REVIEW: CAPRICA – PART 1

Starring

Eric Stoltz (The Butterfly Effect)
Esai Morales (Titans)
Paula Malcomson (The Hunger Games)
Alessandra Torresani (The Big Bang Theory)
Magda Apanowicz (You)
Sasha Roiz (Grimm)
Brian Markinson (Sanctuary)
Polly Walker (Pennyworth)Eric Stoltz and Paula Malcomson in Caprica (2009)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

William B. Davis (The X-FIles)
Sina Najafi (Stargate SG.1)
Hiro Kanagawa (Izombie)
Genevieve Buechner (The Final Cut)
Anna Galvin (Unspeakable)
Karen Elizabeth Austin (The Eye)
Scott Porter (Speed Racer)
Avan Jogia (Shaft)
Françoise Yip (The Predator)
Anita Torrance (Smallville)
James Pizzinato (Godzilla)
Michael Eklund (Bates Motel)
Patton Oswalt (Veronica Mars)
Kendall Cross (X-Men 2)
Peter Wingfield (Highlander: The Series)
Luciana Carro (Helix)
Teryl Rothery (Stargate SG.1)
Alex Arsenault (Tucker and Dale vs Evil)
Panou (Flash Gordon)
Eve Harlow (Bitten)
James Marsters (Buffy: TVS)
John Pyper-Ferguson (The Last Ship)
Leah Gibson (Jessica Jones)
Richard Harmon (The 100)
Patrick Sabongui (The Flash)
Jill Teed (Battlestar Galactica)
Zak Santiago (Shooter)
Ryan Robbins (Sanctuary)
Kacey Rohl (Hannibal)

 

Paula Malcomson in Caprica (2009)Creators Ronald Moore and David Eick relied on three key components for their hit SyFy series, Battlestar Galactica, to stay fresh and compelling for as long as it did: complex ideas behind evolved sentient lifeforms, religious parables, and the fondness for the characters’ home worlds — especially that of Caprica. The characters all look back at their previous lives almost as ghosts; Admiral Bill Adama painfully drudges up memories of his ex-wife and lawyer father, while Kara “Starbuck” Thrace carries memories of her small, ramshackle apartment and Samuel Anders yearns for the thrill of a sports stadium. Seems like such a rich mythos created just to be the ruminants of a past life, doesn’t it? The Moore-Eick team also sees this potential, now capitalizing on the gap left by Battlestar Galactica’s end to create the appropriately-titled Caprica. Though it moves slowly at first while constructing an involved narrative framework in its predecessor’s shadow, this mythos-rich offshoot eventually finds the footing needed to fall in-line with the original series’ current of storytelling.Patton Oswalt in Caprica (2009)The story revolves around the polytheistic, technologically-advanced colony of Caprica roughly sixty years before “the downfall”, focusing on the conflict between, and within, two families: The Graystones, and the Adamas Adams. Lawyer Joseph Adams (Esai Morales) lives a somewhat normal life with his wife and two children, Tamara and Billy, attempting to juggle his high-profile stature in the legal realm with his domestic life. He fights a bit with keeping himself as distanced as he can from his unsavory lineage, the Tauron mob Ha’la’tha, though it’s hard since the organization funded his education and requires his services regularly — usually by messages delivered through his brother, Sam (Sasha Roiz). BSG devotees with get a jolt in seeing the blossoming of young “Billy” in this environment early on, watching the growth of the semi-troubled youth that’d transform into the disquieting, powerful Galactica commander Bill Adama.Hiro Kanagawa in Caprica (2009)Caprica’s central draw, however, is the Graystones. Daniel Graystone (Eric Stoltz) heads a tech development firm working on a mechanized super-soldier that’s just not cutting the mustard, all the while generating profit (60% of net, to be exact) with virtual reality headsets — holobands — that connect to a network of fully-interactive, realistic digital worlds. Graystone’s seemingly safe digital construct quickly broke down into a laissez-faire underground, filled with hacked sections that exploit sex, drug-use, and violence. Daniel’s daughter, a silver-tongued high-school student named Zoe (Alessandra Torresani) who battles with her mother Amanda (Paula Malcomson) over authority, frequents the holoband V-Club with boyfriend Ben (Avan Jogia) and timid best friend Lacy (Magda Apanowicz), yet they’re beyond the carnal satisfaction that the place has to offer. Instead, they’ve found purpose in monotheistic religious belief within an activist organization, the Soldiers of The One (STO), and, in the process, created an exact digital copy of Zoe who will somehow aid the resistance.Alessandra Torresani in Caprica (2009)Observant fans will see where Caprica’s going with the duplicate Zoe, coming together in an introductory pilot that realizes the germ of an idea behind the genesis of the Cylon race, but it certainly doesn’t leave newcomers in the cold. Moore and Eick, with this freshness in mind, go in a startling direction with the content surrounding the Cylon conception; a murderous STO-related terrorist attack on a train rattles the city of Caprica, leaving the Graystones without their daughter and Joseph with only his son, Billy. The grief they endure becomes a convincing dramatic catalyst for what’s to come, breaking a floodgate for aggressive decision-making regarding family memories and Daniel’s technological advancement — with the idea of an exact digital replication of both mind and memory, such as the avatar of Zoe that lingers after her death, propelling it forward. It’s a thought-provoking launch that tackles some rather challenging concepts, including that of the human psyche as raw data and the extent that open-minded intellectuals might go to preserve those they’ve lost. And, of course, the narcissistic power behind potential immortality.Eric Stoltz and Esai Morales in Caprica (2009)Upon the second episode, “Rebirth”, one fact becomes very clear: Caprica isn’t cut from the same cloth as its inspiration, instead existing as a compelling new creation with its own hurdles to cross. In retrospect, the reimagined Battlestar Galactica painlessly continued the momentum from its original two-part miniseries, thrusting forward with space warfare and political components into the dazzling episode “33”. With Caprica, a shrewd character-driven thriller with complexity surrounding terrorism and family grief, the carry-over isn’t as easy. Thankfully, the Moore-Eick team never shies away, hitting the gas with some rather incisive writing as they drive deeper into Caprica’s unraveling and the Graystone company’s waning success in the wake of the terrorist attack. Along the way, they also grapple with themes of Tauron racism (“dirt eaters”) and religious extremism through the STO and one of its leaders, Zoe’s teacher Sister Clarice (Polly Walker), that correlate to actual issues, while also cleverly using the concept of a digital underground — especially in the anarchistic “New Cap City” game simulation, a mix of World of Warcraft and Grand Theft Auto — as a way of escape and purpose-finding.Esai Morales and Sasha Roiz in Caprica (2009)Yet as Caprica focuses on these modern analogous ideas while its characters develop into a mixture of morally desolate entities, the first batch of six or so episodes move at a deliberate, slow-burning tempo that shifts between intrigue and sluggishness. The harsh chemistry between Daniel and Joseph as scorned parents electrifies, driven by Eric Stoltz and Esai Morales in two stark, authentic performances, and the pacing focuses on the causal events that unfold around their family-affecting decisions. But focusing on this calculated slow-burn can, at times, temper the series’ manner and cause the multiple plot threads to stray from the course, weaving intuitive dramatic performances around a lot of existential meditation and shots of neo-religious content without the right energy to propel it forward. I still find it compelling; the depth of Daniel’s egotism reaches a genuine depth that’s unexpected, while offering a cluster of explosive moments — such as the board meeting in “There is Another Sky” that actually starts the Cylon race — spliced within the persistent, astute drama.Polly Walker and Magda Apanowicz in Caprica (2009)Then, as Caprica approaches “Ghosts in the Machine” and the mid-season finale “End of Line”, the gradual tension sees a much-needed outburst. These prior episodes extend into what’s essentially a rather lengthy fuse leading to this batch of dynamite, using brewing family turmoil and growing suspicions into an emotionally-taxing, brilliantly-realized culmination point. “Ghosts in the Machine” plays with the intensity of psychological torment in a staggering rush of emotion, while “End of Life” finds the first episode of the series to use the familiar “__ Hours Before” time mechanic frequently used in Battlestar Galactica. Quite simply, the build-up becomes worth the time at this point, igniting the series with the narrative outbreak it desperately lacked to become fully involving. Whether Caprica can maintain this momentum still remains to be seen, but the succession of these explosive developments that derive from subtly-evolving plot points — Amanda’s weakening sanity, Daniel’s obsession with meeting the development deadline, and the presence of the STO as violent radicals — satisfies with evocative, edge-of-your-seat chills at this midpoint, finally achieving that addictive science-fiction adrenaline that hallmarked its predecessor.

 

REVIEW: SANCTUARY – SEASON 4

Starring

Amanda Tapping (Stargate SG.1)
Robin Dunne (Space Milkshake)
Ryan Robbins (Arrow)
Christopher Heyerdahl (Van Helsing)

Amanda Tapping in Sanctuary (2008)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Peter Wingfield (Highlander: The Series)
Ian Tracey (Bates Motel)
Pascale Hutton (Fantastic Four)
Agam Darshi (You Me Her)
Jody Thompson (The 4400)
Françoise Yip (The Predator)
Tom McBeath (Stargate SG.1)
Robert Lawrenson (Underworld: The Awakening)
David Milchard (Big Eyes)
Greyston Holt (Bitten)
Adam Copeland (Highlander: Endgame)
Pauline Egan (Home BEfore Dark)
Brian Markinson (Caprica)
Mig Macario (The Final Cut)
Lara Gilchrist (Battlestar Galactica)
Sandrine Holt (House of Cards)
Carlo Rota (Saw V)
John Novak (War)
Martin Cummins (Dar kAngel)
Charlie Carrick (Reign)
Kurt Evans (Izombie)
Jonathon Young (Antitrust)
Zak Santiago (Caprica)
Adam Greydon Reid (Izombie)
Caroline Cave (Van Helsing)
Brent Stait (Blade: The Series)
Jim Byrnes (Highlander: The Series)
Anjali Jay (Supergirl)
Gil Bellows (Jett)

At the end of the last season things were getting pretty hairy on a couple of different fronts. The subterranean abnormals who live inside the Earth have decided that they want their chance in the sun and three armies march out of caves in different parts of the planet. If that wasn’t bad enough, Magnus is battling an old companion, Adam Worth, who manages to open up a hole in time and slip back to the 1800’s with the aim of curing his terminally ill daughter. This will change the time stream irrevocably, so Magnus follows him on his one-way journey into the past in order to stop him.Christopher Heyerdahl in Sanctuary (2008)This season opens with Magnus in 19th Century London, following Worth. He manages to wound her and escape, so she turns to one person she knows she can trust, he husband at the time, James Watson Together they have to stop Worth, but even if they do, how will Magnus manage to return to the 21stCentury? She does manage it, but it takes a very long time. Meanwhile Will has been put in charge of the New York Sanctuary by the Sanctuary Network, that mysterious body that runs the various abnormal shelters around the world. He’s having a rough time, as the US military wants to actually attack the invading army, especially after there’s a revolt in the refugee compound that’s housing several Hollow Earth abnormals in which the subterranean creatures take hostages and threaten to kill them. No one in authority will take Will’s calls, and withMagnus MIA he’s clearly out of his depth.Robin Dunne and Pascale Hutton in Sanctuary (2008)After that crisis, and Magnus’ return, things are different. The government is very leery of abnormals and they create a department, SCUI, to hunt down the Hollow Earth creatures that are still on the surface. Either imprisoning the abnormals that they capture or using them for experiments it’s a race between the bad military and the saintly Sanctuary to see who can locate and capture the renegade abnormals first.There are some very good episodes in this season. Monsoon, where Magnus is held hostage by some abnormal crooks while in an airport in Africa was a high point. Seeing the unarmed Magnus take out a group of ex-military super-humans was delightful.Amanda Tapping and Pascale Hutton in Sanctuary (2008)The series does wrap up (though there is room for more adventures) It was nice that the show did get a coda. All in al lSanctuary was an excellent show that lasted four seasons and left room for more stories to be told shold Syfy every decide to bring it back.

REVIEW: SANCTUARY – SEASON 3

Starring

Amanda Tapping (Stargate SG.1)
Robin Dunne (Space Milkshake)
Christopher Heyerdahl (Van Helsing)
Ryan Robbins (Arrow)
Agam Darshi (You Me Her)

Robin Dunne in Sanctuary (2008)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Callum Blue (Smallville)
Shekhar Paleja (Arrow)
Terry Chen (Jessica Jones)
Sahar Biniaz (Blade: The Series)
Paul McGillion (The Flash)
Robert Lawrenson (Underworld: Awakening)
Jim Byrnes (Highlander: The Series)
Chasty Ballesteros (The Internship)
Gary Jones (Stargate SG.1)
Peter Flemming (Unspeakable)
Michael J Rogers (Two For The Money)
Jonathon Young (Impastor)
Martin Christopher (Night At The Museum)
Jorge Vargas (Power Rangers Ninja Storm)
Chris Gauthier (Smallville)
Michael Adamthwaite (Supergirl)
Allison Hossack (Fringe)
Pauline Egan (Home Before Dark)
Adrian Hough (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
Ian Tracey (Bates Motel)
Peter Wingfield (Highlander: The Series)
Vincent Gale (Van Helsing)
Pascale Hutton (Chaos)
Polly Walker (Pennyworth)
Scott McNeil (Beast Wars)
Nels Lennarson (Cold Pursuit)
Jody Thompson (The 4400)
Françoise Yip (The Predator)
Peter DeLuise (21 Jump Street)
Chuck Campbell (Jason X)
Aliyah O’Brien (Bates Motel)
Douglas O’Keeffe (Mutant X)
Barclay Hope (Stargate SG.1)
Elysia Rotaru (Arrow)
Tom McBeath (Van Helsing)
Greyston Holt (Bitten)

Amanda Tapping in Sanctuary (2008)Season three sees Sanctuary taking a big step forward,and for the most part being very successful. instead of the previous two seasons 13 episode runs,this has 20 episodes,something which allows the writers to expand storylines and explore things further,bringing more depth to this seasons story arc. As always the acting from the entire cast is first rate .There is also plenty of Jonathan Young as Nikola Tesla,whos presence always lifts any episode he appears in,and guarantees some sharp dialogue.Robin Dunne and Amanda Tapping in Sanctuary (2008)This series looks better as well,and steps out of,whenever possible,the confines of a cgi generated world,something which I always believed limited it far too much.Season three sees Sanctuary setting itself up as a major league player,and staking a claim as a show to be taken seriously,and it does it very well.Giving you more than it has before,while leaving you with the impression that there is much more to come,and the desire to find out what.The Sanctuary team deal with the aftermath of the gigantic tidal wave released by Big Bertha while Will’s life remains in balance but soon the errand comes to an end once Will leads one final plea to “Kali” A.K.A. Big Bertha in his near death experience to stop the destruction. Following Will’s return to life two abnormals appear to him to rekindle his memory and in doing so Will remembers an important message that Gregory sent for Helen to find an underground city with great technology and secrets.Agam Darshi in Sanctuary (2008)Later Nikola sends an SOS call and after his rescue continues to help Helen in discovering the secrets of the city which eventually leads them to a Hollow Earth atlas. Soon Adam Worth, a former acquaintance, tricks Helen and causes radiation poisoning (that should kill both Helen and Adam in a few weeks) so that she may show Adam the Hollow Earth. Upon Adam’s interference Helen, Will, Henry and Kate enter the city to save Gregory and find a cure for the poisoning but only to be executed immediately when caught while Adam imprisons John, leaving Tesla and Big-Guy alone in the mysteries. Magnus is then revived by Ranna for answering and Magnus finds out that she needs her to help an abnormal from the events of ‘KALI’, thereby Magnus and the gang is revived and she given the cure and is reunited with her father, together Gregory and Helen save the abnormal and reach the surface back again while John kills Adam. The show returned to its original format, featuring a new short story for every episode until Tesla and Magnus discover a Praxian Stronghold. This is revealed to have been taken by Vampires and as such was a Vampire Stronghold where a whole army of Vampires and their queen were buried to be awakened someday. Magnus views this as a threat and destroys the stronghold, but not before restoring Tesla to a Vampire again.Christopher Heyerdahl in Sanctuary (2008)Season 3 has lots of fun and lots of action, with a extended season it helps to do greater story-arcs. a must watch for fans of good sci-fi.

REVIEW: ANDROMEDA – SEASON 5

 

Starring

Kevin Sorbo (Hercules: TLJ)
Lisa Ryder (Jason X)
Gordon Michael Woolvett (Bride of Chucky)
Laura Bertram (50/50)
Lexa Doig (Arrow)
Steve Bacic (Flash Gordon)
Brandy Ledford (Rat Race)

Kevin Sorbo in Andromeda (2000)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Alan Scarfe (Kingdom Hospital)
Kyle Cassie (Deadpool)
Alexander Kalugin (Final Destination 3)
Jim Byrnes (Highlander: The Series)
Mark Acheson (elf)
Ken Tremblett (Caitlin’s Way)
Kendall Cross (X-Men 2)
Don S. Davis (Stargate SG.1)
Noah Danby (Bitten)
Natassia Malthe (Bloodrayne 2& 3)
Matthew Bennett (Battlestar Galactica)
Bill Mondy (Blade: The Series)
Alex Diakun (Agent COdy Banks)
Lochlyn Munro (Scary Movie)
Robin Mossley (Elf)
Monika Schnarre (Waxwork II)
Kevin Durand (Swamp Thing)
Hiro Kanagawa (Izombie)
Ari Cohen (IT)
Françoise Yip (The Predator)
Kevan Ohtsji (Elektra)
John DeSantis (Arrow)
Emmanuelle Vaugier (Two and a Half Men)
Ty Olsson (Battlestar Galactica)
Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother)
Sarah Edmondson (Salvation)

Andromeda: The Weight: Part 2 (2004)Andromeda starred Kevin Sorbo (Hercules: The Legendary Journey’s) in a science fiction series created by Gene Roddenberry (Star Trek) with a variety of executive producers Robert Hewitt Wolfe (The 4400, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Majel Rodenberry (Earth: Final Conflict), Allan Eastman (Star Trek: Voyager), Robert Engels (seaQuest DSV), Jay Firestone (Mutant X, La Femme Nikita), and Adam Haight (Mutant X, Highlander: The Raven). With its diverse crew of producers with extensive experience in science fiction and drama productions, Andromeda put in five solid seasons from 2000 to 2005 and totaled one-hundred and ten episodes. The premise of Andromeda is about the adventures of the crew the Andromeda and their efforts to rebuild a massive civilization that spanned the universe.Kevin Sorbo in Andromeda (2000)In season five, the series takes a much different turn in events. At the end of the season four, there was some skepticism as to whether or not the show would continue into a fifth season. Well, the series was picked up for a fifth season, but with a smaller budget. And the budget (or rather lack of) shows in the episodes. The storylines lose the grandeur it once had with the epic space battles and massive story arcs. The series, stories, and character becomes more confined and lose a lot of the appeal found in previous seasons. In a nutshell, watching season five was more of a chore than fun. While there was some decent content, it does not compare to the quality of the past seasons.Andromeda (2000)In the close of season four, the Andromeda came to the space station Arkology to warn the inhabitants about their impending doom. The Magog Worldship was headed right for them and they need to get out of there. The inhabitants were a peaceful people and believed that they could make peace with the Magog. Dylan and the rest tried to tell them peace is not an option. Of course, they did not listen. When the Magog came, the Andromeda and its crew tried its best to stop the onslaught, but they failed miserably. In the close of the two-part season four finale, Dylan took the Route of Ages in a slipstream fighter and found himself transported into an alternative universe.Andromeda (2000)The two-part episode “The Weight” kicks off season five. In it, Dylan gets accustomed to his new life in the alternate universe on a planet called Seefra-1, which is one of nine barren wastelands. When Dylan tries to learn more about where he is, he finds little help. But when he meets a mysterious man named Flavin, he begins to get more clues about his situation. He is trapped in an isolated cluster of planets in another universe. Dylan explores Seefra-1 and later runs into a very disgruntled Rhade. Rhade and the others crew members (who Dylan runs into in later episodes) are unhappy with him for leaving them to die. It was through the efforts of Trance that the Andromeda (badly damaged) and her crew were brought into this alternate reality and not left to die at the hands of the Magog. They also blame him for being stuck on Seefra-1. Dylan returns to Flavin to get more information from him. Dylan learns his place is on Seefra-1; he must help the people in the coming days. Flavin also reveals the true nature of the Route of Ages.Alex Diakun in Andromeda (2000)After the not-so-exciting season premiere, “Phear Phactor Phenom” has the majority of the season four cast back together in some form or another, Dylan, Harper, Beka, Trance, and Rhade. We learn that Rommie was destroyed and Harper had been on Seefra-1 for over three years while the rest of the crew had only just recently arrived. During Harper’s time on the Seefra-1, he was able to rebuild a new android with portions of Rommie’s damaged core. The new character is Doyle, a blonde robot who was initially made to think she is human. The season five episodes proceed with the cast getting reacquainted with each other and Dylan trying to get the Andromeda up and running again. Some have changed with their new situation, most notably Trance who lost portions of her memory.Lochlyn Munro in Andromeda (2000)In the episode “Moonlight Becomes You”, Trance starts to remember who she is and the season starts to focus on the storyline hinted at in “The Weight”. The Seefra system is in jeopardy and the crew must work together to save the inhabitants of the nine wastelands over the next several episodes. But the story really ties into the power that is Trance. Trance is an avatar of the Vedran sun and the actual sun is approaching Seefra-1. When it arrives, the planets in the system (except for Seefra-1) will explode. The episodes “Past is Prolix”, “The Opposites of Attraction”, “Saving Light from a Black Sun”, “Quantum Tractate Delirium”, “One More Day’s Light”, and “Chaos and the Stillness of It” continue to focus on this storyline (uncovering more about Trance, the council of avatars she is a senior member of, and the crew trying to save the inhabitants), which is much more entertaining than the first portion of the season, but it still lacks the same punch the early seasons had.Andromeda (2000)In the two-part series finale “The Heart of the Journey”, the series come to a close by wrapping up the series story arc with the Abyss. While on Seefra-1, Harper receives a message transmission for Dylan. It is from Flavin, who had been killed by the Abyss, telling Dylan he is the last hope for the survival of the known worlds. The Council intends to destroy the galaxies of the known world in order to snuff out the Abyss. They, however, give Dylan and his crew the opportunity to return before their utter demise. Once back in their universe, they find only four days have passed since the Magog Worldship attacked. The Andromeda has to face the Nietzchseans and the Abyss. The situation that appeared dire ends with a happy ending and the destruction of the Abyss in a battle that is far from epic.Emmanuelle Vaugier in Andromeda (2000)Overall, I really did not care for this season. The level of grandeur in the storylines was significantly diminished. The big flashy effects were part of what made the sci-fi series so much fun were gone. The show tended to have very isolated stories with limited character development. In the end, I did not see much in this season that made it worthwhile. Sure, there are some decent episodes, but they fail to compare to the past seasons. Despite my lack of enthusiasm, I give it a rent it recommendation on the pure basis that it concludes the series and there are a few decent episodes to follow.

 

REVIEW: ANDROMEDA – SEASON 2

Starring

Kevin Sorbo( Hercules: TLJ)
Lisa Ryder (Jason X)
Keith Hamilton Cobb (All My Children)
Gordon Michael Woolvett (Bride of Chucky)
Laura Bertram (50/50)
Brent Stait (Blade: The Series)
Lexa Doig (Arrow)

Kevin Sorbo in Andromeda (2000)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Gerard Plunkett (Sucker Punch)
Anthony Lemke (Robocop: Prime Directives)
Peter Kelamis (Stargate Universe)
William B. Davis (The X-Files)
Anne Marie DeLuise (Strange Empire)
Enuka Okuma (Impulse)
Rachel Hayward (Jingle All The Way 2)
John DeSantis (Arrow)
Roger Cross (First Wave)
Kendall Cross (X-Men 2)
Steve Bacic (Flash Gordon)
Françoise Yip (The Order)
Sam Sorbo (Hercules: TLJ)
James Marsters (Runaways)
Jud Tylor (That 70s Show)
Alex Diakun (Agent Cody Banks)
Steven Grayhm (White Chicks)
Timothy Webber (North of 60)
Mark Hildreth (V)
Kimberly Huie (Deep Impact)
Kevin McNulty (Fantastic FOur)
Travis MacDonald (Highlander: The Series)
Kristin Lehman (The Loft)
Heather Hanson (G-Spot)
Costas Mandylor (Saw V)
Cynthia Preston (Carrie)
Sonya Salomaa (Watchmen)
Michael Hurst (Hercules: TLJ)
Christopher Judge (Stargate SG.1)
Andee Frizzell (stargate: Atlantis)
Matthew Walker (Highlander: The Series)
Dylan Bierk (Jason X)
Marion Eisman (Riverdale)
David Lovgren (Antitrust)
Ellie Harvie (The New Addams Family)

Laura Bertram in Andromeda (2000)Andromeda starred Kevin Sorbo (Hercules: The Legendary Journey’s) in a science fiction series created by Gene Roddenberry (Star Trek) with a variety of executive producers Robert Hewitt Wolfe (The 4400, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Majel Rodenberry (Earth: Final Conflict), Allan Eastman (Star Trek: Voyager), Robert Engels (seaQuest DSV), Jay Firestone (Mutant X, La Femme Nikita), and Adam Haight (Mutant X, Highlander: The Raven). With its diverse crew of producers with extensive experience in science fiction and drama productions, Andromeda put in five solid seasons from 2000 to 2005 and totaled one-hundred and ten episodes. The premise of Andromeda is about the adventures of the crew the Andromeda and their efforts to rebuild a massive civilization that spanned the universeLexa Doig in Andromeda (2000)In season two, Dylan’s quest becomes more of a reality. The Renewed Systems Commonwealth represents more than just the unity and peace Dylan envisions; it is, as Dylan hunt says, a necessity. In the season one finale “It’s Hour Come ‘Round at Last”, Harper took a look around inside Andromeda’s code and found a backup copy of Andromeda’s core. He accidentally restored the backup. Andromeda went out of control and took the crew on a top secret mission. To make matters worse, the mission takes the crew deep into Magog territory, where the Andromeda runs into a Magog Worldship. The Worldship is a transportable solar system, with multiple planets and an artificial sun.Keith Hamilton Cobb in Andromeda (2000)The Worldship houses trillions of Magog and gives them the power to destroy stars. The Magog are traveling towards the known worlds with plans of conquest and destruction. In the close of the episode, the Magog have overrun the Andromeda and the crew’s fate is desperate: Trance, Beka, and Dylan are unconscious and near death, Tyr and Harper are being held by the Magog, Rommie had a pike shoved in her stomach, Rev Bem is being converted to the Magog cause, and the Andromeda Ascendant is in critical condition.Laura Bertram in Andromeda (2000)The second season premiere episode “The Widening Gyre” continues where season one left off. Despite the direness of the situation, they overcome their individual situations and manage to free themselves of capture. The real excitement introduced in this story is the notion of the Magog and the Worldship. The Spirit of the Abyss, a being that acts as the Magog’s God, is leading the Magog on a quest of utter destruction. This threat becomes a staple for the Andromeda crew to fight off. A Renewed Systems Commonwealth is a necessity. Fortunately for the crew, they have some time until the Worldship reaches space of the known world–two or three years. In the fourth and fifth seasons, the Spirit of the Abyss and the Magog are a major port of the season story arcs. In the meantime, season two has an episode “Into the Labyrinth” with another assassin sent by the Abyss that runs into the crew.Laura Bertram in Andromeda (2000)The Magog still are at the front of the stories and a key reason for the new Commonwealth. And Dylan works feverishly to recruit planets to his cause. In the episode “Home Fires”, Dylan receives a message from his long dead fiance. After the initial fall of the Commonwealth, a group sought refuge on a planet called Tarazed and for three hundred years, they have survived as the last remnants of the old way of life. Dylan learns that the people of Tarazed and goes to the planet to get them to join the new Commonwealth. They, however, do not. When he arrives at the planet, he finds a familiar face, that of his former first officer Gaheris. But it is a genetic clone named Telemachus Rhade. Dylan and Rhade are hesitant to trust each other. The story takes an interesting turn in the development of the relationship Dylan had with Gaheris, as well as introduces Rhade, who joins the cast in season four.Sonya Salomaa in Andromeda (2000)The episodes “Into the Labyrinth”, “Bunker Hill”, and “The Prince” are more episodes focused on the restoration of the Commonwealth with the cast in diplomatic missions, facing with spies, political corruption, and other such things. “Into the Labyrinth” sees a Nietzschean clan Saber-Jaguar joining the Commonwealth. In “Bunker Hill” the Saber-Jaguar clan invokes the Mutual Defense Pact, which requires the Andromeda join their side in combat against the Dragan clan. At the same time, Dylan sends Harper and Rommie to Earth to join the resistance movement to free human slaves under Dragan control. In “The Prince”, the crew travel to Ne’Holland to save what is left the royal family from being slaughtered. Dylan wants the planet to join the Commonwealth because it is in a key position to defend against the upcoming Magog onslaught. However, in order to get them to join, he has to save its leaders from its own people. But what Dylan did not know was that the royal family’s actions have not always been just.Lisa Ryder in Andromeda (2000)“Ouroboros” is a major episode in the series. It is the first major cast and crew changes. Rev Bem leaves the series as a regular cast member. He apparently went away to find himself. Stait, who plays Rev Bem, talks about the reason he left in his interview featurette. Another change deals with Trance. Harper builds a machine he hopes will help rid him of the Magog larvae that was implanted in him in the season premiere. The machine works, but it also does a little more and bends space and time. The crew is able to glimpse into future versions of themselves. Trance, in particular, meets her future self, who proclaims the future unfolded very badly. The present and future Trance’s switch places in hope future Trance can set the timeline in the right direction. The new Trance is physically different, without a tail and has golden skin. The other major change is in the crew. Robert Hewitt Wolfe was released because the direction he envisioned for the series was much different than wanted.Michael Hurst in Andromeda (2000)In “Knight, Death, and the Devil”, the crew are on the verge of completing the first stage in restoring the Commonwealth. Beka and Harper negotiate with the fiftieth planetary world to join the cause. Dylan, Tyr, and Rommie also find a decommissioned high guard ship. When they interact with the ship’s AI Ryan (Michael Hurst), they find out there is a solar system with over fifty other relic ships in hiding. Dylan goes to the solar to convince the ships to rejoin the Commonwealth (remember some AI’s have emotions and they were abandoned long ago). Christopher Judge guest stars as one of the AI’s.Kevin Sorbo and Laura Bertram in Andromeda (2000)The season finale “Tunnel at the End of the Light” is a literally explosive episode. Representatives from fifty worlds come to the Andromeda to sign the Commonwealth charter. It is an exciting time to see the Commonwealth officially come back into power. Unfortunately, there are forces that would rather not see the chartered signed. Sabotage hits the Andromeda and the charter signing goes up in flames. It is up to the crew to make necessary sacrifices to see it through.Laura Bertram in Andromeda (2000)Overall, I was pretty happy with the second season of Andromeda. Like the first season, I was not in love with this season. The fact remains the show has a cast who over-performs and spouts cheesy dialogue. The storylines from episode to episode offer some enjoyable content, but nothing you should think too hard about. In addition, the story arcs that span the episodes offer intriguing aspects with the formation of the Commonwealth, the Magog, and the Spirit of the Abyss. In the end, I think season two makes for a good watch if you enjoy science-fiction/fantasy oriented shows.

REVIEW: SMALLVILLE – SEASON 3

Starring

Tom Welling (Lucifer)
Kristin Kreuk (Beauty and The Beast)
Michael Rosenbaum (Impastor)
Sam Jones III (Glory Road)
Allison Mack (Wilfred)
Annette O’Toole (The Punisher)
John Schneider (The Haves and the Have Nots)
John Glover (Shazam)

Kristin Kreuk and Tom Welling in Smallville (2001)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Terence Stamp (Superman)
Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner)
Ryan Robbins (Sanctuary)
Emmanuelle Vaugier (Two and a Half Men)
Jill Teed (Battlestar Galactica)
Françoise Yip (The Predator)
Camille Mitchell (Izombie)
Jesse Metcalfe (Dead Rising)
Katharine Isabelle (Ginger Snaps)
Christopher Shyer (The Core)
John DeSantis (Thirteen Ghosts)
Michael McKean (This Is Spinal Tap)
Lorena Gale (Traitor)
Patrick Gallagher (Glee)
William B. Davis (TheX-Files)
John Mann (Dark Angel)
Kendall Cross (The Butterfly Effect)
Tim Henry (88 Minutes)
Kevin Zegers (Dawn of The Dead)
Patrick Bergin (Lawnmower Man 2)
Michael Daingerfield (Sausage Party)
Ian Somerhalder (The Vampire Diaries)
Jonathan Taylor Thomas (Home Improvement)
Shawn Ashmore (X-Men)
William MacDonald (Riverdale)
Missy Peregrym (Van Helsing)
Martin Cummins (Bates Motel)
Chris Gauthier (Watchmen)
Meghan Ory (Once Upon A Time)
Ryan Merriman (Final Destination 3)
Moneca Delain (Trick ‘r Treat)
Sarah Carter (The Flash)
Lynda Boyd (Sanctuary)
Jerry Wasserman (I Robot)
James Kirk (She’s The Man)
Tahmoh Penikett (Man of Steel)
Julian Christopher (Elysium)
Terry Chen (Jessica Jones)
Aaron Pearl (Godzilla)
Christopher Reeve (Superman)
Gary Hudson (Fifty Shades Freed)
Alisen Down (Stargate SG.1)
Andrew Airlie (Fifty Shades of Grey)
Gordon Tootoosis (Lone Star)
Nathaniel Arcand (Pathfinder)
Neil Flynn (Scrubs)
Amber Rothwell (Whoite Noise)
Adrianne Palicki (The Orville)
Sarah Deakins (Andromeda)
Robert Wisden (Highlander: The Series)
Brandon Jay McLaren (Power Rangers SPD)

Michael Rosenbaum and Tom Welling in Smallville (2001)Season Three begins three months after the cliffhanger that ended Season Two – with Clark under the influence of Red Kryptonite, which doesn’t hurt him – but does bring out his darker side. Clark has left Smallville because he feels responsible for his mother’s miscarriage at the end of Season Two, and the first two episodes – Exile and Phoenix – deal with Clark’s coming to terms with what he has done and where he belongs.Much like The X-Files and other sucessful science-fiction programs, Smallville has both “mythology” episodes and “stand-alone” shows, with the former moving along the overall story, and the latter tending to be more “fun” – generally focusing on someone in town who has a special ability or power that Clark has to deal with. Season Three is also peppered with some great guest-starring roles for notable actors, including Rutger Hauer playing criminal mastermind Morgan Edge; Michael McKean (who happens to be the real-life husband of Smallville star Annette O’Toole) guest-starring as Perry White; and the return of Christopher Reeve as Dr. Swann in Legacy in what would sadly be Reeve’s final appearance on the show.John Schneider and Tom Welling in Smallville (2001)Perhaps more than any previous season, there’s a lot of context to the ongoing storyline in this third season, which may be why many fans (including some right here at DVD Talk) got so frustrated with some of the episodes. Because of the ongoing storyline involving Clark’s biological father, Jor-El (voiced by Terrance Stamp) and his connection to some mysterious caves in Smallville, the chant of “Another Cave Show” and “No More Caves!” became a frequent one on forums here and elsewhere on the Net.John Glover and Michael Rosenbaum in Smallville (2001)But all in all, this is a quite satisfying season of one of the more underrated (and under appreciated) series on TV. Smallville is easily the best incarnation of the Superman legend since Christopher Reeve’s theatrical films, and any fan of The Man of Tomorrow will want to add this boxed set to their collection – assuming you’ve seen the first two seasons first, of course! Entertaining, well-written, well-acted and featuring some impressive special effects, television programs don’t get much better than Smallville. While this may be the weakest season of the first three, it’s still better than most seasons of any hour drama that is currently on the air. This one’s an easy call: fly (don’t walk!) to your local store or online retailer and pick a copy up.

REVIEW: THE ORDER – SEASON 1

Sarah Grey in The Order (2019)

Starring

Jake Manley (Heroes Reborn)
Sarah Grey (Power Rangers)
Sam Trammell (Imperium)
Matt Frewer (The BFG)
Max Martini (The Town)

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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Katharine Isabelle (Hannibal)
Jewel Staite (Firefly)
Kawennahere Devery Jacobs (American Gods)
Louriza Tronco (Make It Pop)
Ty Wood (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
Adam DiMarco (The Magicians)
Aaron Hale (Miss Sloane)
Jedidiah Goodacre (The Originals)
Dylan Playfair (Descendants 2)
Hiro Kanagawa (Izombie)
Emily Holmes (Snakes on a Plane)
Julia Benson (Stargate Universe)
Kayla Heller (Snowcoming)
Ian Tracey (Bates Motel)
Françoise Yip (Aliens vs Predator 2)

a4763c55-70a8-4acf-a9c2-4b41593fd64d-screen-shot-2019-03-06-at-31130-pmNetflix shows like The Order have an advantage that series that release episodes a week apart don’t have. Potential audiences can give a new show a quick opening binge right away rather than only viewing the always tricky pilot to prove that it’s worthy of being added to their viewing schedule. The Order is definitely a supernatural show that stands alongside The Magicians or The Vampire Diaries, but the true twist to the witches versus werewolves premise doesn’t show up until third episode. College campus drama tropes bog down the first episode a bit, but the central conflict is wholly unique with plenty of humor and well-written dialogue to smooth out the rough edges.MV5BZjZmYjQ2ZTktY2NjOS00NTg5LWJlYWMtNDE5ZDhhNjg5ODYzXkEyXkFqcGdeQW1yb3NzZXI@._V1_UX477_CR0,0,477,268_AL_On the one hand, The Order should be commended for not holding the viewer’s hand during key parts of the opening narrative. Jack Morton (Jake Manley of iZombie) and his grandfather (Matt Frewer of Orphan Black) clearly have some sort of ulterior motive for getting him into Belgrave University as a freshman, but the audience has to figure out why on its own, and the details that unfold go from simple to complex pretty quickly. On the other hand, the manner in which Jack is admitted and his almost immediate encounters with frat boys and townie-hating rich kids is meant to be accepted with a hand wave and does feel a bit rushed.the-order-netflix-season-2-4-1551991441704Given the hurry to establish the campus atmosphere, it’s remarkable how quickly chemistry forms between Jake and sophomore college tour guide Alyssa Drake (Sarah Grey of Legends of Tomorrow). Despite moments of overt flirtation on Jake’s part and even briefer flickers of mutual attraction, The Order is not in any rush to bring these two together or create any weird love triangles. A level of respect is built between them based on intelligence and an understanding that some of those around them, both magic users and regular students, are jerks with poor judgment.ty5y54yIt’s interesting that The Order pokes fun at ritualistic fraternity initiations immediately before bringing us into the pledge process for the titular Hermetic Order of the Blue Rose, which includes — you guessed it — the presentation of a magically appearing blue rose to the potential Neophytes. Even those established in the Order, such as college chancellor Vera Stone (Katharine Isabelle of The Arrangement) and the higher level students like Alyssa, indulge in the use of robes and masks, but somehow the secret society comes across as neither haughty nor ridiculous. It’s just Hogwarts or Brakebills with a dash of alumni politics, and it works.the-order-e1551988902714The question is how many viewers will stay tuned in long enough to realize that the initial conflict that’s presented in which Neophytes are supposedly being killed by werewolves is not nearly as Saturday B-movie as it may sound nor is it in fact a true representation of the nature of the animosity between witches and werewolves at all? Jake’s place in the Order may have a lot to do with the mission imposed upon him by Grandpa Pete, but by episode three, it becomes so much more than that. And again, the friendships that Jake makes along the way (some of which lie in direct opposition to each other) are a bit rushed, but the humor that comes from the Neophytes playing with magic way beyond their understanding or Jack’s R.A. (Adam DiMarco of The Magicians, oddly enough) trying to figure out what to do with his new resident is definitely worth overlooking the artificially acclerated bonding. Fellow Neophyte Gabrielle (Louriza Tronco of Spiral) is especially delightful and will quickly remind The Magicians fans of an early Margo, and she and Brandon (Aaron Hale of Pure) importantly add some much needed diversity to the lily white cast.the-order-season-1-on-netflix-ofSo ignore the loglines and stick around until The Order shows you what it’s really all about. With engaging characters and with several compelling paths set before its protagonist, this show has legs if it plays its cards right. Characters whom you assume are good might not be so honest, and those portrayed as evil aren’t necessarily so. Achieving that level of complexity so quickly is worth the sacrifice of a little exposition. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have seven more episodes to binge.