REVIEW: SPIDER-MAN (1994) – SEASON 1-5

 

 

CAST

Christopher Daniel Barnes (The Little Mermaid)
Edward Asner (Elf)
Linda Gary (He-Man)
Rodney Saulsberry (The Animatrix)
Jennifer Hale (Wreck-It Ralph)
Gary Imhoff (The Green Mile)
Sara Ballantine (Batman Year One)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Liz Georges (As Told By Ginger)
Hank Azaria (The Smurfs)
Joseph Campanella (Ben)
Patrick Labyorteaux (Yes Man)
Maxwell Caulfield (Alien Intruder)
Neil Ross (Rambo)
Roscoe Lee Brown (Babe)
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. (Batman: TAS)
Dawnn Lewis (Futurama)
Martin Landau (Ed Wood)
Gregg Berger (Transformers)
Don Stark (That 70s Show)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
George Buza (Mutant X)
Cedric Smith (Earth: Final Conflict)
Norm Spencer (Rescue Heroes)
Catherine Disher (Forever Knight)
Alison Sealy-Smith (You Kill Me)
Alyson Court (Beetlejuice TV)
Chris Potter (Heartland)
Malcolm McDowell (Star Trek Generations)
J.D. Hall (Undercover Brother)
Peter Mark Richman (Friday the 13th – Part 8)
George Takei (Star Trek)
John Vernon (Batman: TAS)
Courtney Peldon (Frozen)
Edward Albert (Power Rangers Time Force)
Robert Hays (Airplane)
Barbara Goodson (Power Rangers)
James Avery (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 80s)
Tony Jay (Lois & Clark)
Dorian Harewood (Earth: Final Conflict)
Jack Angel (A.I.)
Jeff Corey (Conan The Destroyer)
Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek)
Richard Moll (Scary Movie 2)
David Warner (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II)
Mira Furlan (Lost)
Earl Boen (The Terminator)
David Hayter (X-Men)
Roy Dotrice (Hercules: TLJ)
Paul Winfield (Star Trek II)
Majel Barrett (Star Trek)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)

The set itself is well presented, although the artwork is a little cheap, and clearly done in a way as to mimic the style of the 90s series. Anyone who has the recent X-Men Season releases will be familiar with this. Unlike those, this one also has a slipcase. A booklet with episode synopses is also included.

Spider-Man has season-long arcs, which when viewed in succession make for great television. Christopher Barnes is brilliant as Spider-Man (especially in those fleeting moments of extreme rage), and the guests were memorable too, particularly Rob Paulsen’s oafish Hydro Man and Jennifer Hale as Felicia Hardy/ Black Cat.

The music was great too, but while Spider-Man relied on several repeated  cues,  Another thing about Spider-Man is that even after all these years I find myself being surprised by some of the plot twists, which were even more abundant upon first viewing. Thankfully, John Semper (creative head of the show) was bold enough to change much of the original stories to make them worth animating in the first place. What else? A minor triumph, but the colouring on this cartoon is the best of any I’ve ever seen. A simple praise. While the show lost its way during the muddled fourth year it had some great episodes in the last series, with one of the greatest resolution-with-cliffhanger endings in animation history. A rare treat in that its much, much better than you remember it.

Some of the best episodes were – the three-parter, “The Alien Costume”- a marvellous introduction for the ultimately underused Venom (a deliciously insane Hank Azaria)- and the two-part “Hobgoblin” are among the best in the show’s five-year run. “Night of the Lizard”, a pilot of sorts, is interesting in that there’s an awful lot more effort put into the animation than in later episodes, as is often the case.

Animation from the 1990s doesn’t come much better than this, and Marvel have yet to top it.

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REVIEW: THE SECRET AGENT CLUB

CAST

Hulk Hogan (Rocky III)
Matthew McCurley (Little Giants)
Lesley-Anne Down (Sunset Beach)
Maurice Woods (Wag The Dog)
Richard Moll (Scary Movie 2)
Barry Bostwick (Spin City)
Edward Albert (Power Rangers Time Force)
James Hong (Blade Runner)
M.C. Gainey (Lost)

6704-2To the world Ray Chase is nothing more than a klutzy, overgrown toy seller whose wife passed away a few years ago; and his only son Jeremy doesn’t get to see him very often, because he’s always away on “business trips.” What no one knows-not even Jeremy-is that his dad is a secret agent who flies all around the world, completing highly classified missions for a top-secret peacekeeping agency. Unaware of his dad’s dangerous, yet exciting, secret identity, Jeremy’s world is utterly normal. But all that changes when Ray returns from a mission, bringing with him a high-powered laser gun he stole from a treacherous female foreign guns dealer. Ray tells his son the gun is only a toy, but his secret comes out when the dealer sends her henchmen to capture Ray and retrieve the gun. The nasty henchmen get Ray, but Jeremy escapes with the wanted firearm. After he learns how to use the laser gun, Jeremy gathers his friends, and together they hatch a clever plan to rescue Ray.the-secret-agent-club-movie-review-image-headerFans of Hulk Hogan films know what to expect. You won’t get complex plots, you won’t get five star movies but you will get a charismatic wrestling star just having some fun playing the guy who overcomes the odds and defeats the dark forces of evil. The Secret Agent Club is one of those films which you can play on a Sunday afternoon and just sit back and enjoy. I thoroughly recommend this film.

REVIEW: STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE – SEASON 1-7

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MAIN CAST

Avery Brooks (Roots: The Gift)
Nana Visitor (Dark Angel)
Rene Auberjonois (Boston Legal)
Alexander Siddig (Game of Thrones)
Terry Farrell (Hellraiser 3)
Colm Meaney (Intermission)
Cirroc Lofton (Soul Food)
Armin Shimerman (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Michael Dorn (Ted 2)
Nicole de Boer (Rated X)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Patrick Stewart (American Dad)
Felecia M. Bell (Nightman)
Marc Alaimo (Total Recall)
Aron Eisenberg (Puppet Master 3)
Max Grodenchick (Apollo 13)
J.G. Hrtzler (Roswell)
April Grace (Lost)
Majel Barrett (Babylon 5)
Andrew Robinson (Hellraiser)
Gwynyth Walsh (Taken)
Vaughn Armstrong (Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue)
Rosalind Chao (I Am Sam)
Edward Albert (Power Rangers Time Force)
Scott MacDonald (Jack Frost)
Jennifer Hetrick (L.A. Law)
John De Lancie (The Hand That Rocks The Cradle)
Tom McCleister (Angel)
Gregory Itzin (Firefly)
Fionnula Flanagan (The Others)
Julie Caitlin Brown (Babylon 5)
Chris Latta (Transformers)
Barry Gordon (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Wallace Shawn (The Princess Bride)
Cliff De Young (Glory)
Jonathan Banks (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles)
Keone Young (Men In Black 3)
Jack Shearer (Star Trek: First Contact)
Harris Yullin (Rush Hour 2)
Louise Fletcher (Heroes)
Frank Langella (Masters of The Universe)
Stephen Macht (Galaxina)
Steven Weber (Izombie)
John Glover (Smallville)
Tim Russ (Samantha Who?)
Daphne Ashbrook (The Love Letter)
Don Stark (That 70s Show)
Brian Thompson (The Terminator)
Salli Richardson-Whitfield (I Am Legend)
William Schallert (Innerspace)
K Callan (Lois & CLark)
Chris Sarandon (Child’s Play)
John Colicos (Battlestar Galactica)
Michael Ansara (Batman: TAS)
William Campbell (Dementia 13)
Tony Plana (Ugly Betty)
Michael Bell (Rugrats)
Alan Oppenheimer (Transformers)
Salome Jens (Superbot)
Martha Hackett (Leprechaun 2)
Ken Marshall (Krull)
Mary Kay Adams (Babylon 5)
Bumper Robinson (Sabrina: TTW)
Brett Cullen (Lost)
Jeffrey Combs (The Frighteners)
Tricia O’ Neil (Gia)
Dick Miller (Gremlins)
Deborah Van Valkenburgh (Free Enterprise)
Clint Howard (Apollo 13)
Richard Lee Jackson (Saved By The Bell: The NEw Class)
Andrew Prine (V)
Tracy Scoggins (Lois & Clark)
Erick Avari (Stargate)
Carlos Lacamara (Heroes Reborn)
Leland Orser (Seven)
Chase Masterson (Terminal Invasion)
Penny Johnson Jerald (Castle)
Andrea Martin (Wag The Dog)
Diane Salinger (Batman Returns)
Sherman Howard (Superboy)
Robert O’ Reilly (The Mask)
Obi Ndefo (Stargate SG.1)
Patricia Tallman (Babylon 5)
Galyn Gorg (Robocop 2)
Jeremy Roberts (Veronica Mars)
James Cromwell (Species II)
Charles Napier (The Silence of The Lambs)
Conor O’Farrell (Lie To Me)
Robert Foxworth (Syriana)
Brock Peters (Soylent Green)
Casey Biggs (Broken Arrow)
Tony Todd (The Flash)
Robert DoQui (Robocop)
D. Elliot Woods (Agents of SHIELD)
Jason Marsden (Full House)
Ron Canada (Just Like Heaven)
James Black (Anger Management
Meg Foster (Masters of The Universe)
Tracy Middendorf (Scream: The Series)
John Prosky (The Devil Inside)
Hilary Shepard (Power Rangers Turbo)
Phil Morris (Smallville)
Charlie Brill (Silk Stalkings)
Kurtwood Smith (That 70s Show)
Eric Pierpoint (Alien Nation)
Robert Picardo (Stargate: Atlantis)
Marjean Holden (Hostage)
Brian Markinson (Arrow)
Christopher Shea (Bounty Killer)
Marc Worden (Ultimate Avengers)
Gabrielle Union (Ugly Betty)
Shannon Cochran (The Ring)
Iggy Pop (The Crow 2)
Brad Greenquist (Alias)
Leslie Hope (24)
Stephen McHattie (300)
Michael Weatherly (NCIS)
Henry Gibson (Sabrina: TTW)
James Darren (T.J. Hooker)
Bill Mumy (Babylon 5)
Kevin Rahm (Bates Motel)
Adrienne Barbeau (Swamp Thing)
William Sadler (Roswell)

DS9 is one of my all-time favourite television shows. It edges out Star Trek’s original series just barely as my favourite in the franchise. I am not going to state that it’s the best Star Trek series, because it definitely will not appeal to everybody, but it is my favourite.

DS9 deviates from the Trek franchise formula in an important way – it is based on one location – a Cardassian-built space station near the planet Bejor. So even the architecture of the main set is alien – not another sterile militaristic star ship inhabited by a primarily white European crew – but a true Babel. Bejor has just been liberated from 60 years of occupation by an expansionist militaristic race – the Cardassians. Both Bejorans and Cardassians will play important roles throughout DS9. Since the station does not move much during the show’s seven year run, DS9 has a much stronger sense of place than the other ST series, and is able to develop story arc and character continuity much more powerfully than the others.

All of the major characters and most of the frequent returning characters have their own interwoven story arcs – most of which span the entire series. Ben Sisko (Avery Brooks), the station’s commander, is a somewhat disgruntled Star Fleet officer who has several personal vendettas which have almost driven him from Star Fleet. He is also a single parent and a genius. In the very first episode, Sisko’s arc begins and it is clear that his story will be the frame within which the entire series is organized – though the reasons for this will no become entirely clear until near the end. Also memorable are the gruff, shape-shifting Chief Constable Odo(Rene Auberjunois) who does not know what he is and where he came from; Kira (Nana Visitor) Sisko’s aggressive and intense Bajoran second officer; Garak (Andy Robinson) a Cardassian Tailor and – possibly – spy, who is easily the most well-developed, well-acted and interesting recurring guest star Star Trek has ever had; Jadzia Dax (Terry Farrell) – the beautiful Trill science officer whose consciousness is enhanced by the memories and personality of a 600 year old symbiotic slug who lives in her stomach and has inhabited dozens of previous hosts; Julian Bashir (Alexander Siddig) the station’s young, brilliant, adventurous and naive doctor; and Quark (Armin Shimmerman), the greedy, conniving, but entirely lovable Ferengi casino owner.

The characters, cast, and serialized stories make DS9 stand apart from the franchise as the most powerfully plotted, intensely dramatic and politically charged Star Trek ever. The show is, however, not for those with limited attention spans and a disdain for complexity. While it isn’t exactly hard to follow, the dialog is often dense and DS9 – more than any other Trek show – uses non-verbal communication very well. Brooks, Visitor and Robinson – all of whom are masters at this – are particularly non-verbal and make a big impression from the first few episodes.

Throughout the series, there are constant underlying political intrigues and surprisingly little filler. Almost every story connects with the main story arc (Sisko’s and Bejor’s) in one way or another, and no time is wasted with aimless experimentation by the writing team (a problem Voyager and Enterprise both suffered from).

The production is consistently theatrical in scope. The special effects are still – even today – above average for television, and even the new BSG doesn’t approach the scope and coherence of the plot.Highly recommended for bright people looking for something more than typical TV drama normally delivers.

REVIEW: FANTASTIC FOUR (1994): THE COMPLETE SERIES

CAST
Beau Weaver (Transformers)
Lori Alan (Family Guy)
Chuck McCann (Ducktales)
Brian Austin Green (Anger Management)
Quinton Flynn (Digimon)
Neil Ross (Being John Malkovich)
Tony Jay (Lois & Clark)
Clyde Kusatsu (Alias)
Robin Sachs (Buffy)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Robin Sachs (Buffy)
John Rhys-Davies (Lord of The Rings)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Michael Dorn (Ted 2)
Jane Carr (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Edward Albert (Power Rangers Time Force)
John Vernon (Batman: TAS)
Simon Templeman (The Neighbours)
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Launched in 1994 as part of Marvel’s Action Hour in the USA (alongside Iron Man), this then new cartoon attempted to bring Marvel’s First Family  to the attention of a new generation. The main US comic book of the time included a free ‘animation cel’ with #394 to promote the series and later a spin off comic book of the cartoon was launched. In its first season, the show is disappointing. Reduced to a crude sitcom, the show is creaky, toe curling and cheesy beyond belief.  Worst of all, Sue Richards is reduced to mere ‘damsel in distress’ for the entirety of the season, functioning only as a simpering wife and mother to the men on the team. Compared to the superior Batman: The Animated Series of the time and even Marvel’s other cartoons of the period Spider-man, X-Men and Iron Man, its not hard to feel disappointed with the translation of the Fantastic Four to the small screen.

Thankfully, the approach of Season One , with its comedy landlord and irksome stereotypes don’t seemed to have found favour with audiences either and the show was given a serious overhaul for Season Two. The improvement in storytelling is immense and does a much better job of servicing the characters and situations they find thermselves in. The theme tune and accompanying score are still pretty naff though, all synthesized fanfares and flat sounding parps.
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The Inhumans three parter is my favourite, giving all its key characters a chance to shine and the romance between Johnny Storm and Crystal is nicely done, There’s also some neat guest appearances for The Avengers, Black Panther and even Ego – The Living Planet. As with all of Clear Vision’s Marvel releases, the set is attractively packaged with some nice artwork by Simon Williams and the picture is pin sharp and vibrant. The sound is superb as well, being dolby 5.1 stereo. There’s nothing in the way of any extras though, just the usual language and episode selections.

REVIEW: CONAN THE ADVENTURER (1997)

MAIN CAST

Ralf Moeller (The Scorpion King)
Danny Woodburn (Watchmen)
Robert McRay (Legend of The Phantom)
Jeremy Kemp (A Bridge To Far)
T.J. Storm (VR Troopers)
Andrew Craig (The Toxic Avenger)

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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Ally Dunne (V.I.P.)
Andrew Divoff (Wishmaster)
Edward Albert (Power Rangers Time Force)
Arthur Burghardt (Transformers)
Mickey Rooney (Nationel Velvet)
Vernon Wells (Mad Max 2)
Brad Greenquist (Alias)
Andrew Bryniarski (Batman Returns)
Paul Le Mat (PUppet Master)
Matthias Hues (Star Trek VI)
Ali Landry (Eve)
Brooke Burns (Baywatch)
Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk)
Eric Steinberg (Stargate SG.1)
Anthony De Longis (Masters of The Universe)
Angelica Bridges (Mystery Men)
Scott MacDonald (Jack Frost)
Claudette Mink (Children of The Corn 7)
Justina Vail (Seven Days)

Image result for conan 1997Syndicated television is often called the last bastion of poor writers in this modern age, much like the pulp fiction writers of years gone by were back in their day. This is not to say that syndicated television is always bad, just that the odds greatly favor such a global statement. The first example that comes to mind would be Black Scorpion but I’m sure you’re familiar with other shows like Sinbad, Robin Hood, and Lost World (an admittedly guilty pleasure). The 1990’s were the best years for fantasy shows in syndication due in large part to the success of Hercules and Xena; both of which proved profitable beyond the imagination of their creators. Is it any wonder that other producers sought to cash in as well? Such was the case with a single season show by the name of Conan The Adventurer, based on the writings of famed 1930’s pulp fiction writer, Robert E. Howard, a young man from the desolate plains of Texas.

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Mr. Howard created the mythic hero Conan as a character that could help free him from the shackles of poverty.His character of Conan evolved from another, King Kull, set in the same age of Atlantis era of 10,000 years ago, in epoch known as the Hyborian Age. Conan was a thief, a liar, and a barbarian in every sense of the word. His code of conduct was generally considered less than chivalrous with a “me first” attitude befitting the wild imagination of his writer, a man caught in the trappings of his time. Howard’s own description of the character was: “Some mechanism in my subconsciousness took the dominant characteristics of various prizefighters, gunmen, bootleggers, oil field bullies, gamblers, and honest workmen I had come in contact with, and combining them all, produced the amalgamation I call Conan the Cimmerian.” The world-view of such a man can only be placed in the proper context by understanding the effects of where he lived and the conditions the entire country were in, making more understandable the type of anti-hero that later was popularized in the Marvel comic books and art of Frank Frazetta. I think the rise of the anti-hero in the 1960’s attributed much to reviving such characters as Conan, a being thought up in 1931 by Howard, who only wrote 22 short stories in his later years (before he killed himself). With this in mind, let me turn to the television series this review is about:

Keeping in mind that the original character was a thief, cutthroat, mercenary that did anything asked of him for a price and ignored all social conventions that didn’t suit him (similar to the original Hercules being a power mad rapist drunkard), the show started off on the wrong foot with me by suggesting his “destiny was to free the oppressed” in the opening monologue since there’s nothing further from the truth in the original stories or in the previous movies starring famed bodybuilder-turned-Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Given that a kinder and gentler version of the character would probably be the only way to get the series made, I started off watching the episodes a bit disgruntled but content that a watered down Conan might be better than no Conan at all, I figured how bad could it be considering all the other shows I enjoyed (even as guilty pleasures).
The show focused on Conan’s quest to find, and kill, a wizard, Hissah Zul (that was responsible for the death of his sweetheart and the guy responsible for all the ills in the world. Each week would find Conan and a mish mash of odd companions  fighting the minions of evil and cheap CGI effects as they continued on a path to dethrone the wizard. I watched the generic exploits of the cast as they went through the motions and about midway through the series; I actually started enjoying it way too much.
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So, after watching the episodes as presented in the set (which were out of order from the air dates) and then as they were originally shown, I found the plot to make at least a little more sense in the DVD order they were aired in syndication. Keeping in mind that most, if not all, of the episodes borrowed heavily from the Marvel Comics versions as opposed to the pulp works of Howard. The show tried to be in line with a modern sensibility imposed on the age old character, an uneasy fit at times. While the humor was often as dry as Dilbert in its own way, I think this was what was lacking compared to the movies. Regardless, it was nice to see a show long lost into the archives of some vault given new life for fans of the genre, if not the actual character himself, and I doubt Robert E. Howard would’ve lost any sleep over the way his characters were evolved.

REVIEW: SABRINA: THE TEENAGE WITCH – SEASON 1-7

MAIN CAST

Melissa Joan Hart (Melissa & Joey)
Nick Bakay (That 70s Show)
Caroline Rhea (2 Broke Girls)
Beth Broderick (Lost)
Nate Richert (Gamebox 1.0)
Jenna Leigh Green (Hard Sell)
Michelle Beaudoin (Ginger Snaps 2)
Paul Feig (Spy)
Penn Jillette (Hackers)
Martin Mull (Two and a Half Men)
Lindsay Sloane (Bring It On)
Alimi Ballard (Dark Angel)
David Lascher (Blossom)
Jon Huertas (Slash House)
China Shavers (Not Another Teen Movie)
Soleil Moon Frye (Punky Brewster)
Elisa Donovan (Clueless)
Trevor Lissauer (Roswell)
Diana-Maria Riva (17 Again)
Andrew Walker (Laserhawk)
John Ducey (How I Met Your Mother)
Bumper Robinson (Enemy Mine)

RECURRING /NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Tom McGowan (Bad Santa)
Eddie Cibrian (The Cave)
Milo Ventimiglia (Heroes)
Emily Hart (Nine Dead)
Robin Riker (Big Love)
Brian Austin Green (Terminator: TSCC)
Nicole Bilderbck (Dark Angel)
Raquel Welch (Legally Blonde)
Andrew Keegan (O)
Donald Faison (Scrubs)
Curtis Andersen (That 70s Show)
Coolio (Dardevil)
Dana Gould (Gex)
Billy West (Futurama)
Kathy Ireland (Loaded Weapon 1)
Ed Begley Jr. (Veronica Mars)
Henry Gibson (Wedding Crashers)
Chris Elliott (How I Met Your Mother)
Dann Florek (Law & Order: SVU)
Beverly Johnson (Lois & Clark)
Mika Boorem (Blue Crush)
Phil Fondacaro (Willow)
Bryan Cranston (Godzilla)
Mary Gross (Jailbait)
Cee Cee Michaela (Gia)
Andrea Savage (Veep)
Patrick Thomas O’Brien (Catch Me If You Can)
Sarah Lancaster (Chuck)
Walter Jones (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers)
Loni Anderson (A Night at Roxbury)
Caroline Williams (TExas Chainsaw Massacre 2)
Bobcat Goldthwait (Blow)
Beth Grant (Wonderfalls)
John Ratzenberger (Cheers)
Cristine Rose (Heroes)
Shelley Long (The Money Pit)
Sherman Howard (Superboy)
Steve Allen (The Player)
Kel Mitchell (Mysten Men)
Kenan Thompson (Snakes on a Plane)
Fred Willard (Anchorman)
Carol Ann Susi (The Big Bang Theory)
Dom Deluise (Spaceballs)
Shannon welles (Inception)
Gary Owens (That 70s Show)
Jacon Witkin (Showgirls)
Edward Albert (Power Rangers Time Force)
Fred Stoller (Little Man )
Jason Schwartzman (I Heart Huckabees)
Daveigh Chase (S. Darko)
Sheryl Lee Ralph (Moesha)
Jerry Springer (Austin Powers 2)
Justin Timberlake (Friends with Beefits)
Hallie Todd (The Lizzie McGuire)
Glenn Shadix (Beeteljuice0
Alex Rocco (The Simpsons)
Britney Spears (Crossroads)
Jordan Belfi (Surrogates)
Shirley Jones (The Music Man)
Audrey Wasilewski (Pushing Daisies)
Paula Abdul (Bruno)
Ginger Williams (Cruel Intentions)
Tim Thomerson (Trancers)
Bebe Newuwirth (Jumanji)
George Wyner (American Pie 2)
Eric Jungman (Not Another Teen Movie)
Matt Battaglia (Mike & Molly)
Dick van Dyke (Mary Poppins)
Richard Riehle (Office Space)
Barry Livingston (Argo)
J.G. Hertzler (Star Trek: DS9)
Brian Gross (Red Tails)
Charles Shaughnessy (Stargate SG.1)
Kal Penn (Van Wilder)
Keri Lynn Pratt (Cruel Intentions 2)
Gedde Watanabe (Mulan)
Leslie Jordan (Ugly Betty)
David Starzyk (Veronica Mars)
Molly Cheek (American Pie)
Michael Trucco (Battlestar Galactica)
Estelle Harris (Stand and Deliver)
E.J. Callahan (Wild Wild West)
Richard Steven Horvitz (Mighty Moprhin Power Rangers)
Patricia Belcher (Bones)
Larry Poindexter (Blade: The Series)
Alan Blumenfeld (Heroes)
Nicole Scherzinger (Men In Black 3)
Sisqo (Get Over it)
Winston Story (Masked Rider)
Adrienne Barbeau (Swamp Thing)
D. Elliot Woods (Star Trek: Insurrection)
Carnie Wilson (Bridesmaids)
Usher (She’s All That)
Simon Helberg (The Big Bang Theory)
Conchata Ferrell (Krampus)
Brandy Norwood (I Still Know What You did Laster Summer)
Masi Oka (Heroes)
Chyna (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Lori Alan (Family Guy)
Sean Cw Johnson (Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue)
Nakia Burrise (Power Rangers Zeo)
Ashanti (John Tucker Must Die)
J.P. Manoux (Birds of Prey)
Clare Kramer (Buffy)
Verne Troyer (Jack of All Trades)
Frankie Muniz (Malcolm in the Middle)
Sandra McCoy (POwer Rangers Wild Force)
Sally Struthers (Nine To five)
Dylan Neal (Arrow)
Christina Vidal (Freaky Friday)
Joel David Moore (Bones)
Robert Picardo (Stargate: Atlantis)
Faith Prince (Dave)

All seven seasons of the show are available on DVD (that’s 163 episodes!)It is best to watch the show from start to finish as you can follow Sabrina’s life and understand the story lines. She changes boyfriends a few times so you need to remember which one she’s dating.

Characters come and go in the seasons. It was a shame Libby & Valerie left the show in season 4 because they were excellent characters. I think Sabrina’s aunts and Salem were the best characters. They always had good story lines and Salem got up to some crazy schemes (often roping whoever he could in to get some magical help). I loved Nick Bakay as the voice of Salem as he is very comical yet evil. The Salem animatronic improves over the course of the show and is put to good use in the later seasons. Another character I enjoyed was Morgan. I loved Elisa Donovan in Clueless  and she was so good as Sabrina’s clueless and fashionable roommate.

The best season would have to be season 3. It has the best storyline of Sabrina trying to work out the family secret and a lot of the shows characters were given major roles in these episodes. Season 3 also features the best episodes such as when the aunts need to rehab a bunch of pirates they’ve left locked up for years and Sabrina can’t control her addiction to pancakes.

I loved in season 4 when Hilda purchased the clock shop containing a magic time travelling clock. There is a hilarious scene when Hilda is trying to compete with the watch selling monkey outside her shop and she makes Salem do tricks whilst dressed up. Salem looked so cute in that little bell-hopper-style outfit! Caroline Rhea is so funny and I couldn’t image Aunt Hilda being played by anyone else. She had some of the best storylines and it was funny to watch what trouble she’d get herself into each episode.

The later seasons of the show get a bit bland and the story lines usually don’t revolve around magic. After leaving high school, Sabrina attends college where she lives with a bunch of mortals (Roxie, Morgan and Miles). In season 7, the aunts have left and Sabrina lives in the aunts house with Roxie, Morgan and Salem. Season 7 is not as bad as everyone  says, it may be the weaker season but is still good.

I was really happy when they brought Harvey back as a character. It made sense that his character left at the end of season 4, but the show didn’t feel the same without him. Nate Richert did a excellent job of playing Harvey and he was an important character in the show so he needed to come back. Harvey has some funny moments in the later seasons and it was great that he could interact with Salem cause he knew about Sabrina’s magic.

After watching this show since my childhood, Melissa Joan Hart is one of my favourite actresses. I love her expressions and she is quite funny. It’s really cute when she says Sabrina’s most common line “woo hoo!”. There was a short period where she had red hair in the show and I was so happy when she went back blonde.

Overall, I would recommend getting all seven seasons if you are a fan of the show. It is so much better when you watch it when you are older as it makes more sense and the jokes seem funnier. Plus you follow the storylines and remember which episodes are good or not. The sets are worth getting for any sitcom lover and once you start watching Sabrina’s crazy adventures, you won’t want to stop till you get to the end!

REVIEW: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (1987): THE COMPLETE SERIES

MAIN CAST

Linda Hamilton (The Terminator)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Roy Dotrice (Game of Thrones)
jay Acovone (Stargate SG.1)
Renn Woods (Xanadu)
Jo Anderson (Roswell)
Edward Albert (Power Rangers Time Force)
Stephen McHattie (300)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Don Stark (That 70s Show)
Ray Wise (Agent Carter)
Michael Bacall (Django Unchained)
Doarian Harewood (Earth: Final Conflict)
Delroy Lindo (The Cider House Rules)
Branscombe Richmond (The Scorpion King)
Mayim Bialik (The Big Bang Theory)
Merritt Butrick (Star Trek II)
Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator)
Nancy Leneham (Two Guys and a Girl)
Cliff De Young (The Craft)
Richard Herd (V)
Jason Bernard (The Flash 90s)
John M. Jackson (BOnes)
Armin Shimerman (Star Trek: DS9)
James Avery (The Fresh Prince of Bel Air)
Rosalind Chao (Freaky Friday)
James Hong (Blade Runner)
Tony Jay (Lois & CLark)
Bruce Abbott (The Net: The Series)
John Franklin (Children of The Corn)
Alan Blumenfeld (Heroes)
Rutanya Alda (The Deer Hunter)
Mimi Craven (Vampire Clan)
Joseph Campanella (Guiding Light)
Adrian Paul (Highlander: The Series)
Remy Ryan (Robocop 3)
Piper Laurie (Carrie)
Kenneth Kimmins (Network)
Lance Henriksen (Millenium)
Tony Plana (Ugly Betty)
Miguel Sandoval (Medium)

Beauty and the Beast was created and showrun by Ron Koslow, and its writing staff featured novelist George R.R. Martin, best known today for A Song of Ice and Fire/A Game of Thrones. Other writing staffers included Alex Gansa & Howard Gordon, David Peckinpah (season 1 only), and P.K. Simonds, with Paul Junger Witt & Tony Thomas (best known for various sitcoms) as the executive producers along with Koslow. The series had only the loosest connection to the fairy tale of the same name.

Linda Hamilton played Catherine Chandler, a pampered corporate lawyer who was subjected to a brutal, random attack (a case of mistaken identity, since ’80s TV didn’t demand that every plot point be part of some vast conspiracy directed at the main characters) and was nursed back to health by Vincent (Ron Perlman), a powerful but gentle lion-man who lived in the tunnels underneath New York City, part of a secret utopian community led by Father (Roy Dotrice), a stern but kindly older man who adopted Vincent when he was found abandoned as a baby. (The series never explained Vincent’s origins or nature.) Catherine is initially shocked by Vincent’s appearance once her bandages come off and she can see him, but she’s had time to discover his caring, educated nature, and the two form a powerful bond that enables Vincent to sense her emotions emphatically and feel when she’s in danger. And that comes in handy later, since she leaves her cushy law firm and gets a job at the district attorney’s office, which often leads her into danger on the gritty streets of a New York City that was portrayed (at least in the first season) as a rather hellish, squalid place. Though Vincent was a soft-spoken, compassionate being with the mind of a scholar and the soul of a poet, he had a ferocious animal side that came out with lethal effect whenever Catherine was endangered. Vincent’s leonine makeup was created by FX legend Rick Baker, and it’s one of his finest creations. It works so well with the planes of Ron Perlman’s face while also transforming it utterly and making it beautiful. Perlman also uses a very different voice than he usually does, a soft, contemplative, highly articulate growl that probably had female viewers swooning.

The show was always literate, with characters constantly reading books and quoting poetry and literature and listening to classical music, and the production values were excellent, particularly the lush musical score (initially by Lee Holdridge, but mostly by future The Matrix composer Don Davis and occasionally William Ross), one of the last great, lyrical orchestral TV scores before the age of minimalist atmospherics and electronic scores took hold in the ’90s. But the first ten episodes were quite formulaic and rather boring after a while.

 

The stories were mainly focused on the surface world (“The World Above”), with the underground “World Below” given very little exploration, even though it was the most interesting part of the premise. The World Below was based on the real-life phenomenon of homeless people living in the extensive abandoned tunnels beneath New York City, but it was a fantasy extrapolation beyond that, a warm and inviting cavern world filled with books and artwork and ornate hand-me-downs from the World Above, and with gorgeous underground settings represented by elaborate matte paintings.

But for nearly half a season, the inhabitants of the World Below seemed to consist entirely of Vincent, Father, and occasionally a few orphan children. It was a secondary element tacked onto an otherwise fairly conventional crime drama, with Vincent as your formulaic superhero who was constantly running through tunnels and riding on top of a subway train to race to Catherine’s rescue. Those episodes that didn’t involve Vincent saving Catherine usually involved Vincent getting captured or trapped up above and needing Catherine to rescue him. The main exception was an episode where Father had to venture above when summoned by an old love, but immediately stumbled upon a murder and got arrested for it.

 

But about halfway through the season, that suddenly changed, as if the producers were finally given the freedom to explore the side of the show that the network was uneasy with. In the course of just a few episodes, the World Below was fleshed out into a whole community of recurring characters including: Pascal (Armin Shimerman), the master of the tunnelers’ communication system based in tapping code on underground pipes; Mouse (David Greenlee), an eccentric, semi-feral tinkerer and troublemaker with an idiosyncratic speech pattern; Jamie (Irina Irvine), a plucky teenage girl; Mary (Ellen Geer), the matronly midwife of the community; Winslow (James Avery), who started out being just the big angry guy who was wrong about everything but who got to be on more or less the right side in later appearances; and the main recurring bad guy, Paracelsus (Tony Jay) — a co-founder of the underground world with Father, but long since exiled due to his supervillainous ambitions. For the rest of the season, although we still got a few more conventional Above plots, most of the stories were about events Below or about the impact that people and events from one world had upon the other. There was also a decreasing emphasis on action and a shift more toward more character-driven, dramatic stories.

These trends become even stronger in the first half of season 2, which focuses primarily on the World Below, or on above ground plots driven by characters and situations from Below. The tunnel world and its culture are fleshed out more fully, and the show becomes less about the romance between Catherine and Vincent and more about Catherine’s relationship with the entire underground community, her role as the bridge between worlds. Personally, I liked the show far better in this vein. There’s only so much you can do with “a love that can never be,” especially when it’s defined as vaguely as it was here. The relationship between the two remained totally chaste; they never even kissed, for reasons that were left vague. I suppose the implicit reason was that Vincent’s fangs and claws and superstrength made it too dangerous for her, and that the “beast” within him would go out of control in the heat of passion. But when they finally did an episode that gingerly addressed this, fully halfway into season 2, it was clearly the first time Vincent and Catherine had even spoken about it, which was deeply implausible. It’s startling from a modern perspective how utterly chaste the show was, never talking about sex overtly. But then, it was an 8 PM show back when 8 PM was considered a child-friendly viewing hour. And maybe the show was designed to appeal to female viewers who were drawn to a fantasy of a heroic, perfect male companion with the thrill of danger but no need to worry about the complications of sex.

Season 2 also toned down the action and violence in the first half, mercifully avoiding the Catherine-in-danger formula and the recycled footage of Vincent racing to her rescue. On those few occasions that Vincent did give in to his rage, we finally saw how it troubled him, how he feared and hated that side of him, something we’d never really seen in season 1 when it was a handy device to kill off the bad guys of the week. For a show that was so prudish about sex, it was surprisingly cavalier about killing, and I was glad to see it get away from that. Plus I found the exploration of the World Below more engaging than the action and romance elements. The problem with romance series is the need to keep the characters constantly apart or in turmoil through one contrivance or another, and that was something that really got tedious to me when I watched the show in its first run. I was happiest at the point when Vincent and Catherine’s relationship was just this stable background element in a show that was about fleshing out this charming fantasy world beneath the city. The World Below was the kind of fantasy that drew me, a safe haven free from violence or cruelty, a place where outcasts and the vulnerable could be taken in and nurtured.

 

Season 2 was the reverse of season 1, in that the half-season devoted to gentler, dramatic stories driven by the tunnel community was followed by a half-season devoted to action/danger plots in the World Above. second half would  return to the formulaic and familiar, with the tunnel characters all but disappearing in the back half of the season. Even in the episode where Catherine’s father dies and she retreats below to grieve, that sense of the larger community is absent and it’s solely about her and Vincent. Even a scene between her and Father would’ve been welcome. And then there’s a whole run of episodes set topside and dealing with various crime/danger or courtroom-drama plots. It’s only in the last two episodes, as the Paracelsus arc comes to a climax, that the World Below is featured again.

The show went through more radical changes in the third season, as Linda Hamilton’s pregnancy forced the producers to write her out. Also, Ron Koslow left the series after co-writing the season premiere to set off the new course, although the rest of the staff remained intact. Most of the season revolved around a new archvillain named Gabriel (Stephen McHattie), a nebulously all-powerful crime boss who secretly rules the city, and who’s prone to rambling monologues about his evil philosophy . Although he’s played with effective menace by McHattie, it’s never really all that clear just who he is, what he does, or how he got so powerful.

Anyway, the second season ended with a cliffhanger where Vincent was lost in his rage and Catherine went in to try to help him, and in the third season premiere, that “help” evidently consists of the physical intimacy the show aggressively avoided until now. Although the avoidance is still intact, because their “love scene” is in the form of a hilariously cheesy video montage of blooming roses and explosions and hands clasping, with the song version of the main title theme playing over it. This cheesy montage has two effects: One, it gets Catherine pregnant, and two, it breaks their empathic bond so that Vincent can’t find her and save her when Gabriel abducts her (before she can tell Vincent about the child). But Gabriel learns of Vincent and wants to possess his child, keeping Catherine alive until she delivers and then killing her, with Vincent just too late to save her. The show remains intensely euphemistic about sex even in her dying words to Vincent: “We loved. There is a child.”he show then introduces a new female lead, Jo Anderson, as Diana Bennett, an NYPD profiler/analyst who gets assigned to Catherine’s case in the second episode and eventually finds her way to Vincent about halfway through the 11-episode season. Now, when this cast change happened, most of the show’s fans were outraged. Vincent and Catherine are eternal lovers! How can you kill off our beloved Catherine and expect us to accept this interloper in her place? But I never felt that way, because It was Linda Hamilton’s decision to leave it was through no fault of the writers.

While Jo Anderson didn’t seem all that striking to me at first glance, she had the kind of face that gets more compellingly beautiful the more you look at it. She was a redhead with enormous, soulful blue eyes and luminous skin, like a Titian painting brought to life. And she had an earthier, subtler appeal than Hamilton had; Diana was more of a middle-class character with a New Jersey accent that I found rather charming.

Season 3 also makes a regular out of the late Edward Laurence Albert, who’d had a recurring role in the first two seasons as Elliot Burch, a morally ambiguous industrialist who was a rival for Catherine’s affections, and whom Vincent approached for help in investigating her death.  Albert was the son of comic actor Eddie Albert, but he did terrific dramatic work as Burch, so it’s no wonder they made him a regular. Although it was odd in story terms that Vincent went to him instead of the other male regular, Catherine’s boss Joe Maxwell (Jay Acovone), who’d been a stalwart friend to her throughout (and secretly in love with her, though it was never made explicit until season 3). As it was, Joe became a somewhat adversarial figure as he latched onto Vincent as a possible suspect in Catherine’s murder (albeit without knowing more than his name). He was the one who brought Diana into the story, though.

It’s far more plot- and action-driven than the previous two seasons, a lot less thoughtful and rarefied and a lot more violent. It’s striking how heavily serialized it is, with almost every episode ending on a cliffhanger. I tend to think of that level of serialization as something that didn’t develop in SF/fantasy TV until Babylon 5, but B&tB had it beat by several years. Oddly, though, the Gabriel arc wraps up after 9 episodes, with the series concluding with an unconnected 2-parter.  Season 3 became the final season, but all in all its a great show, and I am very pleased to own it all on dvd.