25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: HIGHLANDER – THE SERIES: THE STONE OF SCONE

CAST
Adrian Paul (Last Colony)
Elizabeth Gracen (Marked for Death)
Roger Daltrey (Tommy)
Barnaby Apps (Black Venus)
Michael Culkin (The Fifth Element)
This is one of my favorite episodes, and definitely my favorite comic episode. It also took place entirely in flashback.  I think what made it extraordinary was the clever writing that blended history and fiction, along with the return of both Fitz and Amanda, two of my favorite immortals.
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I particularly loved Fitz punching Duncan and knocking his long wig off, and the “battlefield at dawn.” My favorite scene was Duncan and the drunken Fitz in bed together. The acting chemistry between Adrian Paul and Roger Daltry was really something special. Ditto Adrian Paul and Elizabeth Gracen.  Duncan was the forthright upright hero type. His choice of close, life-long friends says a lot about him, doesn’t it? Fitz and Amanda were often dishonest, but they usually meant well and were great fun to be with, even if Duncan had to constantly get them out of trouble. I thought it was sweet that Fitz continually underestimated Amanda. Was that his natural gallantry toward women, or did he just not spend a lot of time with her? Their motivations in this story were in character, too; Amanda needed money, while the guys were in it for honor and country. Note that Fitz gave up his own quest for Duncan’s. And Duncan succeeded in carrying out his objective, even though no one would ever know.

REVIEW: HIGHLANDER: REUNION

 

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CAST

Elizabeth Gracen (Marked For Death)
Jim Byrnes (The Net: The Series)
Peter Wingfield (Caprica)

It has been ten years since we left Methos, Amanda, and Joe and some things have changed, while others remain the same. Love has blossomed, Immortality is still a double edged sword, and lingering feelings rise to the surface…now a very important event has brought the three old friends together in this unforgettable Highlander Reunion, but will The Game threaten to tear them apart?Toys-that-made-us-season-3-10

This is a Brilliant shot film is a nice little Highlander Appendage that shows the strength of the supporting cast from the series and gives Highlander fans a something extra to fawn over.

REVIEW: HIGHLANDER: THE RAVEN

 

MAIN CAST

Elizabeth Gracen (Marked For Death)
Paul Johansson (Van Helsing)
Patricia Gage (American Psycho)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Michael Copeman (When Hope Calls)
Torri Higginson (Stargate: Atlantis)
Julian Richings (Man of Steel)
Carlo Rota (Saw V)
James Kidnie (Robocop: The Series)
Catherine Black (Loser)
Hannes Jaenicke (Half Past Dead)
Cedric Smith (Mutant X)
Alan Van Sprang (Reign)
Tara Rosling (Impulse)
Lawrence Dane (Bride of Chucky)
Carl Marotte (My Bloody Valentine)
Karen Glave (The Tuxedo)
John Ralston (Bitten)
Shary Guthrie (Earth: Final Conflict)
Andrew Jackson (Smallville)
Michael Daingerfield (Arrow)
Noam Jenkins (Gossip)
Anne Marie DeLuise (Stargate SG.1)
Gordon Currie (Friday The 13th 8)
Polly Shannon (Men With Brooms)
Geordie Johnson (Dracula: The Series)
Peter Mensah (Spartacus)
Jim Byrnes (Sanctuary)
Valentine Pelka (The Pianist)
Ellen Dubin (Mary Kills People)
Robert Cavanah (Pimp)
Lysette Anthony (Krull)
Glynis Barber (The Outpost)
Michael Siberry (Birdman)
Michelle Gomez (Chilling Adventuires of Sabrina)
Ronan Vibert (Hex)
Stephen Moyer (The Gifted)

With Highlander: The Raven, it became quickly obvious that this show wasn’t as good as the predecessor. The writing wasn’t as good, and some episodes were clearly not well done. That much I’m in agreement with everyone else here. But I would ask other viewers to also try to see the positive aspects that H:TR had. For starters, the chemistry between Amanda and detective Wolf was great.

I’m not sure why exactly, but these two were just perfect together, in both dialogue, thought processes and acting. I think that the writers here were trying to bring the world of immortals to deal with the point of view of a mortal, ie, Wolf, thus where we saw a mortal protagonist taking the heads of two immortals in the only season that this show was alive, the first by shooting at glass that decapitated his foe and the second (a very well-done episode) where Wolf used a sword to decapitate the immortal who was killing people for their organs.

That was basically the act of allowing a mortal to interact with immortals as their equal for the first time, instead of always running to a friendly immortal to do his bidding when another immortal was a villain who needed to be dealt with (ala Joe Dawson with Duncan). Here, a mortal took charge. There were other episodes that were truly gems to watch, the best being the one where Amanda had robbed a soldier during WW1 and inadvertently caused the deaths of 120 of his `brothers’, as that character stated in such a charming way. The one with father Liam and his doubts about his centuries-long faith in the priesthood was also a very good one, with Amanda baiting him to place himself between her sword and the woman journalist she pretended to wish to kill.

The very first episode where Wolf’s former partner had placed herself in between Amanda and a bullet, whereas basically leaving Amanda’s facial expression almost screaming out `WHAT DID YOU DO?!’ because she knew it was a sacrifice done for nothing, also leading her to possibly reconsider her values because someone who was dedicated to stopping her when she was a thief was still placing herself in harm’s way to protect her life. And, last but not least, the last episode where we found out that Wolf himself was an immortal now, and the science of immortality was clearly explained, at least to me, when he confronted Amanda about it. Just too bad we never got to see a second season to this cool show, thus allowing detective Wolf to be an immortal himself. But this will always be one of my favorite shows. Not as good as the great Highlander: The Series , but definitely one that was a joy to see every Saturday afternoon.

REVIEW: HIGHLANDER: THE SERIES – SEASON 6

Starring

Adrian Paul (Arrow)
Jim Byrnes (Sanctuary)
Elizabeth Gracen (Marked For Death)
Peter Wingfield (Caprica)

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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Peter Hudson (Hitman)
Rachel Shelley (Rogue)
Danny Dyer (Vendetta)
Valentine Pelka (The Pianist)
Dudley Sutton (Cockneys vs Zombies)
Ian Richardson (From Hell)
Jay Simon (Power Rangers Megaforce)
Alexis Denisof (Legacies)
Jasper Britton (Mike & Angelo)
Anita Dobson (Eastenders)
Emile Abossolo M’bo (Hitman)
Alice Evans (The Vampire Diaries)
Andrew Bicknell (Victoria)
Roger Daltrey (Tommy)
Justina Vail (Seven Days)
Sandra Hess (NCIS)
Claudia Christian (Babylon 5)
Jack Ellis (Bad Girls)
Paris Jefferson (Xena)
Alexandra Vandernoot (Pret-a-Porter)
Martin McDougall (Batman Begins)
Stan Kirsch (Shallow Ground)

81B402sFfNL._AC_SL1500_After the murder of his friend and fellow immortal Richie Ryan, Duncan MacLeod (Adrian Paul) retreats to a Southeast Asian monastery for a year and mentally prepares for his battle against the demon Ahriman. Ahriman taunts MacLeod by appearing in the guises of the Highlander’s late enemies: the rogue watcher James Horton (Peter Hudson) and the leader of the four horsemen, Kronos (Valentine Pelka). The friendships between Duncan, ancient immortal Methos (Peter Wingfield), and watcher Joe Dawson (Jim Byrnes) also become strained as MacLeod retreats to his Parisian barge, aides several female immortals from his past, and tries to find himself again.81XSWgDX0dL._AC_SL1500_Yeah, that is kind of a sucky summary of Highlander: The Series’ 13 episode final season. Unfortunately, this season itself is kind of sucky and should most definitely not be used as judgment for the series as a whole. Year 6 begins a little hokey with the two-part Ahriman opener “Avatar” and “Armageddon,” then concludes with an It’s A Wonderful Life cop out in “To Be” and “Not to Be.” Yes, it’s too abstract, David Lynch-esque, and mystical, but the Ahriman storyline- carried over from the finale of Season 5- both takes too long to get over with and yet seems to be too easily wrapped up and tidy. While a fan of the series can see the importance of MacLeod going this route, questioning the meaning of his immortal life, and despairing over the death his longevity causes; this critical turn is only explored in half the episodes this season. Highlander: The Series just gets too weird here, departing from all that made it so great in favor of bad immortal crime and female revenge crap. This tiresome stretch of chicks all seem the same and drive this season into the ground.highlander62We’ve never seen any of these women before- at the very least why should we care about them when the immortals we know and love have so much more to tell? If anything, Season 6 has me feeling a little bit of resentment for these guesting women who do nothing but waste the precious time being taken away from our real players. Though a lovely piece in of itself, only MacLeod ends up with some small resolution in the series finale- which seems more like a mid-season two-parter by magically presenting the alternate possibilities of the rest of our company. Yes, the show is supposed to be about The Highlander. However, over the previous 5 seasons, we saw just how much MacLeod both rose and fell based on the mortal and immortal support about him. To simply have the others smile as the sun sets is a little unfair for all the characters- and certainly unkind to the audience. But again, it is still a lovely final episode, complete with a tear-jerking Highlander: The Series goodbye montage. Sniff.highlander57Fortunately, there are a few goods to be had this season. “Diplomatic Immunity” and “Black Tower” are worthy MacLeod centric episodes. “Unusual Suspects” with Roger Daltry returning as Hugh Fitzcairn is also great in another fun, all in the past delight that again proves more could have been done historically instead of resorting to these immortal women follies. And let’s talk about all these guesting female immortals. Isn’t it amazing that in 13 episodes, it seems like we’ve had more lady immortals than in all the previous seasons combined? Hmm, why is that? Some of these gals are, unfortunately, seriously bad. Dara Tomanovich (Bio-Dome) as Alex Raven in “Sins of the Father” is kind of cool, perhaps the first female immortal who can actually fight and likes it. Her plot and motorcycle style, are however, a bit Renegade; and again, I wonder why Highlander: The Series would choose to retread this route.

patient0Even more tragic is Alice Evans  in “Patient Number 7.” While it’s not a bad premise, the episode is just very badly done, and Evans most definitely cannot carry one show, let alone an entire spin off. Likewise, “Justice” and “Deadly Exposure” just stink. Claudia Christian (Babylon 5) is lovely, but her backdoor pilot “Two of Hearts” is just…no. Not only does it have none of the regular players, but also the subsequent episode “Indiscretions” exclusively features Dawson and Methos and thus proves just how unnecessary all this Star Search for the next female immortal really was. You want another gal in the cast? It might have been nice to see more of Joe’s daughter Amy (Louise Taylor, Eyes Wide Shut) as a player in Highlander: The Watcher Adventures. Anything would have been better than how Season 6 actually turned out, I’m just saying.hqdefaultOf course, the MacLeod specific episodes are still the best, but remember, Duncan is, well, barely there in Year 6. Of course, we’re sorry to see him go, but in many ways, one can understand star Adrian Paul’s readiness to depart towards bigger and better things. He even cuts his hair, people! Seriously, what else was left for Mac? Why did they need to reduce the character to a shadow of his former self this season anyway? Did they really have so little faith in the rest of the cast without him? Why couldn’t Duncan have stayed monking it out in his temple while Joe, Methos, Amanda, and a new watcher or young immortal or two had adventures searching the globe for the elusive Highlander? Although it’s kind of silly, I want to say Season 6 is a little underhanded in the way MacLeod is treated. After 5 years, he can go through whatever serious stuff he wants this season- so long as he gets over it in 3 episodes? It’s almost cruel to end Highlander: The Series this way. As I wrote in my Season 5 essay, I would watch “The Modern Prometheus,” skip the Year 5 finale “Archangel,” and the Ahriman plot, then pick up “Unusual Suspects” and “Indiscretions” here before the series conclusion. Everything else is kind of a slap in the face for longtime viewers.394b784f81cd5b9bfb40e0a3164f0b06Fortunately, we spend this shortened season exclusively in Paris, and the European locations and period flashbacks are great as always. We see a lot of pre-MacLeod times and places in a good portion of the flashbacks- thanks to our rotating door of 1,000 year old immortal gals (Didn’t we already have a 1200 year old immortal gal? coughamandacough) Still, it’s nice to see that the historical style holds up without the eponymous man himself. Unfortunately, the action suffers this season thanks to all those guest ladies who can’t hold a sword to save their lives. They all also seem to wear the exact same pair of black jeans with a zippered up black leather motorcycle bomber, too. And again, chick Quickenings are a Hell No. Even Duncan’s sweet Barge suffers- losing all its wonderful art and décor so Mac can have a more Zen like environment. While season 6 may leave a bitter taste even in the Highlander completist’s mouth, it’s more important to look at the gem of the series overall.

REVIEW: HIGHLANDER: THE SERIES – SEASON 5

Starring

Adrian Paul (Arrow)
Stan Kirsch (Shallow Ground)
Jim Byrnes (Sanctuary)

 Cassandra

 Witch of Donen Woods

 The Highlander

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Tracy Scoggins (Babylon 5)
Matthew Walker (Ginger Snaps Back)
Gerard Plunkett (Sucker Punch)
Anna Hagan (The Possession)
Chris William Martin (The Vampire Diaries)
Réal Andrews (The Bay)
Rachel Hayward (Jingle All The Way 2)
Gary Jones (Stargate SG.1)
Bruce A. Young (Jurassic Park 3)
Eric McCormack (Will & Grace)
Aaron Pearl (Staragte SG.1)
Ian Tracey (Bates Motel)
Marcia Strassman (Third Watch)
Michael Kopsa (Fantastic Four)
Alastair Duncan (The Batman)
Sandra Bernhard (2 Broke Girls)
Elizabeth Gracen (Marked For Death)
April Telek (Hell on Wheels)
Tom McBeath (Stargate SG.1)
Nicholas Lea (V)
John Novak (Wishmaster 3 & 4)
Andrew Divoff (Lost)
Nathaniel DeVeaux (Andromeda)
Roger Cross (First Wave)
Steve Bacic (Androemda)
Kira Clavell (Frankie & Alice)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Peter Wingfield (Caprica)
Robert Wisden (Watchmen)
Fulvio Cecere (Valentine)
Musetta Vander (Wild Wild West)
Valentine Pelka (The Pianist)
Richard Ridings (Rise of TPOTA)
Marcus Testory (The Cyberstalking)
Anthony De Longis (Masters of The Universe)
Dolores Chaplin (The Ice Rink)
Michael Culkin (Dorian GRay)
Roger Daltrey (Tommy)
Michael J. Jackson (Emmerdale)
Jonathan Firth (Victoria & Albert)
Katie Carr (Heroes)
Michel Modo (The troops Get Married)
Peter Hudson (Hitman)

Jim Byrnes in Highlander (1992)The immortal suave and sword fighting style of Highlander: The Series continues for Season 5 – from BC to the nineties and then some. Immortal Highlander Duncan MacLeod (Adrian Paul) struggles with who he is and who is friends are- thanks to prophecies of good and evil and secrets withheld by the 5,000 year old Methos (Peter Wingfield). Watcher Joe Dawson (Jim Byrnes) also wrestles with his immortal friendships and the mortality they so often harbinger. Unfortunately, Amanda (Elizabeth Gracen) and Richie (Stan Kirsh) must also face immortal fame, infamy, and religion. imagesOne might think Highlander: The Series would retread a topic or two after such a solid syndicated tenure- but no. Faith and hope in immortal pacifism are tempted in “Little Tin God” and “The Messenger”; the uses and wastes of immortality are examined in “Haunted” and “The Modern Prometheus”; “The End of Innocence” questions the immortal mentor and student relationships. Yes, the season opener “Prophecy” and the finale “Archangel” do stray into a little mythical and magic fantasy much- but hey, what do you expect in a show about folks who live forever? Fortunately, there’s plenty of fun, too, especially in the period piece treats “Money is No Object” and “The Stone of Scone.” Despite its reduction to 18 episodes, Year 5 nicely balances one-off immortal explorations with ongoing storylines and multiple part shows. Instead of growing old and withered, Season 5 is the culmination of Highlander: The Series. The audience knows the mythos and the players well enough by now, so there’s no need for filler or fluff or straying beyond the exploration of our Immortal repertoire.highlanderWhile some of the Depression era hijinks are oft played, at least Duncan MacLeod has some fun in the past, from time to time, occasionally- just so long as he doesn’t get too fun and crazy in the present! MacLeod seems increasingly tired, weary, burned out beautifully by the likes of “The Valkyrie,” “Forgive Us Our Trespasses” and “Duende.” Perhaps part of that was indeed the growing stress of Adrian Paul- naturally so much rides upon him. However, it’s understandable that Mac gets tired of being the good guy after 400 years- in the same way he remains haunted by when he wasn’t always the good guy and made costly, nay deadly mistakes. Duncan clings to his friendships in an attempt to deal with all this routine death- the cost for his long life- but even his support system carries tragic consequences.s5-e16-5One thing that has always bugged me about the Watchers- you know the secret organization watching Immortals that isn’t really so secret and that isn’t supposed to interfere but always does- is that they’ve blindly keep their presence hidden from immortals. I’m so glad Joe Dawson at last gets his friendship with Mac out in the open. Why can’t the Watchers share on a case-by-case basis with immortals? Hey, he’s a good guy, I can ask him some questions about The Bronze Age and get the facts right! “Glory Days” again gives us a beautiful peak into Joe’s life thanks to Duncan and likewise, Joe provides wonderful reflection in, well, every episode he appears! By contrast, Amanda allows for more sexy fun and tongue in cheek cool with “Dramatic License.” Not without their immortal drama, it’s also great to see her and Mac wonder what their relationship really is under all the laughter and if their difficulties could not only survive mortal conventions, but immortal lifetimes. Then let’s toss in some competition from Nicholas Lea (The X-Files) as Cory Raines in “Money for Nothing” just to keep the romance on its toes. Of course, seeing Amanda and Roger Daltry’s Hugh Fitzcairn go head to head in “The Stone of Scone” is so, so sweet, too!highlander47I know I’ve mentioned some of the same episodes more than once- hey, they bear repeating- but most viewers probably remember ‘the horsemen ones’ most from Season 5, if not the entire series. Peter Wingfield guests in count ‘em seven episodes this year, and “Comes A Horseman” and “Revelation 6:8” finally give us a piece of the Methos mythos (hee). Not that “The Messenger” and “The Modern Prometheus” don’t, but seeing the wild side of Methos is an exceptional antithesis to do-gooder MacLeod. Toss in the lady scorned Tracy Scoggins (Babylon 5, The Colbys, and I always remember Watchers II for some reason) for 3 shows as immortal witch Cassandra, and oh me oh my! These storylines add to MacLeod’s own legend and the ancient presence of immortals without having to disastrously explain where they all come from- as in the various versions of Highlander 2. They are, they f*ck up, they move on. Highlander: The Series needs nothing else, indeed. Although I must say, I always thought I liked Fitz more than Methos, but now I’m not so sure. The Methos possibilities are just too interesting- be he good or evil, selfless and righteous for the greater good, or downright arrogant and self centered. highlander39Unfortunately, Richie always gets the short end of the sword and never quite gets a head above the rest. “The End of Innocence” tries to backpedal on Richie’s off screen whereabouts from last season- but if the audience is supposed to find all this so important, why weren’t we seeing snips of these adventures then? How ironic he’s a regular character who also appears in only 7 episodes. Sadly, in this rewatch, I think I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t really like Richie. He isn’t treated as any more significant than the guest immortals, he’s kind of a jerk who always screws up or never really learns anything, or if so, the changes never stick as he comes and goes. All that being said, when Richie gets a spotlight show like “Haunted,” Highlander: The Series still can’t go wrong. Here’s a lovely episode again exploring what exactly a Quickening may be- is it the spirit or the soul? Does it live on in the immortal who takes the victor’s head; do they obtain the quirks and characteristics of their beheaded comrades? If that is the case, immortals must fight to the death in order to pass on all their greatness in one culmination towards The Prize. In a way, it’s almost as if the Quickening is a unique form of…procreation towards one glorious being. Such Intriguing thoughts like this, however, are given a backseat so Richie can have another one off romance and then disappear. Snark. The visiting Bruce A. Young’s (The Sentinel) Carl Robinson in “Manhunt” is far more interesting as the slave turned ball player with political hopes who can’t quite get past his own immortal racism. 25309860c90b36158_wSome of the narrations leading into the flashbacks this season are, however, a little unusual. Show don’t tell, after all. Some exotic locations like Peru or unexplored times and places like Andersonville, the 1970s, and Spain add more zest and fun to the always lovely and upscale period design. Again, perhaps Depression era crime and Nazi motifs are over played- and the dojo really looks ready to retire. How can a members only gym be open all the time yet be so empty? How can it close down and get wrecked all the time and expect to keep such bare clientele? Then again, episodes like “The Stone of Scone” make one wonder why Highlander: The Series didn’t do an entirely period episode at least once a season- or continue on with stand alone totally in the past television movies or multipart miniseries.  Those who know and love the Highlander franchise will absolutely adore Season 5.

REVIEW: HIGHLANDER: THE SERIES – SEASON 4

Starring

Adrian Paul (Arrow)
Stan Kirsch (Shallow Ground)
Jim Byrnes (Sanctuary)

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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Kristin Minter (Home Alone)
Matthew Walker (Ginger Snaps Back)
Carsten Norgaard (The Three Musketeers)
Anna Hagan (Reindeer Games)
Laurie Holden (The Americans)
Scott McNeil (Beast Wars)
Robert Moloney (Power Rangers)
Gerard Plunkett (Travelers)
Philip Akin (Robocop 2014)
Liliana Komorowska (The Art of War)
Wolfgang Bodison (A Few Good Men)
Pruitt Taylor Vince (Identity)
Callum Keith Rennie (Impulse)
Chilton Crane (Final Destination 2)
Louis Ferreira (Stargate Universe)
Travis MacDonald (In The Name of The King)
Venus Terzo (Beast Wars)
Rachel Hayward (Jake 2.0)
Yee Jee Tso (50/50)
Elizabeth Gracen (Marked For Death)
Nicholas Campbell (Naked Lunch)
Myles Ferguson (Edgemont)
Lisa Howard (Rarth: Final Conflict)
Dave Ward (So Weird)
Peter Outerbridge (Saw VI)
Kevin McNulty (Stargate SG.1)
Jill Teed (X-Men 2)
Peter Bryant (Legends of Tomorrow)
Veena Sood (Hope Island)
Brent Stait (Andromeda)
Molyl Parker (Lost In Space)
Suleka Mathew (Claws)
Emmanuelle Vaugier (Two and a Half Men)
Peter Wingfield (Sanctuary)
Ann Turkel (Modesty Blaise)
Rae Dawn Chong (Commando)
Ron Halder (Stargate SG.1)
Ocean Hellman (Along Came A Spider)
Byron Chief-Moon (Twilight: Eclipse)
Benjamin Ratner (Wonder)
Carl Chase (Alien 3)
Michael J.Jackson (Coronation Street)
Ricco Ross (Aliens)
Peta Wilson (Superman Returns)
Jamie Harris (Carnival Row)
Nadia Cameron-Blakey (Batman Begins)
Crispin Bonham-Carter (Relic Hunter)
Simon Kunz (The Cave)
Dougray Scott (Batwoman)
Roland Gift (Brakes)
Stacey Travis (Mystery Men)
Jeremy Brudenell (The House of Eliott)
Roger Daltrey (Tommy)
Graham McTavish (The HObbit)
Jesse Joe Walsh (JCVD)
Peter Hudson (Hitman)

maxresdefaultThe goodness continues in 1995 for the fourth season of Highlander: The Series. In fact, the immortal angst just keeps getting better and better- and dare I say it- even great. Duncan MacLeod (Adrian Paul) and his on again off again immortal love Amanda (Elizabeth Gracen) must face deadly rogue immortals and even a Dark Quickening while 5,000 year old Methos (Peter Wingfield) falls in love with a dying mortal woman. When the Watcher Tribunal investigates watcher Joe Dawson (Jim Byrnes) for his friendship with Duncan and fellow immortal Richie Ryan (Stan Kirsch), Joe must fight for not just his status in the secret organization sworn to observe immortals but never interfere- but also for his very life. MV5BMTcyODg2Mjk1Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODQ0NTEzMjE@._V1_Well, Highlander: The Series is now a class unto itself, complete with some seriously sweet opening credits. Everything you need to know about immortals, Duncan MacLeod, and the Watchers is swiftly tressed out in style with this introduction! At this point, Highlander: The Series is a completely separate entity from the inferior sequel films, even the sword sparring shot of theatrical Highlander Connor MacLeod is gone from the opening designs. Season 4’s opener “Homeland” rekindles Duncan’s Scottish roots in fine form, exploring not just immortals freely beyond the film series’ restraints but also filling in Duncan’s timeline with both new places from the past and contemporary individual dilemmas. Not oft touched subjects such as Vietnam are mixed with lovely immortal examinations on war, death, and revenge. Mental illness is debated in “The Innocent,” creativity and human genius versus immortality are questioned in “Timeless,” and immortals seeking fame compared to those who are best left forgetting their immortal transgressions are contrasted in “The Immortal Cimoli” and “Through a Glass, Darkly.” Highlander-TV-640x362Oh dear oh dear, Duncan MacLeod can certainly be a melancholy bloke, can’t he? His continued somber stance and high road in each weekly dilemma is a wonderful contrast to his dishing out periodic beheadings. Can he be both a warrior and loyal to moral oaths he has promised to himself and other immortals over the years? “Reluctant Heroes,” “The Wrath of Kali,” and “Chivalry” put Mac between the mortal rock and the immortal hard place again and again. Sure, there may be great action and battles when we meet an immortal villain of the week, but Highlander: The Series is more wonderful when it brings immortal friends together and puts MacLeod in the middle. Naturally then, it’s just great to see Mac go bad in “Something Wicked” and “Deliverance.” Not only can Paul- who also directed two episodes this season- be crazy cool, but it is so sweet to see Duncan knowingly struggle against doing wrongs he has fought against for centuries. Golly, Dark Duncan does a lot of using and abusing of any and all in his wake! Likewise, the restored MacLeod pains over being called to assassinate in “Promises.” Wow, immortality isn’t all it’s cracked up to be- who knew? highlander31Fortunately, MacLeod’s sexy run and gun lady foil Amanda adds some much needed cheerfulness and fun in “Double Eagle.” We even get to see a more tender and loving side to Elizabeth Gracen’s vixen in “Reunion,” where she bonds with Mac’s pregnant ex, Lisa Howard guesting as Dr. Anne Lindsay. “The Colonel” provides some great WWI action that comes back to haunt Mac- with Amanda being the one who saves the day for a change! By contrast, Peter Wingfield as Methos is wonderful as the angry and pesky advocate to MacLeod. Despite his often sidelined observant and pacifist stance, Methos is not afraid to do what Mac cannot for the good at hand- or even the personal if it suits him. He wouldn’t have gotten very far without being selfish would he? It’s never out right stated, but you have to wonder if Amanda and Methos have met before. “Methuselah’s Gift” may be one of the best non-MacLeod centric episodes of the series, and every time I watch it, it drives me insane that Wingfield and Gracen are not series regulars. Why can’t they be in the credits? These two appear in the same amount of episodes, if not more, than credited regulars Stan Kirsch and Jim Byrnes do. If all four were listed, it wouldn’t seem like such a disparity, but rather a rotation of supporting players. Yes, its stupid things like this that keep me up at night!7d63cd4f132b0f1812754e6a27dd5592And yes, Richie finally has something to do in “The Innocent” and “Leader of the Pack.” Even if it’s goodness at the time, he always ends up disappearing. Lisa Howard’s final appearance as Anne in “The Blitz,” tells us so much more than Richie’s sporadic appearances. If Kirsch is actually used like a guest star as needed, then why does he get to be in the ^&*(%#@ opening credits? Ahhh! Fortunately, Roger Daltry and Roland Gift also return for “Till Death” and “Double Jeopardy.” Even if there are 7 immortals in one episode, it seems no more than 4 or 5 are ever onscreen together- what’s up with that? Is that some sort of rule like Holy Ground that we don’t know about? This season I also feel like we don’t get enough of Joe Dawson- especially because what we do get teases us with the notion that there’s so much more to tell. “Brothers in Arms” wonderfully highlights how Dawson came to the Watchers while also giving closure for Philip Akin and his Charlie DeSalvo. Although they are almost clip shows recapping some of the immortal and watcher hijinks, the two-part finale “Judgment Day” and “One Minute to Midnight” recap the best parts of Highlander: The Series thus far. All those times you have questioned how Joe and MacLeod got away with all the death and secrecy have indeed come back to haunt them.highlander-the-seriesI’ve already commented previously that some of the Quickenings in Highlander: The Series seem a little orgasmic, to say the least. However, in this recent rewatching, I’m also seeing more homosexual innuendo and gay subtext than I used to notice. Bare butt shots and picking out wallpaper together? Some of the relationships implied here and in Season 5- both male and female- even the entire notion of men cutting off each other’s heads to take one’s essence, the swordfights themselves, each immortal having a teacher or mentor who shows them the ways of it all. Dear Lord, the way they hide on Holy Ground and become Priests with secrets! Maybe I’m just older and wiser on seeing such themes onscreen now, or perhaps it is bemusing for some to look for such tongue in cheek goodness. It isn’t so overt to ruin Highlander: The Series for those not interested in such topics, but audiences who enjoy the male bonding and non traditional relationships may find some frank discussion of true companionship- with immortal twists of course. For the series not to acknowledge the special life long relationships immortals can share would simply be unrealistic.239581Again, I must say those opening credits are sweet- capturing the essence of the show in proper 90s style. We simply don’t get fine introductions like this anymore! The period designs are again great, from the French Revolution to the Old West and World War II. The house that Mac rebuilds is also neat- even if the real estate prices and square footage given onscreen don’t quite match up! The leather jackets and trench coats still look cool and timeless compared to some of the more colorful and crazy fashions from some immortals. What were they thinking? The jazzy period music and Swing styles are also sweet as are new times and places like India. Even past places we are used to seeing look good, more than good, high end even. Fans who want to know all the behind the scenes ins and outs are again welcome to a smorgasbord of features. Almost every episode offers some or all of the following: an audio and/or video commentary, a 5 or 10 minute behind the scenes and/or retrospective interview with cast and crew, Watcher’s Chronicles, deleted scenes, bloopers- and there’s a CD with every script and the series call sheets. Simply put, if you are a fan of intelligent timeless action and adventure fantasy, there is no reason you shouldn’t love Highlander: The Series. We’re done Season 4 now, come on get with it before you loose your head!

REVIEW: HIGHLANDER: THE SERIES – SEASON 3

Starring

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

thesamurai0

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

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

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

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