REVIEW: MADDIGANS QUEST

MAIN CAST

Rose McIver (Izombie)
Jordan Metcalfe (Genie In The House)
Zac Fox (Scoial Suicide)
Olivia Tennet (Power Rangers RPM)
Rawiri Pene (This Is Not My Life)
Danielle Cormack (Xena)
Timothy Balme (Brain Dead)
Rachel House (Eagle vs Shark)
Hori Ahipene (Jack of All Trades)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Peter Daube (Power Rangers Samurai)
Michael Hurst (Hercules: TLJ)
Ross Duncan (Young Hercules)
Tandi Wright (Black Sheep)
Alison Bruce (Sylvia)
Milo Cawthorne (Deathgasm)
Tom Hern (Power Rangers Dino Thunder)

First created as a novel by our most famous young-adult author Margaret Mahy (winner of the Carnegie Medal and the Hans Christian Anderson award), “Maddigan’s Quest” is set in a post-apocalyptic world where the wilderness is dangerous and the roads still partially unmapped. Out of the ashes of what is known as “the Great Chaos”, was built Solis, the shining city. It is here that the circus troop known as Maddigan’s Fantasia spends the winter, before heading out each summer in order to explore new lands, collect lost knowledge, meet new people and spread some colour and joy.

But this year things are different. Solis is powered by the sun, and is in need of a new solar converter if the city is to remain the single bright beacon in a dark world. Missionaries have been sent out to retrieve one from the town of Newton, but none have returned. Thus the council turn to Maddigan’s Fantasia – since the circus head out every year anyway they are certain to be overlooked by any political spies or traitors that plot the demise of Solis.

And yet it becomes even more complicated when the troop is joined by two young boys and their baby sister, claiming that they are from a future in which the Fantasia have failed in their mission and Solis has come under the control of the treacherous Nennog. As such, Timon and Eden have been sent back in time by their parents in order to ensure the success of the Fantasia, using their prior knowledge of events to help.

So who are the Fantasia? A group of clowns, acrobats, magicians, fortune tellers and jugglers who form together a warm, cheerful, squabbling, and utterly loyal extended family. In fact, the family dynamic of the circus is perhaps the highlight of the show, comparable to the crew of Joss Whedon’s “Firefly” or the “X-Men” family franchise; a group of colourful characters who are all given unique and interesting relationships with each other, across generations, genders and family intrigues.

Out of the cast, it is the child-actors who provide the strongest performances. Rose McIver is our narrator, a fourteen year old acrobat who keeps track of their progress in her diary and is being groomed as the next ring-leader of the Fantasia. As the two boys from the future, Jordan Metcalfe and Zac Fox (Timon and Eden) come across as both capable and vulnerable, with Metcalfe in particular shining as a young teen given the huge burden of responsibility of protecting his younger siblings and seeing the mission is successful. A slow attraction between him and Garland is sure to appeal to romantics, made poignant by the fact that if they *are* successful in retrieving the solar converter, the two of them will be separated by almost one hundred years. Rawiri Pene plays Garland’s oldest friend Boomer, who is rather jealous of the sophisticated Timon and his growing bond with Garland, and Olivia Tennant provides the most laughs as the flighty, somewhat spoilt Lilth. Rounding out the adult cast is Garland’s parents Ferdy and Maddie, feuding couple Goneril and Tane, and the untrustworthy Yves (Lilith’s father), who has his eyes set on Garland’s beautiful mother.

Each episode deals with a different location on the way to Newton and back again, as well as conflict within the group, danger from marauding gangs and agents from the future out to prevent the successful return of the Fantasia. The individual circus talents of the troop are instigated in ingenious ways, the post-apocalyptic world is both threatening but full of hope and potential for the future, and the stories are exactly what one would expect to emerge from the imagination of Mahy.

 

It’s not all perfect; the material used is better suited for hour-long programming rather than a mere half-hour, and although the costumes, sets and props are vividly created, the special-effects often look rather fake. And don’t even get me started on a discussion on the tampering done with the fundamental ‘rules’ of time travelling. But for all this “Maddigan’s Quest” is a great show that may be aimed predominantly at kids, but is certainly not exclusively for them

REVIEW: WITHOUT A PADDLE

CAST

Seth Green (Family Guy)
Matthew Lillard (Scream)
Dax Shepard (Zathura)
Antony Starr (Banshee)
Danielle Cormack (Xena: Warrior Princess)
Burt Reynolds (Driven)
Liddy Holloway (Hercules: TLJ)
Bruce Phillips (Power Rangers RPM)
Ethan Suplee (My Name Is Earl)
Abraham Benrubi (Buffy: TVS)
Rachel Blanchard (Snakes on a Plane)
Christina Moore (Delta Farce)
Susan Brady (Blood Crime)
Morgan Reese Fairhead (Young Hercules)

Twelve years after graduating from high school, three friends, Jerry, Dan, and Tom, find out that their childhood friend Billy has died in a parasailing accident. After the funeral, they revisit the group’s old tree-house and find a map leading to D. B. Cooper’s lost treasure, which Billy had apparently been working on for his entire life. Dan takes a break from his job as a doctor and joins Jerry and Tom on a camping trip to find the treasure. They take a canoe down the river and eventually stop on the riverside for the night. They discover that they forgot to bring food, so Tom goes out to catch some fish. However, the activity attracts a grizzly bear to their position, and the bear chases the group into a tree. In the morning, the group find all of their gear has been ripped up and completely destroyed by the bear.

The trio takes off into the river but are unable to read the map, causing them to go the wrong way. They fall off of a waterfall, and while they survive, their canoe is destroyed. They venture into the woods with a compass and find themselves at a pot farm where two farmers, Dennis and Elwood, mistake them for thieves and start shooting at them. They escape, burning the pot garden down in the process. This enrages the farmers, who decide to hunt them down and kill them. Later, far into the forest the trio meets two hippie girls, Flower and Butterfly, who treat them in their tree. Using a radio the farmers find them, but the hippie girls drop paper bags full of feces at the farmers to distract them while the trio escapes. They are caught by a mountain man who takes them to his hut and provides them with clothes. The man later reveals himself to be Del Knox, Cooper’s partner before his death.

The next morning, the farmers find them and assault the house. The trio escapes while Del shoots at the two farmers with his revolver. The trio stumbles upon the site of Cooper’s crash-landing where they discover Cooper’s corpse and the suitcase that he used to hold the ransom money, and they realize that Cooper burned the money in an attempt to survive. As Dan crawls through a small tunnel to find a way out, the farmers find Jerry and Tom, and a fistfight ensues. Eventually, Sheriff Briggs, who had earlier helped the trio, intervenes, but he then reveals himself to be the farmers’ employer. Jerry arms a grenade taken from Dennis and throws it towards the pot dealers. It explodes, causing a tree to fall on the farmers and the sheriff, who are soon arrested.

In the closing scenes, Jerry, Dan, and Tom split half of the remaining money with Del. Jerry proposes to his girlfriend, Dan starts a relationship with Flower, and Tom becomes a camp counselor for a children’s summer camp where he ends up telling his troop all about the trip.

The odd laugh will definitely turn up, but there are many better comedies around, so unless you’re simply up for an evening of mostly forgettable fun, you might want to leave Without a Paddle wallowing in the shallows.

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: JACK OF ALL TRADES

 

CAST

Bruce Campbell (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Angela Marie Dotchin (Young Hercules)
Stuart Devenie (The Frighteners)
Stephen Papps (Brain Dead)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Kim Michalis (Hercules In The Underworld)
Charles Pierard (Shackleton’s Captain)
John Leigh (The Dark Horse)
Hori Ahipene (The Piano)
John Sumner (Power Rangers RPM)
Amy Morrison (The Tribe)
Verne Troyer (Austin Powers 2 & 3)
Mark Hadlow (The Hobbit)
Geoff Dolan (Wendy Wu)
Danielle Cormack (Wentworth Prison)
Michael Hurst (Hercules: TLJ)
Bruce Hopkins (Power Rangers Ninja Storm)
Jodie Dorday (Burying Brian)
Celia Nicholson (This Is Not My Life)
Asa Lindh (Xena)

Jack of All Trades is the direct creation of Eric Morris, who wrote much of the show himself, but largely the product of what some may call the “Holy Trinity” behind a cult favorite, the Evil Dead Trilogy: Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert (executive producers) as well as the star of the show, Bruce Campbell. It ran for two seasons and a total of 22-episodes in 2000, forming the latter half of the “Back2Back Action Hour” alongside Cleopatra 2525.193500093It’s 1801, and the American Revolution has just been won. As a result, Jack Stiles (Bruce Campbell) is assigned by Thomas Jefferson to thwart any and all attempts by French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte (Verne Troyer a.k.a. Mini-Me from the second and third parts of the Austin Powers Trilogy) to colonize the New World, particularly concerning the tiny East Indies island of Pulau Pulau. Here, he is teamed up with the stunning British secret agent and inventress Emilia Rothschild (Angela Dotchin) with the cover of being her personal attaché. In addition to playing the part of man-servant, Jack must occasionally take on the role of the legendary folk hero, the Daring Dragoon. This allows him more freedom in his thwarting of the French, although because the costume’s mask only covers up part of his face and his voice remains unchanged, it’s puzzling how the residing French Governor Croque and his compatriots time and again fail to uncover the masked hero’s true identity! An array of historical figures make appearances on Jack including, but not limited to: Thomas Jefferson, Blackbeard (the infamous pirate), Benjamin Franklin, the Marquis de Sade, Lewis & Clark, a relative of Leonardo Da Vinci and, of course, Napoleon Bonaparte himself, cleverly portrayed by Verne Troyer. While Jack is hardly historically accurate, its historical references make for entertaining subject matter for Jack and Emilia to interact with throughout the show in a myriad of situations.
Jack of All Trades is a funny show, one which is enjoyable to watch. The cast seems natural, and the chemistry between Bruce (Jack) and Angela (Emilia) is particularly strong. Their back-and-forth banter coupled with the undeniable sexual tension between the two of them keeps the show going. Unfortunately, Jack’s series finale seems rather abrupt, leaving something to be desired. There is this lingering sense of a lack of closure; nevertheless, the show still manages to hold itself together in the end. It’s just too bad that the end had to come sooner than later.