REVIEW: MY BEST FRIEND’S WEDDING

CAST

Julia Roberts (Mirror Mirror)
Dermot Mulroney (Young GUns)
Cameron Diaz (Sex Tape)
Rupert Everett (Stardust)
Philip Bosco (It Takes Two)
Rachel Griffiths (Divorcing Jack)
M. Emmet Walsh (Blade Runner)
Carrie Preston (The Good Wife)
Susan Sullivan (Castle)
Christopher Masterson (Malcolm In The Middle)
Paul Giamatti (Sideways)
Harry Shearer (The Simpsons)

MY BEST FRIEND'S WEDDING, Dermot Mulroney, Julia Roberts, 1997urtesy EverettJulianne Potter (Julia Roberts), a 27-year-old New York City restaurant critic, receives a call from her lifelong friend Michael O’Neal (Dermot Mulroney). In college, the two made an agreement that if neither of them were married by the time they turned 28, they would marry each other. Three weeks before her 28th birthday, Michael tells her that in four days, he will marry Kimmy Wallace (Cameron Diaz), a 20-year-old University of Chicago student from a wealthy family.mybestfriendswedding02Julianne is disappointed that Michael will marry someone so wrong for him, and someone he has known for such a short time. She realizes that she is in love with Michael, and heads to Chicago, intent on sabotaging his wedding. Soon after arriving she meets Kimmy, who asks her to be the maid of honor. This sets off a subplot in which Julianne must pretend to be the dutiful maid of honor while secretly scheming ways to prevent the wedding from happening. She engages in petty sabotage—for example, taking Kimmy and Michael to a karaoke bar after discovering that Kimmy is a terrible singer—and later asks her gay friend and editor George Downes (Rupert Everett) to pretend they are engaged, hoping to make Michael jealous.my_best_friends_wedding_image30When these tactics fail, George persuades Julianne to do the obvious: tell Michael she is in love with him. One morning, Michael gets Julianne alone and tells her that it’ll be the last time they ever get to be alone. He expresses some skepticism in marrying Kimmy, explaining that he and Kimmy don’t share a special song like he and Julianne do. Michael discreetly gives Julianne the invitation to tell him she’s in love with him, but she lets the opportunity pass. Michael starts singing their song as he grabs Julianne and holds her while they dance one last time. Julianne’s unauthorized use of Kimmy’s father’s computer to forge an email message to Michael’s employer causes further problems for Michael and Kimmy, to the point where they are on the verge of calling off the wedding.

untitledThe next morning, the day of the wedding, Julianne tries to sabotage the situation further; as Michael and Kimmy are not speaking to each other, they communicate through Julianne, not realizing she is trying to manipulate them into breaking up for good. In spite of this, Michael and Kimmy decide they do love each other and want to get married after all. Julianne and Michael then take a walk, with Julianne finally confessing her love to Michael. She asks him to marry her instead, and passionately kisses him. Kimmy witnesses this, and runs off, but Michael chases her. Julianne pursues Michael, but finally realizes he loves Kimmy. Julianne finds Michael at Chicago Union Station, where he is looking for Kimmy, and confesses all to him. Despite his anger at her deception, Michael forgives Julianne, and they split up to look for Kimmy. Julianne then tracks down Kimmy in the bathroom of Comiskey Park (Kimmy’s family has a private viewing box at the stadium). Kimmy, rightly furious with Julianne, confronts her, while the other women watch, immediately siding with Kimmy and are disgusted with Julianne’s dirty tactics. Julianne, however, apologizes and explains to Kimmy that she kissed Michael unexpectedly, but he didn’t kiss her back because he was in love with Kimmy. Julianne declares that Kimmy has won, and that she accepts Michael’s decision. Kimmy and Julianne reconcile with each other while the witnesses applaud.rehost_2016_9_13_b800b64f-8362-42a3-b97e-e235bcc40eedAfter the wedding, at the reception, Julianne tells Michael that he and Kimmy can use their special song until they find one of their own, essentially acting like a true best friend. Julianne wishes them well, and she and Michael share their goodbyes, both of them finally moving on with their lives. Later, Julianne is surprised by George showing up at the wedding reception. The movie ends with the two of them happily sharing a dance together.my+best+friend27s+weddingThe pacing is great with hardly a slowdown in the entire movie. Those times the movie does lessen the pace for a moment are to showcase a tender moment between Julia & Dermot. The movie is extremely well directed and acted and worth watching for the cast.

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REVIEW: THE WEDDING DATE

CAST

Debra Messing (Will & Grace)
Dermot Mulroney (Young Guns)
Amy Adams (Nocturnal Animals)
Jeremy Sheffield (Creep)
Jack Davenport (Flashforward)
Sarah Parish (Atlantis)
Peter Egan (Bean)
Holland Taylor (Two and a Half Men)

Kat Ellis (Debra Messing) is a single New Yorker who returns to her parents’ house in London to be the maid of honor at her younger half sister Amy’s (Amy Adams) wedding. The best man is none other than her former fiancé, who unexpectedly dumped her two years ago. Anxious about confronting him and eager to impress him, she hires suave escort Nick Mercer (Dermot Mulroney) to pose as her boyfriend.Kat intends to make her former flame, Jeffrey (Jeremy Sheffield), jealous, but her plan backfires when Nick convinces everyone, including her, that they are madly in love. Kat then feels herself, too, falling for Nick as he slowly falls for her. The night before the wedding, Kat discovers Amy slept with Jeffrey when they were still together, and that Jeffrey dumped Kat because he believed he was in love with Amy. Nick had discovered this fact a day earlier, and when Kat finds that out, she feels betrayed from all sides, and puts Nick off. He decides to return to America, and leaves Kat the money she had paid him.

On the wedding day, seeing Kat distressed, her step-father (Peter Egan) asks Kat if Nick ‘is the guy for you’, and Kat realizes he is, so she sets off to find him. Meanwhile, just before the wedding, Amy confesses her betrayal to her fiancé, Ed (Jack Davenport), but professes her love for him. Ed, upset, chases Jeffrey out of the church and down the road. Jeffrey in distress of the chase, said he gave up on Amy and believes he’s done nothing wrong. To which Ed, calls him a “back-stabbing weasel”, though Jeffrey believes he’s still done nothing wrong because he slept with Amy before they dated. Ed shouts out that he was engaged to Kat, proving he was still in the wrong for what he did to Kat. Nick, driving away, picks up Ed as Jeffrey disappears into the woods.

Nick and Ed talk about love, and Ed decides he loves Amy more than he is angry. To make it more clear that he should go back, Nick tells Ed if he went back the couple would end up having great make-up sex. To which, Nick helps urge him more to return to the church, so they end up getting married, with Nick as ‘new’ best man. Just before the ceremony, Nick tells Kat he realized he’d “… rather fight with you than make love with anyone else”, and they kiss passionately. Kat and Nick begin a real relationship together. Amy and Kat now reconcile and Kat lets go of her anger and forgives Amy since she confessed the truth to Ed. TJ, Kat’s cousin also apparently enjoys a moment with Woody after the wedding. Jeffrey, the main cause of all the trouble, learns absolutely nothing. At the end he is seen trying to get the attentions of a female neighbour.

A fantastically entertaining, funny, feel good film with a wonderful cast and soundtrack

 

REVIEW: AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY

CAST

Meryl Streep (Into The Woods)
Julia Roberts (Mirror Mirror)
Chris Cooper (The Bourne Identity)
Ewan McGregor (Big Fish)
Margo Martindale (Orphan)
Sam Shepard (Swordfish)
Dermot Mulroney (The Grey)
Julianne Nicholson (Kinsey)
Juliette Lewlis (Natural Born Killers)
Abigail Breslin (Scream Queens)
Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange)
Newell Alexander (Sordid Lives)

The title designates time and location: an unusually hot August in a rural area outside Pawhuska, Oklahoma. Beverly Weston (Sam Shepard), an alcoholic, once-noted poet, interviews and hires a young native American woman Johnna (Misty Upham) as a live-in cook and caregiver for his strong-willed and contentious wife Violet (Meryl Streep), who is suffering from oral cancer and addiction to narcotics. Shortly after this, he disappears from the house, and Violet calls her sister and daughters for support. Her sister Mattie Fae (Margo Martindale) arrives with husband Charles Aiken (Chris Cooper). Violet’s middle daughter Ivy (Julianne Nicholson) is single and the only one living locally; Barbara (Julia Roberts), her oldest, who has inherited her mother’s mean streak, arrives from Colorado with her husband Bill (Ewan McGregor) and 14-year-old daughter Jean (Abigail Breslin). Barbara and Bill are separated, but they put up a united front for Violet.After five days, the sheriff arrives with the news that Beverly took his boat out on the lake and has drowned. Youngest daughter Karen (Juliette Lewis) arrives with the latest in a string of boyfriends, Steve Huberbrecht (Dermot Mulroney), a sleazy Florida businessman whom she introduces as her fiancé. Mattie Fae and Charles’s shy, awkward son “Little Charles” (Benedict Cumberbatch) misses the funeral because he overslept and is met at the bus station by his father. Charles loves his son, whereas Mattie constantly belittles him. Ivy confides to Barbara that she is in love with her cousin, “Little Charles”, who plans to move to New York, and she cannot have children because she had a hysterectomy. She feels this is her only chance to finally marry.The family sits down to dinner after the funeral, fueled by Violet’s brutal “truth telling”, which results in Barbara pouncing on her mother. She decides she has had enough of her mother’s drug addiction and confiscates all her several kinds of pills. Later, after Violet has had a chance to sober up, she has a tender moment with her daughters and shares a story that demonstrates how cruel her own mother was when she longed for a new pair of cowgirl boots when she was in her early teens.As “Little Charles” sings Ivy a song he has written for her, Mattie Fae walks in and berates him. This exhausts Charles’s patience with his wife’s lack of love and compassion for her son, and he threatens to leave her if she keeps it up. Mattie subsequently reveals to Barbara, who unintentionally listened in, that she had a long-ago affair with Beverly, and Charles is in fact their younger half-brother and that is the true reason why Ivy and “Little Charles” cannot be together. That evening, Steve and Jean are playfully sharing a joint of marijuana. Johnna sees this and, sensing that he intends on molesting her, goes after him with a shovel. Barbara confronts Jean and slaps her. This impels Bill to take Jean back to Colorado, leaving Barbara. Karen also leaves with Steve.Later, Ivy tries to tell her mother about her love for “Little Charles”. Barbara tries to deflect the admission. Violet tells Ivy Charles is actually her brother, something she knew all along. Ivy leaves and promises to never come back. In the last confrontation between Violet and Barbara, Violet admits she was contacted by Beverly from his motel the week after he had left home, but did nothing to help him until after she removed money from the couple’s joint safe deposit box. By this time he had already drowned. This revelation leads Barbara to depart, realizing that her mother has slipped beyond help. Violet is left with only Johnna. Barbara is driving through the plains, stops, gets out of the car, cries then gets back in the car and follows signage showing highways and number of miles to Wichita, Salina and Denver.Fantastic film – see it if you enjoy witty, clever writing, a strong storyline and a first rate cast.

REVIEW: BURN AFTER READING

CAST

Brad Pitt (Killing Them Softly)
George Clooney (The Ides of March)
Frances McDormand (Fargo)
John Malkovich (Red)
Tilda Swinton (The Chronicles of Narnia)
Richard Jenkins (The Cabin In The Woods)
J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
David Rasche (Ugly Betty)
Kevin Sussman (The Big Bang Theory)
Dermot Mulroney (New Girl)

Faced with a demotion at work due to a drinking problem, Osbourne Cox angrily quits his job as a CIA analyst and resolves to write a memoir about his life and career. When his pediatrician wife Katie finds out, she sees it as a justifiable opportunity to file for divorce and continue her adulterous affair unimpeded. Taking her lawyer’s advice, she copies financial records and several other files from her husband’s computer onto a CD. These files contain a rambling, meaningless diatribe by Cox on purported CIA activities.
When the CD gets left on the locker room floor of Hardbodies, a local gym, by a careless law firm employee, it falls into the hands of dim-witted personal trainer Chad Feldheimer and his co-worker Linda Litzke, who mistakenly believe the numerical data in the Coxes’ bank records, and especially, Cox’s diatribes, to be highly sensitive government information. After getting the data traced back to Osbourne, who thinks his memoirs have been stolen, Chad and Linda plan to give the disc back to him for a reward, with Linda planning to use the money to pay for plastic surgery. When a phone call and subsequent meeting with Osbourne provoke a furious reaction and go horribly wrong, Chad and Linda turn over the disc to the Russian embassy, offering more information in return for monetary compensation. With no other data to give them, Linda persuades Chad to sneak into the Coxes’ home to get more files from their computer.
Meanwhile, Osbourne’s increasingly erratic behavior, aggravated in part by his encounters with Chad and Linda, prompt Katie to move ahead with the divorce proceedings. She changes the locks on their house, forcing Osbourne to move onto the sailboat they have docked on the Chesapeake Bay. With her husband out of the picture, Katie invites her lover, Harry Pfarrer, to move in. A womanizing, multi-adulterous deputy U.S. Marshal, Harry is coincidentally also secretly seeing Linda. Harry finds Chad, whom Linda sent to find more files on Osbourne, hiding in a wardrobe in the Coxes’ home, panics, and fatally shoots Chad.
Two days later at the CIA headquarters, Palmer Smith, Osbourne’s former superior, and his director learn that information from Osbourne has been given to the Russian Embassy. The two men are perplexed, given Osbourne’s low-level security clearance, the material delivered to the Russians being of no importance to anyone, and the apparent motive of all involved parties remaining unknown. Smith is told to maintain observation until the situation “makes sense.” Harry, burdened by keeping the day prior’s events secret, gets into an argument with Katie and decides to leave the house. On his way out, he spots a man who has been trailing him for the past several days. After tackling him to the ground, Harry finds out that the man is a private detective hired by his wife Sandra “Sandy” to gather evidence for impending divorce proceedings. Sandy is shown to be having an extramarital liaison of her own. Harry is devastated and goes to see an agitated Linda, who confides in Harry that Chad is missing. Harry agrees to help find Chad.
The next morning, Harry and Linda meet in a park. Linda spots a former date on a nearby bench (ostensibly waiting to meet another online dating hookup), who has also noticed her and is clearly looking in her direction. Harry notices this and asks Linda if she knows the man. Linda, embarrassed to admit to a previous assignation, denies knowing him, which makes Harry suspicious. Linda provides him with more information about Chad’s disappearance. When Linda mentions the name “Osbourne Cox,” Harry figures out that Chad is the man he shot. He panics, realizes that there are strange men in the park (most likely the CIA people trailing Linda) and flees, assuming Linda is a spy. Linda then turns to Ted Treffon, the kindhearted manager of Hardbodies, who has unrequited feelings for her and has been critical of Linda and Chad’s scheming thus far. In her frustration, Linda exclaims that she hates Ted, which devastates him. Believing the Russians have kidnapped Chad, he agrees to go to the Coxes’ home to search Osbourne’s computer. Unemployed and having spent the past several days living on a small boat, Osbourne becomes unhinged when he finds out that Katie has emptied his bank accounts and, no longer having keys, decides to break into the house to get some of his personal belongings. Finding Ted in the basement, Osbourne initially takes him to be Katie’s lover. He soon realizes Ted’s affiliation with Linda and what he refers to as the “league of morons” he feels that he has been struggling against his whole life and kills Ted.
At CIA headquarters a few days later, Palmer and his director try to understand what exactly happened. It is revealed that while trying to board a flight to Venezuela, Harry was detained because his name was on a hot list and that the CIA is holding Linda, who is promising to “play ball” and “sit on it” if they will pay for her plastic surgery. A CIA agent shot Osbourne during his assault on Ted and the bullet has put Osbourne in a coma. The director instructs Palmer to let Harry fly to Venezuela (as that country has no extradition treaty with the US and therefore will not send him back) and pay for Linda’s surgery. The director and Palmer conclude that despite their oversight and the unusual events that have unfolded, there appears to be no lesson for the agency to have learned, be it moral, espionage or otherwise. “I guess we learned not to do it again,” the director concludes (despite not knowing exactly what they did) and closes his file. Meanwhile, staff at the Russian embassy have dismissed the contents of Cox’s ramblings in the files from his computer—arguably the one factor that started off the entire chain of events—as “drivel”.The writing is brilliant and the Coens weave the story in such a way that it reminds me of their previous movie, The Big Lebowski. In the end, as J.K. Simmons character sums it up himself, nothing really happens, but while watching it all unfold, you can’t help but laugh at the absurdity.

REVIEW: NEW GIRL – SEASON 1,2,3 & 4

Image result for NEW GIRL LOGO

MAIN CAST

Zooey Deschanel (Yes Man)
Jake Johnson (Jurassic World)
Max Greenfield (Veronica Mars)
Lamorne Morris (The Guild)
Hannah Simone (Oldboy)
Damon Wayans Jr. (Big Hero 6)


RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Gillian Vigman (The Hangover)
Mary Elizabeth Ellis (The Grinder)
Ian Wolterstorff (The Neighbours)
Katie Cassidy (Arrow)
Natasha Lyonne (American Pie)
Lake Bell (In A World…)
Justin Long (Waiting…)
Eva Amurri Martino (Saved)
Michaela Watkins (Casual)
Stephen Amell (Arrow)
Rachael Harris (The Hangover)
Lizzy Caplan (Cloverfield)
Kali Hawk (Bridesmaids)
Jeff Kober (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Clarke Duke (Kick-Ass)
Ryan Kwanten (True Blood)
Joey King (The Dark Knight Rises)
June Diane Raphael (Bride Wars)
Dermot Multoney (The Grey)
Martin Starr (This Is The End)
Natalie Drefuss (The Originals)
Rebecca Reid (Eastern Promises)
Thomas Lennon (17 Again)
Nelson Franklin (Argo)
Parker Posey (Superman Returns)
David Walton (Bad Moms)
Josh Gad (Frozen)
Molly Cheek (American Pie)
Rob Riggle (21 Jump Street)
Rob Reiner (This Is Spinal Tap)
Jamie Lee Curtis (Scream Queens)
Carla Gugino (Watchman)
Olivia Munn (X-Men: Apocalypse)
Dennis Farina (Get Shorty)
Nate Corddry (Mom)
Brooklyn Decker (Battleship)
Brenda Song (The Social Network)
Odette Annable (The Unborn)
Margo Martindale (Mike & Molly)
Merritt Weaver (Signs)
Curtis Armstrong (American Dad)
Mary Lynn Rajskub (2 Broke Girls)
Ajay Mehta (Anger Management)
Riki Lindhome (Much Ado About Nothing)
Jon Lovitz (Big)
Taye Diggs (Chicago)
Jessica Chaffin (Spy)
Nakia Burrise (Power Rangers Turbo)
Brian Posehn (The Big Bang Theory)
Ben Falcone (The Boss)
Prince (Purple Rain)
Linda Cardellini (Scooby-Doo)
Alexandra Daddario (Texas Chainsaw 3D)
Kerri Kenney (Anger Management)
Jessica Biel (The A-Team)
Ciara Hanna (Power Rangers Megaforce)
Kaitlin Olson (The Heat)
Alan Ritchson (Smallville)
Erinn Hayes (The Watch)
Julian Morris (Hand of God)
Cleo King (Mike & Molly)
Amber Stevens West (22 Jump Street)
Greta Lee (St. Vincent)
Barry Bostwick (Spin City)
Nasim Pedrad (Scream Queens)
Zoe Lister-Jones (Salt)
Nora Dunn (Bones)

Your desire to watch New Girl is probably predicated by Zooey Deschanel, her cutesy fringe and massive possum eyes but rest assured there is a lot more to this show than that. If you aren’t already a Zooey fan please don’t let the somewhat annoying portmanteau “Adorkable” put you off seeing this great show.In my opinion the first few episodes of the show’s run are a little weak, but as season 1 continues this show goes from strength to strength as the writers seem to be figuring out what works and getting rid of what doesn’t. If you have seen the first few episodes on TV and are not sure if this show is for you I would definitely recommend sticking with it as the characters become less cartoonish and more fleshed out. While there are lots of comedies about people in their 20s and early 30s struggling with quarter-life crises, this show find a fresh approach to these issues that both men and women of this age in particular should enjoy.

There is lots of cringe-inducing humour and the show benefits from a great deal of physical humour and sight-gags as well as nerdy rapid-fire verbal comedy (which is my favourite!). I would definitely recommend getting this show on DVD, as it is incredibly rewatchable. Not only will you quickly come to really enjoy `hanging-out’ with these characters but sometimes the jokes and quips come so quickly you will definitely pick up on jokes you missed during the first watch.

The actors are all excellent and are perfectly cast in their different roles bringing a real warmth to the relationships between the main characters. Zooey is excellent as Jess and is a really refreshing comic lead. It is great to see a quirky, laid-back female character as so often actresses in sit-coms are relegated to being the nagging girlfriend/wife or to just commenting on the funny situations the male characters get themselves in to. Not only is Jess a witty character but also her lack of tact and weirdness are frequently sources of humour, as are the gaffs of her three roommates. Schmit is the break out character of the show for me. While in the first episode he comes across as an arrogant, shallow meat-head he quickly becomes more nuanced and sensitive and in my opinion is far and away one of the funniest characters on TV.The first season of New Girl established the will-they-won’t-they pairing of Nick and Jess and the they-did-will-it-last coupling of Schmidt and CeCe, so the second season is all about raising the stakes for them. For Nick and Jess this takes the form of bad relationships keeping their minds off messing with the loft dynamic by dating a roommate. Though each has some legitimate opportunities for happiness, be it Jess’ commitment-phobic Dr. Sam or Nick’s sexually adventurous stripper girlfriend (played by Olivia Munn.) However knowing that there remains a chance they could end up together leads to frequent self-sabotage.As much as Deschannel is the star of the show, Johnson has quietly become just as integral, as Nick grows and discovers himself, with the help of his future self and a water-massaging elderly Asian gentleman (the show can get weird sometimes.)For Schmidt and CeCe, reality is far less promising, as CeCe begins to sense her biological clock is ticking, and finds herself on a course for an arranged marriage to a pleasant man who just isn’t Schmidt. Meanwhile, the one true Schmidt seeks to alleviate the impending loss of his caramel queen by running back to his one true love, Elizabeth, a girl he dated in college, when he was hundreds of pounds heavier. It sets up a troubling love triangle, as the real Schmidt is just right for Elizabeth, but the Schmidt he wants to be is a perfect match for CeCe. While there’s a grimy aspect to Schmidt keeping two women secret from each other, on the other hand, Greenfield makes it work by showing Schmidt cares about both women and is, oddly, doing it to not hurt either of them, rather than out of some sort of romantic greed. It’s an unusual situation, and one the show handles well.The focus on Schmidt and CeCe this season unleashes the show’s secret weapon, as Simone proves to be one of the most consistently funny performers in the series, popping in a look or a delivery that’s just perfect for the situation. Many of the show’s best moments this season grow out of CeCe’s on and off again connection with Schmidt, with the season’s home-stretch existing only thanks to the culture clash that grows from her arranged marriage, Part of what makes her so entertaining is how her exotic beauty gets betrayed to hilarious effect by her ability to be wonderfully silly. (The other benefit of having CeCe around is the presence of her Russian modeling pal Nadia (Rebecca Reid), who is economically hysterical, with a higher laugh to word ratio than anyone on TV.)The mix in the loft is why the show works so well, as the quartet of roomies and friends behaves realistically, no matter how offbeat the situation may be or how odd the four may sometimes get. So whether it’s Schmidt feeling old thanks to some hipsters who have imoved in and befriended Jess, the exploration of the group’s most annoying aspects (a.k.a. “pogos”) or Winston struggling with his period, they mercilessly tease each other, but have each other’s back to the end. This is never more clearly illustrated than in “Virgins,” where the crew one-up each other with their horrible tales of their first sexual experiences. The way they interact is as close to real friends as anything on TV.With the series expanding upon the world created in the first season, we get to meet more of the people in the lives of the four roommates, and those additions were rather impressive, to go with returning speicial guests, like June Diane Raphael (playing Jess’ lesbian gynocologist.) The late Dennis Farina had a great turn as Nick’s con-man father, while Margot Martindale plays his brassy mom, Nick Kroll is his dim-witted brother and Bill Burr is his Beantown cousin. Meanwhile on Jess’ side, they snagged Rob Reiner and Jamie Lee Curtis to play her feuding parents (and Reiner should become a series regular as her dad). Add in Rob Riggle as Schmidt’s brother, Carla Gugino as his sexually-aggressive boss and Brenda Song as Winston’s new lady friend, and the show managed to cultivate a fine ensemble outside of the core five, expanding and improving the series.

The natural progression of the relationships between Nick and Jess and Schmidt and CeCe, along with the changes in the world around them, made for an entertaining season that balanced silly fun with genuine emotion.
Coach’s return was a little unexpected, there was already a great ensemble, why mess with it? For those who don’t know, Coach was one of the original characters from the pilot. Wayans’s was already cast in Happy Endings, but with Happy Endings suffering in the ratings, it was expected to be cancelled, leaving Wayans’s free to find another role. It didn’t get cancelled, and New Girl even benefited with the addition of Winston. Eventually, Happy Endings was cancelled, and Coach comes back.  Coach’s return to, guess what, coaching was inspired, and his slight change in focus really benefits both him and Schmidt, as well as the show as a whole. By the end of the season, it feels like Coach has always been there!
Then there is Winston. It really is a testament to Lamorne Morris’s ability as an actor and comic that he has got so much out of character that doesn’t really have much to do. I think he’s one of the least developed characters, and with so much focus on Nick & Jess, the re-introduction of Coach and Schmidt’s all round issues, he’s left to fill out episode storylines without getting much development himself. The comic relief Winston provides is necessary to balance out the drama with the other characters, but it’s a shame so much of it is just short story arcs or lasts just a single episode. If there’s any area I’d like season 4 to develop, it’s Winston. There is just too much talent and comedy to ignore.

New Girl continues its solid track record, producing a classic relationship season without losing the fact it’s a comedy at heart. Well executed by all involved.

Romantic relationships remain the primary concerns of Jess, her four dude roommates, and her best friend Cece (Hannah Simone). In season three, Jess and her cute slacker roomie Nick (Jake Johnson) made good on the will-they-or-won’t-they? dynamic teased in the previous seasons and are already peaceably broken up at this point. (The episode “Goldmine” nicely addresses the difficulty of getting people not to bail on dates with each of them after learning that they live in the same apartment as their ex.) At work, Jess has made it up the ranks from schoolteacher to vice principal, which is all well and good until she gets a crush on a new British teacher (Pretty Little Liars’ Julian Morris) with the saucy name Ryan Geauxinue (pronounced “Goes-In-You”); unfortunately for Jess, administrator-teacher couplings are a no-no, so she tries to ignore the hunk. (That doesn’t happen.) Nick finds Kai (Greta Lee), a lady who likes to lay about the apartment as much as himself; rookie cop Winston (Lamorne Morris) “investigates” her behavior for his roommate and decides she must be homeless. (She’s not.)
The show’s other key couple, former-model-turned-inept-bartender Cece (Hannah Simone) and metrosexual would-be player Schmidt (Max Greenfield), continue their pas de deux; Schmidt starts off the season overwhelmingly obsessed with Cece while she just wants to move on. As the season continues, Schmidt cools it a bit and finds a way to be Cece’s friend… which, of course, just makes her remember why she liked him in the first place. Unfortunately, by this point, Schmidt has started up with manipulative, career-driven city councilwoman Fawn Moscato (Zoe Lister-Jones). Fawn’s power excites Schmidty, but is this duo built to last?
 Wayans was a “recurring” cast member in season 3, but he’s a full-fledged co-star in season four. His presence in the show — besides demonstrating  that non-“niche” sitcom ensembles can have more than one black dude in them — is wonderfully layered with jock-y braggadocio, hidden tenderness, and amiable goofiness. Coach also reacts to relationship strife in the most entertaining ways possible, whether it’s emotionally breaking down as he tries to describe fertilization in a health class he’s teaching or attracting a bar full of ladies to grind up against him to the strains of Alannah Myles’s “Black Velvet.”
That just leaves Winston, who occasionally takes a break from studying for his police exam and from being in love with his cat to try to woo a human lady. I have to admit that Winston’s decision to become a cop just keeps reminding me of the later seasons of That ’70s Show, where Kelso’s decision to join the police academy also felt fairly arbitrary and strange. This is addressed in a subplot in the episode “Par 5,” which was actually co-written by  Lamorne Morris, in which the character feels forced to hide his profession when he starts dating a woman who actively protests the LAPD. This episode tries to add a little nuance and depth to Winston’s choice to be a policeman.
For a show with so many semi-arrested characters, gaining maturity and finding worthwhile career paths are unsurprisingly also an ongoing component of the show. Jess and Winston, of course, seem like they’re right where they want to be career-wise with the vice principal and police gigs respectively. Nick continues to flounder professionally, but eventually teams up with Schmidt to start their own entrepreneurial concern, and while their first concept — a suit made out of sweatsuit material — is a dud, the show seems optimistic about them finding fulfillment in working together. Cece finally goes to college, with some financial help from Coach and Winston, who consider it an investment that they expect to see repaid. When they find out Cece uses the opportunity to take somewhat esoteric liberal arts courses, the fellas are duly perturbed.
Once again, the show opens its doors to a number of excellent guest stars, including It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s Kaitlin Olson as Jess’s former classmate and potential stepmom (Rob Reiner and Jamie Lee Curtis return as Jess’s divorced parents), Jessica Biel as a romantic rival for Jess, Billy Eichner as a stressed-out, catty airport employee on Christmas, Childrens Hospital’s Erinn Hayes as a promiscuous school nurse, Lisa Bonet as the touchy-feely leader of a teachers conference, Nora Dunn as Schmidt’s overbearing mother, and on and on. Justin Long. Josh Gad. Michaela Watkins. Barry Bostwick. Sarah Burns. Kurt Braunohler. Regis Philbin. Funny people!
 The ensemble cast truly shines in this newest season of New Girl. Some episodes come in a little below expectations, but overall the season offers some interesting developments for the characters and oodles of great jokes. If you like the show, keep liking the show.

REVIEW: YOUNG GUNS 1 & 2

CAST

Emilio Estevez (Bobby)
Kiefer Sutherland (24)
Lou Diamond Phillips (Stargate Universe)
Charlie Sheen (Two and a Half Men)
Dermot Mulroney (The Grey)
Casey Siemaszko (Stand By Me)
Terence Stamp (Superman 1 & 2)
Jack Palance (Batman)
Terry O’Quinn (Lost)

John Tunstall (Terence Stamp), an educated Englishman and cattle rancher in Lincoln County, New Mexico, hires wayward young gunmen to live and work on his ranch. Tunstall is in heavy competition with a well-connected Irishman named Lawrence Murphy (Jack Palance), who owns a large ranch; their men clash on a regular basis. Tunstall recruits Billy (Emilio Estevez) and advises him to renounce violence saying that “He who sows the wind will reap the whirlwind.” Tensions escalate between the two camps, resulting in the murder of Tunstall. Billy, Doc Scurlock (Kiefer Sutherland), Jose Chavez y Chavez (Lou Diamond Phillips), Richard M. “Dick” Brewer (Charlie Sheen), “Dirty” Steve Stephens (Dermot Mulroney), and Charlie Bowdre (Casey Siemaszko), consult their lawyer friend Alexander McSween (Terry O’Quinn), who manages to get them deputized and given warrants for the arrest of Murphy’s murderous henchmen.
Billy quickly challenges Dick’s authority as leader, vowing revenge against Murphy and the men responsible for killing Tunstall. The men call themselves The Regulators and arrest some of the murderers, but hot-headed Billy is unable to wait for justice. He guns down unarmed men and goes on to kill one of his fellow Regulators (later arrival J. McCloskey) in the paranoid (but correct) belief that he was still in league with Murphy. The men are stripped of their badges, which they find out about by reading a newspaper. That same paper also confuses Dick for Billy, showing a picture of Dick labeled Billy the Kid, a nickname to which Billy takes an immediate liking.
While the local authorities begin their hunt for Billy and the boys, the Regulators argue about continuing with their warrants or to go on the run. One of the men on their list of warrants, Buckshot Roberts (Brian Keith), tracks them down, barricades himself in an outhouse, and Dick dies in an intense shootout. Billy appoints himself as the new leader, the gang becomes famous and the U.S. Army is charged with bringing them to justice under Murphy’s corrupt political influence.
The gang eludes attention for some time, and Charlie gets married in Mexico. While attending the wedding, Billy meets Pat Garrett (Patrick Wayne) who is not yet a sheriff, but warns Billy of an attempt on Alex’s life by Murphy’s men that will happen the next day. Thus the gang packs up and heads off to save Alex. Back in Lincoln, Murphy’s men, led by George W. Peppin, surround Alex’s house, trapping the Regulators, and a shootout begins. A ceasefire is called for the night. In the morning, accompanied by Murphy, the army comes in and torches the house, but Chavez escapes out the back. While the house is burning, the men come up with an escape plan. They begin throwing Alex’s possessions out the windows of the second floor. Billy places himself inside of a large trunk, and when it lands in front of the house, he leaps out and begins to open fire.Meanwhile, Doc bursts out of the side stairway, followed by Charlie and Steve. Everyone makes it to the lawn, but Billy is shot twice in his arms. Charlie challenges the bounty hunter John Kinney (Allen Keller); Kinney shoots Charlie and Charlie fires back, killing each other.
Chavez comes from behind the army on horseback, and jumps the barricade to get extra horses to the Regulators. Billy jumps on one horse, but Doc is shot trying to get on another. Doc still manages to pick up his girlfriend Yen Sun (Alice Carter), Murphy’s Chinese sex-slave, and they ride off. Chavez tries to get Steve on a horse, but is wounded and falls to the ground. Steve helps Chavez on to a horse, but is left alone and unarmed. The Army and Murphy’s men shoot and kill Steve. Alex cheers on the boys as they ride away. The army opens fire on him with a Gatling gun and he is killed. As the remaining men ride away, Murphy hurls threats and curses after them, but is stunned when Billy turns back and shoots Murphy right between the eyes, killing him. The final scene is a voice-over of Doc explaining what happened afterwards: Alex’s widow caused a congressional investigation into the Lincoln County War. Chavez took work at a farm in California. Doc moved east to New York and married Yen Sun, whom he had saved from Murphy. Billy continued to ride until he was found and shot dead by Pat Garrett. Billy was buried next to Charlie Bowdre at Fort Sumner. A stranger went to the grave of Billy the Kid late one night and made a carving in the headstone. The epitaph read only one word: “PALS”.
The film toils with emotions throughout and brings a slight comic relief. Emilio Estevez shone as the major star, although packed out with many big names Charlie Sheen, Lou Diamond Phillips, Kiefer Sutherland, Dermot Mulroney, Terence Stamp and Jack Palance. Deserved more awards when released and holds as a great film all these years later. Westerns usually become dated very quick but this holds tension throughout.

CAST

Emilio Estevez (Bobby)
Kiefer Sutherland (24)
Lou Diamond Phillips (Stargate Universe)
Christian Slater (Interview With The Vampire)
William Petersen (CSI)
Alan Ruck (Speed)
R.D. Call (Waterworld)
James Coburn (The Great Escape)
Balthazar Getty (Brothers & Sisters)
Robert Knepper (Cult)
Viggo Mortensen (Lord of The Rings)
Leon Rippy (Stargate)
Tracey Walter (Conan The Destroyer)
Jenny wright (NEar Dark)
Richard Schiff (The Cape)
Ginger Lynn (The Devil’s Rejects)

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In 1950, attorney Charles Phalen is contacted by an elderly man named “Brushy Bill” Roberts. Brushy Bill tells Phalen that he is dying and wants to receive a pardon that he was promised 70 years before by the Governor of New Mexico. When asked why he wants the pardon, Brushy Bill claims that he is really William H. Bonney aka “Billy The Kid”, whom “everyone” knows to have been shot and killed by Pat Garrett in 1881. Phalen then asks if Bill has any proof that he is the famous outlaw. Brushy Bill’s story begins with the remaining Regulators having gone their separate ways. Billy has become part of a new gang with “Arkansas” Dave Rudabaugh (Slater) and Pat Garrett (Petersen). The New Mexico governor has issued warrants for the arrests of those involved in the Lincoln County Wars, including Billy, Doc Scurlock (Sutherland), and Jose Chavez y Chavez (Phillips), who are dragged into town and imprisoned to await hanging.
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Meanwhile, Billy meets with the new governor Lew Wallace who agrees to pardon Billy if he testifies against the Dolan-Murphy faction. Billy soon finds out that he was tricked into being arrested with no chance of testifying against his old enemies. After escaping, Billy along with the help of Rudabaugh and Garrett, pose as a lynch mob to spring Doc and Chavez from jail. When the gang successfully escape Lincoln, Billy mentions the Mexican Blackbird (a broken trail only he and few others know that leads down to Mexico). Garrett decides not to go with the gang and, instead, open a boarding house. As they make a run for the border along with farmer Henry William French (Alan Ruck) and 14-year-old Tom O’Folliard (Balthazar Getty), cattle baron John Simpson Chisum (James Coburn) and Governor Wallace approach Garrett to offer him the job as Lincoln County Sheriff and $1000 to use whatever resources he needs to hunt Bonney down and kill him. Garrett agrees and, forming a posse, begins his pursuit of the gang.
Billy and the gang soon come to the town of White Oaks where they meet up with former companion, Jane Greathouse (Jenny Wright) who runs a local bordello. Later that night, the town lynch mob comes for the gang and are intent on a hanging. Deputy Carlisle tries to negotiate a deal, “the Indian” (Chavez) for a safe rideout. Billy refuses the offer and pushes the Deputy out the door, who is then accidentally killed by the lynch mob. Garrett soon tracks Billy to the bordello, but is too late. Billy and his gang are continuously tracked by the posse, narrowly evading capture, but Tom (being mistaken for Billy) is soon shot dead by Garrett. As they hideout, Billy admits that the Mexican Blackbird doesn’t exist; it was just a pawn to get the gang back together and to keep riding. Doc is angered and tries to leave for home, but he is shot by one of Garrett’s men and sacrifices himself to enable his friends to escape. Billy the Kid is soon brought back into Lincoln by Garrett and is sentenced to death by hanging. He is visited by Jane Greathouse, who arranges to leave a pistol in an outhouse. Billy uses the pistol to kill two guards and escapes to Old Fort Sumner. By the time he arrives, Dave has abandoned the group to make his way to Mexico, and Chavez is dying from a bullet wound. During the night Garrett finds Billy unarmed. Billy asks Garrett to let him run to Mexico and tell the authorities that he killed him. Garrett declines because he believes Billy would not be able to resist coming back to the United States (which would lead to Garrett’s death for lying). Billy turns around, forcing Garrett to have to shoot him in the back, which he does not. In the morning, a fake burial is staged for Billy and Garrett’s horse is seen being taken by an unknown figure (implied to be Billy). Brushy Bill admits he never stole a horse from someone he didn’t like, and further admits he didn’t like Garrett; he loved him. Phalen, convinced that Brushy Bill is Billy the Kid, agrees to help him.
The epilogue reveals that Arkansas Dave was beheaded once he reached Mexico to discourage more outlaws from crossing the border; Garrett’s book detailing his pursuit of Billy was a dismal failure and he is eventually shot and killed in 1908; Brushy Bill met with the Governor of New Mexico but despite corroboration from several surviving friends of The Kid, he was discredited and died less than a month later; whether or not Brushy Bill was Billy the Kid remains a mystery. The final shot shows Billy pointing his gun at an off screen target, saying to the target “I’ll make you famous”.
Not only does Young Guns 2 have some explosive action scenes, it has some great drama, you will really feel for Billy and his pals as they meet their maker one by one. Christian Slater provides some brilliant humor in the role of ‘Arkansas’ Dave Rudabaugh – His comic foreplay with Emilio Estevez provides the film with some of it’s most memorable scenes.

REVIEW: THE BATMAN – SEASON 1-5

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 MAIN CAST (VOICES)

Rino Romano (Get Him To The Greek)
Alastair Duncan (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo)
Danielle Judovits (Naruto)
Evan Sabara (The Polar Express)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Ming-Na Wen (Agents of SHIELD)
Steve Harris (The Rock)
Jesse Corti (Bringing Down The House)
Mitch Pileggi (The X-Files)
Adam West (Batman 60s)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Joaquim de Almeida (Fast & Furious 5)
Amanda Anka (Lost Highway)
Diedrich Bader (Batman: TBATB)
Jeff Bennett (Porco Rosso)
Victor Brandt (The Head Mistress)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Dan Castellaneta (The Simpsons)
Kevin Conroy (Batman: TAS)
Piera Coppola (Phineas and Ferb)
Jim Cummings (Ben 10)
Dana Delany (Desperate Housewives)
Grey DeLisle (Danny Phantom)
Jack DeSena (JLA Adventures)
John DiMaggio (Futurama)
Greg Ellis (Dr. Dolittle 5)
Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street)
Miguel Ferrer (Robocop)
Dave Foley (Monkeybone)
Will Friedle (Batman Beyond)
Gina Gershon (Bound)
Christopher Gorham (Ugly Betty)
Frank Gorshin (Batman 60s)
Louis Gossett Jr. (Enemy Mine)
Kevin Grevioux (Cradle 2 The Grave)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Chris Hardwick (Halloween II)
Dorian Harewood (Full Metal Jacket)
Tom Kenny (The Powerpuff Girls)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Lex Lang (Power Rangers Turbo)
Wallace Langham (Daddy Day Care)
John Larroquette (Chuck)
Rachael MacFarlane (American Dad)
Peter MacNicol (Ghostbusters II)
Jason Marsden (Full House)
Ian Abercromdie (Birds of Prey)
Kellie Martin (Army Wives)
Daran Norris (Veronica Mars)
Michael Massee (Flashforward)
Dermot Mulroney (New Girl)
George Newbern (Justice League)
Jerry O’ Connell (Superman/Shazam)
Edward James Olmos (Battlestar Galactica)
Patton Oswalt (Caprica)
Robert Patrick (Terminator 2)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Fred Willard (Anchorman)
James Remar (The Vampire Diaries)
Brandon Routh (Legends of Tomorrow)
Allison Mack (Smallville)
Charlie Schlatter (Batman Unlimited)
Glenn Shadix (Beetlejuice)
Hynden Walch (Teen Titans)
Patrick Warburton (Family Guy)
Gwendoline Yeo (Vacancy 2)

 

It would be an impossible task to live up to “Batman: The Animated Series” and its various later incarnations. Not only has the series, which ran throughout the 1990s, been hailed by fans as the definitive representation of the Dark Knight, but it also ranks among the very best television series ever aired.

So when the folks at Warner Bros. Animation decided to put together an all-new Batman series to tie in with the impending release of “Batman Begins,” they made the daring but ultimately wise choice of completely revamping the world of Bruce Wayne, at least in terms of style and presentation. “The Batman,” which debuted in September 2004 on the Kids WB!, played out as something of a “Young Batman Adventures,” with the episodes focusing on the Dark Knight’s earliest years as a superhero. The deep, raspy voice of Kevin Conroy (who took the lead role in the 1990s series, and who still voices Batman on Cartoon Network’s “Justice League”) was replaced with Rino Romano, a thirtysomething voiceover veteran who sounds like he’s in his early twenties. Commissioner Gordon is nowhere to be seen; instead, we get two young detectives who are always on Batman’s trail – and in a nifty twist, one of them is Bruce Wayne’s best friend. Robin is also absent, Bruce has yet to get a handle on how to be Batman and run Wayne Industries, and the Rogues Gallery of villains are only beginning to emerge.

The most notable change is the stylistic choice to loosen up the storytelling, with a far heavier focus here on action and fantasy. “The Batman” is above all else a series that skews younger than its predecessors; taking a cue from the success of anime in grade schools across the nation, the series’ producers push the action sequences above all else. In some episodes, fight scenes and chases take up an entire third, or more, of the running time.

Accent is also placed on gadgets (Batman’s “Bat Wave” is a pre-Bat Signal pager-like device that flashes when crime’s afoot), alternate costumes (Batman faces off against Mr. Freeze in a souped-up arctic gear Batsuit), and anything else that might translate well into toy sales. Which is neat for the kids, but it takes up screen time, forcing into the background the character development and intelligent drama that made the older series such a hit with fans of all ages. Since all this tinkering was taking place, the producers felt that now would be a perfect time to also revamp the famous villains. The Joker is now a big guy, far more athletic than we’ve ever seen him before, his bare feet allowing him to climb and kick with ease. The Penguin is still short, birdlike, and obnoxious, but this time, he’s a kung fu expert with two silent female assassins (with scissor-like blades on their fingers) at his side. Mr. Freeze, not a scientist but a petty thief, now shoots ice from his hands – no ice gun is necessary.

These changes work for the tone of the series,  I’ve come to like the series. Now knowing what to expect has helped with the adjustment. Yes, it still has its many problems – mainly, most of the villain revamps come off as too silly (and the writers rely on the Joker and Penguin way too much in the early episodes) – but it also has so much going for it. For starters, the animation is breathtaking, the combination of influences (the series borrows as much from the sleek 1990s cartoons as it does from recent anime) resulting in a eye-popping visual style that’s a true joy to watch. And as with its predecessor, “The Batman” relies on a healthy dose of impressive guest stars, including Tom Kenny, Gina Gershon, Peter MacNicol, Clancy Brown, Jason Marsden, Udo Kier, Edie McClurg, Glenn Shadix, Fred Willard, Dan Castellaneta, John Di Maggio, and yes, even Adam West, who stars here as the mayor of Gotham City. Combine this with a top notch regular cast and you’ve got a series that matches Warner Brothers’ usual high level of quality.

With this season, the producers opted to play mix-and-match with baddies: Catwoman and Ragdoll, Catwoman and Penguin, Penguin and Man-Bat, Penguin and Joker, Penguin and Joker and Riddler, Mr. Freeze and Firefly.  The Catwoman episodes work much better; the series’ take on the Selina Kyle character is as refreshing as has ever been in the decades of Batman tales. She’s one of the few multifaceted characters in this uncomplicated series, working somewhere between heroine and villainess, assisted by clever writing and a commendable vocal performance from Gina Gershon.

Other episodes manage to shake the series’ problems and find a sturdy balance between fast-paced action and inventive plotting. The introductory adventure with the Riddler (here designed as some sort of Marilyn Manson wannabe) makes for a rollicking quest; an episode that takes Batman literally into the mind of the Joker allows for a fresh take on some overly well-worn cartoon material; a sinister Halloween tale about “swamp zombie” Solomon Grundy’s mythic return makes for ripping holiday viewing. These episodes all show the grand potential of this series. Consider the season’s best episode, “Meltdown,” which provides a return for Clay Face, last seen in season one’s finale. There’s a lot that happens in this episode character-wise, all of it both thrilling and quite emotionally touching.

In order to make the show more friendly to the notion of reruns, the producers avoid any serious episode-to-episode continuity. Instead, we see ideas that slowly grow – Detective Bennett’s evolution as a character in season one (and slightly in season two), Detective Yin’s secret partnership with Batman in season two – in tiny chunks over the course of a dozen or so episodes. The good news is that these seemingly unimportant arcs do get a payoff in the season finales. In its favor, the series does showcase some incredible animation; “The Batman” remains a genuine treat for the eyes.

The Batman” went through plenty of growing pains for its third season. Dropped without explanation from the story was Detective Ellen Yin, who had been working toward becoming a new sidekick of sorts to the Dark Knight (actress Ming-Na had become unavailable to return to the series); in her place, we have the arrival of Batgirl, whose presence takes the series in a whole new direction.

It’s something of a mini-almost-sorta reboot as a result. There’s a new opening sequence, with The Edge’s twangy theme song replaced by a crunchy surf-rock tune from Andy Sturmer, who also wrote the “Teen Titans” theme. That series’ popularity obviously had an influence on this new season, as Batgirl’s wide-eyed character design is similar to the heroes of the Cartoon Network series. In addition, the Gotham landscape is now slightly more abstract, most notably in the swirling red and purple skies above. An entire episode is designed to showcase an all-new Batmobile. Finally, season-long story arcs have been toned down, delivered on a smaller scale, with Dr. Hugo Strange’s ongoing manipulations from behind the walls of Arkham Asylum not carrying the full weight of, say, the Clayface and Ellen Yin storylines of previous seasons. Even Batman’s gradual acceptance of a sidekick is something of a restrained arc.


The most obvious adjustment is that Batgirl is introduced before Robin (who would not appear in the series until season four). This comes with its share of awkwardness, not because the deviation from Batman mythology (the retooling plays quite well, actually), but because Commissioner Gordon was just introduced in the series two finale. We never get a chance to settle in with him before he’s thrown into the thick of things, and now here he is with a teenage daughter – a daughter whose co-star status means the Gordons now become a key part of nearly every episode. Yet the series plows ahead with the Gordons at the center and never looks back, allowing for a rather quick adjustment to the change.
The season opens on a very high note, with the excellent two-part saga, “Batgirl Begins,” introducing not only our new heroine, but also Poison Ivy, revamped to be a high school pal of Barbara’s; she’s a young eco-terrorist who gets slimed with nasty plant-growth chemicals. Early episodes that follow manage to revisit old villains – the Penguin, Scarface, Catwoman – while offering new spins, thus keeping stories quite fresh. New baddies are also introduced, most memorably the cybernetic Gearhead (voiced by “Batman Beyond” himself, Will Friedle), whose race car exploits allow the show to provide some thrilling chase sequences, and Cosmo Krank (Patton Oswalt in a deliciously over-the-top turn), a flashy toymaker.

Few animated TV shows have improved as greatly and as rapidly as much as “The Batman.” When the program debuted on the Kids WB! network in 2004, it was a reboot of the franchise, and while repeat viewings did help the show’s more radical changes become acceptable to lifelong fans of the character, it still never quite hit the heights of the 1990s’ “Batman: The Animated Series,” deemed by most as the definitive presentation of the hero.

The season opens with the introduction of Robin, the Boy Wonder. Series producers took a brave risk the season prior by breaking from the continuity of the Batman mythology and bringing in Batgirl as a sidekick first; the official reason given is that Robin was tied up on the “Teen Titans” cartoon, but the switcheroo seems to go beyond that, as it led to a shakeup that helped breathe new life into the franchise.

Perhaps to counterbalance such changes, the season premiere strays very little from the established Robin backstory: young Dick Grayson (seen here at around age 10 or 11, unlike several other incarnations that aged him slightly) is the son of a successful circus act. Here, Dick’s father also runs the circus, so he’s directly responsible for shooing away the thugs that show up one night for a little extortion. Batman arrives to thwart the baddies, but they return to sabotage the trapeze. The Graysons are killed mid-performance, and Bruce Wayne, seeing a parallel with his own history, takes Dick in as a foster son. Dick later discovers the Batcave, dons his old circus outfit, and sets out to capture the mobsters; by episode’s end, he’s properly christened as Robin.

It’s interesting to note that every time this legend is retold, its writers find new ways of infusing some modern day logic into the proceedings. Like Dick’s circus costume, which now comes right off the bat with the familiar “R” crest, only for “Richard,” not “Robin.” He later decides to use “Robin” as his superhero alter ego not in tribute to Robin Hood, or because of the goofy motorcycle helmet design from “Batman Forever,” but simply because Dick’s mom liked that nickname. It adds a bittersweet human touch to the myth that feels so natural, I’m surprised it’s never been used before. (In a nice touch, Kevin Conroy, the voice actor who played Batman in the 1990s, appears as Dick’s father. It’s a wonderful passing-the-torch moment that reminds me of when Adam West showed up on “Batman: The Animated Series” as the Grey Ghost. Also providing guest star voice work this season are Mark Hamill, Louis Gossett, Jr., Ron Perlman, James Remar, Wallace Langham, and Brandon Routh.)

Batgirl is absent from this episode (wisely so – although it’s an excellent story, it’s also pretty cluttered with characters and events). She returns in the follow-up, and there we set the stage for the rest of the season’s tone. The sidekicks spend their time bickering and trying to one-up each other, in pure brother-sister mode. It’s a fun dynamic to the show that allows Batman to remain  his moody self without forcing the series to become overly brooding. A peculiar moment regarding the sidekicks comes late in the season, when Robin pauses in the middle of a dangerous mission to ask Batgirl if she’s afraid. After some fudging between the two, she admits that she is. Not only is this a deeper, more thoughtful character moment than the series would have ever attempted a few years earlier, but it’s a startling moment of character honesty that you rarely get in a children’s adventure.

Over time the show has definitely grown and it’s safe to say that it’s come into its own. Though this may be the final season it’s definitely one of the stronger ones and in the end this is a ride any fan of the character should take. In the previous seasons of The Batman all sorts of things happened that continue to have an impact upon Gotham in this fifth outing. Batgirl was added to the roster during the third season with Dick Grayson as Robin in the fourth. Several familiar villains were brought into the fold as well but most notably the finale of the fourth season featured an alien invasion and the introduction of The Justice League. That’s right where we pick up this time around with Gotham reeling in the aftermath of the alien attack.


Destruction is everywhere and the people are in need of support. Lucky for them Superman comes to town with a massive check from Metropolis but unluckily for Superman Metallo is waiting for his chance to strike. What transpires is a team up between Batman and Superman to take down Lex Luthor who has his eyes set on Gotham. In the meantime Superman falls under Lex’s control thanks to some help from Poison Ivy and kryptonite. Naturally it’s up to Batman and Robin to stop the man of steel and there’s plenty of fighting between the DC legends.

If you have been following the series this marks Superman’s first appearance on the show and you’ll notice a trend that follows throughout this year. The previous season’s introduction of characters such as Green Arrow, Flash, Hawkman, and Green Lantern fleshes out The Batman’s roster somewhat and really gives is a Justice League feel.

This season is very entertaining even though the focus shifts from Batman and his universe. At this point in The Batman’s run the creative cast definitely had it going on but you can tell that even in the final moments they were experimenting. I see what the producers were aiming to do with this season and for all intents and purposes it is successful.