REVIEW: THE EXPENDABLES 2

CAST

Sylvester Stallone (Judge Dredd)
Jason Statham (Safe)
Jet Li (War)
Dolph Lundgren (Universal Soldier)
Chuck Norris (A Force of One)
Terry Crews (White Chicks)
Randy Couture (The Scorpion King 2)
Liam Hemsworth (The Hunger Games)
Jean-Claude Van Damme (Timecop)
Bruce Willis (Vice)
Arnold Schwarzenegger (The Terminator)
Scott Adkins (Zero Dark Thirty)
Yu Nan (No Man’s Land)
Charisma Carpenter (Angel)
Amanda Ooms (Fear X)

Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, and Randy Couture in The Expendables 2 (2012)The Expendables—leader Barney Ross, knife specialist Lee Christmas, hand-to-hand combat specialist Yin Yang, heavy-weapons specialist Hale Caesar, demolitions expert Toll Road, the unstable Gunner Jensen, and sniper Billy the Kid, the team’s newest recruit and Ross’ protégé—are deployed to Nepal to rescue Dr. Zhou, a hostage. They also rescue the captured mercenary Trench, Ross’s rival. Yang leaves the group to escort Zhou back to China.Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Expendables 2 (2012)After returning to New Orleans, Billy tells Ross that he intends to retire at the end of the month and live with his girlfriend Sophia. Later, Ross is forced to accept a mission from CIA operative Mr. Church to retrieve an item from a downed airplane in Albania. Church sends technical expert Maggie Chan with the team. In Albania the Expendables retrieve the item, but are then ambushed by international criminal and arms dealer Jean Vilain, his right-hand man Hector and his mercenary group (the Sangs), who have captured Billy. Vilain demands the item in exchange for Billy’s life. The team gives up the item, but Vilain roundhouse kicks a knife through Billy’s heart and flees with the Sangs by helicopter. Ross recovers a note for Sophia from Billy’s body; the team buries their fallen comrade, swearing vengeance on Vilain.Jason Statham in The Expendables 2 (2012)Maggie tells them that the item is a computer, with the location of five tons of refined plutonium abandoned in a mine by the Soviet Union after the Cold War. Vilain intends to retrieve the plutonium and sell it. The Expendables are able to weakly track the computer’s signal and follow Vilain, which leads them to Bulgaria where they stay overnight at an abandoned Russian military base. The next morning, the team is ambushed by the Sangs and a tank. After the Expendables run out of ammunition, they are saved by Ross’s old friend, Booker, who quickly eliminates both the Sangs and the tank. Before he departs, Booker informs the group of a nearby village whose residents oppose Vilain. Meanwhile, Hector and Vilain dig up the plutonium and begin collecting it.Terry Crews in The Expendables 2 (2012)In the village, the Expendables find several armed female villagers guarding their children from Vilain’s forces. The local inhabitants are taken and put to work as slaves in the mine, never returning, and the women ask for the Expendables’ help. The Sangs arrive for more villagers, but are ambushed by the Expendables and killed. After locating Vilain and the mine, the team assaults the area with their plane before deliberately crashing into the mine. The team saves the enslaved miners from execution, but Vilain and Hector escape with the plutonium. Vilain remotely detonates explosive charges in the mine; it collapses, trapping the miners and the Expendables. Church and Trench arrive, freeing the miners and the team, and join the Expendables to pursue Vilain. The group intercepts Vilain and his men at an airport as he prepares to leave by plane. Joined again by Booker, the Expendables, Trench and Church engage the Sangs in battle. Christmas decapitates Hector, while Ross and Vilain fight hand-to-hand. Ross defeats Vilain, stabbing him and avenging Billy.Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Expendables 2 (2012)In the aftermath, Ross is given an old Antonov An-2 biplane by Church; Church, Maggie, Booker and Trench then leave the team. In France, Sophia discovers a box on her doorstep with a large sum of money and Billy’s letter. As the Expendables depart in the plane, they propose a final toast to Billy.Sylvester Stallone in The Expendables 2 (2012)This sequel to the Expendables has a great  story, a story of revenge. The first film introduces the gang so we get to know them. The second however, we already know the gang so now we actually see how they truly are and how they work. This film is better since the rest of the team (other than Stallone) get more screen time and they have their humor moments. Van Dammne played a very awesome villain, and towards the end of the film, he shows even at the age of 50, he is stronger than ever. Arnie and Bruce Willis had a great screen time too with perfect humor. Dolph Lundgren’s role is much better now and very enjoyable. The cast was great, the story is better, the action is more intense, there is great humor. In conclusion, Expendables 2 brings back the 1980s action style with it’s teaspoon of humor. Enjoy the film!

Advertisements

REVIEW: THE EXPENDABLES

CAST

Sylvester Stallone (Judge Dredd)
Jason Statham (Safe)
Jet Li (War)
Dolph Lundgren (Universal Soldier)
Eric Roberts (The Dark Knight)
Randy Couture (The Scorpion King 2)
Steve Austin (Damage)
David Zayas (Gotham)
Giselle Itié (On The Road)
Charisma Carpenter (Angel)
Gary Daniels (Bloodfist IV)
Terry Crews (White Chicks)
Mickey Rourke (Sin City)
Bruce Willis (Vice)
Arnold Schwarzenegger (The Terminator)

Eric Roberts and Steve Austin in The Expendables (2010)The Expendables, a group of elite mercenaries based in New Orleans, deploy to the Gulf of Aden to save hostages on a vessel from Somali pirates. The team consists of leader Barney Ross, blades specialist Lee Christmas, martial artist Yin Yang, military veteran Gunner Jensen, weapons specialist Hale Caesar, and demolitions expert Toll Road. Jensen instigates a firefight, causing casualties for the pirates. He then tries to hang a pirate, but Yang stops him when Ross and the team discourage it. Ross reluctantly discharges him from the team. Later, Christmas is upset to discover his girlfriend, Lacy, has left him for another man.Sylvester Stallone and Giselle Itié in The Expendables (2010)Ross and rival Trench Mauser visit “Mr. Church” for a mission. Trench passes the contract to Ross, which is to overthrow dictator General Garza in Vilena, an island in the Gulf of Mexico. Ross and Christmas fly to Vilena for undercover reconnaissance and meet their contact, Sandra, but are discovered. It is revealed that ex-CIA officer James Munroe is keeping Garza in power as a figurehead for his own profiteering operations, while Sandra is revealed to be Garza’s daughter. Ross aborts, but Sandra refuses to leave Vilena. Meanwhile, Jensen approaches Munroe to help and Garza is angered further when Sandra is waterboarded for information by Munroe. Meanwhile, Lacy has been physically abused by her new man, so Christmas beats him and his friends, revealing what he does for a living. Jason Statham in The Expendables (2010)Ross and the group discover that Church is a CIA operative and the real target is Munroe, who has gone rogue and joined forces with Garza to keep the drug money that funds the CIA to himself, but the CIA cannot afford a mission to kill one of their own directly because of bad publicity. Ross meets tattoo expert and friend Tool to express his feelings. Tool makes a confession about letting a woman commit suicide instead of saving her. Ross is then motivated to go back for Sandra alone, but Yang accompanies him. Jensen and hired men pursue them on the road, ending in an abandoned warehouse, where Yang and Jensen fight a second time. Ross shoots Jensen when he attempts to impale Yang on a pipe. Jensen makes amends and gives the layout of Garza’s palace. Ross boards the plane with Yang and finds the rest of the team waiting.Dolph Lundgren, Sylvester Stallone, and Jet Li in The Expendables (2010)They then infiltrate Garza’s compound. Thinking Munroe hired the team to kill him, Garza has his soldiers’ faces painted, preparing them for a fight. The team plants explosives throughout the site but Ross, while saving Sandra, is captured by Munroe’s henchmen. The team saves him and kills the Brit, but is pinned down by Garza’s men as Paine wrestles Ross. Caesar fights back and Paine escapes. Garza finally stands up to Munroe, ordering him out and returning his money. Instead, as Garza rallies his men against the Americans, Munroe kills him and escapes with Paine and Sandra. Garza’s men open fire against the team, who fight their way through, detonating the explosives and destroying the compound. Toll kills Paine by burning him alive while Ross and Caesar manage to destroy the helicopter before Munroe can escape. Ross and Christmas catch up to Munroe, killing him and saving Sandra. Later, Ross gives his mission reward to Sandra to restore Vilena. In the final scene, the team has returned home and are celebrating at Tool’s tattoo parlor with the recovering and now redeemed Jensen. Christmas and Tool play a game of knife throwing, during which Christmas composes a mocking poem about Tool, then throws a bullseye from outside the building.Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, and Randy Couture in The Expendables (2010)This was a great film that keeps you glued to your seat, constantly makes you gasp and laugh out loud and leaves you pumping with adrenaline. It was ridiculous and wonderful all at the same time, with more bullets and bombs than Rambo and more fighting than Rocky. This is a must see film for any movie buff or action hero wannabe.

CHRISTMAS 2017 REVIEW: BUFFY: THE VAMPIRE SLAYER – AMENDS

CAST
Sarah Michelle Gellar (The Crazy Ones)
Nicholas Brendon (Children of the Corn 3)
Alyson Hannigan (Date Movie)
Charisma Carpenter (Scream Queens)
David Boreanaz (Bones)
Seth Green (Austin Powers)
Anthony Stewart Head (Ghost Rider 2)
GUEST CAST
Kristine Sutherland (The Following)
Saverio Guerra (Bad Boys)
Edward Edwards (Robocop)
Corneila Hayes O’Herlihy (Tears of The Sun)
Robia LaMorte (Spawn)
Eliza Dushku (Tru Calling)
It is Christmas in Sunnydale and Angel is haunted with dreams of the people he murdered over the years as Angelus. When Buffy starts getting dragged into his memory-nightmares, experiencing Angel’s dreams also, they realize something unnatural is happening. Visions of his past victims, including Jenny Calendar, appear to him and try to get him to kill Buffy, saying that he will be released from the pain if he does so. Angel cannot bring himself to do this, so instead he opts to kill himself by standing on a hill and waiting for the sun to come up. Meanwhile Oz tells Willow that he is willing to give their relationship another chance while Cordelia is not as forgiving and resumes her previously hostile ways towards the Scooby gang.
Buffy and Giles figure out that the First Evil has been driving Angel insane. Buffy finds the Bringers and pummels them. After the First appears to her, informing her that she cannot possibly fight it, and that Angel is about to be destroyed by the dawn’s light, she runs to his mansion to stop him. Oz goes to Willow’s house to watch videos only to find her dressed up and playing Barry White’s music, intending to sleep with him. Oz appreciates the gesture, but explains to Willow that he wants their first time to be special rather than just a way for her to try to make things up to him.
Buffy finds Angel atop the hill behind the mansion, awaiting sunrise. However, the heatwave from which Sunnydale has been suffering abruptly ends and the first flakes of snow start to fall. With the weather report saying the sun should not be expected to be seen at all that day, Buffy and Angel take a walk through the town.
A lovely Christmas episode for Buffy and the only one they made. It also introduced us to the First Evil which would show up 3 years later In Season 7. This episode shows just how much Buffy still cares for Angel and what better to show it than to do it in a Christmas Episode.

REVIEW: SCREAM QUEENS – SEASON 1

91NeHI+B9hL__SY445_

MAIN CAST

Emma Roberts (4.3.2.1.)
Skyle Samuels (The Stepfather)
Lea Michele (Glee)
Glen Powell (Ride Along 2)
Diego Boneta (Mean Girls 2)
Abigail Breslin (Zombieland)
Keke Palmer (Barbershop 2)
Oliver Hudson (The Breed)
Nasim Pedrad (New Girl)
Lucien Laviscount (Trollied)
Billie Lourd (Star Wars 7)
Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Ariana Grande (Victorious)
Jan Hoag (Faster)
Nick Jonas (Goat)
Breezy Eslin (Faking It)
Grace Phipps (The Vampire Diaries)
Niecy Nash (Guess Who)
Charisma Carpenter (Angel)
Chad Michael Murray (Agent Carter)
Patrick Schwarzenegger (Grown Ups 2)

Scream Queens never has been and never was going to be a show that worked for everyone. From the start, its sense of humor, its “girls are better” commentary and its writing style were divisive; either you found it hilarious and were on or you were turned off from the get-go and weren’t going to tune back in. I fell into the first category. Emma Roberts’ performance as Chanel Oberlin was fantastic camp, the bathtub baby story at the core of the show was a fun mystery and I appreciated the balance of horror movie and teen/college comedies tropes that creators Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan played with.We’ve gone from a time where 24-episode seasons were the norm to a time when 10- to 13-episode arcs is a preferred storytellers medium, but in Scream Queens’ case it works well. It’s clear that Murphy, Brennan and Falchuk revelled in writing to their premise, and it was in standalone sequences which showcased that fun that Scream Queens was at its best. When I think back to the highlights of Season 1, I think of Chanel’s scathing missive in “Dorkus” and the running cotton balls-as-meals gag and the hilarious ways Denise Hemphill would tell ghost stories. Every time I try to keep track of how Gigi, Boone and Pete (and to a lesser extent Hester) would go back and cover their tracks and get away with murdering people but not being suspected, I get a headache.The actors who shone in Scream Queens were the ones who were able to fully commit themselves to the camp. Glen Powell stole the show as Chad Radwell, and it’s a shame he was so lacking toward the end of the season. Niecy Nash was perfectly ludicrous as Denise Hemphill, and the music cues that went along with her character complimented that fantastically.Two Murphy alums, Emma Roberts and Lea Michele, continued to prove that they’re great at delivering his dialogue. Roberts in particular was a standout for me, and I relished every bitchy, whiny Chanel line she would give us. There’s one scene in particular from the finale when Denise’s stripper cops were arresting Chanel and she was resisting with all the loose-limbed anguish of a toddler having a temper tantrum that highlighted for me just how much she understood this part. Chanel is the caricature of the popular girl stereotype, but she is so committed to herself being the hero of her story — something that’s hilariously highlighted in episodes where she narrates — that most of the joke is how obtusely un-self-aware she is.For Michele, she had the burden of playing the mastermind for a season without knowing that Hester was the lead killer. Michele was so playing against type that it was fun to see her sink her teeth into a grotesquely unattractive character like Hester. It will be fun to go back and rewatch from the beginning with the knowledge that Hester is the one pulling the strings, but the fact that Michele didn’t find out about that until the final episode likely means there’s not going to be too much new information to glean from her performance.Other flashy additions to the cast, like Jamie Lee Curtis and Nick Jonas, made their characters their own, but other stars like Skyler Samuels as Grace, Oliver Hudson as Wes, Diego Boneta as Pete, Abigail Breslin as Chanel #5 and Keke Palmer as Zayday each of them had memorable scenes and clear highlights from Season 1.At least Scream Queens did stick the landing, as the final hour, “The Final Girl(s),” was the best episode of the series since the premiere. Finally fully understanding the full scope of the Red Devil Killers’ plan — and particularly Hester’s role in it — was a great payoff, and Michele chewed screen time now that she finally knew what she was playing to.The Season 1 ride was a fun ride, with season 2 now airing it’s gping to be great to see what the seconded chapter holds.

REVIEW: BUFFY: THE VAMPIRE SLAYER – THE HALLOWEEN EPISODES

Image result for buffy the vampire slayer logo

MAIN CAST

Sarah Michelle Gellar (Ringer)
Nicholas Brandon (Children of The Corn 3)
Alyson Hannigan (How I Met Your Mother)
Charisma Carpenter (Scream Queens)
David Boreanaz (Bones)
Anthony Stewart Head (Ghost Rider 2)
Seth Green (Family Guy)
James Marster (Smallville)
Marc Blucas (Red State)
Emma Caulfield (Darkness Falls)
Michelle Tractenberg (Black Xmas)
Image result for buffy the vampire slayer halloween
GUEST CAST

Robin Sachs (Jurassic Park 2)
Juliet Landau (Ed Wood)
Armin Shimerman (Star Trek DS9)
Larry Bagby (Hocus Pocus)
Kristine Sutherland (Legal Eagles)
Adam Kaufman (Taken)
Lindsay Crouse (Alias)
Walter Jones (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers)
Amber Benson (Ringer)
Amber Tamblyn (Two and a Half Men)

HALLOWEEN

Buffy and Angel finally agree to a date, but Buffy is delayed at Pop’s Pumpkin Patch by a vampire. Another vampire films the fight from hiding. As Angel waits at The Bronze, Cordelia shows up and starts flirting with him. When Buffy finally arrives, she is turned away by Cordelia’s sharp tongue. Cordelia continues to hit on Angel, unaware of his history.The next day, Principal Snyder forces Buffy and her friends to chaperone small children while they trick-or-treat. Buffy would rather take a break during the only slow night for vampires. Later, Larry, the school bully, threatens Xander while asking him about Buffy, who smashes Larry into a soda machine. Xander is angered by the damage that does to his reputation. After Xander leaves, Buffy and Willow’s conversation eventually turns to speculation about Angel’s past. The two decide to sneak into Giles’ office and borrow the passed-down Watchers’ Diary. From this, they hope to learn more about what type of women Angel used to be attracted to as a human. Buffy is slightly mopey after her date with Angel didn’t fly, and is eager for information on how to win him over.  The gang has to dress up for Halloween. They head to Ethan’s Costume Shoppe, where Willow gets a ghost costume and Xander buys a toy gun to go with his army fatigues from home. Buffy and Xander make up, but then she spies the most beautiful pink 18th-century gown—one that matches what she has spied from Giles’ Watcher files on Angel. Ethan Rayne, the proprietor, appears and gives it to Buffy.Spike is reviewing Buffy’s fight. Drusilla comes to tell him that someone will make Buffy weak on Halloween night. Meanwhile, Ethan is chanting to a statue of Janus in the back room of his shop. On Halloween night, Buffy persuades Willow to wear a black miniskirt and a long-sleeved crop top, but Willow’s shyness returns; when Buffy goes to answer the doorbell, she covers up with her ghost costume. Later that night, Ethan’s spell takes effect and everyone wearing a costume from his store turns into the respective persona. Willow becomes a real ghost, able to walk through walls; Xander a soldier; and Buffy an 18th-century noble woman.With Buffy incapable of leading and fighting the threats around them, and Xander armed and skilled in combat because of the spell, Willow is forced to take the lead. She persuades Xander not to shoot the monsters now roaming the streets (as most of them are the trick-or-treaters), and to obey her. They find Buffy disoriented, frightened, and confused by the modern world. Willow rushes them to Buffy’s house, where her mother is conveniently not home. Outside, Cordelia screams and Xander rushes out to save her. They find that Cordelia has not changed into what she is wearing—a cat—because she bought her costume from another store. Willow goes to Giles for help. While Cordelia searches the house, Angel shows up and takes Buffy into the kitchen. As Angel tries to kill a vampire that has sneaked into the house, he reveals his vampire face. Buffy is horrified and runs from the house. Arriving at the library by walking through walls, Willow, after scaring Giles by just showing up where there isn’t a door, tells him about Ethan’s costumes. They head to the shop, where Giles reveals that he knows Ethan. He orders Willow to leave and forces Ethan to tell him how to reverse the spell.Spike is looking for Buffy, who enters an alley and meets Larry, now a pirate. Xander arrives to beat up Larry while Willow shows up to warn them of Spike. The gang tries to barricade themselves inside a warehouse, but Spike’s gang breaks in. Spike is trying to kill Buffy; Willow orders Xander to shoot the vampires with his now-real M16, but just then, Ethan reveals the secret to ending the spell and Giles smashes the statue, breaking the spell. Buffy recovers to defeat Spike and he flees. After being corporeal again, Willow, despite the ordeals, also feels confident, discarding her ghost costume and heading home. Oz sees Willow around town again, asking himself “Who is that girl?” Buffy admits to Angel that she was trying to impress him. He tells her that he hated those people back then. The women were dull; he wanted someone exciting. They kiss. The next day, Giles returns to the store to find a note. Ethan has promised to return soon.Halloween was a superb episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer’s Second Season. This episode introduced us to a new villian from Giles’s past, and I have a feeling we will be seeing him in the future as well. Chaos was the order of the night, on All Hallows Eve in Sunnydale as people started turning into their costumes. It was fun to watch this episode seeing what people were and how they changed. It was also interesting to note that Oz keeps seeing Willow in different aspects, which is a neat way to build their story line. I think that this was another Classic Episode of Buffy Image result for buffy the vampire slayer fear, itself

FEAR, ITSELF
While carving jack-o’-lanterns in Xander’s basement, the gang discusses plans for Halloween; Buffy continues to mope over her situation with Parker. They decide to go to the Alpha-Delta house for a party. The next day at school, Buffy and Oz both express their concerns for Willow and her use of magic. Buffy spots Parker and immediately runs away. Willow follows her, explaining that she should get over it and have fun at the party that night, but Buffy thinks that Giles will want her to patrol. When Buffy goes to visit Giles, she’s surprised to find him embracing the Halloween spirit. He discourages her from patrolling and encourages her to go party. At the Alpha-Delta house, the members are getting ready for the party. One finds a symbol in an old book to paint on the floor. Anya goes to see Xander, wanting to know where their relationship is heading. He agrees that they’re somewhat dating, inviting her to the party. Buffy, who skipped her psych class, visits the professor and asks for her assignment, but she receives a cold response. Riley, however, gives her the assignment, telling her to have fun on Halloween. Oz and Xander carry a sound system to the Alpha-Delta house, and Oz installs it while one guy paints the symbol from the book. Oz cuts his hand, spilling drops of his blood, which activates the ritual to summon Gachnar. Joyce alters one of Buffy’s old costumes, Little Red Riding Hood, and talks with her about how things used to be. Buffy waits outside the house for her friends, and Xander shows up dressed as James Bond. They run into Willow, dressed as Joan of Arc, and Oz, going as God. Everything at the party starts to go awry as fears begin to become real, and the fake scary objects like plastic spiders and skeletons, become alive. The gang enters the house, but they encounter several obstacles. Later, Anya arrives at the party, dressed as a bunny, but she is unable to get inside because the entrances to the house have become sealed up. She sees a girl screaming at a window, and the window then disappears from the house. Inside, Buffy tells the gang to find a way out and get help. A skeleton attacks her from behind, but after she attacks, it becomes fake again. Buffy and Willow fight over Buffy rejecting help from her friends and pushing them away, as well as Buffy and Oz arguing with Willow about her use of witchcraft. Willow insists she can safely do a guidance spell. Meanwhile, Anya goes to Giles for help.
Xander tries to talk to the gang but finds that he’s become invisible to them. Willow and Oz find a staircase and head up. As they’re walking, Oz begins to change into a werewolf and scratches Willow before running away from her. Xander approaches a mirror, and a head on the table behind him says that he can see him. Oz sits in a bathtub, chanting to himself that he isn’t going to change. Willow conjures her spell. However, it quickly spins out of control, and she screams for help as it attacks her. Buffy, hearing Willow’s cries, tries to get to her, but she falls into the basement where bodies come up from the ground and grab at her. Giles and Anya are unable to find a way inside, so Giles cuts a door using a chainsaw. While fleeing through the house, the gang ends up in the room where the mystical symbol is painted. Giles and Anya break into the room. They determine the sign on the floor to be the Mark of Gachnar, and Buffy and Giles express fear about how scary the demon looks in the illustration. Buffy destroys the symbol before Giles can tell her that destroying the symbol will bring Gachnar forth. But when the demon has manifested, it turns out to be merely a few inches in height. After a laugh at absurdity of giving in to one’s fears, Buffy squashes Gachnar with her shoe. At Giles’ place, the gang eats candy while Giles makes a discovery: the arcane footnote below the illustration of Gachnar in his book reads “Actual Size” .
This is one of the best of season 4. We get a thoroughly entertaining plot, the usual wittiness, useful character insight, and a whole lot of fun. This is a modern version of “Nightmares” (1×10), and the fear demon plot works because the characters have changed and new ground is being covered.  Much of what happens here is further setup for the internal conflicts of the season: Willow’s use of magic and growing power, Oz’s beast coming out and having serious repercussions, Xander feeling that he’s not important in the group, Giles’ aimlessness, and Buffy’s relationship issues.

 Image result for buffy the vampire slayer all the way

ALL THE WAY

It is Halloween and Anya has set the gang to work in the magic shop. She sends Buffy to the basement, where she runs into Spike. At his suggestion, Buffy attempts to leave to go patrol with Spike, but Giles points out that Halloween is an inactive day for most evil creatures, and engages Buffy in helping with bagging products.
An elderly man, Kaltenbach, is seen walking down the street humming “Pop Goes the Weasel” while carrying a bag of what appears to be groceries. He enters his home, peers out of a window at the children in costumes walking by, and says he’s going to give them something “special” this year. He then pulls a large knife out of his kitchen drawer.
Image result for buffy the vampire slayer all the way
The Magic Box has enjoyed its busiest day ever, to Anya’s delight. Xander decides that the time is right to announce his engagement to Anya, and the group makes its way back to Buffy’s house to celebrate. Back at the Summers home, Willow conjures up decorations for the party, but Tara now shares Giles’s concerns about Willow’s frivolous use of magic. Willow brushes off these concerns. Dawn tells Buffy that she is going to her friend Janice Penshaw’s house, but really meets Janice and two older boys: Justin and Zack. Dawn becomes attracted to Justin. When the foursome stops in front of “old man” Kaltenbach’s house, Dawn, on a dare, walks up to the porch to smash a pumpkin. She is caught by Kaltenbach, who warns her not to mess with them, then laughs and invites them all inside for a “special treat”. Inside, Justin volunteers to help Kaltenbach with his preparations in the kitchen. The old man is about to cut into a baked dish when Justin, now revealed as a vampire, bites and drains him. Justin then returns to the others and announces that they need to flee because he stole the man’s wallet.
Meanwhile, at the Summers home, Xander, who was already nervous in response to Giles’s serious talk with him about his and Anya’s future plans, becomes even more nervous when Anya chatters with Giles, Buffy and Xander about the wedding and plans for children. On patrol, Buffy runs across an accident scene with a corpse that was left behind by Zack while he was stealing a car. While she is tracking the culprit, she encounters Spike, who passes on a message from Giles: Dawn has misled the adults regarding her plans for the night. Now the whole gang is on the case. At The Bronze, Willow wants to use an extremely risky spell to locate Dawn, but Tara stops her, and an angry argument ensues. In the stolen car, Justin drives Dawn and the others out into the forest and stops. Zack and Janice depart, leaving Justin and Dawn alone in the car. Justin kisses Dawn – her first kiss – and then reveals his vampire face. Dawn attempts to escape from Justin, but he catches her. Giles is quickly on the scene to help, but vampires emerge from several cars, ready to fight. As they close in, Spike and Buffy show up to assist. Dawn runs away from the fight, but Justin finds her. He attempts to change her, but as he is leaning in to bite her neck, Dawn stakes him with a crossbow bolt, fired earlier in the melee.
The gang returns home, where Buffy is quick to leave the job of chastising Dawn to Giles, who is unhappy about how Buffy is relying on him so much. Meanwhile, Willow casts a spell on Tara to make her forget their quarrel.

All The Way was a great episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This was a great Halloween episode. Zander finally announces that he and Anya are going to get married, much to every ones surprise! I thought Dawns little adventure was fun, and had some mystery and suspense. This episode definitely had the Classic Buffy feel to it. I think there was some character development here for a few characters like Dawn, Willow, and Tara. Willow has been using magic for every little thing and Tara is getting worried.

REVIEW: VERONICA MARS – SEASON 1-3

Image result for veronica mars tv logo

MAIN CAST

Kristen Bell (Frozen)
Teddy Dunn (Jumper)
Jason Dohring (The Originals)
Percy Daggs III (Izombie)
Francis Capra (Heroes)
Enrico Colantoni (Powers)
Sydney Tamiia Poitier (Death Proof)
Tessa Thompson (Thor: Ragnarok)
Ryan Hansen (2 Broke Girls)
Kyle Gallner (Smallville)
Tina Majorino (Bones)
Julie Gonzalo (Dodgeball)
Chris Lowell (The Help)
Michael Muhney (Columbus Day)
Image result for veronica mars tv series
RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Corinne Bohrer (Police Academy 4)
Amanda Seyfried (Jennifer’s Body)
Lisa Thornhill (The Family Man)
Kyle Secor (The Purge 3)
Daran Norris (Izombie)
Brandon Hilock (Villains)
Patrick Wolff (Power Rangers Lost Galaxy)
Bradley Joseph (A Cinderella Story)
Duane Daniels (First Strike)
Paris Hilton (Bottoms Up)
Aaron Ashmore (Smallville)
Melissa Leo (The Fighter)
Paul Marshall (Cheaper By The Dozen)
Alison MacInnis (Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue)
Kyla Pratt (Dr. Dolittle)
Adam Wylie (Under Wraps)
Sam Huntington (Superman Returns)
Lisa Rinna (Melrose Place)
Jane Lynch (Glee)
Harry Hamlin (Clash of The Titans)
Jessica Chastain (Interstellar)
Steven Williams (The Blues Brothers)
Adam Kaufman (Buffy)
Bonita Friedericy (Chuck)
Alona Tal (Cult)
Erica Gimpel(Roswell)
Christian Clemenson (Lois & CCLark)
Jonathan Bennett (Van Wilder: Freshman Year)
Chris William Martin (The Vampire Diaries)
Megalyn Echikunwoke (Arrow)
Emmanuelle Vaugier (Two and a Half Man)
Christopher B. Duncan (Three Kings)
Anthoyn Anderson (Transformers)
Jowharah Jones (The Client List)
Leighton Meester (The Roommate)
Max Greenfield (New Girl)
Christine Lakin (Family Guy)
Adam Scott (Krampus)
Cynthia LaMontagne (That 70s Show)
Zachery Ty Bryan (Fast and The Furious 3)
Erin Chambers (Happy Feet)
Ken Marino (Agent Carter)
Jonathan Taylor Thomas (Smallville)
Roy Werner (Power Rangers Time Force)
Kevin Sheridan (The Closer)
Jeffrey D. Sams (Soul Food)
Charisma Carpenter (Buffy)
Steve Guttenberg (Police Academy)
Kevin Smith (Clerks)
David Starzyk (Bones)
Ari Graynor (For A Good Time, Call..)
Kristin Dattilo (Dexter)
Laura Bell Bundy (Anger Management)
Dana Davis (Heroes)
Krysten Ritter (Jessica Jones)
Rick Peters (The Craving HearT)
Tracey Walter (Batman)
Joss whedon (Angel)
Rodney Rowland (The 6th Day)
Taylor Sheridan (Sicario)
Jason Molina (Alpha Dog)
Lucas Grabeel (Smallville)
Alyson Hannigan (How I Met Your Mother)
B.J. Britt (Agents of SHIELD)
Curtis Andersen (Sabrina: TTW)
Jessy Schram (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles)
Michael Cera (Juno)
Kayla Ewell (The Vampire Diaries)
Patrick Fabian (The Last Exorcism)
Jason Beghe (G.I. Jane)
Samm Levine (Not Another Teen Movie)
Rider Strong (Cabin Fever)
Chastity Dotson (Single Ladies)
Lucy Lawless (Ash Vs Evil Dead)
Keri Lynn Pratt (Cruel Intentions 2)
Dan Castellaneta (The Simpsons)
Rachelle Lefevre (Twilight)
Ryan Devlin (Weather Girl)
Armie Hammer (The Social Network)
Lindsey McKeon (One Tree Hill)
Ed Begley Jr. (Batman Forever)
Parry Shen (The New Guy)
Blake Shields (Heroes)
Ryan Pinkston (Bad Santa)
Jaime Ray Newman (Bates Motel)
Krista Kalmus (North Shore)
Adam Rose (Up In The Air)
Amanda Walsh (Disturbia)
Charlie Weber (Buffy)
Sandra McCoy (Power Rangers Wild Force)
Michael Grant Terry (Bones)
David Tom (Pleasantville)
Charles Shaughnessy (Stargate SG.1)
David Blue (Stargate Universe)
Jeremy Roberts (The Mask)
Robert Ri’chard (The Vampire Diaries)
Jesse James (Jumper)
Paul Rudd (Ant-Man)
Suzanne Cryer (Two Guys and a GIrl)
Ed Gathegi (X-Men: First Class)
Travis Van Winkle (Meet The Spartans)

Veronica Mars is set in Neptune, California, a town without a middle-class. Everyone’s either a millionaire or works for one, and the man largely responsible for Neptune’s unparalleled success is Jake Kane (Kyle Secor), the resident billionaire software mogul. Kane and his family are still reeling from the murder of his daughter Lilly (Amanda Seyfried) some months earlier, and as if that loss wasn’t enough, the beloved Kane family was doggedly pursued by a county sheriff convinced that they were hiding something. Public sentiment turned against Sheriff Keith Mars (Enrico Colantoni), who was ousted from office and abandoned by his wife.

Cue the title character. His daughter Veronica (Kristen Bell) had already lost her best friend with Lilly’s death, but standing by her father also cost Veronica her friends, her social status, her house…even her mother. Veronica had already been unceremoniously dumped by Lilly’s brother Duncan (Teddy Dunn) shortly before her friend’s murder, and a defiant visit to face her former friends at a party weeks later led to Veronica being drugged and raped. Despite having lost so much, Veronica is resilient enough to move on with her life, and as her father struggles to stay afloat as a private eye, Veronica puts her smarts and determination to work to help ease the caseload at Mars Investigations. She also puts her talents to use to help her classmates with their troubles — for a price, of course. To cap it all off, Veronica’s faced with a couple of her own mysteries to solve. What convinced Lianne Mars to abandon her family, and where is she now? Who was it who drugged and raped Veronica last December? Also, is her father right — did someone other than disgruntled Kane Software employee Abel Koontz murder Lilly? If there is, who orchestrated the conspiracy that led to Koontz’ confession and why?

The dialogue in Veronica Mars has the same sparkle as Joss Whedon’s work…arguably better, even, since Buffy sometimes sounded like a deliberate attempt to be hip, whereas Veronica Mars manages to be witty and clever without feeling quite so forced. The writing doesn’t skew as young as one might expect from a TV show set in a high school. If anything, the target audience seems to be twentysomething — I don’t know how many fifteen year olds would be able to appreciate references to Archie comics or 21 Jump Street, f’r instance. Characterization is another strength of the series, and part of the reason Veronica Mars works as well as it does is that the audience truly does care about the characters. Despite having a seemingly endless array of talents, Veronica isn’t some sort of idyllic Mary Sue. She’s not always right. Her investigations frequently take morally questionable turns. Things don’t always go the way she wants. Not every episode has a happy ending.Image result for veronica mars return of kaneAlong with the cases that are solved in the space of forty minutes and change every week, a couple of mysteries are introduced in the pilot that are gradually explored throughout the entire length of the season. That’s right — unlike the hydra that is Lost, where answering one question spawns ten more, all of Veronica Mars’ mysteries are resolved by the time the season finale rolls around. (The finale tosses out a couple questions of its own, but if a second season hadn’t gotten the green light, it still would’ve been a fitting end to the series.)

Veronica Mars has a capable cast to match the quality of the writing. Veronica is strong and cynical…bright and sarcastic…and even though all of the trauma she’s suffered over the past year has aged her somewhat, she’s still an emotionally vulnerable teenage girl. That’s a lot to juggle, but Kristen Bell is talented enough to make such a colossal task seem effortless and captivating enough to carry a show on her shoulders. Of course, Bell is joined by a strong enough supporting cast that she doesn’t have to shoulder it all herself.

After cutting down Wallace (Percy Daggs III), the new kid at school, who’d been stripped naked and duct taped to a flagpole, he and Veronica become best friends. In teen-TV land, it’s an immutable rule that people of different genders can’t just be pals…there’s this endless temptation to couple everyone. Veronica Mars manages to resist, resulting in one of the few platonic friendships like this left on television.Enrico Colantoni, who plays Veronica’s father, is another fan favorite, able to shift from warm, loving, and borderline-goofy to secretive and deadly serious when the situation calls for it. There’s also Eli “Weevil” Navarro (Francis Capra), the leader of a local biker gang from the wrong side of the tracks who engages in some mutual backscratching with Veronica.

The character who stands out the most — aside from Veronica, of course — is Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring). Like Kristen Bell, Dohring is endlessly engaging. He’s introduced as an “obligatory psychotic jackass”, but as the season progresses, Logan’s humanized without being watered-down; even when he’s doing something as thoroughly loathesome as bribing a homeless vet to join in on his homebrew Bumfights video, there’s an undercurrent of understanding why Logan is the way he is. The character changes throughout the season, but the shift feels deserved and natural, not just because that’s what’s scrawled on the whiteboard in the writing room.Other guest stars throughout the season include Napoleon Dynamite’s Tina Majorino as computer whiz Mac, Aaron Ashmore as a love interest with a shady past, Logan’s movie star family (played by Harry Hamlin, Lisa Rinna, and Alyson Hannigan), Anthony Anderson, Zachary Ty Brian, Joey Lauren Adams, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, and, in a shameless bit of stuntcasting, Paris Hilton. The fact that the second episode of Veronica Mars manages to be really good despite a Paris Hilton guest spot really is a testament to how good a series this is. Oh, and, in true Laura Palmer fashion, just because Lilly Kane is dead doesn’t mean that Amanda Seyfried can’t rear her head in nearly every other episode.The conclusion to most of the mysteries caught me by surprise. Throughout the entire season, the only time I correctly guessed the culprit was in “Lord of the Bling”, and even then, the motivation and execution were well out of my reach. The many twists the stories take are clever, and watching these episodes a second time, I could spot all sorts of clues and hints that didn’t seem that important the first time through.  Veronica Mars is a series that’s easy to dive into as a marathon, but for viewers catching these episodes for the first time, I’d recommend drawing it out a bit.

The central arcs of Veronica Mars’ first season were all intensely personal: Veronica being abandoned by her mother, not to mention every one of her former friends, roofie-fueled date rape at a party a year earlier, and the brutal murder of her closest friend, Lilly Kane. How do you follow up a season like that? t’d be nearly impossible to craft another set of stories that’d resonate in quite that same way without retreading familiar ground, so season two of Veronica Mars takes a different approach, shifting the focus away from our plucky junior detective and more towards the sticky underbelly of Neptune, California as a whole.Mayoral candidate Woody Goodman (Steve Guttenberg) has a vision for the glorified country club that is Neptune. Incorporating Neptune would have a Tide with Bleach effect, making the whites whiter and the rich richer as property values are boosted and less desirable elements are rezoned onto someone else’s doorstep. Woody’s plan is announced as the tensions between the haves and have-nots are already boiling over in Neptune.Logan Echols, the cocky son of an aging Hollywood action hero, has walked away unscathed from accusations of stabbing a Hispanic biker to death, prompting a series of vicious attacks from both sides. The stark differences between the classes are also apparent after a school-sponsored trip; the rich kids hop in a limo and ride back in style, and the not-so-privileged cram into a rank schoolbus and careen off the side of a cliff. The town is torn apart by the tragedy, and Veronica, who’d barely missed the bus and was very nearly among the dead, is determined to find out if the crash was a terrible accident, suicide, or something much more ominous.Image result for veronica mars driver edIt’s a hectic season, with a bus crash, two murder trials, class-slash-racial tensions throughout Neptune, a sheriff race, the possibility of Neptune incorporating, the ambiguity about Wallace’s family life, a coma-baby, Beaver following in his shamed father’s footsteps as he tries to get his own real estate endeavour off the ground, the strife former baseball star Terrence Cook and his overbearing daughter Jackie (Tessa Thompson) bring to Neptune, the newly-introduced clan of Irish drug-peddlers known as the Fitzpatricks, and the machinations of Dick and Beaver’s scheming stepmother Kendall (Charisma Carpenter). There’s enough to follow The season plays a lot better on DVD; it’s easier to keep the scores of characters and plot points fresh in the mind over the course of a few days as opposed to the better part of a year.In its third — and ultimately final — season, Veronica Mars steps away from any season-length stories. Slightly truncated to twenty episodes, season three is neatly grouped into three distinct chunks of episodes. The season opens with Veronica settling into her freshman year at Hearst College, but the campus continues to be plagued by a spree of sexual assaults. Mac’s bubbly roommate Parker (Julie Gonzalo) is the latest victim to be roofied and raped, with the attacker leaving his calling card by shaving her head. Having suffered through the past couple of years as a rape victim herself and unwittingly in a position to have caught Parker’s rapist during the attack, Veronica’s grim determination to put an end to this reign of terror makes up the first and the lengthiest of the season’s arcs.The season’s second arc picks up a couple of months after the grisly final shot of “Spit and Eggs” as the police have shrugged off the death of someone close to Veronica as a suicide. A devastating emotional blow delivered just hours earlier, a gunshot to the temple, a vague suicide note typed on a PC…it’s tragic, yes, but the pieces fit neatly together just the same. Still, it’s a scenario lifted directly from a paper Veronica penned for her criminology class on how to commit the perfect murder. Throughout the course of their investigation, Veronica and her father become entangled in a pair of other murders, among them the death of one of Veronica Mars’ most enduring characters.Facing cancellation and attempting to make the largely serialized series more accessible to new viewers, Veronica Mars draws to a close with a set of five standalone episodes. There aren’t any overarching investigations, although some threads leak from one episode to the next, including a sheriff’s race between Keith Mars and an unlikely contender.

The season premiere introduces two other Hearst students who’d go on to stick around for the rest of the year: Wallace’s roommate Stosh “Piz” Piznarski (Chris Lowell) and Mac’s roomieuntitledThe hunt for Hearst’s rapist, which runs for the nine of the season’s twenty episodes, is the highest point of the set. It’s the most engaging of the season’s various arcs, which is impressive considering that these episodes have to juggle the weekly mysteries, the overarching search for the rapist, and introduce the new characters and Hearst College as a whole. There seems to be some connection between the rapes and the Greek system at Hearst, pitting Veronica against a group of feminists determined to bring the frats down, forcing her to defend the same lecherous halfwits she thought were tied to the rapes last season, and clawing her way into the Zeta Theta Beta house. This first half of the season also gives the supporting cast a reasonable amount of screentime, including Wallace and Logan on opposite ends of an Abu Ghraib-inspired prison experiment, Logan stumbling onto a life-changing discovery when trying to find out why his trust fund is dwindling so quickly, and Keith making the same sorts of excuses with a married client as the skeevy men whose infidelities pay his rent. The arc comes to a close with “Spit and Eggs”, which, in true Veronica Mars form, plays like more of a thriller than a mystery, and it’s by far the most intense episode of the season. Veronica Mars was an excellent a show spread across 3 seasons and become a great cult show, and with the arrival of the movie saw resurgence in its popularity.

REVIEW: ANGEL – SEASON 1-5

 

20160114001703

MAIN CAST

David Boreanaz (Bones)
Charisma Carpenter (Scream Queens)
Glenn Quinn (R.S.V.P)
Alxis Denisof (Dollhouse)
J. August Richards (Agents of SHIELD)
Amy Acker (The Cabin In The Woods)
Vincent Kartheiser (Mad Men)
Andy Hallett (Chance)
James Marsters (Smallville)
Mercedes McNab (The Addams Family)

Image result for angel tv series

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Tracy Middendorf (Scream: The Series)
Christian Kane (Just Married)
Josh Holloway (Lost)
Sarah Michelle Gellar (Ringer)
Michael Mantell (The Ides of March)
Elisabeth Rohm (Joy)
Obi Ndefo (Stargate SG.1)
Johnny Messner (Anacondas)
Jennifer Tung (Masked Rider)
Seth Green (Family Guy)
Andy Umberger (Deja Vu)
Tushka Bergen (Mad Max 3)
Beth Grant (Wonderfalls)
Bai Ling (The Crow)
Jesse James (Blow)
J. Kenneth Campbell (Mars Attacks)
Henri Lubatti True Blood)
Christina Hendricks (Mad Men)
John Mahon (Zodiac)
Kristin Dattilo (Intolerable Cruelty)
Carlos Jacott (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Lee Arenberg (Once Upon A Time)
Jeremy Renner (Avengers Assemble)
Ken Marino (Veronica Mars)
Stephanie Romanov (Thirtten Days)
Tamara Gorski (Man With The Screaming Brain)
Julie Benz (Punisher: Warzone)
Eliza Dushku (Tru Calling)
Alastair Duncan (The Batman)
Sam Anderson (Lost)
Todd Stashwick (The Originals)
Justina Machado (Final Destination 2)
Matthew James (American Crime)
J.P. Manoux (Birds of Prey)
Tony Amendola (Stargate SG.1)
David Herman (Futurama)
Edwin Hodge (The Purge)
Daisy McCrackin (Halloween 8)
Juliet Landau (Ed Wood)
Brigid Brannagh (Army Wives)
W. Earl Brown (Bates Motel)
Tony Todd (Wishmaster)
Jim Piddock (The Prestige)
Julia Lee (A Man Apart)
Gerry Becker(Spider-Man)
Eric Lange (Lost)
Leah Pipes (The Originals)
Thomas Kopache (Catch Me If You Can)
Brody Hutzler (Days of Our Lives)
Persia White (The Vampire Diaries)
Daniel Dae Kim (Lost)
Mark Lutz (Bitch Slap)
Alyson Hannigan (How I Met Your Mother)
Keith Szarabajka (The Dark Knight)
Frank Salsedo (Power Rangers Zeo)
David Denman (Outcast)
Justin Shilton (Little Miss Sunshine)
Rance Howard (Chinatown)
Kristoffer Polaha (Ringer)
Jack Conley (Payback)
Jim Ortlieb (Roswell)
Laurel Holloman (Boogie Nights)
Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Losers)
Sunny Mabrey (Snakes On A Plane)
Summer Glau (Firefly)
John Rubinstein (Red Dragon)
Alexa Davalos (Clash of The Titans)
Kay Panabaker (No Ordinary Family)
Joel David Moore (Bones)
Adrienne Wilkinson (Xena)
Gina Torres (Hannibal)
Annie Wersching (The Vampire Diaries)
Danny Woodburn (Watchmen)
Sarah Thompson (Cruel Intentions 2)
Jonathan M. Woodard (Firefly)
T.J. Thyne (Bones)
John Billingsley (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Simon Templeman (Black Road)
Roy Dotrice (Beauty and the Beast)
Brendan Hines (Lie to Me)
Tom Lenk (Argo)
Navi Rawat (Feast)
Roy Werner (Power Rangers Time Force)
Alec Newman (Dune)
Adam Baldwin (Chuck)
Jaime Bergman (Soulkeeper)
Stacey Travis (Easy A)
Dennis Christopher (Django Uncahined)

When Joss Whedon pitched Angel: the Series, he described it as a detective-style film-noir-themed take on the supernatural, much in the same way Buffy was pitched as a look from the viewpoint of the Horror genre. Buffy’s style took some time to get right, but the aesthetics of this show in its first year are well thought out and crafted; darkness and emotive shadow creep over, tense musical swells linger, and the picture is shot in a large resolution to provide just a bit of grain. I’d be damned if it didn’t seem intentional. Joss also said that where Buffy looked, metaphorically, at the hell of High School, Angel’s show would look at life past it in your early adulthood and the life and relationship issues of that unique, big city world. This metaphor is dominant in the first season, and is one of the main themes.

Angel, as a series, is always and will always be about redemption, but the themes of its respective seasons are about the different facets to it. Exploring what it is, losing the chance at it or the responsibility one pledges to it is all covered over the duration of the show. With season one, it was most direct: How do you get it? At the start of the season we see Angel arrive in LA, see him save lives, but we also watch him slip deeply into apathy about his goal. To understand the importance and worth of a human and life and soul, Angel learns in “City of” (1×01) that one must have a human connection; friends and allies that make his life worth living so his mission can be worth fighting for, and most importantly so that he doesn’t become detached from (and even dangerous to) those he hopes to save.

The season, as I mentioned, does lack a cohesive arc, but it also has a tremendous amount of hugely entertaining and well-written standalones. Many of them focus on Angel’s mission: “helping the helpless.” Angel makes it his goal to not only save lives, but save souls and make life worth living for others, and as a result of this his connections are solidified as he carries this out. He and his group slowly form into a legitimate investigation team which takes cases and makes money off of them, and many of the seasons situations out of which the characters are developed are a result of these cases. Cordelia, who in “Rm w a Vu” (1×05) is still defining herself by her possessions, searches for a place to live. Instead what she finds is a stronger sense of self, and in that a connection to the world of humans rather the one of plastic. Doyle and Wesley both find their own connections, as well. Episodes such as these are the season’s order, in every one of which something new happens that alters the main or supporting characters, or teaches the audience something about them.

This is, in my opinion, what sets shows like Buffy and Angel apart: relevance. More than any other show, each episode contains progressive, ongoing development that charts development in a very realistic way. On a more specific level, this particular season has an extremely strong episode to episode consistency, with each individual showing striking its own tone and exploring the main theme in different ways. A few larger, more exciting events may have helped, but at the same time I appreciate this season for what it is and how it does something a bit different from most other seasons of Buffy or Angel. There’s a lot more to talk about, including the metaphorical basis’ used and what we’re being fed through them, as well as the general ups and downs. The strongest suit this season has is its extremely fluid use of theme. Though the ponderings on connection, redemption and starting a new life are not as intricately detailed, subtle or socially penetrating as the themes of any other season, the careful and consistent way they’re used to develop characters and give the stories real world relevance is masterful. Angel made it his mission to save souls, and we were shown him connecting with people by helping them, failing to help them, or losing them altogether. All the supporting characters followed, gaining their own redemption through helping Angel and the helpless.

With the exception of Wesley being overly bumbling at times, nothing felt out of character this season, and that’s extremely impressive considering the length of a season. Doyle’s sacrifice in “Hero” (1×09), Angel’s re-ignited belief in himself in “To Shanshu in LA” [1×22] or Kate’s decision to see Angel kiss daylight in “Sanctuary” [1×19] were all thematically conclusive, resonant and well built up to.

The preceding season was,strong and coherent. While looking at the tribulations of life after High School in the big city, it managed to do so in a way that developed the characters within another major theme: Connection; Human emotions and growth that make us a part of the world, make us human. By the end of the season, Angel had been given a purpose, both short and long term, and a mission to fight for: Fighting in the final battles and surviving to be made a breathing human being again. Season Two, with a much broader theme, builds logically on that, and asks our vampire hero just what it means to really be human. Much of the season’s development is split in that way, with Angel increasingly being led off into his own world, with his friends developing entirely in a place away from him.screen-shot-2016-09-09-at-10-18-22-am-e1473430782777While he and the fate that ties him to Darla explore the complexities of human existence, Cordelia, Wesley and Gunn become forced to suffer through and succeed in it on their own. Though not as characterized by pain and hopelessness as much as S3 post “Sleep Tight” [3×16] through to the end of the series is, there’s much darkness and suffering abound, especially for Angel. His epic trials and will for revenge separate him harshly from humanity, only for him to realize that his worst actions are indeed wholly human, and that this is what humanity really can be. Season Two has such interesting ideas in spades, and its theme looks at all the best (“Untouched” [2×04], “Guise Will Be Guise” [2×06], “Epiphany” [2×16]) and worst (“Reunion” [2×10], “Reprise” [2×15]) sides of our existence: forgiveness, self-control, image, obsession, revenge, victory, belonging and the very nature of evil itself. By the time the season closes, Angel’s re-examined entirely what his mission is and how he’s to fight it, and goes from a champion vampire-with-a-soul to simply a genuinely good human being who helps people.fake-dwarvesWith the exception of the brilliant period piece Are You Now or Have You Ever Been?, and a few rare others, the season doesn’t have quite as much use for pure standalones. Its arc employs its best metaphors and situations in the interest of exploring all sides of the characters’ journey, and as such, the season gives the impression that more happens this year than last because of the depth of each phase of the arc: the four episode standalone period, the first part of the Darla arc (“Dear Boy” [2×05] to “Reunion” [2×10]), the second part of the Darla arc (“Redefinition” [2×11] to “Epiphany” [2×16]), another couple of standalones (“Disharmony” [2×17] and “Dead End” [2×18]) and the Pylea arc (“Belonging” [2×19] to “There’s No Place Like Plrtz Glrb” [2×22]).

This is likely why the season finds such a strong and undivided following. While some dispute the worth of the standalones or the Pylea arc, others like them, and everyone loves the story arc; there’s something for everyone. The best aspect of this year of the character’s journey in L.A. is how broad and all encompassing the season is. With the exception of Season Five, I find this to be the best season of the show. It has a few great metaphors, an engaging, unpredictable story arc, fun standalones, important character development, strong drama, and some of the most intelligent moral and social considerations I’ve ever seen on a TV show or in a movie.

Like at the start of Season Two, the writers seemed to have a clear direction in mind at the start of Season Three, and they wisely picked up the story at the logical introductory point: With Angel having conquered his innermost doubts about his own humanity. He begins to live a truly human life. He’s accepted his role in the world as a good person rather than a champion, and recognizes the world as a wide-open, random place with no greater destiny or order about it. It’s the kind of world where even the smallest acts of kindness mean everything, because they mean someone is able to shrug off the horrible burdens of life long enough to make another life better.screen-shot-2016-09-09-at-10-18-22-am-e1473430782777It opens with a six episode prelude looking at various facets of the responsibilities and obligations of normal human life, and then really begins with “Offspring” [3×07] when Darla returns to L.A. in a very, very pregnant state. Like “Dear Boy” [2×05] was for S2, this is where the beginning of S3 truly lies. With Darla’s death and the birth of baby Connor (“Lullaby” [3×09]) as the emotional forces driving the season, the writers used the question of responsibility and all the ideas that fall under it (justice, deserving, chaos and guilt) to create some truly, gut-wrenchingly impossible situations for our characters to face. If I have to commend this year for one thing alone, it’s the painstaking drama that the writers plunge the characters into throughout the main arc and in the mini-arcs that follow. Although there’s not nearly as much thematic depth as S2 or as much consistency as S1, the tragedies and difficult moral situations our beloved Angel Investigations team members are forced to face moved me deeper than a lot of other episodes in the series.

Aesthetically, S3 also has a much more sprawling scope than the previous two seasons. While the first six episodes were essentially standalones, everything that followed “Offspring” [3×07] was in some way tied to the main plot arc of the show, even when some of its key players disappeared following the epic tragedy of “Sleep Tight” [3×16]. Just when it seemed the story was about to move in another Pylea-like offshoot after the main storyline concluded, Connor and Holtz returned and the plot kept on chugging. This led to some problems, of course, as all season-long arcs eventually do. Tension sometimes tried to take the place of real content and it often showed. It also led to there being an uncomfortable setup/payoff ratio on the episode list. But on the plus side, S3 (and S4, which moves even further in this direction) had a feeling of epic scope that no other seasons manage, so to even think of the better aspects that lie within strikes me. Such a sprawl is one of the reasons many people love S3 even if they haven’t looked very deeply at it.Image result for angel forgiving“Forgiving” [3×17] was another gem, as it looked at the human need to assume we live in an ordered world where someone is responsible for everything that happens. But it’s never that easy, and watching Angel struggle with that was fascinating. The final three episodes (“A New World” [3×20], “Benediction” [3×21], “Tomorrow” [3×22]) made up another interesting stretch where we saw how our characters could be motivated by pain, hatred or love and the effects of all those things.

Having already been on the air for three years, Angel had more then enough time to establish its theme, characters, and relationships. It was in its fourth year that it would bring all of these elements to the forefront and then mix them up in a season that would come to be known for its complex twists and turns.The season begins with our title character trapped at the bottom of the ocean – put there by his son – with the rest of his gang broken up. From this grim beginning, things only get darker – literally. Enter the Beast, a rock-encrusted devil whose arrival is heralded by a rain of fire and promptly blocks out the sun over L.A. All signs are pointing to the apocalypse, and it’s up to Angel and the rest of his demon-fighting crew to put a stop to it. From a storytelling point of view things just keep getting worse and worse and it’s a credit to the writers that they somehow manage to end it all on a positive note.Since Season 2 Angel has been a very arc-heavy show, but in its fourth year it would approach almost 24 levels of continuity and follow-through. In addition to being very cool to watch, the interlinked episodes add up to a season that is one big experience unto itself. It’s as if the entire season is one episode with many chapters.This year we get to watch everything get shaken up. Wedges are slowly driven between certain relationships while jealousy quickly divides others. The great thing about it is that you get to see what has caused all of these problems. Despite their best efforts to hold together, these characters have no choice but to push each other apart. It makes for gripping television.Visually and stylistically the show is very well put together. The directing efforts of Joss Whedon (who is always excellent), Tim Minear (who has grown by leaps and bounds over the course of the series), and even Sean Astin (yes that Sean Astin) give the show a very polished and theatrical feel. The producers repeatedly stated that they were going for an ‘operatic’ feel to the season and they pulled it off very well. The use of darkness and shadow deserves special mention as does the great use of wide shots and the directors’ ability to fill each frame with as much information as possible. Wesley goes from bumbling dork to dark James Bond. Cool! While the twists and turns are great, the really cool thing to the season is the multiple layers that you’ll find within. Just when you think you know who the real ‘big bad’ is or in which direction the show is going, the rug is pulled out from under your feet. The entire season keeps you guessing from start to finish. Of course, our heroes win in the end — but everyone is left wondering if they did the right thing. And that’s what sets the show apart: It’s action with substance.

Nobody, not the producers, not the actors, and certainly not the fans could have predicted where this show would go. Where it could go. After all, this is an hour-long fantasy about a guy who spends so much time sitting in the shadows and brooding so much he would give Batman a run for his money. Or utility belt, as the case may be. So why is it that after five years and over a hundred episodes this show was still one of the freshest on TV? Simple: this is a story about something. What started off as just a Buffy spin-off has ended up as a massive epic that challenges, if not surpasses, its parent show. Unfortunately, the WB didn’t think so. After giving the producers a hard time and insisting on several changes, the network decided to bring the show back for a fifth, and what would be its final year.

 

So, in previous seasons we’ve had operatic apocalypses, quests for meaning, and our hero even went evil for a while. There’s only one place left to go. Into the belly of the beast, into hell itself: a law firm. Based on the out-of-left-field plot twist that was thrown at Angel and the gang in previous season’s finale, the team is now in charge of wolfram and hart the evil law firm that they’ve spent the entire series battling. The trick then becomes changing the system from the inside, all the while making sure that it doesn’t change them.


Unfortunately when the network decided to renew the show for a fifth year, there were conditions. First and foremost, it had to be more stand-alone. No more back-to-back cliffhangers. Next, the budget was cut. And finally, to sweeten the deal, the producers decided to bring over Spike – who was barbequed in the Buffy finale – in the hopes that his fans would follow. Luckily the introduction of Spike worked out well. He added a nice flavor to the show and helped flesh out Angel’s character in a way that nobody else could have. The punky vampire brought out the worst in our hero, which ended up resulting in some great comedy. Even if this Spike was different from whom he became on Buffy, he made for a nice addition.

The most unwelcome change was the standalone mandate. Yes, it can work, but it’s just not as good. The greatest strength of this show has always been its own history and tying the hands of the writers was a mistake. It resulted in a bump in the show’s overall flow. Even though it seems rushed, things tie up nicely and the finale certainly puts the “grand” in grandiose; now there’s a balls-to-the wall showstopper for you. Most people will agree that the show finished with perfect thematic closure. These characters fight an impossible fight knowing they’ll probably lose, but that’s not the point. They fight, not to win, but because that’s who they are. They don’t give up. No matter what.