REVIEW: HIGHLANDER: THE SERIES – SEASON 6

Starring

Adrian Paul (Arrow)
Jim Byrnes (Sanctuary)
Elizabeth Gracen (Marked For Death)
Peter Wingfield (Caprica)

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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Peter Hudson (Hitman)
Rachel Shelley (Rogue)
Danny Dyer (Vendetta)
Valentine Pelka (The Pianist)
Dudley Sutton (Cockneys vs Zombies)
Ian Richardson (From Hell)
Jay Simon (Power Rangers Megaforce)
Alexis Denisof (Legacies)
Jasper Britton (Mike & Angelo)
Anita Dobson (Eastenders)
Emile Abossolo M’bo (Hitman)
Alice Evans (The Vampire Diaries)
Andrew Bicknell (Victoria)
Roger Daltrey (Tommy)
Justina Vail (Seven Days)
Sandra Hess (NCIS)
Claudia Christian (Babylon 5)
Jack Ellis (Bad Girls)
Paris Jefferson (Xena)
Alexandra Vandernoot (Pret-a-Porter)
Martin McDougall (Batman Begins)
Stan Kirsch (Shallow Ground)

81B402sFfNL._AC_SL1500_After the murder of his friend and fellow immortal Richie Ryan, Duncan MacLeod (Adrian Paul) retreats to a Southeast Asian monastery for a year and mentally prepares for his battle against the demon Ahriman. Ahriman taunts MacLeod by appearing in the guises of the Highlander’s late enemies: the rogue watcher James Horton (Peter Hudson) and the leader of the four horsemen, Kronos (Valentine Pelka). The friendships between Duncan, ancient immortal Methos (Peter Wingfield), and watcher Joe Dawson (Jim Byrnes) also become strained as MacLeod retreats to his Parisian barge, aides several female immortals from his past, and tries to find himself again.81XSWgDX0dL._AC_SL1500_Yeah, that is kind of a sucky summary of Highlander: The Series’ 13 episode final season. Unfortunately, this season itself is kind of sucky and should most definitely not be used as judgment for the series as a whole. Year 6 begins a little hokey with the two-part Ahriman opener “Avatar” and “Armageddon,” then concludes with an It’s A Wonderful Life cop out in “To Be” and “Not to Be.” Yes, it’s too abstract, David Lynch-esque, and mystical, but the Ahriman storyline- carried over from the finale of Season 5- both takes too long to get over with and yet seems to be too easily wrapped up and tidy. While a fan of the series can see the importance of MacLeod going this route, questioning the meaning of his immortal life, and despairing over the death his longevity causes; this critical turn is only explored in half the episodes this season. Highlander: The Series just gets too weird here, departing from all that made it so great in favor of bad immortal crime and female revenge crap. This tiresome stretch of chicks all seem the same and drive this season into the ground.highlander62We’ve never seen any of these women before- at the very least why should we care about them when the immortals we know and love have so much more to tell? If anything, Season 6 has me feeling a little bit of resentment for these guesting women who do nothing but waste the precious time being taken away from our real players. Though a lovely piece in of itself, only MacLeod ends up with some small resolution in the series finale- which seems more like a mid-season two-parter by magically presenting the alternate possibilities of the rest of our company. Yes, the show is supposed to be about The Highlander. However, over the previous 5 seasons, we saw just how much MacLeod both rose and fell based on the mortal and immortal support about him. To simply have the others smile as the sun sets is a little unfair for all the characters- and certainly unkind to the audience. But again, it is still a lovely final episode, complete with a tear-jerking Highlander: The Series goodbye montage. Sniff.highlander57Fortunately, there are a few goods to be had this season. “Diplomatic Immunity” and “Black Tower” are worthy MacLeod centric episodes. “Unusual Suspects” with Roger Daltry returning as Hugh Fitzcairn is also great in another fun, all in the past delight that again proves more could have been done historically instead of resorting to these immortal women follies. And let’s talk about all these guesting female immortals. Isn’t it amazing that in 13 episodes, it seems like we’ve had more lady immortals than in all the previous seasons combined? Hmm, why is that? Some of these gals are, unfortunately, seriously bad. Dara Tomanovich (Bio-Dome) as Alex Raven in “Sins of the Father” is kind of cool, perhaps the first female immortal who can actually fight and likes it. Her plot and motorcycle style, are however, a bit Renegade; and again, I wonder why Highlander: The Series would choose to retread this route.

patient0Even more tragic is Alice Evans  in “Patient Number 7.” While it’s not a bad premise, the episode is just very badly done, and Evans most definitely cannot carry one show, let alone an entire spin off. Likewise, “Justice” and “Deadly Exposure” just stink. Claudia Christian (Babylon 5) is lovely, but her backdoor pilot “Two of Hearts” is just…no. Not only does it have none of the regular players, but also the subsequent episode “Indiscretions” exclusively features Dawson and Methos and thus proves just how unnecessary all this Star Search for the next female immortal really was. You want another gal in the cast? It might have been nice to see more of Joe’s daughter Amy (Louise Taylor, Eyes Wide Shut) as a player in Highlander: The Watcher Adventures. Anything would have been better than how Season 6 actually turned out, I’m just saying.hqdefaultOf course, the MacLeod specific episodes are still the best, but remember, Duncan is, well, barely there in Year 6. Of course, we’re sorry to see him go, but in many ways, one can understand star Adrian Paul’s readiness to depart towards bigger and better things. He even cuts his hair, people! Seriously, what else was left for Mac? Why did they need to reduce the character to a shadow of his former self this season anyway? Did they really have so little faith in the rest of the cast without him? Why couldn’t Duncan have stayed monking it out in his temple while Joe, Methos, Amanda, and a new watcher or young immortal or two had adventures searching the globe for the elusive Highlander? Although it’s kind of silly, I want to say Season 6 is a little underhanded in the way MacLeod is treated. After 5 years, he can go through whatever serious stuff he wants this season- so long as he gets over it in 3 episodes? It’s almost cruel to end Highlander: The Series this way. As I wrote in my Season 5 essay, I would watch “The Modern Prometheus,” skip the Year 5 finale “Archangel,” and the Ahriman plot, then pick up “Unusual Suspects” and “Indiscretions” here before the series conclusion. Everything else is kind of a slap in the face for longtime viewers.394b784f81cd5b9bfb40e0a3164f0b06Fortunately, we spend this shortened season exclusively in Paris, and the European locations and period flashbacks are great as always. We see a lot of pre-MacLeod times and places in a good portion of the flashbacks- thanks to our rotating door of 1,000 year old immortal gals (Didn’t we already have a 1200 year old immortal gal? coughamandacough) Still, it’s nice to see that the historical style holds up without the eponymous man himself. Unfortunately, the action suffers this season thanks to all those guest ladies who can’t hold a sword to save their lives. They all also seem to wear the exact same pair of black jeans with a zippered up black leather motorcycle bomber, too. And again, chick Quickenings are a Hell No. Even Duncan’s sweet Barge suffers- losing all its wonderful art and décor so Mac can have a more Zen like environment. While season 6 may leave a bitter taste even in the Highlander completist’s mouth, it’s more important to look at the gem of the series overall.

REVIEW: LOST – SEASON 5

Starring

Matthew Fox (Alex Cross)
Jorge Garcia (How I Met Your Mother)
Elizabeth Mitchell (V)
Evangeline Lilly (Ant-Man and The Wasp)
Jeremy Davies (Hannibal)
Terry O’Quinn (The Rocketeer)
Josh Holloway (Colony)
Naveen Andrews (The Brave One)
Michael Emerson (Arrow)
Rebecca Mader (Iron Man 3)
Daniel Dae Kim (Insurgent)
Yunjin Kim (Shiri)
Henry Ian Cusick (Hitman)
Ken Leung (Inhumans)

Naveen Andrews in Lost (2004)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Sam Anderson (Angel)
L. Scott Caldwell (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
Alan Dale (Ugly Betty)
William Mapother (The Mentalist)
Sonya Walger (Termiantor: TSCC)
Sean Whalen (Twister)
François Chau (The Tick)
Michelle Rodriguez (The Fast and The Furious)
Jeff Fahey (Texas Rising)
Cheech Marin (Machete)
Fionnula Flanagan (The Others)
Nestor Carbonell (Bates Motel)
Alexandra Krosney (Last Man Standing)
John Terry (Full Metal Jacket)
Raymond J. Barry (The Gifted)
Zuleikha Robinson (Homeland)
Saïd Taghmaoui (Wonder Woman)
Malcolm David Kelley (You Got Served)
Lance Reddick (Bosch)
Reiko Aylesworth (24)
Patrick Fischler (Happy!)
Doug Hutchison (Punisher: War Zone)
Sterling Beaumon (THe Killing)
Brad William Henke (Bright)
Eric Lange (Narcos)
Jon Gries (Taken)
Tania Raymonde (Texas Chainsaw)
William Sanderson (Blade Runner)
Kim Dickens (Hollow Man)
Dean Norris (Breaking Bad)
Marsha Thomason (The Haunted Mansion)
Alice Evans (The Vampire Diaries)
Andrea Gabriel (2 Broke Girls)
Mark Pellegrino (13 Reasons Why)
Titus Welliver (Argo)

Jeremy Davies and Nestor Carbonell in Lost (2004)Last season, Lost successfully made the transition into the realm of science fiction with classic episodes like “The Constant” and of course, making the island literally disappear in “There’s no Place Like Home.” Season 5 dives head first into weighty science fiction concepts with time travel playing a major role in the narrative for the entire year. There are inherent risks with introducing time travel into a story that is already as complex as the one Lost has become over the past few years. For the most part, the writers do a good job of keeping the time travel aspect of the story from becoming too complicated, but there is no dispute that it is the driving force of the season’s narrative.The first half of the season is comprised of two very distinct storylines.Jeremy Davies, Ken Leung, and Rebecca Mader in Lost (2004)One of those being Jack Shephard’s desperate attempt to reunite the Oceanic Six in order to return to the island and the other being the journey of those left behind as they find themselves inexplicably traveling through time. The Oceanic Six storyline is definitely the weaker of the two. The story of the Six, hours before they return to the island was weakened by a slow start with the somewhat Hurley-centric “The Lie.” This is an episode that featured a little too much of Hugo Reyes’ wacky exploits as he transports an unconscious Sayid around Los Angeles. The rest of the Oceanic Six story is essentially a waiting game as we watch the pieces fall into place so that these characters can return to where we really want them to be – on the island. In fact, their return to the island in “316” feels rushed, almost as if the writers realized that the best place for these characters is back on the island.The aptly named “The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham” is the best episode that takes place almost entirely off the island.Terry O'Quinn and Rebecca Mader in Lost (2004)The story chronicles John Locke’s attempt to convince the Oceanic Six that they need to return to the island in order to save those left behind. It’s a tragic story for John Locke who has spent the last four seasons in the belief that the survivors of Flight 815 are tied by a single destiny but only in death does he finally make people believe. It’s a well-scripted story and wonderfully acted by Terry O’Quinn who does a great job of portraying an interesting transition for Locke on screen.Locke isn’t the only one who goes through a transition this season as Benjamin Linus is forced into a situation that is quite surprising for the character.Daniel Dae Kim and Melissa Farman in Lost (2004)Without delving into too much detail, the dynamic between Locke and Ben changes quite a bit but the great chemistry between O’Quinn and Michael Emerson is still as exceptional as it has always been. Linus fans should not be disappointed by some of the great developments for the character this season. On the island, Sawyer and the rest of the survivors left behind are forced to cope with the fact that they are constantly flashing through time, either to the past or the future. The approach taken here is straightforward and clearly laid out in the first episode of the season; you cannot change events in the past – whatever happened, happened and couldn’t of happened any other way. Faraday acts as the mouth piece for much of the technobabble in the early part of the season with Sawyer playing the part of the ‘everyman’ who constantly questions why things are happening the way they are. This allows the writers an opportunity to ease the audience into this shift of events without making things too complex to follow. There is plenty of exposition,Matthew Fox in Lost (2004)but with Sawyer’s classic charm to offset Faraday’s jargon, it makes it a lot easier to swallow.Time travel is utilized to its fullest here to reveal some of the island’s back-story over the last 50 years. Sawyer and co. pay a visit to the Others of the 1950s and are introduced to past leaders of the mysterious group. We also see some much-needed loose ends tied up as we finally learn more about Rousseau and her research team and we also discover why Richard Alpert visited a young Locke just one season ago. As secrets are revealed and key puzzle pieces are slid into place it’s surprising to see just how well everything fits together. Some of this is certainly due to the asset of knowing how many episodes you have left to tell your story in, but I’m hard pressed to find many plot holes in any of the explanations given. Cuse and Lindelof deserve credit for maintaining a watertight narrative throughout most of the season.