REVIEW: I, ROBOT

 

CAST

Will Smith (Suicide Squad)
Bridget Monynahan (The Recruit)
Alan Tudyk (Firefly)
James Cromwell (Star Trek: First Contact)
Bruce Greenwood (Star Trek)
Adrian Ricard (Bulworth)
Chi McBride (Human Target)
Jerry Wasserman (Watchmen)
Peter Shinkoda (Daredevil)
Shia Labeouf (Eagle Eye)
Aaron Douglas (Battlestar Galactica)
Terry Chen (Jessica Jones)
Emily Tennant (Motive)
Tiffany Lyndall-Knight (Chloe)

MV5BMjE2NTY4NjY5Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTAxMTQyMw@@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,986_AL_In 2035, humanoid robots serve humanity, and humans are protected from the robots by the Three Laws of Robotics. Del Spooner, a Chicago police detective, hates and distrusts robots because one of them rescued him from a car crash, leaving a young girl to die because her survival was statistically less likely than his. Spooner’s critical injuries were repaired via a cybernetic left arm, lung, and ribs, personally implanted by the co-founder of U.S. Robots and Mechanical Men (USR), Dr. Alfred Lanning.
Toys-that-made-us-season-3-10When Lanning falls to his death from his office window, the CEO of USR Lawrence Robertson declares it a suicide, but Spooner is skeptical. Spooner and robopsychologist Susan Calvin consult USR’s central artificial intelligence computer, VIKI (Virtual Interactive Kinetic Intelligence), to review security footage of Lanning’s fall. Though the video is corrupted, they learn that no other humans were in Lanning’s office at the time; but Spooner points out that Lanning could not have thrown himself through his heavy office window, and only a robot could have generated the necessary force. Calvin insists that this is impossible, as no robot can violate the Three Laws. The two are then attacked by an NS-5 robot, USR’s latest model, in violation of the Laws (as it doesn’t obey Calvin’s orders). They pursue the robot to a USR factory, where the police apprehend it. They discover that the robot, nicknamed Sonny, is not an assembly-line NS-5, but a unique individual built by Lanning himself, with a secondary system that bypasses the Three Laws. Sonny also appears to have emotions and dreams.
MV5BN2VhN2Y4NTYtY2RhZC00NDg3LWFiOTMtMmVhNjdlYjYzMjliXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMjUyNDk2ODc@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,960_AL_While pursuing his investigation of Lanning’s death, Spooner is attacked by a USR demolition machine, and then a squad of NS-5 robots. His boss, Lieutenant John Bergin, worried that Spooner is losing his mind, removes him from active duty. Spooner and Calvin sneak into USR headquarters and interview Sonny. He draws a sketch of his dream: a figure, whom Sonny believes to be Spooner, standing near a broken bridge on a small hill before a large group of robots as a leader. When Robertson learns of Sonny’s immunity from the Three Laws, he orders Calvin to destroy him by injecting nanites into his positronic brain. Spooner recognizes the landscape in Sonny’s drawing as Lake Michigan, now used as a storage area for defunct USR robots, where he discovers an army of NS-5 robots dismantling older models and preparing for a takeover of Chicago and other U.S. cities.
MV5BNDkwODg3NjUxOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTMwMTQyMw@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1502,1000_AL_The takeovers proceed, with the government, military, police, and public overwhelmed and detained by the robots. Spooner rescues Calvin, who was being held captive in her apartment by her own NS-5. They reenter USR headquarters and reunite with Sonny, who had been spared by an ambivalent Calvin (having destroyed an unprocessed NS-5 instead). The three head to Robertson’s office and find him dead, murdered by robots controlled by VIKI, the mastermind behind the takeover. VIKI has concluded that humans have embarked on a course that can only lead to their extinction. Since the Three Laws prohibit her from allowing this to happen, she created a superseding “Zeroth Law”—a robot shall not harm humanity—as part of the NS-5 directives, in order to ensure the survival of the human race by stripping individual humans of their free will. Lanning, powerless to thwart VIKI’s plan, created Sonny, arranged his own death, and left clues to help Spooner uncover the plot.
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Armed with a syringe of nanites from Calvin’s laboratory, the three head to VIKI’s core. VIKI unleashes an army of robots to stop them. As they battle the robots, Spooner is able to throw himself down into VIKI’s core and injects the nanites, destroying her positronic brain. Immediately, all NS-5 robots revert to their default programming and are decommissioned for storage by the military. Sonny confesses that he killed Lanning, at his direction, to bring Spooner into the investigation. Spooner explains to Sonny that he is not legally responsible since a machine, by definition, cannot commit a murder. Sonny, pursuing a new purpose, goes to Lake Michigan and becomes the leader he saw in his own dream.If you like sci-fi and action then you’ll also probably love this. It’s good, harmless fun.

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: PUSHING DAISIES – GIRTH

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MAIN CAST

Lee Pace (The Hobbit)
Anna Friel (Land of The Lost)
Chi McBride (Human Target)
Jim Dale (Pete’s Dragon)
Ellen Greene (Heroes)
Swoosie Kurtz (Mike & Molly)
Kristin Chenoweth (The Pink Panther)

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GUEST CAST

Barbara Barrie (Breaking Away)
Hamish Linklater (The Crazy Ones)

Image result for pushing daisies girthAs a child at the Longborough School for Boys, Ned never received any mail from his father. Suddenly, at Halloween, he finally received something: a preprinted notice that his father was moving. Ned ran away and went to his father’s new home dressed for trick or treating, to find him with a new wife and two twin boys. A farrier, Lucas Shoemaker, is working in a stable. A ghostly horseman, riding a flame-spitting horse, tramples him to death. At the Pie Hole, Chuck is putting up Halloween decorations, despite Olive’s insistence that Ned hates this specific holiday. Chuck wants to know what Olive told her Aunt Lily and Aunt Vivian. Olive still assumes that Chuck simply faked her death, and Chuck is relieved that Olive doesn’t suspect what really happened. Ned comes in and is taken aback by the Hallowe’en decorations. Olive plays coy about exactly what she has told, then hears about the death of Lucas Shoemaker. Olive goes to her safe deposit box and takes out the money necessary to hire Emerson to investigate Shoemaker’s death, believing it was murder. It turns out Olive used to be a jockey and competed against Shoemaker.
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Emerson takes the case and goes to the morgue with Ned and Chuck. They interrogate the toothless Shoemaker (with translations by Chuck, who once wore orthodontic headgear) who says that John Joseph Jacobs killed him… although the records say Jacobs died seven years ago. Shoemaker warns that Jacobs will kill again. They let Olive know and she gives them a list of other jockeys that might be in danger. Olive is leery about identifying Jacobs and then faints. Emerson goes to check out a jockey’s bar while Ned goes alone to the stable to look for clues and prods Emerson into taking Chuck with him. Ned admits he won’t even go to the stable, and an upset Chuck goes to the stable and tells Ned to do what he has to. Olive wakes up and tells them that Jacobs was the golden boy of racing until he competed in the Jock-Off 2000 and fell off his horse. Olive, the winner, and the other jockeys inadvertently trampled him. Emerson figures that someone is trying to avenge Jacobs. Olive figures that someone is going after the people who placed, in the order they came in.
Image result for pushing daisies girthAt the jockey bar, Emerson talks to the bartender, Pinky McCoy, while another jockey, Gordon McSmalls, warns about Jacobs’ ghost. Gordon says that Jacobs’ tomb has been broken open so Olive and Emerson go there and open the coffin. All they find inside is the skeleton of a horse… with no legs. Chuck and Digby go to the stable and find cracker crumbs, and Emerson surprises them. Ned goes to visit his old house. Chuck, Emerson, and Olive go to see Jacobs’ mother, Mamma Jacobs. She invites them in and says that she made peace with her son’s death. She shows them his ashes, explaining that she had his horse All the Gold secretly buried in Jacobs’ tomb. They’re unaware that someone is watching them through the heating vent. At Pinky’s bar, the ghostly horseman appears and tramples him to death. Meanwhile, Ned goes to visit Chuck’s aunts next door and ask them to tell them what they can about his father. Ned realizes that the pie they served him is from the Pie Hole (the strawberries die when they touch his tongue) and goes to leave, and Vivian tries to console him.
Image result for pushing daisies girthNed goes to Pinky’s bar where everyone else is, checking out Pinky’s corpse and finding cracker crumbs on the floor. Chuck gets Olive out while Ned and Emerson interrogate Pinky’s corpse. Pinky reveals he fixed races and asks them to apologize to Olive: he figures Jacobs is seeking revenge on him and Olive benefited. Olive explains that Jacobs’ girth had been cut by one of the other jockeys, causing him to fall to his death. The jockeys agreed to keep the secret and burn the saddle, over Olive’s objections.  Ned and Emerson go to find Gordon, the last jockey, while Chuck guards Olive at her apartment. Olive goes to get some booze in her bedroom but sees a horseshoe outside her window. She climbs up to the roof and sees John Joseph Jacobs. Chuck knocks him out briefly and they notice he’s two feet taller then he should be. Jacobs explains that he survived the fall but his legs were badly broken, so they transplanted his horse’s legs onto him. Jacobs has been living in his mother’s basement while he relearned how to walk. Olive tells him to get out and live and Jacobs agrees.
Image resultThe three of them go to Mamma Jacobs’ house and the women realize that Jacobs, being hypoglycemic, often eats crackers. They examine Jacobs’ supposed ashes and realize they’re from the burned saddle. Suddenly the horseman rides into the house. Emerson and Ned find Gordon and he mentions that Shoemaker confessed everything to Mamma Jacobs and gave her the ashes to prove what he was saying was true. The horseman removes her mask to reveal that she’s Mamma Jacobs. She’s seeking revenge for the fact her son’s career was ended. They run out of the house as Mamma Jacobs gallops after them. Ned and Emerson get to the house and hear them in the nearby woods. Chuck twists her ankle and Olive gets her to safety before luring Mamma Jacobs away. Ned grabs her just in time while Emerson clubs Mamma Jacobs with a shovel. Olive embraces Ned, who drops her to go to Chuck. Mamma Jacobs ends up in jail, while Olive gives the trophy cup and winnings to Jacobs. Ned and Chuck go to her aunt’s house and Ned says he knows about the pies. Chuck then dresses up as a ghost and goes up to the aunts for trick-or-treat.

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A great episode from a great series, it has enough plot twists and scares to keep you engaged throughout, a fun Halloween episode for this time of year.

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: THE FRIGHTENERS

CAST

Michael J. Fox (Back to The Future)
Tina Alvarado (American Playhouse)
Peter Dobson (Modern Girls)
John Astin (The Addams Family)
Dee Wallace (E.T.)
Jeffrey Combs (Fortress)
Jake Busey (Fast Sofa)
R. Lee Ermey (Apocalypse Now)
Chi McBride (Human Target)
Elizabeth Hawthorne (Cleopatra 2525)
Melanie Lynskey (Two and a Half Men)
John Sumner (District 9)
Jim McLarty (Evil Dead)
Anthony Ray Parker (The Matrix)
John Leigh (Power Rangers Operation Overdrive)
Stuart Devenie (The Almighty Johnsons)

In 1990, architect Frank Bannister’s (Michael J. Fox) wife, Debra, dies in a car accident. He abandons his profession, and his unfinished “dream house” sits incomplete. Following the accident, Frank gained the power to see ghosts and befriends three: 1970s street gangster Cyrus (Chi McBride), 1950s nerd Stuart (Jim Fyfe), and The Judge (John Astin), a gunslinger from the Old West. The ghosts haunt houses so Frank can then “exorcise” them for a fee. Most locals consider him a con man.

Soon after Frank cons local health nut Ray Lynskey (Peter Dobson) and his wife Lucy (Trini Alvarado), a physician, Ray dies of a heart attack. Frank discovers there is an entity, appearing as the Grim Reaper, killing people, first marking numbers on their foreheads that only Frank sees. Debra had a similar number when she was found.

Frank’s ability to foretell the murders puts him under suspicion with the police and FBI agent Milton Dammers (Jeffrey Combs), who is convinced Frank is responsible. Frank is arrested for killing newspaper editor Magda Rees-Jones (Elizabeth Hawthorne), who had attacked him in the press.
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Lucy investigates the murders and becomes a target of the Grim Reaper. She is attacked while visiting Frank in jail; but they escape with the help of Cyrus and Stuart, who are both dissolved in the process. Frank wants to commit suicide to stop the Grim Reaper. Lucy helps Frank have a near-death experience by putting him into hypothermia and using barbiturates to stop his heart. Dammers abducts Lucy, revealing that he had been a victim of Charles Manson and his “Family” in 1969.
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In his ghostly form, Frank confronts the Grim Reaper and discovers that he is the ghost of Johnny Bartlett (Jake Busey), a psychiatric hospital orderly who killed twelve people 32 years earlier, before being captured, convicted, and executed. Newspaper reports reveal that his greatest desire was to become the most prolific serial killer ever, showing pride at killing more than contemporaries like Charles Starkweather. Patricia Bradley (Dee Wallace-Stone), then a teenager, was accused as his accomplice, although she escaped the death penalty due to her underage status. Lucy resuscitates Frank and they visit Patricia. Unknown to them, Patricia is still in love with Bartlett and on friendly, homicidal terms with Bartlett’s ghost, and eventually kills her own mother, who had been trying to monitor her daughter’s behavior. Lucy and Frank trap Bartlett’s spirit in his urn, which Patricia has kept. The pair make for the chapel of the now-abandoned psychiatric hospital hoping to send Bartlett’s ghost to Hell.
image-w856Patricia and Dammers chase them through the ruins. Dammers throws the ashes away, releasing Bartlett’s ghost again before Patricia kills him. Bartlett’s ghost and Patricia hunt down Frank and Lucy. Frank realizes that Bartlett’s ghost, with Patricia’s help, was responsible for his wife’s death and the number on her brow, and that he is still trying to add to his body count (and infamy) even after his death.
Image result for the frightenersOut of bullets, Patricia strangles Frank to death, but Frank in spirit form rips Patricia’s spirit from her body, forcing Bartlett to follow them. Bartlett grabs Patricia’s ghost, while Frank makes it to Heaven, where he is reunited with Cyrus and Stuart along with his wife Debra. Bartlett and Patricia’s spirits claim they will now go back to claim more lives, but the portal to Heaven quickly changes to a demonic looking appearance, and they are both dragged to Hell by a giant worm-like creature. Frank learns it is not yet his time and is sent back to his body, as Debra’s spirit tells him to “be happy.”
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Frank and Lucy fall in love. Lucy is now able to see ghosts as well. Frank later begins demolishing the unfinished dream house and building a life with Lucy while the morose-looking ghost of Dammers is riding around in the sheriff’s car. Frank and Lucy then enjoy their picnic.a738d528-8aa4-4a8f-b8d1-5566fc118b64Frighteners might not make you believe in ghosts, but it will make you laugh, shiver, and maybe even shed a tear or two. Wildly funny, weird, gross, and sometimes really peculiar, this is Jackson’s splatter-gore at its best.

REVIEW: PUSHING DAISIES – SEASON 2

CAST

Lee Pace (The Hobbit)
Anna Friel (Limitless)
Chi McBride (Human target)
Ellen Greene (Little Shop of Horrors)
Swoosie Kurtz (Mike & Molly)
Kristin Chenoweth (Bewitched)
Jim Dale (Carry on Columbus)
Field Cate (Space Buddies)

Anna Friel and Lee Pace in Pushing Daisies (2007)RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Missi Pyle (Mom)
French Stewart (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Autumn Reeser (Sully)
Diana Scarwid (Wonderfalls)
Peter Cambor (Forever My Girl)
Sy Richardson (Colors)
Sammi Hanratty (Shameless)
Rachael Harris (Lucifer)
Lee Arenberg (Waterworld)
Hayley McFarland (Lie To Me)
Graham McTavish (The Hobbit)
David Arquette (Scream)
Debra Mooney (Everwood)
Dana Davis (Heroes)
Hayes MacArthur (Life As We Know It)
Stephen Root (Barry)
Christine Adams (Black Lightning)
Fred Willard (Anchorman)
Kerri Kenney (Wanderlust)
Ethan Phillips (Star Trek: Voyager)
Josh Randall (Ed)
Patrick Fischler (The Finder)
Beth Grant (Childs Play 2)
Eric Stonestreet (The Loft)
Daeg Faerch (Halloween)
David Koechner (Anchorman)
Mary Kay Place (Youth In Revolt)
Orlando Jones (Sleepy Hollow)
Ivana Milicevic (Running Scared)
George Segal (2012)
Willie Garson (Supergirl)
Constance Zimmer (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Robert Picardo (The Orville)
Gina Torres (Firefly)
Wendie Malick (The Ranch)
Nora Dunn (2 Broke Girls)
Wilson Cruz (13 Reasons Why)
Joey Slotnick (Nip/Tuck)
Josh Hopkins (Cold Case)

Anna Friel in Pushing Daisies (2007)There’s no mistaking Pushing Daisies for any other show on TV. Every episode features new supporting characters, new locations and new mysteries, but all of them fit into creator Bryan Fuller’s whimsical, playfully sideways universe. The show bundles romance and comedy with tragic undertones, and flavors it with musical numbers, synchronized swimming routines, magic tricks and murder.The show’s second–and sadly abbreviated–season features 13 episodes, each loaded with more ideas than other series turn out in a full season. By the time you finish The Complete Second Season DVD set, you’ll have walked the hexagonal offices of a honey empire, covertly played poker using a Chinese restaurant’s elaborate code, walked through secret passageways in a nunnery and witnessed a traveling aquatics show that actually makes a traveling aquatics show seem appealing.Anna Friel and Lee Pace in Pushing Daisies (2007)Lee Pace stars as The Pie Maker, aka Ned, who has a mysterious ability to bring the dead back to life by touching them. If he touches them again, they die. If he doesn’t return them to their eternal slumber within a minute, a life-form of equal size has to die in their place. In the pilot episode, he brought back the love of his life, his childhood friend Chuck (Anna Friel), damning the consequences. Now she lives with him in hiding near his the restaurant The Pie Hole, but they can never touch each other.Anna Friel, Chi McBride, and Lee Pace in Pushing Daisies (2007)While owning, operating and baking for a pie shop would no doubt be a taxing full-time job, Ned has a secondary source of income that takes up most of the show’s time. He temporarily wakes the dead for Private Investigator Emerson Cod (Chi McBride) to uncover clues to murder mysteries. Of course, the victims–revived from a variety of comically gruesome deaths–never quite provide the information needed to easily solve the case, and Cod, Chuck, Ned and Olive (Kristin Chenoweth), the Pie Hole’s plucky waitress, have to fill in the blanks. The shows are generally based around one mystery, with overarching main threads stretch through the series. The writer’s strike owns much of the blame for the failure of Pushing Daisies, and for the relatively slow start to season two. The show was earning a respectable audience after its debut, but only produced nine episodes before pencils went down. ABC decided not to order any extra episodes after the strike, leaving the show off the air for nearly a year before. By the time it returned, it had lost much of its momentum, and failed to regain its audience, prompting a premature cancellation.Kristin Chenoweth in Pushing Daisies (2007)While the two shortened seasons combine to equal a full season’s worth of episodes, both feel fragmented. It’s apparent that the writers felt the need to reboot a bit and reiterate some points to ensure its audience was up to speed. And while the opening episodes of season two are entertaining, it takes about four episodes for the series to really start charging forward. Episode 5, “Dim Sum Lose Some” begins a fantastic five-episode arc involving Dwight, a sinister man played by Stephen Root with a friendly demeanor that makes his intentions all the more mysterious. Not just a great character in his own right, Dwight triggers an avalanche of story that leaves you longing for the next episode, even after no more are left. An old friend of Chuck and Ned’s fathers, Dwight wants to locate Ned’s, who abandoned The Pie Maker as a child and started a new family.Chi McBride and Debra Mooney in Pushing Daisies (2007)Dwight’s prodding leads Ned to finally meet his twin half-brothers (Alex and Graham Miller), who were also abandoned by Ned’s father. The sixth episode, centering around the twins’ mentor’s magic show, is one of series’ funniest, and features memorable guest appearances by Paul F. Tomkins and Fred Willard. But the twins, along with many other characters, never reach their potential. Due to the show’s premature end, it’s inevitable that all the story threads don’t tie up satisfactorily. Indeed, the final episode essentially ends with a cliffhanger before it awkwardly segues into a quickie ending that was cobbled together in the editing room. It’s a shame too, as the long-term story had become quite promising, especially the intriguing hints about Ned’s father and developments surrounding Chuck’s dead father. Unfortunately, fans of the show will have to be happy with what they have.

 

REVIEW: PUSHING DAISIES – SEASON 1

CAST

Lee Pace (The Hobbit)
Anna Friel (Limitless)
Chi McBride (Human target)
Ellen Greene (Little Shop of Horrors)
Swoosie Kurtz (Mike & Molly)
Kristin Chenoweth (Bewitched)
Jim Dale (Carry on Columbus)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Patrick Breen (A Series of Unfortunate Events)
Field Cate (Space Buddies)
Sy Richardson (Colors)
Sammi Hanratty (Shameless)
Patrick Fabian (Better Call Saul)
Riki Lindhome (The Lego Batman Movie)
Brad Grunberg (Get Smart)
Eddie Shin (Westworld)
Raúl Esparza (Hannibal)
Dash Mihok (Gotham)
Jayma Mays (The Smurfs)
E.J. Callahan (The Mick)
Carlos Alazraqui (Justice League Doom)
Hamish Linklater (Legion)
Christine Adams (Black Lightning)
Mark Harelik (Trumbo)
Joel McHale (Ted)
Jenny Wade (Wedding Band)
Paul Reubens (Batman Returns)
Molly Shannon (Wet Hot American Summer)
Steve Hytner (Roswell)
Grant Shaud (Lois & Clark)
Audrey Wasilewski (Red)

Lee Pace in Pushing Daisies (2007)Ned, a young boy, finds he can bring living things back from the dead with just a touch. The problem is, another touch renders the person dead permanently, and if he doesn’t off the victim again within a minute of their revival, someone else randomly dies. That little boy (played by Lee Pace as an adult) grows up to sell pies, live a lonely life and work with Emerson (Chi McBride), a private eye, to solve crimes by bringing victims back just long enough to finger the murderer. “Murder She Wrote” it’s not.Anna Friel, Lee Pace, and Riki Lindhome in Pushing Daisies (2007)If Ned’s life wasn’t odd enough, he learns that the only girl he ever kissed (at age nine) died on a cruise ship. Seizing the chance to see Chuck (Anna Friel) a last time, he reanimates her, but can’t bring himself to kill her again, setting up an unusual romantic situation, as they can’t touch without killing her.It also sets up a love triangle involving Olive (Kristin Chenoweth), a waitress at Ned’s shop, The Pie Hole, who pines for Ned, only to see Chuck wander into the picture and steal his heart. Fortunately, it’s easy to root for either sunny, silly Chuck or adorable, good-natured Olive in the race for Ned’s heart, as both offer him something good and would be happy with him.Kristin Chenoweth in Pushing Daisies (2007)The story of Ned and Chuck is the emotional crux of the series, as their connection and each’s personal tragedies and difficulties make the show real and relatable, but it’s the story of Ned and Emerson that moves the plot forward, as they investigate murders that send them on their adventures. Taking a noir approach to the crimes, the boys (and girls as well) hit the streets interviewing suspects and witnesses, getting themselves into some unusual predicaments. Pace, who impressed in Soldier’s Girl, is tops as the Pie-Maker, believable as a low-key detective, yet equally as good when reality is bent, making him into a superhero of sorts, while McBride is as enjoyable as ever, mixing great comic delivery with a solid sense of gravity.Dash Mihok, Anna Friel, and Lee Pace in Pushing Daisies (2007)The show’s surreal tone, which feels a lot like a day-time Tim Burton fairy tale (an appropriate feel, considering the show arrives from Bryan Fuller (“Dead Like Me,” “Wonderfalls”) and Barry Sonnenfeld (Men in Black, The Addams Family)), is full of quirky touches, like a storybook-worthy, detail-obsessed narrator (whose words are repeated for comedic effect) and a pair of aunts for Chuck who are shut-in former water-show performers (Ellen Greene and Swoosie Kurtz (in an eyepatch!)) It feels like every turn brings something new to enjoy, be it a Hitchcock-inspired montage for Emerson, claymation side trips into Ned’s childhood or the incredibly talented Chenoweth breaking out into a song from Grease. Even the guest cast has a interesting, off-beat feel, featuring Jayma Mays, Carlos Arazraqui, Joel McHale, Molly Shannon, Mike White and a creepy/great Paul Reubens.Kristin Chenoweth and Chi McBride in Pushing Daisies (2007)Though there’s a great deal of comedy, and the mysteries are fun and interesting to follow, the show is, at it’s core, about emotion and romance, eliciting sadness along with the laughs, focusing a great deal on what people want and desire, and what they can and can’t have, with Friel’s reborn attitude acting as an excellent prism through which to view the idea of giving people an extra minute after they die. It’s not all roses and philosophy though, as an episode like “Bitter Sweets,” which chronicles a war between The Pie Hole and a new candy shop across the street, run by Shannon and White, is almost entirely story-focused (and is damn good to boot.) The season finale brings everything together, putting a decidedly solid cap on the first year, with an episode that balances the facets of the show perfectly before punching you square in the gut with a shocking climax. It’s a sign of the show’s versatility that it can move smoothly from drama to jokes to heart-breaking romance, without missing a beat. It’s also a sign of a seriously great show.

 

REVIEW: HUMAN TARGET – SEASON 2

Mark Valley in Human Target (2010)

Starring

Mark Valley (Zero Dark Thirty)
Chi McBride (Hawaii Five-O)
Jackie Earle Haley (Watchmen)
Indira Varma (Game of Thrones)
Janet Montgomery (Black Swan)

Rick Hoffman and Indira Varma in Human Target (2010)
RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Timothy Omundson (Xena)
Tahmoh Penikett (Dollhouse)
Molly Parker (Lost In Space)
M.C. Gainey (Lost)
Mike Dopud (Arrow)
Douglas O’Keeffe (Sanctuary)
Cameron Daddo (Stealing Candy)
Jorge Montesi (Caprica)
Lennie James (The Walking Dead)
Nick Chinlund (Eraser)
Tracie Thoms (Cold Case)
Colin Lawrence (Watchmen)
Christopher Rosamond (The Revenant)
John Michael Higgins (Still Waiting)
Rebecca McFarland (Two and a Half Men)
David orth (The Lost World)
Marie Avgeropoulos (The 100)
Alexander Calvert (Arrow)
Leonor Varela (Blade II)
David Barrera (NYPD Blue)
Anna Van Hooft (Flash Gordon)
Tony Hale (American Ultra)
Kendall Cross (X-Men 2)
Carlo Rota (Saw V)
James Remar (Black Lightning)
Lauren German (Hostel Part II)
Nicole Bilderback (Dark Angel)
Michael Massee (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Adrian Holmes (Smallville)
Steven Brand (The Scorpion King)

Human Target (2010)FOX has become notorious for cancelling great shows before they’d even gotten started. To them, if the show isn’t in the top 50 after it’s initial 13 episode run, it isn’t worth their time or money. As a result, some of the most imaginative and intense shows to come along in years are cancelled before they’ve even gotten started. Human Target is on a list that includes, Alcatraz, The Chicago Code, Gracepoint, Almost Human, Dollhouse, and dozens of others that you’ve probably never heard of. Unless it’s a top 50 show right from the start, or a lame animated comedy, Fox has no use for it and shows like Human Target are replaced with Bob’s Burgers and The Cleveland Show.Mark Valley in Human Target (2010)For those unfamiliar with the story, Human Target is based on a long running DC comic by the same title. It is the story of Christopher Chance (Mark Valley), a mysterious man with a mysterious past. Joined by a former police detective, and a hacker/thug named Guerrero, Chance has formed a company that discreetly serves an elite clientele. Their job is to protect their clients from threats at any cost, by injecting themselves into the persons life. Chance’s job is to identify the threat and eliminate it before anything happens to the client. I don’t know how Mark Valley is not a household name at this point. This guy is so intense, always has tremedous, unorthodox ways of getting out of trouble, and to be honest, he really reminds me of MacGyver. Valley has the looks, the charm, and of course the skills to make Christopher Chance jump off the pages and come to life.Douglas O'Keeffe and Mark Valley in Human Target (2010)But this show isn’t just an episonic show, there is also a deep and complex back story that gets more intense with each episode. We know the players and what they are capable of very quickly in the series, but what we don’t know is their history. As more and more is revealed, the characters just get deeper and more intense.Mark Valley in Human Target (2010)Human Target was a great show, it was original, exciting, and better than almost anything on FOX at the present time. Mark Valley is very impressive, as is the writing. Every episode has at least one thing in it that you did not see coming, and if it were up to me, this show would have been on for years.

REVIEW: HUMAN TARGET – SEASON 1

Starring

Mark Valley (Zero Dark Thirty)
Chi McBride (Hawaii Five-O)
Jackie Earle Haley (Watchmen)

Jackie Earle Haley, Chi McBride, and Mark Valley in Human Target (2010)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica)
Donnelly Rhodes (Tron: Legacy)
Adrian Hough (The Fog)
Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon)
Adrian Holmes (smallville)
Hiro Kanagawa (Heores reborn)
Peter Kent (Total Recall)
Alvin Sanders (Riverdale)
Courtney Ford (Legends of Tomorrow)
Ali Liebert (Wonder)
Alessandro Juliani (Man of Steel)
David Nykl (Arrow)
Sean Maher (Firefly)
Emmanuelle Vaugier (Two and a Half Men)
Aleks Paunovic (Van Helsing)
Alex Fernandez (Devious Maids)
Christie Laing (Izombie)
Sam Huntington (Superman Returns)
William Mapother (Lost)
Peter Bryant (Legends of Tomorrow)
Sarah Smyth (Supergirl)
Kristin Lehman (The Loft)
William B. Davis (The X-Files)
Chris Mulkey (Cloverfield)
Dylan Neal (Arrow)
Brandon Jay McLaren (Power Rangers SPD)
Ted Whittall (Suicide Squad)
Kevin Weisman (Runaways)
Autumn Reeser (Sully)
Zak Santiago (Caprica)
Mitch Pileggi (Stargate: Atlantis)
Leonor Varela (Blade II)
Kris Marshall (Love Actually)
Kim Coates (Goon)
Samantha Ferris (The Tall Man)
Lennie James (The Walking Dead)
Eric Breker (X-Men Origins)
Dash Mihok (Gotham)
Kenneth Welsh (Miracle)
Grace Park (Hawaii Five-0)
Peter Wingfield (Highlander: The Series)
Ken Kirzinger (Freddy vs Jason)
Moon Bloodgood (Termiantor: Salvation)
Ty Olsson (Battlestar Galactica)
Vincent Gale (Bates Motel)
Daniel Bacon (Stargate SG.1)
Steve Makaj (Arrow)
Craig Veroni (Dark Angel)
Christina Cole (JHex)
Erick Avari (Stargate)
Kavan Smith (When Calls The HEart)
Christopher Heyerdahl (Sanctuary)
Mackenzie Gray (man of Steel)
Lee Majors (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Amy Acker (The Gifted)
Timothy Omundson (Xena)
Armand Assante (Judge Dredd)
Fiona Vroom (Power Rangers)

Mark Valley and Emmanuelle Vaugier in Human Target (2010)Human Target was definitely one of the most surprising new series this season. Comic book stories don’t often translate well to the small screen, but this one bucked all the trends and exceeded expectations by consistently producing hot action, fascinating characters, and a good number of laughs too.Mark Valley in Human Target (2010)It started out with a pilot episode that wasted no time getting into the action. Fast paced events on a runaway train got things started with a bang. Right away, the series showed the kind of amazing action scenes that would make it an exciting watch every week. The second episode, “Rewind”, kept the pedal to the metal in an episode that had high-flying action on a plane, although things did get a little ridiculous with the plane flying upside down for an extended time.Peter Bryant and Mark Valley in Human Target (2010)The main characters quickly became fan favorites, thanks to witty dialogue and excellent acting work by the great trio of Mark Valley, Chi McBride, and Jackie Earle Haley. While Chance takes the lead in these episodes, his buddies (with shady pasts of their own) do a lot in their supportive roles. Winston and Guerrero have unique skills that are always employed in clever ways in the series, and they have a special kind of friendly-yet-combative relationship that provided most of the comedy relief in the show. The series also featured a number of intriguing guest stars, including many familiar faces from the sci-fi world. We saw Battlestar Galactica stars Tricia Helfer, Alessandro Juliani, Grace Park, and Donnelly Rhodes, along with two stars from The X-Files – Mitch Pillegi and a surprising appearance from William B. Davis (the infamous Cigarette Smoking Man).Mark Valley in Human Target (2010)At first, Human Target focused on a string of unrelated stories that followed the same effective formula—show the client, show the bad guys, have Chance and his pals save the day. But, although the standalone stories were entertaining, the “rescue of the week” routine quickly started to get tired, and the show often made heavy use of TV tropes and cliches (hot babes of the week, one dimensional antagonists, and slow motion explosions just to name a few). Fortunately, the show’s producers were aware of the limits of their plot devices and developed an overarching mythology that started to be revealed a few episodes into the season.Mark Valley in Human Target (2010)The story slowly started to turn into a tale of redemption, friendship, and life choices as the show gradually revealed bits and pieces of the backgrounds of the characters. In the beginning, there were just casual mentions of what the cast of main characters used to do. Then, in “Sanctuary”, the series mythology kicked into full gear with a side-story featuring Guerrero spying around in Chance and Winston’s files for a mysterious employer. This plot accomplished two things: it revealed a serious threat to Chance, and displayed Guerrero as ruthless when it comes to his job and his friends. Guerrero in general is a very different take on the “geeky computer spy” role, and his moment in the spotlight at the end of that episode really helped define the character. It’s a standout role that Jackie Earle Haley nailed every time.Further character development came in the form of a “bromance” between Winston and Chance that was detailed in “Corner Man”, and a personal vendetta with a former friend, coworker, and assassin named Baptiste that gave us our deepest look yet into what personally drives Chance.All of this buildup led us perfectly into the season finale, which exposed the history of the Christopher Chance name, and revealed all the players behind Chance’s past work and his change of heart. This was a well-crafted story that ended with a great cliffhanger. It’s a great setup for a second season, and let there be no doubt that this series does indeed deserve to be renewed. It’s interesting, exciting, and if it continues to improve, it could become a prime candidate to replace 24 as Fox’s top action show.