12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: THE ORIGINALS – SAVIOR

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SAVIOR
MAIN CAST
Joseph Morgan (Immortals)
Daniel Gillies (Young Hercules)
Phoebe Tonkin (Bait)
Charles Michael Davis (Battle Scars)
Leah Pipes (Sorority Row)
Danielle Campbell (Behind Closed Doors)
Yusuf Gatewood (Wonder Boys)
Riley Voelkel (The Newsroom)
GUEST CAST
Claire Holt (Mean Girls 2)
Nathan Parsons (Teeth)
Oliver Ackland (The Proposistion)
Rebecca Breeds (BLue High Water)
Casper Zafer (The Lady Musketeer)
Jason Dohring (Veronica Mars)
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We start with Rebekah’s voiceover discussing how whatever they used on her was not your typical dagger. With this one, she feels everything. (In other words, she definitely did pull a Stefan.) But luckily for her, Elijah paid a couple of men to get her off the ocean floor, and because he’s a good brother, he also shows up to finish the job. (Read: Kill those men and wake Rebekah up.) Of course, all Rebekah wants to know is if she missed Christmas.  Back at the compound, Christmas is only getting started, with Klaus letting Cami heal while he compels his staff to feed him and hang an ornament or two 1,000. Checking in on Cami, Klaus is happy with her improvement. He’s not so happy when she gets a text from Vincent that says Kinney is in trouble. Apparently, the detective’s lack of memory has gotten him fired, and he’s not taking anyone’s calls. With that, Cami is off to his house. In town, Tristan has made his way to Marcel’s bar because apparently whatever belongs to Marcel also belongs to the Strix. (Rich people are always the greediest, amirite?) They inform Marcel that they’ve decided that the young boy whose mother Hayley/Davina killed should be regent, mostly because he’ll do whatever the Strix asks him to do. Marcel nods along but quickly runs to Vincent. Marcel hates the idea of handing nine powerful covens over to some outsider of the city, so instead, he pisses off Vincent to the point where Vincent does the one thing he’s been so ferociously trying to avoid: He uses his magic. Even more than that, he informs Marcel that he will be the next regent and Marcel is not going to like what he does with his new position.
Meanwhile, in the bayou, Hayley begs Jackson to come home. He asks if she loves Elijah, to which she very simply tells him, “You knew when you married me.” Poor Jackson thought her affection for Elijah would fade over time, but it hasn’t. However, she did choose Jackson, and she continues to choose him every day. And right now? It’s Christmas, and Hayley’s more than ready to have the first happy Christmas of her life. She promises him a quiet night with his small family if he returns home. He agrees to meet her there and he even brings his trusty ax (at least he used it to chop down a tree first). But before Jackson can make it into the apartment, he witnesses a few members of the Strix — or as he puts it, vampires dressed like yuppies — following Freya. He shows up in time to decapitate a few of them with his ax, but he’s not fast enough: One of them takes the medallion while another stabs Freya with his ring.
It might not sound like much, but said ring was full of a slow-acting poison. Apparently, it’s a Strix signature. But that’s not the family’s only problem. After Rebekah learns what hell really looks like — the inside of a gas station bathroom — she discovers a skull mark growing on her arm.
Actually, first we save Kinney. When Cami makes her way to Kinney’s house, Klaus — white knight/bodyguard — follows her. And it’s a good thing he does because he’s able to bust down the door before Kinney can shoot himself. Turns out, Lucien’s compulsion about feeling worthless is really sticking. In what might be the nicest Klaus scene ever, the hybrid tells Kinney that “there is beauty in the courage of a fragile fighter, those who persevere despite all they’ve been through, those who still believe there is good in the world.” As he looks at Cami, he tells Kinney, “Us dark things often find we need that light the most.” The kicker? “What you do not see in yourself, others see in you. You do matter.” Klaus tells Kinney to visit his sister and enjoy the holidays. He promises that when he returns, his job will be waiting for him. “You will remember today as your darkest day. Tomorrow will be better. And the day after, better still. You will go on.” Sadly, Cami’s thank you to Klaus is interrupted when Elijah calls with news of their sister predicament. Rebekah might be “the prettiest urgent problem you have ever seen,” but she’s still an urgent problem. Klaus and Cami agree to run to Lucien’s apartment. If the Strix has used that poison for years, Lucien’s sure to have crafted a cure. Meanwhile, Freya informs Rebekah that the stake the Strix used on her was cursed. She’s now infected, and as the mark grows, she will go mad. By the end of it, she’ll be a relentless, unstoppable ripper. Despite her condition, Freya tries to help Rebekah by channeling Finn. Of course, Finn does not think that Rebekah — or any of his siblings — are worth Freya risking her life, but when Elijah enters and offers Freya his blood out of concern, Finn is convinced to give Freya his power.
Sadly, it doesn’t work. Instead, Rebekah’s reunion with Hayley is less than friendly. Ripping into Hayley verbally, Rebekah calls her out on how every time Hayley is looking for someone to blame for her unhappiness, she turns to the Mikaelsons. And remember that time Hayley was going to take Hope away from them? Well, Beks does. And she’s pissed. And don’t even get Rebekah started on the agony that Hayley seems to enjoy causing Elijah. Hayley claims that it kills her to hurt Elijah, but Bekah is more concerned with what will actually be killing Hayley. Elijah steps in just as Rebekah’s eyes go black — so perhaps she’s more demon than ripper? — but she quickly snaps his neck. Klaus then arrives just in time and sends Cami to get Freya the cure to the Strix poison…but not until after Cami hears Rebekah say that Klaus likes to keep Cami behind glass because he’s scared he’ll ruin her, like she’s a breakable object.Once Cami delivers the cure, Freya can complete her spell and rushes down to cut the skull off Rebekah’s arm. Just like that, the family is back together and as normal as they’ve ever been. Hayley thanks Jackson for helping Freya. He tells her: “I was born to love you. If that means I have to deal with the Mikaelsons, then okay. I’m in.” In fact, he’s so in that he’s put together a complete family Christmas for everyone to enjoy. And Rebekah’s brought a little something special to the party: A fire pit. As she, Klaus, and Elijah burn their wishes, they come to the realization that it’s best if the Trinity thinks Rebekah is still at sea. In other words, she can’t stay. But she’s okay with it. As she takes the hands of her two favorite brothers, she says her wish has already come true.
Saying her goodbyes once again, Rebekah apologizes to Hayley, who has finally learned what we all learned in season 3 of The Vampire Diaries — even when you hate Klaus, you love him. As for Klaus, Rebekah tells him, “I’ll run away from love if you’ll run toward it.” Yes, she means Cami. And Klaus seems to like the idea. Sadly, Marcel was not invited to the family Christmas celebration.  Instead, he’s left informing Tristan that Vincent is now regent. The bad news for Tristan is that Vincent is not easily manipulated and is ready to enforce justice on all vampires. The bad news for Vincent is that Tristan has gotten his hands on Finn.  As Elijah and Freya have a lovely bonding moment where she admits that she snuck into a Mikaelson Christmas party 100 years ago and was worried she’d always be an outsider, Klaus and Cami have the moment of their own.   After Cami asks if what Rebekah said about Klaus keeping fragile Cami behind glass was true, Klaus gives what might be one of the my favorite romantic speeches ever. Cami wants to know why Klaus saved Kinney, a stranger, today. “Because you wished it,” he tells her. “Because what’s important to you is important to me. What makes you happy makes me want to keep you so. What scares you I want to tear apart. I do not wish to watch you from behind glass, Camille.” So what does he wish? To kiss her, which he does!
From one beautiful image to another, we cut to an incredibly dapper Elijah walking down the street. When he rounds the corner, we discover that he’s meeting with Rebekah. Freya’s spell/skinning didn’t work. The skull mark is back on her arm. And with that, she hands over a dagger and tells him to hide her body and swear not to tell a soul, especially Klaus, whom she wants to be happy. In a beautiful scene between two of my favorite actors on the show, Elijah refuses to dagger his sister. But Rebekah makes a good argument: It will fulfill the family portion of the prophecy, which will allow the remaining siblings to fully trust one another once again. And once the year that the prophecy foretold is over, Freya can find a cure and wake Rebekah up. With tears in his eyes, Elijah fulfills his sister’s wish … and gives us our Elijah Moment of the Week. But he’s not the only one with tears in his eyes. After Klaus and Cami enjoy a quick makeout, we watch as Cami wakes up and looks startled. Just as we panic that she’s regretting kissing Klaus, we cut to Tristan as he checks in on a freakishly chipper Aurora. It seems Aurora thinks today was a “beautiful day,” which can only mean horrible things. Moments later, Klaus wakes up. Sleeping with his arm around Cami, he sees blood on his hand. Turning Cami over, he realizes her throat’s been slit.
That was an amazing that hour and how anyone who watches will  be in tears come episodes end.  a shocking mid-season finale.
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12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: THE ORIGINALS – THE MAP OF MOMENTS

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MAIN CAST
Joseph Morgan (Immortals)
Daniel Gillies (Young Hercules)
Phoebe Tonkin (Bait)
Charles Michael Davis (Battle Scars)
Leah Pipes (Sorority Row)
Danielle Campbell (Behind Closed Doors)
THE MAP OF MOMENTS
GUEST CAST
Claire Holt (Mean Girls 2)
Nathaniel Buzolic (Pretty Little Liars)
Sebastian Roche (Odyssey 5)
Sonja Sohn (Shaft)
Daniel Sharman (Teen Wolf)
Maisie Richardson-Sellers (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
Keri Lynn Pratt (Cruel Intentions 2)
Aleeah Rogers (Django Unchained)
 We start things off in New Orleans in December of 1914, where Kol, Mary Alice Claire, and Astrid—whom you might recognize from The Originals: The Awakening—are looking for the paragon diamond. Only, by the time they find it, Klaus and Marcel show up, with an even more powerful witch in tow. Within minutes, they’ve got the diamond, and they’ve locked Mary Alice and Astrid in the house, from which they will never escape. The lesson:  Back in present day, Rebekah and Elijah are preparing for the holidays with wreaths, patronization, and a bonfire ritual they used to partake in as a family. While Elijah holds the baby—still one of my favorite images in the entire world—Rebekah prepares the bonfire, and Klaus and Hayley practice another family tradition: Fleeing from one of their deranged parents. Just like that, Hayley and Klaus are reunited with Hope, who wins the emoting award for the adorable smile on her face when Hayley grabs her. Well done, small baby actor. Well done, indeed. Once everyone has reunited, Klaus shares Finn’s story about Dalia and the curse of the first born, which sounds like a Harry Potter book, does it not? Dalia and The Curse of the First Born. Sorry, now’s not the time to worry about Dalia. Instead, Rebekah tells everyone to write down wishes for one another, which they will then burn for good luck. And because it’s Hope’s first bonfire season, they all agree. Or rather, Hayley makes the men participate.
So while the Originals come up with wishes, we travel from Arkansas to New Orleans, where Davina and Kol are performing a spell to protect Cami’s body from Esther’s magic. In other words, Kol is protecting Marcel from the awkwardness of having his old ex jump into his new ex. And once that’s taken care of, he tells Davina that Marcel has the diamond they need to create a Klaus-worthy dagger. And suddenly, Davina is blinded by the accent—or is it the eyes?—and practically rushes to betray her sort-of father. And speaking of sort-of fathers, we catch up with Mikael in the woods, where he’s enjoying a classic holiday tradition: Ripping a werewolf to shreds. But what’s a holiday tradition without family? When Esther shows up—or rather, an illusion of her—Mikael immediately recognizes his beloved. Oh, these two. Move over, Romeo and Juliet! But seriously, these two are so much more fascinating. Apparently, Mikael found out about Esther bringing Ansel back from the dead, so he’s been slaughtering wolves to try to get to him.  With Cami at a loss for how to protect herself, Marcel agrees to let her talk to Finn, but only for a moment. Of course, that moment gets dark fast when Finn starts questioning Cami’s morality and the way she slept with one vamp while “half in love with another.” That then quickly leads into Finn’s discussion of Klaus’ redemption and how he doesn’t believe in it. For the most boring Mikaelson, things are black and white, good and evil. That’s why he intends to kill all the vampires in New Orleans (and all those who stand by them).
Let’s head back to Arkansas, where it’s time for Klaus to write down his wish. After Hayley pulls the “I went through labor and literally died to give you this child” card—because labor wasn’t enough?—he agrees. Well, not really. He basically just tells her to confront Elijah about her upcoming marriage to Jackson. But before she can, Rebekah finds Elijah once again having visions. And in a weak moment, the moral sibling is considering taking Esther’s deal, wondering if their mother will be satisfied with three out of five kids and therefore will leave the rest alone.It’s a fleeting thought, one that’s soon replaced with the how-to’s of #selfies. “Do you think you can cram us into a selfie,” has to be my favorite thing Rebekah has ever said to Klaus. I’ve missed these always-and-forever siblings and their banter. But when said rather impressive selfie has to be burned immediately due to the risks of it getting into the wrong hands, Rebekah is ready to fight back. She agrees to take Esther’s deal, but only long enough to take her mother down with her.  From one selfie-lover to another—Davina’s a teen, right?—Davina and Kol get to snooping around Marcel’s room, during which she finds an old picture of Kol’s less attractive—but still very attractive—self. He then tells her a story about Christmas in 1914, the one time Rebekah did him a solid in helping him get the diamond back from Klaus. More on that later
Using Kol and Davina, the siblings come up with a plan. They will distract Esther by making her do the body-jumping spell for Rebekah and then kill her before she herself can jump bodies. And if all else fails, they can put Rebekah right back into her smokin’ hot body later.Well, before they can worry about that, they have to get Kol on their team, which means one thing: helping Kol to help himself. In exchange for the paragon diamond, Kol is in. But also, he needs his mother’s hourglass, which means he needs to visit his mother, which means he needs to show up with the White Oak Stake in hand. The good news? He gives his word that he’ll return the stake, and even the sketchiest of Mikaelson brothers is good for his word.Once he’s on board, Kol is quick to find a new body for Rebekah to jump into other than Cami and head home to mother. And by the time Rebekah shows up, Esther is ready to do some magic. After a quick cheers of red wine between mother and daughter, Rebekah and Esther head outside to do the spell. Twist number one: Esther asked for the White Oak Stake so that she could destroy Bekah’s vampire body after the spell was complete. So that whole “if this all goes wrong just put me back” thing isn’t exactly an option anymore.And at the first sign of this all going wrong, Klaus shows up to try and stop the spell. But just before the plan is set into motion, Esther lets it slip that she made an alliance with Mikael who wanted the right to kill Klaus. Too little too late, mama. Klaus stabs Esther in the neck just at the right moment as Davina uses magic to protect Cami. Suddenly, Cami and Rebekah both collapse.
Brief pause! You’re angry now, but you’ll  thank me later. Because before we get back to our witchy aftermath, it’s time for our Elijah moment of the week, which is all about one thing and one thing only: Sex. Sex. Sex. Elijah has sex. See, just when I thought Elijah holding a baby would be my favorite moment of the hour, Hayley goes to tell him about the marriage ritual with Jackson. When she says, “I have to marry Jackson,” his face might as well be my face because of all the tears. Dear God, he’s such a pretty crier. And he’s an even prettier kisser. Elijah pulls Hayley in for what must be their most intense kiss yet before he tells her to marry Jackson. It’s the only way for her to save her wolves and make the city a safe place for Hope. . After Cami wakes up, it’s clear that Davina’s magic worked. She’s still herself. As for Rebekah, well, Kol reveals exclusively to Davina that she actually betrayed him in 1914. She told Klaus he was looking for the diamond and in turn, he was daggered. So now? He’s stuck her in the same witch prison as Mary Alice and Astrid. As for Finn, Mikael broke him out. And Esther? Let’s just say Rebekah’s time away made her the smartest Original in town. When Esther wasn’t looking before the spell, Rebekah slipped her blood into her mother’s drink. Therefore, Esther died with vampire blood in her system. Now, she can either “be the thing you hate the most or you can be dead … your choice, which is more than you ever gave us,” Klaus tells his mother.
An amazing episode that left viewers hanging till January of 2015. Simply amazing.

REVIEW: THE ORIGINALS – THE HALLOWEEN EPISODES

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MAIN CAST

Joseph Morgan (Hex)
Daniel Gillies (Young Hercules)
Phoebe Tonkin (Bait)
Charles Michael Davis (Battle Scars)
Leah Pipes (Sorority Row)
Danielle Campbell (Behind Closed Doors)
Yusuf Gatewoood (The Interpreter)
Riley Voelkel (Prom)

GUEST CAST

Sebastian Roche (Odyssey 5)
Chase Coleman (The Americans)
Steven Krueger (Goosebumps)
Nishi Munshi (Jane The Virgin)
Sonja Sohn (Luke Cage)
Daniel Sharman (Immortals)
Colin Woodell (XOXO)
Andrew lees (Carlotta)
Oliver Ackland (100 Bloody Acres)
Rebecca Breeds (Home and Away)
Tracy Ifeachor (Doctor Who)

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LIVE AND LET DIE

The werewolves who have aligned themselves with Esther and Finn, led by Aiden, crash a party the newly formed vampire community are having in Marcel’s loft. Aiden gives Marcel a final warning telling him that he and his army must leave the city as their old deal no longer applies. Camille is talking to her advisor Vincent, unaware that he is actually Finn Mikaelson. She tells him that New Orleans is a city of death and that the people party to distract them from the inevitability of death. Finn asks her about her relationships with the people in her life who are still living. She tells him that she’s attracted to the wrong kind of guy. She talks about Marcel and how she was just a rebound girl for him and that they’re not compatible. She then talks about Klaus, how nothing ever happened between them but he got under her skin. She says that in spite of Klaus’ dark past, there was good in him. Finn remarks that Camille wanted to save Klaus; Camille states that some people don’t want to be saved.
 Elijah storms into the compound in search of Klaus only to find Hayley instead. After arguing over some of the wolves decisions to choose to side with Esther and wage war against the vampire community; Hayley threatens that those wolves are still her people and if Elijah chooses to hurt any of them, Esther would be the least of his problems.
On a busy street Camille finally manages to get a hold of Davina, who has been missing for a few days after choosing to take Mikael to her family cabin in the woods. Davina tells Camille that she’s fine and that she would return soon before hanging up on her. Unaware that Klaus had been behind her listening to the whole conversation, Camille is surprised when he remarks that it was rude for Davina to hang up, She chastises him because she hasn’t seen him in months and just decides to show up. He tells her he needs to find Davina because she has brought Mikael back from the dead and is controlling him. When Camille says that Davina didn’t say where she was, Klaus deduces from listening in on the phone call that Davina is at her family’s cabin in Terrebonne parish. Camille agrees to go with him to try and reason with Davina.
Elsewhere, Esther and Kol are busy trying to find where Davina is hiding. After attempting a locator spell which quickly goes wrong, Esther remarks what a clever girl Davina is having managed to block their spell. Enter Finn, who quickly begins to argue with Kol over each others failures to keep track of Davina and get information out of Camille. Esther silences them both, then voices her suspicions that Davina holds the white oak stake and encourages Kol to find her and get it back.
At the cabin, Mikael is busy purging himself of the werewolf venom he contracted from the fight in Rousseau’s. He asks Davina how much longer must they have to hide like cowards. Davina remarks that both Elijah and Klaus now know that he is alive so they must remain hidden until she is able to break the link between Klaus and her friends. Mikael retaliates that confrontation is inevitable and her fear would prove to be their greatest weakness. Davina reminds Mikael that while she might be weak, she is still in control having spelled the bracelet, that allows her to control Mikael, so that it won’t fall off again. Mikael scoffs at her, reminding her that magic can only fight half of her battle. Davina then asks Mikael to teach her how to be strong.
Live and Let Die was another high watermark for what is officially one of the best shows on television.
A WALK ON THE WILD SIDE
On the latest episode of “The Originals,” Marcel got the opportunity of his life- literally- when he was invited to a highly exclusive gala thrown by the mysterious Strix from the elusive Tristan (Oliver Ackland) himself, in “A Walk on the Wild Side,” with promises that he could make something more of himself and gain more power and knowledge than he ever dreamed possible.  Meanwhile, the Originals struggled to make more sense out of the elusive prophecy that predicted the downfall of their family. To that end, they sought out Lucien (Andrew Lees), in hopes of getting more information from the psychic Alexis (Stephanie Cleough, “Sleepover Nightmare”). However, much to Lucien’s shock, she was nowhere to be found, leading him to fear she’d been kidnapped, so the search was on. After calling in a favor with Freya (Riley Voelkel, “The Newsroom”), they were able to pinpoint her location, which Lucien identified as the headquarters of Tristan and the Strix, so a party-crashing was clearly in order. However, Elijah had no need to do so, as he was likewise invited to the soiree himself, opting to take Hayley along as his date, after he and Klaus filled her in on everything that was going on. It turned out that was only part of the story, though.
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It would seem that the Strix wasn’t Tristan’s secret society at all, but Elijah’s, who had founded it long ago, as a way of bringing together the best and brightest of the vampires he’d turned over the years. Unfortunately, he’d eventually realized that such elite types could be rather insufferable, and, as such, had abandoned the experiment altogether at a certain point, leaving Tristan to pick up the reins. This, of course, meant that the Strix were strictly comprised of Elijah’s sire line. Given that, then, Elijah wondered, why had they extended an invite to Marcel, who was sired by Klaus? He feared that it was to get to him or, at the very least, to Klaus, through Marcel, by promising him the moon and the stars in order to get him to let his guard down just enough to weaken him, as Klaus’ right-hand man, thus leaving Klaus vulnerable in the process. Or perhaps simply to kill him, as Marcel was the biggest threat to Tristan from Klaus’ side beyond Klaus himself. In some ways, it was a little of both, as Marcel discovered the hard way, when, upon his arrival at the gala, he was told that he had two options: either he played a little game, or he wouldn’t be leaving that night at all. The initiation rite, as it were, in order to become a member of the Strix, was to determine who stole his daylight ring at a certain point at the party. Once Marcel did so, then he would have to fight that person to the death to retrieve said ring, or die in the process. Further, if he couldn’t determine who had stolen his ring, he would also die in the process, so there was no choice but to participate once he had opted to go to the party, despite Elijah’s warnings to the contrary.
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 This last part might have actually been a challenge if the person- or persons, as it were- who took the ring weren’t so obvious. It was clearly Aya (Tracy Ifeachor, “Crossbones”), and since she had made it a point to introduce Marcel to her “mentor” Mohinder (Jaylen Moore, “The Host”), who she noted, had a penchant for not only killing the people he fought, but to bite them as a sort of finishing move, it was likewise obvious that she’d given the ring to him after stealing it from Marcel. So, when the time came to reveal his answer, Marcel had that answer, at least. However, that still left the fight to the death with Mohinder, and the guy was one tough customer, to say the least. Though at times it seemed that Marcel might be doomed, least of all when Mohinder bit him and prepared to finish him off, it turned out that Marcel had a finishing move of his own. Taking Hayley aside at one point, after having determined who the ring thief was, he had her bite him on purpose, knowing that her bite would prove deadly to Mohinder- at least if he didn’t get the proper antidote in time. Of course, the same applied to him as well, but Marcel bet the farm that he’d be able to get Klaus’ help in that matter, which proved ultimately to be true, though Klaus warned him that he would be a keeping a closer eye on Marcel as a result, lest he end up being the friend-turned-foe that the prophecy warned of. However, after informing Mohinder of his impending fate, he also turned to Tristan and informed him that he might join his posh club, but he would not be killing Mohinder to do so. That, he said, would be up to Tristan. However, Tristan had no problem doing just that, as it seemed there was another reason at hand that Mohinder had been chosen for the final fight. Mohinder was apparently plotting against Tristan and the Strix, so it was a two birds, one stone kind of affair. If Marcel lost, then one of Tristan’s biggest competitors on Klaus’ end was out of the way, and if Marcel won, then he would have taken out someone Tristan felt he could no longer trust. So, to that end, Tristan killed Mohinder, returned Marcel his ring, and welcomed him into the fold, as the first member that wasn’t sired by Elijah. All’s well that ends well, it would seem. Or did it?
 Unfortunately for the Originals, the other element in the party, Alexis, had a far less happy ending in store for her. After Klaus and Lucien crashed the party and diverted the attention of Tristan and company by acting boorish- not that they needed any reason in that department, mind you, but still- Freya tracked down Alexis on the property, only to discover that Alexis wanted to be there, and had no intention of leaving. Indeed, she placed a choking spell on Freya, nearly killing her, but not before kissing her and telling her that her family would be her undoing. Freya was able to sucker punch Alexis, knocking her out, and thus, removing the spell, and abscond with Alexis back to the Originals’ compound. There, the plan was for several of them to feed on her in order to further determine elements of the prophecy. However, it would seem that someone had poisoned Alexis at some point, and she dies before she can relate much of anything to all concerned, nearly taking them with her. Thankfully, Hayley realized quickly enough of the danger and had everyone back off before Alexis could do them any harm. But who did the deed? Naturally, Tristan claims that Lucien actually did it, in order to keep any further information about his intentions secret, while Lucien maintains it was Tristan. Either way, Alexis won’t be imparting any more prophecies any time soon, but as it turns out, it was actually neither Tristan nor Lucien, anyway. It seems that New Orleans has yet another new visitor, and it’s none other than Aurora (Rebecca Breeds). That was about it, really, but it was a fun episode, nonetheless, with the knock-down, drag-out fight between Marcel and Mohinder an undeniable highlight. I also got a kick out of Klaus and Lucien’s party-crashing antics, especially when Klaus told Tristan he lacked the “flexibility” to be in his little club, because “he could never get his head that far enough up his own ass” to qualify! Lol. Good stuff.
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Also, it should be noted that Hayley looked fabulous in her red dress that Elijah picked out for her from sister Rebekah’s private stash, and the gala itself was something, a true feast for the eyes and senses. It was sort of like the “Eyes Wide Shut” party crossed with the kind of shindig Gatsby would throw. Pretty cool stuff, and an enjoyable episode all around. Also very much looking forward to seeing what sort of havoc the psychotic Aurora will wreak, especially once she gets back in touch with old lover Klaus.

REVIEW: THE VAMPIRE DIARIES -SEASON 1-6

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MAIN CAST

Nina Dobrev (Never Cry Werewolf)
Paul Wesley (Killer Movie)
Ian Somerhalder (Pulse)
Steven R. McQueen (Piranha 3d)
Sara Canning (Primeval: New World)
Kat Graham (Honey 2)
Candice King (Juno)
Zach Roerig (Rings)
Kayla Ewell (Impact Point)
Michael Trevino (The Riches)
Matthew Davis (Cult)
Joseph Morgan (Hex)
Michael Malarkey (The Selection)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Chris William Martin (Dollhouse)
Benjamin Ayres (Saving Hope)
Chris J. Johnson (Betrayal)
Marguerite MacIntyre (Red Dragon)
Robert Pralgo (Fast & Furious 7)
Susan Walters (The Flash)
Jasmine Guy (Dead Like Me)
Arielle Kebbel (Ballers)
Bianca Lawson (Beauty and The Beast)
Mia Kirshner (30 Days of Night: Dark Days)
Malese Jow (The Flash)
Gina Torres (Firefly)
Sean Faris (Never Back Down)
James Remar (The Shannara Chronicles)
Kelly Hu (Arrow)
Melinda Clarke (Spawn)
David Anders (Izombie)
Spencer Locke (Resident Evil: Afterlife)
Taylor Kinney (Zero Dark Thirty)
B.J. Britt (Agents of SHIELD)
Tiya Sircar (The Internship)
Maiara Walsh (The Starving Games)
Natashia Williams (Smiley Face)
Lauren Cohan (Chuck)
Trent Ford (Smallville)
Daniel Gillies (Young Hercules)
Dawn Olivieri (American Hustle)
Stephen Amell (Arrow)
Michaela McManus (Law & Order: SVU)
David Gallagher (Super 8)
Jack Coleman (Heroes)
Sebastian Roche (Odyssey 5)
Claire Holt (Mean Girls 2)
Anna Enger (Anchorman 2)
Alice Evans (Lost)
Torrey DeVitto (The Rite)
Robert Ri’chard (Veronica Mars)
Perisa White (Blood Dolls)
Nathaniel Buzolic (Out of The Blue)
Cassidy Freeman (Smallville)
Casper Zafer (Coffe Sex You)
Michael Reilly Burke (Mars Attacks)
Todd Williams (San Andreas)
Grace Phipps (Scream Queens)
Phoebe Tonkin (The Secret Circle)
David Alpay (Ararat)
Alyssa Diaz (Red Dawn)
Madeline Zima (Californication)
Rick Worthy (Collateral Damage)
Cynthia Addai-Robinson (Arrow)
Charles Michael Davis (Battle Scars)
Daniella Pineda (American Odyssey)
Leah Pipes (Fingerprints)
Callrd Harris (The Real St.Nick)
Eka Darvill (Spartacus)
Olga Fonda (Real Steel)
Hayley Kiyoko (Scooby-Doo 3 & 4)
Rick Cosnett (The Flash)
Janina Gavankar (The L Word)
Kendrick Sampson (Gracepoint)
Shaun Sipos (Texas Chainsaw 3d)
Caitlin McHugh (I Am Legdn)
Penelope Mitchell (Curve)
Chris Brochu (Soul Surfer)
Raffi Barsoumian (NCIS)
Colin Ferguson (Eureka)
Jodi Lyn O’Keefe (Halloween: H20)
Emily Chang (Total Recall)
Gabrielle Walsh  (The Hive)
Marco James Marquez  (The CLient List)
Chris Wood (Supergirl)
Tristin Mays (The Wedding Ringer)
Annie Wersching (Bosch)
Christopher Cousins (Wicker Park)

 


There are vampires, and there are indeed diaries. One of these diaries is being kept by Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev). Elena’s been writing down her thoughts for quite some time now, but in these dark days, her diary is her only outlet for the way she really feels. She’s still reeling from the deaths of both of her parents just a few short months ago, and while she tries to present a smiling face to the world at large, she’s emotionally ravaged inside. Elena has been keeping almost everyone around her at arm’s length, dumping one of her oldest friends who she’d only recently started to date and tearing just about every last page out of her social calendar. She’s dead inside.

Stefan Salvatore (Paul Wesley), meanwhile, is dead, period. He too keeps a journal, although having been alive…well, undead…for around 150 years, Stefan has had quite a bit more to write about than Elena. One of the first things Stefan did upon his return to his ancestral home of Mystic Falls, Virginia is re-enroll in high school. As an eternal 17 year old, he doesn’t run into any trouble looking the part. It certainly doesn’t hurt that as one of the few surviving vampires who doesn’t sizzle and smolder under the light of day, there’s little reason for anyone to suspect that Stefan is one of the undead. Stefan and Elena are inexorably drawn to one another, and the two of them are almost immediately established as a couple. Epic romance. Moony eyes. You know the drill.

Stefan can’t escape his blood. You can take that in the most literal sense: there’s the blood he must ingest in order to survive, although he’s long since sworn off feeding from humans, living instead off of small animals in the woods around his palatial family estate. This makes it easier to for Stefan to more seamlessly blend into mainstream society rather than feasting off it from the fringes, but it leaves him weaker than most other vampires as a result. It’s just not as potent as what’s coursing through our veins. There’s that sort of blood — the crimson, sticky kind — and then there’s the blood of his family. Stefan’s brother Damon (Ian Somerhalder) is also a creature of the night, and he long ago swore to make every last second of Stefan’s existence an eternal hell. Damon kills without hesitation…not only to feed, and not only to hide the existence of vampires from the world at large, but simply because he likes it. There’s more to Damon’s return to Mystic Falls than revenge, though. There’s a much greater — a much darker — motivation behind it all. At the same time, Mystic Falls isn’t being caught as unaware as Damon might like to think.

The Vampire Diaries finds its footing startlingly quickly. Take Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, for instance: as universally adored as those two series are, neither of them were really any good at all until the tail-end of their first seasons. Even with as strong as Supernatural quickly became in its first year, it got off to somewhat of a shaky start, and a fair number of the episodes from its first season are hit-or-miss. The Vampire Diaries, on the other hand, is just about perfect by the time the third episode rolls around. There really aren’t any weak episodes after that. There’s no filler dumped in just to pad out the rest of the season, and it doesn’t spin its wheels the way a lot of shows do when leading up to the big finale. It’s impressive enough that The Vampire Diaries hits such dizzying heights in its very first season, but to maintain that sort of consistency across virtually every episode…that’s exceptionally rare.


Admittedly, its pilot is kind of slow moving and sputters a bit, but the second episode is quite a bit stronger, and you’ll know from the end of “Friday Night Bites” if you’re in it for the long haul. Even with all of its genre underpinnings, at its core, The Vampire Diaries is a soap opera, complete with dead parents, drug abuse, adoption drama, alcoholism, and lots and lots of relationships. Don’t go in expecting it to be a Buffy clone or a Supernatural knockoff. The elements that make those series so brilliant are showcased here as well, but action, horror, and a snarky sense of humor don’t dominate. The great thing about The Vampire Diaries — and I write this from the perspective of someone who’s not the usual target demographic for this kind of show — is that the soapier elements are never overwhelming either. For instance, as the series opens, Elena’s younger brother Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen) has turned to drugs in a failed attempt at trying to cope with the sudden deaths of his parents. In any other show, there’d be some sort of big, overwrought intervention…drenched in syrupy strings, a heartfelt monologue, and saucer-plate weepy eyes. That, or he’d bottom out in some sort of cartoonishly over-the-top way. Because The Vampire Diaries is so respectful to its characters and its audience, it doesn’t trot down either of those paths. People try to reach Jeremy and fail. He has to arrive at the decision to improve his lot in life himself, and he quickly does. Though Jeremy is certainly given a helpful nudge, his maturation is handled quietly and convincingly. The Vampire Diaries doesn’t have all that much interest in settling for the obvious, and it resists wringing out drama from the same plot points episode after episode.

Every episode has some sort of intensely action or horror driven sequence to unleash, and some sort of shock or surprise is always lurking around the next corner. I seriously found myself shouting at my TV — the good kind of shouting! — with the way The Vampire Diaries so deviously caught me off-guard over and over again. The twists are also well-thought-out and wholly earned, not just lazily yanking out the rug. Very few people here are safe, and characters I assumed would be a fixture for the entire run of the show are suddenly slaughtered after a few episodes. The cinematography can be impressively cinematic as well, and quite a few moments of “You’re Undead to Me” and “Haunted” in particular look as if they could’ve been culled from a big-budget Hollywood horror flick. Especially once the pilot has come and gone, the pace screams along at a very steady clip. There are never really any threads in the storyline that are left dangling for long. Plot points that look like they’d be dragged out over the course of the first season or two are instead revealed a third of the way through. Key moments that feel like they belong in the season finale swoop in closer to the halfway mark. I mean that as the highest compliment too. Nothing ever feels rushed or underplayed. It’s all presented quickly enough to keep The Vampire Diaries from stagnating but is still given enough time to have a meaningful impact…it’s a perfect balance. Also, every episode offers some sort of payoff to something established earlier, and there’s generally some kind of reveal as well. So much happens that part of me honestly wonders how they can keep up this manic pace in season two, although the writers have very much earned the benefit of the doubt after this exceptionally strong first outing. I’m having a hard time thinking of the last show I watched with cliffhangers this consistently addictive too. Especially now that it’s out on Blu-ray, The Vampire Diaries kind of demands to be devoured in marathon viewings.

The cast and characterization straight across the board are particularly great. There’s something magnetic about every last member of The Vampire Diaries’ ensemble, and no weak links leap out at me. There’s certainly an effort to keep them even-keeled. There’s something likeable or sympathetic about most everyone. Each character has some sort of glaring flaw as well, and that includes Elena and Stefan. Elena isn’t some sort of impossibly perfect Mary Sue character. She has her shortcomings, and her friends and family aren’t afraid to call her on them and take her down a peg either. In most any other show, everyone in the supporting cast would be boiled down to a three or four word description: “horny best friend” or “hyperaggressive jock”…that sort of thing. They’d be defined less by who they are and more by what the plot requires them to do that week. In The Vampire Diaries, just about everyone is infused with quite a bit more thought and dimension. This may not be at all apparent at first glance. Some of the folks who at first seem destined to be dead air are soon given some additional depth. Well, that, or they’re quickly mauled.

The body count this season is kinda stratospheric, and it doesn’t hurt that the werewolves hinted at last year have started snarling their way into the series. Season two is teeming with all sorts of unrepentant killers, and the standout early on is Katherine. Nina Dobrev pulls double duty as the wholesome, responsible Elena and as the centuries-old scheming murderess Katherine (several very different incarnations of her, actually), and she’s more than a little bit awesome in both roles. The series milks a few really great jolts from the uncertainty of who you’re looking at, exactly — if it’s Elena or if it’s Katherine playing dress-up — and Katherine’s sinister smirk after she’s had her fun never fails to make me cackle. Katherine also subscribes to the theory that people don’t amount to much more than Happy Meals on legs, and the swiftness, ferocity, and complete lack of remorse as she cripples and murders one random girl just to prove a point winds up being one of the season’s standout moments. I do have to admit that later in the season, The Vampire Diaries’ writers seem to run out of really compelling things for Katherine to do, and her appearances start to pack less and less of a wallop. There’s a point to it, exploring a facet of the character that she’d just as soon refuse to acknowledge even exists, but it does seem anticlimatic with as much of a sultry, destructive force of nature as Katherine is early on. The Vampire Diaries more than makes up for Katherine’s descent into shrugworthiness by introducing a couple of truly ancient vampires — Klaus and Elijah — who are charismatic, startlingly compelling, and also regal and adult…an appreciated change of pace from a show where the monsters are generally played by witty early-twentysomethings.

Ian Somerhalder still stands strong overall as the best thing about The Vampire Diaries, scoring all the snarkiest lines and clearly having a hell of a lot more fun than anyone else in front of the camera. Still, despite being so manipulative, exploitative, hot-tempered, and occasionally murderous, the show still finds a way to keep him completely likeable and sympathetic. Some of the shades of gray with Damon are erased this season, and he’s much more overtly a dependable hero-type. I chalk that up as character development, natch, and the fact that he frequently does seem to approach becoming the man Elena wants him to be makes his slips back into monster-dom that much more tragic.

The Vampire Diaries season 2  is just a hell of a lot of fun to watch, screaming ahead at a manic pace and never settling into any sort of comfortable routine. It’s shockingly well-acted, there’s hardly any filler or unnecessary distractions, and The Vampire Diaries probably gets the nod as the most infectious and consistently entertaining drama I’m watching these days. Even the soapier stuff and the over-the-top melodrama winds up being more engrossing than I ever would’ve thought possible.

 

he third season of The Vampire Diaries is about family…or, rather, trying to hold onto one. Elena’s is all but gone, limited to just her increasingly distant brother Jeremy. The two of them have a surrogate father in Alaric, but even he’s content to set up shop on the couch rather than settle into one of the house’s depressingly vacant rooms. A fractitious family at best seems as if it could collapse at any moment. Elena and Damon both are desperately hunting for Stefan. The previous season closed with Stefan unleashing the monster within, swearing allegiance to the millenium-old original vampire Klaus. ‘The Ripper’ has resurfaced. Though he obeys Klaus’ every command to murder and maim, Stefan isn’t some mindless, manipulated slave; he relishes in the kill.

 

In any other series, Stefan would be back to his righteous old self within two or three episodes, but…well, this is The Vampire Diaries. Things will never be the same again. Klaus has much of his true family within arm’s reach, though he prefers to keep the bulk of them skewered and subdued. His aim is to raise a new family, one that’s both more loyal and more like him: a hybrid of vampire and werewolf. The birthing of this army proves to be far more difficult than Klaus could ever have dreamt, and his torment grows that much greater when he finds the family tree of his birth to be more expansive and more vengeful than once believed. The dominance of family this season doesn’t stop there. Hell, we learn that the existence of vampires at all is predicated on the idea of protecting one’s own. No one in Mystic Falls escapes unscathed from all this, with the sorceress Bonnie, undead Caroline, and lycanthropic Tyler all struggling with parents who’ve either turned their backs on them or can’t accept their children for who they now are.

The Vampire Diaries does so much right, and approaching the top of that list is its disinterest in convention. Stefan and Elena form the core of the series in so many ways, and yet it’s quite a while before the two ever share the same frame this year. They’re kept physically apart for far more of the season than I would ever have thought possible, and even after that point, they’re hardly ‘together’. Stefan has changed profoundly. He may never return to the unwaveringly good guy he once was, and the journey back proves to be a whole hell of a lot more grueling As the third season of The Vampire Diaries came to a close, Elena died. This year follows her rebirth as a vampire, although if Stefan and Damon have their way, Elena will be re-reborn soon enough.You see, there’s a cure for vampirism, entombed for two thousand years with an immortal creature known only as Silas. Even with the crypt on the other end of the continent and before embarking on one epic quest after another to unlock it, they all start fantasizing about what they’ll do if they ever get their hands on the cure.

They could shove it down Klaus’ throat and at long last end his reign of terror, although who knows what kind of collateral damage would result from slaying an Original. Perhaps it’s the shot at redemption that Rebekah has been waiting for. Maybe it’s a chance for Stefan and Elena to enjoy a long but less than eternal life together as humans. It ought to go without saying that not everyone will be able to get what they want, especially since they’re not the only ones in search of the cure. Supernaturally-fueled vampire hunters have started to make their presence known for the first time in ages, and they aim to strip Silas of his immortality and end him once and for all. Anyone who gets in their way is expendable, and it kind of follows that Elena’s vampiric bodyguards don’t pose much of a threat to seasoned killers engineered to butcher the undead.

Season four is largely shaped by those three plot threads: Elena coming to grips with her vampirism, the search for the cure, and the resurrection of Silas. Most everything else that happens this year is fallout from one or more of the above. One of the people closest to Elena is saddled with the mantle of a Hunter, and the path to Silas’ tomb can only be unearthed by having him slaughter as many vampires as possible…a compulsion he’s all too eager to indulge. Cut off from the source of her mystical gifts, Bonnie begins to embrace darker magic. They imbue her with the power needed to unlock Silas’ tomb, but this raw, boundless energy may consume Bonnie before she’s given the opportunity.

Season 5 the doppelganger of Stefan or “shadow self” in the form of Silas certainly keeps things interesting. Silas is one of the more intense bad guys of the show and while Silas appears as if Stefan (as is performed by the same actor), the differences between characters is huge. The same can be said for the continuing story-line of the other double, the seemingly identical look-alike Katherine (who continues to look the same as Elena, but also is nothing like her). In Season 5, Katherine turns from a vampire to a human (as the sole recipient of the long-sought vampire cure), and things are complicated because of it. Seeing the way that actors Nina Dobrev and Paul Wesley handle these scenes is part of the fun, and it’s an amazingly procifient example of the benefits of quality film editing to see the scenes where characters have interactions with one another as played by the same actor.

The production values of The Vampire Diaries are surprisingly strong for such a modest budget television production. The special effects are always minimally utilized so that when there are effects on the show they can count as something extra special. The efforts from the team that works on this show really impresses. The cinematography remains a constant things; always showcasing both the bright and dark elements of the storylines. The costumes fit with these performers well. The make-up department has their work cut out for them at times, and are capably bringing forth the supernatural elements to the show.

Considering relatively lower production costs compared to other network television series, it’s a very well produced creation that continues to impress with what the creator and producers have to work with.

In season six we get to find out what happened to Bonnie (Graham) and Damon (Somerhalder) after last season’s cliff-hanger, and what has become of the other side. There is also the introduction of a new coven of witches who have ties to some pre-existing characters. Last season’s new addition Enzo (Malarkey) also gets a much more beefed up role as well as back-story.

Amongst all of the new additions there are of course some exits, the most notable being that of leading lady. Audiences have spent the last six years investing in the life of Elena Gilbert, but now has come the time to say goodbye, and it isn’t easy. It’s not just Elena though as this year the show lost a total of four of its more long-standing cast members, and there isn’t going to be a dry eye in the house by the end of the season.

'The Vampire Diaries' Recap: Damon and Elena Return to 1994

What makes this box-set really special this season  is the extras. Thought has clearly been put into what to include, and it isn’t your standard deleted scenes and commentaries. Both of those elements are included, but the featurettes have been crafted with the true die-hard fans at the fore-front of their minds. Good Bit and Good Luck is an emotional documentary that gives the cast and crew a public forum to say goodbye to their co-stars. The second is a much more upbeat affair as the cast read out some of their favorite fan Twitter reactions to plot developments over the series. There’s never a dull moment in Mystic Falls and somehow, despite being over a hundred episodes old, the show manages to constantly reinvent itself and feel fresh. the cliffhanger leads into what is already starting to be an intriguing season 7.

 

 

 

REVIEW: CLEOPATRA 2525

MAIN CAST

Jennifer Sky (Xena)
Gina Torres (Firefly)
Victoria Pratt (Mutant X)
Patrick Kake (30 Days of Night)
Elizabeth Hawthorne (Filthy Rich)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Joel Tobeck (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Danielle Cormack (Wentworth Prison)
Daniel Gillies (The Originals)
Kate Elliott (The Locals)
Latham Gaines (Power Rangers Dino thunder)
Jim McLarty (Evil Dead)
Zoe Bell (The Hateful Eight)
Bruce Hopkins (Hercules: TLJ)
Stephen Lovatt (Spartacus: Gods of The Arena)
Rupert Cox (After The Rain)
Chris Graham (Power Rangers Mystic Force)
Josephine Davison (Power Rangers SPD)
Kieren Hutchison (One Tree Hill)
Peter Feeney (Black Sheep)
Marton Csokas (Alice In Wonderland)

The show was released in 2000 by the same folks who made Hercules and Xena. Filmed in New Zealand, the show detailed a dystopian future like that in Rock & Rule where mutations were common and the result of some ecological disaster hundreds of years prior. The series followed the exploits of three attractive rebels, Cleopatra (the lovely Jennifer Sky), “Hel” (the talented Gina Torres), and “Sarge” (Victoria Pratt), in their quest to retake Earth from numerous machines called Baileys.The show opened each week with a revamped, upbeat version of the song In the Year 2525, starting with the episode Quest For Firepower, where Hel and Sarge have come under fire from enemy infiltration units called Betrayers (they look like humans but soon morph into weapon toking terminators that go on rampages to accomplish their goals). Sarge is hurt and in need of a vital organ transplant, stumbling across a mutant medical clinic that has just thawed an attractive young blonde, Cleopatra, from a deep sleep (500 years worth). Essentially an organ harvesting operation, the mutants make a deal and soon enough, the gals are teaming up in one of the most illogical, silly partnerships of television history. I found it interesting that Cleo(patra) was originally frozen in order to have breast augmentation.The series made a lot of how mankind has been forced into a series of underground tunnels due to the threat of the Baileys that hover about with heavy firepower above ground. The origins of the enemy don’t come about until the end of the series. The girls are part of a “Voice” team, guided by an unseen voice (played by Elizabeth Hawthorne), that uses rebel cells comprised of three warriors in an effort to fight battles needed to reclaim mankind’s heritage. They encounter other groups that all have their own agendas, sometimes forming loose knit alliances in the pursuit of uniting the people to pursue the fight as well as establish some form of justice lost long ago.The chief enemy, Creegan (Joel Tobeck), was a clown faced man with superior knowledge of the dynamics of the age, who is found to have worked closely with Voice in the past. His primary goal is to locate Voice and kill her  at all costs, using whatever means necessary to achieve his goals. Rounding out the Voice team is a betrayer turned helpful android, Mauser (Patrick Kake), who provides support to the team and is riddled with a few mysteries of his own.hqdefaultOkay, the show was originally part of the “Back to Back Action Pack” with the silly Bruce Campbell series Jack of All Trades, a story about a Revolutionary War spy (Campbell’s fans clamor for that one big time!), with each show lasting the usual 30 minutes. After Campbell’s series was cancelled  Cleopatra 2525 was boosted to a full hour, although this was only for the short second season.untitledI wish there could have been better closure since the cliffhanger ending of The Voice made me want that one last episode to tie things up. The campy fun of the series, the over the top action, and the top notch production values all contributed enough to make this series a hit and must see for sci-fi fans.

 

 

 

 

REVIEW: THE ORIGINALS – SEASON 1 & 2

MAIN CAST

Joseph Morgan (Hex)
Daniel Gillies (Young Hercules)
Claire Holt (Mean Girls 2)
Phoebe Tonkin (Bait)
Charles Michael Davis (The Game)
Daniella Pineda (The Detour)
Leah Pipes (Sorority Row)
Danielle Campbell (Prison Break)

Image result for the originals house of the rising sun
RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Nathaniel Buzolic (Significant Mother)
Shannon Kane (Brooklyn’s Finest)
Eka Darville (Power Rangers RPM)
Callard Harris (Dallas)
Sebastian Roche (Odyssey 5)
Malaya Rivera Drew (The L Word)
Steven Krueger (Goosebumps)
Raney Branch (Ringside)
Todd Stashwick (Gotham)
Shannon Eubanks (The Patriot)
Yasmine Al-Bustami (Nashville)
Michael Trevino (The Vampire Diaries)
Elyse Levesque (Stargate Universe)
Peta Sergeant (Winners and Losers)
Chase Coleman (Boardwalk Empire)
Nathan Parsons (The Roommate)
Natalie Dreyfuss (2 Broke Girls)
Yusuf Gatewood (The Interpreter)
Daniel Sharman (Immortals)
Nishi Munshi (Bones)
Sonja Sohn (The Wire)
Colin Woodell (XOXO)
Alice Evans (102 Dalmations)
Lloyd Owen (Apollo 18)
Riley Voelkel (Prom)
Maisie Richardson-Sellers (Legends of Tomorrow)
Keri Lynn Pratt (Veronica Mars)
Nina Dobrev (The Vampire Diaries)
Meg Foster (Masters of The Universe)
Claudia Black (Stargate SG.1)

The Originals is a spin-off series based upon characters created and introduced in The Vampire Diaries, and it is a creation of writer Julie Plec, who is the head-writer and showrunner of both series. The concept of the show revolves around a group of characters referred to as being the ‘originals’ – i.e. the first vampires to ever exist. They also happen to be family. These original vampires have existed for centuries and have the longest history of all: a complex back-story which unfolds over the course of the series storytelling, which alternates back and forth with telling the long-running back-story of these original vampires while focusing on a modern day setting in New Orleans.The world of television has spawned an immensely high number of series that take on some sort of science fiction or supernatural aspect, and one of the most popular staples has been found in vampire tales: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, True Blood, and The Vampire Diaries being popular series chiefly placed amongst the pop culture echelon. Then there’s the fact that vampires are popular in films, too (including the teen-sensation series Twilight). Can another show join a lineup of other successful vampire-lore creations? It seems so, as The CW network has once again teamed with the creative mind behind The Vampire Diaries for another successful and entertaining entry in the genre’s growing list of successes.The cast consists of Klaus (Joseph Morgan), Elijah (Daniel Gillies), Hayley (Phoebe Tonkin), Marcel (Charles Michael Davis), Camille (Leah Pipes), Davina (Danielle Campbell), Sophie (Daniella Pineda), and Rebekah (Claire Holt).

The basic plot of the series is to revolve around the story of the original vampire family after they decide to return to their former home in New Orleans. Upon returning, the originals find that the land they once knew has changed a great deal and their home and rule has been replaced by a character they once considered their own: Marcel. Meanwhile, there is also a war is brewing between vampires and witches and things complicate with Marcel working with a powerful young witch named Davina, who has abilities that could pose a threat to all the vampires.

Image result for the originals house of the rising sunKlaus, Elijah, and Rebekah are the main characters of The Originals. They are each returning characters from the Vampire Diaries universe. Klaus continues to make things difficult for everyone with his typical brooding self getting into the way of other vampire’s own agendas. Klaus finds a friend in Camille, a psychologist major who starts to have an unlikely connection to him. Meanwhile, Klaus’s blood-line as a werewolf/vampire hybrid (and his one-night stand with Hayley) results in Hayley’s pregnancy and a cult following for a baby born to a vampire. Elijah acts as if a guardian vampire of sorts who keeps his word (but who can also go totally vampire-bananas at times, as “necessary”), and Rebekah is a insecure and lonely vampire who gets into lots of mischief, causing problems for the originals (amongst others), but who really just wants a friend by her side and to be a normal human again. Of course, these characters (and their back-stories) lead to lots of surprising revelations and storytelling detours over the course of the show.

Marcel is a past connection to the original vampires who is now calling himself ‘the king’ and is ruling over New Orleans vampires as a sort of leader-vampire who calls the shots and has a big company of “minions” working for him (so to speak). Marcel makes vampires do his bidding to keep New Orleans a vampire-safe haven. Vampires will do his bidding to try and earn ‘daylight rings’, which allow for a select few to live in the day. There’s a big history between Marcel and Kalus, too, as Klaus raised him when he was a boy.

Aside from the pilot, which combines too much footage found in the “backdoor pilot” produced on The Vampire Diaries Season 4 under the title “The Originals”, the series finds a distinct and interesting creative voice. The first episode is a bit disappointing for fans of both series as it had borrowed so much (some scenes were basically “copy and paste” versions already featured upon the former), The Originals is interesting, original, and well-made with quality writing/directing. Assembling a hugely talented group of people for the production, the series reunites many of the same behind-the-scenes crew who made The Vampire Diaries a huge success, from some of the cinematographers, to the costume designer, o the composer to the production designer. It’s a big family of creative talents who united to create this compelling drama series.

The Originals has many things in common with its predecessor – starting with the fact that the characters that predominately reside are many of the same characters featured on The Vampire Diaries, but now with expanded roles – and that the group of writers and directors responsible for making the program are largely from the same creative pool. Yet it’s still a standalone series that newcomers who aren’t as familiar to previous lore should be able to discover. It offers a slightly different storytelling approach, though stylistically it shares a lot in common. If one can like The Vampire Diaries then they will surely enjoy The Originals, and vice-versa, so there’s certainly room for the show to both be followed by longtime fans of the characters and perhaps by new audience members.

There have been so many vampire series and films that the market seems flooded with them and it can be a bit frustrating to see so many stories being told simultaneously with this concept. It’s certainly a concept that has been done again and again, and shows no signs of going anywhere. Yet the good news is that there are still writers who are telling vampire stories with writing of note, who are drawing forth more interesting elements by focusing on the dramatic elements more than anything else. This is a perfect example of what is happening here: the writing is elementally the main key to the quality of the program, and in this case, that’s a good thing. The writing here is solid. Fans of quality storytelling who have an inclination towards the supernatural genre will find this to be a well-produced, written, directed, and acted program. Without a good storyline backdrop, one could easily see The Originals being a faltering series. Yet there was more than enough storytelling potential for the core group of characters as seen in the storyline its parent series offered, and the writers have expanded on that universe of ideas so that a fully-fledged program can exist. This is a series well worth seeing out as one of the more interesting programs currently on air. Television viewers who enjoy a well told story will find much to appreciate.

Now that The Originals has made it to season two, the writers aren’t wasting any time with formalities. “Rebirth” brings back some familiar names with brand spanking new faces. This episode doesn’t really introduce viewers to the returning characters, as it makes the broad generalization that you’re already familiar with them from The Vampire Diaries – despite their dramatic new looks. Instead, it delves right into the setting the stage for a reunion that is sure to be memorable.

The Originals branded its second season a family reunion, and that’s exactly what the season premiere sets into motion. The Guerreros are out, and once again the Mikaelson’s are back in – all of them. It’s only a matter of time before Rebekah (Claire Holt) is lured back to New Orleans, and then the fun will really begin. In the meantime, Klaus (Joseph Morgan) has both parents and all his other siblings to occupy his schedule – good thing he doesn’t have changing diapers to distract him from whatever is coming.

Having Claire Holt leave the show full-time was hard last year, but there was a definite sense that she would be coming back, if only for an episode here and there (as has been the case). Now, that’s not a feeling The Originals mid-season finale leaves you with – Claire Holt is no longer occupying the role of Rebekah Mikaelson, and it seems that the whole body-jumping plotline was just leading us to this point.

Rebekah has been around since season three of The Vampire Diaries and, while she never got as much of the spotlight as Klaus, she has been a huge presence ever since. I wrote last week that Claire Holt gives the character something that can’t be replaced, and I honestly don’t know if the show can make me accept another actress as the face of Rebekah. It’ll be hard to keep an open mind, even I’m a little ashamed to admit it.But the episode Map of the Moments was great, with vintage moments for every single character. The long-awaited reunion between Hayley, Klaus and baby Hope didn’t disappoint, for starters, and provided a brief moment of happiness and contentment for a family so often at loggerheads. The moment in which they took a family photo mere moments before having to burn it should have been jarring and ridiculous, but it was actually the highlight of the hour. Looking back on that knowing what would happen to Rebekah by the end makes it even more heartbreaking, and a little bit of sunshine and happiness, albeit still tinged with sadness, was welcome in a show.The Revelation about Freya (the other Mikaelson Sister) being alive was a brilliant revelation along with Esthers sister Dahlia who is hellbent on taking baby hope. this leads to a series of events that brings us to the finale of season 2 . Season two of The Originals puts to rest the oldest family war and instills in its place a familiar mark between warring siblings. Lullabies are spoken and promises are made for the good of innocence and the threat of new evil likely to rear its head in New Orleans come the fall. All in all, the king of wolves and vamps settles in, ready to settle into fatherhood unaware of the future, but believing he has control of it.

There was some gorgeous imagery that fit in quite nicely upon the climax of “Ashes to Ashes.” The episode stood on its own and provided a much needed finality to the old generation of Mikaelsons and their sophisticated rival, Dhalia. The most fascinating aspect was of course how the battle played itself out, leaving the final segments as all too familiar approaches to goodbyes and promises of sardonic revenge. In many ways, it was the highlight of the season saving the best for last.

After linking with Dalia, Klaus stabs himself with the dagger and the two are returned to torpor. Elijah recovers Hope with Freya as Rebekah returns to her original body as a vampire once more. Convinced of Klaus’s plan, Elijah burns the body of their original mother and swaps the ashes with Kol’s when Davina attempts to user her “one time” ability to harness the coven’s power and use resurrection. Instead of Kol, Esther is brought back and captured immediately by the Mikaelsons. Dalia, still possessing power, melts the dagger in Klaus, awakens, steals Freya, and escapes. Klaus, Elijah, and Rebekah later confront Dalia but are subdued by splinters of the white oak stake being ingested through Dalia’s power. Esther distracts Dalia long enough for Klaus to impale the two of them finally killing them both. In a final scene with the pair as their younger selves, Esther relents that she should have stayed by Dalia’s side. The two forgive each other and perish together. Later, during the full moon, Hayley makes Elijah promise to look after Hope even though he had no intention to remain at Klaus’s side. Freya magically heals Rebekah’s human body and Rebekah once more inhabits it with plans to decide which she intends to stay in at a later time. Klaus and Camille share a drink as both are essentially still awkward around each other but later, Klaus settles in with Hope in his arms, commenting on a new chapter in their lives.I had fun watching this season and it leaves you wanting me, with season 3 shapeing up to just as fun, it shows that a spin-off can work.

REVIEW: SPIDER-MAN 1,2 & 3

CAST

Tobey Maguire (Pleasantville)
Kirsten Dunst (All Good Things)
Willem Dafoe (American Psycho)
Janes Franco (This Is The End)
Cliff Robertson (Escape From L.A.)
Rosemary Harris (This Means War)
J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
Joe Manganiello (True Blood)
Bill Nunn (True Crime)
Michael Papajohn (Predator 2)
Elizabeth Banks (Power Rangers)
Ron Perkins (House)
Randy Savage (Bolt)
Octavia Spencer (Mom)
Lucy Lawless (Xena)
Bruce Campbell (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Ted Raimi (Odyssey 5)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)

This film spends a lot of its time on the origin of Spider-Man. Peter Parker (played by Tobey Maguire) is an ordinary unpopular high school student. At the beginning of the movie we hear a narration by Peter that says this story is like every other story in that it is all about a girl. The girl in this case is Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst). Peter has had a crush on MJ since he was 6 years old, but obviously MJ has not reciprocated the feelings. Problem is Peter is not the kind of person to express his feelings to MJ, he instead lets everyone else know what he feels for MJ. It is the classic “everyone knows except for the person it involves” scenario. Peter admires her from afar and seems to always be there to bring her spirits up.

One day Peter and MJ’s class go to Columbia University for a field trip about spiders. We find out that the people here have been studying spiders and then creating super-spiders through genetic manipulation. One of the spiders gets loose and as Peter is taking pictures of MJ for the school paper, he is bit by it. Here is where the origin of Spider-Man begins. The first hour is spent with Peter getting used to the special powers he has gotten and refining them. He is both scared and excited by what he can do and Maguire makes Peter seem like one of us. This is the core of why Spider-Man is so great. It shows that even someone with a normal upbringing and great powers can have a difficult life. This is very much in contrast with heroes like Batman and Superman who either grew up in a rich family or is from another planet. Peter Parker is like many of us. He has a normal life like the rest of us. This is why it is so easy to sympathize with his character.

The other part of the first hour is about Norman Osborn (Willem Dafoe), the CEO and of Oscorp. He has been working on a super serum that will give a human super strength. However one animal died during the testing of the serum. The military is getting tired of Osborn not having a human test of this serum. They give him two weeks to test it to success on a human, but if he is not able to do so they will stop funding on the project and hand it over to another corporation. Osborn decides he is going to be the human guinea pig and exposes himself to the serum in a self-contained vessel. For a while his heart stops and his assistant comes in to revive him. Osborn’s heart revives at a faster rate and he has super strength. He turns into the Green Goblin and employs a rocket-powered glider to get around New York City. You can somewhat sympathize with Osborn in the fact that he is very close to his company losing the contract and him possibly losing the company itself. He takes a liking to Peter and treats him like his son, much to the chagrin of his real son, Harry (James Franco). The best parts with Willem Dafoe are when his two personalities (Norman and the Goblin) have a conversation with each other. Norman is obviously insane after being subjected to the serum, but he is still a human that is, albeit very little, trying to fight his Goblin personality. The rest of the movie is spent between Spider-Man and Green Goblin having some encounters here and there and a big encounter at the end.

Spider-Man is a movie not to be missed. If you have never been introduced to Spider-Man, this movie does a good job with his origin and one of his greatest enemies. This movie has a great plot (written by David Koepp) and is easily going to be a huge moneymaker. Some of the special effects may look unrealistic or maybe you will not notice them at all. This is a movie you can enjoy both from a story and action angle.

CAST

Tobey Maguire (Pleasantville)
Kirsten Dunst (All Good Things)
Willem Dafoe (American Psycho)
Janes Franco (This Is The End)
Alfred Molina (Frida)
Rosemary Harris (This Means War)
J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
Elizabeth Banks (Power Rangers)
Donna Murphy (Star Trek: Insurrection)
Daniel Gillies (The Originals)
Dylan Baker (The Cell)
Willem Dafoe (American Psycho)
Mageina Tovah (Sleepover)
Bruce Campbell (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Joel McHale (Ted)
Hal Sparks (Dude, Where’s My Car?)
Emily Deschanel (Bones)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Cliff Robertson (Escape From L.A.)
Reed Diamond (Dollhouse)
Elya Baskin (October Sky)
Ted Raimi (Odyssey 5)
Bill Nunn (True Crime)

This time around, New York City is plagued by the nefarious Doctor Octopus. When famed scientist Dr. Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina) designs a fusion device that can generate enough power to make limitless amounts of affordable electricity, the experiment goes horribly wrong and the four mechanical arms that he uses to run the experiment become fused to his spine and his cerebellum. Whereas prior to this Octavius controlled the arms, now it seems that they control him and he goes on a crime spree across the city, robbing banks in order to further fund the experiments he so desperately wants to finish. While all this is going on, Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) is wrestling with whether or not he should make his movie on his one true love, Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), trying not to flunk out of school, and trying to get his rent paid on time.

This second film brings Peter Parker into the real world, so to speak. Part of what made the comic series so great was the fact that Parker was someone we could relate to on one level or another. Sure, he was a superhero but he had real world problems. He didn’t always get the girl, he couldn’t always pay his rent, and he had trouble getting to class on time. In the first film we didn’t get to dig on that aspect of the character as the film had to setup how and why he becomes Spider-Man. Here we know that part already and so the film effectively takes things up a notch in terms of character development and action.

It’s precisely these changes in tone that makes Spider-Man 2 so much fun. It makes it feel like more of a comic book come to life.  Molina shines in his role as the mad scientist with the mechanical arms and proves to be a much better foe for Spidey than the Goblin was in the first film. He’s not quite as over the top and maniacal, but still sufficiently evil enough that we want Spidey to give him what for. The fight scenes between the hero and the villain, particularly the final showdown, are harder, faster, and more intense, which gives the movie a faster pace which works in it’s favor.  Those who enjoy the ‘little touches’ that Raimi is known for scattering throughout his films going all the way back to the first Evil Dead film will find lots of nice little details to look for. Bruce Campbell and Ted Raimi have fun cameo roles once more, and of course, it wouldn’t be a Raimi movie without the car showing up once or twice. Little details like this make the humor work nicely within the context of what is essentially an action movie.

In short, the movie flows better. The characters progress nicely from the events in the first film. The effects are bigger and better and more effective. It feels like a comic book movie should feel like. It’s a more fluid.

spider-man 3

CAST

Tobey Maguire (Pleasantville)
Kirsten Dunst (All Good Things)
Willem Dafoe (American Psycho)
Janes Franco (This Is The End)
Thomas Haden Church (Sideways)
Topher Grace (That 70s Show)
Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World)
Rosemary Harris (This Means War)
J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
James Cromwell (Star Trek: First Contact)
Dylan Baker (The Cell)
Willem Dafoe (American Psycho)
Elizabeth Banks (Power Rangers)
Cliff Robertson (Escape From L.A.)
Elya Baskin (October Sky)
Ted Raimi (Odyssey 5)
Mageina Tovah (Sleepover)
Michael Papajohn (Predator 2)
Joe Manganiello (True Blood)
Bruce Campbell (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Bill Nunn (True Crime)
Steve Valentine (Mike & Molly)

Picking up shortly after the exploits chronicled in Spider-man 2, the new film finds things having turned around for Peter. Where he was once misunderstood by the city he protects from all manner of crime and villainy, he is now New York’s favorite son. Everywhere Peter Parker turns (Tobey Maguire), there are signs of the undying adoration being heaped on his crime-fighting alter ego. But even for Peter, whose life seldom shares the same glory as his other persona, things aren’t going all that bad. Sure he’s still broke and over-worked as he tries to balance college, work and saving the day, but things are seemingly going well with the love of his life, Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst).

He even plans on asking her to marry him. A wrench, however, is waiting to screw up the machine, coming in the form of Peter’s former best friend Harry Osborn (James Franco). Harry blames Peter for the death of his father, who, as the Green Goblin, tangled with Spider-man in the first film, and lost his life. Harry has armed himself with his father’s arsenal, and in the first of many spectacular action sequences that dominate Spider-man 3, attacks Peter. A defining, special effects extravaganza that kick starts the movie into high gear, the battle doesn’t even have Peter in his Spider-man costume. It is an interesting choice to have such a pivotal sequence take place without Spider-man present, but it serves as fast-paced foreshadowing of the personal battles that Peter will be experiencing over the duration of the film. Where the first film introduced Peter Parker and Spider-man, the second film developed the crime fighter, and the third film is more about the man who wears the costume.Fresh from his battle with Harry, Peter must face two new challenges. First, his relationship with Mary Jane is starting to strain, because she can’t handle the fact that Spider-man is so popular. Then, he learns that the crook who killed his Uncle Ben in the first film was not really the killer after all. The real killer was Flint Marko (Thomas Hayden Church), an escaped convict who, through a series of events that only happens in comic books and films that adapt them, is turned into Sandman, a mutated creature made of sand that can manipulate his size and shape. And as if that wasn’t enough, there is also Spidey’s new black suit, which is actually an alien life form that has formed a symbiotic relationship with Peter. The gooey black creature attaches itself to Peter, manifesting itself as the new black costume, and bringing with it increased strength for Spider-man, as well as a new level of confidence, and aggression for Peter. Soon, the suit becomes a villain, and Peter must fight to gain control of his life (not to mention battle Sandman, Harry, and try to restore his relationship with Mary Jane).There is no getting around the fact that Spider-man 3 is the weakest of the three films in the franchise, at least in terms of script and story. As is the case with other superhero sequels, this film suffers, from among other things, introducing too many characters into the mythology. But the script also has some leaps in logic, a few contrived coincidences and a plot hole or two that seem excusable at first glance, but start to nag after the final credits have rolled. Clocking in at well over two hours, there are times when it feels like a good twenty or thirty minutes have been trimmed from the film in order to make for a more reasonable run time, resulting in a poor sense of character development, and a frantic pace where there should be a bit more exposition. The first act takes special care to introduce Sandman as a morally complex, tragic villain, but most of that is jettisoned as the story moves into the second and third acts. Likewise, Eddie Brock (Topher Grace), Peter’s rival who will eventually don the black costume and become Venom, seems to make a huge leap from annoying twerp to murderous psycho.The problems that weigh down Spider-man 3 begin to emerge near the end of the first act, as weaknesses in the script begin to pop up. Where the first two films tried to keep things as grounded as possible given the outrageous subject matter, Spider-man 3 throws caution to the wind, throwing the film off balance. Both of the earlier films went out of their way to paint the villains as somewhat believable within the context of the on-screen world. But in this new film, no such attempts are made. And so while it is cool to see Venom, the half-ass explanation of what the creature is carries no weight. Ten minutes after the movie is over, you can’t help but start asking questions like, “Where did this thing come from?” And then those questions open up another line of inquiry that starts picking apart all of the ridiculous coincidences that riddle the film.The biggest problem with Spider-man 3 are two separate sequences that are meant to show how much the new alien costume has effected Peter Parker’s personality. The first sequence is silly, and by comparison rather innocuous. But the second scene, involving Peter’s attempt to woo new love interest Gwen Stacey (Bryce Dallas Howard), while making Mary Jane jealous, is just plain ridiculous. Comic book purists will hate this scene, and even die-hard fans of the films may find it a bit out of place within the cinematic universe.But despite the problems that plague Spider-man 3, it is still an incredibly fun film. Director Sam Raimi once again delivers the superheroic goods. And in terms of how the action sequences and special effects have been put together this time around, Raimi leaves the first two films in the dust. This is clearly the best of the three from that standpoint, as the action comes alive in sequences that would have been impossible cinematically less than a decade ago. In fact, the action may even be more spectacular than anything you could see in a comic book. Unfortunately, the film never manages to be anything more than a sequel. What made Spider-man 2 such an amazing film was that it managed to emerge from the shadow of its predecessor, standing on its own as a superior movie. Spider-man 3, however, is never able to come out from the massive shadow cast by the first two installments.