REVIEW: STARGATE SG.1 – SEASON 4

Starring

Richard Dean Anderson (MacGyver)
Michael Shanks (Smallville)
Amanda Tapping(Sanctuary)
Christopher Judge (The Dark Knight Rises)
Don S. Davis (Twin Peaks)

Amanda Tapping in Stargate SG-1 (1997)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Colin Cunningham (Elektra)
Gary Jones (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
Teryl Rothery (Travelers)
Rene Auberjonois (Star Trek: DS9)
Anne Marie DeLuise (Love Happens)
Kyle Cassie (Deadpool)
Laara Sadiq (Arrow)
Vanessa Angel (Kingpin)
Musetta Vander (Wild Wild West)
Peter Wingfield (Highlander: The Series)
Ron Halder (Antitrust)
Kirsten Robek (Cats & Dogs)
Andrew Jackson (Sea Wolf)
Robin Mossley (Elf)
Marina Sirtis (Star Trek: TNG)
Tom McBeath (Bates Motel)
Dion Johnstone (The Core)
Jason Schombing (Tin Man)
Steve Bacic (Andromeda)
Brian Markinson (Izombie)
Alessandro Juliani (Smallville)
Kim Hawthorne (Greenleaf)
Willie Garson (White Collar)
Matthew Bennett (Cold Squad)
Steven Williams (Jason Goes To Hell)
Peter Williams (Catwoman)
Anna-Louise Plowman (Black Sails)
Ben Bass (Bride of Chucky)
Lorena Gale (Traitor)
Douglas Arthurs (The Butterfly Effect)
Daniel Bacon (Brain of Fire)
Paul Koslo (Robot Jox)
Christopher Cousins (Breaking Bad)
Obi Ndefo (Dawsons Creek)
Lawrence Dane (Scanners)
Ronny Cox (Robocop)
Dion Luther (The Net: The Series)
Erick Avari (The Mummy)
Michelle Harrison (The Flash)
William deVry (Earth: Final Conflict)
Yee Jee Tso (Antitrust)
Elisabeth Rosen (Cult of Chucky)
Hrothgar Mathews (When Calls The HEart)
Bill Dow (Izombie)
Michael Kopsa (Dark Angel)
Jay Brazeau (Bates Motel)
Belinda Waymouth (Meet The Spartans)
Ron Halder (Antitrust)
John DeSantis (Legends of Tomorrow)
Carmen Argenziano (House)

Stargate SG-1 (1997)The Replicators. The Russians. The Aschen. These are only a few of the new enemies presented this year, in Stargate: SG-1 (okay, so technically, the Replicators were introduced last year). These new baddies made a lot of trouble this year for the SGC in what is definitely the best season yet. We learn more about the Replicators this year when Sam (Amanda Tapping) is brought to an Asgard-controlled planet to help defend the O’Neill, the Asgard’s newest and most advanced ship ever. Also, the Russians retrieve the Giza gate from the bottom of the ocean from when Thor’s ship, the Beliskner, crashed, while the SGC is now using the Antarctica gate. And, 10 years in the future, an advanced race, known as the Aschen, are quietly wiping out the human race by making humans infertile.Richard Dean Anderson and Teryl Rothery in Stargate SG-1 (1997)These are just a handful of the amazing new stories that occurred this year. It seems that Col. O’Neill (Richard Dean Anderson), Maj. Carter, Dr. Jackson (Michael Shanks), and Teal’c (Christopher Judge) can never catch a break. This year, not only have their alien enemies become more powerful than ever, especially Apophis (Peter Williams), their enemies on Earth have truly become a threat. Senator Kinsey (Ronny Cox), the man who tried to shut down the SGC in Season 1, has been linked to the rogue sector of the NID, the civillian organization responsible for the theft of numerous alien technologies over the last few years.Richard Dean Anderson, Vanessa Angel, Michael Shanks, and Amanda Tapping in Stargate SG-1 (1997)The stories this year are better than ever, especially with an increasing number of arcs occurring. Episodes like “Crossroads” and “The Serpent’s Venom” were expertly executed, and had immense emotional effects on our heroes. However, I have to praise the stand-alones this year, especially “Window of Opportunity” and “The Other Side”, which have never been better.Some other great episodes are: “Small Victories”, “Upgrades”, “Watergate”, “Point of No Return”, “Tangent”, “The Curse”, “Chain Reaction”, “2010”, “Absolute Power”, “Double Jeopardy”, and “Exodus”.

REVIEW: DARK ANGEL -SEASON 2

Starring

Jessica Alba (Machete)
Michael Weatherly (Bull)
Valarie Rae Miller (Crank)
J. C. MacKenzie (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Richard Gunn (Hemlock Grove)
Jensen Ackles (Supernatural)
Kevin Durand (Lost)
Ashley Scott (Birds of Prey)
Martin Cummins (Bates Motel)

Jensen Ackles in Dark Angel (2000)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

John Savage (American Romance)
Nana Visitor (Star Trekk: DS9)
Yee Jee Tso (Antitrust)
Grace Park (Battlestar Galactica)
Nicki Clyne (Saved)
Jesse Moss (The Uninvited)
Colin Cunningham (Elektra)
Craig Veroni (Two For The Money)
Connor Widdows (X-Men 2)
Rob LaBelle (Watchmen)
John DeSantis (Arrow)
Tyler Labine (Rise of The Planet of The Apes)
Byron Mann (Arrow)
Kris Pope (Josie and The Pussycats)
Rekha Sharma (The Core)
Sarah Carter (Smallville)
Todd Stashwick (The Originals)
John Mann (Pathfinder)
Sonya Salomaa (Watchmen)
Patrick Gallagher (Sideways)
Mike Dopud (The Predator)
William Gregory Lee (Xena)
Brian Markinson (Wolf)
Gus Lynch (North Country)
Jesse Hutch (Cedar Cove)
Anita Brown (The A-Team)
Kendall Cross (Paycheck)
Emily Holmes (The Wicker Man)
Michael Bower (Evolution)
Terry Chen (Jessica Jones)
Tiffany Lyndall-Knight (I, Robot)
Fulvio Cecere (Valentine)
Michael Kopsa (Apollo 18)
Meghan Ory (Once Upon A Time)
Eric Breker (Stargate SG.1)
Ty Olsson (Battlestar Galactica)
Peter Williams (Catwoman)
Enuka Okuma (Impulse)
Sarah Strange (Men in Trees)
Jerry Wasserman (Alive)
Sam Witwer (Supergirl)
Camille Sullivan (Kingsway)
Zak Santiago (Shooter)
Tracy Ryan (The Blows)
Callum Keith Rennie (Jessica Jones)
Gabrielle Rose (Sanctuary)
Garwin Sanford (Arrow)
Malcolm Stewart (Jumanji)
Devin Douglas Drewitz (X-Men 2)
Kandyse McClure (Battlestar Galactica)
Jorge Vargas (Power Rangers Ninja Storm)
Henri Lubatti (Zoo)
Rick Worthy (The Vamnpire Diaries)
Erin Karpluk (Being Erica)

Jessica Alba and Kevin Durand in Dark Angel (2000)James Cameron’s and Charles H. Eglee’s Dark Angellasted a short two seasons back in 2000-2002, launching Jessica Alba’s Hollywood career.  Like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, this show had a similarly headstrong, wise-cracking, female superhero at the helm.Jessica Alba and Valarie Rae Miller in Dark Angel (2000)Set in the near future in rainy Seattle, Washington, Max was a bike courier by day and thief by night, struggling to get by in Post-Pulse America.  She burgles the wrong rich guy one evening who recognises her for what she is, an escaped genetically-engineered human from Manticore, a secret training facility that creates kids like Max and raises them to become soldiers and assassins.  With rich guy Logan’s (Michael Weatherly) guidance/nagging, Max grudgingly uses her physical and mental talents to do some good in the world.Did I mention she did it grudgingly? Max is not a smiley, cheerful young woman.  Most of the time she’s got a scowl on her face but deep down she’s got heart, and despite the tough, ‘I don’t care about anyone but myself’ front she puts up, she’s still a normal young woman trying to put the trauma of being raised to be a weapon of destruction  behind her.  The torture and abuse she suffered as a child at the hands of those in Manticore still haunts her. Max was among a dozen children that fled the prison-like institution ten years previously.  She tries to keep a low profile, fearful that her worst nightmare and personal bogey man Lydecker (played chillingly by John Savage) will find her.  She’s also trying to track down her “brothers” and “sisters”, the other kids who fled.  Logan agrees to help her in this quest in exchange for her help with his noble causes.  Logan is “Eyes Only”, an underground journalist and thorn in the side of criminalsJessica Alba and Kevin Durand in Dark Angel (2000)Keeping Max company is her best friend Original Cindy (Valarie Rae Miller), Sketchy (Richard Gunn) an idiot who works alongside her and Normal, the grouchy but actually easy-going boss at the courier company Jam Pony.  Normal frequently shouts ‘bip bip’ at his employees in order to motivate them to do some work.  It rarely works!  Along the way we meet Zach (William Gregory Lee), her “brother” who is totally in love with her and Alec (played by hottie Jensen Ackles from Supernatural), another Manticore soldier.   We can’t forget about Joshua (Kevin Durrand), the dog-man, one of Manticore’s earliest experiments that left many of their people/creatures looking decidedly non-human.  They were confined to the basement in Manticore until Max releases them into the world in season 2 with devastating consequences. Max looks after Joshua and along with Alec, the three of them form somewhat of a weird, dysfunctional but tight-knit family.Logan’s and Max’s relationship continues the will they/won’t they line for the duration of the two seasons.  A lot of fans wanted her to hook up with Alec but it never happened, despite a few lingering looks.  I loved the universe and characters of Dark Angel.  It’s one of my favourite supernatural/sci-fi tv shows of all time, right up there with BuffyRoswell  and The X- Files. The music was great, the characters awesome and the dialogue snappy.  For me, the most intriguing character was Lydecker.  Yes he was a bad guy, but in a creepy way he was also like the father figure of the group.

REVIEW: DARK ANGEL -SEASON 1

Starring

Jessica Alba (Machete)
Michael Weatherly (Bull)
John Savage (American Romance)
Valarie Rae Miller (Crank)
J. C. MacKenzie (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Richard Gunn (Hemlock Grove)
Alimi Ballard (Sabrina: TTW)
Jennifer Blanc (The Victim)

Jessica Alba in Dark Angel (2000)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Stanley Kamel (Domino)
Kristin Bauer van Straten (True Blood)
Paul Popowich (Rupture)
Douglas O’Keeffe (The Andromeda Strain)
Sarah-Jane Redmond (Smallville)
Lauren Lee Smith (Mutant X)
Kim Hawthorne (Greanleaf)
Stephen Lee (Robocop 2)
Hiro Kanagawa (Heroes Reborn)
Garry Chalk (Arrow)
Eileen Pedde (Juno)
Fulvio Cecere (Valentine)
Robert Lewis (Stargate SG-1)
Natassia Malthe (Elektra)
Steve Makaj (Two for The Money)
Tyler Labine (Tucker and Dale vs Evil)
Alessandro Juliani (Smallville)
Ty Olsson (X-Men 2)
Ryan Robbins (Sanctuary)
Peter Bryant (Legends of Tomorrow)
Emily Tennant (Jennifer’s Body)
Christine Chatelain (Final Destination)
Abraham Benrubi (ER)
Byronn Mann (Arrow)
A.C. Peterson (Shooter)
Tony Perez (Once Upon a Time)
Lisa Rodríguez (Next Friday)
Brenda James (Slither)
William Gregory Lee (Xena)
Rodney Rowland (Veronica Mars)
George Cheung (Rush Hour)
Mike Weinberg (Home Alone 4)
Nicole Bilderback (Clueless)
Robert Gossett (Batman Returns)
Harsh Nayyar (Gandhi)
Brian Markinson (Wolf)
Lucia Walters (Stargate: Atlantis)
James Kidnie (Robocop: The Series)
Patrick Kilpatrick (Eraser)
Alex Zahara (Horns)
Mark Gibbon (Man of Steel)
Jodelle Ferland (Silent Hill)
Zahf Paroo (The Good Doctor)
Susan Hogan (Warehouse 13)
Lawrence Pressman (American Pie)
Samantha Smith (Supernatural)
Rekha Sharma (The Core)
Craig Veroni (Cedar Cove)
Lisa Ann Cabasa (Buffy: TVS)
Rob LaBelle (Watchmen)
Shireen Crutchfield (House Party 3)
Ashley Crow (Heroes)
David Kaye (Siren)
Mark Rolston (Aliens)
Ian Tracey (Sanctuary)
Alex Carter (The Island)
Jensen Ackles (Supernatural)
Robert Floyd (Cold Hearts)
Nana Visitor (Star Trek: DS9)
James Kirk (She’s The Man)
Rainn Wilson (Star Trek: Discovery)
Kevin McNulty (Snakes on a Plane)
Sebastian Spence (First Wave)
Lorena Gale (Traitor)
Steve Bacic (Andromeda)
Kris Pope (Josie and The Pussycats)
Joshua Alba (Alpha Dog)
Nicki Aycox (Jeepers Creepers 2)

Jessica Alba in Dark Angel (2000)Dark Angel stars Jessica Alba (Idle Hands) as Max, a genetically-engineered supersoldier who escaped from an expectedly top-secret government facility as a child. Despite the passing of a full decade, the agents of Manticore, led by Donald Lydecker (John Savage), remain determined to retrieve their multi-million dollar killing machine. Max ekes out a living in a scarcely-recognizable 21st century Seattle, avoiding capture while trying to locate the brothers and sisters that fled from Manticore with her. Max’s search brings her in contact with underground cyberjournalist Logan Cale (Michael Weatherly), and together, they try to make Seattle a more palatable place while unveiling the secrets of Max’s past.Jessica Alba, William Gregory Lee, and Michael Weatherly in Dark Angel (2000)Just as Max is a genetically-engineered hybrid of various people and creatures, Dark Angel has been stitched together from the remnants of various other genre television series and movies. The most obvious point of comparison is Buffy the Vampire Slayer, with its beautiful, sassy, headstrong, ass-kicking female lead, a predominately female supporting cast, and an older male mission-dispensing mentor with an answer to every question and a solution to every problem. Hell, both series have even had a recurring character named Kendra. Similarities can also be drawn to The Pretender, which features a gifted child raised in an isolated institutional setting and pursued in adulthood. Both series take every available opportunity to flash back to childhood and draw parallels to the present. The X-5s also bear a passing resemblance to the powerful young aliens of Roswell. Toss in a dollop of a Mad Max post-apocalyptic future for good measure, and you’re in the general ballpark.Jessica Alba in Dark Angel (2000)By the time I’d waded through the 90-minute pilot and the other two episodes on disc one, I was fully prepared to write Dark Angel off as a loss, resigning myself to wading through another thirteen hours of mediocrity. The feature-length pilot carried a hefty price tag, touted at the time as the most expensive ever produced. I’m not sure how much of that reported $10 million made it on-screen or was siphoned off to line James Cameron’s wallet, but the end result is plodding and dull. Thankfully, Dark Angel improves after these early fumbles, though the quality remains uneven throughout. For every decent episode, there’s one as dismal as Red or Haven. Douglas O’Keeffe has been cast in enough movies and TV series that someone out there seems to think he has some modicum of talent, but not a glimpse of it is on display in his embarrassingly inept performance as Bruno in Red. Bruno isn’t the only carryover from the pilot. A disturbing amount of footage appears in flashback form, making it the most shameless rehash outside of a Silent Night, Deadly Night sequel. Haven consists of 43 of the most painfully boring minutes I’ve spent in front of my television this year, and even the most staunch fans of the series seem to consider it pretty dreadful.Jessica Alba and Douglas O'Keeffe in Dark Angel (2000)Dark Angel was, at least in part, a victim of Fox’s determination to air sci-fi programming on Friday night, a timeslot that has claimed such genre casualties as Firefly, The Lone Gunman, M.A.N.T.I.S., Harsh Realm, Strange Luck, and VR.5. Despite not attracting enough viewers to warrant a third season, Fox’s home video arm has enough confidence in Dark Angel’s fan base to release both seasons of the series in relatively quick succession.Jessica Alba in Dark Angel (2000)Established fans of the series ought to find Dark Angel to be well-worth the modest asking price. As for the uninitiated, I wouldn’t recommend this set as a blind purchase. I’d suggest checking out at least a couple of episodes first, which admittedly might prove to be fairly tough seeing as how Dark Angel has been off the air for years now. If the premise sounds intriguing and you never got around to watching the series during its original run on Fox, I’d recommend this set.

25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: THE CHILLING ADVENTURES OF SABRINA – A MIDWINTERS TALE

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Starring

Kiernan Shipka (Mad Men)
Ross Lynch (Muppets Most Wanted)
Lucy Davis (Wonder Woman)
Chance Perdomo (Killed By Debt)
Michelle Gomez (Bad Education)
Jaz Sinclair (Slender Man)
Tati Gabrielle (The 100)
Adeline Rudolph
Richard Coyle (5 Day of War)
Miranda Otto (Lord of The Rings)
Lachlan Watson (The Ultimate Life)

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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Abigail F. Cowen (Stranger Things)
Heather Doerksen (The Uninvited)
Mckenna Grace (Young Sheldon)
Adrian Hough (The Fog)
Brian Markinson (Sanctuary)
Christopher Rosamond (Siren)

sabrina-midwinter4Considering the first season of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina delighted in toppling the patriarchy and undercutting nostalgia, in between proclamations of “Praise Satan,” it should come as no surprise that the Netflix holiday special takes a relatively unsentimental view of Christmas — or, rather, solstice. It’s a time for family, both living and dead, but it’s also a dangerous time, when mischievous spirits scurry down the chimney, demons kidnap children, and transgressions are forgiven, but not necessarily forgotten. In short, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: A Winter’s Tale is ideal viewing for fans who can’t stomach another saccharine Christmas episode that shovels on platitudes like so much December snow. There’s probably a moral to be gleaned here, but any excessive sweetness is tempered by sentiments like, “Satan bless us, every one!”sabrina-midwinter7However, “A Winter’s Tale” isn’t a standalone episode that can serve as a welcoming introduction to Sabrina. It’s directly connected to the events of the first season, and some of its threads will no doubt continue into the second. A platinum-haired Sabrina Spellman (Kiernan Shipka) remains distant from her mortal friends, determined to give them time to come to terms with the revelation that she’s a witch. That won’t be easy for Harvey Kinkle (Ross Lynch), who admits he still sees his undead brother every time he looks her. Aunt Zelda (Miranda Otto) is trying to settle into her new life as a mother to Letitia, the infant she secreted away from Father Blackwood, while cousin Ambrose (Chance Perdomo) slowly stretches his wings now that he’s no longer on house arrest. Then there’s the demonic Mary Wardwell (Michelle Gomez), who’s desperate to learn why Satan has seemingly forsaken, yet still up to her old tricks.sabrina-midwinter8aAppropriate to the season, “A Winter’s Tale” leans hard into the Yuletide folklore of Iceland and Central Europe, with key roles for the mischievous Yule Lads, a version of the giantess Gyra, and Krampus, or at least his not-too-distant cousin. They provide another layer to the developing mythos of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, while adding a nice holiday touch. But as fun as they are, they’re merely garland; the centerpiece is, of course, is Sabrina and her friends and family. The episode serves those characters well, carving out room for them to grow, even if they don’t always learn in each instance. Sabrina, for example, determines her friends’ new boundaries, only to promptly overstep them with her present to Harvey and her well-meaning attempt to help his hard-drinking father. Driven to reconnect with her dead mother, whom she encountered in Limbo, she enlists the Weird Sisters to help perform a seance, with predictably disastrous results. But while Sabrina appears doomed to repeat her mistakes, Harvey learns from his, and decides he can’t allow any witchcraft — even the beneficial kind — around him, which promises to further complicate their already fraught relationship.Sabrina-Christmas-EpisodeLikewise, Zelda’s heart-breaking conclusion about baby Letitia, which exposes an emotional depth to the frequently cold auntie previously only glimpsed, is certain to have a ripple effect across Season 2. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: A Winter’s Tale is, at turns, joyful, somber and spooky, but never, ever cloying, with an ending that’s immediately relatable to anyone (whether witch or mortal) who’s had to muster a semblance of holiday cheer for the benefit of loved ones. Because, really, isn’t that what solstice is about — family, friends … and home invasion?

REVIEW: IZOMBIE – SEASON 2

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MAIN CAST

Rose McIver (Power Rangers RPM)
Malcolm Goodwin (The Bellman)
Rahul Kohli (Happy Anniversary)
Robert Buckley (Killer Movie)
David Anders (Alias)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Steven Weber (2 Broke Girls)
Molly Hagan (No Good Nick)
Nick Purcha (Cold Zone)
Adam Rose (IUp In The Air)
Leanne Lapp (Grace Encounters 2)
Bryce Hodgson (Kid Cannabis)
Carmen Moore (Arrow)
Robert Knepper (Cult)
Justin Prentice (13 Reasons Why)
Carrie Anne Fleming (Supernatural
David Starzyk (Veronica Mars)
Brian Markinson (Tribal)
Aly Michalka (Two and a Half Men)
Serge Houde (50/50)
Ona Grauer (V)
Lucia Walters (Stargate Atlantis)
Anne Marie DeLuise (Smallville)
Raphael Sbarge (Once Upon A Time)
Jessica Harmon (The 100)
Robert Salvador (Arrow)
Eddie Jemison (Waitress)
Steven Williams (21 Jump Street)
Rick Fox (Oz)
Kevin McNulty (Timecop)
Natalie Brown (Bitten)
Emy Aneke (The Predator)
Greg Finley (The Flash)
Brooke Lyons (2 Broke Girls)
Anna Galvin (Tin Man)
Ben Lawson (No Strings Attached)
Lee Garlington (Cobra)
Daniella Alonso (The Hills Have Eyes II)
Fiona Vroom (Power Rangers)
Kristen Bell (The Good Place)
Colin Lawrence (Watchmen)
Patrick Gallagher (Glee)
Bradley Stryker (Smallville)
Michael Kopsa (Fantastic Four)
Enrico Colantoni (Veronica Mars)
Kacey Rohl (Arrow)
Genevieve Buechner (Caprica)
Ali Liebert (Wonder)
Zak Santiago (Shooter)
Chasty Ballesteros (The Internship)
Sarah Grey (The Order)
Wesley MacInnes (Power Rangers)
Andrea Savage (Veep)
Ken Marino (Agent Carter)

Consistently offering clever, witty and fun episodes, iZombie solidified itself as one of the most entertaining series on TV in its second season. Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero-Wright had already created an offbeat yet inviting world in Season 1 and in Season 2 they built upon it, putting the characters into more intense and involving situations, all while still maintaining the show’s crucial, knowing sense of humor.The cast continue to be one of the most likeable you’ll find, anchored by the excellent Rose McIver. Okay, it’s one of the show’s reaches that pretty much every brain Liv eats is a very focused, specific type of person, but that’s just part of the deal here. And it gives McIver so much to work with, as she goes all in playing Liv taking on personas as varied as a coach, a stalker, a costumed vigilante or a tough stripper. Every week, McIver is given something different to play and she consistently nails it, with ongoing mileage gotten out of how out there and uncharacteristic Liv gets, depending on her latest brain meal.After his heartbroken ex-fiancé character take a surprising (and awesome) turn at the end of Season 1, Robert Buckley’s Major got a great storyline in Season 2, as he found himself working for Vaughn Du Clark (Steven Weber), tasked with assassinating zombies – all while actually locking them up instead, which put him in a very precarious position both with Du Clark and the cops and the FBI, who were getting closer and closer to him for his actions in both Season 1 and 2.The fact that those investigating Major’s crimes were Clive (Malcolm Goodwin) and his FBI partner/love interest Dale Bozzio (Jessica Harmon) only increased the tension, even while Clive and Dale made a great pairing – with Harmon effortlessly fitting in on the show, as the somewhat goofy Dale provided a great foil for the somewhat stoic Clive. And in the midst of this, having Clive begin to slowly notice the things that were off about Liv was continually intriguing, since it was inevitable that Clive would one day find out The Secret.Blaine (David Anders) in the meantime had to adjust to life as a human again – for awhile at least, as he never kept his nose clean and eventually became one of the undead again, with Anders always bringing a wonderfully quirky/funny approach to the character. McIver and Rahul Kohli continued to be a delightful duo in all the scenes between Liv and Ravi and Kohli shined throughout the season, though I do hope Season 3 can perhaps give Ravi more of his own storyline at some points beyond the ongoing search for a cure or the burgeoning love triangle between Ravi, Peyton (Aly Michalka) and Blaine. The end of the season, as Ravi began to suspect Major was up to no good – and their big confrontation about it – showed how strong it can be to use the usually comic presence of Ravi in a dramatic manner that would be interesting to explore again.As Season 2 progressed, one really strong element was how it began to bring together several storylines. We began to see Major’s growing interaction with Blaine begin to bring him even more in focus as a suspect for Dale and Clive, while Peyton’s return — it was good to see Michalka, who also fits in great with this cast, get more to do — had her wrapped up with Blaine (in more ways than one) and helping lead us to a new villain on the show, Stacey Boss (Eddie Jemison).

Best of all, the “brain of the week” storylines began to becoming increasingly tied into the main stories as well. And yes, this meant sometimes you had to accept a bit more coincidence on the show, but it still was exciting and gratifying to see how all the different elements were intersecting in different ways and how Liv could learn new info thanks to a new murder victim connected in ways that were sometimes not apparent on the surface.When it came to Big Bads, Vaughn Du Clark certainly delivered. Stephen Weber seemed to be having a ball in the role and was delightfully awful as the energetic, confident mega-douche of a sports drink company CEO. He was also given a great foil in Gilda (Leanne Lapp), his daughter, who was just as corrupt as her dad. Gilda has no qualms about manipulating Major, Liv or anyone else and Lapp brought just the right attitude to the character – even as we saw just how awful Du Clark was as a dad, giving us a tinge of sympathy, or at least understanding, about why she was the way she was, even as it was clear she needed to be stopped. The season also ended in an epic, satisfying manner, with Clive finally finding out the truth, an all-out “Romero Zombie” attack and both Du Clark and Gilda being taken out – all while we met a huge new player on the scene that looks to be upending the show in a huge way.Nearly every week, iZombie continued to deliver in its second season and the show easily overcame any sophomore slump worries. The creators and cast seem to know exactly the right  tone to go for here, offering up a show that has a fun, accessible vibe but can get suitably intense, dramatic and gory when need be. When the CW gave all of their series early renewals last year, iZombie was one of the ones I know I was celebrating the most. Bring on Season 3!

 

REVIEW: IZOMBIE – SEASON 1

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MAIN CAST

Rose McIver (Power Rangers RPM)
Malcolm Goodwin (The Bellman)
Rahul Kohli (Happy Anniversary)
Robert Buckley (Killer Movie)
David Anders (Alias)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Aly Michalka (Two and a Half Men)
Molly Hagan (No Good Nick_
Ty Olsson (Battlestar Galactica)
Nick Purcha (Cold Zone)
Daran Norris (Team America)
Hiro Kanagawa (Heroes Reborn)
Elysia Rotaru (Arrow)
Sarah-Jane Redmond (Disturbing Behavior)
Devon Gummersall (Roswell)
Elise Gatien (Smallville)
Serge Houde (50/50)
Carrie Anne Fleming (Supernatural)
Aleks Paunovic (Van Helsing)
Ben Cotton (Stargate: Atlantis)
Bradley James (Merlin)
Ryan Hansen (2 Broke Girls)
Trezzo Mahoro (Van Helsing)
Chris Gauthier (Watchmen)
Jesse Moss (Final Destination 3)
Fulvio Cecere (Valentine)
Barclay Hope (paycheck)
Teryl Rothery (Stargate SG.1)
Chad Rook (The Flash)
Sunita Prasad (UnREAL)
Enid-Raye Adams (Riverdale)
Britt Irvin (Hot Rod)
Erica Cerra (Power Rangers)
Aaron Douglas (Battlestar Galactica)
Erica Luttrell (Westworld)
Percy Daggs III (Veronica Mars)
Andrea Brooks (Supegirl)
Bryce Hodgson (Kid Cannabis)
Bex Taylor-Klaus (Scream: The Series)
Brian Markinson (Tribal)
Leanne Lapp (Grave Encounters 2)
Steven Weber (2 Broke Girls)

I’ve been impressed with Rob Thomas (Veronica Mars’ creator) and Diane Ruggiero’s adaptation of iZombie. The comic of the same name by Chris Roberson and Michael Allred inspired the world on The CW show, but the series used the existing story as a launching pad. Thomas and Ruggiero developed the plot and world in new directions and executed one of the best first seasons of a television series in recent memory.One aspect that contributed to the success was how the stakes kept moving. When we first met Liv, life as a functioning zombie didn’t seem like the worst thing ever. The overall tone was more humorous, Liv was more introspective. She learned more about living and embracing existence by being undead. But then, things shifted. Different types of zombies were introduced, character paths started converging, and the stakes grew higher and higher — and much bigger than Liv and her self-actualization.The show followed a case of the week formula, which a tricky thing to manage, but it often worked to the benefit of the series. The new cases added consistency and allowed the relationships between Liv and Clive and Liv and Ravi to breathe. Though some of the cases didn’t particularly resonate, they occasionally tied into the larger story arc. When those tie-ins happened, they didn’t feel forced; they were a natural extension that helped grow the mystery or pushed characters into new territory. And oh boy, were the characters pushed. Liv went through a slew of personalities, sure, but additionally, she dealt with mortality, gaining and losing someone she loved, seeing her friends in danger, and the list goes on. Rose McIver rose to the challenge of portraying not only Liv, but Liv as several people. She did fantastic work keeping a thread of Liv present through all of the character’s various meals.McIver also communicated the weight and struggles of Liv’s problems in a way that was human. Liv put brains in all her food regularly (and I so appreciate how Liv changes up her methods of brain consumption), but she rarely came across as a monster. The entire cast played well together. Each relationship was the right amount of comfortable at the right time. Example: Liv took a little while to warm up to Lowell — as she should have — and then they were in the new couple phase where they were extremely adorable. Ravi and Liv is one of my favorite friendships on television, but then again, so is the Ravi and Major pairing. Clive’s more serious, get the job done personality is a wonderful complement to the group, and Blaine is the ideal villain.When you create a world where zombies are real, telling people the news and seeing how they react to it is a big part of the story. iZombie surprised me in this regard. I expected Clive to find out long before Peyton — and I do think Clive should know by now because he’s too smart and observant to not realize something’s off with Liv — and I didn’t think Major would be the person to react violently to the news. They showed varying responses, which is how it should be. It wouldn’t have been believable if everyone was as accepting as Ravi. Back to Major briefly, he went on the most unexpected journey. Transforming the nicest guy into a gun-toting zombie killer seems like an impossible task, but they accomplished it and made it believable. They found just the right hook to make the turn work.Seattle has a zombie problem, and the first season made us understand the extent of the issue without dumping it into our lap like a memo. We learned slowly as Liv learned, and the reveal of each puzzle piece made the severity of the situation hit home. With Blaine’s enterprising business presumably closed down and Max Rager employees potentially on the hunt for zombies, the pieces are lined up for a second season full of possibilities.iZombie had an incredibly strong first season. It was intricate and smooth in a way most series don’t come close to achieving in their initial episodes. Though a lighthearted tone was consistent throughout, they regularly upped the stakes and delivered emotional moments. The performances were top notch, and I look forward to seeing what this cast can do together in the years to come.

REVIEW: ARROW – SEASON 1 & 2

CAST

Stephen Amell (The Vampire Diaries)
Katie Cassidy (Black Xmas)
Colin Donnell (Chicago Med)
David Ramsey (Pay It Forward)
Willa Holland (Legion)
Susanna Thompson (Dragonfly)
Paul Blackthorne (The Dresden Files)
Emily Bett Rickards (Brooklyn)
Manu Bennett (Spartacus)
Colton Haynes (Teen Wolf)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Colin Salmon (Limitless TV)
Jamey Sheridan (The Ice Storm)
Annie Ilonzeh (Beauty and The Beast)
Brian Markinson (Izombie)
Derek Hamilton (Disturbing Behavior)
Hiro Kanagawa (Heroes Reborn)
Kelly Hu (The Vampire Diaries)
Ty Olsson (X-Men 2)
Byron Mann (Dark Angel)
Roger Cross (First Wave)
Euegen Lipinski (Goosebumps)
Michael Rowe (Tomorrowland)
John Barrowman (Reign)
Currie Graham (Agent Carter)
Kyle Schmid (The Covenant)
Sarah-Jane Redmond (V)
Jessica De Gouw (Dracula)
Jeffrey Nordling (Tron: Legacy)
Tahmoh Penikett (Battlestar Galactica)
Sebastian Dunn (The Other Half)
Andrew Dunbar (Leprechaun: Origins)
Danny Nucci (Eraser)
Ben Browder (Stargate SG.1)
Christie Laing (Scary Movie 4)
Patrick Sabongui (The Flash)
David Anders (Izombie)
Ona Grauer (V)
Adrian Holmes (Smallville)
Agam Darshi (Sanctuary)
James Callis (Battlestar Galactica)
Rekha Sharma (Dark Angel)
Chin Han (The Dark Knight)
Janina Gavankar (True Blood)
Alex Kingston (Flashforward)
Anna Van Hooft (Flash Gordon)
Celina Jade (The Man with The Iron Fists)
Seth Gabel (Salem)
J. August Richards (Angel)
Summer Glau (Firefly)
Dylan Bruce (Heroes Reborn)
Caity Lotz (The Machine)
Michael Jai White (The Dark
Valerie Tian (Izombie)Knight)
Kevin Alejandro (Ugly Betty)
Bex Taylor-Klaus (Scream: The Series)
Teryl Rothery (Stargate SG.1)
Aubrey Marie Anderson (The Unit)
Jimmy Jean-Louis (Heroes)
Cle Bennett (Flashpoint)
Dylan Neal (Sabrina: TTW)
Cynthia Addai-Robinson (Spartacus)
David Nykl (Stargate: Atlantis)
Sean Maher (Firefly)
James Kidnie (Robocop: The Series)
Katrina Law (Chuck)
Michael Eklund (Bates Motel)
Nicholas Lea (V)
Robert Knepper (Cult)
Tara Strong (Batman: The Animated Series)
Lochlyn Munro (Little Man)
Jorge Vargas (Power Rangers Ninja Storm)
Carlos Valdes (The Flash)
Navid Negahban (Legion)
Danielle Panabaker (Sky High)

Image result for arrow pilotAfter turning the story about Clark Kent’s evolution from humble teenager to world’s greatest hero into one of the most successful science fiction TV series of all time, what exactly do you do for an encore? The obvious answer would be a series about a young Bruce Wayne. Or maybe a crime procedural starring the men and women of the Gotham City Police Department. Instead, The CW gave us Arrow, a series that simultaneously explores Oliver Queen’s first months as a vigilante hero and the painful hero’s journey he undertook while stranded on a remote island. Even considering Green Arrow’s popularity in Smallville and Justice League Unlimited, it wasn’t the most obvious choice. Nor was it the choice many DC fans wanted. But ultimately, it was a choice that paid off.

To their credit, they succeeded. Even right off the bat, there were many notable elements that he writers introduced into the Green Arrow mythos. Generally a loner in the comics, here Ollie was given a full family and circle of allies. Some were inspired by characters from the comics, while others were entirely new creations. Probably the most successful new addition was John Diggle as Ollie’s personal bodyguard-turned-ally in his war on crime. Watching the dynamic between Ollie and Diggle morph from cold and hostile to warm camaraderie was a treat. And the two sequences featuring Diggle in the costume rather than Ollie suggested that this show could have a life beyond that of its lead character.Image result for arrow pilotAmell’s performance grew stronger over time, and the subtle ways in which he distinguished his performances during the present-day and flashback scenes stood out.With other characters, it was more a question of the scripts shedding light on motivation and relationships before they really came into their own. This was certainly the case with Moira Queen (Susanna Thompson), who was a bit of a hard sell as a sympathetic mother figure until viewers came to understand her role in “The Undertaking.” Similarly, Tommy Merlyn (Colin Donnell) came across as a fairly flat and unimportant character at first. But by the end of the season, Tommy had emerged as the emotional heart of the series and Donnell’s one of the strongest performances.Jessica De Gouw in Arrow (2012)Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) was endearing, her instant charm made fans fall in love with her making her a regular was the best choice when they headed into season 2. As Laurel, Katie Cassidy was excellent as future Black Canary, dealing with her emotions of seeing her former boyfriend back from the dead and the lost of her sister.  Structurally, the season started out strong and finished even stronger. The writers managed to weave together an overarching narrative as Ollie slowly uncovered the truth of The Undertaking and his own parents’ involvement while contending with various smaller villains and conflicts. Anchoring the series throughout were the frequent flashbacks to Ollie’s five years on the island. The pilot episode offered a tantalizing glimpse of what had transpired over the course of those five years with the Deathstroke mask discarded on the beach. Various plot twists revealed just how complicated that story is, teaming Ollie with Slade Wilson (Manu Bennett) and Shado (Celina Jade) in an ongoing guerrilla war against mercenary leader Edward Fyers (Sebastian Dunn). Particularly once Slade entered the picture and his bond with Ollie became a major focal point, the flashbacks emerged as one of the strongest elements of the show.

Everything in Season 1 culminated in two climactic episodes as Ollie fought for the survival of Starling City in the present and to stop Fyers from sparking an international incident in the past. These episodes offered a satisfying blend of big action scenes and emotional character showdowns. In particular, the final scene between Ollie and Tommy that closed out the season was perhaps the best the show has delivered so far.

Right off the bat, “City of Heroes” set the tone and direction for Season 2. We saw a despondent Ollie still crushed by the death of his best friend, Tommy, and having retreated to the island in a self-imposed exile. Though Colin Donnell only briefly reprised his role as Tommy this season, his character was very much a lingering presence driving the actions of Ollie and Laurel throughout the year. And his death formed the crux of Ollie’s renewed mission. It was right there in the revised opening sequence – “To honor my friend’s memory, I can’t be the killer I once was.” And that, more than Ollie’s battles with Slade Wilson or Sebastian Blood or Isabel Rochev, was the core conflict of the season. It’s easy enough to fight criminals by shooting them dead. But could Ollie muster the strength and the courage not to kill, even if it meant putting himself, his family, and his city in greater danger? It was a struggle, but the most satisfying element of the finale was the way Ollie definitively answered that question and established himself as a better class of vigilante.Manu Bennett in Arrow (2012)Overall, Season 2 was a good showcase for Stephen Amell’s acting talents.  Ollie was haunted by demons and shouldering heavy burdens throughout the year. He suffered more often than he succeeded, and Amell conveyed that pain well. Most impressive was the way Amell was so capable at portraying Ollie at different periods in his life. We saw plenty more of Ollie’s life on the island in the various flashback scenes. Having already spent a year fighting for his life against men like Edward Fyers and Billy Wintergreen, flashback Ollie was closer to the man he is in the present, but not all the way there. And we even caught glimpses of a pre-island Ollie, most significantly in “Seeing Red.” More than the changes in hairstyle or fashion, it was Amell’s purposeful shifts in vocal intonation and body language that differentiated the different versions of Ollie.Having established himself as one of the better supporting players in Season 1, it was very gratifying to see Manu Bennett step fully into the spotlight and become the big antagonist of Season 2. That’s despite him not even being revealed as the secret mastermind of Brother Blood’s uprising until the mid-season finale, “Three Ghosts.” But it was crucial that the show spend so much time, both this season and last, in building up the brotherly bond between Ollie and Slade and the island. We needed to feel the pain of seeing them broken apart and Slade become a vengeful villain hellbent on tearing his former friend’s life down. And it wasn’t until much later still that we saw how that rift occurred and Slade turn his wrath against Ollie. It’s a testament to both the writing and Bennett’s acting that the character never quite lost his aura of sympathy even as he murdered Ollie’s mother and tried to do the same to Felicity. This was a man driven half-mad by the loss of the woman he loved and an injection of a super-steroid. But conversely, I appreciated how the finale took pains to establish that it wasn’t just the Mirakuru fueling Slade’s anger. Even now, super-strength gone and exiled back to the island, Slade is a clear and present danger to Ollie’s world.Three GhostsThe show introduced Sebastian Blood and Isabel Rochev as Slade’s subordinates, with Blood serving as the most visible villain for much of the season. I really enjoyed Kevin Alejandro’s portrayal of Blood. Alejandro’s Blood was so disarmingly charming that it was often difficult to reconcile him with the masked man kidnapping drug addicts and turning street thugs into super-soldiers. Ultimately, Blood became the sort of villain who does the wrong things for the right reasons. He had an honest desire to make Starling City a better place. And when it became clear to him that Slade Wilson wouldn’t leave a city left for him to rule, Blood did the right thing and aided Team Arrow.Most of the increasingly large supporting cast were given their moments to shine in Season 2. I was often disappointed that Diggle wasn’t given more to do, but at least he was able to take a starring role in “Suicide Squad.” Diggle’s backseat status was mainly the result of Sara Lance stepping into the limelight early on and eventually becoming the fourth member of Ollie’s vigilante crew. The Arrow had his Canary finally. Sara’s own struggles with the desire for lethal force and reuniting with her family often made for good drama. But among Team Arrow, it was often Felicity Smoak who often had the best material.  Emily Bett Rickards had much better material to work with this year, whether it was her unrequited love for Ollie, her burgeoning relationship with Barry Allen, or her desire to pull her weight alongside her more physically capable allies. The final three episodes all featured some standout moments for Felicity as she established herself as a force to be reckoned with.
Elsewhere, Roy Harper was often a focus as he transitioned from troubled street punk to superhero sidekick. Roy’s temporary super-strength powers were a welcome story swerve and a fitting physical manifestation of his inner rage. His character arc received a satisfying conclusion in the finale when he proved himself worthy and received his own red domino mask, but lost Thea as a result.As for the various women in Ollie’s life, Felicity and Sara aside, Season 2 was a little more uneven. Moira definitely had an interesting ride. She started out Season 2 fighting for her life while on trial for her role in the Undertaking. Then, in an unlikely turn of events, she was spurred to run for mayor. And finally, her life did end when she became a pawn in Slade’s cruel game. It was a terrific finish for Moira, proving once and for all that, whatever wrongs she committed, she was only ever trying to ensure her children’s survival. Thea was more up and down throughout the season. She was often underutilized, but received a boost late in the season when she learned the truth about her parentage. Laurel’s character  had her own crucible this season, spiraling into into drug and alcohol addiction and losing her job before hitting bottom, rebounding, and playing her part in saving Starling City.The Mirakuru drug served as a plausible, pseudo-scientific way of introducing super-strength and allowing Slade to transform into Deathstroke. And even when it came time to introduce the Flash midway through the season, Barry Allen never felt too out of place alongside the more grounded characters. Season 2 really opened the floodgates as far as drawing in characters and elements from other DC properties. Barry Allen’s debut was the most high-profile, but we also saw plenty more of Amanda Waller and A.R.G.U.S. “Professor Ivo became a recurring villain, along with a very different take on Amazo. And in a welcome twist, it turned out that even the Batman franchise is fair game with this show. Early on we learned of Sara Lance and Malcolm Merlyn’s connection to the League of Assassins. Nyssa al Ghul appeared in a couple of episodes, and we know her father is out there in the world, leading his shadowy organization in the hidden city of Nanda Parbat. Even Harley Quinn had a brief cameo.And beyond the introduction of all these new elements, the scope of Arrow really opened up in Season 2. The action was bigger and better choreographed. The scale of the conflicts was bigger. The producers simply seemed to have more money to throw around. And whether that was actually the case or just the result of experience and planning, the end result was the same. Arrow became a bigger, more cinematic TV series this season.