REVIEW: VERONICA MARS – SEASON 1

Starring

Kristen Bell (The Good Place)
Teddy Dunn (Jumper)
Jason Dohring (The Originals)
Percy Daggs III (Detention)
Sydney Tamiia Poitier (Death Proof)
Francis Capra (Izombie)
Enrico Colantoni (Flashpoint)

Kristen Bell in Veronica Mars (2004)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Michael Muhney (The Young and The Restless)
Corinne Bohrer (The Flash 90s)
Amanda Seyfried (Les Miserables)
Lisa Thornhill (Agter The Sunset)
Kyle Secor (The Purge: Election Year)
Daran Norris (Izombie)
Brandon Hillock (Villains)
Bradley Joseph (Stone & Ed)
Patrick Wolff (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers)
Duane Daniels (Fashion House)
Jonathan Chesner (Bones)
Christian Clemenson (Apollo 13)
Aaron Ashmore (Smallville)
Wilmer Calderon (Fast & Furious)
Paris Hilton (House of Wax)
Ryan Hansen (2 Broke Girls)
Bobby Edner (The Amanda Show)
Paula Marshall (Murder In The First)
Alison MacInnis (Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue)
Kyla Pratt (Dr. Dolittle)
Adam Wylie (Child’s Play 2)
Robert Baker (Supergirl)
Sam Huntington (Superman Returns)
Melissa Reneé Martin (The Secret Craft)
Lisa Rinna (Days of Our Lives)
Jane Lynch (Glee)
Harry Hamlin (Clash of The Titans)
Amanda Noret (Bunny Whipped)
Jessica Chastain (Zero Dar Thirty)
Adam Kaufman (Buffy: TVS)
Steven Williams (Jason Goes To Hell)
Bonita Friedericy (Chuck)
Alona Tal (Cult)
Tina Majorino (Scorpion)
Erica Gimpel (God Friended Me)
Anastasia Baranova (Z Nation)
Jonathan Bennett (Mean Girls)
Chris William Martin (The Vampire Diaries)
Megalyn Echikunwoke (That 70s Show)
Kevin Sheridan (Heart of Dixie)
Emmanuelle Vaugier (Two and a Half Men)
Max Greenfield (New Girl)
Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad)
Christopher B. Duncan (Legacies)
Katie Leclerc (The Big Bang Theory)
Bridget Hoffman (Total Recall)
Anthony Anderson (Transformers)
Jowharah Jones (Ugly Betty)
Ken Merckx (Masked Rider)
Christine Lakin (Family Guy)
Adam Scott (Krampus)
Leighton Meester (The Roommate)
Alyson Hannigan (Buffy: TVS)
Cynthia LaMontagne (Austin Powers)
Zachery Ty Bryan (Home Improvement)
Erin Chambers (Stargate: Atlantis)
Ken Marino (Agent Carter)
Jonathan Taylor Thomas (Last Man Standing)
Theo Rossi (Luke Cage)
Joey Lauren Adams (Chasing Amy)
Roy Werner (Power Rangers Time Force)
Kyle Gallner (American Sniper)

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.Kristen Bell and Jessica Chastain in Veronica Mars (2004)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?Kristen Bell in Veronica Mars (2004)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.Kristen Bell in Veronica Mars (2004)Along 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.Kristen Bell and Alona Tal in Veronica Mars (2004)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.VM-S2D2_04After 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.Kristen Bell in Veronica Mars (2004)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. Kristen Bell and Francis Capra in Veronica Mars (2004)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.

REVIEW: MIKE & MOLLY – SEASON 4

MAIN CAST

Billy Gardell (Young Sheldon)
Melissa McCarthy (Spy)
Reno Wilson (Transformers)
Katy Mixon (American Housewife)
Nyambi Nyambi (The Good Fight)
Rondi Reed (The Astronaught’s Wife)
Louis Mustillo (One For The Money)
Swoosie Kurtz (Pushing Daisies)
David Anthony Higgins (Big Time Rush)

Melissa McCarthy and Brian Baumgartner in Mike & Molly (2010)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Susan Sarandon (Tammy)
Kathy Bates (Misery)
Cleo King (The Hangover)
Brian Baumgartner (Ghostbusters)
Diane Delano (Popular)
Christian Clemenson (Lois & Clark)
Mo Gaffney (That 70s Show)
Brendan Patrick Connor (Spider-Man 2)
John Michael Higgins (Bad Teacher)
Gary Anthony Williams (Batman: The Dark Knight Returns)
Mather Zickel (Bones)

43479463After three seasons of watching the loveable Chicago couple find each other, find love and find a comfortable life for themselves, the fourth season finds Mike and Molly further exploring their relationship, their family and friends, and the crazy world around them. In the season premiere episode, “Molly Unleashed,” Molly abruptly gives up her job teaching elementary school to follow her dreams of becoming a writer. With the ever-present support of her beat-cop husband Mike and her family, Molly sets out to become the woman she was always meant to be. The fourth season of Mike & Molly is filled with surprises. From Molly tagging along with Mike in the squad car for “research” to her adventures in a funeral home under the influence with her sister Victoria, this is the season in which Mike and the rest of the world are given the chance to see what Molly unleashed can really do!Molly Unleashed

Season 4 Highlights

Melissa McCarthy in Mike & Molly (2010)

The First and Last Ride-Along

Molly decides writing a crime novel will be her new career, so she goes on a ride-along with Mike and Carl to research a book she wants to pen.Susan Sarandon in Mike & Molly (2010)

Careful What You Dig For

Molly meets her literary idol, J.C. Small (Susan Sarandon), a cynic who advises her to write about things in her life that she wouldn’t want people to know. Meanwhile, Mike invites his mother to dinner for Thanksgiving in an effort to cheer her up.Swoosie Kurtz, Melissa McCarthy, and Katy Mixon in Mike & Molly (2010)

Poker in the Front, Looker in the Back

Molly believes her suspicious next-door neighbor, Mr. O’Donnell (Christian Clemenson), is up to no good and recruits Joyce to help her spy on him. Meanwhile, the guys get together for a poker game and end up sharing their dreams and aspirations.Melissa McCarthy and Katy Mixon in Mike & Molly (2010)

Shoeless Molly Flynn

Molly needs to adjust her spending habits if she wants to maintain harmony in her marriage. But she can’t resist buying a pair of shoes on credit and it leads to a fight with Mike, making her decide to look for a job.Melissa McCarthy, Rondi Reed, and Billy Gardell in Mike & Molly (2010)

They Shoot Asses, Don’t They?

Mike decides he needs to live every day like it’s his last after being shot while thwarting a robbery. As a result, he tells Carl it’s time for him to quit the police force.Melissa McCarthy and Billy Gardell in Mike & Molly (2010)

Mike & Molly’s Excellent Adventure

Molly is determined to get Mike out of his routine and tells him to embrace doing anything they want in life.Three Girls And an Urn

Weekend at Peggy’s

Following a dramatic argument with Joyce over money, Mike and Molly move into Mike’s childhood room at Peggy’s.Melissa McCarthy, Reno Wilson, and Stephen Mark Murphy in Mike & Molly (2010)

Dips & Salsa

Molly wants to get Mike out of the house and suggests a salsa dance class. When Mike isn’t thrilled with the activity, he asks Carl to replace him as Molly’s dance partner, but gets jealous when he realizes they’re having way too much fun.Mike & Molly

Three Girls and an Urn

Molly meets the best buddy of her dreams when Peggy’s childhood friend, Kay McKinnon (Kathy Bates), comes to town, but Peggy is not keen on sharing.Who's Afraid of J.C. Small?

Who’s Afraid of J.C. Small?

Mike and Carl arrest Molly’s literary hero, J.C. Small, for a DUI. After Molly repeatedly prevents J.C.’s self-destruction, the writer offers to pay Molly to be her assistant and help her complete her latest novel.Mike and Molly - Episode 4.19 - Who's Afraid of J.C. Small - Promotional Photos (4)_FULLSeason 4 brought Molly more to the forefront of the show with Melissa McCarthy now a worldwide star, each character still had there moments to shine too. Another great season of the hit show. A good cliffhanger too wetting your appetite for season 5.

 

REVIEW: ARMAGEDDON (1998)

CAST
Bruce Willis (Cop Out)
Billy Bob Thornton (Bad Santa)
Ben Affleck (Gone Girl)
Liv Tyler (The Incredible Hulk)
Will Patton (Romeo Is Bleeding)
Steve Buscemi (Ghost World
William Fichtner (The Dark Knight)
Owen Wilson (Wedding Crashers)
Michael Clarke Duncan (The Finder)
Peter Stormare (The Brothers Grimm)
Jessica Steen (Mutant X)
Keith David (The Cape)
Jason Isaacs (Resident Evil)
Eddie Griffin (The New Guy)
Stanley Anderson (Spider-Man)
Udo Kier (Blade)
Judith Hoag (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Shawnee Smith (Anger Management)
John Mahon (Angel)
Grace Zabriskie (Arrow)
John Aylward (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III)
Christian Clemenson (Apollo 13)
Frederick Weller (The Shape of Things)
Charlton Heston (Planet of The Apes)
Lawrence Tierney (Reservoir Dogs)
A massive meteor shower destroys the orbiting Space Shuttle Atlantis and bombards a swath of land from the U.S. East Coast from South Carolina through Finland. NASA discovers that a rogue asteroid the size of Texas passed through the asteroid belt and pushed forward a large amount of space debris. The asteroid will collide with Earth in 18 days, causing an extinction event that will even wipe out bacteria. NASA scientists, led by Dan Truman, plan to trigger a nuclear detonation 800 feet (240 m) inside the asteroid to split it in two, driving the pieces apart so both will fly past the Earth. NASA contacts Harry Stamper, considered the best deep-sea oil driller in the world, for assistance. Harry travels to NASA with his daughter Grace, to keep her away from her new boyfriend and one of Harry’s drillers, A. J. Frost. Harry explains he will need his team, including A. J., to carry out the mission. They agree to help, but only after their list of unusual rewards and demands are met.
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NASA plans to launch two shuttles, Freedom and Independence, to increase the chances of success; the shuttles will refill with liquid oxygen from the Russian space station Mir before making a slingshot maneuver around the Moon to approach the asteroid from behind. NASA puts Harry and his crew through a short and rigorous astronaut training program, while Harry and his team re-outfit the mobile drillers, “Armadillos”, for the job. The destruction of Shanghai by an asteroid fragment forces NASA to reveal the asteroid’s existence, as well as their plan. The shuttles are launched and arrive at Mir, where its sole cosmonaut Lev helps with refueling. A major fire breaks out during the fueling process, forcing the crews, including Lev, to evacuate in the shuttles before Mir explodes. The shuttles perform the slingshot around the moon, but approaching the asteroid, the Independence’s engines are destroyed by trailing debris, and it crashes on the asteroid. Grace, aware A.J. was aboard the Independence, is traumatized by this news. Unknown to the others, A.J., Lev, and “Bear” (another of Harry’s crew) survive the impact and head towards the Freedom target site in their Armadillo.
Meanwhile, Freedom safely lands on the asteroid, but overshoots the target zone, landing on a much harder metallic field than planned, and their drilling quickly falls behind schedule; in desperation, the military initiates “Secondary Protocol” to remotely detonate the nuclear weapon on the asteroid’s surface, despite Truman and Harry’s insistence that it would be ineffective. Truman delays the military, while Harry convinces the shuttle commander to disarm the remote trigger. Harry’s crew continues to work, but in their haste, they accidentally hit a gas pocket, blowing their Armadillo into space. As the world learns of the mission’s apparent failure, another asteroid fragment devastates Paris.
All seems lost until the arrival of the Independence’s Armadillo. With A.J. at the controls, they reach the required depth for the bomb. However, flying debris from the asteroid damages the triggering device, requiring someone to stay behind to manually detonate the bomb. The crew draw straws, and A.J. is selected. As he and Harry exit the airlock, Harry rips off A.J.’s air hose and shoves him back inside, telling him that he was the son Harry never had, and he would be proud to have A.J. marry Grace. Harry prepares to detonate the bomb and contacts Grace to bid his final farewell. After some last minute difficulties involving both the shuttle engines and the detonator, the Freedom moves to a safe distance and Harry manages to press the button at the last minute, while experiencing flashbacks of happy times in his last moments as the bomb successfully splits the asteroid, avoiding the collision with Earth. Freedom lands, and the surviving crew are treated as heroes. A.J. and Grace get married, with photos of Harry and the other lost crew members present.
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This movie is pure escapism fun, which has its place in my collection, movies like Independence Day and Armageddon are great fun to watch and as a bonus the characters weren’t bad the script was reasonable and action was indeed plentiful.