REVIEW: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (2012) – SEASON 4

MAIN CAST

Kristin Kreuk (Smallville)
Jay Ryan (Mary Kills people)
Austin Basis (J. Edgar)
Nina Lisandrello (The Devil Wears Prada)
Nicole Gale Anderson (Mean Girls 2)
Michael Roark (Sleepy Hollow)

Kristin Kreuk and Jay Ryan in Beauty and the Beast (2012)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Peter Wingfield (Highlander: The Series)
Andrew Stewart-Jones (Gotham)
Amanda Setton (The Crazy Ones)
Ted Whittall (Smallville)
Tahmoh Penikett (Battlestar Galactica)
Karen Cliche (M<utant X)
Marc Singer (V)
AnnaLynne McCord (Excision)
Anastasia Barzee (Seven Seconds)
Fulvio Cecere (Dark Angel)
Carlo Rota (Saw V)

Beauty and the Beast (2012)Back in the eighties a TV series took viewers by surprise, the story of a young woman, an assistant DA, who by chance met a part man, part beast member of an underground network of people named Vincent. This paring was known as BEAUTY AND THE BEAST and introduced the world to Linda Hamilton and Ron Perlman who had both been in other films but found themselves more well-known after this series. The way things are today it was only a matter of time before that series was recreated.Kristin Kreuk, Nina Lisandrello, Jay Ryan, and Amanda Setton in Beauty and the Beast (2012)This time around Kristin Kreuk stars as Catherine Chandler, a determined police detective who encounters an ex-GI and doctor named Vincent who has a secret to hide. When a child Catherine’s mother was killed in front of her by a group of men who were never identified. She was saved that night by a mysterious stranger, a manically violent man-beast who she never really quite saw.Jay Ryan in Beauty and the Beast (2012)Of course that mysterious stranger was Vincent and he’s made it his job to watch over and protect Catherine from the shadows. The reason he does so is that he knows who was behind the death of her mother. Vincent was part of a secret government project that turned its volunteers into what he has become and her mother was involved in that project. Now he’s on the run from this secret government organization, in hiding with the help of one friend. That friend base increases when he finally meets Catherine face to face.Jay Ryan in Beauty and the Beast (2012)Now in on what was going on, Catherine continues her day job while still looking into the death of her mother. She and Vincent become closer as he helps her when he can, even after telling her to stay away. This inevitably results in that organization finding Vincent and the ensuing problems that follow. And that’s just in the first season! The series ran for 4 years to popular acclaim, winning more than its share of awards. Not an easy feat since it appeared on the CW Network. That worked in its favor and also added a needed boost to CW as well. The changing story found the couple meeting and eventually the romance soon followed which only added to the popularity of the show. It was the same formula used in the initial series but this time felt a bit more normal as Vincent no longer had the constant appearance of the beast.Kristin Kreuk and Jay Ryan in Beauty and the Beast (2012)The series works on a number of levels, as a police procedural first off. Shows like this need their own twist to separate them from the pack and the aid of a super powered ally was handy. It also works as a conspiracy styled thriller with a hidden organization with its own agenda at play. And it worked as a romance. If not the show wouldn’t have lasted as long as it did nor would it have drawn in the female viewers that helped push it over the top.

 

REVIEW: SANCTUARY – SEASON 4

Starring

Amanda Tapping (Stargate SG.1)
Robin Dunne (Space Milkshake)
Ryan Robbins (Arrow)
Christopher Heyerdahl (Van Helsing)

Amanda Tapping in Sanctuary (2008)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Peter Wingfield (Highlander: The Series)
Ian Tracey (Bates Motel)
Pascale Hutton (Fantastic Four)
Agam Darshi (You Me Her)
Jody Thompson (The 4400)
Françoise Yip (The Predator)
Tom McBeath (Stargate SG.1)
Robert Lawrenson (Underworld: The Awakening)
David Milchard (Big Eyes)
Greyston Holt (Bitten)
Adam Copeland (Highlander: Endgame)
Pauline Egan (Home BEfore Dark)
Brian Markinson (Caprica)
Mig Macario (The Final Cut)
Lara Gilchrist (Battlestar Galactica)
Sandrine Holt (House of Cards)
Carlo Rota (Saw V)
John Novak (War)
Martin Cummins (Dar kAngel)
Charlie Carrick (Reign)
Kurt Evans (Izombie)
Jonathon Young (Antitrust)
Zak Santiago (Caprica)
Adam Greydon Reid (Izombie)
Caroline Cave (Van Helsing)
Brent Stait (Blade: The Series)
Jim Byrnes (Highlander: The Series)
Anjali Jay (Supergirl)
Gil Bellows (Jett)

At the end of the last season things were getting pretty hairy on a couple of different fronts. The subterranean abnormals who live inside the Earth have decided that they want their chance in the sun and three armies march out of caves in different parts of the planet. If that wasn’t bad enough, Magnus is battling an old companion, Adam Worth, who manages to open up a hole in time and slip back to the 1800’s with the aim of curing his terminally ill daughter. This will change the time stream irrevocably, so Magnus follows him on his one-way journey into the past in order to stop him.Christopher Heyerdahl in Sanctuary (2008)This season opens with Magnus in 19th Century London, following Worth. He manages to wound her and escape, so she turns to one person she knows she can trust, he husband at the time, James Watson Together they have to stop Worth, but even if they do, how will Magnus manage to return to the 21stCentury? She does manage it, but it takes a very long time. Meanwhile Will has been put in charge of the New York Sanctuary by the Sanctuary Network, that mysterious body that runs the various abnormal shelters around the world. He’s having a rough time, as the US military wants to actually attack the invading army, especially after there’s a revolt in the refugee compound that’s housing several Hollow Earth abnormals in which the subterranean creatures take hostages and threaten to kill them. No one in authority will take Will’s calls, and withMagnus MIA he’s clearly out of his depth.Robin Dunne and Pascale Hutton in Sanctuary (2008)After that crisis, and Magnus’ return, things are different. The government is very leery of abnormals and they create a department, SCUI, to hunt down the Hollow Earth creatures that are still on the surface. Either imprisoning the abnormals that they capture or using them for experiments it’s a race between the bad military and the saintly Sanctuary to see who can locate and capture the renegade abnormals first.There are some very good episodes in this season. Monsoon, where Magnus is held hostage by some abnormal crooks while in an airport in Africa was a high point. Seeing the unarmed Magnus take out a group of ex-military super-humans was delightful.Amanda Tapping and Pascale Hutton in Sanctuary (2008)The series does wrap up (though there is room for more adventures) It was nice that the show did get a coda. All in al lSanctuary was an excellent show that lasted four seasons and left room for more stories to be told shold Syfy every decide to bring it back.

REVIEW: STARGATE UNIVERSE – SEASON 1

Starring

Robert Carlyle (One Upon A Time)
Louis Ferreira (Saw IV)
Brian J. Smith (Sense8)
Elyse Levesque (The Originals)
David Blue (Ugly Betty)
Alaina Huffman (Samllville)
Jamil Walker Smith (General Hospital)
Ming-Na Wen (Agents of Sheild)

SGU Stargate Universe (2009)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Richard Dean Anderson (MacGyver)
Michael Shanks (Smallvilel)
Amanda Tapping (Sanctuary)
Ona Grauer (V)
Peter Kelamis (50/50)
Gary Jones (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
Bill Dow (Izombie)
Christopher McDonald (Fanboys)
Lou Diamond Phillips (Young GUns)
Jennifer Spence (You Me Her)
Julia Benson (The Order)
Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman (UnREAL)
Agam Darshi (Sanctuary)
Bradley Stryker (The Lizzie Bordern Chronicles)
Anna Galvin (Tin Man)
Peter DeLuise (21 Jump Street)
Dominic Zamprogna (Odyssey 5)
Carlo Rota (Saw V)
Ryan Kennedy (Smallville)
Reiko Aylesworth (24)
Sarah Smyth (Supergirl)
Zak Santiago (Caprica)
Rukiya Bernard (Van Helsing)
Alisen Down (Smallville)
Vincent Gale (BatesMotel)
Louise Lombard (CSI)
Sean Blakemore (Bones)
William MacDonald (Riverdale)
Rhona Mitra (Doomsday)
Mike Dopud (Arrow)
Kirby Morrow (Ninja Turtles: Next Mutation)

David Blue in SGU Stargate Universe (2009)The stargate itself–an artificially created wormhole through which one can instantly travel to different worlds light-years away–is still around, but much else has changed. Gone, for the most part, are the rough-and-tumble adventures that were the specialty of SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis, SGU‘s popular predecessors. Gone, too, are insouciant but charismatic and intrepid leaders like SG-1‘s Col. Jack O’Neill (Richard Dean Anderson does make several cameo appearances in that role in the course of these 20 episodes, offered here on six discs) and Atlantis‘s Col. John Sheppard.In their places, in addition to a new ongoing story line, is a rather less conventional approach, featuring a more minimalist vibe and an entirely fresh cast of earnest, intense, mostly youthful characters battling personal demons and complex interpersonal relationships, along with a myriad of technical issues more typical of sci-fi shows. If this all sounds very serious, well, these folks have a lot to be serious about.Robert Carlyle in SGU Stargate Universe (2009)Very early on, the “Icarus Base” is under alien attack, forcing military and civilian personnel alike to escape through the stargate. They end up aboard Destiny, a massive ship that’s millions of years old and was once the property of the omniscient master race known as the Ancients. Not only do our characters barely know how to operate the ship, they also have no idea where they are, except that it’s billions of light-years from Earth. It’s the responsibility of the two main men, Col. Everett Young (Justin Louis) and scientist Dr. Nicholas Rush (Robert Carlyle), to figure out how to get everyone home safely, a task that dominates the series’ overall arc.Elyse Levesque and Brian J. Smith in SGU Stargate Universe (2009)That dicey proposition is complicated considerably by ceaseless internecine conflict on the ship, much of it between soldiers and civilians (typified by Young and Rush, both of whom are self-righteous, utterly humorless, and not especially likable).Much of the action takes place on Destiny, but there are occasional excursions to various planets in search of water and other supplies; there are also trips to Earth made possible by magical “communication stones” that allow users to exchange bodies with folks on the other end. As is the case with many new programs, SGU takes a while to hit its stride, but when that happens about a third of the way into the season, the results are often quite exciting; SGU may not be as much fun as the earlier shows, but it’s still well written and entertaining, with excellent production values, good special effects.

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: EARTH: FINAL CONFLICT – SEASON 2

Starring

Robert Leeshock (Dead End Road)
Lisa Howard (Highlander: The Series)
Von Flores (Never Cry Werewolf)
Richard Chevolleau (Hannibal)
Leni Parker (Screamers)
David Hemblen (La Femme Nikita)
Anita La Selva (Running with Violet)

Earth: Final Conflict (1997)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Kari Matchett (Cube 2)
William deVry (Stargate SG.1)
Brooke Johnson (The Sweet Hereafter)
Janet-Laine Green (This Life)
Sonia Dhillon Tully (Jigsaw)
Ona Fletcher (Searching for Bobby Fischer)
James Downing (Wrong Turn)
Barry Flatman (Odyssey 5)
Montse Viader (Whipped)
Shawn Doyle (Whiteout)
Polly Shannon (Lie With Me)
Andrew Jackson (Sea Wolf)
Anne Marie DeLuise (Strange Empire)
Christina Cox (The Chronicles of Riddick)
David Calderisi (Tommy Boy)
Monika Schnarre (BEastmaster)
Janet Kidder (Arrow)
Deborah Odell (Lost Girl)
Fiona Highet (Bitten)
Françoise Yip (The Predator)
Matthew Bennett (Battlestar Galactica)
Dean McDermott (Slasher)
Michael Filipowich (24)
Carlo Rota (Brick Mansions)
Majel Barrett Roddenberry (Star Trek)

 

Earth: Final Conflict (1997)A lot of E:FC fans were turned off when the series changed direction, when they killed off Kevin Kilner (Boone’s) character, and brought Robert Leeshock (Liam) to replace him. I for one fell in love with it, then watched it to the end during its normal run on television, including the Season 5. I can see how a lot of people would be pissed off that they axed Kevin Kilner (Boone) from the series. However, I must say that Liam Kincaid’s story arc, of him being a “man who’s more than human,” having Shaqarava in his palms (for Season 2 at least), having supposedly 75% Jaridian DNA, having precognitive powers, and his relationship with Augur, Lili, Doors, (as well as others introduced in Seasons 3 and 4) made for a good show.61e9bec633b987021515c8c2da512249I must say that E:FC would be nothing without the Liam Kincaid story arc. He carried the series from Season 2 to Season 4. Liam Kincaid, Ronald Sandoval, Da’an, and Zo’or. These are the players to watch out for, the major movers and shakers whose interplays determine the future of Earth.Emancipation_liamLiam’s relationship with Da’an was the strongest in Season 2, and it was very entertaining to see him use powers such as the Shaqarava, which can, among other things, fire lethal blasts, revive recently slain allies, deflect Jaridian Replicant energy beams, expel Dark Matter. Season 2 is different from the first, but still fun.

REVIEW: BREAKING BAD – SEASON 4

STARRING

Bryan Cranston (Power Rangers)
Anna Gunn (Sully)
Aaron Paul (Central Intelligence)
Dean Norris (The Big Bang Theory)
Betsy Brandt (Magic Mike)
RJ Mitte (Final Recall)
Bob Odenkirk (Operation: Endgame)
Giancarlo Esposito (Money Monster)
Jonathan Banks (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles)

Jonathan Banks, Bryan Cranston, and Aaron Paul in Breaking Bad (2008)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Ray Campbell (The Shield)
David Costabile (The Post)
Jeremiah Bitsui (Natural Born Killers)
Lavell Crawford (American Ultra)
Jim Beaver (Deadwood)
Matt L. Jones (Mom)
Emily Rios (Snowfall)
Charles Baker (To The Wonder)
Bill Burr (Date Night)
Nigel Gibbs (Eagle Eye)
Maurice Compte (End of Watch)
Jere Burns (Bates Motel)
Steven Michael Quezada (Beerfest)
Michael Shamus Wiles (Lost Highway)
Javier Grajeda (Days of Our Lives)
Carlo Rota (Saw V)

Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad (2008)Breaking Bad, an offbeat series about a chemistry teacher turned crystal meth kingpin, has been a critical triumph in America. Each episode of the fourth season ratchets up the tension, danger and paranoia as things begin to fall apart with the grand scheming of Walter White, the main star of Vince Gilligan’s TV series set in Albuquerque, New Mexico.Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul in Breaking Bad (2008)Bryan Cranston (Walt) and Aaron Paul (who won an Emmy last week for his performance as Jesse Pinkman) give wonderful performances throughout a riveting season, and Giancarlo Esposito (as Gus Fring) is simply one of the most insidious and nasty “quiet guy” villains ever on a TV show. The way, in episode one, Gus deals with a colleague who disappoints him is a chilling vision of hell on earth. The violence in the series is shocking without seeming gratuitous.

Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad (2008)When interviewed Gilligan said of Esposito: “I knew his work before Breaking Bad because he was was familiar from Homicide and the movie The Usual Suspects but I have to give my casting directors Sharon Bialy and Sherry Thomas credit because they brought in Giancarlo via tape auditions. We were very lucky to have him.”Breaking Bad (2008)Dean Norris as Hank Schrader – Walter’s DEA agent brother-in-law – is also on top form throughout this season, as his suspicions about the drug trade in his home town begin to crystallise. Comic relief is provided by the crooked lawyer Saul Goodman (wittily played by comedian Bob Odenkirk).Giancarlo Esposito and Aaron Paul in Breaking Bad (2008)The 13 episodes are like a deadly game of cat-and-mouse between Walt and Gus, and the ultimate showdown is memorable. And the dialogue in Breaking Bad is gripping. Walt is asked by his worried wife Skyler about the danger from potential assassins who will knock at their door. He demonically shouts: “I am the one who knocks” – a line which was voted one of the best TV lines of 2011 by Time magazine. The line has since appeared on a popular-selling T-shirt.Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad (2008)Fans of Breaking Bad are likely to watch the season in very quick succession and if you’ve never seen the series then what a treat you would have to watch all four. It’s easily one of the most interesting and challenging television shows of recent years.

 

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.