REVIEW: VERONICA MARS – SEASON 2

Starring

Kristen Bell (The Good Place)
Teddy Dunn (Jumper)
Jason Dohring (The Originals)
Percy Daggs III (Detention)
Francis Capra (Izombie)
Enrico Colantoni (Flashpoint)
Ryan Hansen (2 Broke Girls)
Kyle Gallner (American Sniper)
Tessa Thompson (Thor: Ragnarok)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Jeffrey D. Sams (Cupid)
Alona Tal (Cult)
Max Greenfield (New Girl)
Krysten Ritter (Jessica Jones)
Charisma Carpenter (Buffy: TVS)
Steve Guttenberg (Police Academy)
Bradley Joseph (Stone & Ed)
Kevin Smith (Jay & Silet Bob Strike Back)
Michael Muhney (The Young and The Restless)
David Starzyk (Cam Girls)
Ari Graynor (Bad Teacher)
Kristin Dattilo (Dexter)
Melissa Reneé Martin (The Secret Craft)
Miko Hughes (New Nightmare)
Valorie Curry (The Tick)
Cress Williams (BLack Lightning)
Brandon Hillock (Villains)
Laura Bell Bundy (Scream Queens)
Geoff Pierson (24)
Tina Majorino (Scorpion)
Dana Davis (Heroes)
Christine Estabrook (Spider-Man 2)
Jonathan Chesner (Bones)
Harry Hamlin (Clash of The Titans)
Daran Norris (Izombie)
Rick Peters (Holidays)
Joss Whedon (Angel)
Patrick Wolff (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers)
James Molina (Runner Runner)
Roy Werner (Power Rangers Time Force)
Christopher B. Duncan (Legacies)
Amanda Noret (Bunny Whipped)
Rodney Rowland (Legacies)
Duane Daniels (Fashion House)
Lucas Grabeel (Smallville)
Lisa Thornhill (Agter The Sunset)
Lucy Lawless (Xena)
Ken Marino (Agent Carter)
Kevin Sheridan (Heart of Dixie)
D. Elliot Woods (Ballers)
B.J. Britt (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Curtis Andersen (Sabrina: TTW)
Jessy Schram (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles)
Virginia Williams (Fuller House)
Dawn Olivieri (American Hustle)
Aaron Ashmore (Samllville)
Michael Cera (Juno)
David Tom (Swing Kids)
Kayla Ewell (Th Vampire Diaries)
James Jordan (Wind River)
John Prosky (Heroes)
Amanda Seyfried (Ted 2)
Erica Gimpel (God Friended Me)

The central arcs of Veronica Mars’ first season were all intensely personal: Veronica being abandoned by her mother, not to mention every one of her former friends, roofie-fueled date rape at a party a year earlier, and the brutal murder of her closest friend, Lilly Kane. How do you follow up a season like that? t’d be nearly impossible to craft another set of stories that’d resonate in quite that same way without retreading familiar ground, so season two of Veronica Mars takes a different approach, shifting the focus away from our plucky junior detective and more towards the sticky underbelly of Neptune, California as a whole.

 

Kristen Bell and Teddy Dunn in Veronica Mars (2004)Mayoral candidate Woody Goodman (Steve Guttenberg) has a vision for the glorified country club that is Neptune. Incorporating Neptune would have a Tide with Bleach effect, making the whites whiter and the rich richer as property values are boosted and less desirable elements are rezoned onto someone else’s doorstep. Woody’s plan is announced as the tensions between the haves and have-nots are already boiling over in Neptune.Logan Echols, the cocky son of an aging Hollywood action hero, has walked away unscathed from accusations of stabbing a Hispanic biker to death, prompting a series of vicious attacks from both sides.Kristen Bell in Veronica Mars (2004)The stark differences between the classes are also apparent after a school-sponsored trip; the rich kids hop in a limo and ride back in style, and the not-so-privileged cram into a rank schoolbus and careen off the side of a cliff. The town is torn apart by the tragedy, and Veronica, who’d barely missed the bus and was very nearly among the dead, is determined to find out if the crash was a terrible accident, suicide, or something much more ominous.Image result for veronica mars driver edIt’s a hectic season, with a bus crash, two murder trials, class-slash-racial tensions throughout Neptune, a sheriff race, the possibility of Neptune incorporating, the ambiguity about Wallace’s family life, a coma-baby, Beaver following in his shamed father’s footsteps as he tries to get his own real estate endeavour off the ground, the strife former baseball star Terrence Cook and his overbearing daughter Jackie (Tessa Thompson) bring to Neptune, the newly-introduced clan of Irish drug-peddlers known as the Fitzpatricks, and the machinations of Dick and Beaver’s scheming stepmother Kendall (Charisma Carpenter).Kristen Bell in Veronica Mars (2004)There’s enough to follow The season plays a lot better on DVD; it’s easier to keep the scores of characters and plot points fresh in the mind over the course of a few days as opposed to the better part of a year.

REVIEW: BONES – SEASON 6

Starring

Emily Deschanel (Boogeyman)
David Boreanaz (Angel)
Michaela Conlin (Yellowstone)
Tamara Taylor (Lost)
T. J. Thyne (Ghost World)
John Francis Daley (Game Night)

David Boreanaz, Emily Deschanel, and Tamara Taylor in Bones (2005)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Patricia Belcher (Jeepers Creepers)
Michael Grant Terry (Grimm)
Carla Gallo (Superbad)
Dylan Bruno (The Rage: Carrie 2)
Danielle Bisutti (Curse of Chucky)
Eugene Byrd (Arrow)
Scott Michael Campbell (Shameless)
Justina Machado (Final Destination 2)
Karina Logue (Scream: The Series)
Katheryn Winnick (Vikings)
B.J. Britt (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Joel David Moore (Avatar)
Antonio Sabato Jr. (General Hospital)
David Alan Grier (Jumanji)
Lisa Marcos (On My Block)
Thomas Kopache (Catch Me If You Can)
Greg Cipes (Teen Titans Go To The Movies)
Kelly Stables (Two and a Half Men)
Pej Vahdat (Shameless)
Kerry O’Malley (Annabelle: Creation)
Robin Riker (The Glades)
Wayne Knight (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Ryan Cartwright (Alphas)
Frederick Koehler (Death Race)
Cedric Yarbrough (The Boss)
Enrico Colantoni (Veronica Mars)
Francis Capra (Izombie)
Mark Famiglietti (Terminator 3)
Deirdre Lovejoy (The Blacklist)
Ryan O’Neal (Love Story)
Tiffany Hines (Nikita)
Matthew John Armstrong (Heores)
Arnold Vosloo (The Mummy)
Laura Regan (Minority Report TV)
Scoot McNairy (Batman V Superman)
Elizabeth Ho (Disjointed)
Leslie-Anne Huff (The Vampire Diaries)
Billy Gibbons (Two and a Half Men)
Marisa Ramirez (Spartacus: Gods of The Arena)
Michael Papajohn (Spider-Man)
Scott Lowell (Adoptable)
Michael Welch (All The Boys Love Mandy Lane)
Sarah Baker (Young Sheldon)
Geoff Stults (Wedding Crashers)
Saffron Burrows (Deep Blue Sea)
Danny Trejo (Machete)
Michael Clarke Duncan (The Scorpian King)
Mini Anden (Chuck)
Suzie Plakson (Red Eye)
Carlo Rota (Saw V)
McKenzie Applegate (The Best of Enemies)
Sean O’Bryan (Vantage Point)
Tina Majorino (Veronica Mars)
Annalise Basso (Ouija: Origin of Evil)
Denise Dowse (Starship Troopers)

David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel in Bones (2005)To resuscitate a dead team out of their scattered disappearance is not an easy task. Luckily the DA in Washington DC is a powerful woman, stubborn and resolute, and she generally gets what she wants. So she brought Agent Booth back from Afghanistan, and Temperance Brennan, aka Bones, from the exotic place where she was trying to get some archaeologically interesting bones with Daisy, Dr Sweet’s girl friend, and Dr Sweet from his hideout somewhere in Paris where he was having a showbiz career as a cabaret singer. They all come back, change clothes and back in the business in a jiffy. Angela and Dr Hodgins are also back though from not so far away and Angela is pregnant.
As usual one case per episode, clean and neat, always dealing with a lot of bones, gross and dirty, soaked in a lot of decomposed muck with a tremendous number of maggots, worms and other corpse parasites. A series not to watch while eating anything more delicate than dry cookies.David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel in Bones (2005)Angela and Dr Hodgins have a full plate with the pregnancy and the delivery of the baby. For them that’s enough and that will require some help from a friendly psychiatrist because it is hard for the father not to become overprotective and it is hard for the mother to accept the physical handicap this pregnancy may represent. Yet they decided that working with the people they are used to work and live with was the best thing for the pregnancy, the mother and the child. Angela was not alone at any moment of her days or nights.Agent Booth brought a journalist back from Afghanistan, a sort of love substitute for Temperance. But will that not cause some problems, like conflicting interests between the two professions? And Booth with his own son is already very busy in life. Will that new woman in the picture be able to cope with a child, what’s more the child of another woman? And the question of marriage will come up sooner or later and how are the two going to react to that eventuality? Probably not very well, maybe not too bad. A decision that is always difficult to take for someone who is constantly in the field of police investigation and for a journalist just back from a war zone.Emily Deschanel in Bones (2005)You have the interns still rotating, the four of them. They are the surprise of each episode because they are so different and they can be so funny, though at times they are just funny for us because they are mismatched with what is happening around them, but that’s what interns are all about. Unluckily one will end up very badly. That’s not the first case, but so far none had ended up that badly. But a song will carry him through: lime and coconut, sung in a chorus all together, mellow and heart stirring.David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel in Bones (2005)There will be a case that will run over the whole season, the case of a sniper who had been a colleague and friend of Booth in Afghanistan and who came back slightly berserk and decided that what he did over there was good enough for the USA too and he started killing those who were rotten, and those who were in his way for his type of justice and these were only collateral victims for him, hence justified by the end. It will take the whole team to stop him and it will bring a lot of suffering and even mourning to that team.

REVIEW: AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. – SEASON 2

CAST

Clark Gregg (When A Stranger Calls)
Ming-Na Wen (Stargate Universe)
Brett Dalton (Killing Lincoln)
Chloe Bennet (Nashville)
Ian De Caestecker (Filth)
Elizabeth Henstridge (Reach Me)
Nick Blood (Identicals)
Adrianna Palicki (G.J. Joe: Retaliation)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Hayley Atwell (Cinderella)
B.J. Britt (Veronica Mars)
Neal McDonough (Arrow)
Reed Diamond (Dollhouse)
Henry Simons (No Good Deed)
Patton Oswalt (Blade: trinity)
Lucy Lawless (Ash Vs Evil Dead)
Adrian Pasdar (Heroes)
Kenneth Choi (Street Kings)
Simon Kassianides (Quantum of Solace)
Brian Patrick Wade (The Big Bang Theory)
Ruth Negga (World War Z)
Maya Stojan (Castle)
Dylan Minnette (Goosebumps)
Kyle MacLachlan (Dune)
Brian Tee (Jurassic World)
Monique Gabriela Curnen (The Dark Knight)
Joel Gretsch (V)
Tim DeKay (Swordfish)
Dichen Lachman (Dollhouse)
Lou Ferrigno Jr. (The Young and The Restless)
Jamie Harris (Rise of The Planet of The Apes)
Blair Underwood (Gattaca)
Christine Adams (Batman Begins)
Edward James Olmos (Green Hornet)
Luke Mitchell (Home and Away)
J. August Richards (Angel)
Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother)
Jaimie Alexander (The Last Stand)
Eddie McClintock (Bones)
Kirk Acevedo (Arrow)

For many, Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD in its first season  became a forgotten and/or overlooked series, which was too bad, and yet understandable. This was Marvel’s first TV series, coming off of an amazing run of movies and it just didn’t deliver when it debuted. The initial episodes felt unfocused and badly paced,but many people people felt the show improved when SHIELD notably improving in the wake of Captain America: The Winter Soldier’s events.In season 2 the pacing was hugely improved, with storylines no longer taking forever to bubble up again and secrets no longer being kept both from the audience and the characters that no one on screen seemed in a hurry to deal with. Instead, there was payoff to big plot threads happening consistently, as both lingering questions from Season 1 and newly introduced plotlines were deftly dealt with and tied up, while paving the way for new mysteries. On the villain front, there was some nicely done twisting and turning regarding who the Big Bad would be in Season 2. We began with a focus on Hydra leader Whitehall and while Reed Diamond had fun in the role, Whitehall rarely had moments that made him feel like a truly credible threat. When he was killed in the midseason finale, it seemed Kyle MacLachlan’s Cal would take center stage as SHIELD’s main foe… but there was yet another swerve in store.The fact that Skye’s mother, Jiaying (Dichen Lachman), was alive at all was a surprise and we soon saw that she was the leader of the Inhumans and could be pretty strict and cold when it came to doing what she felt was right to protect her people… but that was all hiding just what a zealot she had become, convinced war with humanity was inevitable and willing to begin it herself (via a staged attack) to get all her people on her side. The fact that Jiaying was the true main villain of the season was a subtle, slow reveal and much appreciated for how it was pulled off. We understood the tragic events that had changed her, even as we came to see she, and not Cal, who was the most dangerous.Oh, and did I say Inhumans? This was also a huge part of the season, which was especially notable because it indicated that behind the scenes, Marvel had decided Agents of SHIELD could lead the way in a much more notable way than before, rather than being simply reactive to the events of the films. We know an Inhumans film is coming in a few years, but now this series has already introduced the concept into the MCU. Presumably the film will focus on the Royal Family and a very different group of Inhumans than the ones we met here, but this show was still allowed to be the first part of the MCU to give us Terrigen Mist, the Kree origins and all the major background elements of the Inhumans.
Hayley Atwell in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013)In general, SHIELD felt less restrained this season. The first couple of episodes utilized the notable Marvel villain Absorbing Man, while the reveals that Cal and Skye were, respectively, Mr. Hyde and Daisy Johnson/Quake, rooted this show much more into its Marvel Comics roots.While it began in the latter half of Season 1, SHIELD: Season 2 also benefited from much stronger characterization. While there were so many characters they all didn’t get as much time as might have been ideal, they still all felt much more distinct and specific than the show’s early days, and the fact that several members came and went and shifted allegiances kept things interesting. Ming-Na Wen was always a great presence on the show, but Melinda May was given a lot more depth, as we met her ex-husband, Andrew (Blair Underwood) and finally got the dark details of that incident in Bahrain that we kept hearing about in Season 1. The rift between Fitz and Simmons added a lot more textures to both of them, and was beautifully played by Iain De Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge, while Coulson, now the director of SHIELD, had to reevaluate his approach, making much harsher decisions that pained him, but felt more involving and believable than the overly sappy, often naive approach that he began the series with.As for Skye, the writers and producers certainly still were determined to make her the most important and revered character on the show, but this season, it actually felt like they were earning her that position. Sure, we had to accept that she’d apparently gotten one hell of a crash course in being a badass fighter from May between seasons, but it felt good to see her actually be such a formidable presence in the action scenes – and Chloe Bennet really rose to the challenge of her characters new dynamic. And by making Skye both an Inhuman and Daisy/Quake, we at least had tangible reasons she would be important to us as viewers, beyond Coulson simply saying she was awesome over and over again. Bennet and Kyle MacLachlan also were able to build a strong rapport together as the estranged father/daughter duo. Speaking of MacLachlan, what a job he did. While Dichen Lachman brought the perfect pained righteousness to Jiaying, who truly believed what she was doing was right, MacLachlan had the freedom to go absolutely crazy as the absolutely crazy Cal and wow, was he fun. He expertly conveyed his character’s wish to be a happy, doting husband and father intermixed with his violent rage and gave the season some of its best moments – goofy Mr. Hyde makeup/visuals in the season finale aside.The new additions to the SHIELD crew were also appreciated, with Nick Blood’s Lance Hunter, Henry Simmons’ Mack and Adrianne Palicki ‘s Bobbi Morse/Mockingbird all fitting in very well. With such a big group of agents, someone was bound to be overlooked, and unfortunately, that was Trip (B.J. Britt), who never really got a storyline of his own – except to be the big midseason death. Which wasn’t as impactful as it could have been because he felt like a character with potential that was never fully utilized in any capacity (Remember when he and Simmons were flirting?).The “Other SHIELD” storyline was an interesting inclusion, with Edward James Olmos bringing exactly the gravity you’d expect him to as Gonzales. I liked the idea of he and Coulson being so opposed and yet very respectful of one another, in their own ways. I just wish we’d gotten a bigger payoff to that, as Gonzales was killed by Jiaying before he and Coulson really came to any sort of conclusion in their own conflict except on the “very begrudging/wary allies” level.I went into Season 2 very concerned about Grant Ward’s continuing presence on the series. His betrayal was a shot of Adrenalin the bland SHIELD crew needed and his actions had been too extreme and lethal to be forgiven or excused – but this is TV, where it seems any character can be redeemed. And I really didn’t want to see Ward redeemed, especially since Brett Dalton really found the character when he was allowed to play him as a villain. Thankfully, Season 2 didn’t try to bring Ward back onto the SHIELD team – in fact, by the end, he was more delightfully despicable than ever, torturing Bobbi and setting a trap to kill any SHIELD agent that attempted to rescue her and shooting and killing May, point blank, the first chance he had.SHIELD: Season 2 benefited from a show now unafraid to shake up the dynamic. Perhaps having to completely change everything about the series two thirds into the first season served as an inspiration, but from Simmons’ double agent status, to Gonzales’ crew taking over, the show rarely felt stagnant. The show’s always been in a difficult scenario – people love the interconnectivity of the MCU, but because the movie’s have the big superheroics covered, SHIELD felt hindered by not being able to deal with a lot of the bigger name heroes, in a way a series like The Flash (which isn’t connected to DC’s movies at all) doesn’t have to deal with. The decision to have Coulson and Skye begin to form a team of superpowered members seems to indicate those involved have decided its time to bring some more ongoing flash  to the series, even if it won’t be with the biggest name characters. Things will no doubt change in a big way again as a result, but right now, it’s exciting to ponder what’s coming next.

REVIEW: AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. – SEASON 1

CAST

Clark Gregg (When A Stranger Calls)
Ming-Na Wen (Stargate Universe)
Brett Dalton (Killing Lincoln)
Chloe Bennet (Nashville)
Ian De Caestecker (Filth)
Elizabeth Henstridge (Reach Me)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

J. August Richards (Angel)
Shannon Lucio (The O.C)
Ron Glass (Firefly)
Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother)
Sarah Dumont (Don Jon)
Leonor Varela (Blade II)
Samuel L. Jackson (The Hateful Eight)
David Conrad (Roswell)
Ian Hart (Harry Potter)
Ruth Negga (World War Z)
Louis Ozawa Changchien (The Bourne Legacy)
Cullen Douglas (Pure Genius)
Vincent Laresca (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang)
Titus Welliver (The Town)
Maximiliano Hernández (Ringer)
Ilia Volok (Power Rangers Wild Force)
Saffron Burrows (Deep Blue Sea)
Charles Halford (Constantine)
Peter MacNicol (24)
Erin Way (Colony)
Robert Baker (Supergirl)
Laura Seay (Superbad)
Maximilian Osinski (In Time)
Aiden Turner (All My Children)
Dylan Minnette (13 Reasons Why)
Daniel Zovatto (Don’t Breathe)
Christine Adams (BLack Lightning)
Maiara Walsh (The Vampire Diaries)
Carlo Rota (Saw V)
Stan Lee (Super Hero Squad)
Elena Satine (The Gifted)
Bill Paxton (Aliens)
Robert Belushi (How I Met Your Mother)
B.J. Britt (One Tree Hill)
Jaimie Alexander (Thor)
Dylan Bruno (Taken 3)
Brad Dourif (Cult of CHucky)
Adrian Pasdar (Heores)
Patton Oswalt (Young Adult)
Amy Acker (Angel)
Glenn Morshower (Transformers)

Ming-Na Wen, Clark Gregg, Iain De Caestecker, Brett Dalton, Chloe Bennet, and Elizabeth Henstridge in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013)When Marvel’s cinematic universe first took off, the next move was to make the leap to television, Marvel turned to Avengers director Joss Whedon’s brother Jed and his wife/collaborator Maurissa Tancharoen, who took the popular Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase One character Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), the man who helped gather the heroes who became the Avengers, and made him the star of his own series, focused on his team at S.H.I.E.L.D., the international peacekeeping organization run by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson.) The hour-long drama would build off of the well-known heroics, and tell connected tales of espionage, as Coulson and his squad respond to threats to humanity around the world.Now, in case you haven’t seen The Avengers, you should know that in a climactic battle, Coulson was very badly injured, which became a rallying point for the heroes. Well, he’s back, but how he made it back is a large part of the series’ foundation, which is revealed in piecemeal over the course of the first season. Coulson’s search for the truth is intertwined with the arrival of the newest member of his team, a hacker known as Skye (Chloe Bennett), who has plenty of secrets of her own, in part due to her past as a rogue “hacktivist.” Trust is a massive theme in the series, as no one is sure about anyone else but they have to rely on each other if they are going to complete their missions, which remind one of Fringe in a big way, as the team investigates strange phenomena in order to keep humanity safe.Lorelei, Though certainly not a big-name Marvel character (her sister The Enchantress has a much higher profile) and not the first recognizable super-powered character on the show (that would be the cybernetic assassin Deathlok, whose origin is revealed over the course of the season), Lorelei tips the scales with her appearance because she, as an Asgardian, creates a direct link to the world of Thor, and also because she’s followed to Earth by Lady Sif (Jaimie Alexander), the Asgardian warrior from the two Thor films. Finally, fans exclaimed, there’s some honest to goodness superhero action to be enjoyed, and that was followed by direct ties into the new Captain America movie, picking up the plot from the theaters and bringing its effects home. This was the crossover dream that comics mastered decades ago, and now Marvel was making happen between movies and TV (and you didn’t really even need to see both sides to enjoy them separately.)After offering this cookie to the fans, the series shifted back to the spy game though, where it would stay for the rest of the season, introducing Bill Paxton and Saffron Burrows in major roles) as Coulson’s organization crumbled around him and the team shifted from saving the world to saving each other. Coulson’s team, which, aside from Skye, includes Ward (Brett Dalton), a perfect soldier; badass pilot May (Ming-Na Wen) and science specialists Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge), comes together quickly as a unit on the series, establishing their personalities right off the bat, with Skye serving as the show’s young star, showing the old guard how a new generation does the job (though still requiring saving and offering a hearty cry every now and then) and Fitz and Simmons serving as the audience’s tech-loving stand-ins, the most down-to-earth parts of a fantastical realm. May though, with her economy of words and excess of butt-kicking skill, is the “Wolverine” of the show, and her relationship with Coulson serves as a backbone for the series. Naturally, Gregg’s performance is integral to the show, and he continues to shine in the role of Coulson, giving us a smartass secret agent for the ages.While the show is a serial and does well at telling action-adventure arcs of mystery and intrigue, building the mythology and establishing a larger storyline, it could do one-offs as well, including two of the season’s best episodes, “FZZT” which ties into The Avengers while telling a standalone story that put a spotlight on Fitz and Simmons, and “T.R.A.C.K.S.”, which puts the team on a train and tries out some interesting storytelling structure. The show also has its humorous side, taking its tone from the Marvel films, which blend grits with grins (and though Patton Oswalt gets a featured role in one episode, for once, he’s not responsible for the laughs.) For the most part, this mix works well, as it helps illustrate the growing camaraderie between the teammates and keeps the tone light, but it can get out of hand very quickly. The final episode, where much of what’s been revealed over the course of the previous 21 episodes comes to a head, the lightheartedness (thanks to an appearance by a famous friend of the team) goes over the top.