REVIEW: HIGHLANDER: THE SERIES – SEASON 3

Starring

Adrian Paul (Arrow)
Stan Kirsch (Shallow Ground)
Jim Byrnes (Sanctuary)
Philip Akin (Robocop 2014)
Lisa Howard (Earth: Final Conflict)
Michel Modo (The Troops Get Married)

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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Tamlyn Tomita (The Day After Tomorrow)
Stephen McHattie (Watchmen)
Robert Ito (Quincy M.E.)
Hiro Kanagawa (Heroes Reborn)
Randall ‘Tex’ Cobb (Raising Arizona)
Chandra West (White Noise)
Michelle Thrush (Pathfinder)
Miguel Fernandes (Trancers)
Liliana Komorowska (Screamers)
Andrew Kavadas (Ninja Turtles: Next Mutation)
John Novak (Wishmaster 3 & 4)
Elizabeth Gracen (Marked For Death)
Brion James (Blade Runner)
Jason Gray-Stanford (Bones)
Rob Stewart (Painkiller Jane)
Gabrille Miller (Corner Gas)
Alan Scarfe (Andromeda)
John Pyper-Ferguson (Caprica)
Mark Acheson (Elf)
Peter Bryant (Legends of Tomorrow)
Catherine Lough Haggquist (The Flash)
Jonathan Scarfe (Van Helsing)
Myles Ferguson (Edgemont)
Jesse Moss (Ginger Snaps)
Cameron Bancroft (Legends of Tomorrow)
Sherry Miller (The Virgin Suicides)
Laura Harris (Dead Like Me)
Garwin Sanford (Stargate SG.1)
Frank C. Turner (IT)
Anthony De Longis (Masters of The Universe)
Vincent Gale (Van Helsing)
Tamara Gorski (Hercules: TLJ)
Stella Stevens (The Poseidon Adventure)
Barry Pepper (True Grit)
Vivian Wu (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III)
Richard Lynch (Puppet Master III)
David Robb (Downtown Abbey)
Eugene Lipinski (Arrow)
Lynda Boyd (Sanctuary)
John Tench (Andromeda)
Roger Daltrey (Tommy)
Peter Wingfield (Sanctuary)
Kim Johnston Ulrich (Passions)
Ben Pullen (Prince Valiant)
Paudge Behan (Love/Hate)
Robert Cavanah (Pimp)
Roland Gift (Brakes)
George Harris (Layer Cake)

Highlander - The Samurai 55After a few growing pains and struggles to find its footing and players in its first two seasons, Highlander: The Series’ third year sends the heads rolling with plenty of fine drama, sweet action, and immortal style.239560Duncan MacLeod (Adrian Paul) once again faces Kalas (David Robb) – an evil immortal enemy from his past- in a battle that threatens to expose the existence of Immortals and the secret Watcher organization to the world. Watcher Joe Dawson (Jim Byrnes) struggles between his oath to not interfere with immortal confrontations and his continuing friendship with Mac. Richie (Stan Kirsch) takes up bike racing- a risky prospect despite his immortality while 1,200-year-old thief Amanda (Elizabeth Gracen) just can’t stay on the right side of the law. However, is Dr. Anne Lindsey’s (Lisa Howard) budding romance with Duncan just as dangerous or is it the exact solace he needs?Highlander The Cross of St Antoine 68At last, Season 3 establishes some internal consistency for Highlander: The Series and the result is a damn fine season with nary a bad episode in sight. The mortal crimes and drama in “Blackmail” and “Take Back the Night” are fresh and dynamic, tying in nicely with the immortal deceptions and relationship angles presented in “Line of Fire” and “Shadows.” The Watchers are made useful and brought into the forefront, particularly in “Those Who Serve,” where we get a chance to see the Immortal Game from their supposedly uncolored perspective. Consequences to one’s actions and inactions are investigated wonderfully this season with immortals debating their ability to change for good or evil.MV5BNzY3NTI4MjAyOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODg0NTEzMjE@._V1_Can worthwhile redemption for horrid past doings be found for them? Whose place is it to forgive and judge immortals? Religion, spiritual motifs, and even immortal drug use are examined in “Courage,” “Blind Faith,” and “Mortal Sins.” Normal life issues such as parenting and the difficulty with computers also carry through Season 3, along with thoughts on the extreme price of perpetual youth in “The Lamb.” While die-hard Highlander fans may know an episode title when they see it- even if you don’t recognize the titles, almost every show had me saying, ‘Oh yeah! I remember this one!’MV5BNzY3NTI4MjAyOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODg0NTEzMjE@._V1_We learn a lot about our titular Highlander this season, beginning with the 1994 opener “The Samurai” and going straight through to the two-part “Finale.” Paul shows plenty of layers in Duncan through his past loyalties and contemporary justices. The sword fights and kick ass are without a doubt kick ass indeed, but there’s plenty of time for questioning immortality and space for 400 years of melancholy to get to someone. While he’s often shown enjoying himself in the flashbacks, Mac is afraid to open up again to another mortal girlfriend like Anne Lindsey. Of course, the audience knows there will be trouble thanks to all those pesky immortal secrets! While some may not like Anne simply because she follows Tessa in Duncan’s heart, its nice to have someone unaware who can be good for MacLeod.

MV5BYTkzMDExNWItZGZkMC00ZWI1LWI3ZmEtMzlhNGZlODczNzI5XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjk3NDI3OTk@._V1_Howard (Earth: Final Conflict) keeps Anne independent, intelligent, confident, and likeable. But could the good doctor deal with immortality? Her job is to save lives, so a man devoid of a medical history and no immunization scars is just too much of a mystery for Anne. Fortunately, Elizabeth Gracen adds some spice and familiar fun as Amanda in “The Cross of St. Antoine” and the two-part season ender. Her duck and run immortal loyalty and devotion to MacLeod are perfectly at odds with her inability to go legit and not screw things up.kalasUnfortunately, once again Richie and Philip Akin as Charlie DeSalvo get the short end of the supporting stick. Charlie is written out of Season 3 nicely- not that his leaving is super good, but the episode “The Revolutionary” is sublime. The character should have been a guest player as necessary all along, rather than been squeezed in willy nilly. Likewise, Richie, despite being in the opening credits, only appears in half the episodes this year. While the youthful immortal needed to go off and explore, sure, it’s tough to care again when he does come around for some motorcycle action. The stock footage for the races and the intercut of Richie and his pals getting rough doesn’t help either. Why not let him have a season off so we can enjoy when he returns with heavy, living forever angst? Sometimes we see recurring players more than the folks actually in the opening credits. Despite such a cool opening scheme, Highlander: The Series never seems to balance its core players or its ensemble repertoire properly in its listings. Michel Modo’s lovable but often drunk chef Maurice is also downgraded to a guest star this season, and it’s wonderfully that his few special appearances give him respect and something to do.finalepart2cWatcher Joe Dawson again doesn’t appear as much as I might have liked, but the growth of the watchers as a help, hindrance, or detriment comes along wonderfully in Season 3. Dawson is there for MacLeod despite the rules, and Duncan likewise. Joe’s new bar is also a great place for mortals and immortals to mingle, and the neat introduction of Peter Wingfield (24) as Methos adds a separate watcher buddy angle for Dawson to explore. Thankfully, this crack team unites wonderfully against David Robb (Swing Kids, I Claudius) as the Highlander’s bane this season, Kalas. His midseason trilogy of “Song of the Executioner”, “Star-Crossed,” and “Methos” is perhaps when Highlander: The Series truly becomes great TV. There’s not a crappy Renegade knock off plot in sight- just awesome immortals like Hugh Fitzcairn and Xavier St. Cloud- both played by cool rockers Roger Daltry and Roland Gift. By time things get juicy for the two-part “Finale” there isn’t anything in this season of Highlander: The Series not to like.finalepart2aI dare say it, but even the styles this season are catching up, with toned down dojo action, great blues music, and sweet French locations. But my goodness they use that same Tudor house for every frickin’ thing! Anne dresses a little edgy for a doctor- with short skirts and tall boots; but hey, it looks good and is actually still in relatively recent fashion. Of course, the period piece scenes are top notch again, and we spend more time in the past- even having flashbacks within flashbacks. The times and places we visit also vary it up some, but a few return nicely to places and people we’ve already seen. The transitions to the flashbacks are also nicely done; sometimes they are set up in crafty ways but other times they know the viewer knows and just cut right to it. The audience isn’t underestimated with excessive montages and unnecessary action anymore. Although sometimes entire swordfights and quickening flashbacks from previous episodes are revisited, I’m glad they now put the dates, times, and places onscreen for the past storylines. Some of those orgasmic quickenings still amuse me – but there are some seriously good ones this season as well.
highlander0322Once again, the DVD features for Highlander: The Series Season 3 are packed to the gills with bloopers, deleted scenes, interviews, audio and video commentaries, scripts, and more. The interface is a little dated, but its fun to go through the embedded Watcher’s Chronicles and look for all their treats within the episodes. Again, new fans or those who wish to remain unspoilt are better served with rental or online options or a features marathon post- series. If you’ve been remiss on the first two seasons, new audiences can still jump in here as well. Honestly, there’s no reason for anyone not to give this season a chance.

REVIEW: THE YOUNG VICTORIA (2009)

 

CAST

Emily Blunt (The Huntmans)
Rupert Friend (Homeland)
Paul Bettany (Legion)
Miranda Richardson (Sleepy Hollow)
Jim Broadbent (Cloud Atlas)
Mark Strong (Green Lantern)
Thomas Kretschmann (Dracula)
Julian Glover (Game of Thrones)
Harriet Walter (Sense and Sensibility)
Michiel Huisman (world War Z)
David Robb (Highlander: The Series)
Genevieve O’Reilly (The Matrix Revolutions)
Josef Altin (Game of Thrones)

MV5BMTcwNTExNDc2MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTgzOTY3Mg@@._V1_Princess Victoria of Kent is the heiress presumptive to the throne during the last years of the reign of her uncle King William IV and is subject to a political tug of war for influence over her. On the one side is her mother, the Duchess of Kent, along with the comptroller of the Duchess’s household, Sir John Conroy, who tries to force Victoria to sign papers declaring a regency and giving him and her mother power.
The Young VictoriaOn the other side is her uncle, King Leopold I of Belgium, who wishes to use his influence through family ties to secure an alliance between Britain and his kingdom. He decides to have his nephew Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha seduce Victoria and he is coached in her likes and dislikes. The Duchess invites the Coburg brothers, Albert and Prince Ernest of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, to visit the household. Victoria and Albert develop an early fondness for each other, despite Victoria knowing that Albert was sent by their uncle to win her favours. They begin writing to one another after Albert returns home.
The Young Victoria
At a birthday reception in Windsor Castle, the King states his wish to be closer to Victoria and insults her mother. But when the King increases Victoria’s income, this is rejected by Conroy, who physically subdues her in front of her mother, heightening the animosity between them. The King then sends the Prime Minister Lord Melbourne to advise her. Victoria agrees to make him her private secretary, and he appoints ladies-in-waiting for her from political families allied to him.
MV5BMTg4MjM5NTQ1MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDkyNzIwMw@@._V1_King William dies after Victoria’s 18th birthday, avoiding a regency. After accession, Victoria immediately begins to exert her independence, including moving into her own room and banishing Conroy from her household and coronation. During her first meeting with the Privy Council, she announces that “I mean to devote my life in service of my country and my people”. Victoria now moves into the recently completed Buckingham Palace and her aunt, Queen Adelaide, advises her against giving in too much to Lord Melbourne’s direction. Albert then comes to England to spend more time with Victoria. They bond more, dancing together during her coronation and later discussing together the condition of the poor. Albert hints at taking their relationship further but the self-sufficient Victoria resists and he leaves.
The Young VictoriaWhen Lord Melbourne loses a vote in Parliament, the new Prime Minister designate, Sir Robert Peel, wishes to replace some of her ladies-in-waiting with supporters of his own party and the queen refuses. Peel in turn refuses the queen’s invitation to form a new government, allowing Melbourne to continue as Prime Minister. The subsequent crisis damages Victoria’s popularity, leading to demonstrations outside the palace and insults hurled at her in public. Her loneliness during the turbulence draws Victoria closer to Albert through their letters and decides her to invite him back to Britain. Since protocol prevents him suggesting marriage, she proposes to him herself.
MV5BMTU5MDAwMTUyOF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTQ4MTA0Mg@@._V1_Their marriage is loving and the birth of their first child helps heal the breach between Victoria and her mother, who had earlier sent a letter of support during the crisis. Nevertheless, Albert is frustrated at his initial powerlessness and Queen Adelaide advises Victoria to allow him to take on more duties. He then reorganises the running of the royal household and dismisses Conroy for mishandling funds. As Victoria’s primary adviser, he now blocks the influences of Lord Melbourne and King Leopold. However, Victoria quarrels with him fiercely for going over her head with Peel in the matter of her household.
MV5BMjA1MDY1MTU3MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTU4MTA0Mg@@._V1_Soon after, when Victoria is fired upon by a would-be assassin as they are riding in an open carriage, Albert throws himself across her and is wounded. This bravery leads to their reconciliation and Melbourne advises her to share with Albert also her work for the social welfare. The final title card sketches in their successful future until Albert’s death at the age of 42.MV5BMjE1NzQzOTUyNl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTQ0OTY3Mg@@._V1_The film shows how lighthearted Victoria was in her younger years with that spring in her step, whilst at the same time pursuing her duty of becoming Queen and knowing her responsibilities. A great historical film.