REVIEW: STARGATE SG.1 – SEASON 9

Starring

Ben Browder (Farscape)
Amanda Tapping(Sanctuary)
Christopher Judge (The Dark Knight Rises)
Michael Shanks (Smallville)
Beau Bridges (My Name Is Earl)

Ben Browder in Stargate SG-1 (1997)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Claudia Black (Pitch Black)
Richard Dean Anderson (MacGyver)
Obi Ndefo (Star Trek: DS9)
Gary Jones (The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
Bill Dow (Izombie)
Matthew Walker (Alone In The Dark)
April Telek (Rogue)
Lexa Doig (Arrow)
Julian Sands (What/If)
Wallace Shawn (Young Sheldon)
Barclay Hope (Final Destination 3)
Maury Chaykin (My Cousin Vinny)
Louis Gossett Jr. (Enemy Mine)
Cliff Simon (Project Eden)
Kendall Cross (X-Men 2)
Peter Flemming (Staragte: Atlantis)
Sonya Salomaa (Watchmen)
Chilton Crane (The 4400)
Jason George (Fallen)
Jarvis W. George (Gamer)
William B. Davis (The X-Files)
Tony Todd (Candyman)
Neil Jackson (Blade: The Series)
Robert Picardo (The Orville)
Panou (Flash Gordon)
Ty Olsson (War For TPOTA)
Cameron Bright (Birth)
Garry Chalk (Arrow)
Don S. Davis (Twin Peaks)
Anna Galvin (Tin Man)
William Atherton (Ghostbusters)
JR Bourne (The 100)
Teryl Rothery (Arrow)
Reed Diamond (Agents of Shield)
Dakin Matthews (Child’s Play 3)
Veena Sood (Timecop)
Eric Breker (Scary Movie 3)
Matthew Bennett (Battlestar Galactica)
John Aylward (Alias)
Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters)
Chelah Horsdal (You Me Her)
Peter Shinkoda (Daredevil)
Matthew Glave (Argo)
Eric Steinberg (Supergirl)
Tamlyn Tomita (The Eye)
Tim Guinee (Iron Man)
Daniella Evangelista (Ripper)
Michael Ironside (Total Recall)
John Noble (Sleepy HOllow)
Katharine Isabelle (Ginger Snaps)
Noah Danby (Bitten)

Claudia Black and Ben Browder in Stargate SG-1 (1997)Avalon, Part 1 is a great season opener, introduces  new kid on the block Ben Browder,  as the season progresses the character is definitely fleshed out more and he soon fits in nicely with the tightly-knit S.G.1 team.Ben Browder and Michael Shanks in Stargate SG-1 (1997)However, the bottom line is that this is still a character who bares a striking similarity in disposition to Browder’s other well-known TV personality- Farscape’s John Crichton- with that same irreverent humor and easy-going attitude, but it’s a style that clearly works for Browder and it’s difficult not to find that likable. Beau Bridges’ introduction is made with equally good fanfare, his character is one who I found myself liking more readily- he approaches the role of the General of the base differently to Don S. Davis, with more of an every man approach, although he never hesitates to exert the full force of his office against unfriendly aliens, or humans when required.Mark Houghton in Stargate SG-1 (1997)Largely thanks to the development of this season’s main story-arc with the introduction of God-wannabes the Ori and their powerful minions known as Priors, this ninth season becomes surprisingly mesmerising in very short order. Beginning with the concluding part and then into episode 3- `Origin’, this season soon establishes itself as one of the best `Stargate: S.G.1′ offerings in years. The use of Arthurian legend in this season is spread pretty thickly in the beginning and had me worried that this fantasy element might not work in a predominantly science-fiction-oriented series, but very soon the parallels the writers draw between the Arthurian myth and the familiar Stargate set-up, become very inventive and come to work surprisingly well at contrasting against the new and growing force of evil spreading through the galaxy. In the first five episodes that other recognizable `Farscape’ regular Claudia Black and her seductively disobedient alter-ego Vala are another reason to be enchanted by this season. Vala brings such humor and life to the series that I was really disappointed when she parted company with S.G.1, despite the welcome return of Sam Carter following her brief career change. Thankfully Vala returns towards the end of the season and here’s hoping it’s not the last we see of her.Larry Cedar in Stargate SG-1 (1997)This season’s other major success is in its stand-alone stories that continue to present unique, punchy and creative sci-fi ideas to its audience. In particular episode 9- `Prototype’ and episode 13- `Ripple Effect’ are a couple of my favourites, the first of which concerns the discovery of a prodigy of Anubis frozen on a distant planet and the second has multiple S.G.1 teams pouring through the Stargate from diverse alternate realities , both of which had me glued to my seat

REVIEW: TIN MAN

CAST

Zooey Deschanel (New Girl)
Alan Cumming (X-Men 2)
Neal McDonough (Arrow)
Kathleen Robertson (Bates Motel)
Raoul Max Trujillo (Highlander 3)
Callum Rennie (Legends of Tomorrow)
Richard Dreyfuss (Jaws)
Blu Mankuma (Robocop: The Series)
Anna Galvin (Caprica)
Ted Whittall (Smallville)
Gwynth Walsh (Star Trek Generations)
Kevin McNulty (Elektra)
Jason Schombing (Sanctuary)
Lucia Walters (Stargate: Atlantis)
Craig Veroni (Dark Angel)
April Telek (Rogue)

The first section of this mini-series is riddled with references to the original story and the musical so many of us grew up with. I was expecting that. But imagine my surprise at the presence of machine guns and chain saws in Oz.  it is now called the Outer Zone, or the O.Z. Then, of course, there are hologram projectors, machines that can project what is in a person’s mind, and cyborgs. After the first section, it grows even farther from the old story. There are still references, of course, but it’s definitely not what we knew anymore. Our heroine, DG, was born in the O.Z., but sent away as a child for her own protection. Unlike her somewhat whiny predecessor, this woman has a bit of attitude and brains. And some serious guts, as she demonstrates when she tries to help a family being attacked by Longcoats, the Sorceress Azkadelia’s henchmen.

Zooey Deschanel does a great  on her portrayal of D.C.. Azkadelia is definitely a far cry from the ugly Wicked Witch of the West. She may be beautiful, but don’t let that fool you. The old witch has nothing on this new version when it comes to evil and cruelty. In place of the Scarecrow, we have Glitch. Once a genius and Royal Adviser to the Queen, he has been reduced to a sometimes annoying, but lovable ditz. This, of course, is because he only has half a brain left. Literally. The witch had it removed so that she could use his knowledge for her own purposes. He keeps what marbles he has left sealed in his head with a zipper.

Replacing the Lion is Raw, a strange, but gentle creature with psychic abilities. Despite his timid ways, Raw is very capable of being brave, especially when it comes to his friends’ safety. The Tin Man is Caine. Or, rather, former Tin Man. “Tin Man” is the term used for police in the O.Z. He lost everything when he was discovered to be fighting for The Resistance. Worse, he was imprisoned in a sealed tin suit for years, forced to watch a holographic image of his family being tortured and taken from him over and over again. All he has left is the idea of revenge and keeping DG safe, since she is the only one who might be able to defeat Azkadelia. The Wizard is anything but wonderful. He might have been once, but has been reduced to a stoner dependent on Vapors, a magic equivalent of ecstasy. Still, in his sober moments he is a big help to the heroes.

The flying monkeys are still in. The old version, ugly though they were, still managed to have a slight cuteness about them. Not these. When they’re not out doing her dirty work, they accompany Azkadelia everywhere in quite a surprising way. Toto is also still in… sort of. The little dog is actually a shape-shifter who was once a teacher to both DG and Azkadelia. After 15 years of imprisonment, he is all too willing to help his former pupil.

Overall, I was impressed. There are spots that could have been better and things that could have been more thoroughly explained, but the concepts and story are quite imaginative. It is really long, but definitely worth at least one watch.  However, I must confess, I’m a little confused as to why it is titled “Tin Man.” That implies that Caine is the main focus of the story, which he is not, although he is given a much more significant role in this version. Oh, well. It was still good, so I guess it doesn’t really matter.

REVIEW: THE NEW ADDAMS FAMILY (1998-1999)

MAIN CAST

Glenn Taranto (Crash 2004)
Ellie Harvie (The Cabin In The Woods)
Brody Smith (Rat Race)
Nicole Fugere (Cosas Que Nunca Te Dije)
Betty Phillips (2012)
Michael Roberds (Elf)
John DeSantis (Little Man)

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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Monika Schnarre (Andromeda)
Gabrielle Miller (Highlander: The Series)
David Lewis (Man of Steel)
John Astin (The Frighteners)
Jennifer Copping (Slither)
Samantha Ferris (Along Came A Spider)
Jessica Harmon (Izombie)
Diane Delano (Jeepers Creepers 2)
Keegan Connor Tracy (Bates Motel)
David Palffy (Stargate SG.1)
Richard Ian Cox (Ghost Rider)
April Telek (Walking Tall)
Brendan Fehr (Roswell)
Morgan Fairchild (Chuck)
Mike Dopud (Stargate Universe)
Courtnay J. Stevens (Ripper)
Christopher Shyer (V)

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The 1991 film The Addams Family had distinguished performers Angelica Huston and Raul Julia, and took over $100,000,000 at the box office. Both this film and its 1993 sequel, Addams Family Values, were based heavily on Addams’ original cartoons, and introduced a whole new generation of fans to the Addamses. A script for another sequel had already been prepared before the sudden 1994 death of Raul Julia ended plans for a third movie. Despite the apparent end of the film franchise, rumours of a return to the small screen persisted. In the meantime, original Gomez John Astin loaned his vocal talents to an Emmy award winning 1992 animated series, which lasted for two seasons. In 1998, the Fox empire negotiated the acquisition of the US Family Channel, which wud be re-launched in the fall under the Fox banner, with a large number of new original programmes and specials, produced in partnership with Saban International. Saban had established themselves as leaders in the field of economical children’s television throughout the 1990s. A number of original TV movies were to be produced for airing on the channel, with prior releases on the sell-through home video market. Among the initial raft of titles announced was Addams Family Reunion, which would star Tim Curry and Daryl Hannah. Produced hastily in California in the early months of 1999, it debuted on Home Video in the fall to almost unanimous derision.

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However, before production on the new film wrapped, Saban and Fox Family Channel announced that a 65-episode series of The New Addams Family would debut as part of the new line-up. The new series was to be a joint effort between Saban and Shavick Entertainment. The series, which would “mix characters from both the classic series and recent films”, was to be produced in Vancouver at a cost of $35 million and represented a near unprecedented advance commitment. Filming in British Columbia, with its generous tax incentives, not to mention a cast of relative unknowns, it was hoped that the series could be produced economically to a high standard. As a further budgetary measure, many of the specialist props, costumes and settings from Reunion were put to use in the new episodes.

With budget and the Vancouver location immediately precluding the participation of much of the Addams Family Reunion troupe, it would be a largely new cast which would front the new series. The new cast was assembled mostly from Canadian talent, with the exceptions of Nicole Fugere, who would reprise her role of Wednesday from Reunion and Glenn Taranto, a last-minute placement in the role of Gomez, cast after the initial choice proved unsuitable.

Originally, the producers had envisaged a Gomez more in line with the Hispanic silhouette Raul Julia embodied on the big screen. With this in mind, Frank Roman was initially cast in the role, beating out Glenn Taranto, who had offered an audition performance based on John Astin’s interpretation. However, once rehearsals were underway, it became clear that the tone of the episodes owed more to the series of old than the films, convincing the producers to reconsider their decision, awarding the role to Taranto. The actor had kept a signed photograph of the original Gomez, John Astin, in his possession for a number of years, and felt a special affinity for the role; over the years, a number of people had commented on his physical and vocal similarity to Astin.

Award-winning comedienne Ellie Harvie would play Morticia, along with Michael Roberds as Uncle Fester. Veteran performer Betty Phillips would play the wizened Grandmama Addams, whilst newcomers John DeSantis, Brody Smith and Steven Fox would essay the roles of Lurch, Pugsley and Thing, respectively. Production on the new episodes began in earnest in the Spring of 1998.

As it emerged, the new series owed much of its style and tone to the Addamses of the small-screen, and a large number of the original television scripts were adapted and revised as the basis for new episodes. This task fell largely to the show’s Executive Consultant, Peggy Nicol and her successors Arnold Rudnik and Rich Hosek. The remade episodes were generally heavily restructured and rewritten, often with only the barest bones of the originals retained.  The Fox Family Channel intended to use the established Addams format as the ballast for its re-launch, with stripped broadcasts throughout weekday evenings. With a mammoth episode count required in time for the October launch-date, the new cast would shoot at a frantic pace, with an average of only three filming days devoted to each episode.

A number of large regular sets were built in the studio to represent the Addams abode. Budgets and time precluded the building of an exterior to the mansion, which was instead realised with computer animation. A small exterior backlot set housed the gateway to the mansion, allowing for rare outside excursions. Like the original series, location shoots would be few and far between. With rapid production imperative, the crew often worked 14-hour days. Make-up alone could last as long as 90-minutes at a time. However, despite the highly demanding working conditions, the cast members generally relished their roles. Harvie, Taranto and Roberds based their performances heavily on their sixties counterparts, having watched the original show as children. Between them, they gradually brought their own broader interpretations to their roles, adding their own comic style.

An early seal of approval was found in the form of an inspired guest appearance by original Gomez, John Astin, in the role of Great Grandpapa Addams. Both Astin and the regular cast enjoyed the experience immensely, as Ellie Harvie recalled: “There was one scene where I was speaking French and he runs in and says, ‘Tish, that’s French!’ and starts kissing my arm and then Gomez walks in and says, ‘Grandpapa, what are you doing?’ There was a second there when he was kissing my arm and I thought, ‘This is too weird. I’m Morticia’!” Astin reprised Great Grandpapa for a further two episodes of the series. The New Addams Family premiered on the Fox Family Channel on October 19th 1998, following a huge publicity drive. Fox Family used the series as the cornerstone for their 13 Days of Halloween special, and followed soon after with The Addams Family Scareathon, a day of stripped repeats linked with specially filmed promotional spots by the characters.

In print, posters advertising the show appeared throughout the New York Subway system whilst TV-Guide magazine featured prominent advertisements for the show. A number of items were produced purely for promotional purposes. These included engraved cigar boxes, complete with a preview videotape, New Addams Family picture frames (filled with plastic bugs and bones) along with t-shirts, rucksacks and other sundries.

Concurrently, Cool-Whip dessert topping was showcasing a major promotion for Addams Family Reunion. The network aired huge numbers of specially shot promotional spots, whilst the characters themselves were featured as part of the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade. Critical reaction was conservative, but generally positive.

Fox Family’s massive publicity drive paid off. In a press release issued shortly after the premiere, the network reported that: “Highlighting the prime time line-up was the debut episode of The New Addams Family, the highest-rated first-run series in Fox Family Channel history. Addams proved a particularly strong attraction to Kids 6-11, with the debut delivering a Fox Family Channel prime time series record 2.04 rating in that demographic. Having excelled as part of the Fox Family Channel’s re-launch, The New Addams Family was to prove a surprisingly short-lived revival, producing only one episode more than its television parent.

Sadly, the promising viewing figures and audience reaction were not enough to ensure a second number of episodes, and with its 65th episode, Death Visits the Addams Family, the new series bade farewell to its new-found fan base. Reportedly, during the final weeks of production an abortive proposal was made for a straight-to-video movie sequel. Ultimately, the motivations behind the cancellation are numerous, and neither Shavick nor Fox Family Channel have ever issued an official statement regarding it. However, certain facts and comments from production alumni do go some way to explaining the decision. For the network, it would seem that any interest in continuing beyond their contracted quota was minimal, as their huge order of episodes gave them a sufficient number of shows to exploit the series with its existing library. With large numbers of shows readily available, there was no immediate incentive for them to produce further episodes. The cast and crew had been engaged on fixed-rate contracts, which expired at the end of production. Having forfeited their rights to valuable residual payments for the series, it was inconceivable that they would agree to such frugal terms for a second run. While the news was disappointing to viewers, in fairness, the show’s production team had completed a quota of episodes far in excess of the annual 25 of most modern sitcom productions.

The disappointment of the cast and crew at the premature and abrupt nature of the cancellation was seemingly vindicated during the 2000 Leo Awards, where The New Addams Family retrospectively won eight awards out of a nominated nine