REVIEW: STARGATE SG.1 – SEASON 10

Starring

Ben Browder (Farscape)
Amanda Tapping (Sanctuary)
Christopher Judge (The Dark Knight Rises)
Michael Shanks (Smallville)
Beau Bridges (My Name Is Earl)
Claudia Black (Pitch Black)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Tony Amendola (Annabelle)
Robert Picardo (The Orville)
Matthew Glave (Argo)
Tim Guinee (Iron Man)
Eric Steinberg (Supergirl)
Gary Jones (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
Garry Chalk (Arrow)
Jodelle Ferland (Kingdom Hospital)
Robin Mossley (Elf)
David Hewlett (Rise of TPOTA)
Joe Flanigan (Thoughtcrimes)
Torri Higginson (Dark Water0
Sarah Strange (Men In Trees)
David Nykl (Arrow)
Matthew Walker (Highlander: The Series)
Chuck Campbell (Jason X)
Cliff Simon (Project Eden)
Peter Flemming (The X-Files)
Bill Dow (Izombie)
Keegan Connor Tracy (Bates Motel)
Eric Breker (Scary Movie 3)
Richard Dean Anderson (MacGyver)
Willie Garson (Hawaii Five-0)
Peter DeLuise (21 Jump Street)
Isaac Hayes (South Park)
Jill Teed (Battlestar Galactica)
Morena Baccarin (Gotham)
David Andrews (Fight Club)
Don Stark (That 70s Show)
Adrian Holmes (Smallville)
Sonya Salomaa (Watchmen)
Rudolf Martin (24)
Scott McNeil (Beast Wars)
Aisha Hinds (Mr. Brooks)
Aaron Craven (The Predator)
Kavan Smith (Mission To Mars)
Kendall Cross (X-Men 2)
Anne Marie DeLuise (Strange Empire)
David Lovgren (Antitrust)
Joshua Malina (The Big Bang Theory)
Ron Canada (Wedding Crashers)
Craig Fairbrass (London Heist)
John Tench (Andromeda)
Lexa Doig (Arrow)
Peter Kent (Total Recall)
Fred Willard (Anchroman)
Fulvio Cecere (Valentine)
Jonathan Walker (Flash Gordon)

Sarah Strange in Stargate SG-1 (1997)Largely thanks to Vala (Claudia Black) who’s as charming as she is side-splittingly, ingeniously, flirtatiously funny and who now becomes a credited member of the main cast, season ten gets off to a brilliant start as the action picks up right where the previous season left-off with episode 1- Flesh and Blood and doesn’t decrease in pace.Claudia Black, Ben Browder, Michael Shanks, and Amanda Tapping in Stargate SG-1 (1997)It explores the continued threat of the Ori and their ever-increasing capture and control of worlds unable to mount any effective resistance against such a seemingly omnipotent foe. Episode 3- The Pegasus Project is also very gripping with a finale that’s both surprising and tantalizing.Richard Dean Anderson and Willie Garson in Stargate SG-1 (1997)episodes 10- The Quest, Part I and 11- The Quest, Part II both of which work well in continuing SG-1’s discovery & unravelling of Arthurian-inspired mysteries surrounding their search for a weapon capable of destroying their enemy. Episode 14- The Shroud sees Daniel in a unique position to deal a crippling blow to the Ori, which is also solid.While episode 20- Unending is a wonderful episode- with a story that’s not just dramatic, but explores sides to the main characters never seen before, it ends the season with so much unresolved that it’s difficult to appreciate this tenth season as it should be appreciated as the final outing of SG-1. Obviously a great deal has been withheld to be used in the TV movie The Ark of Truth.

REVIEW: STARGATE SG.1 – SEASON 9

Starring

Ben Browder (Farscape)
Amanda Tapping(Sanctuary)
Christopher Judge (The Dark Knight Rises)
Michael Shanks (Smallville)
Beau Bridges (My Name Is Earl)

Ben Browder in Stargate SG-1 (1997)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Claudia Black (Pitch Black)
Richard Dean Anderson (MacGyver)
Obi Ndefo (Star Trek: DS9)
Gary Jones (The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
Bill Dow (Izombie)
Matthew Walker (Alone In The Dark)
April Telek (Rogue)
Lexa Doig (Arrow)
Julian Sands (What/If)
Wallace Shawn (Young Sheldon)
Barclay Hope (Final Destination 3)
Maury Chaykin (My Cousin Vinny)
Louis Gossett Jr. (Enemy Mine)
Cliff Simon (Project Eden)
Kendall Cross (X-Men 2)
Peter Flemming (Staragte: Atlantis)
Sonya Salomaa (Watchmen)
Chilton Crane (The 4400)
Jason George (Fallen)
Jarvis W. George (Gamer)
William B. Davis (The X-Files)
Tony Todd (Candyman)
Neil Jackson (Blade: The Series)
Robert Picardo (The Orville)
Panou (Flash Gordon)
Ty Olsson (War For TPOTA)
Cameron Bright (Birth)
Garry Chalk (Arrow)
Don S. Davis (Twin Peaks)
Anna Galvin (Tin Man)
William Atherton (Ghostbusters)
JR Bourne (The 100)
Teryl Rothery (Arrow)
Reed Diamond (Agents of Shield)
Dakin Matthews (Child’s Play 3)
Veena Sood (Timecop)
Eric Breker (Scary Movie 3)
Matthew Bennett (Battlestar Galactica)
John Aylward (Alias)
Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters)
Chelah Horsdal (You Me Her)
Peter Shinkoda (Daredevil)
Matthew Glave (Argo)
Eric Steinberg (Supergirl)
Tamlyn Tomita (The Eye)
Tim Guinee (Iron Man)
Daniella Evangelista (Ripper)
Michael Ironside (Total Recall)
John Noble (Sleepy HOllow)
Katharine Isabelle (Ginger Snaps)
Noah Danby (Bitten)

Claudia Black and Ben Browder in Stargate SG-1 (1997)Avalon, Part 1 is a great season opener, introduces  new kid on the block Ben Browder,  as the season progresses the character is definitely fleshed out more and he soon fits in nicely with the tightly-knit S.G.1 team.Ben Browder and Michael Shanks in Stargate SG-1 (1997)However, the bottom line is that this is still a character who bares a striking similarity in disposition to Browder’s other well-known TV personality- Farscape’s John Crichton- with that same irreverent humor and easy-going attitude, but it’s a style that clearly works for Browder and it’s difficult not to find that likable. Beau Bridges’ introduction is made with equally good fanfare, his character is one who I found myself liking more readily- he approaches the role of the General of the base differently to Don S. Davis, with more of an every man approach, although he never hesitates to exert the full force of his office against unfriendly aliens, or humans when required.Mark Houghton in Stargate SG-1 (1997)Largely thanks to the development of this season’s main story-arc with the introduction of God-wannabes the Ori and their powerful minions known as Priors, this ninth season becomes surprisingly mesmerising in very short order. Beginning with the concluding part and then into episode 3- `Origin’, this season soon establishes itself as one of the best `Stargate: S.G.1′ offerings in years. The use of Arthurian legend in this season is spread pretty thickly in the beginning and had me worried that this fantasy element might not work in a predominantly science-fiction-oriented series, but very soon the parallels the writers draw between the Arthurian myth and the familiar Stargate set-up, become very inventive and come to work surprisingly well at contrasting against the new and growing force of evil spreading through the galaxy. In the first five episodes that other recognizable `Farscape’ regular Claudia Black and her seductively disobedient alter-ego Vala are another reason to be enchanted by this season. Vala brings such humor and life to the series that I was really disappointed when she parted company with S.G.1, despite the welcome return of Sam Carter following her brief career change. Thankfully Vala returns towards the end of the season and here’s hoping it’s not the last we see of her.Larry Cedar in Stargate SG-1 (1997)This season’s other major success is in its stand-alone stories that continue to present unique, punchy and creative sci-fi ideas to its audience. In particular episode 9- `Prototype’ and episode 13- `Ripple Effect’ are a couple of my favourites, the first of which concerns the discovery of a prodigy of Anubis frozen on a distant planet and the second has multiple S.G.1 teams pouring through the Stargate from diverse alternate realities , both of which had me glued to my seat

REVIEW: TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES – SEASON 2

Starring

Lena Headey (Game of Thrones)
Thomas Dekker (The Secret Circle)
Summer Glau (Firefly)
Richard T. Jones (Santa Clarita Diet)
Brian Austin Green (Anger Management)
Garret Dillahunt (12 Years a Slave)
Leven Rambin (The Hunger Games)
Shirley Manson (Top Wing)

Thomas Dekker in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

James Urbaniak (Suicide Squad: Hell To Pay)
Carlos Sanz (Runner Runner)
Max Perlich (Beautiful Girls)
Dean Winters (John Wick)
Dean Norris (Breaking Bad)
Zack Ward (Transformers)
Busy Philipps (White Chicks)
Sonya Walger (Lost)
Leah Pipes (The Originals)
Mackenzie Brooke Smith (A Winter Rose)
Jillian Armenante (Bad TEacher)
Jon Huertas (Castle)
Jonathan Jackson (Nashville)
Will Rothhaar (Battle Los Angeles)
Dorian Harewood (Full Metal Jacket)
Shane Edelman (Flightplan)
Stephany Jacobsen (Star-Crossed)
Derek Riddell (Gunpowder)
Emilio Rivera (Venom)
Richard Schiff (Man of Steel)
Adam Busch (Buffy: TVS)
Eddie Shin (Westworld)
Eric Steinberg (Stargate SG.1)
Todd Stashwick (The Originals)
Rebecca Creskoff (Bates Motel)
Samantha Krutzfeldt (A Mann’s World)
Carlos Jacott (Big Love)
Ned Bellamy (Twilight)
Barry Livingston (Argo)
Laura Regan (Dead Silence)
Connor Trinneer (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Jamison Jones (Hollywood Homicide)
Chad Lindberg (The Fast and The Furious)
Alanna Masterson (The Walking Dead)
Adam Wylie (Child’s Play 2)
Cyd Strittmatter (Gone Girl)
Michelle Arthur (Goldeneye)
Manny Montana (Conviction)
Julie Ann Emery (Better Call Saul)
Alex Carter (Out of Time)
Theo Rossi (Luke Cage)
Chad L. Coleman (The Orville)
Yuri Lowenthal (Young Justice)
Sabrina Perez (American Exit)
Joshua Malina (The Big Bang Theory)

Summer Glau in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008)I enjoyed the first season of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, despite its shortened season which fell victim to the writer’s strike, I was looking forward to what they had in store for Season Two. The first season had excellent performances and action sequences, appealing storylines, and show runner Josh Friedman was performing his job well. I expected things to fall in line for Season Two, however I had a small bit of apprehension: the addition of Shirley Manson, normally the lead singer of the band Garbage, to the cast.Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008)I thought this was a dicey proposition. Manson had not done any real acting work before, and Friedman might have been overreaching. Granted, his casting masterstroke in Season One was Brian Austin Green, formerly of Beverly Hills 90210, now appearing as Derek Reese, brother of Kyle. As a brief overview for those unfamiliar with the mythology, Kyle is father to John Connor (Thomas Dekker, A Nightmare on Elm Street), leader of the resistance against Skynet and the cyborg army of terminators. John’s mother Sarah is played by Lena Headley (300). And of course, it wouldn’t be a show about terminators without one as a cast regular; enter Summer Glau (Firefly) as Cameron. More on all of them in a minute.Shirley Manson in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008)Back to the risky decision. Manson plays Catherine Weaver, CEO of a high-powered technology corporation called ZeiraCorp. Manson is a T-1000, similar to Robert Patrick in T2, and she assumes the life of the real Weaver, who died in a helicopter crash with her husband. Their daughter is still alive, which presents a unique challenge, as a terminator hasn’t been placed in a truly maternal role before. Oddly enough, Manson’s role as an emotionless being trying to figure out how to be a mother is one of the season’s better performances (in “The Tower Is Tall But The Fall Is Short”), and she proves to be a capable actress. This introspection from non-feeling machine against a motherly disposition is fascinating in how Manson can show her emotions and yet not reveal her hand, as it were.Summer Glau in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008)Fortunately, we see similar stories behind other characters. In the episode “Allison From Palmdale,” not only do we discover Cameron’s origins but also why her physical traits were used as a model for a terminator. The performance is not as deep as Manson’s, but Glau does admirably. The self-evaluation continues with John as he gets involved in a relationship with Riley (Leven Rambin), which is almost like the last part of teenaged life he’ll enjoy before his imminent future with the resistance, of which Sarah dutifully reminds him. Sarah continues to struggle with her mortality because of a possible illness, and Derek has a particular conflict with Jesse (Stephanie Jacobsen, Life on Mars), who also came back from the future with motives that appear to differ from Derek’s. The quality of guest stars improved as well: Dean Winters (Oz) and Garret Delahunt (No Country For Old Men) reprise their roles as Charley and Cromartie, respectively. As Agent Ellison, Richard T. Jones is a guy who questions his spirituality and later rationalizes it to believe that what he does is right, though we know otherwise. Some of the other faces in Season Two include former West Wing regulars Richard Schiff and Joshua Malina, and Dorian Harewood (Full Metal Jacket) plays a psychiatrist whose work affects several cast regulars, and has long-lasting impacts for future episodes.Brian Austin Green, Lena Headey, and Dean Winters in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008)But it’s not like any Terminator project is known for its ensemble work. This has the requisite amount of action sequences and visual effects, and that action helps emphasize the points the story is trying to tell. For a good CG illustration, Manson kills the staff of a warehouse before blowing it up, but normally most of the stunts are done practically and look convincing as a result.Brian Austin Green, Lena Headey, and Summer Glau in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008)Sadly though, I have to think that there weren’t enough people willing to take a leap of faith and give the show a chance because it wasn’t a big-budget action film. It told stories with each of its characters and did so well. I’m guessing that wasn’t appreciated. Additionally, the release of the fourth Terminator film in the summer of 2009 probably gave the show an over saturation point with the public which hampered any acceptance of it. So now the show’s gone from our televisions, and while we have a new crop of reality shows and sitcoms with retread stars to pore over, I’d encourage people to give The Sarah Connor Chronicles a second view. It’s funny, smart, suspenseful, intriguing and artistic. And yes, it’s a science fiction show. Further proof that the genre has some quality creative minds contributing to it.

REVIEW: ANGER MANAGEMENT – SEASON 1-2

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MAIN CAST

Charlie Sheen (Machete Kills)
Selma Blair (Hellboy)
Shawnee Smith (Saw)
Noureen DeWulf (American Dreamz)
Michael Arden (Bride Wars)
Daniela Bobadilla (The Middle)
Derek Richardson (Hostel)
Barry Corbin (Windsor)
Brian Austin Green (Terminator: TSCC)
Laura Bell Bundy (Scream Queens)
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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Brett Butler (Grace Under Fire)
Michael Boatman (Hamburger Hill)
James Black (Kick-Ass 2)
Darius McCrary (15 Minutes)
Aldo Gonzalez (Sons of Anarchy)
Stephen Monroe Taylor (Texas Rising)
Kerri Kenney (Role Models)
Denise Richards (Valentine)
Martin Sheen (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Meredith Salenger (Lake Placid)
Mimi Kennedy (Mom)
Steve Valentine (Mike & Molly)
Stacy Keach (Two and a Half Men)
Danielle Bisutti (Curse of Chucky)
CeeLo Green (Sparkle)
Ken Lerner (The Running Man)
Bryce Johnson (Popular)
Lindsay Lohan (Scary Movie V)
Eddie Shin (That 80s Show)
Don Stark (That 70s Show)
Marion Ross (Happy Days)
Steven Krueger (The Originals)
Carol Kane (Gotham)
Nicole Travolta (House of Dust)
LeAnn Rimes (Reel Love)
Greg Cipes (Teen Titans)
Kristina Anapau (Black Swan)
Brea Grant (Heroes)
Anna Hutchison (Power Rangers Jungle Fury)
Bob Clendenin (Birds of Prey)
Ajay Mehta (Spider-Man)
Meera Simhan (Miss India America)
Gina Gershon (Ugly Betty)
Odette Annable (The Unborn)
George Wyner (Spaceballs)
Ron West (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Bary Livingston (Argo)
Cheech Marin (Machete)
Carla Gallo (Bones)
Julia Duffy (Looking)
Brooke Lyons (Izombie)
Fred Stoller (Little Man)
Isaiah Mustafa (Chuck)
Aly Michalka (Izombie)
Tiffany Dupont (Greek)
Michael Gross (Tremors)
Elaine Hendrix (The Parent Trap)
Jacqueline MacInnes Wood (Arrow)
Ivar Brogger (Andromeda)
Eric Steinberg (Stargate SG.1)
Will Sasso (Movie 43)
Arden Myrin (Shameless USA)
Mercedes Mason (The Finder)
Gilbert Gottfried (Aladdin)
Ciara Hanna (Power Rangers Megaforce)
Robin Riker (Big Love)
Izabella Miko (The Cape)
Corbin Bernsen (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang)

anger-Management-2D-DVD-packshot

If there is anything that can be said about Charlie Sheen it’s that he lands on his feet, even when having very public melt downs.  After losing his job on Two and a Half Men the fact he managed to find himself another show where he was the star is surprising in ways, but in others it could be said to be a cheap attempt to cash in on the fact that he is quite a huge public figure.  Anger Management Season One is a show that rests firmly on Sheen’s shoulders and relies on his talents, which is both a good and bad thing.
Charlie, played by Charlie Sheen is a failed baseball player who ended his own career when he lost his temper and tried to break a bat over his knee, doing more damage to himself than the bat.  Having to find another form of employment he becomes an anger management therapist ranging from a group that meet every week at his house to a group in prison who are in need of the therapy to curb their violent actions.  Managing his patient’s therapy while trying to control his own anger issues he finds things further complicated by his own therapist that he’s sleeping with, his ex-wife and their daughter who suffers from OCD.
It’s quite interesting that Anger Management starts with an opening scene where Sheen shouts into the screen with a blatant message to his past employers over at Two and a Half Men, because Anger Management is very similar to his past show.  His character, although he drinks less and actually seems quite a smart guy but he is very much Charlie.  The other characters also have that oddball appearance about them that you expect to see in Two and a Half Men, it’s just missing the people he left behind.  In the defence of Anger Management defence though I found the show to be quite likeable and the fact that Selma Blair, who is very easy on the eye spends most of it in various stages of undress is nothing to be complained about.  Of course she also provides sound advice as his therapist and constantly challenges him to do the right thing.
If we further compare the show to Two and a Half Men the reason that show worked and continues to survive is down to the characters themselves, although most recently it seems that not only Charlie Sheen are causing it issues.  Looking to Anger Management though, with a more well behaved Sheen, a guest appearance from his father Martin Sheen and a good ensemble cast and we have a show that Sheen can work off quite well.  Shawnee Smith as his ex-wife pulls off a suitably fiery performance, verbally sparring with Sheen and holding her own, she’s the type of actress who seems to effortlessly have that edge to her characters, and in this she does it to good effect, though it’s obvious she still cares about her ex-husband.  Daniela Bobadilla as his daughter Sam is one of the quirkier of the characters, with her OCD giving her quite a few episodes when she’ll get herself into strange situations just as part of her daily life.
The highlight of the show though is arguably Charlie’s patients, Lacey (Noureen DeWulf), Patrick (Michael Arden), Nolan (Derek Richardson) and Ed (Barry Corbin) who display different varieties of anger that needs to be managed.  The sessions where they tell their tales of being in “control” are some of the funnier moments and I’d say for me Barry Corbin (Ed) is the stand out with his hatred of everybody in equal measure.  There are even episodes where the theme actually looks at ways for them to curtail their anger, which is a nice change.
Anger Management is a show that is enjoyably, but it does rely on Charlie Sheen which is always a risk.  It’s interesting that the show plays off the events that took place in Sheen’s life, which does include the shadow of Two and a Half Men.  It will be nice to see in the second season if the show can pull itself out of that shadow and Sheen can move on with the success, and it is believable that both he and the show can.
Charlie Sheen is in heaven. ‘Anger Management’ is the perfect show for him. He gets to walk around a set, cracking badly written jokes while a laugh-track validates them. The entire show is laden with attractive women who were probably in grade school when Sheen was doing ‘Major League.’ He gets to pretend to have a sex-filled no-strings-attached relationship with Selma Blair. And, to top it all off, the man who once pronounced “I’m different. I have a different constitution. I have a different brain, I have a different heart. I got tiger blood, man,” is playing a psychologist. One of the world’s greatest ironies I guess.
The problem – well the show has a ton of problems, but the biggest – is the fact that ‘Anger Management’ doesn’t play on the Charlie Sheen is batshit insane. It tries to make him a level-headed psychologist who happens to simply be way too addicted to females. At least one thing carried over from Charlie’s real-life shenanigans. Whenever one of his patients professes something crazy, or over-the-top, Charlie rolls his eyes, the laugh-track guffaws, and then he tries to set them straight. How much funnier would a show be about a therapist who happens to be just as crazy as Sheen is in real-life?
The show’s formula hasn’t changed from the first season. Sheen begins almost every episode gathered in his living room with his group of patients. Season two features maybe one or two semi-interesting storylines. In one episode Charlie’s father (played by his real-life father Martin Sheen) comes to visit. The gimmick is light-hearted fun for the first 10 minutes. There are a couple other episodes that focus more on the patients, which is a nice respite from chronicling Charlie’s endless female conquests. Yet again, most of the season revolves around Charlie trying to get into the pants of (extremely) younger women. Yes, it’s just as sleazy as it sounds even if there is a laugh-track trying to lighten the mood.
Anger Management is neither a bad show, nor a great one. Though there are some fairly talented people involved, the show is mediocre at best, happy to recycle the same gags repeatedly. This third volume picks things up partway through the series’ second season, but you could pick up this series at any point and not miss much. The show continues to try and find comic gold in the interactions between therapist Charlie Goodson (Sheen) and his ‘interesting’ array of patients including cantankerous old codger Ed (Barry Corbin); sexpot Lacey (Noureen DeWulf); passive Nolan (Derek Richardson), who has an unreciprocated crush on Lacey; and gay, disingenuous Patrick (Michael Arden).Since the characters haven’t been developed much beyond a surface level, generating any genuine, lasting laughs is near impossible.
Derek Richardson and Noureen DeWulf in Anger Management (2012)
This volume also has a handful of episodes continuing the “will they or won’t they” angle of Charlie’s relationship with Dr. Kate Wales (Selma Blair). It’s worth noting that Selma Blair look utterly uncomfortable in her appearances, making the storyline seem ridiculous. As many with an interest in entertainment news are aware, Blair complained that Sheen was a menace to work with…Charlie subsequently fired her, and she was soon replaced by eventually replaced by Laura Bell Bundy as Dr. Jordan Denby, a rather airheaded psychologist.
To be fair, even a mindless show like Anger Management can muster a laugh or two on occasion, and I always enjoy Martin Sheen’s appearances as Charlie’s father. By and large though, Anger Management has the feel of a show that’s put together on the fly, so as to not interfere with Charlie Sheen’s busy social schedule. A Nice addition to the series was Anna Hutchison who played a reformed hooker who Charlie falls in love, this kept my interest for the remainder of the show as she is one of my all time favorite actresses.

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)

xb3aghiq2wii23iaSyndicated 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).
Conan (1997)
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.
Conan (1997)
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.