HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: TUCKER AND DALE VS EVIL

CAST

Tyler Labine (Rise of The Planet of The Apes)
Alan Tudyk (Powerless)
Katrina Bowden (Scary Movie 5)
Jesse Moss (Ginger Snaps)
Chelan Simmons (Final Destination 3)
Phillip Granger (The Killing)
Brandon Jay McLaren (Power Rangers SPD)
Christie Laing (Arrow)
Travis Nelson (Wild Roses)
Sasha Craig (Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue)

A reporter and cameraman sneak into a closed off murder scene looking for anything the police missed in the hopes of breaking a bigger story. They are ambushed by a crazed man with half of his face badly injured. Allison, Chad, Chloe, Chuck, Jason, Naomi, Todd, Mitch and Mike are going camping in West Virginia. While at a gas station, they encounter Tucker and Dale, two well-meaning hillbillies who have just bought the vacation home of their dreams: a run-down lakefront cabin, deep in the woods. On Tucker’s advice, Dale tries to talk to Allison, but because of his inferiority complex and appearance, he only scares her and her friends.Tucker and Dale arrive at their decrepit cabin and begin repairing it. Nearby in the woods, Chad tells a story about the “Memorial Day Massacre”, a hillbilly attack which took place 20 years ago. The college kids go skinny-dipping where Tucker and Dale are fishing, and Allison, startled, hits her head. Tucker and Dale save her, but her friends think she was kidnapped. When Allison wakes up in Tucker and Dale’s cabin the next day, she is initially scared but befriends the two hillbillies. The other college kids arrive at the cabin to save Allison from her “psychopathic captors”, and Chuck runs away to get the police. While Dale and Allison are inside the cabin, Tucker angers some bees and frantically waves around his chainsaw, which the college kids misinterpret as hostility. They scatter through the woods, and Mitch accidentally impales himself on a broken tree, killing him. After finding Mitch’s body, Chad persuades the others that they are in a battle for survival.Alison’s friends follow Tucker and Dale back to their cabin and see Allison helping out with construction of an outhouse, but they assume she is digging her own grave. The college kids attack, but Todd and Mike end up accidentally killing themselves, and Allison is accidentally knocked unconscious again by Dale’s shovel. The other kids assume the hillbillies killed them when they see Tucker trying to save Mike from the wood chipper. Tucker and Dale think the college kids are suicidal and that contacting the police will make them murder suspects. Chuck arrives back with a sheriff, who expresses doubt over Tucker and Dale’s suicide pact theory. The sheriff goes inside the cabin and accidentally kills himself, and Chuck accidentally kills himself with the sheriff’s gun. Chad reappears and attempts to shoot Tucker and Dale but only manages to capture Tucker, whom he ties upside down to a tree. Chad then tortures Tucker and cuts Tucker’s fingers. He then sends a message to Dale to come and get Tucker.Dale leaves to rescue Tucker while Chad and Naomi return to the cabin to save Allison. When Allison tries to explain the situation, they accuse her of having Stockholm syndrome. Tucker and Dale return, and Allison attempts to lead a calm discussion. Chad says his grandmother told him that his father was killed in the Memorial Day Massacre, and his mother was the lone survivor. Jason and Chloe break in to save everyone, and a fire breaks out. Tucker, Dale, and Allison escape; Naomi, Chloe and Jason die, and Chad, insane and scarred, vows revenge. After a car crash, an injured Tucker tells Dale that Chad has taken Allison to an old sawmill, where he forcibly kisses her. Dale rescues Allison, and the two barricade themselves inside an upstairs office, where they discover news clippings that reveal Chad’s father to be the killer and rapist, not one of the victims. Chad becomes enraged, and Dale stops his attack by throwing a box of chamomile tea at Chad, which triggers a severe asthma attack. Chad, while standing near a window, convulses and falls to his apparent death.The police and a news crew arrive late at the cabin and broadcast a news report stating that the deaths appear to be the result of a suicide pact and a deranged killer; the reporter and cameraman are the two from the opening scene. Tucker watches the report on the news while convalescing in the hospital. Dale enters, and they discuss Tucker’s recovery. Tucker asks Dale whether he managed to invite Allison on a date and is happy to hear the two of them are going bowling. Later that night at the bowling alley, the two profess their feelings for each other and kiss.This film has instant cult classic written all over it as the standard hillbilly survival horror is turned on its head. You can’t help but root for the hapless pair but also groan in enjoyable frustration as the teens start to drop dead in lots of extremely gory accidents. A total joy from start to finish.

REVIEW: IZOMBIE – SEASON 5

Rose McIver in iZombie (2015)

MAIN CAST

Rose McIver (Power Rangers RPM)
Malcolm Goodwin (American Gangster)
Rahul Kohli (Happy Anniversary)
Robert Buckley (Killer Movie)
David Anders (Alias)
Aly Michalka (Two and a Half Men)
Bryce Hodgson (Kid Cannabis)

Rose McIver in iZombie (2015)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Jennifer Irwin (Bad Teacher)
Daran Norris (Veronica Mars)
Quinta Brunson (Lazor Wulf)
Tongayi Chirisa (Crusoe)
Francis Capra (Heroes)
Jessica Harmon (The 100)
Robert Salvador (Arrow)
Jade Payton (Good Game)
Adam Greydon Reid (Sanctuary)
Aaron Craven (The Predator)
Emy Aneke (The Drive)
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Airplane)
Jackie Debatin (Switched at Birth)
John Emmet Tracy (Fifty Shades Freed)
Christie Laing (Arrow)
Stephanie Lemelin (Young Justice)
Gage Golightly (Teen Wolf)
Ryan Devlin (Veronica Mars)
Bill Wise (Boyhood)
Magda Apanowicz (Caprica)
Bill Dow (Stargate SG.1)
Ken Marino (Agent Carter)
Eddie Jemison (Waitress)
Molly Hagan (No Good Nick)
Laura Bilgeri (The Recall)
Valerie Tian (Juno)
Carrie Anne Fleming (Supernatural)
Doug Hutchison (The Green Mile)
Nick Purcha (Cold Zone)
Hanneke Talbot (Star Trek: Discovery)
Nemo Cartwright (Descendants)
Ari Cohen (IT)
Ellie Harvie (The New Addams Family)
Chris Lowell (Veronica Mars)
Alex Zahara (Horns)

Anyone hoping that Seattle’s new leadership would help ease zombie-human relations on iZombie was out of luck during the show’s fifth and final season. Sure, Peyton is now the acting mayor, and Major is a far more benevolent Fillmore Graves commander than Chase Graves. But six months after the Season 4 finale, the city’s problems remain: There aren’t enough brains to feed the undead, and tensions between humans and zombies are at an all-time high. When a video of the undead chowing down on a human woman’s brain goes viral, things only get worse. Even Blaine — who is living lavishly like a rock star — finds that his brain-smuggling business is in trouble. The border agents he’s paid off to look the other way are no longer OK with zombies, meaning Blaine’s operation isn’t delivering like it used to. And as he explains to Liv and Clive — whose wife Dale is pregnant! — when zombies get hungry, he gets sad. And when he delivers less brains, he’s less wealthy, which makes him even sadder.As per their deal, Major puts the pressure on Blaine to bring in the goods. “It’s why people are willing to pretend you’re Jack Sparrow and not Jack the Ripper,” Major reminds him. So Blaine kidnaps the five border security guards and threatens to turn them into zombies and kill all their loved ones. Four of them agree to resume their partnership, while the fifth never returns to work, if you know what I mean.Daran Norris and Aly Michalka in iZombie (2015)Meanwhile, the zombie-hating Dead Enders are going to extreme and violent lengths. A human man approaches one of the activist leaders at her food truck and is given a location and time. He then drives a van armed with explosives into a security checkpoint, killing several Fillmore Graves soldiers. With all the chaos, it’s easy to understand why Major is inundated with applications from people wanting to leave Seattle. At the same time, Liv is reviewing hopefuls who want into the city, including a video from a teen boy who’s terminally ill and stuck in a terrible foster home. When she sends Not!Weevil to get him across the border, Liv’s cohort finds a surprise waiting for him: two little girls from the foster home, who are also in need of saving. Even though he doesn’t have IDs for the girls, Not!Weevil takes all three kids with him. But alas, one of the other passengers on the bus tips off the police to the girls hiding in the bathroom.Rose McIver in iZombie (2015)Back at home, Ravi consumes the brains of a Vinnie Jones-type macho man and goes all aggro. Thankfully, he has a very understanding but no-nonsense girlfriend in Peyton. On the downside, he doesn’t get off to the best start with his new liaison on the cure, seeing as how he mostly just yells at her. The other doctor figures out the condition needed to derive the cure, but the real Ravi warns her that it would put 300 children’s lives in jeopardy. She eventually comes around to his side and keeps the information from her bosses. and thats just the opener.Rose McIver in iZombie (2015)The remaining episodes of the season bring some laughs, some sadness and more brain eating fun from our favorite Zombie. with the series coming to a close it will always remain a quirky entertaining show with a lot of heart and will be missed.

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.

REVIEW: SMALLVILLE – SEASON 5

 

Starring

Tom Welling (Lucifer)
Kristin Kreuk (Beauty and The Beast)
Michael Rosenbaum (Impastor)
Allison Mack (Wilfred)
Erica Durance (The Butterfly Effect 2)
Annette O’Toole (The Punisher)
John Schneider (The Haves and the Have Nots)
John Glover (Shazam)

Tom Welling in Smallville (2001)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

James Marsters (Runaways)
Terence Stamp (Superman II)
Alana De La Garza (Law & Order)
Leonard Roberts (Mom)
Kenny Johnson (Bates Motel)
Camille Mitchell (Izombie)
Johnny Lewis (Aliens vs Predator: Requiem)
Nathaniel DeVeaux (The Core)
Rekha Sharma (Dark Angel)
Alan Ritchson (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Carrie Fisher (Star Wars)
Brooke Nevin (The Comebacks)
Erica Cerra (Power Rangers)
Angelika Libera (Stealing Sinatra)
Luciana Carro (Two For The Money)
Tom Wopat (Django Unchained)
Jill Teed (Charlie St. Cloud)
Woody Jeffreys (Pathfinder)
Noah Danby (Bitten)
Alisen Down (12 Monkeys)
Adrian Holmes (Arrow)
Jerry Wasserman (I Robot)
Chelah Horsdal (Hell on Wheels)
Annie Burgstede (The Young and The Restless)
David Richmond-Peck (V)
Sarah Lind (Severed)
Denise Quiñones (Incognita)
Douglas O’Keeffe (Sanctuary)
Leela Savasta (Stargate Atlantis)
Lee Thompson Young (The Hills Have Eyes II)
Christie Laing (Arrow)
Mackenzie Gray (Man of Steel)
Nichole Hiltz (Bones)
G. Patrick Currie (Stargate SG.1)
Emily Hirst (Blade: The Series)
Callum Keith Rennie (Jessica Jones)
Anne Marie DeLuise (Love Happens)
Ian Tracey (Sanctuary)
Alex Scarlis (Ameircan Heiress)
Jody Thompson (The 400)
Panou (Flash Gordon)

Michael Rosenbaum in Smallville (2001)In the fifth season of Smallville, one chapter ends as another new and exciting chapter begins as Smallville is taken to new heights as the DC Universe is finally blown open as new characters make their appearances felt.Erica Durance and Alan Ritchson in Smallville (2001)In season five, Clark’s relationship with Lana is at its peak, his friendship with Chloe has never been stronger, and he is finally coming to terms with the discovery of his Kyptonian heritage. But things in Smallville are about to change with the arrival of the mysterious Milton Fine (James Marsters) along with 2 Kryptonians bearing the symbol of ZOD. Whilst his relationship with his friends has never been stronger, Clark finds himself in direct confrontation with Lex Luthor as he is now forced to question whether he and the younger Luthor were ever friends.Michael Rosenbaum in Smallville (2001)Alongside the great continuity drama with the regular leads, this season also sees the arrival of 2 familiar faces from the DC Universe in form of Aquaman and Cyborg who cameo in this season alongside DC villain Brainiac. James Marsters is a very welcome addition to the cast and plays Fine with confidence and arrogance while Michael Rosenbaum continues to steal the show.John Schneider in Smallville (2001)The pinnacle moment of the season also sees the very sad departure of a long staning term cast member in what still rates as Smallville’s saddest moment and greatest tear-jerker.

REVIEW: IZOMBIE – SEASON 4

iZombie (2015)

 

MAIN CAST

Rose McIver (Power Rangers RPM)
Malcolm Goodwin (American Gangster)
Rahul Kohli  (Happy Anniversary)
Robert Buckley (Killer Movie)
David Anders (Alias)
Aly Michalka (Two and a Half Men)
Robert Knepper (Cult)

iZombie (2015)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Jason Dohring (Veronica Mars)
Adam Kaufman (BUffy: TVS)
Jessica Harmon (The 100)
Bryce Hodgson (Kid Cannabis)
Robert Salvador (Arrow)
Jade Payton (Good Game)
Daniel Bacon (Stargate SG.1)
John Emmet Tracy (Fifty Shades Freed)
Dawnn Lewis (Futurama)
Linda Park (Star Trek Enterprise)
Jake Manley (The Order)
Sam Huntington (Superman Returns)
Ryan Devlin (Veronica Mars)
Gerard Plunkett (Sucker Punch)
Christie Laing (Arrow)
Keenan Tracey (Bates Motel)
James Jordan (Veronica Mars)
Hiro Kanagawa (Heroes Reborn)
Daniel Bonjour (After The Rain)
Adam Greydon Reid (Sanctuary)
Francis Capra (Veronica Mars)
Bar Paly (Pain & Gain)
Ella Cannon (Supernatural)
Eddie Jemison (Waitress)
Izabela Vidovic (Veronica Mars)
Adam Tsekhman (Legends of Tomorrow)
Carrie Anne Fleming (Supernatural)
Enrico Colantoni (Flashpoint)
Al Sapienza (House of Cards)
Jill Teed (Battlestar Galactica)
Maher Zickel (Bones)
Paul Rudd (Ant-Man)
Nemo Cartwright (Descendants)

 

Rose McIver in iZombie (2015)Across its first three seasons, iZombie was largely Veronica Mars with zombies and that was no bad thing. It was consistently entertaining, offered a fresh take on the overpopulated zombie genre and had a cast of characters you genuinely engaged with, not to mention a hugely underrated lead turn from Rose McIver, who absolutely nailed every single personality she was asked to inhabit.  From superhero-brain to old-man-brain and many more in between, Liv’s (McIver) various personalities after eating the brains of victims to solve their murders have been a large part of the show’s quirky charm.Robert Buckley, Rose McIver, Aly Michalka, and Rahul Kohli in iZombie (2015)Yet you had the sense it was always building to a game-changing event – which came in the season-three finale as the existence of zombies was revealed to the world. Following a time jump, season four started with Seattle becoming the walled city of New Seattle as the US government contained the zombie outbreak, setting up a season-long conflict between zombies and humans that looks set to explode in the season four finale.More importantly though, the season has upped the stakes for Liv, where she’s not just a crime-solving zombie any more, meaning that the ‘Brain of the Week’ structure has taken a bit of a backseat. It’s a big change that is good for the show, especially now that it’s been renewed for a fifth and final season by The CW.iZombie (2015)This season has seen Liv become the underground leader Renegade after the previous leader was brutally executed, smuggling sick humans into New Seattle and scratching them to save them so they can start a new life as a zombie. It’s put her in the sights of Fillmore-Graves, who are responsible for controlling the population in New Seattle, with the penultimate episode seeing her turn herself in to protect her boyfriend Levon (Daniel Bonjour). Liv’s arc has helped to keep the show fresh, immune to the problems of predictability that can affect long-running crime procedurals due to the repetitive structure. Instead we have a show whose morally complex central storyline has a genuine sense of peril – tricky when your main character is a zombie, even though we can’t imagine Liv will be killed off in the season-four finale.iZombie (2015)The big change hasn’t been without its issues, though, as some overstuffed episodes in the second half of season four struggled to find the right balance between quirky and serious. However, when the show could easily have rested on its laurels, it decided to change things up. Surely it’s better for an established show to rip up the status quo? It’s not like fans haven’t had the ‘Brain of the Week’ to enjoy, either, as Liv has savoured hopeless-romantic-brain, germaphobic-brain and pick-up-artist-brain among others, and the rest of the cast have got in on the act too (Major’s wrestler-brain remains a highlight). The only difference is that these are now just the delicious sides to the meatier main course of the season.b7dab6_928eb416b1fb4db898d56136b89713f0~mv2And with co-creator Rob Thomas revealing before the show was renewed that he needed just one more season to get to the “end of our story”, iZombie’s move into a more serialised storytelling can pay dividends in the final season as it’s clear that it’s all been building to a planned resolution.izombie-season-4-finale-1111048-1280x0That’s likely to be the discovery of a workable zombie cure, and Ravi had a breakthrough in the penultimate episode – but iZombie doesn’t need to be cured. It’s never felt more alive.

REVIEW: ARROW – SEASON 1 & 2

CAST

Stephen Amell (The Vampire Diaries)
Katie Cassidy (Black Xmas)
Colin Donnell (Chicago Med)
David Ramsey (Pay It Forward)
Willa Holland (Legion)
Susanna Thompson (Dragonfly)
Paul Blackthorne (The Dresden Files)
Emily Bett Rickards (Brooklyn)
Manu Bennett (Spartacus)
Colton Haynes (Teen Wolf)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Colin Salmon (Limitless TV)
Jamey Sheridan (The Ice Storm)
Annie Ilonzeh (Beauty and The Beast)
Brian Markinson (Izombie)
Derek Hamilton (Disturbing Behavior)
Hiro Kanagawa (Heroes Reborn)
Kelly Hu (The Vampire Diaries)
Ty Olsson (X-Men 2)
Byron Mann (Dark Angel)
Roger Cross (First Wave)
Euegen Lipinski (Goosebumps)
Michael Rowe (Tomorrowland)
John Barrowman (Reign)
Currie Graham (Agent Carter)
Kyle Schmid (The Covenant)
Sarah-Jane Redmond (V)
Jessica De Gouw (Dracula)
Jeffrey Nordling (Tron: Legacy)
Tahmoh Penikett (Battlestar Galactica)
Sebastian Dunn (The Other Half)
Andrew Dunbar (Leprechaun: Origins)
Danny Nucci (Eraser)
Ben Browder (Stargate SG.1)
Christie Laing (Scary Movie 4)
Patrick Sabongui (The Flash)
David Anders (Izombie)
Ona Grauer (V)
Adrian Holmes (Smallville)
Agam Darshi (Sanctuary)
James Callis (Battlestar Galactica)
Rekha Sharma (Dark Angel)
Chin Han (The Dark Knight)
Janina Gavankar (True Blood)
Alex Kingston (Flashforward)
Anna Van Hooft (Flash Gordon)
Celina Jade (The Man with The Iron Fists)
Seth Gabel (Salem)
J. August Richards (Angel)
Summer Glau (Firefly)
Dylan Bruce (Heroes Reborn)
Caity Lotz (The Machine)
Michael Jai White (The Dark
Valerie Tian (Izombie)Knight)
Kevin Alejandro (Ugly Betty)
Bex Taylor-Klaus (Scream: The Series)
Teryl Rothery (Stargate SG.1)
Aubrey Marie Anderson (The Unit)
Jimmy Jean-Louis (Heroes)
Cle Bennett (Flashpoint)
Dylan Neal (Sabrina: TTW)
Cynthia Addai-Robinson (Spartacus)
David Nykl (Stargate: Atlantis)
Sean Maher (Firefly)
James Kidnie (Robocop: The Series)
Katrina Law (Chuck)
Michael Eklund (Bates Motel)
Nicholas Lea (V)
Robert Knepper (Cult)
Tara Strong (Batman: The Animated Series)
Lochlyn Munro (Little Man)
Jorge Vargas (Power Rangers Ninja Storm)
Carlos Valdes (The Flash)
Navid Negahban (Legion)
Danielle Panabaker (Sky High)

Image result for arrow pilotAfter turning the story about Clark Kent’s evolution from humble teenager to world’s greatest hero into one of the most successful science fiction TV series of all time, what exactly do you do for an encore? The obvious answer would be a series about a young Bruce Wayne. Or maybe a crime procedural starring the men and women of the Gotham City Police Department. Instead, The CW gave us Arrow, a series that simultaneously explores Oliver Queen’s first months as a vigilante hero and the painful hero’s journey he undertook while stranded on a remote island. Even considering Green Arrow’s popularity in Smallville and Justice League Unlimited, it wasn’t the most obvious choice. Nor was it the choice many DC fans wanted. But ultimately, it was a choice that paid off.

To their credit, they succeeded. Even right off the bat, there were many notable elements that he writers introduced into the Green Arrow mythos. Generally a loner in the comics, here Ollie was given a full family and circle of allies. Some were inspired by characters from the comics, while others were entirely new creations. Probably the most successful new addition was John Diggle as Ollie’s personal bodyguard-turned-ally in his war on crime. Watching the dynamic between Ollie and Diggle morph from cold and hostile to warm camaraderie was a treat. And the two sequences featuring Diggle in the costume rather than Ollie suggested that this show could have a life beyond that of its lead character.Image result for arrow pilotAmell’s performance grew stronger over time, and the subtle ways in which he distinguished his performances during the present-day and flashback scenes stood out.With other characters, it was more a question of the scripts shedding light on motivation and relationships before they really came into their own. This was certainly the case with Moira Queen (Susanna Thompson), who was a bit of a hard sell as a sympathetic mother figure until viewers came to understand her role in “The Undertaking.” Similarly, Tommy Merlyn (Colin Donnell) came across as a fairly flat and unimportant character at first. But by the end of the season, Tommy had emerged as the emotional heart of the series and Donnell’s one of the strongest performances.Jessica De Gouw in Arrow (2012)Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) was endearing, her instant charm made fans fall in love with her making her a regular was the best choice when they headed into season 2. As Laurel, Katie Cassidy was excellent as future Black Canary, dealing with her emotions of seeing her former boyfriend back from the dead and the lost of her sister.  Structurally, the season started out strong and finished even stronger. The writers managed to weave together an overarching narrative as Ollie slowly uncovered the truth of The Undertaking and his own parents’ involvement while contending with various smaller villains and conflicts. Anchoring the series throughout were the frequent flashbacks to Ollie’s five years on the island. The pilot episode offered a tantalizing glimpse of what had transpired over the course of those five years with the Deathstroke mask discarded on the beach. Various plot twists revealed just how complicated that story is, teaming Ollie with Slade Wilson (Manu Bennett) and Shado (Celina Jade) in an ongoing guerrilla war against mercenary leader Edward Fyers (Sebastian Dunn). Particularly once Slade entered the picture and his bond with Ollie became a major focal point, the flashbacks emerged as one of the strongest elements of the show.

Everything in Season 1 culminated in two climactic episodes as Ollie fought for the survival of Starling City in the present and to stop Fyers from sparking an international incident in the past. These episodes offered a satisfying blend of big action scenes and emotional character showdowns. In particular, the final scene between Ollie and Tommy that closed out the season was perhaps the best the show has delivered so far.

Right off the bat, “City of Heroes” set the tone and direction for Season 2. We saw a despondent Ollie still crushed by the death of his best friend, Tommy, and having retreated to the island in a self-imposed exile. Though Colin Donnell only briefly reprised his role as Tommy this season, his character was very much a lingering presence driving the actions of Ollie and Laurel throughout the year. And his death formed the crux of Ollie’s renewed mission. It was right there in the revised opening sequence – “To honor my friend’s memory, I can’t be the killer I once was.” And that, more than Ollie’s battles with Slade Wilson or Sebastian Blood or Isabel Rochev, was the core conflict of the season. It’s easy enough to fight criminals by shooting them dead. But could Ollie muster the strength and the courage not to kill, even if it meant putting himself, his family, and his city in greater danger? It was a struggle, but the most satisfying element of the finale was the way Ollie definitively answered that question and established himself as a better class of vigilante.Manu Bennett in Arrow (2012)Overall, Season 2 was a good showcase for Stephen Amell’s acting talents.  Ollie was haunted by demons and shouldering heavy burdens throughout the year. He suffered more often than he succeeded, and Amell conveyed that pain well. Most impressive was the way Amell was so capable at portraying Ollie at different periods in his life. We saw plenty more of Ollie’s life on the island in the various flashback scenes. Having already spent a year fighting for his life against men like Edward Fyers and Billy Wintergreen, flashback Ollie was closer to the man he is in the present, but not all the way there. And we even caught glimpses of a pre-island Ollie, most significantly in “Seeing Red.” More than the changes in hairstyle or fashion, it was Amell’s purposeful shifts in vocal intonation and body language that differentiated the different versions of Ollie.Having established himself as one of the better supporting players in Season 1, it was very gratifying to see Manu Bennett step fully into the spotlight and become the big antagonist of Season 2. That’s despite him not even being revealed as the secret mastermind of Brother Blood’s uprising until the mid-season finale, “Three Ghosts.” But it was crucial that the show spend so much time, both this season and last, in building up the brotherly bond between Ollie and Slade and the island. We needed to feel the pain of seeing them broken apart and Slade become a vengeful villain hellbent on tearing his former friend’s life down. And it wasn’t until much later still that we saw how that rift occurred and Slade turn his wrath against Ollie. It’s a testament to both the writing and Bennett’s acting that the character never quite lost his aura of sympathy even as he murdered Ollie’s mother and tried to do the same to Felicity. This was a man driven half-mad by the loss of the woman he loved and an injection of a super-steroid. But conversely, I appreciated how the finale took pains to establish that it wasn’t just the Mirakuru fueling Slade’s anger. Even now, super-strength gone and exiled back to the island, Slade is a clear and present danger to Ollie’s world.Three GhostsThe show introduced Sebastian Blood and Isabel Rochev as Slade’s subordinates, with Blood serving as the most visible villain for much of the season. I really enjoyed Kevin Alejandro’s portrayal of Blood. Alejandro’s Blood was so disarmingly charming that it was often difficult to reconcile him with the masked man kidnapping drug addicts and turning street thugs into super-soldiers. Ultimately, Blood became the sort of villain who does the wrong things for the right reasons. He had an honest desire to make Starling City a better place. And when it became clear to him that Slade Wilson wouldn’t leave a city left for him to rule, Blood did the right thing and aided Team Arrow.Most of the increasingly large supporting cast were given their moments to shine in Season 2. I was often disappointed that Diggle wasn’t given more to do, but at least he was able to take a starring role in “Suicide Squad.” Diggle’s backseat status was mainly the result of Sara Lance stepping into the limelight early on and eventually becoming the fourth member of Ollie’s vigilante crew. The Arrow had his Canary finally. Sara’s own struggles with the desire for lethal force and reuniting with her family often made for good drama. But among Team Arrow, it was often Felicity Smoak who often had the best material.  Emily Bett Rickards had much better material to work with this year, whether it was her unrequited love for Ollie, her burgeoning relationship with Barry Allen, or her desire to pull her weight alongside her more physically capable allies. The final three episodes all featured some standout moments for Felicity as she established herself as a force to be reckoned with.
Elsewhere, Roy Harper was often a focus as he transitioned from troubled street punk to superhero sidekick. Roy’s temporary super-strength powers were a welcome story swerve and a fitting physical manifestation of his inner rage. His character arc received a satisfying conclusion in the finale when he proved himself worthy and received his own red domino mask, but lost Thea as a result.As for the various women in Ollie’s life, Felicity and Sara aside, Season 2 was a little more uneven. Moira definitely had an interesting ride. She started out Season 2 fighting for her life while on trial for her role in the Undertaking. Then, in an unlikely turn of events, she was spurred to run for mayor. And finally, her life did end when she became a pawn in Slade’s cruel game. It was a terrific finish for Moira, proving once and for all that, whatever wrongs she committed, she was only ever trying to ensure her children’s survival. Thea was more up and down throughout the season. She was often underutilized, but received a boost late in the season when she learned the truth about her parentage. Laurel’s character  had her own crucible this season, spiraling into into drug and alcohol addiction and losing her job before hitting bottom, rebounding, and playing her part in saving Starling City.The Mirakuru drug served as a plausible, pseudo-scientific way of introducing super-strength and allowing Slade to transform into Deathstroke. And even when it came time to introduce the Flash midway through the season, Barry Allen never felt too out of place alongside the more grounded characters. Season 2 really opened the floodgates as far as drawing in characters and elements from other DC properties. Barry Allen’s debut was the most high-profile, but we also saw plenty more of Amanda Waller and A.R.G.U.S. “Professor Ivo became a recurring villain, along with a very different take on Amazo. And in a welcome twist, it turned out that even the Batman franchise is fair game with this show. Early on we learned of Sara Lance and Malcolm Merlyn’s connection to the League of Assassins. Nyssa al Ghul appeared in a couple of episodes, and we know her father is out there in the world, leading his shadowy organization in the hidden city of Nanda Parbat. Even Harley Quinn had a brief cameo.And beyond the introduction of all these new elements, the scope of Arrow really opened up in Season 2. The action was bigger and better choreographed. The scale of the conflicts was bigger. The producers simply seemed to have more money to throw around. And whether that was actually the case or just the result of experience and planning, the end result was the same. Arrow became a bigger, more cinematic TV series this season.