REVIEW: PUSHING DAISIES – SEASON 1 & 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)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Patrick Fabian (Better Call Saul)
Riki Lindhome (Million Dollar Baby)
Raul Esparza (Hannibal TV)
Jayma Mays (Heroes)
Hamish Linklater (The Crazy Ones)
Christine Adams (Agents of Shield)
Mark Harelik (The Big Bang Theory)
Molly Shannon (Bad Teacher)
Grant Shaud (Wall Street)
Paul Reubens (Gotham)
Missi Pyle (Two and a Half Men)
French Stewart (Mom)
Autumn Reeser (The OC)
Diana Scarwid (Wonderfalls)
Rachael Harris (The Hangover)
Lee Arenberg (Once Upon A Time)
Graham McTavish (The Hobbit)
David Arquette (Scream)
Dana Davis (Heroes)
Hayes MacArthur (Life As We Know It)
Colton Haynes (Arrow)
Stephen Root (Finding Nemo)
Fred Willard (Anchorman)
Ethan Phillips (Bad Santa)
Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family)
David Koechner (American Dad)
Orlando Jones (Sleepy Hollow)
Ivana Milicevic (Vanilla Sky)
George Segal (The Cable Guy)
Willie Garson (Stargate SG.1)
Constance Zimmer (Agents of Shield)
Rachel Cannon (Two and a Half Men)
Robert Picardo (Stargate: Atlantis)
Gina Torres (Firefly)
Nora Dunn (New Girl)
Joey Slotnick (Nip/Tuck)

 

 

This show is like nothing you have ever seen before. And that is a good thing. It is the story of the Pie Maker aka Ned (Lee Pace). To the world, he is best known as the owner of The Pie Hole, where he serves delicious pies with his assistant/waitress, Olive (Kristen Chenoweth). But Ned has a secret. With his touch, he can bring the dead back to life. Of course, there are some conditions. If he touches them again, they are dead for ever and ever. And if he doesn’t touch them again in one minute, someone else nearby dies instead.

Since The Pie Hole doesn’t pay all the bills, Ned works with private investigator Emerson Cod (Chi McBride). He brings murder victims back to life to find out who killed them, then the two split the reward.


Everything is going along fine until the next murder victim is the girl he calls Chuck, aka Charlotte Charles (Anna Friel). Chuck was Ned’s childhood sweetheart, and he just can’t bear to let her die, so he keeps her alive. While the two build a non-touch romance, Chuck’s two aunts, Vivian and Lily (Ellen Greene and Swoosie Kurtz) mourn her death.

But Chuck’s death is just the beginning of the weird cases. There are the human crash test dummies, the dog breeder with four wives, the bodies in the snowmen, and the exploding scratch and sniff book. And that doesn’t even mention my favorite case, the headless horseman who is after Olive. So by now I’m sure you’ve figured out just how weird this show really is. But it is so much fun, too. While it is a mystery, the mysteries are only a background to explore the relationships of the characters in the show. Each week, those relationships advance, grow, and change. You never know just where they will wind up.


Yes, this show is quirky and odd. But please don’t let that stop you. Get this set and give it a try. You’ll be hook on the quirky before you know what hit you.

Pushing Daisies is one of the best TV shows there has ever been. Pushing Daisies wasn’t given much advertisement by ABC thus no one tuned in apart from the hardcore fans because nobody even knew it was on! Hence, lack of high ratings which lead to ABC being able to have an excuse to stop the show .

No the end doesn’t give closure. Only a little, but not much. It rushes to tie up ends and tell us what the characters do next but there is no closure whatsoever, just a MASSIVE cliffhanger and some really tasty leads that weren’t followed up. What a crushing disappointment. Anna Friel and Lee Pace were extremely angry at PD being taken off the air and legions of fans are left weeping and have nothing left but to endlessly discuss what ‘might’ have happened.
Series 2 is just as much as a visual and aural delight as series one. Brilliant plots and character development, beautiful music usage and faultless scripting. Great introduction of sub-characters that don’t jarr the main casting too much. Just ..well, perfect.

There are rumours of a movie or a comic being made but this is all doubtful, the cast have already moved onto other projects and now Pushing Daisies is left drowning in a sea of shows that had the potential to be groundbreaking if given a bit more time but never got given the chance. Such a shame. Same thing happened with Wondefalls also made by chap Bryan Fuller.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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REVIEW: AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. – SEASON 2

CAST

Clark Gregg (When A Stranger Calls)
Ming-Na Wen (Stargate Universe)
Brett Dalton (Killing Lincoln)
Chloe Bennet (Nashville)
Ian De Caestecker (Filth)
Elizabeth Henstridge (Reach Me)
Nick Blood (Identicals)
Adrianna Palicki (G.J. Joe: Retaliation)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Hayley Atwell (Cinderella)
B.J. Britt (Veronica Mars)
Neal McDonough (Arrow)
Reed Diamond (Dollhouse)
Henry Simons (No Good Deed)
Patton Oswalt (Blade: trinity)
Lucy Lawless (Ash Vs Evil Dead)
Adrian Pasdar (Heroes)
Kenneth Choi (Street Kings)
Simon Kassianides (Quantum of Solace)
Brian Patrick Wade (The Big Bang Theory)
Ruth Negga (World War Z)
Maya Stojan (Castle)
Dylan Minnette (Goosebumps)
Kyle MacLachlan (Dune)
Brian Tee (Jurassic World)
Monique Gabriela Curnen (The Dark Knight)
Joel Gretsch (V)
Tim DeKay (Swordfish)
Dichen Lachman (Dollhouse)
Lou Ferrigno Jr. (The Young and The Restless)
Jamie Harris (Rise of The Planet of The Apes)
Blair Underwood (Gattaca)
Christine Adams (Batman Begins)
Edward James Olmos (Green Hornet)
Luke Mitchell (Home and Away)
J. August Richards (Angel)
Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother)
Jaimie Alexander (The Last Stand)

For many, Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD in its first season  became a forgotten and/or overlooked series, which was too bad, and yet understandable. This was Marvel’s first TV series, coming off of an amazing run of movies and it just didn’t deliver when it debuted. The initial episodes felt unfocused and badly paced,but many people people felt the show improved when SHIELD notably improving in the wake of Captain America: The Winter Soldier’s events.In season 2 the pacing was hugely improved, with storylines no longer taking forever to bubble up again and secrets no longer being kept both from the audience and the characters that no one on screen seemed in a hurry to deal with. Instead, there was payoff to big plot threads happening consistently, as both lingering questions from Season 1 and newly introduced plotlines were deftly dealt with and tied up, while paving the way for new mysteries. On the villain front, there was some nicely done twisting and turning regarding who the Big Bad would be in Season 2. We began with a focus on Hydra leader Whitehall and while Reed Diamond had fun in the role, Whitehall rarely had moments that made him feel like a truly credible threat. When he was killed in the midseason finale, it seemed Kyle MacLachlan’s Cal would take center stage as SHIELD’s main foe… but there was yet another swerve in store.The fact that Skye’s mother, Jiaying (Dichen Lachman), was alive at all was a surprise and we soon saw that she was the leader of the Inhumans and could be pretty strict and cold when it came to doing what she felt was right to protect her people… but that was all hiding just what a zealot she had become, convinced war with humanity was inevitable and willing to begin it herself (via a staged attack) to get all her people on her side. The fact that Jiaying was the true main villain of the season was a subtle, slow reveal and much appreciated for how it was pulled off. We understood the tragic events that had changed her, even as we came to see she, and not Cal, who was the most dangerous.Oh, and did I say Inhumans? This was also a huge part of the season, which was especially notable because it indicated that behind the scenes, Marvel had decided Agents of SHIELD could lead the way in a much more notable way than before, rather than being simply reactive to the events of the films. We know an Inhumans film is coming in a few years, but now this series has already introduced the concept into the MCU. Presumably the film will focus on the Royal Family and a very different group of Inhumans than the ones we met here, but this show was still allowed to be the first part of the MCU to give us Terrigen Mist, the Kree origins and all the major background elements of the Inhumans.
In general, SHIELD felt less restrained this season. The first couple of episodes utilized the notable Marvel villain Absorbing Man, while the reveals that Cal and Skye were, respectively, Mr. Hyde and Daisy Johnson/Quake, rooted this show much more into its Marvel Comics roots.While it began in the latter half of Season 1, SHIELD: Season 2 also benefited from much stronger characterization. While there were so many characters they all didn’t get as much time as might have been ideal, they still all felt much more distinct and specific than the show’s early days, and the fact that several members came and went and shifted allegiances kept things interesting. Ming-Na Wen was always a great presence on the show, but Melinda May was given a lot more depth, as we met her ex-husband, Andrew (Blair Underwood) and finally got the dark details of that incident in Bahrain that we kept hearing about in Season 1. The rift between Fitz and Simmons added a lot more textures to both of them, and was beautifully played by Iain De Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge, while Coulson, now the director of SHIELD, had to reevaluate his approach, making much harsher decisions that pained him, but felt more involving and believable than the overly sappy, often naive approach that he began the series with.As for Skye, the writers and producers certainly still were determined to make her the most important and revered character on the show, but this season, it actually felt like they were earning her that position. Sure, we had to accept that she’d apparently gotten one hell of a crash course in being a badass fighter from May between seasons, but it felt good to see her actually be such a formidable presence in the action scenes – and Chloe Bennet really rose to the challenge of her characters new dynamic. And by making Skye both an Inhuman and Daisy/Quake, we at least had tangible reasons she would be important to us as viewers, beyond Coulson simply saying she was awesome over and over again. Bennet and Kyle MacLachlan also were able to build a strong rapport together as the estranged father/daughter duo. Speaking of MacLachlan, what a job he did. While Dichen Lachman brought the perfect pained righteousness to Jiaying, who truly believed what she was doing was right, MacLachlan had the freedom to go absolutely crazy as the absolutely crazy Cal and wow, was he fun. He expertly conveyed his character’s wish to be a happy, doting husband and father intermixed with his violent rage and gave the season some of its best moments – goofy Mr. Hyde makeup/visuals in the season finale aside.The new additions to the SHIELD crew were also appreciated, with Nick Blood’s Lance Hunter, Henry Simmons’ Mack and Adrianne Palicki ‘s Bobbi Morse/Mockingbird all fitting in very well. With such a big group of agents, someone was bound to be overlooked, and unfortunately, that was Trip (B.J. Britt), who never really got a storyline of his own – except to be the big midseason death. Which wasn’t as impactful as it could have been because he felt like a character with potential that was never fully utilized in any capacity (Remember when he and Simmons were flirting?).The “Other SHIELD” storyline was an interesting inclusion, with Edward James Olmos bringing exactly the gravity you’d expect him to as Gonzales. I liked the idea of he and Coulson being so opposed and yet very respectful of one another, in their own ways. I just wish we’d gotten a bigger payoff to that, as Gonzales was killed by Jiaying before he and Coulson really came to any sort of conclusion in their own conflict except on the “very begrudging/wary allies” level.I went into Season 2 very concerned about Grant Ward’s continuing presence on the series. His betrayal was a shot of Adrenalin the bland SHIELD crew needed and his actions had been too extreme and lethal to be forgiven or excused – but this is TV, where it seems any character can be redeemed. And I really didn’t want to see Ward redeemed, especially since Brett Dalton really found the character when he was allowed to play him as a villain. Thankfully, Season 2 didn’t try to bring Ward back onto the SHIELD team – in fact, by the end, he was more delightfully despicable than ever, torturing Bobbi and setting a trap to kill any SHIELD agent that attempted to rescue her and shooting and killing May, point blank, the first chance he had.SHIELD: Season 2 benefited from a show now unafraid to shake up the dynamic. Perhaps having to completely change everything about the series two thirds into the first season served as an inspiration, but from Simmons’ double agent status, to Gonzales’ crew taking over, the show rarely felt stagnant. The show’s always been in a difficult scenario – people love the interconnectivity of the MCU, but because the movie’s have the big superheroics covered, SHIELD felt hindered by not being able to deal with a lot of the bigger name heroes, in a way a series like The Flash (which isn’t connected to DC’s movies at all) doesn’t have to deal with. The decision to have Coulson and Skye begin to form a team of superpowered members seems to indicate those involved have decided its time to bring some more ongoing flash  to the series, even if it won’t be with the biggest name characters. Things will no doubt change in a big way again as a result, but right now, it’s exciting to ponder what’s coming next.

REVIEW: STARGATE – SG.1 – SEASON 1-10

Image result for stargate sg.1 logo

MAIN CAST

Richard Dean Anderson (MacGyver)
Michael Shanks (Smallville)
Amanda Tapping (Sanctuary)
Christopher Judge (The Dark Knight Rises)
Don S. Davis (Andromeda)
Corin Nemec (Parker Lewis Can’t Loose)
Ben Browder (Farscape)
Beau Bridges (My Name Is Earl)
Claudia Black (The Originals)

Image result for stargate sg.1 logo

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Jay Avocone (Beauty and The Beast 1989)
Vaitiare Bandera (Out of The Blue)
Peter Williams (Catwoman)
Brent Stait (Blade: The Series)
Gary Jones (Highlander: The Series)
Alexis Cruz (Dark Wolf)
Rachel Hayward (Jingle All The Way 2)
Colin Lawrence (X-Men 2)
Adam Harrington (The Secret Circle)
Kevin McNulty (Elektra)
Alan Rachins (Batman: TAS)
Jorge Vargas (Power Rangers Ninja Storm)
Soon-Tek Oh (Death Wish 4)
Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Mortal Kombat Legacy)
Crystal Lowe (Poison Ivy 4)
Teryl Rothery (Arrow)
Steve Makaj (IT)
Roger Cross (First Wave)
William Russ (American History X)
Harley Jane Kozak (Santa Barbara)
Gabrielle Miller (Highlander: The Series)
Bobbie Phillips (Two Guys and a Girl)
Galyn Gorg (Robocop 2)
Tamsin Kelsey (Needful Things)
James Earl Jones (Star Wars)
Keene Curtis (Lois & Clark)
Elizabeth Hoffman (Sisters)
Paul McGillion (Stargate: Atlantis)
Tony Amendola (The Mask of Zorro)
Katie Stuart (She’s The Man)
Tobin Bell (Boogeyman 2)
Ronny Cox (Robocop)
Douglas Arthurs (Act of War)
Bonnie Bartlett (Firefly)
Dwight Schultz (The A-Team)
Tobias Mehler (Wishmaster 3)
Peter Bryant (Dark Angel)
Chris Owens (Red)
Erick Avari (Heroes)
Tom McBeath (Bates Motel)
Sarah Douglas (Superman 2)
JR Bourne (Arrow)
Christina Cox (Earth: Final Conflict)
Matthew Walker (Highlander: The Series)
Eric Breker (X-Men Origins)
Marshall R. Teague (Armageddon)
Colin Cunningham (Elektra)
Carmen Argenziano (Identity)
Amber Rothwell (Andromeda)
Tom Butler (Blade: The Series)
Samantha Ferris (Along Came a Spider)
Mitchell Kosterman (Smallville)
Andrew Airlie (Final Destination 2)
Britt Irvin (V)
Ty Olsson (Izombie)
Sam J. Jones (Flash Gordon)
Dion Johnstone (The Core)
Megan Leitch (IT)
Jason Gray-Stanford (Bones)
William deVry (Earth: Final Conflict)
David Palffy (Blade: The Series)
Garwin Sanford (The Fly 2)
Kevin Durand (Dark Angel)
Terry Chen (Bates Motel)
Steve Bacic (Andromeda)
Anne Marie DeLuise (Smallville)
Rene Auberjonois (Star Trek: DS9)
Musetta Vander (Buffy)
Vanessa Angel (Puppet Master vs Demonic Toys)
Marina Sirtis (Star Trek: TNG)
Alessandro Juliani (Smallville)
Brian Markinson (Arrow)
Peter Wingfield (Highlander: The Series)
Willie Garson (White Collar)
Matthew Bennett (Battlestar Galactica)
Steven Williams (Jason Goes To Hell)
Anna-Louise Plowman (Shanghai Knights)
Paul Koslo (The Flash 90s)
Dion Luther (The Net: The Series)
Christopher Cousins (The Vampire Diaries)
Michelle Harrison (The Flash)
Elisabeth Rosen (House of The Dead)
Hrothgar Mathews (Deception)
Bill Dow (Legends of The Fall)
Sean Patrick Flanery (Raging Angels)
John de Lancie (Star Trek: TNG)
John Prosky (The Devil Inside)
Colleen Rennison (The Story of Us)
Jacqueline Samuda (The L Word)
Larry Drake (Firefly)
Garry Chalk (Dark Angel)
Bill Marchant (Chappie)
Michael Deluise (Lost)
Jill Teed (Arrow)
Courtenay J. Stevens (Beach)
Grace Park (Battlestar Galactica)
David Kopp (Blade: The Series)
Cliff Simon (Days of Our Lives)
Jennifer Calvert (Earthsea)
Obi Ndefo (Angel)
Rick Worthy (The Vampire Diaries)
Danielle Nicolet (3rd Rock From The Sun)
David Hewlett (Splice)
Aleks Paunovic (Mortal Kombat Legacy)
Aaron Douglas (Battlestar Galactica)
Dorian Harewood (Termiantor: TSCC)
Ona Grauer (V)
Blu Mankuma (Tin Man)
Michael Eklund (Arrow)
Dean Stockell (Quantum Leap)
Patrick Mckenna (Robocop: The Series)
John Billingsley (Cold Case)
Michael Adamthwaite (Tru Calling)
Peter Stebbings (Bates Motel)
Gwynyth Walsh (Taken)
George Wyner (Spaceballs)
Kendall Cross (X-Men 2)
Ian Buchanan (Justice League Unlimited)
Tahmoh Penikett (Dollhouse)
G. Patrick Currie (Smallville)
Francois Chau (Lost)
Sarah Deakins (Andromeda)
David Paetkau (Flashpoint)
John Novak (Wishmaster 3 & 4)
Thomas Kopache (Catch Me If You Can)
Michael Welch (All The Boys Love Mandy Lane)
David Richmond-Peck (V)
Christopher Heyerdahl (Sanctuary)
James Parks (Kill Bill)
Michael Rooker (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Kavan Smith (Sanctuary)
Jolene Blalock (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Christine Adams (Agents of SHIELD)
Emily Holmes (Dark Angel)
David Deluise (Vampires Suck)
Sebastian Spence (First Wave)
Saul Rubinek (Memory Run)
Adam Baldwin (Chuck)
Peter Flemming (Love Sick)
James McDaniel (Sleepy Hollow)
Jessica Steen (Armageddon)
William Devane (The Dark Knight Rises)
Torri Higginson (Highlander: The Raven)
Kira Clavell (Ninja Turtles: Next Mutation)
Alisen Down (Smallville)
David Kaufman (Superman: TAS)
Amy Sloan (The Aviator)
James Kidnie (Arrow)
Erica Durance (Smallville)
Derek Hamilton (Out Cold)
Charles Shaughnessy (Sabrina: TTW)
Barclay Hope (Paycheck)
Dan Castellaneta (The Simpsons)
Isaac Hayes (South Park)
Mel Harris (Thirtysomething)
Clare Carey (Hercules: TLJ)
Lexa Doig (Andromeda)
April Telek (Supernatural)
Julian Sands (Gotham)
Louis Gossett Jr (The Punisher 80s)
Maury Chaykin (Andromeda)
Sonya Salomaa (Watchmen)
William B. Davis (The X-Files)
Robert Picardo (Star Trek: Voyager)
Cameron Bright (Running Scared)
Tony Todd (The Flash)
Anna Galvin (Caprica)
William Atherton (Die Hard)
Reed Diamond (Dollhouse)
Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters)
John Aylward (Alias)
Peter Shinkoda (Masked Rider)
Tamlyn Tomita (Highlander: The Series)
Tim Guinee (Iron Man)
Daniella Evangelista (Edgemont)
Michael Ironside (Total Recall)
John Noble (Sleepy Hollow)
Katharine Isabelle (Ginger Snaps)
Eric Steinberg (Terminator: TSCC)
Noah Danby (Bitten)
Jodelle Ferland (Kingdom Hospital)
Joe Flanigan (Thoughtcrimes)
Sarah Strange (Dark Angel)
David Nykl (Arrow)
Chuck Campbell (Jason X)
Keegan Connor Tracy (Bates Motel)
Corey Monteith (Glee)
Morena Baccarin (Gotham)
Rudolf Martin (Buffy)
Scott McNeil (Beast Wars)
Aisha Hinds (Cult)
Mike Dopud (X-Men: Days of Future Past)
Ron Canada (Wedding Crashers)
Craig Fairbrass (Termiantor: TSCC)
John Tench (Andromeda)
Fred Willard (Anchorman)
Jonathan Walker (Flash Gordon)

Most TV shows spun off from movies are uninvolving and uninteresting, and hopefully die and are forgotten.

That wasn’t the case with the spinoff of the 1995 movie “Stargate,” a science fiction movie that spawned an excellent television series, “Stargate SG-1.” The first season is not nearly as brilliant as the ones that followed it, but it’s a welcome change from distant space operas — excellent writing, acting, and a sense of humor about itself and its characters.

The Stargate has been inactive for a year — until it is activated, and a bunch of Egyptian-styled warriors come through and kidnap a young officer. General Hammond (Don S. Davis) pulls Jack O’Neill (Richard Dean Anderson) out of retirement to learn what really happened on the planet of Abydos, and where these mysterious aliens have come from. O’Neill and a small team go to Abydos and find Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks) who has been learning about a vast network of Stargates over the past year. But when Daniel’s wife Sha’re and brother-in-law Skaara are abducted by the same warriors, O’Neill, Jackson and Air Force scientist Sam Carter (Amanda Tapping) use the Stargate to venture to where they’re being kept. What they find is an alien race who inhabits human hosts, the Goa’uld, and their ruthless slave warriors, the Jaffa. Carter, O’Neill and Jackson are captured by the powerful Apophis — but to escape, they must have the help of an unlikely ally: Teal’c (Christopher Judge), Apophis’ First Prime. Since Earth has now annoyed the Goa’uld, several exploration teams are formed to go through the Stargate and find weapons and allies.
And SG-1 — Carter, O’Neill, Jackson and Teal’c — encounters some very strange problems: a plague that turns people into savages, a people who live only a hundred days, a Viking planet, a Stargate explorer stranded since 1945, a little girl turned into a bomb, the seductive Goa’uld queen Hathor, and coming back as robots. And when the military shuts down the SG program, Daniel reveals that the Earth is about to be destroyed by Apophis’ armies. The first season of “Stargate SG-1” isn’t the most impressive, though the last three episodes hint at the series’ future greatness. And thankfully, it drops the usual space opera stuff — instead we get Stargates, real military, and a very plausible reason why everybody in the galaxy (more or less) looks just like us. It’s graced with kitschy Egyptian-styled sets, lots of shoot-em-up action from Marines and Air Force, and plenty of planets influenced by Earth cultures, like the Minoans and the Vikings. Best of all is the snappy dialogue, mostly from the tart-tongued O’Neill.

When we last left Our Heroes, they were on Apophis’ ship, facing the impending destruction and/or enslavement of everyone on Earth.
So unsurprisingly, the second season of “Stargate SG-1” can only get better from there on. In fact, this is when the clever, innovative sci-fi series really started to gel together, with more intriguing storylines, character arcs, and some new alien allies — basically, it all blooms.
Intending to blow up Apophis’ ship, our heroes get captured by the Jaffa and thrown in a cell — only to be unexpectedly rescued by Bra’tac (Tony Amendola), Teal’c’s old teacher. As Earth mounts a pitiful defense against the Goa’uld, SG-1 joins with a small band of rebel Jaffa to stop Apophis’ invasion — but they may have to leave one of their number behind.
Obviously the Goa’uld make things awkward throughout the season, with the second episode featuring Sam (Amanda Tapping) being possessed by a Goa’uld during a rescue mission — but it seems that it’s part of a rebel Goa’uld faction called the Tok’ra. Teal’c’s (Christopher Judge) son is kidnapped and brainwashed, and Daniel (Michael Shanks) finds that his beloved wife is pregnant with Apophis’ child.
And of course, SG-1 has to deal with lots of other stuff — insectile transformations, black holes, prison planets, Native American “spirits,” invisible bugs, hostile alien orbs, reliving their most traumatic memories in a VR world, and time traveling to 1969. And O’Neill (Richard Dean Anderson) gets an ancient repository of knowledge downloaded into his head — and he’ll die if they can’t reverse it.
“Stargate SG-1” really got into its stride in the second season — the basic Air-Force-versus-evil-headsnakes story gets expanded out into a bunch of arcs. We get new villains, some surprising new allies, hints about the true origins of the Stargates and the human race, and corrupt factions on Earth who use the spare Stargate for evil ends.

The writing gets even steadier and the alien worlds more interesting — even stuff that sounds goofy, like the planet of singing mushroom-people, somehow works. The drama is stronger, and the sci-fi usage of the Stargate ever more creative, such as when a black hole’s gravity well keeps the gate open, and is slowly sucking Earth through the wormhole.  Of course, all the action and sci-fi is heavily tempered with comedy. Even in grim situations, there’s usually at least a few funny moments, such as Daniel’s tour of the custodial closet. And of course, the dialogue is priceless — most of the good stuff comes from O’Neill, but Teal’c and the others usually get some good ones as well. Of the main cast, Amanda Tapping gets the juiciest role in this season — Sam deals with the impending death of her father, becoming a Goa’uld host, and trying to deal with the feelings it left behind. Including a Tok’ra boyfriend. Yet when we see Sam’s vulnerable sides, Tapping never lets her character be anything but a strong, capable military woman.

But the other actors aren’t neglected — Shanks’ Daniel grapples with the news that his wife is pregnant with Apophis’ baby, while Teal’c faces losing his entire family. Anderson is brilliant as the quirky, capable O’Neill, but he really gets brilliant when Jack’s brain is being overwritten — he has to emote and communicate without a comprehensible word. The second season of “Stargate SG-1” is where the story began to really get great, building up a series of strong story arcs, funny dialogue, and strong characters.

Many people believe that subsequent seasons of Stargate: SG1 get progressively better. So far, no arguement from me. Season 1 was good, 2 was better, and  season 3 is even better. Col. Jack O’Neill (Richard Dean Anderson), and his SG1 team of the now Maj. Samantha Carter (Amanda Tapping), Dr. Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks), and Teal’c (Christopher Judge) continued their adventures through the Stargate to various old and new planets. The team, as well as the SGC in general, were tested in many more ways than ever thought possible. The team went to “Hell” in order to save Sam’s dad, who is still a member of the Tok’Ra resistance, Daniel suffered a major loss, and O’Neill was blended, albeit briefly, with a Goa’uld. One of the reasons that I personally liked this year was that many of last year’s conflicts were resolved (Lenea, Destroyer of Worlds), which made room for new plotlines (the Replicators), as well as continuing old ones (the search for the Harsesis child).

This is also the season when SG1 truly realizes that they truly have allies in their fight against the Goa’uld; the Asgard helped form a treaty between Earth and the Goa’uld, the Tok’Ra continue to offer their assistance and wisdom, the Nox have begun to reestablish contact with the SGC, and the Tollan.


Other good episodes include “Into the Fire”, “Fair Game”, “Legacy”, “Learning Curve”, “Point of View”, “Past and Present”, “Jolinar’s Memories”, “The Devil You Know”, “Foothold”, “Urgo”, “Shades of Grey”, “New Ground”, and “Nemesis”. Judging by the increase in quality each season.

he Replicators. The Russians. The Aschen. These are only a few of the new enemies presented this year, in Stargate: SG-1 (okay, so technically, the Replicators were introduced last year). These new baddies made a lot of trouble this year for the SGC in what is definitely the best season yet. We learn more about the Replicators this year when Sam (Amanda Tapping) is brought to an Asgard-controlled planet to help defend the O’Neill, the Asgard’s newest and most advanced ship ever. Also, the Russians retrieve the Giza gate from the bottom of the ocean from when Thor’s ship, the Beliskner, crashed, while the SGC is now using the Antarctica gate. And, 10 years in the future, an advanced race, known as the Aschen, are quietly wiping out the human race by making humans infertile.


These are just a handful of the amazing new stories that occurred this year. It seems that Col. O’Neill (Richard Dean Anderson), Maj. Carter, Dr. Jackson (Michael Shanks), and Teal’c (Christopher Judge) can never catch a break. This year, not only have their alien enemies become more powerful than ever, especially Apophis (Peter Williams), their enemies on Earth have truly become a threat. Senator Kinsey (Ronny Cox), the man who tried to shut down the SGC in Season 1, has been linked to the rogue sector of the NID, the civillian organization responsible for the theft of numerous alien technologies over the last few years.


The stories this year are better than ever, especially with an increasing number of arcs occurring. Episodes like “Crossroads” and “The Serpent’s Venom” were expertly executed, and had immense emotional effects on our heroes. However, I have to praise the stand-alones this year, especially “Window of Opportunity” and “The Other Side”, which have never been better.

Some other great episodes are: “Small Victories”, “Upgrades”, “Watergate”, “Point of No Return”, “Tangent”, “The Curse”, “Chain Reaction”, “2010”, “Absolute Power”, “Double Jeopardy”, and “Exodus”.

The year began with a cool premiere, “Enemies”,  There were some amazing story developments this year, beginning with the final demise of Apophis (Peter Williams), the Goa’uld System Lord who has been making life difficult for the SGC ever since the first season. Next, the Tollan, an extremely advanced race of humans who are allied with Earth, begin acting suspiciously, the SGC begins recruiting new officers, the motives of the Aschen from last season are revealed, the Tok’Ra are nearly destroyed, and the Jaffa rebellion begins to truly become a problem for the System Lords.

And then, Daniel is brought to a System Lord summit where he has the chance to wipe out the Goa’uld threat forever, that is until he learns of the return of Anubis, an ancient System Lord who was banished for his horrific crimes. Also, we finally learn the origins of the Replicators. Finally, SG-1 must endure a change that they never thought would happen in the episode “Meridian”, and then, Anubis and Osirus (Anna-Louise Plowman) reveal plans to attack the Asgard.


This is a very important season, good episodes include: “Enemies”, “Threshold”, “Between Two Fires”, “2001”, “Wormhole X-Treme”, “Proving Ground”, “Summit”, “Last Stand”, “The Warrior”, “Menace”, “Meridian”, and “Revelations”.

The season begins with SG-1 still trying to find a fourth man. Ever since the death/ascension of Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks), they have been unable to find a suitable replacement. Refugee Jonas Quinn (Corinn Nemec) has expressed a desire to join, but Col. O’Neill (Richard Dean Anderson) never seemed to warm up to the idea. Also, Anubis (David Paffly) has found a machine created by the Ancients that uses one stargate to destroy another, and he used it to attempt to destroy Earth.

Using the new X-302, a craft capable of aerial combat and intersellar travel, O’Neill successfully avoids disaster, but the Antarctica gate is destroyed. After that, we don’t see Anubis for a while, but the threat of his powers is always hanging over the heads of the SGC.


With Jonas as the new member of SG-1, the team embarks on another year of amazing missions. This year, we see the end of the exiled System Lord Niirti, known for her attempts to create a superior human host through genetic experimentation, we are introduced to some technology of the Furlings, one of the members of the intergalactic UN group who rallied against the goa’uld, Earth’s first interstellar capital ship, Prometheus is unvailed, the Replicator threat is ended, and, in one of my favorite episodes, Gen. Hammond (Don S. Davis) discloses the existence of the SGC to representitives of the UK, France, and China.


Some great episodes include “Redemption Pts. 1 and 2”, “Descent”, “Nightwalkers”, “Abyss”, “Shadow Play”, “Allegiance”, “Prometheus”, “Unnatural Selection”, “Smoke and Mirrors”, “Disclosure”, “The Changeling”, and “Full Circle”, the best episode of the season.

That is the season when Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks) returns from being an ascended being, albeit on an alien world without his memory (“Fallen”). This required getting rid of Jonas Quinn (Corin Nemec) to get the old gang back together again, which happens when Anubis download Jonas’ memory and the Goa’uld attack Kelowna (“Homecoming”). Wisely, this is not the last appearance of Jonas for the season (“Fallout”) as he becomes another one of recurring guest characters that are a major strength of the series.

There are several Daniel Jackson stories that make a point of giving the actor interesting things to do, such as “Lifeboat,” where his mind becomes a resting place for a bunch of alien minds, “Enemy Mine,” which requires Jackson to show diplomatic skills, and big time flashbacks in “Chimera,” to before Daniel first saw the Stargate.

Overall, Season 7 is really Samantha Carter’s season and Amanda Tapping has several episodes where she pretty much goes it alone. “Space Race” has her joining an alien pilot for a little intergalactic competition, while “Death Knell” finds Carter being hunted by the supers soldiers of Anubis after an attack on Earth’s secret off-world base. In “Grace” Carter literally ends up alone when the Prometheus is attacked and she wakes up to find herself the only one on a ship drifting in deep space. The other characters show up as the angels of her better nature, which is the only way that Sam and Jack are ever going to have an honest conversation.

The whole Anubis/Lost City bit ends up being equal parts time to beat another bigger and badder system lord and find a fitting end point for the series that can also work as a transition to the spinoff.

Stargate has retained a massive level of consistency over the years, staying at the same level of quality, if not getting even a little bit better: it has always retained the humor, the characterization and the excitement and the action that has made it so loved.

Since season seven, there has been more of a focus on characterization and a tad bit more humor: and i for one welcome this, as the characters have always been the best aspect of the show: season eight continues this trend, and also the trend of even better quality than ever before!
Highlights include the opening two parter: New order Parts one and Two which is very exciting with plenty of plot twists. Affinity is another highlight for me as it is an episode with very little action, it is a mystery with a huge focus on characterization and intrigue, and manages to be very intriguing, with, again, some brilliant little character moments. Prometheus unbound is a highlight.

Reckoning parts one and two are possibly the best episodes of stargate ever made; they wrap up most of the major storylines, bringing the end to both the main enemies in the show, and are impossibly epic: there is so much going on, so much peril and a sense of doom, that you are kept on the edge of your seat the whole time, with some humour thrown in for good measure.

Avalon, Part 1 is a great season opener, introduces  new kid on the block Ben Browder,  as the season progresses the character is definitely fleshed out more and he soon fits in nicely with the tightly-knit S.G.1 team.

However, the bottom line is that this is still a character who bares a striking similarity in disposition to Browder’s other well-known TV personality- Farscape’s John Crichton- with that same irreverent humor and easy-going attitude, but it’s a style that clearly works for Browder and it’s difficult not to find that likable. Beau Bridges’ introduction is made with equally good fanfare, his character is one who I found myself liking more readily- he approaches the role of the General of the base differently to Don S. Davis, with more of an every man approach, although he never hesitates to exert the full force of his office against unfriendly aliens, or humans when required.

Largely thanks to the development of this season’s main story-arc with the introduction of God-wannabes the Ori and their powerful minions known as Priors, this ninth season becomes surprisingly mesmerising in very short order. Beginning with the concluding part and then into episode 3- `Origin’, this season soon establishes itself as one of the best `Stargate: S.G.1′ offerings in years. The use of Arthurian legend in this season is spread pretty thickly in the beginning and had me worried that this fantasy element might not work in a predominantly science-fiction-oriented series, but very soon the parallels the writers draw between the Arthurian myth and the familiar Stargate set-up, become very inventive and come to work surprisingly well at contrasting against the new and growing force of evil spreading through the galaxy. In the first five episodes that other recognizable `Farscape’ regular Claudia Black and her seductively disobedient alter-ego Vala are another reason to be enchanted by this season. Vala brings such humor and life to the series that I was really disappointed when she parted company with S.G.1, despite the welcome return of Sam Carter following her brief career change. Thankfully Vala returns towards the end of the season and here’s hoping it’s not the last we see of her.

This season’s other major success is in its stand-alone stories that continue to present unique, punchy and creative sci-fi ideas to its audience. In particular episode 9- `Prototype’ and episode 13- `Ripple Effect’ are a couple of my favourites, the first of which concerns the discovery of a prodigy of Anubis frozen on a distant planet and the second has multiple S.G.1 teams pouring through the Stargate from diverse alternate realities , both of which had me glued to my seat.

Largely thanks to Vala (Claudia Black) who’s as charming as she is side-splittingly, ingeniously, flirtatiously funny and who now becomes a credited member of the main cast, season ten gets off to a brilliant start  as the action picks up right where the previous season left-off with episode 1- Flesh and Blood and doesn’t decrease in pace.

It explores the continued threat of the Ori and their ever-increasing capture and control of worlds unable to mount any effective resistance against such a seemingly omnipotent foe. Episode 3- The Pegasus Project  is also very gripping with a finale that’s both surprising and tantalizing.

episodes 10- The Quest, Part I and 11- The Quest, Part II both of which work well in continuing SG-1’s discovery & unravelling of Arthurian-inspired mysteries surrounding their search for a weapon capable of destroying their enemy. Episode 14- The Shroud  sees Daniel in a unique position to deal a crippling blow to the Ori, which is also solid.

while episode 20- Unending is a wonderful episode- with a story that’s not just dramatic, but explores sides to the main characters never seen before, it ends the season with so much unresolved that it’s difficult to appreciate this tenth season as it should be appreciated as the final outing of SG-1. Obviously a great deal has been withheld to be used in the TV movie The Ark of Truth.

REVIEW: LIE TO ME – SEASON 1-3

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MAIN CAST

Tim Roth (The Incredible Hulk)
Kelli Williams (Army Wives)
Brendan Hines (Terminator: TSCC)
Monica Raymond (Chicago Fire)
Hayley McFarland (The Conjuring)
Mekhi Phifer (Divergent)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Jake Thoams (A.I.)
Tim Guinee (Iron Man)
Nolan Gerard Funk (Arrow)
David Anders (Izombie)
Rance Howard (A Beautiful Mind)
Anthony Ruivivar (Scream: The Series)
Isabella Hoffman (Legends of Tomorrow)
Sasha Roiz (Caprica)
Kristen Ariza (Startup)
Mekenna Melvin (ChucK)
Sean Patrick Thomas (Save The Last Dance)
Deidre Lovejpy (Bones)
Carlos Lacamara (Heroes Reborn)
Megan Follows (Reign)
Christine Adams (Agents of SHIELD)
Ajay Mehta (Anger Management)
Shea Whigham (Agent Carter)
Cheryl White (Major Crimes)
Virginia Williams (Fairly Legal)
Pej Vahdat (Bones)
Jennifer Beals (Flashdance)
Kevin Tighe (Lost)
Currie Graham (Stargate: The Ark of Truth)
D.B. Woodside (Buffy)
Jason Beghe (Californication)
Clea DuVall (The Faculty)
Mageina Tovah (Spider-Man 2 & 3)
Melissa Tang (Mom)
Jonathan Banks (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles)
Erika Christensen (Flightplan)
John Pyper-Ferguson (Caprica)
James Marsters (Buffy)
Gretchen Egolf (Roswell)
Marc Blucas (Red State)
David Kaufman (Superman: TAS)
Karina Logue (Bates Motel)
Sean O’Bryan (The Princess Diaries)
Garret Dillahunt (Terminator: TSCC)
Lennie James (The Walking Dead)
Alicia Coppola (Another World)
Roy Werner (Weeds)
Jason Gedrick (Beauty and The Beast)
April Grace (Lost)
Todd Stashwick (The Originals)
Ricky Jay (Flashforward)
Miguel Ferrer (Robocop)
Felicia Day (Dr. Horrible)
Jason Dohring (Veronica Mars)
Ashley Johsnon (Dollhouse)
Howard Hesseman (That 70s Show)
Mark Harelik (The Big Bang Theory)
Melissa George (Triangle)
Max Greenfield (Veronica Mars)
Bruce Weitz (General Hospital)
Enver Gjokaj (Agent Carter)
Alona Tal (Cult)
Khary Payton (Teen Titans)
Michael Beach (The Abyss)
Yara Shahidi (Ugly Betty)
Alyssa Diaz (The Vampire Diaries)
Kenneth Mitchell (Odyssey 5)
Richard Burgi (Chuck)
Conor O’Farrell (Stir of Echoes)
Catherine Dent (Termiantor: TSCC)
Kenny Johnson (Cold Case)
Erick Avari (Stargate)
Carmen Argenziano (Stargate SG.1)
Natalie Dreyfuss (The Originals)
Tiffany Hines (Bones)
Haley Ramm (X-Men 3)
Monique Gabriela Curnen (The Dark Knight)
Jennifer Marsala (Hart of Dixie)
Shawn Doyle (Reign)
Jamie Hector (Heroes)
Audrey Marie Anderson (Arrow)
Brent Sexton (Birds of Prey)
Katherine LaNasa (The Campaign)
Daniela Bobadilla (Anger Management)
Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica)
Kathleen Gati (Arrow)
Noel Fisher (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Maury Sterling (The A-Team)
Jessica Parker Kennedy (The Secret Circle)
Brandon Jones (Pretty Little Liars)
Jim Beaver (Mike & Molly)
Barry Shabaka Henley (Heroes)
John Diehl (Stargate)
Keith Robinson (Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue)
Michael B. Jordan (Fantastic four)
Frankie Faison (The Silence of The Lambs)
Paula Malcomson (The Hunger Games)
Victoria Pratt (Mutant X)
Adam Godley (Powers)
Dylan Minnette (Goosebumps)
Annabeth Gish (Flashforward)
Alexandra Lydon (Mockingbird)
Ashton Holmes (A History of Violence)

We have all told a lie at one point in our lives. While our the lies we have told may be small, one needs to look no further than his or her local news to see that not all lies are harmless. Sometimes though lies seem like a last resort and getting the truth isn’t as simple as a lie detector. Dr. Cal Lightman (Tim Roth) would be the first to tell you a lie detector is garbage and he illustrates this point in an early episode in the series.  A lie detector establishes a baseline for truthful statements and then measures body factors like pulse rate, skin conductivity and temperature; any changes from the baseline readings indicates a lie. The problem is as Dr. Lightman shows in his trademark sardonic fashion, do something as simple as introduce an attractive woman in the room and the most honest man will instantly be a liar to the machine. His solution? Himself.


Lie to Me throws viewers into the world of human lie detector, Cal Lightman. His lie detecting skills rely on universal facial expressions and how a well-trained individual can detect a liar from reading “micro expressions.” Lightman heads up the private deception detection firm The Lightman Group and throughout the course of Lie to Me’s thirteen freshman episodes, Lightman and his associates Dr. Gillian Foster, Eli Loker, and new protégé Ria Torres will put their finely trained skills to the test as their group is hired from clients ranging from billionaires worried about potential gold diggers to law enforcement in stopping a copycat serial rapist. As absurd as the notion of Lightman being able to read facial expressions to determine whether a person is lying is, prepare to be blown away, as it’s all based on the very real and groundbreaking research of Dr. Paul Ekman.


Dr. Ekman pioneered the study of micro expressions and universal emotion and serves as a creative inspiration for Roth’s character. The creators have kept Ekman in the loop throughout the creative process and Fox allows Ekman to blog about what is factual and what is exaggerated on the show’s website, which earns this new series bonus points for giving viewers something to think about once the episode ends.

Once Roth is able to establish himself in the role of Lightman and we get bits and pieces of his human side (his relationship with Dr. Foster as well as his teenage daughter). Fortunately, the formula of the show does allow for Lightman’s other colleagues to hold their own as there is almost always a secondary case assigned to the pair not working with Lightman on the primary case. This allows for character bonds to be formed, in some cases from scratch as Monica Raymund’s character, Ria Torres, is a new addition to the team and provides some great dramatic tension from time to time as her ability is natural, which often draws the ire and jealousy of her brilliant boss.


Finally, the most unique positive aspect of Lie to Me comes from viewers being able to play along at home. As we learn little explanations of micro expressions from Lightman, in later episodes it’s fun to try and spot character motivations before they are revealed to us by one of the team.

Back for a second longer season, this show is every bit the show that I so enjoyed in the first season and even a little bit more. As with all shows, the first season suffers from a few growing pains. Actors need to settle into their roles, writers need to discover their characters’ true personalities and basically the show needs to settle. Thats why the second season is often a bit better than the first and Lie to me is no exception to that. The show was smoother, the acting more comfortable and the character relationships had chance to really blossom in a believable manner.

In this second season Cal seems to be much more lively, a great deal more fun to watch. HIs mock nervous energy, dry sense of humour and heart of gold is a more likeable. The other key element I liked in this series was the advancement of the relationships. There’s not any major romantic steps forward in this season, but Cal’s relationship with his daughter is a real high point of the show, as are his relationships with Foster and the rest of the gang. Every character seems to enjoy real chemistry with the others and that’s rare in any show, yet alone a procedural drama.

Overall this is another strong season. The show is funny when it needs to be, fast paced and action packed when thats called for, and finally it is interesting enough to more than keep your attention with every episode. Quite frankly, by the end of this season I would normally be hooked for the long hall. Shame then that there’s only one season left to watch

I was aware going in that this was going to be the final season of the show however it quickly becomes apparent that show runners weren’t similarly informed . The series really didn’t have the feel of a final season and indeed the show seemed to be picking up pace as it approached its final episode with new characters getting screen time and relationships moving forward with the usual pace of a procedural show finding its feet.

Because of this not only did the season not feel like a final season, the finale lacked any kind of closure whatsoever. It’s a shame as this show deserved more than just to fizzle out in what felt like a mid-season break rather than a complete end.

All I can say to finish is that once again a good show has been cancelled early while so many bad shows remain, which is a real shame. However, don’t let the poor ending to this show put you off.

REVIEW: TRON 1 & 2

CAST

Jeff Bridges (R.I.P.D.)
Bruce Boxleitner (Babylon 5)
David Warner (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2)
Cindy Morgan (Caddyshack)
Bernard Hughes (Da)
Peter Jurasik (Babylon 5)

Watching Tron now you can’t help but feel that the visual effects are looking less impressive than they did back in the ’80s, then you realise that this film is thirty years old, and suddenly they seem pretty decent again!

The story tells of a computer genius trying to hack into his former boss’ computer system to get back his intellectual property, after breaking into the premises and being digitised into bits of data by the prototype laser transporter there – he finds himself literally inside the system. Inside the mainframe he finds himself involved in a battle against the Master Control Program, an artificial intelligence which has mutated beyond its initial coding and has visions of world domination by hacking into other networks.

The various bits of software he encounters are visually represented using blends of computer animation techniques and live action manipulated in post-production. The film has a stylistic look which was unlike anything seen at the time. It still remains a unique experience as computer generated imaging quickly evolved since, leaving Tron as a pioneering title which has inspired the CGI work on countless films over the years and has been parodied many times. Admittedly the computer graphics do look very basic now and the large flying “recognisers” are laughably crude and not even slightly menacing. You do start to get used to the computer graphics though and the impact of their basic look softens. Despite this, I don’t consider at the special effects to be particularly dated, this is best viewed as a film of its own time, you can then truly marvel at the immersive world which has been created, not that dated visuals matter too much as the strength of this film exists in the central story of a man trying to break free from a corrupt system – in both the virtual and the real world. Abuses of influence by those in high positions and by those who surprisingly find themselves with power are themes which will always be relevant, and therefore the film still remains contemporary and probably always will.

Jeff Bridges brings a cheeky flamboyance to his dual roles as Flynn the maverick genius, and Clu – his virtual alter-ego. He is a convincing programming maestro without being a stereotypical code bore, he is aware of his own esteemed regard by his peers and enjoys it. In an age where video-arcades represented the pinnacle of publicly available technology, he is the king of that domain and a character you want to see succeed in his mission against the large corporation which seems to represent so much of what is wrong with the world. For a more tech savvy generation Tron stretches plausibility, the spurious elements of what happens inside a mainframe computer will be hard to swallow but the look of the film is one of pure science-fiction fantasy and the innards of the machine could easily be a completely different world. This is escapist cinema and so it doesn’t need to be too believable, it just needs to be fun – and Tron definitely delivers there.

 

CAST

Jeff Bridges (R.I.P.D.)
Garrett Hedlund (Unbroken)
Olivia Wilde (Cowboys & Aliens)
Bruce Boxleitner (Babylon 5)
James Frain (Gotham)
Beau Garrett (Fantastic Four: Rise of The Silver Surfer)
Michael Sheen (Underworld)
Serinda Swan (Smallville)
Yaya DaCosta (Ugly Betty)
Donnelly Rhodes (Battlestar Galactica)
Brent Stait (Andromeda)
Jeffrey Nordling (Arrow)
Christine Adams (Batman Begins)
Patrick Sabongui (The Flash)
Cillian Murphy (Inception)

Sam Flynn, the tech-savvy 27-year-old son of Kevin Flynn, looks into his father’s disappearance and finds himself pulled into the same world of fierce programs and gladiatorial games where his father has been living for 20 years. Along with Kevin’s loyal confidant Quorra, father and son embark on a life-and-death journey across a visually-stunning cyber universe that has become far more advanced and exceedingly dangerous. Meanwhile, the malevolent program CLU, who dominates the digital world, plans to invade the real world and will stop at nothing to prevent their escape.

There’s a fairly coherent storyline here that would appeal across the spectrum, striking a fair balance between drama and action, although action junkies would have preferred for set action sequences given the investment in souping up and introducing a number of vehicles other than the light cycle.

Certain scenes stood out either as homage or influenced pieces, the nightclub scene with Gem the Siren (Beau Garrett) bringing our new protagonist Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund), the son of Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges returns to once again play two roles, that of Kevin Flynn the founder of Encom and his digital creation / avatar Clu) to meet Castor (played by Michael Sheen with flamboyant spunk) an information broker in the undergrounds of the digital Grid world, seems to have contained a whiff out of The Matrix Revolutions, with Persephone and Merovingian. But of course the Wachowskis didn’t have Daft Punk to turn the tables, and parallels between the Matrix and the Grid cannot be more prominent given entities within are programs, with the ones gone rogue instilled with a desire to cross over to the real world.

Then there’s something unmistakably Star Wars about it too, with the designs of attack space crafts zipping through the night sky, and clearly one of the many gorgeous costumes here can’t seem to hold a candle to what looked like an awesome robe, simple as it is, but striking nonetheless. Or how about something which reminds one of Gotham City’s caped crusader, with the Tumbler inspired getaway vehicle with large inflatable tyres played out in a scene right out of Tim Burton’s first Batman movie with the long road back to the secret hideout within which to seek out answers to questions left silent en route.

Olivia Wilde provides for the token fashionista who is ever ready to flex her battle prowess with skills in various weapons – a lethal combination of The Matrix’s Trinity equipped with Star Wars blades – and vehicles, whose background is given a superficial twist which seeks to expand the Tron universe a little bit more with miracle phenomenon being a natural occurrence once a perfect equilibrium is achieved. Fans will get to learn and understand this expanded universe a lot more as explanations get dished out in due course, even one that deals with the time in between the first and second films, of Kevin Flynn’s obsession with his latest playground that his creation ultimately took over, turning it into an arena with its own brand of gladiatorial fights for entertainment. But there’s enough material introduced without being overwhelming for the new Grid entrant, and opens up a lot more avenues for future storytellers.

REVIEW: AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. – SEASON 1

CAST

Clark Gregg (When A Stranger Calls)
Ming-Na Wen (Stargate Universe)
Brett Dalton (Killing Lincoln)
Chloe Bennet (Nashville)
Ian De Caestecker (Filth)
Elizabeth Henstridge (Reach Me)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

J. August Richards (Angel)
Shannon Lucio (True Blood)
Ron Glass (Firefly)
Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother)
Leonor Varela (Blade II)
Samuel L. Jackson (Jackie Brown)
David Conrad (Roswell)
Ian Hart (Finding Neverland)
Ruth Negga (World War Z)
Cullen Douglas (Scandal)
Titus Welliver (Lost)
Saffron Burrows (Troy)
Maximiliano Hernández (Warrior)
Ilia Volok (Power Rangers Wild Force)
Charles Halford (Constantine)
Peter MacNicol (Ghostbusters II)
Dylan Minnette (Goosebumps)
Christine Adams (Pushing Daisies)
Maiara Walsh (The Starving Games)
Carlo Rota (Stargate Universe)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Bill Paxton (Apollo 13)
Elena Satine (Revenge)
B.J. Britt (Veronica Mars)
Jaimie Alexander (The Last Stand)
Dylan Bruno (Carrie 2)
Brad Dourif (Child’s Play)
Patton Oswalt (Two and A Half Men)
Amy Acker (The Cabin In The Woods)
Adrian Pasdar (Heroes)
Glenn Morshower (Supergirl)

When Marvel’s cinematic universe first took off, the next move was to make the leap to television, Marvel turned to Avengers director Joss Whedon’s brother Jed and his wife/collaborator Maurissa Tancharoen, who took the popular Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase One character Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), the man who helped gather the heroes who became the Avengers, and made him the star of his own series, focused on his team at S.H.I.E.L.D., the international peacekeeping organization run by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson.) The hour-long drama would build off of the well-known heroics, and tell connected tales of espionage, as Coulson and his squad respond to threats to humanity around the world.Now, in case you haven’t seen The Avengers, you should know that in a climactic battle, Coulson was very badly injured, which became a rallying point for the heroes. Well, he’s back, but how he made it back is a large part of the series’ foundation, which is revealed in piecemeal over the course of the first season. Coulson’s search for the truth is intertwined with the arrival of the newest member of his team, a hacker known as Skye (Chloe Bennett), who has plenty of secrets of her own, in part due to her past as a rogue “hacktivist.” Trust is a massive theme in the series, as no one is sure about anyone else but they have to rely on each other if they are going to complete their missions, which remind one of Fringe in a big way, as the team investigates strange phenomena in order to keep humanity safe.Lorelei, Though certainly not a big-name Marvel character (her sister The Enchantress has a much higher profile) and not the first recognizable super-powered character on the show (that would be the cybernetic assassin Deathlok, whose origin is revealed over the course of the season), Lorelei tips the scales with her appearance because she, as an Asgardian, creates a direct link to the world of Thor, and also because she’s followed to Earth by Lady Sif (Jaimie Alexander), the Asgardian warrior from the two Thor films. Finally, fans exclaimed, there’s some honest to goodness superhero action to be enjoyed, and that was followed by direct ties into the new Captain America movie, picking up the plot from the theaters and bringing its effects home. This was the crossover dream that comics mastered decades ago, and now Marvel was making happen between movies and TV (and you didn’t really even need to see both sides to enjoy them separately.)After offering this cookie to the fans, the series shifted back to the spy game though, where it would stay for the rest of the season, introducing Bill Paxton and Saffron Burrows in major roles) as Coulson’s organization crumbled around him and the team shifted from saving the world to saving each other. Coulson’s team, which, aside from Skye, includes Ward (Brett Dalton), a perfect soldier; badass pilot May (Ming-Na Wen) and science specialists Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge), comes together quickly as a unit on the series, establishing their personalities right off the bat, with Skye serving as the show’s young star, showing the old guard how a new generation does the job (though still requiring saving and offering a hearty cry every now and then) and Fitz and Simmons serving as the audience’s tech-loving stand-ins, the most down-to-earth parts of a fantastical realm. May though, with her economy of words and excess of butt-kicking skill, is the “Wolverine” of the show, and her relationship with Coulson serves as a backbone for the series. Naturally, Gregg’s performance is integral to the show, and he continues to shine in the role of Coulson, giving us a smartass secret agent for the ages.While the show is a serial and does well at telling action-adventure arcs of mystery and intrigue, building the mythology and establishing a larger storyline, it could do one-offs as well, including two of the season’s best episodes, “FZZT” which ties into The Avengers while telling a standalone story that put a spotlight on Fitz and Simmons, and “T.R.A.C.K.S.”, which puts the team on a train and tries out some interesting storytelling structure. The show also has its humorous side, taking its tone from the Marvel films, which blend grits with grins (and though Patton Oswalt gets a featured role in one episode, for once, he’s not responsible for the laughs.) For the most part, this mix works well, as it helps illustrate the growing camaraderie between the teammates and keeps the tone light, but it can get out of hand very quickly. The final episode, where much of what’s been revealed over the course of the previous 21 episodes comes to a head, the lightheartedness (thanks to an appearance by a famous friend of the team) goes over the top.