REVIEW: SMALLVILLE – SEASON 8

Starring

Tom Welling (Lucifer)
Allison Mack (Wilfred)
Justin Hartley (This Is Us)
Erica Durance (Supergirl)
Aaron Ashmore (Veronica Mars)
Cassidy Freeman (The Vampire Diaries)
Sam Witwer (Supergirl)

Alaina Huffman, Justin Hartley, and Alan Ritchson in Smallville (2001)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Phil Morris (Doom Patrol)
Alaina Huffman (Stargate Universe)
Alan Ritchson (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Ari Cohen (IT)
Sara Canning (The Vampire Diaries)
Jessica Parker Kennedy (The Flash)
Mike Dopud (Arrow)
Charlotte Sullivan (Mary Kills People)
Bill Mondy (Blade: The Series)
David Lewis (Childs Play)
Kyle Schmid (Six)
Laura Vandervoort (Bitten)
Terence Stamp (Superman II)
James Marsters (Runaways)
Ryan Kennedy (Caprica)
Alexz Johnson (Final Destination 3)
Calum Worthy (Ameircan Vandel)
David Paetkau (Flashpoint)
Ty Olsson (Battlestar Galactica)
Alessandro Juliani (Man of Steel)
Ted Whittall (Suicide Squad)
Chris Gauthier (Watchmen)
Teryl Rothery (Stargate SG.1)
Stephen Lobo (Continuum)
Laura Mennell (Van Helsing)
Serinda Swan (Inhumans)
Dominic Zamprogna (Odyssey 5)
Nels Lennarson (Horns)
Brendan Fletcher (Arrow)
Kyle Gallner (Veronica Mars)
Monique Ganderton (American Ultra)

Tom Welling and Cassidy Freeman in Smallville (2001)Technically this season shouldn’t have worked; the show’s main villain and arguably most popular character, Lex Luthor (Michael Rosenbaum) has now departed; secondly they were introducing a villain which was virtually impossible to bring to the big screen never mind a television series in Doomsday. However whilst a massive void had been created by Rosenbaum’s departure, it was filled suprisingly very well by the main cast of heroes who finally come into their own this season with performances and stories which intelligently test those who have big destinies to embrace in the Superman era to come. Tom Welling finally begins to take his final steps to becoming Superman and is starting to demonstrate how capapble as lead he is while bringing a new found presence to Clark Kent. There is also an increased number of on-screen scenes between Welling and Erica Durance’s Lois Lane and the result is a relationship which is as funny as it is touching and believable.Justin Hartley and Cassidy Freeman in Smallville (2001)Likewise other support characters like Chloe and Jimmy are tested by the new villain in town, Sam Witwer’s Davis Bloome who is a great unique character to the series who undergoes a menacing and horrific transformation as the season unfolds. There is also a welcome return from Justin Hartley’s Oliver Queen who now becomes a series regular after a successful stint in the sixth season and a brief cameo in the seventh. Queen’s character is also successful to the season’s story as his questionable methods bring him into conflict with Clark who is now trying to figure out what sort of hero he wants to become. The Doomsday story is a well written one in itself and Doomsday is interpreted in a way which is both unique in style yet never undermines the characters standing in the mythology. Sam Witwer is more than capable playing the villain, he lacks perhaps the charisma and flair of Rosenbaum, but the horror given off by his transformations is more than projected out of the screen. The same cannot be said for Cassidy Freeman whose Tess Mercer is terribly aimless and lacking in focus, in terms of a series villain, Rosenbaums absence is felt though not quite fatal.Charlotte Sullivan and Tom Welling in Smallville (2001)The season is very well executed in tone, humour and story. There are many episodes which take the series much further and there are some more characters from the D.C Universe in episodes such as ‘Instinct’, ‘Legion’ and ‘Hex’. ‘Bride’, ‘Eternal’ and ‘Beast’ are also exceptional drama episodes featuring Doomsday which keeps building up the season to a final climatic battle.Tom Welling and Erica Durance in Smallville (2001)It is unfortunate therefore that what prevents the season from achieving pure greatness is a series of misjudged stories which threaten to undermine every bit of progress Smallville made this season. The brief reintroduction of an old character in ‘Power’ and ‘Requiem’ was a terrible mistake and unpopular with viewers, as was the apparent demise of another important character. Also while the season does a sensational job in building up the tension towards the final episode, the final episode of the season itself is very weak and sadly anti-climactic. This is a shame since many may feel cheated by a poor resolution but on the plus side, the drama remains top notch throughout and the themes explored this season are never forgotten and never betrayed, even in the finale. Smallville has enjoyed a fantastic return to form overall this season and many fans will be left feeling hopefull of the action and drama to come in the ninth season. Well worth buying though this eighth season.

REVIEW: FLASHPOINT: THE COMPLETE SERIES

MAIN CAST

Enrico Colantoni (Veronica Mars)
Hugh Dillon (Ginger Snaps Back)
Amy Jo Johnson (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers)
David Paetkau (Final Destination 2)
Sergio Di Zio (Reign)
Michael Cram (Arrow)
Mark Taylor (Cinderella Man)
Ruth Marshall (Casino Jack)
Olunike Adeliyi (John Q)
Clé Bennett (Harvard Man)
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Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Gabriel Hogan (Condor)
Philip Akin (Highlander: The Series)
Lisa Marcos (Rogue)
Arnold Pinnock (Cypher)
Sarah Gadon (Dracula Untold)
Andrew Gillies (Mutant X)
Mpho Koaho (Saw III)
Jeff Seymour (Bury The Lead)
Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black)
Peter Stebbings (Bates Motel)
Pascale Hutton (Sanctuary)
Colm Feore (The Chronicles of Riddick)
Michael Mando (Better Call Saul)
Noah Jenkins (Earth: Final Conflict)
Alisen Down (Smallville)
Tyler Stentiford (The Story of Luke)
Janaya Stephens (Death Race)
Jessica Steen (Chaos)
Peter MacNeill (Open Range)
Aaron Abrams (Hannibal)
Ona Grauer (V)
Tattiawna Jones (Robocop)
Kari Matchett (Wonderfalls)
Peter Outerbridge (Beauty and The Beast)
Genelle Williams (Bitten)
Kevin Jubinville (MIss Sloane)
Ryan Kennedy (Caprica)
Heny Czerny (Supergirl)
Matthew Bennett (Battlestar Galactica)
Chandra West (White Noise)
Kenneth Mitchell (Odyssey 5)
Nicholas Campbell (Da Vinci’s Inquest)
Shauna MacDonald (Saw VI)
Calum Worthy (Americal Vandal)
Alexia Fast (Jack Reacher)
Kathleen Munroe (Patriot)
Sherry Miller (The Virgin Suicides)
Stephen Amell (Arrow)
Brian Markinson (Caprica)
Tamara Gorski (Angel)
David Calderisi (Earth: Final Conflict)
Roger Cross (First Wave)
Greg Bryk (Bitten)
Laara Sadiq (Arrow)
Noah Danby (Riddick)
Kathleen Robertson (Bates Motel)
Alan Van Sprang (Star Trek: Discovery)
Gina Holden (The Butterfly Effect 2)
John Pyper-Ferguson (Caprica)
Brendan Fletcher (Freddy vs Jason)
Alex Carter (Out of Time)
Krista Bridges (Heroes Reborn)
Fulvio Cecere (Valentine)
Shawn Roberts (Resident Evil: The Final Chapter)
Colin Cunningham (Elektra)
Michael Eklund (Bates Motel)
Brendan Penny (The A-Team)
Tyler Johnston (The Odds)
Adrian Hough (The Fog)
Lyndie Greenwood (Sleepy Hollow)
Mike Dopud (Arrow)
Jonathan Scarfe (Van Helsing)
Ian Tracey (Sanctuary)
Jeffrey Parazzo (Power Rangers Dino Thunder)
Erin Karpluk (Ripper 2)
Natalie Alyn Lind (The Gifted)
Yannick Bisson (Year By The Sea)
Kate Hewlett (Stargate: Atlantis)
Chris Violette (Power Rangers SPD)
Patrick Sabongui (The Flash)
Rachel Blanchard (Carrie 2)
Natalie Brown (Saw V)
Richard Chevolleau (Hannibal)
Victor Garber (Legends of Tomorrow)
Rachel Skarsten (Reign)
Max Martini (The Order)
Eve Harlow (Heroes Reborn)
Rob Stewart (Painkiler Jane)
Cynthia Preston (Carrie)
Sonya Salomaa (The Collector)
Benjamin Ratner (Travelers)
Joe Dinicol (Arrow)
Lawrence Dane (Scanners)
Tammy Isbell (Bitten)
Ari Cohen (Smallville)
Cristina Rosato (Mother)
Patrick Garrow (16 Blocks)
JR Bourne (Stargate SG.1)
Anthony Lemke (Robocop: Prime Detectives)
Rossif Sutherland (Reign)
Greyston Holt (Bitten)
Aaron Douglas (Battlestar Galactica)
Benjamin Ayres (The Vampire Diaries)
Michael Shanks (Stargate SG.1)
David Alpay (Man of The Year)
Dylan Neal (Arrow)
Sandrine Holt (House of Cards)
Ty Olsson (War For The POTA)
Shawn Doyle (Don’t Say A Word)
Katharine Isabelle (The Order)
Jonathan Keltz (Reign)
Keram Malicki-Sánchez (Punisher: Warzone)
Kris Lemche (Final Destination 3)
Maria del Mar (Blue Murder)
Chad Donella (Shattered Glass)
Maurice Dean Wint (Cube)
Charlie Carrick (Reign)
Brennan Elliott (Curse of Chucky)
Dion Johnstone (The Core)
Steve Bacic (Andromeda)
Mark Lutz (Bitch Slap)
Roark Critchlow (V)
Paul Popowich (Dark Angel)
Andrew W. Walker (Sabrina: TTW)
John Ralston (Bitten)
Michelle Nolden (Red)
David Richmond-Peck (She’s The Man)
Zoie Palmer (Lost Girl)
A.J. Buckley (Walking Tall 2)

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The show is based on a real life Toronto police unit similar to SWAT but with their own integral negotiators. This is a brilliant set up because every episode can go either way with a brutal violent conclusion or the culprit talked down peacefully. The issues are dealt with in a mature and considered fashion which rather excellently means that the person with the gun is not always the baddy.

FLASHPOINT The team is rather more imaginatively put together than in most similar shows. The team leader (Enrico Colantoni) is the cuddly negotiator whilst two bullet headed middle-aged men (Hugh Dillon and Michael Cram) are his subordinates. They have similar but different home lives and chat through raising teenagers on the way to work. A black junior policeman (Mark Taylor) and an Italian junior policeman (Sergio di Zio) have minor roles but occasionally get their moment in the limelight and both rise to the challenge when they do. David Paetkau plays the ex-special forces sniper who has transfered in. His difficulties integrating and changing his focus from killing to resolving the situation are well handled and his dark back story is mercifully not as overblown as it easily could be. The last team member is Amy Jo Johnson (the only american on the cast) who is the beautiful woman who has to struggle to maintain her position on the team.FLASHPOINT Each show starts with a quick introduction to a perilous situation and then winds back a few hours to see how the problem started. We then build up to the point where police must start making life and death decisions. There are a few running storylines throughout the shot, but most episodes can be seen as standalone.The Show lasted five seasons and does bring us to a satisfied finale, only season one is available on DVD in the UK but many imports can be found on various sites.

REVIEW: CAPRICA

MAIN CAST

Eric Stoltz (The Butterfly Effect)
Esai Morales (Fast Food Nation)
Paula Malcolmson (The Hunger Games)
Alessandra Torresani (The Big Bang Theory)
Magda Apanowicz (The Bionic Woman)
Sasha Roiz (Grimm)
Brian Markinson (Izombie)
Polly Walker (Clash of The Titans)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Avan Jogia (Tut)
William B. Davis (The Dead Zone)
Sina Najafi (Stargate SG.1)
Hiro Kanagawa (Heroes Reborn)
Genevieve Buechner (Jennifer’s Body)
Anna Galvin (Tin Man)
Jorge Montesi (The Romeo Section)
Veena Sood (Timecop)
Scott Porter (Prom Night)
Karen Elizabeth Austin (The Eye)
Anita Torrance (Smallville)
Michael Eklund (Arrow)
Patton Oswalt (Young Adult)
Kendall Cross (Snakes on a Plane)
Peter Wingfield (Highlander: The Series)
Luciana Carro (Falling Skies)
Teryl Rothery (Stargate SG.1)
Alex Arsenault (Tucker and Dale vs Evil)
Françoise Yip (The Order)
Panou (Flash Gordon)
Camille Mitchell (Legion)
Richard Harmon (The 100)
A.C. Peterson (Shooter)
Eve Harlow (Bitten)
John Pyper-Ferguson (Suits)
James Marsters (Runaways)
Leah Gibson (Watchmen)
Jill Teed (Godzilla)
James Pizzinato (Rise of The POTA)
Zak Santiago (Ghost Wars)
Meg Tilly (Bomb Girls)
Ryan Robbins (Sanctuary)
Kacey Rohl (Arrow)
Andrew Airlie (Fifty Shades of Grey)
Bridget Hoffman (Hercules: TLJ)
Ben Cotton (Staragte: Atlantis)
Ryan Kennedy (Smallville)
Christopher Heyerdahl (Van Helsing)
Tom McBeath (Stargate SG.1)
Calum Worthy (American Vandal)
James Kirk (X-Men 2)
Aleks Paunovic (War For The POTA)
Elisabeth Rosen (Cult of Chucky)
Carmen Moore (Arrow)
Mike Dopud (Stargate Universe)

The story revolves around the polytheistic, technologically-advanced colony of Caprica roughly sixty years before “the downfall”, focusing on the conflict between, and within, two families: The Graystones, and the Adamas Adams. Lawyer Joseph Adams (Esai Morales) lives a somewhat normal life with his wife and two children, Tamara and Billy, attempting to juggle his high-profile stature in the legal realm with his domestic life. He fights a bit with keeping himself as distanced as he can from his unsavory lineage, the Tauron mob Ha’la’tha, though it’s hard since the organization funded his education and requires his services regularly — usually by messages delivered through his brother, Sam (Sasha Roiz). BSG devotees with get a jolt in seeing the blossoming of young “Billy” in this environment early on, watching the growth of the semi-troubled youth that’d transform into the disquieting, powerful Galactica commander Bill Adama.Caprica’s central draw, however, is the Graystones. Daniel Graystone (Eric Stoltz) heads a tech development firm working on a mechanized super-soldier that’s just not cutting the mustard, all the while generating profit (60% of net, to be exact) with virtual reality headsets — holobands — that connect to a network of fully-interactive, realistic digital worlds. Graystone’s seemingly safe digital construct quickly broke down into a laissez-faire underground, filled with hacked sections that exploit sex, drug-use, and violence. Daniel’s daughter, a silver-tongued high-school student named Zoe (Alessandra Torresani) who battles with her mother Amanda (Paula Malcomson) over authority, frequents the holoband V-Club with boyfriend Ben (Avan Jogia) and timid best friend Lacy (Magda Apanowicz), yet they’re beyond the carnal satisfaction that the place has to offer. Instead, they’ve found purpose in monotheistic religious belief within an activist organization, the Soldiers of The One (STO), and, in the process, created an exact digital copy of Zoe who will somehow aid the resistance.Observant fans will see where Caprica’s going with the duplicate Zoe, coming together in an introductory pilot that realizes the germ of an idea behind the genesis of the Cylon race, but it certainly doesn’t leave newcomers in the cold. Moore and Eick, with this freshness in mind, go in a startling direction with the content surrounding the Cylon conception; a murderous STO-related terrorist attack on a train rattles the city of Caprica, leaving the Graystones without their daughter and Joseph with only his son, Billy. The grief they endure becomes a convincing dramatic catalyst for what’s to come, breaking a floodgate for aggressive decision-making regarding family memories and Daniel’s technological advancement — with the idea of an exact digital replication of both mind and memory, such as the avatar of Zoe that lingers after her death, propelling it forward. It’s a thought-provoking launch that tackles some rather challenging concepts, including that of the human psyche as raw data and the extent that open-minded intellectuals might go to preserve those they’ve lost. And, of course, the narcissistic power behind potential immortality.imagesUpon the second episode, “Rebirth”, one fact becomes very clear: Caprica isn’t cut from the same cloth as its inspiration, instead existing as a compelling new creation with its own hurdles to cross. In retrospect, the reimagined Battlestar Galactica painlessly continued the momentum from its original two-part miniseries, thrusting forward with space warfare and political components into the dazzling episode “33”. With Caprica, a shrewd character-driven thriller with complexity surrounding terrorism and family grief, the carry-over isn’t as easy. Thankfully, the Moore-Eick team never shies away, hitting the gas with some rather incisive writing as they drive deeper into Caprica’s unraveling and the Graystone company’s waning success in the wake of the terrorist attack. Along the way, they also grapple with themes of Tauron racism (“dirt eaters”) and religious extremism through the STO and one of its leaders, Zoe’s teacher Sister Clarice (Polly Walker), that correlate to actual issues, while also cleverly using the concept of a digital underground — especially in the anarchistic “New Cap City” game simulation, a mix of World of Warcraft and Grand Theft Auto — as a way of escape and purpose-finding.Yet as Caprica focuses on these modern analogous ideas while its characters develop into a mixture of morally desolate entities, the first batch of six or so episodes move at a deliberate, slow-burning tempo that shifts between intrigue and sluggishness. The harsh chemistry between Daniel and Joseph as scorned parents electrifies, driven by Eric Stoltz and Esai Morales in two stark, authentic performances, and the pacing focuses on the causal events that unfold around their family-affecting decisions. But focusing on this calculated slow-burn can, at times, temper the series’ manner and cause the multiple plot threads to stray from the course, weaving intuitive dramatic performances around a lot of existential meditation and shots of neo-religious content without the right energy to propel it forward. I still find it compelling; the depth of Daniel’s egotism reaches a genuine depth that’s unexpected, while offering a cluster of explosive moments — such as the board meeting in “There is Another Sky” that actually starts the Cylon race — spliced within the persistent, astute drama.Then, as Caprica approaches “Ghosts in the Machine” and the mid-season finale “End of Line”, the gradual tension sees a much-needed outburst. These prior episodes extend into what’s essentially a rather lengthy fuse leading to this batch of dynamite, using brewing family turmoil and growing suspicions into an emotionally-taxing, brilliantly-realized culmination point. “Ghosts in the Machine” plays with the intensity of psychological torment in a staggering rush of emotion, while “End of Life” finds the first episode of the series to use the familiar “__ Hours Before” time mechanic frequently used in Battlestar Galactica. Quite simply, the build-up becomes worth the time at this point, igniting the series with the narrative outbreak it desperately lacked to become fully involving. Whether Caprica can maintain this momentum still remains to be seen, but the succession of these explosive developments that derive from subtly-evolving plot points — Amanda’s weakening sanity, Daniel’s obsession with meeting the development deadline, and the presence of the STO as violent radicals — satisfies with evocative, edge-of-your-seat chills at this midpoint, finally achieving that addictive science-fiction adrenaline that hallmarked its predecessor.The Second half of season 1 Caprica would be the end as Syfy decided to cancel it. Caprica utilized a cliffhanger episode at the end of the first half of the season, one that leaves the mortality of several characters up in the air. It’s uncertain whether the depression-driven grief that Amanda’s been going through truly led her to suicide; similarly, we’re unsure if the full-throttle abrasiveness that Zoe was enacting inside the U-87 Cylon body destroyed her at the end. Then, Syfy opted to go on a very lengthy mid-season break, leaving curious minds in the dark for roughly seven months and, effectively, knocking the wind out of Caprica. It establishes a fine world that explores the emotions coursing through decisions to either reject or embrace digital memories of loved ones, while also giving some deep-rooted glimpses into the underpinnings of Moore and Eick’s Emmy-winning Battlestar Galactica.None of Caprica’s issues root in the performances, however, or the production design. From the ground up, Moore and Eick continue the shrewdly-cast and stylish thrust of science-fiction with a fine vein of suspense, capturing the city’s expanses with a unique blend of metropolitan polish, futuristic gris-gris, and slick ’50s-esque allure. Locations like the Graystone mansion sport angular windows and a glaring pour of cold light, while the Adama household encapsulates a warm yet dark demeanor. These fitting aesthetic touches cradle some exceptional dramatic performances, including Eric Stoltz and Esai Morales whom have come into their own as tried-and-true denizens of Caprica. The same can be said for Magda Apanowicz as Lacy, who takes the complications surrounding a semi-innocent girl lost in the world of terrorism and runs with them with stalwart momentum. Lacy’s role, which gets sloshed around in the first half of the season, begins to grow more focused as she embeds further into the STO (and learns of her affinity with post-Zoe Cylons). Really, the issues hinge on a general question: “What’s the driving force behind Caprica?” At first, the series closed in on the machinations of the Cylon origins, as well as exploring monotheism vs. polytheism, the benefits and hindrances of an abandon-free V-World, and the reluctance for people to let go of those whom have died. Upon the second half of Caprica, all that’s somewhat switched out for direct drama involving the robots’ “creator”, as well as concentration on the gangster Adama network and the blossoming of the terrorist organization as idealists.Starting with “False Labor”, Caprica begins to see an awakening, In this episode, Daniel attempts to recreate Zoe’s “resurrection” software, while in the process using an avatar of Amanda as a basis for comparison. Since he knows all the mannerisms and minutiae of his wife, he’s able to determine exactly how human or inhuman she’s acting, and the content that unfolds as he dissects this digital Amanda can be both penetrating and emotionally stirring. On top of that, Lacy gets her first hearty taste of the STO’s domineering, contentious presence, while meeting other “recruits” similar to her. Moreover, it rediscovers its tonality; difficult drama remains, but the way it’s handled regains the excitement of its inspiration.Eric Stoltz and Paula Malcomson in Caprica (2009)With Syfy cancelling the show and five episodes still left to run, the big question likely will be: “Does it get a proper, strong conclusion?” Piggybacking off the regained proficiency that it rediscovers in “Blowback”, Caprica sprints through the remaining episodes as if it knows that the end’s coming. With a Coda at the end of the season you do get a conclusion that answers the questions of where the show would of gone had it been around for 5 years.