REVIEW: SUPERGIRL – SEASON 1

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MAIN CAST

Melissa Benoist (Whiplash)
Mehcad Brooks (Necessary Roughness)
Chyler Leigh (Brake)
Jeremy Jordan (Smash)
David Harewood (Blood Diamond)
Calista Flockhart (The Last Shot)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Laura Benanti (Take The Lead)
Dean Cain (Lois & Clark)
Helen Slater (Supergirl 80s)
Owain Yeoman (Troy)
Faran Tahir (Iron Man)
Robert Gant (Popular)
Briana Venskus (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Chris Vaance (Prison Break)
Peter Facinelli (Twilight)
Jenna Dewan Tatum (Witches of East End)
Chris Browning (Cowboys & Aliens)
Brit Morgan (True Blood)
Scott Michael Campbell (Push)
Tristin Mays (The Vampire Diaries)
Charles Halford (Constantine TV)
Eric Steinberg (Stargate SG.1)
Hope Lauren (Agent Carter)
Emma Caulfield (Buffy)
Tawny Cypress (Heroes)
Italia Ricci (American Pie: Beta House)
Laura Vandervoort (Smallville)
Sara Gilbert (The Big Bang Theory)
Eddie McClintock (Bones)
Glenn Morshower (Transformers 3)


Warner Bros have had a rocky road when it comes to their superhero characters and although the Christopher Nolan Batman franchise epitomized this character, their other attempts at films like Green Lantern and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice met with criticism. Sometimes ‘dark’ does not always work, particularly when it comes to superheroes and if you want an example at this, check out the Marvel Universe of superheroes. However for their TV series (Arrow, Flash, Legends of Tomorrow), they’ve successfully captured the spirit of these characters and the comic universe where they came from and thankfully Superman’s cousin Kara Zor-El (aka Kara Davers) is also part of this success thanks to the excellent TV series Supergirl that stars Melissa Benoist as this intelligent and beautiful Kryptonian. Given that, the entire casting for Supergirl is perfect!

The series is also created by Ali Adler, Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg who are no strangers to the world of superheroes and compared to the entire DC Comics TV line-up, Supergirl is easily one of my favorite as it doesn’t try to be too dark but rather, uplifting and enjoyable.

Also joining Benoist as Supergirl is Mechad Brooks (Jimmy Olsen), David Harewood (Hank Henshaw or the ‘Martian Manhunter’ known as J’onn J’onzz), Chyler Leigh (Kara’s adopted sister Alex Danvers), Jeremy Jordan (Kara’s sidekick) and also Calista Flockhart who plays Cat Grant, the owner of CatCo Worldwide Media (think a modern version of the Daily Planet). Sure, some of the actors camp it up for the TV series but this campiness actually works well with the characters and the story and once again, continue with the light-hearted nature of the series.

Given that, there are some darker moments in the series but overall and compared to The Flash, Arrow, Legends of Tommorrow, Supergirl is a much more colorful and hopeful story. The series even boasts Helen Slater (who played the original Supergirl in the 1984 movie) as Eliza Danvers as Kara’s adoptive mother plus Dean Cain as her father who played Superman in the classic 1993 TV series, Lois & Clark. This is also what I enjoy about Supergirl is all the cameos and whether that’s from film or the world of DC Comics itself, the creators really cram in quite a few people into the series, many as Easter Eggs.

Although each episode has a ‘villain’, the overarching villain is Laura Benanti as Alura Zor-El who plays the evil twin sister of Kara’s mother. Having additional Kryptonians in the show does increase the jeopardy for our heroine and some of these episodes are considerably darker. Then you have billionaire Maxwell Lord (Peter Facinelli) who is not evil perse but wants the best for the world which of course causes conflict. Once again, some great villains for Supergirl. Kara’s supporting cast include an African American Jimmy Olsen who also provides a love interest for Supergirl plus their geeky tech-head sidekick Winn Schott who together attempt to protect the fictitious National City. Then you have Kara’s sister Alex who works for the DEO (Department of Extra-Normal Operations) that is run by Hank Henshaw, an alien known as J’onn J’onzz disguised as a human in order to protect the world from alien threats. The character of Henshaw also has a great history.

Interestingly, Superman is mentioned in the series and does appear off screen. He will  actually makes a full appearance in Season 2 of Supergirl but the coolest crossover in any TV series was when Grant Gustin from The Flash starred in one episode which had fanboys and fangirls gushing from the coolness factor. With 20 episodes in this collection, Supergirl does end with a cliffhanger and with a second season confirmed (moving to CW) things are looking up for the Girl of Steel.

Supergirl on Blu-ray boasts some exceptional video and audio quality that really highlights the colourful costumes, villains and heroes of this universe. For special features, we get a handful of deleted scenes plus a couple of fun documentaries about J’onn J’onzz and Supergirl. All in all, it’s a great release from Roadshow Warner.

Supergirl is a proof that superheroes don’t need to be dark and moody and this TV series captures the spirit and core of this character that thanks to its creators successfully transforms the comic into a very enjoyable, clichéd and action packed live-action series with lots of world building and character development!. An Excellent series and a must see for all DC fans.

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REVIEW: NO WAY BACK

CAST

Russell Crowe (Gladiator)
Helen Slater (Supergirl)
Etsushi Toyokawa (Beautiful Rain)
Michael Lerner (X-Men: Days of Future Past)
Kelly Hu (Arrow)
Andrew J. Ferchland (Buffy)
Ian Ziering (Sharknado)
François Chau (Lost)

No Way Back stars Russell Crowe as Zack Grant, a special agent who is called upon to lead a federal unit to bring down the son of a huge mob boss, Frank Sariano (played by Michael Lerner). But after making a bad judgment call, and sending in a rookie agent who goes haywire, Zack lands himself in some hot water with his department. Yet, after figuring out that the agent he sent in was actually working with the Yakuza, and using a little detective work, Zack finds a way to clear his name. However, to do so won’t be easy.

Zack must journey to Japan and go undercover to bring back one of Yakuza’s big bosses, Yuji (Japanese actor Etsushi Toyokawa). Bringing Yuji back to justice won’t be easy because, not only will Zack have to deal with the Yakuza gunmen, Sariano has taken Grant’s son, and is offering a trade for the life of Yuji, whom he believes to be the man responsible in his son’s murder. Making the choice for Zack won’t be easy but along for the ride is a flighty stewardess (Helen Slater in the worst form of her career), who may be able to inspire Zack in to making the right choice. What ensues is an action road comedy, with a three-way twist when Zack is put in the middle of a three way “war”, with no side to call his own.

The film although lacking a little in the story department, just needed a few added scenes, the actors were great. The comic relief was great. Worth checking out for Supergirls Helen Slater.

REVIEW: SMALLVILLE – SEASON 1-10

CAST

Tom Welling (The Fog)
Kristin Kreuk (Beauty and the Beast)
Michael Rosenbaum (Urban Legend)
Eric Johnson (Flash Gordon)
Sam Jones III (Glory Road)
Allison Mack (Superman/Batman: Public Enemies)
Annette O’ Toole (IT)
John Schneider (Desperate Housewives)
John Glover (Robocop 2)
Erica Durance (The Butterfly Effect 2)
Jensen Ackles (Supernatural)
Aaron Ashmore (The Skulls 2)
Justin Hartley (Chuck)
Laura Vandervoort (Bitten)
Cassidy Freeman (Yellowbrickroad)
Sam Witwer (Being Human)
Callum Blue (Dead Like Me)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Sarah-Jane Redmond (V)
Chad Donella (Final Destination)
Gabrielle Rose (Catch and Release)
Jason Connery (Wishmaster 3)
Hiro Kanagawa (Heroes Reborn)
David Paetkau (Flashpoint)
Lizzy Caplan (Cloverfield)
Mitchell Kosterman (White Noise)
Michael Coristine (Get Over It)
Eric Christian Olsen (Tru Calling)
Jackie Burroughs (The Dead Zone)
George Murdock (Star Trek V)
Amy Adams (Batman V Superman)
Malcolm Stewart (Timecop)
Joe Morton (Terminator 2)
Robert Wisden (Watchmen)
Tony Todd (Chuck)
Kelly Brook (The Italian Job)
Azura Skye (Red Dragon)
Rick Peters (Veronica Mars)
Kevin McNulty (Elektra)
Tom O’Brien (The Accused)
Shawn Ashmore (X-Men)
Kavan Smith (Stargate SG.1)
Evangeline Lilly (Lost)
Corin Nemec (Parker Lewis Can’t Lose)
Cameron Dye (Valley Girl)
Eric Breker (Walking Tall)
Jud Tyler (That 70s Show)
Nicki Clyne (Saved)
Ryan Kelley (Teen Wolf)
Brandy Ledford (Andromeda)
Rekha Sharma (Dark Angel)
Tiffany Lyndall-Knight (Wolf Creek: The Series)
Marguerite Moreau (Easy)
Shonda Farr (Crossroads)
Adam Brody (The OC)
Kevan Ohtsji (Godzilla)
Aaron Douglas (Battlestar Galactica)
Krista Allen (The Final Destination)
Sara Downing (Roswell)
Sean Faris (The Brotherhood 2)
Richard Moll (Scary Movie 2)
Gwynyth Walsh (Star Trek: Generations)
Maggie Lawson (Two and a Half Men)
George Coe (The Entity)
Richard Gant (Rocky V)
Neil Grayston (Wonderfalls)
Patrick Cassidy (Lois & Clark)
Martin Cummins (Dark Angel)
William B. Davis (The X-Files)
Jonathan Taylor Thomas (Home Imporvement)
Emmanuelle Vaugier (Two and a Half Men)
David Richmond-Peck (V)
Tamara Feldman (Hatchet)
Gordon Tootoosis (Legends of The Fall)
Byron Mann (Arrow)
Adrianne Palicki (Agents of Shield)
Colin Cunningham (Elektra)
Jill Teed (Highlander: The Series)
Paul McGillion (Stargate: Atlantis)
Rob LaBelle (Jack Frost)
Paul Wesley (The Vampire Diaries)
Cristopher Reeve (Superman: The Movie)
Camille Mitchell (Caprica)
Steve Bacic (Andromeda)
Michael Adamthwaite (Sucker Punch)
Zachery Ty Bryan (Fast and Furious 3)
Neil Flynn (Scrubs)
Jodelle Ferland (Kingdom Hospital)
Terence Stamp (Superman 1 & 2)
Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner)
Ryan Robbins (Arrow)
Francoise Yip (Robocop: Prime Directives)
Jesse Metcalfe (Dallas)
Katharine Isabelle (Ginger Snaps)
Christopher Shyer (V)
John DeSantis (The New Addams Family)
Michael McKean (This Is Spinal Tap)
Lorena Gale (Battlestar Galactica)
Kendall Cross (X-Men 2)
Michael Dangerfield (Catwoman)
Ian Somerhalder (The Vampire Diaries)
Missy Peregrym (Heroes)
Meghan Ory (Dark Angel)
Ryan Merriman (Final Destination 3)
Sarah Carter (D.O.A.)
Lynda Boyd (Power Rangers In Space)
Tahmoh Penikett (Battlestar Galactica)
Gary Hudson (Mutant X)
Teryl Rothery (Stargate SG.1)
Nathaniel Arcand (Pathfinder)
Amber Rothwell (Andromeda)
Brandon Jay McLaren (Power Rangers SPD)
Margot Kidder (The Amityville Horror)
Ona Grauer (V)
Michael Ironside (Scanners)
Amanda Walsh (Disturbia)
Kyle Gallner (Veronica Mars)
Trent Ford (The Island)
Jane Seymour (Wedding Crashers)
Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother)
John Pyper-Ferguson (Caprica)
Derek Hamilton (Ripper)
Peyton List (The Flash)
Chris Carmack (Into The Blue 2)
John Novak (Wishmaster 3 & 4)
Nolan Gerard Funk (Arrow)
Peter Wingfield (Highlander: The Series)
Beatrice Rosen (Chasing Liberty)
Kandyse McClure (Battlestar Galactica)
Jonathan Bennett (Veronica Mars)
Tom Butler (Blade: The Series)
Steven Grayhm (White Chicks)
David Orth (The Lost World)
James Marsters (Buffy)
Leonard Roberts (Heroes)
Alana De La Garza (Scorpion)
Kenny Johnson (Bates Motel)
Johnny Lewis (Felon)
Alan Ritchson (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Carrie Fisher (Star Wars)
Erica Cerra (The 100)
Brooke Nevin (Infestation)
Top Wopat (Django Unchained)
Noah Danby (Bitten)
Alisen Down (Case 39)
Adrian Holmes (Arrow)
Jorge Vargas (Power Rangers Ninja Storm)
Annie Burgstede (CSI)
Sarah Lind (Wolfcop)
Denise Quinones (Aquman 2006)
Lee Thompson Young (Flashforward)
Nichole Hiltz (Bones)
Mackenzie Gray (Man of Steel)
Emily Hirst (Blade: The Series)
Anne Marie Deluise (Goosebumps)
Callum Rennie (Legends of Tomorrow)
Ian Tracey (Bates Motel)
Alex Scarlis (8mm 2)
Jody Thompson (Flash Gordon)
Pascale Hutton (Sanctuary)
Lochlyn Munro (Little man)
Amber McDonald (Gloria)
Lucas Grabeel (Milk)
Bow Wow (Like Mike)
Dave Bautista (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Mike Dopud (Stargate Universe)
Phil Morris (Meet The Spartans)
Tori Spelling (Scary Movie 2)
Matthew Walker (Alone In The Dark)
Greyston Holt (Bitten)
Benjamin Ayres (The Vampire Diaries)
Lynda Carter (Wonder Woman)
Emily Holmes (Dark Angel)
Gerard Plunkett (Sucker Punch)
Anna Galvin (Caprica)
Michael Cassidy (Batman V Superman)
Tom McBeath (Bates Motel)
Peter Bryant (Dark Angel)
Kim Coates (The Amityville Curse)
Christina Milian (be Cool)
Christopher Jacot (Mutant X)
Helen Slater (Supergirl)
Christopher Heyerdahl (Sanctuary)
Elyse Levesque (Stargate Universe)
Tim Guinee (Stargate SG.1)
Marc McClure (Superman: The Movie)
Alaina Huffman (Painkiller Jane)
Gina Holden (Flash Gordon)
Anne Openshaw (The Grey)
Robert Picardo (Star Trek: Voyager)
Ari Cohen (Gangland Undercover)
Donnelly Rhodes (Battlestar Galactica)
Sara Canning (The Vampire Diaries)
Jessica Parker Kennedy (The Secret Circle)
Charlotte Sullivan (Defendor)
Anna Williams (Blonde and Blonder)
Kyle Schmid (Arrow)
Ryan Kennedy (Caprica)
Alexz Johnson (Devil’s Diary)
Calum Worthy (Daydream Nation)
Dario Delacio (War)
Ty Olsson (Izombie)
Alessandro Juliani (Man of Steel)
Ted Whittall (Beauty and The Beast)
Chris Gauthier (Watchmen)
Stephen Lobo (Painkiller jane)
Serinda Swan (Tron Legacy)
Connor Stanhope (American Mary)
Dominic Zamprogna (Odyssey 5)
Nels Lennarson (Sanctuary)
Brendan Flecther (Bloodrayne 3)
Anna Mae Wills (2012)
Monique Ganderton (American Ultra)
Sharon Taylor (Stargate: Atlantis)
Brian Austin Green (Termiantor: TSCC)
Steph Song (War)
Elise Gatien (Izombie)
Emilie Ullerup (Sanctuary)
Julian Sands (Gotham)
Dean Cain (Lois & Clark)
Allison Scagliotti (Warehouse 13)
Dylan Neal (Arrow)
David Gallagher (Super 8)
Anita Torrance (Caprica)
Pam Grier (jackie Brown)
Michael Shanks (Stargate SG.1)
Brent Stait (Androemda)
Britt Irvin (V)
Wesley MacInnes (Warcraft)
Jim Shield (Final Destination 3)
Roger Haskett (Paycheck)
Ken Lawson (Descendants)
Erica Carroll (Apollo 18)
Crystal Lowe (Poison Ivy 4)
Sean Rogerson (Bitten)
Odessa Rae (Hard Candy)
Jonthan Walker (Red)
Gil Bellows (Flashforward)
Blu Mankuma (Robocop: The Series)
Keri Lynn Pratt (Cruel Intentions 2)
Bradley Stryker (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles)
Sahar Biniaz (Watchmen)
Lexa Doig (Andromeda)
Christine Willes (Dead Like me)
Steve Byers (Mutant X)
Teri Hatcher (Lois & Clark)
Lindsay Hartley (All My ChildreN)
Michael Hogan (Battlestar Galctica)
James Kidnie (Arrow)
Aleks Paunovic (Mutant X)
Sebastian Spence (First wave)
Aliyah O’Brien (If I Stay)

Maybe it is that Superman is truly indestructible or that the Man of Steel, who was picked recently as one of the Top 10 American pop culture icons, is so respected that not even Hollywood would dare tug on his cape, because “Smallville” is another successful small screen version of the strange visitor from another planet. Of course, the great irony is that this time around there is no cape to tug on because this television series is about Clark Kent, years before he put on the suit with the big red “S,” when he was still in high school, his powers were just starting to kick in, and the girl in his life with the double L name was Lana Lang.


Keep in mind that when Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel created the Man of Steel in 1939 there was no Superboy until 1949, when he began part of the futuristic Legion of Super-Heroes. All we knew about the early days is that just before the doomed planet Krypton exploded to fragments, a scientist placed his infant son within an experimental rocket ship, launching it toward earth. When the vessel reached our planet, the child was found by an elderly couple, the Kents. They adopted the super tyke and with love and guidance shaped the boy’s future. As he grew older Clark Kent learned to hurdle skyscrapers, leap an eighth of a mile, raise tremendous weights, run faster than a streamline train, and that nothing less than a bursting shell could penetrate his skin. When his foster parents passed away, Clark decided he must turn his titanic strength into channels that would benefit mankind. The key part of “Smallville” is that creators Alfred Gough and Miles Millar go back to the simple beginning, with young Clark (Tom Welling) growing up on the Kent farm with Martha (Annette O’Toole) and Jonathan (John Schneider). From the “Superboy” comic books the series borrows the characters of girl next-door Lana Lang (Kristin Kreuk) and best buddy Pete Ross (Sam Jones III). But in addition to covering the basics, Gough and Millar come up with a key triad of additions to the original Smallville mythos.


First, they add young Lex Luthor (Michael Rosenbaum) to the mix, knowing that he and Superman are fated to be (im)mortal enemies, but that for the present he and Clark are friends (after Clark saves Lex’s life in a car accident that should have killed them both). The key thing is that they truly are friends and that “Smallville” is as much about how Lex would become a super villain as it is about how Clark would become a super hero. Throw into the mix Daddy Dearest in the form of Lionel Luthor (John Glover), and Lex would have already pulled all of his hair out if it were not for what happened that fateful day in Smallville.


Second, is the brilliant reconceptualization of Superman’s arrival on earth where the small spacecraft shows up in the middle of a shower of glowing green meteors that are all that remains of the planet Krypton. As much as the little boy in that spaceship, those meteors change Smallville forever, turning a little girl into an orphans and a young boy bald, and the small Kansas town into the self proclaimed meteor capital of the world. More importantly, those little green rocks will have continue to have an impact as they cause a series of mutations with which young Clark will have to contend. This also accounts for the great in-joke that Clark always becomes a bumbling idiot around Lana because she wears a locket made of kryptonite. Third, there is the multi-purpose character of Chloe Sullivan (Allison Mack). The driving force of the Smallville High School student newspaper her “Wall of the Weird” documents all the strange things that have happened around Smallville since the meteor shower, making her the show’s resident mistress of exposition.

But she is also the tragic figure who longs for Clark the way he casts puppy dog glances at Lana, creating a nice example of teenage love triangle pathos. Overall, Miller and Gough had created an extremely solid premise for their series, which creates multi-dynamics for all of the plotlines. The first season (2001) is book ended by some great special effects, with the devastating arrival of the meteors in the pilot and the three twisters becoming one in the thrilling cliffhanger finale. My only serious complaint is that Schneider’s Jonathan Kent has too much of an angry edge, which takes away from his font of parental wisdom. Martha really needs to mellow him out so that he cuts Clark some slack. I understand that Jonathan is motivated by fears and concerns about his son, but I always liked the gentle influence personified by Glenn Ford in the first Christopher Reeve “Superman” film. Turning adolescent traumas into mutant monsters of the week is a hit and miss proposition, but that was true of the first season of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” as well, and look at how well that series turned out. Yes, we can also throw into the mix that Clark and Lana are played by a couple of cute young actors. Welling is not too serious as the kid who is going to grow up to be the hero who stands for truth, justice, and the American way, and I was going to say Kruek was the WB’s new Katie Holmes except after her soft-core Lana scene in the school swimming pool goes way beyond the world’s biggest collection of midriff revealing tops. But the bottom line here is that either the Clark-Lana or the Clark-Lex would be enough to make this a good show and “Smallville” has both of them and a lot more, including the brilliant metaphor of the scarecrow immortalized in the DVD collection’s cover shot.

Starting a moment after the season one finale Smallville continues the story of Clark’s younger years. This season really stands out in memory, the sheer quality of the episodes is amazing, there are more memorable episodes in this series than in any other combined. Furthermore there is a movement away from “freak of the wekk” episodes, with several episodes reveolving around the characters and their backstory, not monsters and threats to them. Clark’s identity (as Kal-Ell is revealed to him, as is the fate of Krypton), Pete find oout about Clark’s secret, Red K causes havoc turning Clark into a moralless teenager, secrets about Clark’s adoption and Lex’s brother are revealed, Clark lays on his deathbed and Clark is told to leave Smallville and complete his father’s quest to rule the planet.

Along with these arks, there is the continuing storyline of Chloe and Clark, that was left hanging in Tempest, this slops both Clark and Lana coming closer as Chloe looks on sadly. Clark’s adoption is revealed to have been organised by Lionel Luthor (who is also blinded at the beginning of the season), Lionel and Lex jokel against each other as Lionel quashes Lexcorp, and Clark is appauled by the intrustions of his father. This is one of my favourite season, as it was for the viewing figures (check wiki), characters continue to eveolve and change, and leaving a fantastic cliifhanger which I won’t spoil. If you liked Season 1 you’ll love this, if you loved season 1 you’ll be overjoyed

Season 3 veers constantly between dark and light – light: Perry White arrives in Smallville – played fabulously and hilariously by Annette O’Toole’s real-life husband Michael McKean (note that they have no scenes together), the fact that Jor-El chose the Kents to raise his son; dark: Clark’s antics on Red Kryptonite resulting in serious health issues for Jonathan Kent, Lex’s forays into insanity and back again. There are mainly stand-alone stories this year, although there is the double-headed cliffhanger of Chloe’s apparent death and Clark being stripped of his humanity to be reborn as Kal-El. The actors continue to raise their game, although Sam Jones III seems to be phased out as the season progresses: a sure sign of his departure before the finale.

Also this year Terence Stamp features more prominently as “The Voice of Jor-El” – an intense presence whose determination to enforce his will over his son clashes with the mortal man who raised him. The only drawback of this season is the lingering Clark & Lana love story – will-they, won’t they is fast becoming do they have to? This DVD set features a couple of commentaries although the blooper reel doesn’t contain as many gems as the one featured on series 2. Favourite episodes: Phoenix, Extinction, Perry, Relic, Whisper, Delete, Hereafter, Crisis, Truth, Memoria & Talisman.

In this season there are no stand-alone stories as all 22 episodes provide a piece of the puzzle which is finally revealed in the finale. Tom Welling transcends his previous work on the show as he begins to build his most successful on-screen partnerships – with Allison Mack’s Chloe who returns from the dead to become privy to Clark’s powers and takes the inital steps towards becoming his sidekick and confidante, and Erica Durance’s Lois Lane who crashes into his world and turns it completely upside down.

There are sparks aplenty between Welling & Durance – her face when confronted with her naked co-star in the opening episode is priceless – but the enduring Clark & Lana storyline continues to flare so the viewers have to make do with their hilarious banter and feigned dislike of each other. The only lowlight as far as Welling is concerned this year is Clark’s bewilderment that Lana could possibly move on from him – a trait resumed in Seasons 5 and 6 as Lana moves on yet again and Clark remains stuck in the “Clana mud”. Annette O’Toole also shines this year as Martha Kent steps into the spotlight to save her son. The rest of the cast also continue to shine and the calibre of guest stars keeps on rising, particularly in the season premiere when actress Margot Kidder cameos – ironically in the same episode Smallville’s incarnation of Lois Lane is launched. Favourite episodes: Crusade, Gone, Facade, Devoted, Bound, Pariah, Recruit, Krypto, Lucy, Blank & Commencement.

In the fifth season of Smallville, one chapter ends as another new and exciting chapter begins as Smallville is taken to new heights as the DC Universe is finally blown open as new characters make their appearances felt.


In season five, Clark’s relationship with Lana is at its peak, his friendship with Chloe has never been stronger, and he is finally coming to terms with the discovery of his Kyptonian heritage. But things in Smallville are about to change with the arrival of the mysterious Milton Fine (James Marsters) along with 2 Kryptonians bearing the symbol of ZOD. Whilst his relationship with his friends has never been stronger, Clark finds himself in direct confrontation with Lex Luthor as he is now forced to question whether he and the younger Luthor were ever friends.


Alongside the great continuity drama with the regular leads, this season also sees the arrival of 2 familiar faces from the DC Universe in form of Aquaman and Cyborg who cameo in this season alongside DC villain Brainiac.


James Marsters is a very welcome addition to the cast and plays Fine with confidence and arrogance while Michael Rosenbaum continues to steal the show. The pinnacle moment of the season also sees the very sad departure of a long staning term cast member in what still rates as Smallville’s saddest moment and greatest tear-jerker.

They say timing is everything, and for me the timing of watching season 6 of Smallville for the first time was perfect. Why is that? Because this was the season that introduced their take on Oliver Queen, aka Green Arrow, and I got hooked on the new show about him this last season on TV.

Of course, before we can get to new characters, we have a few cliffhangers to resolve. While all kinds of chaos is reigning down on the citizens of Earth thanks to the evil force that has taken over Lex Luther’s body (Michael Rosenbaum), Clark Kent (Tom Welling) can’t do much about it since he’s trapped in the Phantom Zone. While he does escape and manage to save the day, he unwittingly releases the evil prisoners from the Phantom Zone and must spend some time tracking them down this season. As things return to normal, characters explore new options. Lois Lane (Erica Durance) and Chloe Sullivan (Allison Mack) become roommates and Lois starts a new career as a reporter for a tabloid. They also both get new boyfriends in the two new characters that are introduced. Lois starts dating the previously mentioned Olive Queen (Justin Hartley) while Chloe falls for Jimmy Olsen (Aaron Ashmore), a young photographer at The Daily Planet. Lana Lang (Kistin Kreuk), meanwhile, has moved in with Lex and their relationship becomes more serious when she finds out she is pregnant. Chloe learns a very surprising secret and is reunited with her mom as played by TV’s Wonder Woman herself, Lynda Carter.

Other storylines of the season involve Clark and Oliver’s clashes over how to use their powers for good. Lex is collecting and hiding people with abilities. Those storylines clash when we see the first glimpse of the Justice League Smallville style.
This season is really about the young adults. No one is in college any more (did they all drop out after one season or did they all graduate at lightning speed?) While Lionel Luther (John Glover) is still around being unclear in his intensions, Martha Kent (Annette O’Toole) is given very little to do. And before the season is over, one character makes an exit from the show.

Season 7 demonstrates a real maturity in terms of the characters and the wider Smallville universe. For the characters themselves we obviously have to start with Clark and Lex.

What I love about this series is that you don’t notice subtle changes that are going – its only when there is a sudden abrupt change that you realise that it had been going on for ages and you find yourself saying “Ah!”. Clark in this season is gradually waking up to the fact that his old life is practically gone – most friends and family have moved on. This really hits home with an episode that sees the (thankfully brief) return of Pete. This was a subtle episode that demonstrated that Pete and Clark are very different now – they are friends but have both moved on. Clark towards his greater destiny – Pete to his, well, lesser destiny. But the real tear jerker that forces Clark to face the changes is the video left by Lana in the series finale. Understated and brief – its all the more powerful. Lana functioned as a sort of bubble for Clark – a link back to his carefree past – her leaving all but cuts this.

For Lex – wow. Smallville always managed to avoid having him as a cartoon baddie. What really took off on this season was Lex rushing towards his destiny as the powerful enemy of the “Traveller”. We get to see the childhood of Lex and his inner struggles. The moment that he and Lionel have their final encounter – powerful stuff. But what really hits viewers is Lex’s view of what his destiny was. The link he has with the Traveller, the impact that has had on his life and how it will ultimately play out – this was biblical stuff.

For the overarching storylines of the series. Well a special mention goes to the Veritas saga. Debate rages on message boards across the land about whether or not writers had planned this from the start of the series. Regardless if they did – the Veritas storyline weaves together almost 7 years of storylines. Smallville has always managed to pull of the secret legends stories, particularly in Season 4 and 7. But there is a real epic storylines going in season 7. Other storylines worthy mention: the return of Brainiac – always a joy. Bizzaro is also great fun. Tom welling clearly enjoys playing a baddy instead of straight-laced Clark. That and he gets to wear a blue jacket and red tshirt, instead of vice versa. And Lionel finally meets his maker.

Technically this season shouldn’t have worked; the show’s main villain and arguably most popular character, Lex Luthor (Michael Rosenbaum) has now departed; secondly they were introducing a villain which was virtually impossible to bring to the big screen never mind a television series in Doomsday. However whilst a massive void had been created by Rosenbaum’s departure, it was filled suprisingly very well by the main cast of heroes who finally come into their own this season with performances and stories which intelligently test those who have big destinies to embrace in the Superman era to come. Tom Welling finally begins to take his final steps to becoming Superman and is starting to demonstrate how capapble as lead he is while bringing a new found presence to Clark Kent. There is also an increased number of on-screen scenes between Welling and Erica Durance’s Lois Lane and the result is a relationship which is as funny as it is touching and believable.

Likewise other support characters like Chloe and Jimmy are tested by the new villain in town, Sam Witwer’s Davis Bloome who is a great unique character to the series who undergoes a menacing and horrific transformation as the season unfolds. There is also a welcome return from Justin Hartley’s Oliver Queen who now becomes a series regular after a successful stint in the sixth season and a brief cameo in the seventh. Queen’s character is also successful to the season’s story as his questionable methods bring him into conflict with Clark who is now trying to figure out what sort of hero he wants to become.
The Doomsday story is a well written one in itself and Doomsday is interpreted in a way which is both unique in style yet never undermines the characters standing in the mythology. Sam Witwer is more than capable playing the villain, he lacks perhaps the charisma and flair of Rosenbaum, but the horror given off by his transformations is more than projected out of the screen. The same cannot be said for Cassidy Freeman whose Tess Mercer is terribly aimless and lacking in focus, in terms of a series villain, Rosenbaums absence is felt though not quite fatal.


The season is very well executed in tone, humour and story. There are many episodes which take the series much further and there are some more characters from the D.C Universe in episodes such as ‘Instinct’, ‘Legion’ and ‘Hex’. ‘Bride’, ‘Eternal’ and ‘Beast’ are also exceptional drama episodes featuring Doomsday which keeps building up the season to a final climatic battle.


It is unfortunate therefore that what prevents the season from achieving pure greatness is a series of misjudged stories which threaten to undermine every bit of progress Smallville made this season. The brief reintroduction of an old character in ‘Power’ and ‘Requiem’ was a terrible mistake and unpopular with viewers, as was the apparent demise of another important character. Also while the season does a sensational job in building up the tension towards the final episode, the final episode of the season itself is very weak and sadly anti-climactic. This is a shame since many may feel cheated by a poor resolution but on the plus side, the drama remains top notch throughout and the themes explored this season are never forgotten and never betrayed, even in the finale. Smallville has enjoyed a fantastic return to form overall this season and many fans will be left feeling hopefull of the action and drama to come in the ninth season. Well worth buying though this eighth season.

Season nine is the single greatest season Smallville has ever produced. The show has fully reached its potential and has created a tense, exciting, beautifully shot, clever and romantic season. One with interesting villains; conflicting needs; searching for the right questions; searching for the truth; love and hate and the fine line between it all; finding yourself and finding others. All with the strong undercurrent of destiny. There are around two ‘not so well executed’ episodes that fall short of their goals, but even those are not awful. The four or so main arcs of the season are: the return of a weirdly attractive and charismatic Zod, the blossoming relationship between Lois and Clark, the development of the Blur and the Justice Society. This is a season of triangles. Many carefully subtle and symbolic in nature: triangles between friends, triangles between enemies, the triangle for two. There was a distinct sense of care to this season, unlike the others — it actually felt as if the writers paid close attention to the small things which made the writing feel more cohesive. It’s certainly the case, because something as small as a hand gesture in one episode became a very significant thing later on.

The season opens with ‘Saviour’, as Lois miraculously returns without memory of where she’s been. The only thing hinting at a darker side to this is random flashes and visions, confusing memories. Are they dreams? Visions of a not-so-distant future? This is one of the mysteries of the first half of the season. I love this show but they I’ve never been so engaged as I have when Lois had those first flashes. It was well done and it was gratifying to see Smallville put together a coherent story arc which flowed into other arcs as the previous ones drew to a close. First time ever that I’d been excited to see where the mainplot went!

Tom Welling is now an executive producer so having more creative control over his character is obvious this season — it has a very positive impact on Clark. Clark finds himself being tested. Learning to cope with juggling an overly-inquisitive Lois, an alter-ego as the Blur whilst swiftly returning to his desk at the bullpen. But ultimately, a key theme of this season is his struggle to maintain a balance between who he is and what he could become. This season firmly asks: who will he become? There was some fantastic development for Clark as a character and his relationship with Lois Lane is centre stage the entire time. The writing for them is careful, precise, intimate and is wonderfully nuanced thanks to the actors. It was well established last season that Lois is in love with Clark, and Clark spends this season rightly demonstrating that he loves her back. The Lois and Clark relationship is one of my favourite arcs in season nine. It was so satisfying to see their romantic relationship moved forward without a painfully slow draw-out. There’s a lot of beautiful scenes shared between them and the writers do a brilliant job of showing (yes ‘showing’, not telling) exactly why Lois is the one for Clark.

Zod (Callum Blue) is a fantastic and compelling villain. His dalliances with Tess Mercer are mesmerising to watch. Oliver Queen returns, having hit rock bottom and kept going since the previous finale. There’s a triangle early in the season between Clark, Lois and Oliver. It’s very subtle and one can only be picked up on in a few frames a lot of the time — not something I’ve come to expect from Smallville, whose usual idea of ‘subtle’ is huge honking anvils landing on you when trying to convey something. It peeters away as Oliver grows and changes out of this darker period in his life. Lois develops as a reporter and finds a purpose in life she didn’t dream of before; her character arc was excellent and benefitted from Erica Durance appearing in 18 episodes instead of the usual 13 (yay!). We see the return of many superheroes as well as meet some new ones. I loved this as it’s one of my favourite parts of the series. I liked seeing Bart and Black Canary back in particular. Star Girl was awesome! The superhero epic Absolute Justice (two episodes smooshed together as one) was a highlight of the season and will surely make comic book fans happy. The finale, ‘Salvation’ was a fast paced good quality closing chapter. It set up the next season and moved the story forward at the same time as closing it. The finale fight scene also did not disappoint! For once! Salvation was very much a juggernaught of emotion which wasn’t cheap and empty like Doomsday, but had the weight of a great season of storytelling behind it. It really made all the difference.

This season is well structured with a fascinating story arc which sees time travel as a central concept. In many ways this plotline held far more tension and anticipation than the whole of the Doomsday arc did. I enjoyed feeling fascinated by Zod, insanely wanting answers as to what had happened to Lois when she disappeared, and could barely contain myself when all was revealed in the episode ‘Pandora’. Truly one of the best episodes of the series.

Smallville Season 10 is the culmination of a 10 year journey which set out to follow the life of a young Clark Kent as he accepts his destiny and becomes Superman. So did Smallville go out with a bang or a whimper?

I for one love the final season of Smallville….whenever you are trying to finish off a story it can be difficult especially with a character as iconic as Superman and with the weight of 10 years of expectation but amazingly it manages to produce an end that is befitting of a superman. This season really is all about how Clark Kent finally becomes Superman and almost every episodes deals with this acceptance of destiny. The season kicks of where season 9 ended with Clark Kent falling to his apparent death….this episode kicks off the season on the right note, with nods to the past seasons as well as hints for what the future holds. This season has so many memobrable episodes such as Homecoming, the 200th episode that is one of the best episodes have ever produced, other highlights include: Supergirl, Harvest, Abandoned, Luther, Icarus, Fortune (one of the funniset Smallville episodes ever!), Kent and Booster. You can see just by the number of episodes listed just how good the final season was.


However, what could make of break this season was the two part Finale in which we fianlly see Clark Kent embrace his destiny. I believe that this episode is one of the best finales ever produced, it is important to remember that Smallville is more about Clark Kent then Superman and as such this character takes the focus for the majority of the episode and it benifits for it. These episodes also include the return of Lex Luthor and I think that the scenes between him and Clark are perfect. Also, when Clark finally puts on the suit we get to see more Superman action then I’m sure anyone was expected. And the final scene is a perfect way to finsih the story.


Tom Welling has played Clark Kent for 10 years and every season we have seen him grow as and actor and a director and I think that he has managed to bring new life into this character and took him in a truely unique direction. Although, this show wouldn’t be what it is/was if it wasn’t for the rest of the supporting cast especially Erica Durance who in my mind is the best Lois Lane that the screen has seen and thanks to her acting she has become just as much of the Smallville story as Clark Kent himself.Thank you Smallville for 10 great years and for breathing new life into a an inconic character…you will be missed!

REVIEW: BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES – VOLUME 1-4

Image result for batman the animated series logoMAIN CAST (VOICES)

Kevin Conroy (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Loren Lester (Flashforward)
Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. (Hot Shots)
Bob Hastings (General Hospital)
Robert Costanzo (Dick Tracy)
Melissa Gilbert (Zoya)
Tara Strong (Sabrina Goes To Rome)
Mathew Valencia (Lawnmower Man 2)Image result for batman the animatedRECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Adrienne Barbeau (Swamp Thing)
Kate Mulgrew (Star Trek: Voyager)
Neil Ross (Centurions)
Frank Welker (The Simpsons)
Richard Moll (Scary Movie 2)
Lloyd Bochner (Point Blank)
Marc Singer (V)
Rene Auberjonois (Star Trek:DS9)
Meredith MacRae (Petticoat Junction)
Michael Ansara (The Message)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Mari Devon (Howl’s Moving Castle)
Brock Peters (To Kill A Mockingbird)
Ed Begley Jr. (Veronica Mars)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Edward Asner (Up)
Josh Keaton (Green Lantern: TAS)
Arleen Sorkin (Days of Our Lives)
Diane Pershing (Centourions)
Ingrid Oliu (Real Women Have Curves)
Henry Polic II (Webster)
Tim Curry (IT)
Diana Muldaur (Star Trek: TNG)
Alan Rachins (LA Law)
Linda Gary (He-Man)
John Vernon (Dirty Harry)
Lindsay Crouse (Buffy)
Paul Williams (Adventure Time)
Aron Kincaid (Freakazoid!)
Heather Locklear (Return of Swamp Thing)
Roddy McDowall (Planet of The Apes)
John Rhys-Davies (Lord of The Rings)
Adam West (Batman 60s)
Treat Williams (The Phantom)
Seth Green (Family Guy)
Brian George (The Big Bang Theory)
Harry Hamlin Clash of The Titans)
Peter Scolari (Gotham)
William Sanderson (Blade Runner)
Leslie Easterbrook (The Devil’s Rejects)
John Glover (Smallville)
Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters)
David Warner (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Helen Slater (Supergirl)
Michael York (Logans Run)
George Dzunda (Crimson Tide)
John De Lancie (Star Trek: TNG)
Matt Frewer (Watchmen)
Robert Picardo (Stargate: Atlantis)
Maurice LaMarche (Futurama)
Julie Brown (Earth Girls Are Easy)
Vincent Schiavelli (Batman Returns)
Michael Gross (Familt Ties)
Elisabeth Moss (Mad men)
Jean Smart (Designing Women)
Earl Boen (The Terminator)
Vernee Watson (The Big Bang Theory)
Marica Wallace (The Simpsons)
Marilu henner (Two and A Half Men)
LeVar Burton (Star Trek: TNG)
Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek)
Stephanie Zimbalist (The Story Lady)
Dick Miller (Gremlins)
Henry Silva (Ocean’s Eleven)
Jason Marsden (Full House)
Tress MacNeille (Futurama)
Andrea Martin (Anastasia)
Grant Shaud (Murphy Brown)
Bruce Weitz (Hill Street Blues)
Hector Elizondo (The Princess Diaries)
Jeffrey Jones (Howard The Duck)
Roy Dotrice (Beauty and The Beast)
Corey Burton (Critters)
Cree Summer (Batman Beyond)
Lauren Tom (Futurama)
Jeffrey Combs (Gotham)
Billy Barty (Masters of The Universe)
Tippi Hedren (The Birds)
Bumper Robinson (Sabrina: TTW)
Billy Zane (Zoolander)
Mark Rolstan (Alias)
Michael Ironside (Total Recall)
Michael McKean (Smallville)
Nicholle Tom (Gotham)
Lori Petty (Tank Girl)
Linda Hamilton (Chuck)
Billy West (Futurama)

Debuting on Fox in 1992, Batman: The Animated Series was immensely successful, garnering immense critical praise, taking home an Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program, and continuing in various forms for several years and well over a hundred episodes.First, the series is written and produced by people with a fundamental understanding of what makes the comics work, particularly during its peak in the ’70s under Dennis O’Neal and Neal Adams. As a long-time comics fanatic, it’s always welcome to see names like Gerry Conway and Marv Wolfman flash across the screen, and in the intervening years, Paul Dini and Bruce Timm have made their own impact on the four-color world. The tone is dark but not hopelessly grim, and the scripts don’t inundate viewers with patently obvious exposition or villainous cackling. It’s intelligently written and, while appropriate for a wide range of ages, doesn’t pander to a younger audience. I started watching Batman when it first debuted on Fox in 1992, and I appreciate it every bit as much now as a 34-year-old adult. The writers don’t shackle themselves to comic continuity, and their revisions are frequently more compelling than any other form in which we’ve seen Batman’s rogue’s gallery. Third-stringers like the Clock King and Clayface are given heavily revised origins and almost unrecognizable characterizations that are far more interesting than any other take on them.Batman boasts visuals that are as strong as the writing behind them. It’s incredibly dark; despite its Saturday morning/weekday afternoon origins, this is a series that greatly benefits from being watched at night with the lights off. The character designs are angular and exaggerated, in contrast to the rounded, ’40s-inspired props and backgrounds that further establish the distinctive, timeless look of the show. The detail and fluidity of the animation vary from episode to episode, but the better installments are almost jaw-dropping.

Following the visuals of the series, the next obvious subject to tackle is how it sounds. For me, Batman’s tone is one of the elements that really sets it apart from most every other animated series, and contributing greatly to that is the orchestral score in each episode. The series also has a phenomenal roster of talent contributing its voices. The main group — Kevin Conroy as the definitive Batman, Efrem Zimbalist Jr. as Alfred, Bob Hastings as Commissioner Gordon — just nail their parts with complete perfection. Very recognizable names also contribute to villains and assorted supporting characters. A complete list would be prohibitively long, but some of the more notable actors and actresses from these episodes are Michael Ansara, Ed Asner, Adrienne Barbeau, Ed Begley Jr., Mark Hamill, David L. Lander, Heather Locklear, Kevin McCarthy, Roddy McDowall, Richard Moll, Kate Mulgrew, Ron Perlman, Alan Rachins, Marc Singer, Jeffrey Tambor, John Vernon, Adam West, and Paul Williams. The campy live action series from the ’60s also drew heavily from established Hollywood talent, but the difference here is that the actors don’t draw attention to themselves as stars.

This set has the show at the absolute top of its form. There isn’t a lame show in the bunch, and many of the episodes in this set are destine to become classics. Prechance to Dream, the second show in the set, is a wonderful look at what might have happened if Bruce Wayne’s parents hadn’t been killed. After being knock out while chasing some crooks, Bruce wakes up at home, uncertain as to how he got there. He’s surprised to find that the entrance to the Batcave is blocked, but even more astonished to discover that his mother and father are still alive. Bruce must figure out what going on, but in doing so, he knows he’ll ruin the happiness that he’s discovered.AlmostGot ‘im, probably my favorite show of the series. This story takes place during a “villain’s night out” where Batman’s main enemies aren’t committing crimes. They are all sitting around a table in a bar playing poker, relaxing. While talking, the conversation turns to Batman of corse. Like a group of fisherman swapping stories, each crook takes a turn telling the time that they were closest to killing Batman. The little vignettes were all full of action, and the framing story was very funny. A great combination, with an excellent ending line.
The Batman’s background story takes is fleshed out in a couple of episodes too. His early training plays an important part in Night of the Ninja, and I Am the Night introduces Dr. Leslie Thompkins who is an important person from when Bruce was young. Viewers get to find out just where the Batmoblie came from in The Mechanic, a great show that explains some aspects of Batman’s world that usually gets glossed over. Robin’s origin is recounted in Robin’s Reckoning, a two part story which won an Emmy. This story examines the bond between Batman and Robin, and why the Dark Knight agreed to raise a young boy.
The writing on the show is top notch. The show doesn’t dumb itself down to appeal to a young audience, the creators thought that if you have well written intelligent stories, kids would be attracted. They were right but the show also appeals to adults for the same reason.

One of the things Batman: The Animated Series does particularly well is infuse its villains with personality. They’re not a rotation of thugs with a different gimmick and costume each week — the writers go to great lengths to humanize these characters, and although they’re still unambiguously the bad guys, they still manage to be sympathetic at times. “His Silicon Soul”, following up on the two-part “Heart of Steel” from the previous collection, features a robotic duplicate of Batman unable to come to grips with the realization that he’s a machine.

The title character of “Baby-Doll” was created especially for the series. Think Webster with the race and gender reversed; Mary Louise Dahl was in her twenties but looked like a three-year-old, and she cashed in on that rare disability with a successful and hopelessly bland sitcom. An ill-advised career move derailed her as an actress, and a decade later, she’s systematically kidnapped all of her former co-stars in an attempt to reclaim those happy years. Again, as outlandish as the premise might sound, it really does work. You might smirk at reading about a teary-eyed Baby Doll attempting to fire an already-emptied doll-shaped pistol into a funhouse mirror, but the immeasurably talented writers are gifted enough to eke more pathos than I ever would have thought possible out of that.

Redemption, whether seized or tossed aside, is also frequently touched upon. “Sideshow” opens with a grueling chase between Batman and an escaped Killer Croc, who manages to stumble upon a remote farm that’s home to a group of former sideshow acts. They offer Croc a chance at an honest life, but old habits die hard. Another example is “House and Garden”. When a poisonous plant-creature starts a reign of terror in Gotham, Batman naturally turns his sights towards the recently-released Poison Ivy. She insists that she’s rehabilitated, and by all accounts, Ivy is happily married and living the mundane suburban life. The investigation continues to point back to her, and the final revelation involves some of the creepiest imagery ever seen in the series.

Harley Quinn is also featured in a couple of episodes centered around her attempts to stick with the straight ‘n narrow. She’s a fan favorite for a reason, and these appearances are some of the most memorable episodes in this collection. “Harlequinade” is a chaotic team-up with Batman in an attempt to track down The Joker, who’s managed to get his hands on a bomb that’ll turn Gotham into a smoldering mushroom cloud. “Harley’s Holiday” documents her release from Arkham Asylum, and even though she’s determined to leave that life of crime behind her, an attempt to legitimately buy a pretty pink dress at a store spirals into a bad day…a really, really bad day, culminating in being chased by Batman.

It’s particularly great to see the villains interact with one another. That’s part of the fun of “Trial”, which has a reluctant prosecutor attempting to defend Batman in an insane trial when the inmates take over the asylum. The flipside of that coin is seen in “Lock-Up”, when a cruel jailer’s overzealousness gets him fired from Arkham and compels him to hunt down the left-leaning scum he blames for the state of the world. Another stand-out is “A Bullet for Bullock”, an episode in which the slovenly detective is rattled by death threats and reluctantly teams with Batman, and the ending is just one example of how clever the show’s writers can be. “Clever” is also the first word that instantly springs to mind for “Make ‘Em Laugh”, an episode where The Joker co-opts a fellow criminal’s technology to create a small army of fumbling costumed criminals with inane gimmicks.

These episodes introduce a couple of recurring villains ripped from the pages of the comics. Most notable among them is Ra’s al Ghul, who makes his first appearance in a two-parter penned by Len Wein and Denny O’Neil, familiar names to longtime readers of Batman’s four-color incarnation. The centuries-old Ra’s has virtually unlimited resources at his disposal, equally intrigued by Batman’s boundless skills as a detective as he is frustrated by his foe’s determination to disrupt his machinations. Ra’s often lends a Saturday morning serial flavor to the show, from the globe-trotting in his first few appearances to the flared pants of “Avatar”. The charismatic character has such a presence that he’s able to carry “Showdown” largely by himself in an episode that barely features Batman or Robin in any capacity. “Showdown” is set during the westward expansion of the mid-1800’s as Ra’s’ opposition to the sprawling railroads is pitted against scarred bounty hunter Jonah Hex (one of the few DC characters not connected with the Batman mythos to appear on the show). The other noteworthy recurring villain is The Ventriloquist, a fairly timid-looking middle-aged man who seems more likely to be a CPA than a ruthless crimelord. Taken by himself, that seems to be the right impression, but when he has his puppet Scarface on the end of his arm… The Ventriloquist’s first appearance, “Read My Lips”, is one of my favorites of the season, and he returns twice after that.
Several other characters from the comics briefly appear, including Maxie Zeus, the back-breaking, Venom-fueled Bane, and the fairly obscure masked criminals of The Terrible Trio. The majority of Batman’s rogue’s gallery is present and accounted for, with The Penguin, Killer Croc, Poison Ivy, The Mad Hatter, The Joker, Harley Quinn, The Clock King, Catwoman, The Riddler, The Scarecrow, Two-Face, and Mr. Freeze all wreaking havoc throughout Gotham City at some point or another. Even with the opening titles shifting on disc three from Batman: The Animated Series to The Adventures of Batman and Robin, there’s no discernable drop in quality.

After Batman: The Animated Series wrapped up its long, successful run on Fox, a revised version of the series — with most of the same talent in tow — popped up as part of the animation block on Kids’ WB. This half of The New Batman/Superman Adventures, Although the general look of Batman: The Animated Series is still in place, many of the character designs have been revamped, making them sharper, more angular, and somewhat stripped down. Sometimes the changes worked; The Scarecrow is a much more ominous, disturbing figure now, and I like the exaggerated, deranged look of The Mad Hatter. Others didn’t fare so well, especially the much blander looking Riddler, and I have mixed feelings about the older, frailer Jim Gordon and the beady-eyed look of the Joker. One of the more distinctive changes is that the yellow moon on Batman’s chest is gone, an alteration that makes it easy to distinguish one of these episodes from the previous animated incarnation.

One aspect of Batman: The Animated Series that has always impressed me is that even though it was a weekday afternoon cartoon based on a popular comic book character, it didn’t pander to a younger audience. Rewatching the box sets Warner has issued over the past year and a half, I find myself as engaged by them now in my mid-thirties as I was when I first saw them half a lifetime ago.

The New Batman Adventures is a odd mix because even though many of the stories seem geared towards a younger audience, the censors have lightened up, so the villains can use words like ‘murder’ and ‘kill’ more freely, its female characters (especially Harley Quinn) are less subtle with the sexual innuendo, and there’s even a little blood. Over the Edge, one of my favorite episodes of any of Batman’s animated incarnations, with batman hunted by  by Commissioner Gordon as his men spray gunfire throughout the Batcave in a frantic chase against Batman and Robin. It’s a dark, unflinchingly brutal story about loss and betrayal, showing the Dark Knight at his lowest point with his identity exposed and facing greater adversity than he ever has before.

It’s not all dark and dour, though. Another favorite is “Joker’s Millions”, which opens with the Joker struggling with his finances. Robots, hyena chow, Joker venom, and overly elaborate death traps aren’t cheap, but he gets an unexpected windfall when a dead mobster leaves the flat-broke Joker a quarter-billion dollars in his will. The Joker goes on a spastic spending spree, bribing everyone in sight into wiping his criminal record clean, but…whoops. There’s a catch, of course, and the Joker’s not the one who gets the last laugh.

the Joker also take center-stage in “Mad Love”, an episode penned by Paul Dini that was later spun off by DC into a graphic novel. “Mad Love” takes a look at how ambitious, straightlaced psychiatrist Harlene Quinzel could become infatuated with a psychotic madman like the Joker. The Joker’s far more interested in cobbling together some sort of complicated trap to knock off Batsy than fooling around with his eager-to-please henchwoman, so she tries to get her puddin’s attention by rehashing one of his unused schemes and getting rid of Batman once and for all. This is the sort of character-centric episode that I thought really defined Batman: The Animated Series, and “Mad Love” ranks with the best of the series.
“Legends of the Dark Knight” is another personal favorite, paying homage to some of Batman’s different incarnations over the decades. Dick Sprang gets the first nod in a segment with Batman duking it out with the Joker in a music museum with all of the puns, oversized props, and four-color action you’d expect from a Golden Age comic, followed up by a deeply impressive segment with Frank Miller’s hulking, fifty-something Batman squaring off against an army of mutants in the future. The side story with a few kids getting tangled up in an arson-for-hire gig with Firefly doesn’t stack up to the rest of the episode, but who cares?
There are a few other episodes worth pointing out. “Girls’ Night Out” is set with both Batman and Superman out of town, leaving Batgirl and Supergirl to square off against Harley, Poison Ivy, and electrifying Supes-villain Livewire.Dick Grayson, the original Robin, has struck out on his own as Nightwing, and he’s highlighted several times — first in “You Scratch My Back”, which teams him with Catwoman, much to Batman’s chagrin, and again in “Old Wounds”, where Grayson tells Batgirl why he could no longer fight alongside the Dark Knight. The episodes on this box set also introduce The Creeper, the demon Etrigan, and Firefly to the animated series,  Villains like Two Face, The Mad Hatter, Catwoman, Clayface, Mr. Freeze, The Scarecrow, The Ventriloquist, Bane, Killer Croc, Baby Doll, and, briefly, The Riddler also return to torment Gotham again.

REVIEW: SUPERGIRL (1984)

 

CAST

Helen Slater (Echo Park)
Faye Dunaway (Chinatown)
Peter O’ Toole (Lawrence of Arabia)
Hart Bochner (Die Hard)
Mia Farrow (Rosemary’s Baby)
Brenda Vaccaro (Midnight Cowboy)
Peter Cook (The Princess Bride)
Simon Ward (Zulu Dawn)
Marc Mcclure (Superman)
Maureen Teefy (Fame)

After accidentally losing the Omegahedron, Argo City’s power source, Kara Zor-El (Helen Slater) embarks on a journey to go recover it before Argo City perishes. Upon arriving on Earth, she discovers she has superpowers and adopts the identity of Supergirl, which she uses to help others while on her quest to recover the Omegahedron.Elsewhere, the Omegahedron has fallen into the hands of Selena (Faye Dunaway), a flunky witch who quickly becomes powerful because of it and who sets her sights on Supergirl, ready to eliminate the Girl of Steel the first chance she can get. Can Supergirl recover the Omegahedron before Argo City goes dark and Selena is victorious?

This flick is every bit a part of my childhood as the Superman movies were. At the time, of course, I was too young to understand the story, but now older, it’s not too bad. Sure, it has some flaws and continuity issues, but at its heart it’s the story about someone trying to right a grievous mistake, something that most of us can relate to.

The visuals and hints of Kryptonian mythology put forth quickly link it to the Superman movies—Supergirl identifies herself as Superman’s cousin while in costume, and also as Clark Kent’s cousin when she’s in disguise as Linda Lee; her supersuit is basically the Christopher Reeve costume from the waist up—and it has a cinematic score that carries a similar heroic tone to that of its male counterpart. Likewise, Marc McClure reprises his role as Jimmy Olsen from the Superman movies and appears as Lucy Lane’s boyfriend (Lucy is Lois Lane’s younger sister).

They seem to want to jump right into Kara being Supergirl so don’t give an explanation as to why she leaves Argo City in that bubble ship in one outfit then transforms inside the ship and flies out of the water in her supersuit, but whatever. They do a good job of showing her discovering her powers, the joy of having them, and also the satisfaction of using them for good.  As hopeful and cheery as this flick is at times, it’s also equally dark thanks to Selena being a witch. There is a ton of occult imagery. The pacing was pretty decent and each obstacle Supergirl must overcome as the movie rolls along keeps getting bigger and bigger until the end when it seems all hope is lost and even the Girl of Steel is helpless. What was especially cool is during the time of Supergirl’s tenure on Earth, Superman was elsewhere in the galaxy doing his thing, so when the story wraps up, Supergirl asks those who knew of her presence to forget she was there and flies off triumphant back to Argo City. This, of course, kept the two super franchises separate while still linking them.

In the end, Supergirl is an overall enjoyable flick that is from a time before superhero movies got all dark and gritty, the hero was filled with angst and turmoil, and it enjoys itself for what it is: a movie about a girl who can fly.