HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: LEGENDS OF TOMORROW – PHONE HOME

Legends of Tomorrow (2016)

 

Starring

Victor Garber (Alias)
Brandon Routh (Chuck)
Caity Lotz (The Pact)
Franz Drameh (Edge of Tomorrow)
Maisie Richardson-Sellers (The Originals)
Amy Louise Pemberton (Storage 24)
Tala Ashe (American Odyssey)
Nick Zano (Mom)
Dominic Purcell (Straw Dogs)

Brandon Routh and Jack Fisher in Legends of Tomorrow (2016)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Jack Fisher (The Last Ship)
Susie Abromeit (Sex Drive)
Christina Brucato (The Intern)

Tala Ashe and Jack Fisher in Legends of Tomorrow (2016)Sometimes I wonder if Legends of Tomorrow will ever become too cute and lighthearted for its own good. The trailer for “Phone Home” made it seem as though this episode might go over the top, with its depiction of the team joining forces with young Ray Palmer for a saccharine-sweet spoof of E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial. But as always, the series manages to temper its goofy, earnest sense of humor with a touch of serious drama and a strong, if very dysfunctional team dynamic. “Phone Home” captures Legends at its most charming and lovable. This episode makes no bones about the fact that it’s lampooning E.T. Sure, there are plenty of other amusing references and callbacks to other films (including a great Aliens reference courtesy of Amaya), but this isn’t a Stranger Things-style mashup of all things ’80s. That said, the E.T. formula lent itself very well to this episode. The whole point was to explore the root of Ray’s inflappably cheerful and optimistic personality. Who else would befriend a hungry alien he met in a sewer pipe?This isn’t the first time an episode has revolved around the team meeting a younger version of one of their own, but it’s a trope that paid off just as well this week as it did way back in “Pilot Part 2” when Stein met his younger self and set a whole chain of events in motion. This time, it was Ray meeting himself circa 1988 (played by Jack Fisher) and realizing that maybe his childhood wasn’t as wonderful and idyllic as he remembers. That dynamic made for a great examination of the character. It quickly became clear that Ray’s cheerful positivity is less an innate quality than something he honed over years of trying to cope with a world where he never quite fit in. Fisher’s charmingly precocious take on young Ray contrasted nicely with Brandon Routh’s take on the character.Tala Ashe in Legends of Tomorrow (2016)For the most part, this episode did little to tie into the larger conflicts building this season. It did, however, build on the events of last year’s Invasion crossover by framing the conflict around a lost baby Dominator and the search for his “Mom-inator.” It’s fun to see these aliens cast in a different, less villainous light, one that fueled a predictable but charming story about a boy finding a friend at long last and adults learning not to judge others based on appearances. Definitely a low-stakes conflict, but a very entertaining one. And the Back to the Future-style struggle to prevent adult Ray from being erased from the timeline did add at least some tension to the mix.Jack Fisher in Legends of Tomorrow (2016)Mostly, though, this episode was about capturing that Spielberg-ian adventure quality and celebrating the power of movies in general. I found myself openly grinning at multiple points watching this episode. How can you not be won over by the shot of a baby Dominator nodding along to Singin’ in the Rain and kicking its feet, or Mick admitting he’s a big fan of Fiddler on the Roof or Zari using her powers to recreate the iconic climax of E.T.? But even those moments paled to the scene where the Dominator defeated the evil government stooges by forcing them to break out into song and dance. I really don’t think it’s a coincidence that two of the greatest, most spontaneous moments of brilliance on this show involve characters unexpectedly launching into song. I’m still holding out hope for a dedicated musical episode at some point.Zari’s arc is the only piece of the puzzle that left me feeling a bit underwhelmed this week. Other than exploring Ray’s background, the main goal with this episode seemed to be to strengthening the new team dynamic and making Zari feel more like a legitimate member of the group. It’s a nice sentiment, especially with Zari’s talk about people eventually finding their families, but it didn’t quite feel earned. It doesn’t seem like we know Zari well enough for her to be making that leap yet. Nor doe sit feel like the writers have quite figured out what role they want her to fill. Sometimes she’s played as the team’s wide-eyed newbie, and others more like the jaded, futuristic cynic. Either way, Tala Ashe doesn’t quite have the energy level necessary to stand alongside her co-stars Did it strike anyone else as a little weird that Zari has never heard of the Dominators before? Doing the math, the events of “Invasion!” happened 24 years before she was plucked from the future. Even if you assume that the authoritarian government in her time suppresses most media, you’d think humanity would remember its first alien invasion. Heck, it’s very possible Zari herself was alive when the invasion happened. On a sadder note, this episode began the process of writing Professor Stein out of the picture as Victor Garber gears up for a new Broadway role. It’ll be a shame to see him go, but if it has to be done, at least his exit is being handled gracefully. You can’t really fault Stein for wanting to be there for young Ronnie (a welcome nod to the late Ronnie Raymond) when he completely missed Lily’s entire childhood. And it gave us a wonderful little moment involving Stein, Jax and Mick at the hospital.Zari,_young_Ray,_and_Atom_fly_away (1)Phone Home captures so much of what makes Legends of Tomorrow the most entertaining branch of the Arrowverse. This episode delivers a lighthearted, entertaining and sweetly innocent look at a young Ray Palmer and his bond with a most unlikely new friend. The show really wears its influences on its sleeve here, but in a way that pays loving tribute to some truly classic films. With a few more episodes like this, Season 3 may soon come to rival Season 2 in overall quality.

 

REVIEW: HERO HIGH

CAST (VOICES)

John Berwick (Goliath Awaits)
Jere Fields (Aesop’s Fables)
Linda Gary (He-Man)
Alan Oppenheimer (Transformers)
Erika Scheimer (She-Ra)

ds9-cast-1200x786I remember very little about Hero High when it ran on broadcast television on Saturday mornings back in 1981. Presumably my attention was simply devoted to a rival network. However, my love for both Filmation and anything BCI/ Ink & Paint puts out led me to ordering the Hero High box set and I’m quite glad that I did. For starters the set includes all 26 animated episodes of the series (each episode runs about 8 minutes long) with writer commentary on a couple of them. Disc 1 contains the first 14 while disc 2 contains the remaining 12 and a host of interesting special features including interviews with many of the show’s actors and producers. We even hear from producer Lou Scheimer in several of the interviews.MV5BMDcyMGE5NGEtOTMyNC00NDJmLTllY2UtZjUzMWIxMTY3MmI2XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTEwODg2MDY@._V1_The show (for those who have not yet had a chance to enjoy it) is surprisingly well done and clearly provided the source material for more recent super hero spoofs such as Sky High and The Incredibles. Rather than compete directly with the campy superhero animation out at the time (Hanna Barbara’s Superfriends for example), Hero High knew not to take itself too seriously instead choosing to poke fun at both itself and comic action in general.cvbcbThe episodes are fairly short romps in a tradition of good clean fun rather than epic good versus evil and to be completely honest, some of the humor contained within is on par with the type of material one would expect in sitcoms from the era. Additionally the second disc contains an episode of the live action skit that came packaged in the Kid Super Power Hour at the time. This, too, can be viewed with writer and actor commentary, which really adds to the value of reliving the experience. The package itself is in a league of its own (as all BCI/ Ink & Paint sets tend to be) with colorful sleeve art and a book that not only lists all of the episodes but also provides color photographs, a synopsis of each one and a trivia pertaining to the episode! Talk about going above and beyond to deliver quality. The picture quality is quite crisp and clean (showing no indication of the era) as are the audio tracks. Once again Ink & Paint have provided a masterpiece compilation worthy of shelf space on any collector’s entertainment center.

REVIEW: THE SECRETS OF ISIS

 MAIN CAST

Joanna Cameron (B.S. I Love You)
Brian Cutler (The Incredible Hulk 70s)
Joanna Pang (The Patchwork Family)
Ronaldo Douglas (The New Odd Couple)
Albert Reed (Good Times)

bthe-secrets-of-isisbbrbrbefore-wonder-woman-got-her-own-tv_ynu1

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Charles Cyphers (Halloween)
Laurette Spang (Battlestar Galactica)
John Davey (Shazam)

MV5BY2U0ZTAwZDYtNjZjNC00YzVhLWJjMGItZDg5MTMzYTM1MjhjXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTQ0NjQzNTE@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1334,1000_AL_

Oh my Queen!” said the royal sorcerer to Hatshepsup, “With this amulet, you and your decedents are endowed by the goddess Isis with the powers of the animals and the elements. You will soar as the falcon soars. Run with the speed of gazelles. And command the elements of sky and earth!”. 3,000 years later, a young science teacher dug up this lost treasure and found she was heir to: The Secrets of Isis. And so, unknown to even her closest friends Rick Mason and Cindy Lee, she became a dual person: Andrea Thomas, teacher, and Isis, dedicated foe of evil, defender of the weak, champion of truth and justice.

Flat-out one of the most beloved Saturday morning TV shows ever produced, no kid who grew up during the mid-seventies/eighties ever forgot Joanna Cameron as the lithe, confident, serene super-heroine Isis. Introduced along with the already popular Shazam! live-action series, Filmation Studios teamed up Captain Marvel with Isis in 1975 for The Shazam!/Isis Hour on CBS, and the ratings went through the roof. Week after week, each episode of Isis opened with the same prologue (that’s the dialogue quoted above), setting the backstory of the series. On an archaeological dig in Egypt, high school science teacher Andrea Thomas unearthed a small box that contained an amulet that when worn, gave her powers delivered by the spirit of the goddess Isis. When her powers were needed, Joanna simply exposed the amulet, put out her arms in supplication (sometime held up, sometimes down) and calmly called, “Oh Mighty Isis!”. Instantly transformed into a cross between Nefertiti and a tennis pro, Joanna became Isis, holder of super powers that enabled her to fly (“Oh zephyr winds which blow on high, lift me now so I can fly!”), perform telekinesis, see into the future, and possess super strength and speed.isis3With these powers, Isis could figuratively crush the world like a tin can, but instead, she chose to help teens (usually students of hers) who got into trouble with the law, see the errors of their ways. Most episodes of Isis found a student reluctantly falling in with mobsters or gangsters or evil businessmen or scientists, aiding their plans to defraud or steal from someone. Just prior to Isis’ arrival, the young adult would start to have second thoughts about their deeds, and as Isis moved in for the collar, they would start spilling their guts and singing like canaries, gently guided by Isis’ requests to look inside themselves, to see if they were acting the way they should act. In keeping with a society that hadn’t yet solidified the “I’m okay, you’re okay” mentality that rewards so-called “honesty” by doling out clemency, the students didn’t get off scott-free here for just owning up to their mistakes – they still expected to be punished, and for the most part, they were punished. But Isis smiled, because she knew that deep down, they had learned a valuable lesson; one they that they wouldn’t likely repeat.

When there were no 24-hour cable networks devoted solely to kids programming. The Big Three’s Saturday morning kids line-up was the only significant block of hours aimed at us. So when a show like The Secrets of Isis  came on the scene, kids took notice. Playing like mini-movies every week, these fantasy-based, limited budget, live-action morality plays really connected with kids.b12d51f1a3503cbbda001463628d1f9b--saturday-morning-wonder-womanAnd while most kids couldn’t have cared less about learning a “lesson” while watching these shows, the deeply moralistic nature of Isis didn’t seem to grate on us – perhaps because they were delivered in a cool, direct manner by the unnaturally gorgeous Joanna Cameron. Within each storyline of the Isis episodes, issues of honesty, integrity and personal responsibility were relentlessly explored, and to further hammer home the point, Cameron, still in her Isis outfit, looked directly into the camera, with that disarming suggestion of a smile at her lips, and restated what we the viewers were supposed to have just learned from the stories (criminally, these famous “morals” were eliminated from the film masters in the 1990s — not a good time for morals, I guess; a few have been gathered together for this DVD).secrets_of_isis_isis2.png

But The Secrets of Isis wasn’t just about lecturing kids; it had plenty of action, albeit rather laid-back, California-styled action, that served the point of the story, and not the other way around. Watching Isis today, it’s easy to laugh at the chintzy blue-screen flying sequences and goof on the dopes who bought this stuff decades ago, but don’t feel too superior; we knew they looked cheap and unconvincing, too. We just didn’t care about that stuff as much as technologically-savvy kids do today. We didn’t care if Isis looked like she was hanging from wires, or that they never showed her except from the waist up when she lifted off to fly. It just wasn’t that important an issue. We knew it was a goof, so we just got on with it and didn’t worry about mattes and blue screens and process shots. Besides, who really was paying attention to all of that when Cameron was either walking around in her polyester-only outfits or her sexy tennis dress tunic?MV5BYzBmZjM1MzItNzU2Ny00MzcxLTg2YWYtZmM1NWQ4NzExMmE0XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTQ0NjQzNTE@._V1_It’s amazing to go back and watch these shows and see how relatively calm and sedate they appear. And despite the budget limitations, the series maintained a professional tone due to the solid TV directors who worked on it, including those old pros Hollingsworth Morse, Earl Bellamy, Arnold Laven, and Arthur H. Nadel. Isis also benefits from a well-chosen supporting cast, with Brian Cutler just fine as the second banana to Cameron’s Isis. Joanna Pang, cute and spunky as Cindy Lee, gets the “gee whiz” tone of her character just right; it’s too bad she didn’t come back for the second season (although Ronalda Douglas is good as student Renee Carroll).

REVIEW: SMALLVILLE – SEASON 10

Starring

Tom Welling (Lucifer)
Allison Mack (Wilfred)
Justin Hartley (This Is Us)
Erica Durance (Supergirl)
Cassidy Freeman (The Vampire Diaries)

Erica Durance in Smallville (2001)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

John Schneider (The Dukes of Hazzard)
Mackenzie Gray (Man of Steel)
Ted Whittell (Suicide Squad)
Alessandro Juliani (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
Keri Lynn Pratt (Cruel Intentions 2)
Bradley Stryker (Cold Pursuit)
Jessica Parker Kennedy (The Flash)
Michael Shanks (Stargate SG.1)
Sahar Biniaz (Sanctuary)
Michael Daingerfield (Sausage Party)
Laura Vandervoort (Bitten)
Chad Donella (Final Destination)
James Marsters (Runaways)
Erica Cerra (Power Rangers)
Bella King (Red Riding Hood)
Connor Stanhope (American Mary)
Lexa Doig (Arrow)
Peyton List (Gotham)
Michael Ironside (Scanners)
Julian Sands (Warlock)
Helen Slater (Supergirl)
Christine Willes (Dead Like Me)
Steve Byers (Reign)
Teri Hatcher (Lois & Clark)
Lindsay Hartley (Deadly Exchange)
Elena Satine (The Gifted)
Alan Ritchson (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Michael Hogan (Battlestar Galactica)
Lori Triolo (The 4400)
John Glover (Heroes)
Alaina Huffman (Staragte Universe)
Britt Irvin (V)
Anne Marie DeLuise (Goosebumps)
Annette O’Toole (Superman III)
James Kidnie (Robocop: The Series)
Aleks Paunovic (Van Helsing)
Lucas Grabeel (High School Musical)
Ellie Harvie (The New Addams Family)
Steve Makaj (Stargate SG.1)
Eric Martsolf (Passions)
Jaren Brandt Bartlett (Artic Air)
Sebastian Spence (First Wave)
P.J. Prinsloo (Edgement)
Callum Blue (Dead Like Me)
Aliyah O’Brien (Bates Motel)
John DeSantis (Arrow)
Chris Gauthier (Watchmen)
Aaron Ashmore (Veronica Mars)
Laura Mennell (Van Helsing)

Tom Welling in Smallville (2001)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?Laura Vandervoort in Smallville (2001)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.Lindsay Hartley in Smallville (2001)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 finish the story.Britt Irvin, Alessandro Juliani, Tom Welling, Erica Durance, and Cassidy Freeman in Smallville (2001)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!