REVIEW: CHILLING ADVENTURES OF SABRINA – PART 3

Kiernan Shipka in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (2018)

Starring

Kiernan Shipka (Mad Men)
Ross Lynch (Muppets Most Wanted)
Lucy Davis (Wonder Woman)
Chance Perdomo (Killed By Debt)
Michelle Gomez (Bad Education)
Jaz Sinclair (Slender Man)
Tati Gabrielle (The 100)
Adeline Rudolph
Richard Coyle (5 Day of War)
Miranda Otto (Lord of The Rings)
Lachlan Watson (The Ultimate Life)
Gavin Leatherwood (Wicked Enigma)

chilling-adventures-of-sabrina-part-3-music-video

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Jedidiah Goodacre (The Order)
Jonathan Whitesell (The 100)
Sam Corlett (The Dry)
Luke Cook (Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 2)
Skye P. Marshall (Black Lightning)
Ty Wood (The Haunting In Connecticut)
Emily Haine (Deadpool)
Christopher Rosamond (Van Helsing)
Justin Dobies (Get The Girl)
L. scott caldwell (Lost)
Bronson Pinchot (Lois & Clark)
Alessandro Juliani (Smallville)
Matty Finochio (Freaks)
Nathalie Bolt (Step Dave)
Alexis Denisof (Legacies)
Jasmine Vega (Legends of Tomorrow)
Vanessa Rubio (How To Be Single)
Lucie Guest (Orphan Black)
Graeme McComb (Legends of Tomorrow)
Will Swenson (The Switch)
Heather Doerksen (Van Helsing)
Glynis Davies (Stargate Universe)
Whitney Peak (Tales From The Loop)

october-factionIt’s a case of hell hath no fury like a Spellman scorned as Kiernan Shipka’s wily witch is back on her broomstick for Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Part 3. With fans still reeling from the fiery Part 2 finale, it was always clear things were going to get darker before they could get brighter in the next run of episodes. With Father Blackwood on the run, Lilith on the throne, and Zelda ruling over the Church of Night, it’s very much a woman’s world in Part 3. However, Sabrina wastes literally no time in going straight to Hell (in a handbasket) to rescue BF Nick Scratch from her father’s hooves.926c2220-9142-11e9-9460-afa8c7f01ada_800_420Elsewhere, Prudence and Ambrose go on their own Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? quest to track down Father Blackwood. It’s a game of cat and mouse as both sides outfox each other at every turn. The unconventional lovers are assisted by the enigmatic Mambo Marie as Skye P. Marshall channels some serious American Horror Story: Coven vibes. Mambo’s own goals soon put her on an unconventional path toward Zelda.CAS_204_Unit_01167RC-31fa6ab-scaledThe comedy double act of Lucy Davis and Miranda Otto once again bounce off each other as though they’re real-life siblings. Hilda is the warm and motherly Ying to Zelda’s frosty Yang, but it’s Hilda who has arguably the biggest transformation (figuratively and literally) in Part 3. Aside from Chance Perdomo’s Ambrose slipping neatly into the role of Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Giles as the de facto expert on all things occult, the real star of the piece is Michelle Gomez. Pulling double duty as Ms. Wardwell — back in the land of the living — and the powerful Lilith, Gomez brilliantly balances the nervous disposition of Wardwell and the acid-tongued Lilith we’ve come to love and loathe. Richard Coyle has a similarly tough task as he portrays everyone from Father Blackwood to Satan, and even Aunt Hilda.chilling-adventures-of-sabrina-6-e1578590723722-700x327When it comes to the rest of the newcomers, Jonathan Whitesell’s ‘elfish’ Robin gives Theo’s arc much more of a presence as the most interesting member of the Fright Club. Finally, Sam Corlett steps out from the shadows as Caliban – the self-titled Prince of Hell — but sadly fades into the background as just another pretty face. Worse than this, Caliban doesn’t fill his potential as Part 3’s big bad. There’s still a more menacing presence as Lucifer gives Sabrina some serious daddy issues by holding up inside both Nick and Father Blackwood. At the centre of the series is the idea of love and loss, with happy endings being just out of reach for the main characters. Was anyone really buying that Blackwood would simply roll over, that Nick and Sabrina were for keeps, or the vain hope we’d get to see Salem go full Sabrina the Teenage Witch and start talking?sabrina.vikmjaThe coven is down on its luck, and with power waning, it allows a more sinister presence to roll into town. The simple premise of the ‘regular’ witches being the good ones and a carnival of Pagans being the bad is forced a little too hard, making this a travelling circus of problems. The third season of many shows is where they hit their stride, and just like Game of Thrones shocked with the Red Wedding, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina doesn’t hold back in its penultimate episode. Throwing together Pagans, Father Blackwood, Lucifer Morningstar, Lilith, and Caliban, Part 3 becomes a melting pot of villains.MV5BODEyNTAwMTcyMF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDIyMjI2MTE@._V1_While some are undoubtedly disappointed the usual run of episodes have been shrunk to just eight, it’s at least helped writers tighten everything up in Part 3 – admirably, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina still keeps its core of female empowerment and teenage angst. If not for the batsh*t ending putting the pieces in place for Part 4, there’d be a convincing argument that Sabrina has lost a bit of her magic, but thankfully, she’s sure to keep casting a spell over Netflix’s viewership.

 

REVIEW: VAN HELSING – SEASON 4

Aleks Paunovic, Vincent Gale, Kelly Overton, Jonathan Scarfe, and Jennifer Cheon Garcia in Van Helsing (2016)

Starring

Kelly Overton (Teeken)
Jonathan Scarfe (The Equalizer 2)
Christopher Heyerdahl (Sanctuary)
Vincent Gale (Bates Motel)
Rukiya Bernard (The Cabin In The Woods)
Aleks Paunovic (War for the Planet of the Apes)
Keeya King (Madam C.J. Walker)
Neal McDonough (Arrow)
Nicole Muñoz (Defiance)
Caroline Cave (Saw VI)
Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica)

Tricia Helfer and Keeya King in Van Helsing (2016)
Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

John Cassini (Chaos)
Jesse Stanley (The Christmas Train)
Jennifer Cheon Garcia (The Drive)
Rowland Pidlubny (Continuum)
Julie Lynn Mortensen (Drawing Home)
Macie Juiles (Good Boys)
Anna Galvin (Unspeakable)
Donny Lucas (Siren)
Ryan Jinn (2 Hearts)
Tammy Gillis (Ghost Wars)
Richard Harmon (The 100)
Holly Elissa (Arrow)
Donald Sales (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
Heather Doerksen (Pacific Rim)
Colleen Winton (Big Eyes)
Bradley Stryker (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles)
Michael Eklund (Bates Motel)
Dakota Daulby (The 100)
Jessica McLeod (Scary Movie 4)
Natalie Sharp (BH90210)
Zenia Marshall (Date My Dad)
Jill Teed (X-Men 2)
Adam Greydon Reid (Izombie)
Aaron Douglas (Battlestar Galactica)
Briana Skye (Picture a Perfect Christmas)

Most shows just claim to be mystry horror. This is the real deal.. fantastic and fascinating script. So many stories interwined. Always on the edge. Keeps startling you. So many scopes for erotic scenes and that will be great but they still keep so much focus on the story and charecter. Great performances. Maybe bit graphic but totally worth it.Van Helsing (2016)

The story is full of twist and turns. They have braught a whole new and fresh treatment to the horror and specially the tale of dracula. Venessa is just kick ass in the role. She looks ferocous and beautiful at the same time. The siddistic charecter of sam was almost as good as joker. Axel is like the sunshine we might expect when surrounded by vampires. Eagerly waiting for the 5th season and many more. Lastly please bring back scarlett if you canI just finished watching the season 4 finally. First off, this show is great. Main reason, it’s practical, the characters act as normal people given the situation they are in. Of course there are some cliché dialogue and there may be some plot holes. However, the acting is great on the most part. The cinematography is great, unique shots and movements. The editing may be a problem. The best part is the story. You can tell the producers are actually thinking humans.Neal McDonough in Van Helsing (2016)Most shows just claim to be mystry horror. This is the real deal.. fantastic and fascinating script. So many stories interwined. Always on the edge. Keeps startling you. So many scopes for erotic scenes and that will be great but they still keep so much focus on the story and charecter. Great performances. Maybe bit graphic but totally worth it.Jonathan Scarfe, Nicole Muñoz, Jennifer Cheon Garcia, and Keeya King in Van Helsing (2016)The story is full of twist and turns. They have braught a whole new and fresh treatment to the horror and specially the tale of dracula. Venessa is just kick ass in the role. She looks ferocous and beautiful at the same time. The siddistic charecter of sam was almost as good as joker. Axel is like the sunshine we might expect when surrounded by vampires. Eagerly waiting for the 5th season.

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: THE UNINVITED

Starring

David Strathairn (Alphas)
Elizabeth Banks (Power Rangers)
Arielle Kebbel (The Vampire Diaries)
Emily Browning (Sucker Punch)Jesse Moss (actor)
Jesse Moss (Ginger Snaps)
Kevin McNulty (Watchmen)
Don S. Davis (Stargate SG.1)
Heather Doerksen (Pacific Rim)

Emily Browning in The Uninvited (2009)Anna (Emily Browning) has been in a psychiatric institution for ten months, following her suicide attempt after her terminally ill mother died in a boathouse fire. Upon her discharge, she has no memory of the event but frequently has related nightmares. While packing, Anna is startled by a disturbing, talkative patient from the room across the hall. Shortly after, she leaves with her father, Steven (David Strathairn), a writer who has dedicated his latest book to Anna and her sister.Emily Browning in The Uninvited (2009)At home, Anna reunites with her sister, Alex (Arielle Kebbel), with whom she is very close. The sisters stand against Steven’s girlfriend Rachel (Elizabeth Banks), who had been their mother’s live-in nurse. Alex criticizes Steven for sleeping with Rachel while the girls’ mother was still alive and sick in bed but he does not respond. Anna describes to Alex how scenes from her dreams have started happening while she is awake. The sisters become convinced that the hallucinations are messages from their mother, telling them that she was murdered by Rachel.Anna catches up with her old boyfriend, Matt (Jesse Moss), who tells her that he saw what happened the night of the fire. They secretly planned to meet that night, but Matt fails to show up and Anna returns home. In her room, Anna awakens to find him climbing into her window, saying that she needs to know the truth and that he had a warning from her mother. They kiss but then Anna notices Matt’s body suddenly warping and his back breaking. Anna flees from the room in fear but when she opens the door, he is gone. The next morning, Matt’s dead body is pulled out of the water, his back broken. The police assume he fell and drowned.The sisters are unable to find a record of Rachel with the State Nursing Association and conclude she is actually Mildred Kemp, a nanny who killed the three children she looked after because she had an obsession with their widowed father. They try to warn their father, but he ignores their concerns and leaves for work. The girls try to gather evidence against Rachel to show the police but Rachel catches them and sedates Alex. Anna escapes and goes to the local police station, but they do not believe her claims and call Rachel, who sedates Anna and takes her home.As Rachel puts a disoriented Anna in bed, Anna sees Alex in the doorway with a knife and then passes out. She wakes to find that Alex has killed Rachel and thrown her body into a dumpster. As the girls comfort each other, a horrified Steven arrives and asks what happened. Anna explains that Rachel tried to murder her and her sister but Alex saved their lives by killing Rachel. Steven is confused; he explains that Alex died in the fire along with her mother. Anna then notices that she is not holding her sister’s hand, but the bloody knife used to murder Rachel.Anna finally remembers what happened on the night of the fire. After catching her father and Rachel having sex, Anna became enraged and filled a watering can from a large gasoline tank in the boathouse, intending to set them and the house on fire. She did not close the tap properly and a trail of gasoline was ignited by a falling candle. Her mother and Alex were killed in the resulting explosion. Flashbacks reveal that Anna had been hallucinating Alex since she left the institution. She remembers killing Matt—who did show up at their planned meeting—by letting him fall and break his back. She also remembers killing Rachel, who was surprisingly a kinder person than she had imagined. As the police arrest Anna for murder, Steven is questioned by an officer. He explains that Rachel changed her name years ago to escape an abusive boyfriend. At the institution, Anna is welcomed back by the patient across the hall that scared her earlier; the name plate on her door reads “Mildred Kemp”.Overall, “The Uninvited” is a very welcome change from the standard PG-13 horror pictures, and has the caliber of much more sophisticated horror movies. The classic horror atmosphere, creepy sets, and tense character interactions make this movie work, not to mention the twisted ending which is an unexpected smack in the face. “The Uninvited” is an enormously fun, well-constructed flick that retains an elegance that most horror movies nowadays (especially PG-13 thrillers) fail to achieve.

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: THE CABIN IN THE WOODS

 

 

 

CAST

Kristen Connolly (The Happening)
Chris Hemsworth (Thor)
Anna Hutchison (Spartacus: Ward of The Damned)
Fran Kranz (Dollhouse)
Jessie Williams (Grey’s Anatomy)
Richard Jenkins (Step Brothers)
Bradley Whitford (The West Wing)
Brian White (Beauty and The Beast)
Amy Acker (Angel)
Tim DeZarn (Fight Club)
Tom Lenk (Buffy)
Jodelle Ferland (Silent Hill)
Adrian Holmes (Arrow)
Ellie Harvie (The New Addams Family)
Patrick Sabongui (The Flash)
Sigourney Weaver (Aliens)
Nels Lennarson (Horns)
Rukiya Bernard (Van Helsing)
Peter Kelamis (Stargate Universe)
Chelah Horsdal (You Me Her)
Terry Chen (Jessica Jones)
Heather Doerksen (Van Hesling)

In a high tech underground facility, senior technicians Sitterson and Hadley discuss plans for a mysterious operation. A similar operation undertaken by their counterparts in Stockholm has just ended in failure. American college students Dana, Holden, Marty, Jules, and Curt are spending their weekend at a seemingly deserted cabin in the forest, a cabin recently acquired by Curt’s cousin. From their underground facility where they possess significant technological control over the area in which the cabin is situated, Sitterson and Hadley manipulate the teenagers by intoxicating them with mind-altering drugs that hinder rational thinking and increase libido. They take bets from coworkers as to what kind of monster will attack the teenagers and discuss the failures of similar rituals in other nationsIn the cabin’s cellar, the group finds many bizarre objects, including the diary of Patience Buckner, a cabin resident abused by her sadistic family. Dana recites incantations from the journal, inadvertently summoning the zombified Buckner family despite Marty’s warnings. By releasing pheromones, Hadley successfully induces Curt and Jules to have sex. Attacked by the marauding Buckner zombies, Jules is decapitated while Curt escapes to alert the group. Marty, a frequent marijuana smoker, discovers concealed surveillance equipment before being dragged off by one of the Buckners. Later, the facility workers learn that the ritual in Japan has also ended in failure, meaning that the American ritual is humanity’s last hope. It becomes apparent that the ritual involves blood sacrifice.Curt, Holden, and Dana attempt to escape in their RV, but Sitterson triggers a tunnel collapse to block them. Curt jumps a ravine on his motorcycle in an attempt to flee and alert the authorities, only to crash into a force shield, killing him. Holden and Dana retreat to the RV to plan their next move, but one of the Buckners, hiding within all along, fatally stabs Holden as they are driving away, resulting in the RV crashing and sinking into a lake. Dana escapes and swims ashore and is beset in turn. As she is attacked, Sitterson, Hadley, and their staff celebrate the successful completion of the ritual, viewing the events from their underground facility. The celebration is interrupted by a phone call pointing out that Marty has survived. His heavy marijuana use has apparently rendered him immune to Sitterson and Hadley’s manipulations.Marty rescues Dana and takes her to a hidden elevator he discovered under a grave. They descend into the underground facility, where a menagerie of monsters are imprisoned. Dana correlates them with the objects in the cabin’s cellar and realizes that those items gave victims the opportunity to choose the agents of their own deaths during the ritual. Cornered by the facility’s security personnel, she and Marty release the monsters, including zombies, goblins, mutants, witches, wraiths, a basilisk, a unicorn, a killer robot, and an evil clown. They wreak havoc and slaughter the staff; Hadley is killed by a merman and Sitterson escapes to the lower level.Dana and Marty flee the carnage (particularly menaced by a giant bat). Dana accidentally mortally wounds Sitterson, who begs her to kill Marty. Fleeing further, they discover an ancient temple and are confronted by the facility’s leader, known only as The Director. She explains that they are participating in an annual ritual sacrifice to appease the Ancient Ones (described as “giant evil gods”). Each facility’s ritual conforms to the rules of that region’s local lore; in America young people are chosen to be sacrificed based on similarity to certain archetypes: the whore (Jules), the athlete (Curt), the scholar (Holden), the fool (Marty), and the virgin (Dana). In order to complete the ritual the whore must die first and the virgin must survive or die last. Since all other facilities have failed, the penalty for not completing the ritual is the extermination of the entire human race. Hence, The Director urges Dana to kill Marty. Dana considers, but she is interrupted by a werewolf attack, while zombie Patience Buckner appears and kills The Director.Deciding that humanity is not worth saving, Dana and Marty share a joint while awaiting their fate. The temple floor collapses and a giant hand emerges, destroying the facility and the cabin itself.The genius of Cabin is the way director/co-writer Drew Goddard and producer/co-writer Joss Whedon have taken this mindset and embraced it. The film sat on the shelf for years when MGM suffered too many financial woes to afford a release, and yet its wit and invention remain as sharp as ever.  In the interest of keeping expectations managed, Cabin doesn’t reinvent the wheel. Its approach to horror is  original. The increasingly realistic and excessively gruesome style that they rode in on is far from universally loved. Cabin spills its fair share of guts, but it’s a good old-fashioned crowd pleaser.Cabin finds a way to access the reservoir of geekiness by engaging it rather than pandering to it.

REVIEW: BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (2004) – SEASON 4 (PART 2)

Starring

Edward James Olmos (Blade Runner)
Mary McDonnell (Donnie Darko)
Katee Sackhoff (Riddick)
Jamie Bamber (Marcella)
James Callis (Flashforward)
Tricia Helfer (Powers)
Grace Park (Hawaii Five-0)
Michael Hogan (Red Riding Hood)
Aaron Douglas (Chaos)
Tahmoh Penikett (Dollhouse)
Kandyse McClure (Mother’s Day)
Alessandro Juliani (Smallville)

Michael Hogan and Tricia Helfer in Battlestar Galactica (2004)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Lucy Lawless (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Callum Keith Rennie (Impulse)
Heather Doerksen (Van Hesling)
Rekha Sharma (V)
Kate Vernon (Heores)
Jen Halley (Red Riding Hood)
Don Thompson (Slither)
Sonja Bennett (The Fog)
Richard Hatch (InAlienable)
Donnelly Rhodes (Legends of Tomorrow)
Keegan Connor Tracy (Bates Motel)
Bodie Olmos (Walkout)
Sebastian Spence (First Wave)
Mike Dopud (Arrow)
Ty Olsson (War For The POTA)
Leah Cairns (Interstellar)
Colin Lawrence (Watchmen)
Vincent Gale (Bates Motel)
Craig Veroni (Dark Angel)
Mark Sheppard (Doom Patrol)
Michael Trucco (Sabrina: TTW)
Adrian Holmes (Skyscraper)
Dean Stockwell (Quantum Leap)
Roark Critchlow (V)
G. Patrick Currie (Stargate SG.1)
Torrance Coombs (Reign)
Leela Savasta (Stargate Atlantis)
Rick Worthy (The Vampire Diaries)
Tobias Mehler (Young BLades)
Kevin McNulty (Elektra)
Sarah Deakins (Andromeda)
Tiffany Lyndall-Knight (I, Robot)

 

Wrapping up a beloved TV series with an enormous cult following is no easy task. Sci-Fi devotees like me can be tough to please since we’re deeply invested in the characters and the final trajectories their lives take. Fortunately, thanks to the Gods (plus executive producers David Eick, Ronald D. Moore, and a top-notch cadre of actors, writers, directors, and production staff), ardent followers of the outstanding series, Battlestar Galactica, are provided satisfying closure with the must-see release of Season 4.5.
Based on the original series, created by Glen Larson and first aired in 1978, the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica (abbreviated as BSG or Galactica) began as a three-hour miniseries in 2003 and ran for four seasons ending in 2009. Its premise: a civilization of humans, who inhabit the Twelve Colonies, develop a cybernetic race (Cylons) to serve as workers and soldiers. The Cylons, who become sentient and monotheistic, eventually rebel, opening a can of nuclear-style whoop-ass on their sinful creators. With billions of people annihilated, the remaining 50,000 or so survivors are on the run, led by the last remaining warship, the battlestar Galactica. Humanity’s hope is to reach the fabled Thirteenth Colony (Earth) before the Cylons wipe them out.Jamie Bamber and Aaron Douglas in Battlestar Galactica (2004)In Season 4.5, the wounds of New Caprica (a would-be refuge overrun by the Cylons at the end of Season 2) fester among humans and Cylons alike. Trust and betrayal take center stage for both sides as new, tenuous alliances are formed and mutinous elements take hold. As with previous seasons, it’s evident that Larson’s Mormon beliefs, the post-9/11 War on Terror, and Moore’s agnostic, humanist views influence Season 4.5’s, context, characters, and events. The result is thought-provoking stories that make this sometimes passive viewer sit up, take notice, and consider how the show’s religious, political, and ethical issues are critically relevant today. For folks who prefer not to delve too deeply into the storytelling – no worries. The visuals (both actual and CGI) are frakkin’ amazing. The menacing, mechanical, chrome Cylons send shivers up my spine and several of the human-looking, “skin-jobs” are, well… really HOT! Throw in some heart-stopping CGI space battles and its hands down the best looking show I’ve ever seen.Not to be outdone by the special effects are the stellar performances. Edward James Olmos (Galactica’s Commander William Adama) and Mary McDonnell (President Laura Roslin), both 2009 Saturn Award winners, are outstanding in their respective roles as strong but flawed leaders who support and deeply love one another. With all the May – December romances depicted in film and television, it’s refreshing to see a strong, yet tender relationship between age/power-equivalent adults over 50. Katee Sackhoff (Captain Kara ‘Starbuck’ Thrace) is terrific as the hot-headed, ace viper-pilot who’s grappling with her past familial dysfunction and current romantic and identity crises. Sackhoff effectively and realistically balances the opposing sides to her character: the confident feminist action heroine and the abandoned, damaged woman. Jamie Bamber (Lee Adama), James Callis (Dr. Gaius Baltar), and Tricia Helfer (Number Six) all give remarkable performances as well. Also, since the series was filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia, I was pleasantly surprised to see other standout Canadian actors added to the Season 4.5 cast; especially Darcie Laurie (who played the chief lieutenant and down-to-earth henchman Bob in the series Intelligence).Battlestar Galactica expertly tells the tales of complex, flawed characters; however, Season 4.5 is not without its own faults. For example, I found the flashbacks in the two-part series finale, “Daybreak” to be needlessly slow and irrelevant in advancing the plot. The purpose might have been to further round-out the characters, but the few added details given are misplaced at a time when viewers are seeking answers to larger questions. In addition, some may be frustrated that Season 4.5 doesn’t solve all of BSG’s mysteries. But life rarely reveals all its secrets, and the closure that’s provided will likely be sufficiently satisfying to most.

 

REVIEW: BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (2004) – SEASON 2

Starring

Edward James Olmos (Blade Runner)
Mary McDonnell (Donnie Darko)
Katee Sackhoff (Riddick)
Jamie Bamber (Marcella)
James Callis (Flashforward)
Tricia Helfer (Powers)
Grace Park (Hawaii Five-0)
Michael Hogan (Red Riding Hood)
Aaron Douglas (Chaos)
Nicki Clyne (Saved!)
Tahmoh Penikett (Dollhouse)
Kandyse McClure (Mother’s Day)
Paul Campbell (Knight Rider)
Alessandro Juliani (Smallville)

Tahmoh Penikett and Katee Sackhoff in Battlestar Galactica (2004)Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Samuel Witwer (Smallville)
Donnelly Rhodes (Legends of Tomorrow)
Rekha Sharma (V)
Callum Keith Rennie (Impulse)
Lucy Lawless (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Matthew Bennett (Stargate SG.1)
Dean Stockwell (Quantum Leap)
Rick Worthy (The Vampire Diaries)
Richard Hatch (InAlienable)
Amber Rothwell (White Noise)
Lorena Gale (The Exorcism of Emily Rose)
Michael Trucco (Sabrina: TTW)
Michelle Forbes (Powers)
Graham Beckel (The Loft)
Kurt Evans (Izombie)
Leah Cairns (Interstellar)
Bodie Olmos (Walkout)
Luciana Carro (Helix)
Kate Vernon (Heores)
Alonso Oyarzun (Reindeer Games)
Jen Halley (Red Riding Hood)
Ty Olsson (War of TPOTA)
Aleks Paunovic (Van Helsing)
Malcolm Stewart (Jumanji)
Dominic Zamprogna (Stargate Universe)
James Remar (BLack Lightning)
Patricia Idlette (Ginger Snaps 2)
Benjamin Ayres (The Vampire Diaries)
Don Thompson (Watchmen)
Fulvio Cecere (Valentine)
John Pyper-Ferguson (Caprica)
Sebastian Spence (First Waves)
Mike Dopud (Arrow)
Vincent Gale (Bates Motel)
Colm Feore (Thor)
David Richmond-Peck (Sanctuary)
Claudette Mink (Paycheck)
Bill Duke (Black Lightning)
Christopher Jacot (Slasher)
John Heard (Home Alone)
Kavan Smith (Staragte Atlantis)
Stefanie von Pfetten (Cracked)
Erica Cerra (Power Rangers)
Alisen Down (Smallville)
Heather Doerksen (Van Hesling)
David Kaye (Beast Wars)
Colin Lawrence (Watchmen)

Some cynical individual, at some time, blurted out that “there’s always room for improvement” about an accomplishment or achievement that was fine in its own right. In the spectrum of film and television, it’s true that all material can be tightened, focused, and made even more compelling with practice; but oftentimes creative teams fall back into comfort zones and neglect to spit-shine where improvement is needed. Ronald Moore and David Eick, the creators of the reimagined Battlestar Galactica series, understand this concept. They accomplished something intriguing, thrilling, and dramatically magnetic with their initial 2003 miniseries and, later, a full subsequent season that grappled the structure of the three-hour introduction — characters, mythos, and stunning production merits through striking photography and convincing computer effects — and ran with it. However, there’s always room for improvement, and Battlestar Galactica’s second season finds a deeper focus and more thrill-inducing pace that fully ratchets the series into the stratosphere of superb science-fiction creations.Nicki Clyne and Aaron Douglas in Battlestar Galactica (2004)The first season constructs a “reboot” of the highest accord, taking the original content from the 1978 television series and shaping it into an edgy and modern production in the vein of “West Wing … in space”. Grecian mythology, military-heavy hierarchal bickering, and the relationships between people on the space ship Galactica — both tender and volatile — are all sparked into action when the Cylons, humanity’s slave-like machines evolved into enlightened yet vengeful beings, attack their creators after 40 years of recoiled hibernation. These attacks, which left around 50,000 humans alive, wiped out sixteen of the individuals in-line for the presidency over the “colonies”, which left Secretary of Education Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell, Dances With Wolves) as the next in line. Somehow, this all gyrates around the weasel-like scheming of Dr. Gaius Baltar (James Callis, Bridget Jones’ Diary), who inadvertently fell for the whims of a blonde-haired Cylon (Tricia Helfer) and revealed humanity’s defense secrets — and, now, follows orders from the sultry “machine” in the confines of his own mind, with her as little more than an illusion reminding him of his “importance” as one of God’s pawns. Monotheistic God, not polytheistic, but that’ll become important later on.After its thrilling two-part miniseries and a handful of tense cat-and-mouse episodes at the start, the first season (which should be viewed before continuing this review, as the context here relies on the fact that you’ve seen the first season) coasts along a stream of dynamic back-and-forths between Galactica’s Commander Bill Adama (Edward James Olmos, Blade Runner) and President Roslin — leading to a point where Adama is stretched out on the ship’s command center deck, bleeding from gunshot wounds incurred by an assassination attempt. Season Two picks up directly after the shooting, showing how the military hierarchy moves its pieces around Adama’s incapacitation. His XO (second in command) Saul Tigh (Michael Hogan) wrestles with his alcohol addiction as he tries to juggle an unwanted leadership position, shrug off his wife Ellen’s (Kate Vernon) passenger-seat manipulation of the Galactica’s workings, and make the colonies understand why President Roslin has been arrested for subordination. On top of that, we’re also watching the way Adama’s ailment affects his son, Captain Lee Adama (Jamie Bamber), as his allegiance to the Colonial fleet sways between loyalty to his father and his belief in what the theologically-focused President Roslin is trying to accomplish.Richard Hatch and Michael Hogan in Battlestar Galactica (2004)But, as Battlestar Galactica veterans know, that core quarrel really only scoops up the top layer of the conflicts that lie underneath the Colonial fleet’s hunt for a safe, habitable planet — whether it be the fabled planet Earth, the newly-discovered planet of Kobol, or beyond. Season Two also finds a deeper focus on Kara Thrace (Katee Sackhoff, “Nip/Tuck”), aka Starbuck, as more than a novel imitation of the classic series’ character, concentrating on the depth of her belief in the gods, her bull-headedness giving way to a need for deeper connections with others, and a particular point where she’s, dare I say it, made hopelessly vulnerable in the episode “The Farm”. This happens on Cylon-occupied Caprica, the colonies’ once-thriving central metropolis, where she and Lieutenant ‘Helo’ Agathon (Tahmoh Penikett, “Dollhouse”) are attempting to locate a way off the planet and back to Galactica with the “Arrow of Apollo” in their possession. There, they interact with a second version of the “Sharon” model of Cylon (Grace Park), pregnant with Helo’s child and rebellious against her kind. Along those same lines, we also see how the cluster of Colonial soldiers stranded on Kobol — deck chief Galen Tyrol (Aaron Douglas) and his “knuckledragger” subordinates, as well as Vice President Baltar — find a way to survive until they’re able to make an escape attempt.Mary McDonnell and Katee Sackhoff in Battlestar Galactica (2004)Though the introductory season of Battlestar Galactica triumphs for establishing the storyline’s intricacies, a broad spectrum of characters, and suspenseful density, Ron Moore and David Eick still had a handful of creaks in the series’ bow that needed repair — such as tighter concentration on the political banter and more focused balancing between space warfare and non-CIC dramatics. Though intriguing to some, including myself, those elements also tended to bog down the pacing to a degree that could deter some from its deliberate concentration on policy. It’s important, and necessary, for a lengthy story to grow beyond its limitations, and the Moore / Eick team hone the introductory season’s successes into a poised, pulsating blend of drama and thrills that bolsters its initial successes forward two-fold. Everything that underscores the series’ quality — superb, straight-faced acting, slickly detailed cinematography ranging from cold and dark to acidic and overblown, and some of the best music on television, period — persists into the second season, now attached to a sense of obvious plot refinement.Jamie Bamber and Katee Sackhoff in Battlestar Galactica (2004)

does it differ? Well, this season knows when and how to play its cards, where the initial season struggles in knowing exactly what to do with the substantially impressive content that it’s generating. The thematic density that it crams into this season is staggering; the complications of martial law (military control of the government), delicateness around following an idealist (dying) leader with religion as their driving force, technology’s advancement and control over our everyday activity, the necessity of black market trade, and, eventually, the power of government-mandated control over population control. All of these elements are timely and meaningful, even allegorical to conflicts present in modern society, and they’re handled with a specific panache in this second season that remains vigilant throughout. But they’re not overtly heavy-handed; sly incorporation allows us to view these elements merely on the surface for service of the story or as deeper insights — whichever suits the viewer.James Remar and Jamie Bamber in Battlestar Galactica (2004)On top of that, Moore and Eick have set sights on how to tie these heady elements in with the bustling activity of operatic space battles, and they’ve succeeded in a way that maintains the series’ accessibility. The hyper-elaborate technobabble prevalent in other series — such as bits and pieces about a ship that “made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs” and about “trionic initiators in the warp coil” — gets tossed aside to allow for a direct focus on human interactions, such as ebbs and flows between father and son in authoritative positions, the fear and fatigue within a crew that’s never given much of a chance to relax, and an affinity with Laura Roslin as she succumbs to terminal breast cancer. Emotion-heavy episodes, such as the excellent “Flight of the Phoenix” where Chief Tyrol finds distraction and a sense of hope in building a new fighter ship from scraps, are there solely for that purpose. They even work in cliché taglines like, “They can run, but they can’t hide”, and hokey plot points like a bona-fide love triangle to convincing degrees — well, with their own spins on the material. In that, the creators rope us into the emotional fabric as if we’re members of the crew, sharing their plights. We’re not forced to try and comprehend scientific jargon, aside from a few scattered discussions about firewalls, viruses, and FTL drives, but instead asked to unswervingly, and powerlessly, hold our focus on the shifts in power aboard the Galactica.Mary McDonnell, Edward James Olmos, Jamie Bamber, and Katee Sackhoff in Battlestar Galactica (2004)Then, with a flick of the writers’ wrists, they change the way that we perceive just about everything in the series with the episode “Pegasus”. Out of nowhere, another one of the colonial fighter bases, the Battlestar Pegasus, arrives unexpectedly within the proximity of Galactica’s location. Once both have confirmed that they’re friendly ships, we’re introduced to Admiral Helena Cain (Michelle Forbes) — a strong, bloodthirsty woman with a very tight, dictatorial grip on her ship. Unlike the Galactica, the Pegasus is competitive, hardened, chauvinistic and far more stringent on policy, which creates a world of conflict once the two commanders begin comparing notes on Galactica’s personnel issues, power rankings, and the lenience in handling a Cylon prisoner. More importantly, Admiral Cain is Adama’s superior officer, and her iron-fist reclaim of power decidedly tears the fleet apart. In a matter of forty-some-odd minutes, the entire power structure of Battlestar Galactica is rearranged and tossed into volatile disarray, left for our characters to plot around and sort out. And it makes for thoroughly gut-swelling television because of it, stretching over an impressive three-episode arc (“Pegasus”, “Resurrection Ship” Parts One and Two).Lucy Lawless and Patrick Harrison in Battlestar Galactica (2004)It’s at this point, once the dust clears from the Pegasus incidents, that Battlestar Galactica begins to really claim a place in the annals of science-fiction as one of its finest creations — even with a few stumbling blocks that it still fights against. Ellen Tigh’s manipulation of Saul while he’s in command of the Galactica borders on the unbelievable, though one can certainly understand the swaying power of a significant other. A few character moments feel shoehorned into the mix, such as Lee’s character history revelations in “Black Market”, where the desire to beef up each and every character overreaches their bounds. And, quite simply, one or two of the episodes still fall a tad flat, whether they’re because of an unattractive character coming into focus, such as the hot-rod stem junkie pilot Kat in the ho-hum filler ep “Scar”, or the show simply attempting to do things that it can’t pull off, like the meandering MTV reality show style footage in “Final Cut”. Each of these faults are minor blemishes on otherwise successful, and thought-provoking, installments into the story arc, proving that even weak Battlestar Galactica episodes can be compelling to a middling degree.James Callis and Tricia Helfer in Battlestar Galactica (2004)With its continual and newly-sprung ideas bubbling at the cusp, Moore and Eick reach a conclusion to the second season, the masterful two-parter “Lay Down Your Burdens”, that focuses on the much-anticipated presidential race alluded to in the first season. Restoration of complete democracy and humanization become the weighty element at play, as the candidates — surprises aplenty — duke it out with the fleet’s concerns of safe planetary habitat and population boom as key driving forces. The interplay between all of the individuals is brilliant; however, it’s the outcome, and the legitimately shocking twist at the end of the finale, that’ll likely send one on a contemplative tailspin. With no less than three cliffhanger episodes in this season, it’s only expected that the finale in itself would be a weighty one, and Syfy’s heavy-hitting series doesn’t disappoint in that regard. It’s a brilliant way to swirl the entire season together, even if everything is turned upside down once again. That’s part of Ron Moore and David Eick’s game, a sci-fi neo-political chessgame that’s well worth playing.

 

REVIEW: STARGATE: ATLANTIS – SEASON 4

Starring

Joe Flanigan (Thoughtcrimes)
Amanda Tapping (Sanctuary)
Jason Momoa (Aquaman)
Rachel Luttrell (A Dog’s Breakfast)
David Hewlett (Rise of TPOTA)

David Nykl in Stargate: Atlantis (2004)
RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Torri Higginson (Dark Waters)
Jewel Staite (Firefly)
David Nykl (Arrow)
Claire Rankin (Taken TV)
Michael Beach (Aquaman)
Bill Dow (Izombie)
Yee Jee Tso (Antitrust)
Chuck Campbell (Jason X)
David Ogden Stiers (Two Guys and a Girl)
Sharon Taylor (Smallville)
Christopher Judge (The Dark Knight Rises)
Aleks Paunovic (Van Helsing)
Kyra Zagorsky (See)
Heather Doerksen (Van Hesling)
Mark Dacascos (Kamen Rider Dragon Knight)
Kavan Smith (Mission to Mars)
Jill Wagner (Blade: The Series)
Michael Cram (Flashpoint)
Brenda James (Slither)
Niall Matter (The Predator)
Danny Trejo (Machete)
Christopher Heyerdahl (Sanctuary)
Kimberley Warnat (Freddy vs Jason)
Robert Picardo (The Orville)
Kate Hewlett (A Dog’s Breakfast)
Steven Culp (Jason Goes To Hell)
Brendan Penny (The A-Team)
Michelle Morgan (Deep Six)
Mitch Pileggi (The X-Files)
Andee Frizzell (Flash Gordon)
Jodelle Ferland (Kingdom Hospital)
David Richmond-Peck (V)
Crystal Lowe (Black Xmas)
Kari Wuhrer (Eight Legged Freaks)
Emma Lahana (Cloak & Dagger)
Dylan Neal (Arrow)
Rob LaBelle (Dark Angel)
Ben Cotton (Bates Motel)
Gary Jones (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
Connor Trinneer (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Paul McGillion (The Flash)
Patrick Sabongui (Power Rangers)

David Hewlett in Stargate: Atlantis (2004)Stargate Atlantis ups its game with season four. But it’s not with particularly clever or imaginative stories that the shows writers and producers manage to bring about this change; it’s actually in the areas of character development and action that this season really excels. With the (implied) deaths of inarguably my favourite two characters in season three, I wasn’t expecting their replacements to integrate perfectly, or right away into the Atlantis team, but both actors are given such great material to work with that it’s impossible not to be engaged with their individual story-arcs.Amanda Tapping in Stargate: Atlantis (2004)Sam carter is (of course) as brilliant as always, but unlike Doctor Weir, doesn’t appear in nearly as many episodes, or seem to be involved as deeply in the decision-making processes on the base. She just feels like any other member of the team and fits right in almost immediately. Doctor Keller is initially unconvincing in her role as chief medic, but before long she too blossoms into a really intriguing and multi-layered character.Rachel Luttrell and Jewel Staite in Stargate: Atlantis (2004)While there are more than a handful of solid Replicator and Wraith-based episodes to enjoy in this twenty-episode season, it’s the character-based stories that stand-out for me as the best examples of this season. Episode 7- `Missing’ , episode 13- `Quarantine’ and episode 16- `Trio’ are each so gripping. The final stand-out story for me would be the concluding episode- `The Last Man’, which breaks out of the mould of the finale’s of previous seasons and doesn’t involve an unprovoked attack on the city, or a multi-episode build-up. It’s pretty self-contained on the whole and mixes well themes of time-travel, action and season four’s despicable mystery nemesis.