REVIEW: TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES – SEASON 1 & 2

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MAIN CAST

Lena Headey (Game of Thrones)
Thomas Dekker (Heroes)
Summer Glau (Arrow)
Richard T. Jones (Godzilla)
Brian Austin Green (Anger Management)
Leven Rambin (The Hunger Games)
Garret Dillahunt (Winter’s Bone)
Shirley Manson (Knife Fight)
RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Owain Yeoman (Supergirl)
Sonya Walger (Flashforward)
Nick Wechsler (Roswell)
Dean Winters (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)
Charlayne Woodard (The Crucible)
Tony Amendola (Annabelle)
Sasha Roiz (Caprica)
Jonathan Sadowski (Friday the 13th)
Brendan Hines (Lie To Me)
Catherine Dent (Taken)
Alessandra Torresani (The Big Bang Theory)
Tiya Sircar (The Vampire Diaries)
Andy Umberger (Angel)
Lee Thompson Young (Smallville)
Neil Hopkins (Lost)
Peter Mensah (Spartacus)
Bruce Davison (High Crimes)
Karina Logue (Scream: The Series)
Craig Fairbrass (Cliffhanger)
Dean Norris (Breaking Bad)
Zack Ward (Transformers)
Busy Philipps (The Smokers)
Leah Pipes (The Originals)
Jon Huertas (Sabrina: TTW)
Mackenzie Brooke Smith (Supergirl)
Dorian Harewood (Earth: Final Concflict)
Stephanie Jacobsen (Alex Cross)
Adam Busch (Buffy)
Richard Schiff (The Cape)
Eric Steinberg (Stargate SG.1)
Todd Stashwick (The Originals)
Rebecca Creskoff (Bates Motel)
Carlos Jacott (Firefly)
Samantha Krutzfeldt (A Mann’s World)
Connor Trinneer (Stargate: Atlantis)
Chad Lindberg (The Fast and The Furious)
Chad L. Coleman (Arrow)

When we first heard that FOX was making a Terminator series, we mostly groaned and rolled our eyes. It just sounded like a bad idea and a cynical ploy to capitalize on a flagging movie property. What’s more, when you think of Terminator, you think of big movies with huge effects and action sequences that set new standards. You don’t think of “Terminators of the Week” battling on smaller screens with tighter budgets.

 It was the first regular episode after the pilot that I feel the show really came into its own. That’s when the tone of the series was established, the more deliberate and introspective pace. Summer Glau’s performance as Cameron changed a bit.
 It’s the mark of a good show when, one by one, all of your issues are accounted for. In the episode Heavy Metal John does what he has to do despite Sarah’s overprotection. He’s becoming the leader he needs to become, and when Sarah says it’s too soon, Cameron says something to the effect of “Is it? The world ends in 4 years…” At the same time, Sarah came to value Cameron’s strategic value. She might not trust her (and should she?), but she no longer denies her the tactical advantage they have when using her.
As for the missing Terminator parts, the show picked up the ball there and ran with it. Agent Ellison finds the missing hand, and destroying the Terminator Cameron disabled becomes a great scene and establishes the use of thermite. When a show proves to you that it’s got the bases covered, and that it isn’t being sloppy with its storytelling – it gains your confidence and makes tuning in each week that much more satisfying. Terminator pulled this off in just nine episodes – which is remarkable considering they had only so much time and never planned on having such a short season because of the writers strike. There were a number of stylistic flourishes throughout the show that demonstrated how the series was different from the movies, and that this wasn’t going to be a show that was afraid to strike out on its own. Sarah’s dream where she assassinates the creators of the atomic bomb was particularly inspired. Bruce Davison (as Dr. Silberman) describing in awed rapture the events from T2 was a terrific bridge between this series and one of the most famous sequences of the entire franchise. The series ended on a high note, with Johnny Cash’s “The Man Comes Around” playing while a Terminator does what Terminators do. Only this time it’s done in a stylistically original way. It’s another scene that serves as an example of how the show stepped out on its own. It shows a level of creative maturity not usually found in franchised properties.
Then there’s the introduction of Brian Austin Green as Derek Reese. This was a decision that had us – and other fans – concerned that the show was making a big mistake. Why Green? It seems there could have been dozens, if not hundreds of other actors to take on this role. Actors who didn’t play the keyboard wielding dweeb on Beverly Hills 90210. Yet, again, the show proved worthy of our confidence and trust. Green did an excellent job, and played Reese not as your standard badass, but instead a man of emotional depth who had been turned into a soldier because the world around him fell apart.
Green’s best moments came in the finale. First, he uses a little girl to creatively settle a hostage situation. Then, he takes John to the park to celebrate his birthday. Without getting specific, there’s a touching moment, playing on the time travel device. “Happy Birthday,” Derek says, and leaves it at that. It’s an emotional note that was never quite achieved in the movies – and proof that the episodic format allows for greater complexity and character development than we’ve seen in the franchise. It’s also encouraging that the characters had become so resonant in these early episodes – and bodes well for the future.
No one likes to see a good show go under, especially just as it’s approaching new heights, and the recent cancellation of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008-2009) proved almost equally disheartening. At least the latter had a fighting chance, though: the mid-season replacement pulled down great numbers at first, but its popularity rapidly declined during the initial nine-episode run. Higher production costs didn’t help matters, either…yet Chronicles was renewed for a full-sized second season, where it expanded the series’ mythology and tossed in a few stand-alone episodes. Featuring plenty of terrific characters, tense action and special effects on par with Hollywood blockbusters, there was plenty to like…but roughly a month after the season finale aired, it was confirmed that the series wouldn’t return.
Nonetheless, this second and final season stands as one of the better stretches of television in recent memory. In an accompanying behind-the-scenes featurette, creator Josh Friedman admits that the cast and crew had no idea that Season 1 would end where it did—but you’d never know from watching, since the series stops and re-starts so seamlessly. Opening adventure “Samson and Delilah” kicks things off in a major way, punctuated by a gripping slow-motion sequence set to a musical cover by Shirley Manson of Garbage fame. Speaking of Manson, she’s front and center this season as Catherine Weaver, the mysterious leader of ZeiraCorp, a growing corporation with an interest in advanced technology. She’s eventually joined by former FBI agent James Ellison (Richard T. Jones); Ellison acts as her head of security and a mentor to ZeiraCorp’s experimental computer, who’s known as “John Henry”. Though more intelligent and efficient than the world’s greatest minds put together, this powerful entity is still a child learning about the the world and the humans in it.
Naturally, such a vague company—especially one with its hands in high-tech gadgetry—soon ends up on the radar of Sarah Connor (Lena Headey), who continues to forge onward with her son John (Thomas Dekkar), John’s uncle Derek Reese (Brian Austin Green) and Cameron, a Terminator sent from the future to aid them. New to the crowd are Jesse Flores (Stephanie Jacobsen) and Riley Dawson (Leven Rambin); both serve as love interests to Derek and John respectively…but like Catherine Weaver, they seem to have somewhat questionable pasts. Far more than the typical good-versus-evil formula that typically dominates modern sci-fi, The Sarah Connor Chronicles takes a decidedly different approach: it focuses on human existence and emotion as much as firefights and chase sequences. The formula works amazingly well during this season of 22 episodes.
 After the blistering “Samson and Delilah”, things don’t let up for a while. “Automatic for the People” introduces Riley and takes our heroes inside a nuclear power plant—but a major clue is unearthed, as Sarah discovers a list of events, places and other clues about Skynet, the company that Sarah believes will bring about Judgment Day. “Mousetrap” is a standout episode for a number of reasons: not only does it push the story further onward, but it’s one of the more suspenseful and exciting episodes in the bunch. “Allison from Palmdale” stands tall as a solid origin story for Cameron, while the extended “Goodbye to All That” sends John and Derek on a field trip with a Terminator model 888 in hot pursuit. These episodes—and several others, of course—show how much Season 2 has expanded the story’s scope. Well over half the episodes are shot on location in various parts of California and beyond—and with the vague threat of ZeiraCorp looming overhead, tension remains high throughout the first half of the season.
As the season’s second half approaches, things start to get a little cloudy…both for the narrative itself and the show’s ratings, which gradually slid as the season progressed. “Self-Made Man” and “Alpine Fields” are two stand-alone episodes designed to draw in new fans, as the creative team felt that a continuous thrust forward would hurt the series’ chances of survival. Unfortunately, these two episodes are some of the least impressive: while decent enough on their own terms, they feel completely out of context and arrive at the wrong time. These may have added a few viewers, but I imagine they probably confused and frustrated those expecting the series to continue its steady pace forward. Nonetheless, “Earthlings Welcome Here” gets things back on track…but within the context of the series’ original broadcast dates, it may have come too late. This would be the last episode before the holiday break, with Chronicles returning two months later in the dreaded Friday night timeslot…which television fans refer to as “the kiss of death”.
It’s sad, really, because The Sarah Connor Chronicles really got back on its feet from that point onward. “The Good Wound” was much better suited to draw in new fans than a stand-alone episode: taking several cues from Terminator 2, this Sarah-centered adventure re-acquaints us with an important figure from her past. The next several episodes flesh out story elements introduced earlier in the season, as Sarah, John, Derek and Cameron set out to solve a mysterious factory explosion in the desert. After “Some Must Watch While Some Must Sleep”, Chronicles sprints to the finish line: Jesse and Riley’s pasts begin to unravel, John Henry and ZeiraCorp’s true intentions are revealed, Sarah and company head off into unfamiliar territory and several major characters meet their doom. It all culminates with “Born to Run”, which ends the series on a high note, tying up several loose ends but leaving others to the imagination. Poignant, clever and almost hopeful, it’s a fitting farewell to a series that was killed off too early.

Regardless, Warner Bros. has given The Sarah Connor Chronicles a strong send-off on DVD, as this second season arrives in a fully-loaded six-disc collection. The series’ crisp cinematography and ambitious sound mix—both of which feel more like big-screen efforts than typical TV fare—are supported by a solid technical presentation, while fans can also look forward to a collection of entertaining and informative bonus features. Though Friedman’s excellent series now joins the gone-too-early ranks

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REVIEW: TREKKIES 2

CAST

Denise Crosby (The Walking Dead)
Vaughn Armstrong (Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue)
Robert Meyer Burnett (Superman Returns)
Casey Biggs (Dragonfly)
John Billingsley (Cold Case)
Michael Forest (Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue)
Richard Herd (V)
Dominic Keatin (The One Warrior)
Cirroc Lofton (Beethoven)
Phil Morris (Smallville)
Ethan Phillips (Bad Santa)
Tracy Scoggins (Lois & Clark)
Connor Trinneer (Stargate: Atlantis)
Nana Vistor (Dark Angel)

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Trekkies 2, like the first movie, is an endearing portrayal of the Star Trek fanbase. This time the producers go on the road and travel around the world to meet Star Trek fans from Australia, Brazil, Italy, France, Germany and even Serbia, documenting their experiences with Star Trek and going into the lives of several fans. In between each segment of the travelogue are pieces that can be described simply as an open forum for fans to discuss issues relating to fandom, such as what makes a Normal Fan, should you wear your uniform in public, etc. This helps give the fans more a of voice, which many found lacking in the first film.
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One thing to note about the DVD is that it in fact features 2 documentaries, as the deleted scenes are cut together in a coherent way to complement the main film, raising issues that may not have fit well with the main film. Of course, the film also features ‘characters’ from the first movie, like Gabe Koerner, Brian Dellis, Barbara Adams and Daryl Frazetti, making the movie feel like one of several other documentaries that have followed its subjects over the years, like 7-up.
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Moments that stood out for me were the interview with Robert Burnett and the Sacramento segment that feature five Star Trek tribute bands. The Serbia segment was also quite effective because it felt more ‘important’, going a bit into the recent war and how some fans looked to Star Trek as a way of coping with the war. In fact, the film documents the first ever convention held in Serbia. The film not only works because of its content, but also because of its style – irregardless of it’s content, the film is just a great documentary. Given this, and the fact that you actually get two films on the DVD, I think everyone should pick this up.

REVIEW: STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE – SEASON 1-4

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MAIN CAST

Scott Bakula (Chuck)
Jolene Blalock (Starship Troopers 3)
Connor Trinneer (Stargate: Atlantis)
Dominic Keating (Heroes)
Linda Park (Jurassic Park 3)
Anthony Montgomery (Leprechaun In The Hood)
John Billingsley (Cold Case)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Tommy Lister (The Dark Knight)
Vaughn Armstrong (Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue)
Jim Beaver (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Gary Graham (Alien Nation)
Thomas Kopache (Catch me If You Can)
Melinda Clarke (Spawn)
James Cromwell (Species II)
Henri Lubatti (Angel)
Erick Avari (Stargate)
Jeffrey Combs (The Frighteners)
Jane Carr (Treasure Planet)
Paula Malcomson (The Hunger Games)
Gregory Itzin (Firefly)
Jeff Kober (New Girl)
Eric Pierpoint (Alien Nation)
Keith Szarabjka (Angel)
Conor O’Farrell (Lie To Me)
Clint Howard (Apollo 13)
Ethan Phillips (Bad Santa)
Annie Wersching (The Vampire Diaries)
Rene Auberjonois (Boston Legal)
Dennis Christopher (Angel)
John Rubinstein (Legends of Tomorrow)
Fionnula Flanagan (Yes Man)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Rudolf Martin (buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Keone Young (Alias)
Brad Greenquist (Heroes)
Holmes Osborne (Donnie Darko)
Sean Whalen (Twister)
J.G. Herztler (Roswell)
Larissa Laskin (Earth: Final Conflict)
Bonita Friedericy (Chuck)
Brigid Brannagh (Angel)
Keith Carradine (The Big Bang Theory)
Robert O’Reilly (The Mask)
Stephen McHattie (300)
Rick Worthy (The Vampire Diaries)
Daniel Dae Kim (Lost)
Stephen Culp (Scream Queens)
Tucker Smallwood (Traffic)
Maury Sterling (The A-Team)
Sam Witwer (Smallville)
James Parks (Kill Bill)
Emily Bergl (Carrie 2)
Leland Orser (Seven)
Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Walking Dead)
Erin Cummings (Spartacus)
Casey Biggs (Broken Arrow)
Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy)
Bruce Thomas (Army of Darkness)
Joanna Cassidy (Blade Runner)
Alec Newman (Dune)
Richard Riehle (Texas Chainsaw 3D)
Brent Spiner (Dude, Where’s My Car?)
Robert Foxworth (Beneath Loch Ness)
Todd Stashwick (The Originals)
Lee Arenberg (Once Upon A Time)
Brian Thompson (Hired To Hill)
James Avery (That 70s Show)
Harry Groener (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Peter Mensah (Sleepy Hollow)
Marina Sirtis (The Grudge 3)
Jonathan Frakes (Roswell)

Out of all the Star Trek series and films, Enterprise is easily the most overlooked, and was the only one since the original to be canceled. This isn’t because it wasn’t as good as the rest, but simply the way it was marketed. The show is in fact a prequel to Kirk’s Enterprise, and does take place before the Federation, but what the show lacks in technology, is more than made up for with realism and some of the best character development in the Star Trek franchise.

100 years after Zefren Cochrane’s warp flight, the human race has had enough of Vulcans holding them back, and have created the first warp five star ship in human history. Over the Vulcan’s objections, Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula), the son of the engines designer, has been selected to Captain the ship and explore a galaxy that humans know very little about.
This show is extremely important to the franchise and all Trekkies, as it not only shows humanities first trip out of our solar system and first contact with all the races we’ve come to know over the years, but the show fills in a lot of the gaps from all the other series and films! Enterprise explores the origins of Data’s creator, the Eugenic Wars (which created Khan), the development of many protocols and much of the tech we see on future ships, but most important of all the series shows how the foundation for the Federation and the creation of star fleet all came together.
Enterprise was also unique for it’s character development and realism, in that it takes place in the not to distant future. We get to know the crew intimately, from their fears to their families, and we see them doing and discussing things never before seen in Star Trek. The Enterprise crew has a classic movie night, watches sports on TV, has pets, and they even talk about sex. The cast is lead by Scott Bakula, which was another great move by producers. Casting a veteran science fiction actor, whose been in long running series, automatically gives him that air of experience and authority that Picard had. He’s also a younger man, so with no federation policies in place yet, Archer can be just as much of a risk taker as Kirk was, even more so.
Star Trek Enterprise was extremely enjoyable, and a series people could relate to more than any other in the Star Trek franchise. The show isn’t simply about the future and the Federation, it’s about what it means to be human and how that compares to other species. It shows what we need to do in order to get along with and understand other cultures, but most of all it fills in so many holes from previous films and episodes, that it truly was the missing link.

Unfortunately for Star Trek fans, the show barely made a hundred episodes, because it was on a dying network, that folded shortly after the show was canceled, screwing us Trekkie’s out of three more seasons. As with all the previous series, the story has been continued in books, but in this case, the books were written by the main writers of the series, and do encompass everything that would have happened in seasons five, six, and seven.

REVIEW: FAMILY GUY – DVD SEASONS 6-10

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MAIN CAST (VOICES)

Seth MacFarlane (Flashforward)
Alex Borstein (Power Rangers Zeo)
Seth Green (IT)
Mila Kunis (Black Swan)
Mike Henry (Ted)
Jennifer Tilly (Curse of Chucky)
Patrick Warburton (Scream 3)
Adam West (60s Batman)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST (VOICES)

Lori Alan (Wall-E)
Ellen Albertini Dow (The Wedding Singer)
Alexandra Breckenridge (She’s The Man)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Phyllis Diller (A Bug’s Life)
Carrie Fisher (Star Wars)
Indigo (Weeds)
Rachael MacFarlane (American Dad)
Louis Gossett Jr. (Stargate SG.1)
Samm Levine (Veronica Mars)
Drew Barrymore (Poison Ivy)
Robert Constanzo (Batman:TAS)
Gary Cole (One Hour Photo)
Taylor Cole (Heroes)
Lauren Conrad (The Hills)
David Cross (Scary Movie 2)
Stacey Scowley (The Brotherhood 2)
Garrett Morris (2 Broke Girls)
Rob Lowe (Code Black)
Ted McGinley (Highlander 2)
Connor Trinneer (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Charles Durning (The Sting)
Michael Clarke Duncan (The Finder)
Hugh M. Hefner (Citizen Toxie)
Roy Schneider (Jaws)
Gilbert Gottfried (Anger Management)
Neil Patrick Harris (The Smurfs)
Josh Radnor (How I Met Your Mother)
Tara Strong (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Adam Carolla (Road Hard)
Will Sasso (The Three Stooges)
Paula Abdul (Bruno)
Randy Jackson (American Idol)
Simon Cowell (The X Factor)
Patrick Stewart (X-Men)
Ted McGinley (Highlander 2)
Ricardo Montalban (Star Trek II)
James Woods (Another Day In Paradise)
Jessica Barth (Ted)
Chace Crawford (Gossip Girl)
Harvey Fierstein (Independence Day)
Bryan Cranston (Drive)
Brian Blessed (Flash Gordon)
Elisha Cuthbert (24)
Andy Dick (2 Broke Girls)
Debbie Reynolds (Singin’ In The Rain)
Frank Sinatra Jr. (Cool World)
Mae Whitman (Boogeyman 2)
Meredith Baxter (Family Ties)
Seth Rogen (Bad Neighbours)
Ed Helms (The Hangover)
Fred Savage (The Wonder Years)
LeVar Burton (Star Trek: TNG)
Denise Crosby (Trekkies)
Michael Dorn (Ted 2)
Jonathan Frakes (Lois & Clark)
Gates McFadden (Star Trek: TNG)
Marina Sirtis (The Grudge 3)
Brent Spiner (Dude, Where’s My Car?)
Wil Wheaton (Powers)
Wentworth Miller (Legends of Tomorrow)
Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World)
Jay Leno (The Simpsons)
Richard Dreyfuss (Tin Man)
John Ross Bowie (The Big Bang Theory)
Keri Lynn Pratt (Veronica Mars)
Chevy Chase (Chuck)
Dan Aykroyd (Ghostbusters)
Hart Bochner (urban Legends 2)
Christine Lakin (Valentine’s Day)
Brittany Snow (Prom Night)
Nana Visitor (Star Trek: DS9)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)
Johnny Galecki (The Big Bang Theory)
Hugh Laurie (House)
Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory)
Dwayne Johnson (Faster)
Adrianne Palicki (Agents of SHIELD)
Allison Janney (Mom)
Lucas Grabeel (Smallville)
Anne Hathaway (The Dark Knight Rises)
Charlie Sheen (Two and a Half Men)
Danielle Panabaker (The Flash)
Ioan Grufford (Ringer)
David Lynch (The Cleveland Show)
Sanaa Lathan (Blade)
Shelley Long (Cheers)

At this point in the series, the beginning of the fifth season, the show has settled into being a showcase for Peter’s stupidity, throwing a bone to Brian and Stewie once in a while, and occasionally Lois and family. Only four of the 13 episodes aren’t focused on the head of the family, and unsurprisingly, the two of those four that aren’t Brian and Stewie stories are two of the best in the volume, “Prick Up Your Ears” and “Barely Legal.”
While it’s easy to see where an episode can go, one of the show’s biggest strengths is its willingness to do anything to get there, even if it won’t make it to TV, because they know that there will be a DVD release. Thus, you have jokes that would never get past standards and practices, and a reason for the show’s fans to check out the DVDs, as the episodes are expanded and uncensored. It has to be incredibly freeing to have almost no boundaries, and the writers take full advantage of it. It’s in this relatively free medium that a character like Quagmire, who has no filter and is obsessed with sex, can really shine. His behavior in “Bill and Peter’s Bogus Journey” is actually very funny simply because of how utterly obscene he can be on DVD.
As noted before, “Prick Up Your Ears” and “Barely Legal” are two of the best episodes in this collection, both of which feature the Griffins’ daughter Meg, voiced by Mila Kunis (“That ’70s Show”.) Meg’s character has grown up a bit, though she remains an awkward teen, and these two episodes focus on her explorations into love and lust. “Prick Up Your Ears” is a smart jab at the conservative Christian approach to sex education, and the effect it has on Meg, as well as Peter, is great, while “Barely Legal” show’s Meg’s crazier side, as she falls in love with Brian after they make out at her prom. A joke that’s born out of Meg’s insanity and efforts to woo Brian is among the series’ funniest, and again, one you only get on DVD. Also worth checking out is the B-story of “Mother Tucker,” in which Brian and Stewie host a morning zoo radio show. It’s a perfect parody of everything that’s wrong in radio.
The show’s guest-star list continues to be surprising in both its depth and quality, including Phyllis Diller (as Peter’s mom), Gore Vidal, Samm Levine, Carrie Fisher, Drew Barrymore (playing Jillian, Brian’s hot, but dumb girlfriend in several episodes), David Cross, Rob Lowe, Hugh Hefner and Roy Scheider. That the series can get a Gore Vidal to play himself getting shot in the mouth with a hot dog (it’s actually a funny scene, but not for that reason) is impressive.

This latest offering from the ‘Family Guy’ team finds the writers and producers doing their best to be more outrageous than ever before. No celebrity is too big to ridicule and absolutely no topic is considered too taboo.


But the acid test is this: when being profane and attacking and offending every minority group in existence, is it actually funny? The short answer is `yes’. This is not merely funny, it is very funny indeed. Rosie O’Donnell features in one particularly insulting sequence, and when Joe has a leg transplant and becomes his old active self, the guys decide the only way to fix things is to `re-cripple him again’. This is quite literally the most non-PC programme ever put on your TV screen, but it contains more invention and (frequently hilarious) jokes per minute than practically any sitcom. Highlights are two numerous to mention, but I particularly enjoyed the sofa at Quagmire’s shack and Peter’s stripper-cop routine at his daughter Meg’s hen night. Shocking stuff!

Only downside is the first two episodes were put out separately as the `Star Wars’ spoof `Blue Harvest’, so this pack is a little light at only 13 episodes.

another great Family Guy set Some of the best episodes include the one where Stewie helps Frank Sinatra Jr turn his fortune around with a club; the one where Peter meets Jesus; the one where Quagmire, Joe and Peter do Jackass style stunts, and the one where Mort ends up transporting himself to 1940’s Poland.


Even though everyone hates the episode, the one with Surfing Bird is a great episode, especially the parody with Stewie and Brian doing a scene from Office Space. Some people say it’s not Seth’s best moment, but it’s memorable like the chicken fight in series 6 and Brian being ribbed about his book by Stewie (“has it got a beginning, and end and a narrative?”

Highlights of this latest season to name a few include Brian committing murder, Quagmire becoming a Father, the truth behind Hannah Montana, Major West being ‘activated’ and the genius “Road to The Multiverse” which in my opinion is one of the greatest episodes within the last few seasons if not the entire collection.

Many of the episodes are extended when compared to their TV counterparts (blame the censors) along with dozens of deleted scenes which will keep even the most devoted or demanding Family Guy fan happy. Other special features worth noting are the Multi-verse featurette which was pretty interesting along with commentaries from cast and crew alike.

Despite being cancelled twice the show is still going strong and still offers brilliant humor, dialogue and cutback scenes after all this time. The characters continue to amuse and develop as the seasons progress (Stewie on Steroids stroke of brilliance) and there is plenty of scope for the future. The vast majority of the episodes are gold. I’ve already mentioned Multi-verse but also up there is “Dog Gone”.

If further proof is needed as to the series’ ability to succeed without its usual crutches, it can be found in “And Then There Were Fewer…” a mystery in Family Guy clothing. Series semi-regular James Woods gathers the town people for dinner, hoping to atone for his past wrongs, but someone starts bumping them off, leaving the group to figure out who the killer is and escape with their lives. Though the cutaways are present, they are worked into a genuine storyline, that’s both well-crafted and funny, feeling like a quality parody of the Agatha Christie school of mysteries. It may be close to blasphemy to say so, but there’s definitely a touch of Clue to the proceedings. The quality story is matched step-by-step by the animation (in the series’ first widescreen episode) and music, both of which may be the best the show’s ever produced (which is no feint praise.) The series may find itself in a rut at times, going to the same comedy well again and again, but when inspiration strikes, they take the show to another level.
As is often the case with this series, there’s always an attempt to push the envelope, including episodes focusing on suicide and sex changes, but “Extra Large Medium” is one of the show’s most controversial to reach airwaves, and it’s mainly due to a throwaway joke. Following a life-changing event, Chris (Seth Green) decides to finally ask out a girl he likes, and it so happens that she has Down’s syndrome. This leads to one of the finest songs the show’s produced to date in “Down’s Syndrome Girl,” as well as a line where the girl notes that he mom was the former governor of Alaska. It’s hard to figure out what the joke really is (it’s not really making fun of anyone, be it Palin or people with Down’s) but it pissed off a lot of people. Fortunately, the rest of the episode, especially that song, makes the headaches worth it, as Chris struggles with his feelings for his special gal and Brian’s attempts to break Lois of her belief in psychics accidentally convinces Peter he actually is psychic.
Though the series proudly sees the world from a liberal point-of-view, savaging republicans and conservatives at every chance, “Excellence in Broadcasting” stands as an unusual team-up, with Rush Limbaugh giving voice to himself, as he visits Quahog and gets what could be considered a friendly reception (at least by Family Guy standards.) Yes, there are jokes about the Republicans and Limbaugh himself, but he doesn’t get it too rough, and if anyone comes off badly, it’s Brian, who is easily swayed by Limbaugh into selling out his own convictions. It’s rather odd to see, and makes one wonder what went on behind the scenes to make it happen, as MacFarlane doesn’t seem the type to play nice, and the idea of Limbaugh working in tandem with an atheist pot advocate is mind-bending.

REVIEW: STARGATE: ATLANTIS – SEASON 1-5

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MAIN CAST

Joe Flanigan (Thoughtcrimes)
Torri Higginson (Highlander: THe Raven)
Rachel Luttrell (Arrow)
Rainbow Sun Francks (Defiance0
David Hewlett (Rise of The Planet of The Apes)
Jason Momoa (Game of Thrones)
Paul McGillion (V)
Amanda Tapping (Sanctuary)
Jewel Staite (Firefly)
Robert Picardo (Star Trek: Voyager)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Richard Dean Anderson (Macgyver)
Michael Shanks (Smallville)
Garwin Sanford (The Fly 2)
Andee Frizzell (Andromeda)
Craig Veroni (Dark Angel)
Christopher Heyerdahl (Sanctuary)
Robert Patrick (Terminator 2)
Ben Cotton (30 Days of Night: Dark Days)
David Nykl (Arrow)
Agam Darshi (Sanctuary)
Courtenay J. Stevens (Ripper)
Dominic Zamprogna (Odyssey 5)
Callum Worthy (Samllville)
Alan Scarfe (Andromeda)
Dean Marshall (2012)
Colm Meaney (Star Trek:DS9)
Erin Chambers (Standoff)
Ryan Robbins (Arrow)
Corey Monteith (Glee)
Leonor Varela (Blade 2)
Matthew Walker (Highlander: The Series)
Chuck Campbell (Jason X)
David Orth (The Lost World)
Clayton Landey (Scary Movie 5)
Ellie Harvie (The New Addams Family)
Mitch Pileggi (The X-Files)
Kavan Smith (Sanctuary)
Jaime Ray Newman (Bates Motel)
Claire Rankin (Rogue)
Brenda James (Slither)
Chris Gauthier (Watchmen)
Pascale Hutton (Sanctuary)
Anne Openshaw (Narc)
Aaron Abrams (Hannibal)
Chad Morgan (The Purge 2)
Peter Flemming (Replicant)
William MacDonald (Slither)
Chelan Simmons (Final Destination 3)
Peter Woodward (Crusade)
Sonja Bennett (Blade: The Series)
Connor Trinneer (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Brandy Ledford (Andromeda)
Tamlyn Tomita (Heroes)
Brent Stait (Andromeda)
Richard Kind (Gotham)
John O’Callaghan (Clutch)
David Ogden Stier (Two Gusy and a Girl)
Alan Ruck (Speed)
Kate Hewlett (A Dog’s Breakfast)
Patrick Sabongui (The Flash)
Megan Leitch (IT)
Panou (Flash Gordon)
Bill Dow (Legends of The Fall)
Robert Davi (The Bad Pack)
Leela Savasta (Black Xmas)
Laura Harris (Dead Like me)
Michael Beach (The Abyss)
Beau Bridges (My Name Is Earl)
Sharon Taylor (Legends of Tomorrow)
Christopher Judge (The Dark Knight Rises)
Aleks Paunovic (Mortal Kombat Legacy)
Mark Dacascos (Kamen Rider Dragon Knight)
Jill Wagner (Blade: The Series)
Danny Trejo (Machete)
Gary Jones (Highlander: The Series)
Steven Culp (Jason Goes To Hell)
Jodelle Ferland (Kingdom Hospital)
Crystal Lowe (Poison Ivy 4)
David Richmond-Peck (V)
Emma Lahana (Power Rangers Dino Thunder)
Dylan Neal (Arrow)
Michelle Morgan (Heartland)
Nicole de Boer (Star Trek: DS9)
Janina Gavankar (The Vampire Diaries)
Christina Cox (Arrow)
Mike Dopud (Man of Steel)
Jonathan Young (Sanctuary)
Daniella Alonso (Wrong Turn 2)
Sarah Deakins (Andromeda)
Alan Blumenfeld (Heroes)
Anna Galvin (Caprica)
Dawn Olivieri (The Vampire Diaries)
Neil Jackson (Sleepy Hollow)
Ona Grauer (Arrow)

Stargate : Atlantis is far more than just a spin-off from the successful Stargate SG1 series. It stands on its own two feet as a clever, dramatic, funny, entertaining, well-crafted show. In some ways it even surpasses the original, benefiting as it does from the producers’ and crew’s 8+ years of experience in writing and producing the SG1 series. Continuing the mythology of the original show, but with the added twist of a whole new galaxy to explore, this show has something for everyone.

The mix of characters is great and the core cast – and also the regular recurring cast – boasts some excellent actors. Production values are consistently high and, while some episodes are always stronger than others, the writing in season 1 has also been excellent. The first season got things off to a great start, introducing the new team, new allies.. and a new enemy.5195S6CTB0LThere is a great mix of humour and drama in this series and stand-out episodes for me include 38 Minutes, Brotherhood, The Defiant One and the excellent mid-season 2 parter, The Storm and The Eye.

Season one not only established this show as a unique rival to its fellow series `Stargate: SG-1′, but also set the bar very high for a second season with this new breed of adventurers continuing to battle Wraith and other foe in the far-removed Pegasus Galaxy.

Just as with its sister series, `Atlantis’ is adept at balancing a large season story-arc while at the same time providing its audience with inventive one-off stories that act both to attract new viewers to the show and also give the loyal fan-base a break from the on-going threat of the Wraith. This second season is no exception.

The Siege Part III – As last season closed, the cliffhanger had Atlantis under siege by the Wraiths and things were not going well. Atlantis was ready to self destruct and Maj. Shephard was on the way to a suicide mission. As is customary in such situations, the cavalry arrives just in the nick of time in the form of the Earth Ship Daedelus. It has some advanced Asgard technology on board which saves Shepherd and helps to destroy the hive ships attacking Atlantis. Some manage to get away and they are heading back with reinforcements. While the cleanup is going on, a lieutenant is rescued but he has been severely damaged by the wraith. He is irrational and jumpy about the others who do not fully trust him. As the enlarged wraith fleet arrives, Atlantis decides to gamble on deceiving them that a self destruct has really taken place. This occurs just as the damaged lieutenant steals a puddle jumper and flees through the gate.


Runner – A team from Atlantis is investigating a planet with extremely high solar radiation. While there, they find a dead Wraith. There is evidence that he was killed by Lt. Ford, the guy who fled in the first episode of the season. The team heads back to try and get him to come back. They find a surprise. There is another human on the planet who has had a transmitter mounted in his back so that he can be the guest of honor in a sort of trophy hunt. He has managed to elude the Wraith for 7 years before being captured. He is set free by Lt. Ford who is deranged. Now it is a 3 way manhunt with nobody trusting anyone else.

Instinct – While investigating a new planet, the Atlantis team comes across a village that is intermittently plagued by a Wraith. The team agrees to hunt it down but finds something unexpected. They find a local scientist who has been raising a juvenile female Wraith as his daughter. He swears that it is not her who is terrorizing the village. He also maintains that there is another Wraith out there. The science types at Atlantis think they might be able to use the girl to develop a vaccine to fight the virus that causes humans to become Wraiths. It might even turn Wraiths back into humans. The research is promising until the young Wraith girl jumps the gun causing no end of problems.

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Conversion – At the close of the previous episode, LTC Shepherd was injured by the Wraith girl who had tried the experimental virus. Some of their blood mingled. Now he is infected with the parasitic virus that produces Wraiths. Now the race is one to capture an alien bug, get some stem cells and find a cure. The col. is going stir crazy while this happens and is getting more and more volatile. The Lost Boys – The team is following up on a tip and is captured. They are quickly taken to another planet where they find that they have been captured by a force led by the AWOL Lt. Ford. He has been on a rampage and has been taking Wraith “enzyme” from all of his victims. He feeds the enzyme to his followers to give them super strength. He thinks that is the way for humanity to defeat the Wraith. The enzyme prevents him from thinking straight. And, by the way, this one is a cliffhanger.

The Hive – Lt. Ford’s plan to prove the worth of the enzyme is simple. They use a stolen dart and use it to blow up a hive ship. That’s what they were doing at the end of the last episode when they got captured. Remember, Ford doesn’t think all that well under the influence of the enzyme. After the capture, all grow through withdrawal from the enzyme. The longer it has been used, the worse the withdrawal. Help comes from an unexpected source from the least likely hero. Critical Mass – Stargate Command on Earth and Atlantis are plunged into chaos when it is revealed that a Goa’uld operative is hidden in Atlantis. The operative has orders to set a bomb to blow up Atlantis when the Stargate is used to dial Earth. They apparently want to destroy Atlantis to keep the Wraith from getting anywhere near them. The mole is very highly placed.


Michael – Something is not quite right. The episode begins with a man in sick bay. As he is awoken, all of the command staff is notified to be there. He has amnesia and cannot remember anything. He is told that he was a member of a team captured by the Wraith and recaptured by Atlantis. That is not quite the truth which is quite a bit uglier. He was a Wraith upon whom an experimental retrovirus had been tried. The experiment threatens the existence of Atlantis itself.

Allies – A Wraith hive ship arrives. Instead of opening fire, the Wraith ship opens communication. It is being led by Michael, the Wraith upon whom experiments were conducted. He is offering all sorts of Wraith military secrets…for a price. They want the retrovirus used to create Michael. They believe that will give them supremacy over other Wraith. They are a slimy group though and hidden agendas are not beyond the realm of possibility. The alliance is not what it seems. Earth is in trouble in this season ending cliffhanger.


I’ve watched Stargate Atlantis  from the beginning and have more or less enjoyed it from the start.  I really like Joe Flannigan as Sheppard and David Hewlett as Rodney. This season Some help is on the way. We know that Amanda Tapping and her character Samantha Carter will be moving over from the Stargate – SG.1 to become the new head of the Atlantis project. I think she will bring more strength to the role.

Atlantis has emerged as the name not of a location that cannot be moved, but of a truly mobile city that can relocate .  well, to anywhere. The season ends with the city blasting off into space. Season  Three had some great moments. The season finale . was splendid. And the season featured what may be my favorite episode of the entire series so far in “Common Ground,” in which the Genii kidnap Sheppard and enclose him with a wraith who is allowed to feed on no one else.

Christopher Heyerdahl has played the wraitht in this episode he was allowed to give this particular wraith a dignity and complexity not allowed any other wraith with the exception of Michael. He gradually drains the life out of Sheppard out of sheer necessity before the two of them, cooperating as human and wraith never have before, manage to escape from the Genii. Then, in a moment that could lead to interesting plot developments in the future, we discover that the wraiths cannot only drain another creature of life, they can also imbue them with it, and as a sign of comradeship he heals Sheppard.

Season 3 sets up many changes that carry over into the fourth season, with becketts death in Sunday and Wier leaving the show, and Amanda Tapping taking over, its a great season leaving leaving things on a cliffhanger to be resolved in season 4.

Stargate Atlantis ups its game with season four. But it’s not with particularly clever or imaginative stories that the shows writers and producers manage to bring about this change; it’s actually in the areas of character development and action that this season really excels. With the (implied) deaths of inarguably my favourite two characters in season three, I wasn’t expecting their replacements to integrate perfectly, or right away into the Atlantis team, but both actors are given such great material to work with that it’s impossible not to be engaged with their individual story-arcs.

Sam carter is (of course) as brilliant as always, but unlike Doctor Weir, doesn’t appear in nearly as many episodes, or seem to be involved as deeply in the decision-making processes on the base. She just feels like any other member of the team and fits right in almost immediately. Doctor Keller is initially unconvincing in her role as chief medic, but before long she too blossoms into a really intriguing and multi-layered character.


While there are more than a handful of solid Replicator and Wraith-based episodes to enjoy in this twenty-episode season, it’s the character-based stories that stand-out for me as the best examples of this season. Episode 7- `Missing’ , episode 13- `Quarantine’  and episode 16- `Trio’  are each so gripping. The final stand-out story for me would be the concluding episode- `The Last Man’, which  breaks out of the mould of the finale’s of previous seasons and doesn’t involve an unprovoked attack on the city, or a multi-episode build-up. It’s pretty self-contained on the whole and mixes well themes of time-travel, action and season four’s despicable mystery nemesis.

Carson Beckett is back for no less than five episodes, and despite heavy use of the Wraith ship set, the stories are good and justify it. The characters are as well written as ever, I really felt the writers stepped it up a notch this season.


Robert Picardo is back as Richard Woolsey and promoting him to the role of Commander was a stroke of genus. No disrespect to Commander Weir and Colonel Carter, but in Richard Woolsey, Stargate Atlantis had finally cast its ideal leader. There are also a couple of deadpan in-jokes about his holographic Doctor character hidden in the dialogue, which are extremely funny when you spot them.

Despite the technology getting more and more advanced, there is less of a reliance on the technology itself selling the story. There is more focus on the characters than before and all the characters get at least one episode where they take centre stage in the story – for example, David Hewlett puts in an incredibly moving performance in The Shrine where McKay is struck down with a fast acting Pegasus equivalent of Alzheimer’s. Very good use is made of the popular Wraith characters Michael and Todd, and the budding relationship between McKay and Keller is a refreshing antidote.