to terminal breast cancer. Emotion-heavy episodes, such as the excellent “Flight of the Phoenix” where Chief Tyrol finds distraction and a sense of hope in building a new fighter ship from scraps, are there solely for that purpose. They even work in cliché taglines like, “They can run, but they can’t hide”, and hokey plot points like a bona-fide love triangle to convincing degrees — well, with their own spins on the material. In that, the creators rope us into the emotional fabric as if we’re members of the crew, sharing their plights. We’re not forced to try and comprehend scientific jargon, aside from a few scattered discussions about firewalls, viruses, and FTL drives, but instead asked to unswervingly, and powerlessly, hold our focus on the shifts in power aboard the Galactica.Mary McDonnell, Edward James Olmos, Jamie Bamber, and Katee Sackhoff in Battlestar Galactica (2004)Then, with a flick of the writers’ wrists, they change the way that we perceive just about everything in the series with the episode “Pegasus”. Out of nowhere, another one of the colonial fighter bases, the Battlestar Pegasus, arrives unexpectedly within the proximity of Galactica’s location. Once both have confirmed that they’re friendly ships, we’re introduced to Admiral Helena Cain (Michelle Forbes) — a strong, bloodthirsty woman with a very tight, dictatorial grip on her ship. Unlike the Galactica, the Pegasus is competitive, hardened, chauvinistic and far more stringent on policy, which creates a world of conflict once the two commanders begin comparing notes on Galactica’s personnel issues, power rankings, and the lenience in handling a Cylon prisoner. More importantly, Admiral Cain is Adama’s superior officer, and her iron-fist reclaim of power decidedly tears the fleet apart. In a matter of forty-some-odd minutes, the entire power structure of Battlestar Galactica is rearranged and tossed into volatile disarray, left for our characters to plot around and sort out. And it makes for thoroughly gut-swelling television because of it, stretching over an impressive three-episode arc (“Pegasus”, “Resurrection Ship” Parts One and Two).Lucy Lawless and Patrick Harrison in Battlestar Galactica (2004)It’s at this point, once the dust clears from the Pegasus incidents, that Battlestar Galactica begins to really claim a place in the annals of science-fiction as one of its finest creations — even with a few stumbling blocks that it still fights against. Ellen Tigh’s manipulation of Saul while he’s in command of the Galactica borders on the unbelievable, though one can certainly understand the swaying power of a significant other. A few character moments feel shoehorned into the mix, such as Lee’s character history revelations in “Black Market”, where the desire to beef up each and every character overreaches their bounds. And, quite simply, one or two of the episodes still fall a tad flat, whether they’re because of an unattractive character coming into focus, such as the hot-rod stem junkie pilot Kat in the ho-hum filler ep “Scar”, or the show simply attempting to do things that it can’t pull off, like the meandering MTV reality show style footage in “Final Cut”. Each of these faults are minor blemishes on otherwise successful, and thought-provoking, installments into the story arc, proving that even weak Battlestar Galactica episodes can be compelling to a middling degree.James Callis and Tricia Helfer in Battlestar Galactica (2004)With its continual and newly-sprung ideas bubbling at the cusp, Moore and Eick reach a conclusion to the second season, the masterful two-parter “Lay Down Your Burdens”, that focuses on the much-anticipated presidential race alluded to in the first season. Restoration of complete democracy and humanization become the weighty element at play, as the candidates — surprises aplenty — duke it out with the fleet’s concerns of safe planetary habitat and population boom as key driving forces. The interplay between all of the individuals is brilliant; however, it’s the outcome, and the legitimately shocking twist at the end of the finale, that’ll likely send one on a contemplative tailspin. With no less than three cliffhanger episodes in this season, it’s only expected that the finale in itself would be a weighty one, and Syfy’s heavy-hitting series doesn’t disappoint in that regard. It’s a brilliant way to swirl the entire season together, even if everything is turned upside down once again. That’s part of Ron Moore and David Eick’s game, a sci-fi neo-political chessgame that’s well worth playing.

 

REVIEW: SANCTUARY – SEASON 2

Starring

Amanda Tapping (Stargate SG.1)
Robin Dunne (Space Milkshake)
Emilie Ullerup (Artic Air)
Christopher Heyerdahl (Van Helsing)
Ryan Robbins (Arrow)
Agam Darshi (You Me Her)

Babs Chula and Emilie Ullerup in Sanctuary (2008)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Jonathon Young (Impastor)
Christine Chatelain (The Collector)
Lynda Boyd (Power Rangers In Space)
Robert Lawrenson (Underworld: Awakening)
Hiro Kanagawa (Izombie)
Jason Schombing (The A-Team)
Chuck Campbell (Jason X)
Chris Gauthier (Smallville)
Nicole Muñoz (Defiance)
Anne Marie DeLuise (Love Happens)
Colin Cunningham (Stargate SG.1)
Erica Cerra (Power Rangers)
Colin Lawrence (House of The Dead)
Michael Shanks (Stargate SG.1)
Aleks Paunovic (Van Helsing)
Ryan Kennedy (Caprica)
Chad Rock (The Flash)
Meghan Ory (Dark Angel)
Callum Blue (Smallville)
Shekhar Paleja (Arrow)
Terry Chen (Jessica Jones)
Sahar Biniaz (Blade: The Series)
Paul McGillion (The Flash)

Christopher Heyerdahl and Amanda Tapping in Sanctuary (2008)Season 2 carried on from where season 1 left off. Dr Helen Magnus and team Sanctuary are trying to discover what happened to Ashley Magnus (Emilie Ullerup) and why she would betray her family and friends and join the Cabal, all while trying to save and protect “abnormals” from those who would do them harm. The main cast of Amanda Tapping (Dr Helen Magnus), Dr Will Zimmerman (Robin Dunne), John Druitt (Christopher Heyerdahl), Henry Foss (Ryan Robbins) and Bigfoot (Christopher Heyerdahl, again) all return for the second season.Amanda Tapping in Sanctuary (2008)There is also new girl Kate Freelander (Agam Darshi). Who was created to replace Ashley (who is killed in the opening two epiosdes), Although Ashley was a popular characterKate does grow on you more and more with each episode, by seasons end shes is more rounded out character.Robin Dunne and Amanda Tapping in Sanctuary (2008)I Enjoyed this season even more than season 1 . In this case the stories seem much stronger and have more depth to them than those in the first season. Instead of a season long battle with the Cabal, that story line gets wrapped up in two episodes. Which lets season two create new stories that enrich the characters more.

REVIEW: MUTANT X – SEASON 3

Starring

Forbes March (As the World Turns)
Victoria Pratt (Cleopatra 2525)
Victor Webster (The Scorpion King 3 & 4)
Karen Cliche (Flash Gordon)

Forbes March in Mutant X (2001)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Tom McCamus (Ginger Snaps Back)
George Buza (X-Men: TAS)
Deborah Odell (Godsend)
Noah Danby (Bitten)
David Hewlett (Rise of The POTA)
Jessica Steen (Armageddon)
Peter Stebbings (Bates Motel)
John Ralston (Bitten)
Krista Bridges (Narc)
Shannon Lawson (Dick)
Sasha Roiz (Caprica)
David Orth (The Lost World)
Steve Byers (Smallville)
Jason Schombing (Sanctuary)
Lyriq Bent (Flashpoint)
John Shea (Lois & Clark)
Jeff Seymour (Bury The Lead)
Aleks Paunovic (Van Helsing)
Ellen Dubin (Mary Kills People)
Andrew Gillies (Odyssey 5)
Ted Whittall (Suicide Squad)
Monika Schnarre (Andromeda)

Mutant X (2001)I love this series and still watch it even though its canceled. Adam Kane developed the mutants, but did so only to help mankind. He was searching for to be able to manipulate DNA to help cure diseases. But in some, their genes mutated, giving them mutant abilities. You can tell throughout the episodes he feels responsible for all the problems connecting with mutants. Shalimar is a feral- who is like a cat. Adam brought her in from abuse when she was a child and helped her to cope with her abilities.Mutant X (2001)Through all the episodes, you see a father-daughter relationship with the two. Brennan- shoots electricity through his hands. He is a street wise guy who was a thief. Now turned straight, he sometimes struggles with not just “taking down” his opponents. He has a problem with not being in charge and not in all the loops, but Adam slowly helps him to start calming down. Emma-controls minds. She is soft and quiet and strives to feel needed. She feels close with people they are often after, giving another side for who they are after. Jesse-turns into brick and “phases” letting things go straight through him. He comes from a rich family and wants to prove he can fight. He is very smart when it comes to computers.Mutant X (2001)The newest edition in the end is Lexa- maipulate light. She has a dark past and a good reason for it. She has a habit of keeping the others outta the loop, but learns there is no room for that. She tends to keep people at arms length because of her past and is pretty much hated for it. But as time goes on, she learns to grow more and to trust. This series is very good, the action is great, actors are great and you can feel compassion for the characters.

REVIEW: STARGATE: ATLANTIS – SEASON 4

Starring

Joe Flanigan (Thoughtcrimes)
Amanda Tapping (Sanctuary)
Jason Momoa (Aquaman)
Rachel Luttrell (A Dog’s Breakfast)
David Hewlett (Rise of TPOTA)

David Nykl in Stargate: Atlantis (2004)
RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Torri Higginson (Dark Waters)
Jewel Staite (Firefly)
David Nykl (Arrow)
Claire Rankin (Taken TV)
Michael Beach (Aquaman)
Bill Dow (Izombie)
Yee Jee Tso (Antitrust)
Chuck Campbell (Jason X)
David Ogden Stiers (Two Guys and a Girl)
Sharon Taylor (Smallville)
Christopher Judge (The Dark Knight Rises)
Aleks Paunovic (Van Helsing)
Mark Dacascos (Kamen Rider Dragon Knight)
Kavan Smith (Mission to Mars)
Jill Wagner (Blade: The Series)
Michael Cram (Flashpoint)
Brenda James (Slither)
Niall Matter (The Predator)
Danny Trejo (Machete)
Christopher Heyerdahl (Sanctuary)
Kimberley Warnat (Freddy vs Jason)
Robert Picardo (The Orville)
Kate Hewlett (A Dog’s Breakfast)
Steven Culp (Jason Goes To Hell)
Brendan Penny (The A-Team)
Michelle Morgan (Deep Six)
Mitch Pileggi (The X-Files)
Andee Frizzell (Flash Gordon)
Jodelle Ferland (Kingdom Hospital)
David Richmond-Peck (V)
Crystal Lowe (Black Xmas)
Kari Wuhrer (Eight Legged Freaks)
Emma Lahana (Cloak & Dagger)
Dylan Neal (Arrow)
Rob LaBelle (Dark Angel)
Ben Cotton (Bates Motel)
Gary Jones (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
Connor Trinneer (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Paul McGillion (The Flash)
Patrick Sabongui (Power Rangers)

David Hewlett in Stargate: Atlantis (2004)Stargate Atlantis ups its game with season four. But it’s not with particularly clever or imaginative stories that the shows writers and producers manage to bring about this change; it’s actually in the areas of character development and action that this season really excels. With the (implied) deaths of inarguably my favourite two characters in season three, I wasn’t expecting their replacements to integrate perfectly, or right away into the Atlantis team, but both actors are given such great material to work with that it’s impossible not to be engaged with their individual story-arcs.Amanda Tapping in Stargate: Atlantis (2004)Sam carter is (of course) as brilliant as always, but unlike Doctor Weir, doesn’t appear in nearly as many episodes, or seem to be involved as deeply in the decision-making processes on the base. She just feels like any other member of the team and fits right in almost immediately. Doctor Keller is initially unconvincing in her role as chief medic, but before long she too blossoms into a really intriguing and multi-layered character.Rachel Luttrell and Jewel Staite in Stargate: Atlantis (2004)While there are more than a handful of solid Replicator and Wraith-based episodes to enjoy in this twenty-episode season, it’s the character-based stories that stand-out for me as the best examples of this season. Episode 7- `Missing’ , episode 13- `Quarantine’ and episode 16- `Trio’ are each so gripping. The final stand-out story for me would be the concluding episode- `The Last Man’, which breaks out of the mould of the finale’s of previous seasons and doesn’t involve an unprovoked attack on the city, or a multi-episode build-up. It’s pretty self-contained on the whole and mixes well themes of time-travel, action and season four’s despicable mystery nemesis.

REVIEW: ANDROMEDA – SEASON 3

Starring

Kevin Sorbo (Hercules: TLJ)
Lisa Ryder (Jason X)
Keith Hamilton Cobb (All My Children)
Gordon Michael Woolvett (Bride of Chucky)
Laura Bertram (50/50)
Lexa Doig (Arrow)

Laura Bertram and Lisa Ryder in Andromeda (2000)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Winston Rekert (Neon Rider)
Lawrence Bayne (X-Men: TAS)
Kirsten Robek (Cats & Dogs)
John de Lancie (Stargate SG.1)
Venus Terzo (BEast Wars)
Tony Todd (Candyman)
Sarah Deakins (Rogue)
A.C. Peterson (Mutant X)
Michael Hogan (Battlestar Galactica)
William Katt (Carrie)
Geordie Johnson (The English Patient)
Leila Johnson (Foursome)
Steve Bacic (Flash Gordon)
Jayne Heitmeyer (Earth: Final Conflict)
Peter Shinkoda (Daredevil)
Peter Kent (Total Recall)
Adam Harrington (The Secret Circle)
Chris Potter (Queer as Folk)
Peter Bryant (Legends of Tomorrow)
Kristi Angus (Jason X)
Brent Stait (Blade: The Series)
Colin Lawrence (The 6th Day)
Jody Thompson (The 4400)
Paul Campbell (88 Minutes)
Kevan Ohtsji (elektra)
Helene Joy (Durham County)
Aleks Paunovic (Van Helsing)
Stacy Grant (First Wave)
Christopher Heyerdahl (Sanctuary)
Krista Allen (The FInal Destination)
Marie Stillin (Stargate SG.1)
Michael Ironside (Scanners)
Sarah-Jane Redmond (Smallville)
JR Bourne (The 100)
Christopher Judge (Stargate SG.1)
Marion Eisman (Riverdale)

Lexa Doig in Andromeda (2000)

Andromeda starred Kevin Sorbo (Hercules: The Legendary Journey’s) in a science fiction series created by Gene Roddenberry (Star Trek) with a variety of executive producers Robert Hewitt Wolfe (The 4400, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Majel Rodenberry (Earth: Final Conflict), Allan Eastman (Star Trek: Voyager), Robert Engels (seaQuest DSV), Jay Firestone (Mutant X, La Femme Nikita), and Adam Haight (Mutant X, Highlander: The Raven). With its diverse crew of producers with extensive experience in science fiction and drama productions, Andromeda put in five solid seasons from 2000 to 2005 and totaled one-hundred and ten episodes. The premise of Andromeda is about the adventures of the crew the Andromeda and their efforts to rebuild a massive civilization that spanned the universeLisa Ryder in Andromeda (2000)In the close of season two, the signing of the Commonwealth charter was under attack by mysterious alien forces. The disruption caused chaos and the crew had to make sacrifices to deal with the matter. In the third season premiere episode “If the Wheel is Fixed”, the story is concluded. Tyr and Beka were left trapped in another dimension. Dylan frets and considers a way to get them back. He takes the Eureka Maru to reconstruct the events that led to the crew members being sucked into the alternate dimension. He is successful and Tyr and Beka return. Unfortunately, the two are not who they seem to be. Many problems happen on the Andromeda and it eventually turns into a mysterious plot to kill them all–Tyr and Beka are being controlled by a force in the other dimension.Steve Bacic in Andromeda (2000)The unfortunate thing about this episode is the direction the story takes. In the end of season two, the story had a lot of promise with aliens from another dimension attacking. However, in the concluding half of the episode, the story gets pretty hokey. I suppose the aliens from another dimension were not the strongest approach itself, but I liked it in the first part. The subsequent episodes also fail to be as strong as they could. This is not to say they are terrible or anything, but rather that they could have been better. The story arcs that ran through the first two seasons start become less significant. The content is more episodic with the Andromeda crew out on missions that are wrapped up in an episode.Lexa Doig in Andromeda (2000)“The Unconquerable Man” is a pretty solid episode, but one you do not want to think too much about. The storyline is based on time travel and alternate realities. The episode begins with Harper moving Gaheris Rhade’s body and Dylan notices a mark on his hand he had never seen. Then the episode jumps into a point in time when a future Rhade had the opportunity to destroy the time machine Harper built in the season two episode “Ouroboros”. Trance is with Rhade and tries to convince him not to do so. Rhade reflects on his life (an alternate reality of the events thus far). In this reality, Rhade killed Dylan and survived for three hundred years in the black hole. He teamed up with Beka, Rev Bem, Trance, Harper, and Tyr to rebuild the Commonwealth. As the episode unfolds, Rhade comes to realize it is Dylan’s fate and not his. He sacrifices himself so that the original timeline is restored and Dylan is once again put in charge of the Andromeda.Kevin Sorbo, Laura Bertram, Keith Hamilton Cobb, and Lisa Ryder in Andromeda (2000)“The Dark Backward” is an exciting episode because it explores Trance’s reality. There is a deadly intruder aboard the ship trying to kill the crew. The episode focuses on Trance and one her of mysterious talents. In past episodes, she has offered advice that could only be explained by foresight of some kind. She has the ability to play out situations in many different scenarios in mere seconds. Trance explores different ways to maximize the crew’s life and stopping the intruder. It is an interesting episode because it details more about how mysterious and special Trance is as a character.Laura Bertram in Andromeda (2000)Another strong episode this season is “What Happens to a Rev Deferred?”, where Rev Bem returns. While monitoring the evacuation of Empyrium, a world that is on the brink of destruction, the crew receives a communication from Rev Bem asking to be rescued. To complicate matters, a group of renegades are after Rev. Dylan and crew go to the planet’s surface to rescue Rev and witness a miracle. Rev under goes some spiritual phenomena when an unknown entity confronts Rev and he professes his sorrow for all his ill-natured acts as a savage Magog. He is given redemption and physical changed into a new being. Rev Bem has been an interesting character, with his struggles to be “civilized” over “savage”, and his ties into the Spirit of the Abyss make him an even more interesting character. It is too bad he is not investigated further.In the season finale “Shadows Cast by a Final Salute”, things take a turn for the worst for the Andromeda crew and the Commonwealth. The assistant minister of war informs Dylan that there is something afoot with the Nietzschean clans in the Commonwealth. There have been rumors going around that they are considering leaving the allied forces and forming their own united front. They are rumors no longer, but fact. Afterwards, Andromeda is put on high alert when an elite strike force of Dragans takes hostages and demands their lives for the bones of Drago Musevini. As the sitatuion unfolds, it becomes evident Tyr’s hand had play in the situation. With his son, the genetic clone of Drago Musevini, he plans to unite his people and save the universe. At the end, Dylan and Tyr bid a final farewell to each other with no promise their next meeting will be peaceful. But the situation was more than just Dylan and Tyr, as a plot to stand against the Commonwealth became an important issue. The Nietzscheans and several other forces joined in a battl against the Commonwealth fleet, which ended with the fall of the Restored Systems Commonwealth.Kevin Sorbo in Andromeda (2000)Overall, I was not nearly as impressed with this season as I was with seasons one or two. The episodes were more episodic with Dylan and his crew going on this or that adventure. The overall story arc with the Commonwealth, the Spirit of the Abyss, the Magog, Trance’s past, and others were not addressed as they were in the past seasons. The focus was a lot different. While this is not an awful move (the episodes were still entertaining), it just was not as good. The fortunate news is that the pace picks up again with the season three finale and it puts the entire universe of Andromeda in upheaval