REVIEW: DIVORCE (1998)

CAST

Elias Koteas (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Christopher McDonald (Stargate Universe)
Terry Kiser (Lois & Clark)
Wendie Malick (Waiting…)
Denise Crosby (Star Trek: TNG)
Prscilla Barnes (Jane The Virgin)
Ray Laska (Lost Voyage)
Talia Shire (Rocky)
Enrico Colantoni (Veronica Mars)

“Divorce: A Contemporary Western” is a 1998 ensemble drama starring a number of talented character actors: Elias Koteas, Christopher McDonald, Wendie Malick , Denise Crosby  and Terry Kiser. Written and directed by Eb Lottimer (an actor who mostly appeared in schlocky 1980s and ’90s movies like “Stripped to Kill II: Live Girls” and “Bloodfist VII: Manhunt”), the movie turns out to be an intriguing breed of failure; it’s an exercise that doesn’t work, ultimately, but it’s certainly more compelling than its awful, misleading title implies.

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Based on Lottimer’s nasty split with TV star Mary Crosby (she shot J.R. on “Dallas”), “Divorce” is by no means a western (though it is set at a Californian ranch), nor is it particularly contemporary (though there is some discussion of modern horrors like sexually transmitted diseases). You keep waiting for it to explode, but–aside from a scene in which Crosby and Koteas vent about their domestic problems and then, for therapeutic purposes, start screaming like banshees–the movie remains frustratingly sleepy and restrained. The key problem might be the setting itself: the main character is a horse trainer, so the majority of scenes are set in dimly lit stables or along horse paths overlooking sweeping vistas, about as peaceful and secluded and as far from the world of divorce court as you can get. The worst the characters ever seem is slightly lonely.

Furthermore, the casting of Koteas in the lead role is disastrous. What makes Koteas so fun to watch (even in junk like “Look Who’s Talking Too”) is his knack for conveying the surprisingly humane side of short-fuse creeps. He’s usually introduced in films as a menace, then slowly revealed to be a laid-back guy  (in “Some Kind of Wonderful,” for example, he’s an intimidating skinhead, a knife-carrying punk, that winds up befriending and defending the film’s nerdy hero). It’s the wounded anger in his simmering eyes and twitching eyebrows, the DeNiro-esque pout and scowl, that make him compelling. But Koteas is incapable of conveying lighthearted bliss, and so in the opening scene of “Divorce,” which is meant to set up the cozy domesticity of his marriage to Malick, he already seems ill-at-ease and tormented. He gives his wife a horse, and she’s delighted, but the scene, intended to be romantic, is darkly lit and ominous; the horse appears frighteningly larger-than-life, a bull-in-the-china-shop figure of doom. You keep expecting Koteas to pull out a knife and kill Malick, or kill the horse.

In the next scene, we’re in the ugly present, with Malick and Koteas squabbling and cursing at each other, and you start seeing the slow-burn anger of Koteas’ character. But this, too, is never fleshed out. For the rest of the film, Koteas is a near-silent mope, and he becomes a sort-of sounding board for his equally miserable friends’ marital traumas. It’s commendable that Lottimer saw a range in Koteas that he wanted to capitalize on, and that Koteas tried out a new style, but it’s not one that fits. It isn’t particularly interesting to watch Koteas play a doormat, especially in a film this listlessly shot and produced.

So the pleasures of “Divorce” turn out to be subsidiary. The screaming scene with Crosby (whose husband, McDonald, has succumbed to heroin abuse and affairs with porn stars) is a campy, irrelevant, drama-class exercise, but amusing nonetheless. McDonald, a bulky, jocular presence, looks fundamentally ridiculous playing a slobbering, bed-ridden junkie (sadly, his trysts with the porn stars are kept entirely off-camera). Funniest of all is Kiser, who plays a high-powered corporate lawyer (the only urban scene is shot at his office) and a secret gun nut. He scares his wife (Talia Shire, playing yet another scared woman) half to death with his outbursts, yet inconceivably, she keeps deciding to stay with him; you’d think, from the half-hearted way she complains about Kiser to Koteas, that her only issue with him is that he forgets to take out the trash. Kiser provides a long-overdue jolt of energy in the film’s second half. And Beverly D’Angelo (who chose to remain uncredited) is sexy as a fellow rancher that Koteas shacks up with.maxresdefaultCertainly Lottimer assembled enough talent–and must have been feeling enough pain, himself–to make a powerhouse film, but “Divorce” isn’t that film. It’s certainly a bizarre kind of failure, though, and better than plenty of other straight-to-video fodder you see on Netflix. (The film’s only theatrical release, as far as I can tell, was at the Temecula Film Festival in 1998). Since then, Lottimer has directed a TV series (“Good Time Golf”) and settled in New Mexico, where (according to an on-line bulletin I stumbled upon) he’s attempting to put on his play, “Your Aura is Throbbing.” He runs a film company called Ebaline Films, which is in the process of producing several films, including one about Tupac Shakur. He’s also an acting teacher.

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CHRISTMAS 2017 REVIEW: VERONICA MARS – THE CHRISTMAS EPISODES

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Season 1: An Echolls Family Christmas
CAST
Kristen Bell (Frozen)
Percy Daggs III (Izombie)
Teddy Dunn (Jumper)
Jason Dohring (The Originals)
Francis Capra (Heroes)
Enrico Colantoni (Flashpoint)
Lisa Rinna (Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D)
Lisa Thornhill (The Family Man)
Emmanuelle Vaugier (Human Target)
Harry Hamlin (Clash of The Titans)
Kyle Secor (The Purge 3)
Brad Bufanda (A Cinderella Story)
Veronica and Keith decorate their Christmas tree. Meanwhile, Duncan (Teddy Dunn) dances around drunkenly at a poker party with Logan, Weevil (Francis Capra), and two others, Sean (Kevin Sheridan) and Connor (Travis Schuldt). Weevil wins $5,000 from Logan when they both go all in. However, when Logan opens his money box, he finds that the money is missing. Weevil grows angry and asks each of the other members for $1,000. The next day at school, Duncan confronts Weevil, who stole his laptop. Veronica approaches him, and Duncan tells her about his problem. Duncan tells Veronica that his computer contains some private information regarding their past relationship. Veronica asks Weevil for the computer back, but he refuses. Weevil explains why he was at the card game and says that Logan had an opportunity to hide the money during the game. Logan’s mother, Lynn (Lisa Rinna), visits Keith and tells him about threatening letters that a mysterious person sent to her husband. Later, Veronica talks to Duncan, who gives his side of the story. Duncan also blames Logan. Later, Duncan confronts Logan about stealing the money, but he refuses to give any details. When Keith visits the Echolls’ house, he finds a pumpkin outside their front door with Aaron’s face on it and a knife through it. Veronica stops by the Echolls’ house and talks to Logan, and he says that he thinks that Connor stole the money.
Veronica visits Connor’s movie set, and she questions him about the poker game. However, he does not know who could have stolen the money. Veronica attempts to visit Sean, but his father turns her away. After deducing that the pumpkin probably has something to do with a halloween encounter or incident, Keith goes to the caterer of the party Aaron was at that day. The caterer tells him that Aaron was having an affair at that party. The next day, Veronica talks to Sean, who tells her that he thinks that Weevil stole the money. Keith talks to Aaron, who admits to the affair and says that it was with his agent’s wife, Monica Hadwin (Emmanuelle Vaugier). Veronica frets about Duncan’s diary before Veronica comes up and makes a deal with Logan: He will host another poker game so Veronica can determine who the thief is. At the poker game, Veronica reveals her findings: Duncan was faking being drunk in order to win the money, not steal it, Connor was simply using a muscle enhancer, and Logan is not the thief because his room was messy (and Veronica figures that if he hid the money, he wouldn’t tear apart his room looking for it. Veronica figures out that Sean is the criminal, not Weevil. Sean stuffed the money into the recycling and picked it up the next morning. Sean and Weevil go off by themselves, presumably so Weevil can punish him.Keith talks to the caterer again and asks her to describe the woman she fired. The poker guests then go to Aaron Echolls’ party. Veronica, off by herself, finds Jake Kane and confronts him about the pictures of her taken by his security chief, Clarence Wiedman. Jake screams at her that he doesn’t know, and Keith views the scene. Jake then angrily talks to his wife, Celeste (Lisa Thornhill), who actually sent Clarence to take the pictures. The majority of the guests go outside to sing Christmas carols while Aaron is confronted by his stalker, the woman whom the caterer fired. The stalker stabs Aaron, but the other guests do not notice because they aren’t there. Keith tackles the stalker, and Lynn calls for an ambulance as Logan looks on, ending the episode on a cliffhanger.
An excellent first Christmas episode for an iconic show.
Season 2: One Angry Veronca
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CAST
Kristen Bell (Couples Retreat)
Percy Daggs III (Izombie)
Teddy Dunn (Jumper)
Jason Dohring (The Originals)
Francis Capra (Heroes)
Ryan Hansen (2 Broke Girls)
Kyle Gallner (Smallville)
Enrico Colantoni (Flashpoint)
Alona Tal (Cult)
Michael Muhney (The Young and The Restess)
Max Greenfield (New Girl)
Steve Guttenberg (Police Academy)
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It is almost Christmas break at Neptune high. Veronica tells Duncan (Teddy Dunn) that Meg (Alona Tal) is pregnant, and Duncan says that he already knew because of the letter he got previously. Dick (Ryan Hansen) comes up and invites Veronica and Duncan to a party while informing them that Meg has woken up. Veronica decides to sneak into the hospital. Woody Goodman (Steve Guttenberg) tells Keith that someone has stolen the Lilly Kane-Aaron Echolls sex tapes. Keith agrees to help him with the case. Veronica and Duncan visit Meg, who talks to them. Meg says that her parents want to give the child up for adoption and don’t want Duncan to have a say in the matter. After Duncan leaves, Meg asks Veronica to prevent the adoption if “anything happens to” her. That night, Veronica learns that she has jury duty. Veronica is voted jury foreman. Keith talks to Sheriff Lamb, who says that the Sheriff’s department is secure. One member of the jury gives the facts of the case—two men are charged in the assault of a woman named Anissa. The prosecution and defendant have very different accounts of the incident. Veronica takes a vote, and the vote is 11 innocent, 1 guilty.
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Keith interrogates another member of the Sheriff’s department but gets nowhere. The holdout identifies herself and makes the other jurors question their votes. Keith talks to Leo D’Amato (Max Greenfield), who says that someone probably sold the tapes. Keith talks to an acquaintance in journalism, who agrees to contact the tabloids. One of the bikers comes up to Veronica and threatens her about the jury case. The holdout makes more deductions that support the guilty vote. Keith interrogates Logan before the journalism insider tells him that the sex tapes are on the open market for $500,000. The jurors take another vote, and another juror and Veronica have switched over to guilty. Veronica decorates the apartment for Keith. Veronica finds out that Anissa’s “pimp” was actually a sports star. Veronica ties up some loose ends that show that the defendants are guilty. However, one juror refuses to change his vote no matter what. The entire Sheriff’s department received an email about the sex tapes.
Logan (Jason Dohring) has the tapes and is watching them, crying. Afterwards, Logan burns the tapes. Keith comes in and finds out that Logan bought the tapes. The remaining juror changes his vote, believing that the defendants will appeal and win. After, one of the jurors invites Veronica to Heart College. Veronica finds that her car is vandalized. Leo actually stole the tapes in order to pay for his sister with Down syndrome to go to a private school. Leo knowingly sent the tapes to Logan. Later, Keith tells Veronica that Meg has died, but her baby daughter has survived. On New Years’ Eve, Veronica hears a knock on the door, and Wallace (Percy Daggs III) appears. They spend New Years’ Eve together.Related image
 A great Christmas episode, seeing Veronica do jury duty is hilarious.

CHRISTMAS 2017 REVIEW: MONEY TRAIN

CAST

Wesley Snipes (Blade)
Woody Harrelson (The Hunger Games)
Jennifer Lopez (Jersey Girl)
Robert Blake (The Restless Gun)
Chris Cooper (The Kingdom)
Joe Grifasi (The Deer Hutner)
Scott Sowers (Under Siege 2)
Skipp Sudduth (The Cherry Orchard)
Vincent Pastore (Revolver)
Jeremy Roberts (The Mask)
Enrico Colantoni (Veronica Mars)
Flex Alexander (One on One)

Image result for money train (1995)On Christmas, we meet foster brothers John and Charlie. They work as transit cops patrolling the New York City subway. When a mugging occurs, John and Charlie chase the mugger into a subway tunnel, and all trains traveling in their direction are halted. But their harsh transit captain Donald Patterson, allows the money train to continue. John and Charlie avoid getting hit by the train; however, when transit police at the next station witness the mugger running toward the money train, they shoot him dead. The mugger is revealed to be a young teenage boy, which triggers a brawl between John, Charlie, and the other transit officers. Patterson blames the two for causing his money train to arrive late.Image result for money train (1995)Charlie asks John to borrow $300 to buy a Christmas present, but Charlie instead uses the money to pay off some of his gambling debts to the sleazy night club owner Mr. Brown. Brown intends to have Charlie killed by throwing him off a building, but John bursts in and interrupts, telling Brown that he has the money Charlie owes him. Brown reveals to John that Charlie is $15,000 in debt, so John offers to have the money delivered in a few days. Brown accepts and lets Charlie live. During their night shift, John and Charlie are introduced to Grace Santiago, a decoy transit officer newly assigned to their unit. Both brothers immediately take a liking to her. During their patrol, a serial killer known as the Torch robs a token booth and sets it on fire. John and Charlie rescue the booth worker and put out the fire, but the Torch manages to escape.Image result for money train (1995)At a local bar, Charlie reveals a plan to rob the money train in order to pay off their debts, but John, judging the caper impossible, rejects the idea. Later that night, the two brothers and Grace are assigned to patrol the money train. As Charlie discovers a grate in the floor and a ladder leading to Central Park, a brawl breaks out between John and another officer, quickly involving the entire squad. Patterson again blames the two for the incident and also accuses them of taking some train money, but even after it is found that a collection agent miscounted, Patterson continues to insult them. At the bar, Charlie tells John that the best time to rob the money train would be on New Year’s Eve because of looser subway security and because the subway makes the most money on that date: up to $500,000. The plan involves entering the train through the metal grate when the train has stopped, driving it to the maintenance ladder, and escaping into Central Park. John remains reluctant to attempt the theft. John gives Charlie the $15,000 he needs to pay back Mr. Brown, but on the train, Charlie loses it to a thief. He goes to Brown to explain but is brutally beaten by his men. When Charlie comes back home, he looks at John’s house from his window and he sees Grace and John sleeping together. Charlie later tells John that he’s happy for him, but he’s clearly saddened by Grace’s rejection. To nab Torch, an ambush is arranged for which Grace is disguised as an attendant at a station token booth. Torch notices this and, to distract the police, pushes a man in front of a moving train, killing him. Torch sprays gasoline on Grace, but before he can light it, Charlie alerts the other officers, who shoot at Torch. John pursues him into another station, where they fight. Torch is burned by the gasoline he’s carrying and pushed under a moving train, killing him. Patterson fires Charlie for ruining the ambush, and when John tries to defend Charlie, he’s fired as well.Image result for money train (1995)John then heads to the strip club of the mobsters who beat up his brother and were threatening him for failing to pay up his gambling debts and, after storming inside, beats them all up utilizing his Kung-Fu skills,  including knocking down the criminal boss of the organization, Brown, with a 360-degree kick.Image result for money train (1995)Charlie decides to go ahead with his robbery plan. John is reluctant to do anything about this, but Grace persuades him to save Charlie from trouble. When the money train stops at one of the stations, Charlie enters the train from beneath and drives it to the maintenance ladder, but he can’t escape with the money due to the presence of a group of policemen. Meanwhile, John reaches the train and persuades Charlie to drive further to prevent their arrest. Knowing that Patterson will direct his team to trip the train’s brakes, the duo bleeds the brakes. Patterson then orders a steel barricade erected to stop the train, but John increases the speed of the money train to its maximum so that it smashes through the barricade. Transit control officer Kowalski declares the money train a runaway and starts clearing tracks, but Patterson diverts the money train onto a track occupied by a passenger train to keep it from having a clear path, putting innocent people at grave risk. The money train rams into the passenger train and then slows down, but speeds up again because it’s in full throttle and rams the train again. It repeatedly keeps ramming the passenger train with the increasing risk of derailing it and killing everyone on board.Image result for money train (1995)Since the money train now had no braking power and the throttle lever is jammed at full power, the brothers decide to throw it into reverse, derailing it and killing both of them but allowing the passengers to live. Charlie comes up with an idea and positions an iron bar in such a way that when the money train rams the other train once more, the bar trips the reverse lever. Both of them climb on top of the train and proceed to the front. When the trains collide one more time, the reverse lever is activated and both brothers jump across to the other train as the money train derails tumbles around several times knocking over several support beams (much to the horror of Patterson who witnesses the whole crash) before finally screeching to a stop on its side just before the station.Image result for money train (1995)The brothers try to escape during the commotion but are spotted by Patterson. They pretend to have come to help him, but Patterson rudely insults them. Fed up with his constant abuse, the brothers punch him in the face. As he shouts out to his team to arrest them for assault, Grace comes rushing in and arrests Patterson for endangering the lives of the people on the passenger train. When the two brothers exit the station, they are in Times Square as the countdown for the New Year begins. During the celebration, John realizes Charlie is carrying a money bag containing over $500,000, much to his dismay. The film ends with John and Charlie walking into the distance arguing over the money.Image result for money train (1995)Snipes and Harrelson look like they’re having a ball in this fast paced action caper. It’s a fun ride with plenty of action so I enjoyed it for what it was.

REVIEW: 3RD ROCK FROM THE SUN – SEASON 5

MAIN CAST

John Lithgow (Rise of the Planet of The Apes)
Kristen Johnston (Ugly Betty)
French Stewart (Mom)
Joseph Gordon-Levitt (The Dark Knight Rises)
Jane Curtin (The Heat)
Elmarie Wendel (Rumpelstiltskin)
Simbi Khali (Plump Fiction)
Wayne Knight (Jurassic Park)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Ian Lithgow (Rice Girl)
David DeLuise (Stargate SG.1)
Chris Hogan (Grounded For Life)
Danielle Nicolet (The Flash 2014)
Curtis Armstrong (American Dad(
Jan Hooks (Batman Returns)
Larisa Oleynik (Mike & Molly)
Kim Johnston Ulrich (Highlander: The Series)
Richard McGonagle (500 Days of Summer)
Bob Odenkirk (Breaking Bad)
Billy Connolly (The Man Who Sued God)
David Hasselhoff (Baywatch)
Emily Osment (Mom)
Ileen Getz (That 70s Show)
Ron West (Anger Management)
Genie Francis (Roswell)
Jonathan Frakes (Star Trek: TNG)
Heidi Mark  (Rock Star)
Ana Gasteyer (Mean Girls)
Lindsey McKeon (Supernatural)
William Shatner (Star Trek)
Chyna (Sabrina: TTW)
Miguel Ferrer (Robocop)
Lane Davies (Lois & Clark)
Alan Cumming (Tin Man)
Bonita Friedericy (Chuck)
Enrico Colantoni (Veronica Mars)
Olivia d’Abo (Conan The Destroyer)

3rd Rock From the Sun is one of the richest and hilarious television comedies to air. The series first aired in 1996 and lasted for a total of six seasons. The show molds science fiction into a sitcom and the results are a blast. A team of aliens from Mars take on human form in Rutherford, Ohio and integrate themselves into the local populace. Their goal is to learn everything they can about humans in a couple of days. Of course, it turns out humans are much more complex than expected and the team of aliens decide to stay a while longer. The strongest aspect of this show is its cast. They are remarkable together. Within minutes of any episode, it is apparent how well they interact and play off of each other. The show’s writing is also top notch and delivers one great joke after another. Season five is the second to last season of 3rd Rock From the Sun. In this season, some crazy things happen with the cast. First off, there are several storylines about Vicki, the Big Giant Head, and their baby.  The story makes for some great jokes and has Shatner giving an admirable performance as the Big Giant Head. There are also several stories scattered throughout the season dealing with Tommy and his relationship with Alissa. The heat between Don and Sally continues, especially when he becomes Rutherford’s lone motorcycle cop. And Harry lands himself a lady, Janice, who is Rutherford’s toughest (and hottest) female cop. The season also includes plenty of more tales with the family blowing nearly everything out of proportion. It is a fun season and should make any fan of the series laugh until it hurts.The fifth season picks up where the fourth season ended, with the final part “The Baby Menace)” in a three-part episode. If you recall in the season four finale “Dick’s Big Giant Headache (1)” and “Dick’s Big Giant Headache (2)”, William Shatner guest starred as the Big Giant Head. He came to Earth to check up on Dick, Sally, Tommy, and Harry due to their poor mission performance evaluations. While on Earth, Shatner as the Big Giant Head spiced things up for the Solomons and their Earth friends by getting drunk, revoking Dick’s command (and giving it to Sally), and impregnating Vicki. In the conclusion to this three-part story, Vicki is in labor and the Solomon’s are desperate to prevent the public from seeing the baby. They fear the baby, having an alien as the father, will not be entirely human. Fortunately for our favorite Ohioan aliens, there is nothing wrong with the baby to indicate it is of alien lineage. Unfortunately, Vicki wants to sell her story about being impregnated by aliens to the tabloids. What is great about this episode is how over-the-top the Solomon’s reaction is to something most people wouldn’t believe even if they read it in a tabloid.“Dick For Tat” is one of my favorite episodes this season. It is a great story about misconceptions and adulterous affairs. While drinking heavily and playing an adult-oriented board game, Mary reveals her last “fling” was with Strudwick, who is the professor that Dick despises. The two just don’t get along. And when he finds out he had a thing with Mary, Dick goes over-the-top with jealousy and tries to fix the matter by sleeping with Strudwick’s wife. The situation is blown out of proportion and even includes Strudwick’s daughter Alissa and Tommy. Sally also becomes enchanted by the sight of Don, who is now Rutherford’s lone motorcycle cop. Both situations turn out to be a riot. The next episode “The Fifth Solomon” is a silly episode about car accidents and insurance. It is an important life lesson Dick never had the chance to get before. The story has two interesting angles, one with Dick getting adjusted to life with a modern car with all the features and Harry and his journey into acquiring all kinds of insurance. “Dial M For Dick” is a story with a situation that I suppose anyone who did not know what was going on might react in a similar manner to the Solomon’s. When Mary invites Dick to a murder mystery weekend, he insists the entire family join them. All five gear up and head off for a weekend of fun. When they get their, Mary starts to feel under the weather and stays in the room. While Dick and the gang are in the mansion, someone gets killed. What they don’t realize is that the death was scripted and part of the murder mystery weekend. The Solomon’s get a little too serious about the killings and their overreaction to the situation turns out to be worth a few chuckles. In “Charitable Dick”, Dick goes head to head with Strudwick again. While at a charity auction, Dick bids on an ugly piece of artwork he does not want Strudwick to win. In the end, Dick ends up with a seventeen hundred dollar painter he can’t stand. It is not the season’s strongest episode, but it has a few fun moments with Dick’s ego getting the best of him.In the episode “The Loud Solomon Family: A Dickumentary”, Mary receives funding to make a documentary about the typical American family, a.k.a. the Solomon’s. As an anthropologist she has been studying the family for the last four years. Since the family does not want the truth about their alien heritage coming out, they make up all kinds of things about each other to misdirect suspicion, which include Sally is a lesbian, Harry is an alcoholic, and other antics. “Gwen, Larry, Dick & Mary” is an episode with Dick and Mary trying to branch out their social circle. Mary is tired of always spending time with Dick’s family. So, they double date with Mary’s tennis partner Gwen and her husband Larry. They all have a swell time, or at least Dick and Mary think they did. Their new friends ignore them; Mary believes it is Dick’s odd behavior keeping them away, but she’s shocked to learn it is really her. The other plotline has Tommy, Harry, and Sally doing laundry at the laundromat since their washer and dryer broke. Tommy and Harry find out the public laundry facilities are a great place to meet women and Sally becomes the laundry police!.“Dick Puts the ‘Id’ In Cupid” is an episode about teenage sex and the first time. Valentine’s Day is on the horizon and Tommy believes it would be the perfect time to consummate his relationship with Alissa. She agrees and he say he will get a nice hotel room for their first time. Tommy, however, finds out it is not her first time. Tommy becomes intimidated that he won’t be good enough. Fortunately for him, Mary’s niece Tiffany is more than willing. After losing his virginity to Tiffany, Tommy tells Alissa about it and believes everything is okay. What he didn’t realize is how she would react to his affair with Tiffany. And while the issue is fairly serious, the cast does a fine job putting in bits of humor. “The Big Giant Head Returns” sees Shatner returning to Earth as the Big Giant Head in human form Stone Philips and Vicki coming back into the Solomon’s lives. Stone wants both Vicki and the baby. Vicki, however, has no desire to be with Stone or give him the baby. To that end, Stone commands Dick to make Vicki love him or else. It is a silly story with Shatner making a royal ass of himself once again and finding true love, or so it would seem.In “Frankie Goes To Rutherford”, Dick has a lesson about homosexuality and the misconceptions of being an “alien”. Frank, a former student of Mary’s, shows up to say hello and Dick becomes insanely jealous. Dick believes there is something between the two. Frank assures Dick he is not like other guys and he tries to reveal something about himself. Dick mistaken his hints and he falls under the impression Frank is an alien. Matters are complicated when Dick tells him he is one too. The fun part is watching Frank and Dick go to a gay bar, which Dick thinks is an alien hideout. The season finale is the two-part episode “The Big Giant Head Returns Again”. Hopefully not a surprise, but Shatner makes another appearance as the Big Giant Head. He returns to Earth with his marriage to Vicki on the rocks, as the two are not getting along very well. He confides in Dick (which includes a heart-to-heart moment and some song and dance) and reveals a big secret to him. Later he demands Dick ends it with Mary after getting to know her better. Sally also comes to believe Alissa is going to break it off with Tommy and does it for him, which obviously complicates their relationship. Tommy is also selected as valedictorian and gives a speech you will probably never hear at a high school. It is a riot! Harry and Vicki resume their relationship, sort of. There are some complications like Vicki’s spouse and Harry’s new girlfriend Janice. The story is pretty fun way to close out the season, with a lot of things going on for the cast.Overall, season five sees has some big events for the cast and situations dealing with the Big Giant Head, Vicki, and their newborn baby, as well as the cast just getting mixed up into some good old fashion situations that can only happen when you have a cast of aliens pretending to be humans. As far as the quality, it is still quite good. Fans of the series should enjoy getting another twenty-two episodes of Dick, Tommy, Harry, Sally, Mary, Nina, Don, and all of the other supporting roles getting into one mixed up situation after the next.

REVIEW: STIGMATA

CAST

Patricia Arquette (True Romance)
Gabriel Byrne (End of Days)
Jonathan Pryce (Game of Thrones)
Nia Long (Big Momma’s House 2)
Rade Šerbedžija (X-Men: First Class)
Enrico Colantoni (Veronica Mars)
Jack Donner(Power Rangers In Space)
Thomas Kopache (The West Wing)
Portia de Rossi(Scream 2)
Ann Cusack (Sully)
Patrick Muldoon (Starship Troopers)
Shaun Toub (Iron Man)

In the Brazilian village of Belo Quinto, Father Andrew Kiernan, a former scientist and a Jesuit priest who investigates supposed miracles, examines a statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe weeping blood at the funeral of Father Paulo Alameida, who had experienced stigmata. While Andrew is collecting evidence, a young boy steals the rosary from the father’s hand. The boy later sells it to a woman in a marketplace, who sends it to her atheist daughter, Frankie Paige, living in Pittsburgh.Frankie is attacked by an unseen force while bathing, and receives two deep wounds on her wrists. As the wounds are treated, the doctors cannot find the cause. Frankie asks a priest if he is Andrew Kiernan, but the priest says he is Father Derning, the lights in the train flash, and Frankie is whipped from behind by an unseen force. While Frankie is hospitalized again, the priest sends security tapes showing the attack to the Vatican, and Andrew is sent to investigate.Andrew interviews Frankie, believing her wounds may also be stigmata. When she tells him she is an atheist, Andrew tells her that stigmata is when the deeply devoted are struck with the five wounds that Jesus received during the crucifixion. Frankie begins to research on her own what the cause could be. Her head begins to bleed, the third stigmata wound caused by the Crown of Thorns. Frankie runs home, where Andrew is waiting, and then runs into an alley. As Andrew pursues her, Frankie smashes a glass bottle and uses the shards to carve symbols on the hood of a car: when Andrew approaches her, she yells at him in another language.Andrew takes Frankie to Father Derning’s church, and the Vatican translates what she was yelling in Aramaic. The next morning, Andrew returns to her apartment to find her writing on the wall, now covered in Aramaic. Frankie talks in a male voice, speaking Italian. Wounds appear in her feet, the fourth wound of stigmata. Andrew emails photographs of Frankie’s apartment wall to the Vatican, where Brother Delmonico recognizes the words and deletes the pictures. He tells Andrew the words are from a document the church found that looked to be an entirely new gospel. Father Dario shows the pictures to Cardinal Daniel Houseman, who also recognizes them. Delmonico phones Marion Petrocelli and tells him the missing gospel has been found in Pittsburgh.Andrew goes to Frankie’s apartment to find the wall she wrote on painted over, and Frankie attempts to seduce him. When Andrew rejects her, she attacks him and denounces his beliefs in a male voice, ending with Frankie levitating off the bed, crying tears of blood. Houseman and Dario arrive with Derning and take Frankie to another church, sending Andrew to Derning’s. At Derning’s church, Andrew meets Petrocelli, who tells him the words Frankie has been writing are part of a document found outside Jerusalem they believed to be a gospel in the exact words of Jesus. Petrocelli, Delmonico and Alameida were assigned to translate it, but Houseman ordered them to stop. Alameida refused and stole the document to continue translating it alone, having been excommunicated by Houseman.Petrocelli tells Andrew that the document was Jesus telling his disciples that the Kingdom of God is in all of us and not confined to churches. Petrocelli tells Andrew that Alameida suffered from stigmata. Andrew races to the church where Frankie is, while Houseman and Dario attempt to perform an exorcism on Frankie. Frankie shouts at them in a male voice, and Houseman attempts to strangle her. Andrew stops him, and the room is set on fire. Now believing Frankie is possessed by Alameida’s spirit, Andrew offers to be Alameida’s messenger instead. He walks unharmed through the fire to retrieve Frankie, bidding Alameida’s spirit to depart in peace. Some time later, Andrew returns to Belo Quinto and finds the original documents for the lost gospel in Alameida’s church. Text describes the discovery of the Gospel of St. Thomas, believed to be the closest to the actual words of Jesus stating that the Catholic Church refuses to recognize the document as a gospel and considers it heresy.I loved this film, both for it’s interesting film quality and it’s thought provoking script. I believe it had an important message for us all to ponder created by excellent acting and beautiful film imagery. The mystery of the Dead Sea Scrolls has been a subject avoided by the Church since their discovery in 1945. I appreciate controversial filmmaking.

REVIEW: IZOMBIE – SEASON 2

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MAIN CAST

Rose McIver (Power Rangers RPM)
Malcolm Goodwin (The Bellman)
Rahul Kohli (Happy Anniversary)
Robert Buckley (Killer Movie)
David Anders (Alias)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Aly Michalka (Two and a Half Men)
Steven Weber (2 Broke Girls)
Leanne Lapp (No Clue)
Brian Markinson (Arrow)
Molly Hagan (Sully)
Nick Purcha (Angels In The Snow)
Adam Rose (Up In The Air)
Robert Knepper (Cult)
Justin Prentice (13 Reasons Why)
Kurt Evans (Sanctuary)
David Starzyk (Hot In Cleveland)
Ona Grauer (V)
Jessica Harmon (Hollow man 2)
Bryce Hodgson (Falling Skies)
Ian Reed Kesler (2 Broke Girls)
Eddie Jemison (Waitress)
Jerry Trimble (Heat)
Steven Williams (LA Heat)
Greg Finley (The Flash)
Brooke Lyons (2 Broke Girls)
Anna Galvin (Warcraft)
Daniella Alonso (The Hills Have Eyes 2)
Fiona Vroom (Power Rangers)
Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars)
Bradley Stryker (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles)
Enrico Colantoni (Flashpoint)
Kacey Rohl (Hannibal)
Ali Liebert (Bomb Girls)
Sarah Grey (Legends of Tomorrow)
Andrea Savage (Episodes)
Ken Marino (Agent Carter)

Consistently offering clever, witty and fun episodes, iZombie solidified itself as one of the most entertaining series on TV in its second season. Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero-Wright had already created an offbeat yet inviting world in Season 1 and in Season 2 they built upon it, putting the characters into more intense and involving situations, all while still maintaining the show’s crucial, knowing sense of humor.The cast continue to be one of the most likeable you’ll find, anchored by the excellent Rose McIver. Okay, it’s one of the show’s reaches that pretty much every brain Liv eats is a very focused, specific type of person, but that’s just part of the deal here. And it gives McIver so much to work with, as she goes all in playing Liv taking on personas as varied as a coach, a stalker, a costumed vigilante or a tough stripper. Every week, McIver is given something different to play and she consistently nails it, with ongoing mileage gotten out of how out there and uncharacteristic Liv gets, depending on her latest brain meal.After his heartbroken ex-fiancé character take a surprising (and awesome) turn at the end of Season 1, Robert Buckley’s Major got a great storyline in Season 2, as he found himself working for Vaughn Du Clark (Steven Weber), tasked with assassinating zombies – all while actually locking them up instead, which put him in a very precarious position both with Du Clark and the cops and the FBI, who were getting closer and closer to him for his actions in both Season 1 and 2.The fact that those investigating Major’s crimes were Clive (Malcolm Goodwin) and his FBI partner/love interest Dale Bozzio (Jessica Harmon) only increased the tension, even while Clive and Dale made a great pairing – with Harmon effortlessly fitting in on the show, as the somewhat goofy Dale provided a great foil for the somewhat stoic Clive. And in the midst of this, having Clive begin to slowly notice the things that were off about Liv was continually intriguing, since it was inevitable that Clive would one day find out The Secret.Blaine (David Anders) in the meantime had to adjust to life as a human again – for awhile at least, as he never kept his nose clean and eventually became one of the undead again, with Anders always bringing a wonderfully quirky/funny approach to the character. McIver and Rahul Kohli continued to be a delightful duo in all the scenes between Liv and Ravi and Kohli shined throughout the season, though I do hope Season 3 can perhaps give Ravi more of his own storyline at some points beyond the ongoing search for a cure or the burgeoning love triangle between Ravi, Peyton (Aly Michalka) and Blaine. The end of the season, as Ravi began to suspect Major was up to no good – and their big confrontation about it – showed how strong it can be to use the usually comic presence of Ravi in a dramatic manner that would be interesting to explore again.As Season 2 progressed, one really strong element was how it began to bring together several storylines. We began to see Major’s growing interaction with Blaine begin to bring him even more in focus as a suspect for Dale and Clive, while Peyton’s return — it was good to see Michalka, who also fits in great with this cast, get more to do — had her wrapped up with Blaine (in more ways than one) and helping lead us to a new villain on the show, Stacey Boss (Eddie Jemison).

Best of all, the “brain of the week” storylines began to becoming increasingly tied into the main stories as well. And yes, this meant sometimes you had to accept a bit more coincidence on the show, but it still was exciting and gratifying to see how all the different elements were intersecting in different ways and how Liv could learn new info thanks to a new murder victim connected in ways that were sometimes not apparent on the surface.When it came to Big Bads, Vaughn Du Clark certainly delivered. Stephen Weber seemed to be having a ball in the role and was delightfully awful as the energetic, confident mega-douche of a sports drink company CEO. He was also given a great foil in Gilda (Leanne Lapp), his daughter, who was just as corrupt as her dad. Gilda has no qualms about manipulating Major, Liv or anyone else and Lapp brought just the right attitude to the character – even as we saw just how awful Du Clark was as a dad, giving us a tinge of sympathy, or at least understanding, about why she was the way she was, even as it was clear she needed to be stopped. The season also ended in an epic, satisfying manner, with Clive finally finding out the truth, an all-out “Romero Zombie” attack and both Du Clark and Gilda being taken out – all while we met a huge new player on the scene that looks to be upending the show in a huge way.Nearly every week, iZombie continued to deliver in its second season and the show easily overcame any sophomore slump worries. The creators and cast seem to know exactly the right  tone to go for here, offering up a show that has a fun, accessible vibe but can get suitably intense, dramatic and gory when need be. When the CW gave all of their series early renewals last year, iZombie was one of the ones I know I was celebrating the most. Bring on Season 3!

 

REVIEW: JUSTICE LEAGUE: DARK

CAST

Matt Rayan (Constantine)
Jason O’Mara (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D)
Camilla Luddington (The Pact 2)
Nicholas Turturro (Zookeeper)
Ray Chase (Kingslaive)
Enrico Colantoni (Veronica Mars)
JB Blanc (Breaking Bad)
Roger Cross (Arrow)
Colleen Villard (The Avengers: EMH)
Jerry O’ Connell (Sliders)
Rosario Dawson (Sin City)
Jeremy Davies (Sleepy Hollow)
Alfred Molina (Spider-Man 2)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)

All over the world, people suddenly begin panicking as they start to see everyone around them as demonic monsters and end up killing innocents before members of the Justice League stop them. Deliberating about this strange outbreak, most of the League’s members come to the conclusion that magic must be involved in this. Despite his own past experiences with magic, Batman expresses his skepticism and walks out; but as he returns to Wayne Manor to rest, he finds the word “Constantine” written all over the walls.
In a flashback, occultist John Constantine and Jason Blood – engaged the Demons Three in a poker game in Las Vegas for high-end stakes, even offering his home, the House of Mystery, as his part of the pool in exchange for a box of artifacts, including one called the Dreamstone. However, both parties cheated at the game, and when Constantine exposed the Demons’ trickery, they attacked him. Constantine unleashed Jason’s alter ego, the demon Etrigan, who defeated the Demons Three, but not before they swore revenge on him.
Batman visits Zatanna after one of her performances and begins to ask about Constantine. Deadman possesses Batman and tells Zatanna she needs to see John. Zatanna brings Batman to Constantine. The trio narrowly manage to get inside John’s house in time where they are joined by Black Orchid. The group gathers to share information, and after a quick discussion and some argument between John and Zatanna, form a team to investigate the cause and reason for these supernatural occurrences.
The heroes visits a friend of Constantine and Zatanna’s named Ritchie Simpson, but outside the house they find shroud spirits of Death waiting to collect Ritchie’s soul upon his upcoming demise. The team is granted entry by Simpson, who is suffering from a magical cancer and resentful of Constantine for abandoning him to his fate but loans them the Keshanti Key. Constantine and Zatanna look through a man’s memories for the cause of his frenzy, and discover that he was possessed. Batman, Deadman, Constantine, and Zatanna narrowly manage to escape from a conjured beast as the creature consumes its victim, and Zatanna proceeds to destroy the monster.
Returning to Ritchie’s home to identify the ring from the man’s memory, the team finds him about to die with Blood nearby. Batman revives Ritchie with an adrenaline shot to the chest, but he quickly falls into a coma. After being brought to the House of Mystery for interrogation, Blood tells the team that he did not attempt to hurt Ritchie, but was looking for a way into the House of Mystery to find the Dreamstone; created by a sinister magician naming himself Destiny. Ritchie awakens and names Felix Faust as his assailant before falling back asleep.
The group locate Faust’s observatory with help from Swamp Thing. When they infiltrate Faust’s lair, the wizard battles the team, but is ultimately defeated by Zatanna; however, Faust is found to have no involvement in hurting Ritchie. Ritchie awakens and is revealed to have the other piece of the Dreamstone; using it to keep his cancer in remission, but then he is seemingly killed when the Dreamstone brings Destiny back to life. Destiny declares himself a god, destroys the House and departs to sink the United States into chaos; Zatanna saves the group, but passes out from the exertion. The Justice League tries to fight Destiny, but he makes them perceive each other as demonic threats. Etrigan attacks Destiny, but is separated back into Jason Blood and Etrigan. Constantine summons Swamp Thing, who agrees to fight Destiny, while Batman and the recovered Zatanna disable the Justice League.
Constantine tricks Destiny into bringing him and Deadman within his protective shield, allowing Deadman to wound Destiny, before Constantine, Batman, and Blood destroy the Dreamstone and Destiny’s body, leaving Ritchie, whose soul is dragged to Hell by the shroud spirits. Right afterwards, Blood succumbs to his mortal wound from centuries before. Zatanna, Constatine and Etrigan bury Blood’s body near the place of his old village, before Etrigan leaves for parts unknown. Zatanna agrees to join the Justice League, while Constantine declines (knowing Batman won’t approve if he did). The two return to the now-rebuilt House of Mystery, taking a first tentative step to restoring their fractured relationship, and Deadman likewise joins the restored Black Orchid as her soulmate.It’s refreshing to see a simpler, more straightforward, yet still effectively intriguing story-telling pace set by DC’s animated feature titles. JLD continues the trend of it’s predecessor, excelling at brief but complete introductions to some of DC’s more obscure characters, bringing them out of the shadows. The use of the overly popular Batman is very fitting here and die-hard and new fans should find a bunch to like. Animation is solid, the voice-casting is even better.And it’s great to see Matt Ryan back as Constantine.