REVIEW: HEROES – THE UNAIRED PILOT

Image result for heroes tv logo
CAST
Milo Ventimiglia (Gotham)
Hayden Panettiere (Bring it on 3)
Jack Coleman (Kingdom Hospital)
Tawny Cypress (Supergirl)
Leonard Roberts (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Santiago Cabrera (Merlin)
Masi Oka (Get Smart)
Greg Grunberg (Alias)
Adrian Pasdar (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D)
Noah Gray-Cabey (My Wife and Kids)
Ali Larter (Final Destination 1 & 2)
Sendhil Ramamurthy (Beauty and the Beast)
Image result for heroes SEASON 1
GUEST CAST
Ashley Crow (The Secret Circle)
Cristine Rose (How I Met Your Mother)
Thomas Dekker (Terminator: TSCC)
Richard Roundtree (Shaft)
watching the unaired pilot of Heroes was like watching a different episode, except not entirely.
I’m glad they didn’t stick with the terrorist storyline, it would’ve been too intense for an introductory of a new show, considering there are plenty of other shows out there that deal with terrorism head-on and Heroes isn’t one of those kinds of shows. Besides, the connection of a man with radioactive abilities and him being in a terrorist group would’ve been too obvious. Although, I have to say the setup was certainly interesting. Then again, too powerful and intense for a pilot episode. The show does have the prophecy of the explosion in New York and some mentioning of terrorism here and there, but it’s not blatantly obvious like what was shown here. I’m not saying that there aren’t people in such organizations or situations that won’t have abilities, but Heroes essentially is a show about hope, and having a terrorism tie-in wouldn’t really give the audience much comfort in that regard. So yeah, I’m glad that got replaced with the Ted Sprague storyline.
Though, another tie-in was Matt Parkman. Originally he wasn’t introduced until the second episode, with the Walker family crime. The unaired pilot showed him finding a hiding terrorist from hearing his Arabic thoughts instead of Molly Walker hidden away in fear. This also shows that Matt wanted to be on the S.W.A.T. team instead of becoming a detective, which is plausible if they’d kept with the terrorist storyline. I find it interesting that they kept how he approached his abilities in both versions: on a crime scene, hears the thoughts of someone, enters crime scene without authorization and finds the person hiding, but ends up getting questioned for his act of heroism. So they had the idea of what to do with Matt’s character from the start, it was the matter of getting the right storyline in. Also, I liked the surprised interaction between him and the radioactive man. They knew each other, and now we’ll never know how or why.
There was also the trouble with Matt’s marriage, which seemed a bit more unbearable for either of them as they were going to marriage counseling. Watching this, I’ve concluded I like his current wife better than the original one. But then again, I’ve always liked her on the show. She does have her flaws but overall is sweet and supportive of Matt, whereas this woman seen here is just bitchy. Now, there’s the Sylar storyline, which I have to admit freaked me out. I knew that they originally wanted Sylar to be a middle-aged man who was deeply religious and once being contacted by Chandra was conflicted and questioning whether his ability was a gift from God (or the Devil) and started using it for that purpose. But actually watching it all unfold in this really made a different impression on me, because as soon as Mohinder walked (er, more like broke into through the window) into Sylar’s apartment I just…I was like “whoa…” Definitely different from Gabriel Gray, which I am so happy they changed Sylar’s storyline. And in the end with Mohinder about to leave and then suddenly a dark-claded figure with a hat stood before him, and Mohinder uttering the word, “Sylar” in somewhat surprise and fear…I freaked the hell out. Seriously, it was a “Frak me!” moment, the same with the audio-recording of Sylar and Chandra talking, again completely different from their interaction we see later and just the deep and hoarseness of Sylar’s voice really scared me (besides, we now know why Chandra called him Mr. Sylar, because originally his name was supposed to have been Paul E. Sylar, not Gabriel Gray who just took the alias from the watch he’d been working on.
I liked, however, that they kept the religious undertone with Sylar’s character, as we revisit that scene with the “Forgive Me; I have sinned” writing in blood in the third episode when Mohinder and Eden enter his apartment, then again with he visits his mother. It’s still there, just subtly, which I think was a good thing. Adds the complexity of his character I think, instead of letting it known that he is just this whacked out religious dude trying to justify his actions on God. Other than that, nothing much else was changed. There were some extended scenes as seen in the pilot episode we know, such as Peter’s dream featuring him falling off the building and Nathan appearing there (which would’ve given it away from the beginning), an extended conversation between Claire and Zach along with Claire seeing the truck with terrorist hidden inside, which had to be taken out because that storyline was being cut indefinitely from the show; more of the Simone and Isaac interaction, including him going cold turkey from using the drugs and later cutting off his own hand. There was also a minor change with the Sanders’ scenes, mainly Micah taking $300 and leaving to visit his father in prison, although they decided to not go that route.
So the unaired pilot really was interesting, and makes me wonder what kind of show it would’ve turned out to be if they’d stuck with the things they didn’t change, especially keeping the original ideas for Sylar and the terrorist storylines in particular. The show would’ve gone in a completely different direction, and I don’t know whether good or bad. They had some heavy religious themes, and I don’t think it would’ve been received well by audiences. It was interesting nonetheless, but still I think too intense for a beginning episode and thankfully they tamed it and took out the unnecessary points which would’ve been questionable. Because really, there are so many terrorist plotpoints in other shows as I mentioned before, that it would’ve been cliche to add it to Heroes.
Advertisements

REVIEW: ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN

Image result for ultimate spider-man
MAIN CAST (VOICES)
Drake Bell (Sueprhero Movie)
Ogie Banks (Superman vs The Elite)
Greg Cipes (Teen Titans)
Clark Gregg (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Tom Kenny (Spongebob Squarepants)
Matt Lanter (Heroes)
Chi McBride (Human Target)
Caitlyn Taylor Love (I’m With The Band)
Logan Miller (Deep Powder)
J.K. Simmons (Spider-Man)
Steven Weber (Izombie)
RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST
Misty Lee (Killer Kids)
Jonathan Adams (Bones)
Tara Strong (The New Batman Adventures)
Eric Bauza (Batman: Assault on Arkam)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
Kevin Michael richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Stan Lee (Spider-Man)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)
Troy Baker (Lego Batman: The Movie)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Rob Paulsen (Teenae Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterpise)
Travis Willingham (Shelf Life)
Steve Blum (Wolverine and The X-Men)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Adrian Pasdar (Heroes)
Roger Craig Smith (Wreck-it Ralph)
Diedrich Bader (Batman: The Brave and The Bold)
Christopher Daniel Barnes (The Little Mermaid)
Maurice LaMarche (Futurama)
Dwight Schultz (The A-Team)
Jack Coleman (Heroes)
Robin Atkin Downes (Babylon 5)
Rose McGowan (Planet Terror)
Bumper Robinson (Sabrina: TTW)
Stan Lee (Avengers Aseesmble)
Seth Green (Family Guy)
Oded Fehr (The Mummy)
Freddy Rodriguez (Ugly Betty)
Phil Morris (Smallville)
Milo Ventimiglia (Heroes)
Cameron Boyce (The Descendants)
Maria Canals-Barrera (Justice League)
Will Friedle (Batman Beyond)
Eliza Dushku (Tru Calling)
Greg Grunberg (Heroes)
Michael Clarke Duncan (The Finder)
George Takei (Star Trek)
Iain De Caestecker (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Robert Patrick (Terminator 2)
Elizabeth Henstridge (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
James Marsters (Caprica)
Keith Szarabajka (Angel)
Billy West (Futurama)

I recently watched  Ultimate Spider-Man and I can honestly say that I have never wanted to stop watching a Spider-Man cartoon before in my life… until now. I have been a big fan of the Spider-Man comic series for many years and have liked almost all of the cartoon iterations of him, but this one just hurts to watch. I understand that Spider-Man is supposed to be a smart-mouthed teen who likes to make jokes while fighting crime, which is my favorite part about the character, but this show just takes it to an extreme.


I think one of the biggest problems for me was how much the stories are broken up by all of the “cut away” scenes.  I understand that Spider-Man is a show made for children and I get that the characters aren’t going to be nearly as serious as they are in the comics, but I feel like this was just too far from the source material for me to enjoy it. Another thing that bothered me was how just a few years ago we had, in my opinion, one of the best Spider-Man shows to date, Spectacular Spider-Man, and it was canceled in only it’s second season. I had really high hopes for Ultimate Spider-Man to fill the void that Spectacular Spider-Man left, but it just didn’t deliver at all.

As far as the voice acting on the show goes, they all seem to have done a really good job… with what they were given to read. So much of the writing in this show just seems so forced.why was Spectacular Spider-Man so much better and the most honest answer that I can give you is that it seems as though Marvel actually put a lot of work into Spectacular Spider-Man. I’m not saying that they didn’t put a lot of work into Ultimate Spider-Man, but it’s much harder to see in this one. The character designs in Spectacular Spider-Man may not have hit all of the right points for some people, but I really enjoyed it. The action in the show looked really good and it was easy to follow exactly what was happening, because you didn’t have a bunch of blur that you had to try and see everything through. The story for Spectacular Spider-Man was your standard Spider-Man fare, but while it was a show essentially for kids, it also appealed to many adults as well.


I really wanted to like Ultimate Spider-Man, but I just didn’t. I feel like if this show was about just another teen superhero other than Spider-Man it would have been much more forgivable, but for it to take such a dump on such a beloved character, it is just really sad to see. Now all that I can do is hope that the new Spider-Man movie can really bring something good to the table.

REVIEW: HEROES: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION (BLU-RAY)

CAST
Milo Ventimiglia (Gotham)
Hayden Panettiere (Bring it on 3)
Jack Coleman (Kingdom Hospital)
Tawny Cypress (Supergirl)
Leonard Roberts (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Santiago Cabrera (Merlin)
Masi Oka (Get Smart)
Greg Grunberg (Alias)
Adrian Pasdar (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D)
Noah Gray-Cabey (My Wife and Kids)
Ali Larter (Final Destination 1 & 2)
Sendhil Ramamurthy (Beauty and the Beast)
NOTABLE / RECURRING GUEST CAST
James Kyson Lee (Hawaii Five-O)
Zachary Quinto (Hitman: Agent 47)
Ashley Crow (The Secret Circle)
Jimmy Jean-Louis (Arrow)
Cristine Rose (How I Met Your Mother)
Thomas Dekker (Terminator: TSCC)
Lisa Lackey (Bones)
Matthew John Armstrong (American Dreams)
Christopher Eccleston (Doctor Who)
Nora Zehetner (Brick)
Clea DuVall (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles)
Randall Bentley (Upside)
Missy Peregrym (Smallville)
Danielle Savre (Boogeyman 2)
Eric Roberts (The Dark Knight)
Adair Tishler (Dollhouse)
Rena Sofer (Traffic)
Malcolm McDowell (Halloween 1 & 2)
George Takei (Star Trek)
Jayma Mays (Ugly Betty)

Heroes Season 1 is an ensemble cast show that became a very large success based on how well it translated the comic book world to the small screen. Set on present day Earth, the show details how a growing number of people are developing special abilities outside of government control with a variety of consequences to them and the population at large. Unlike the truncated second season, the first had a full 23 episodes to explore the concept, resulting in a number of smaller, multi-episode arcs that all built toward a bigger picture as the season progressed. Unlike the old style of comic books though, the cast is made up of all sorts of regular people that start to notice they are”special, some of whom learn to increase their abilities with concentration or training, stumbling at times but honing said powers in numerous ways.

In overall terms, the story uses the Human Genome Project as something of a starting point, using scientist Mohinder Suresh (Sendhil Ramamurthy) as a focal point for identifying gifted people as he follows a trail set forth by his father, a formerly distinguished geneticist that chased what were considered crazy ideas about human evolution until he was killed. Mohinder discovers that certain trace markers in human DNA predict people with abilities and having observed firsthand exactly how gifted some of these people are, he ends up trying to warn them of a serial killer named Sylar (Zachary Quinto) and what appears to be secret agents out to capture them. Needless to say, his efforts are not universally appreciated and he himself is cast into the mix as a pawn, forced to face both powered and mundane humans out to stop him. The show also uses a dozen or so other main characters that either have powers or interact heavily with them, many seemingly patterned after specific comic book characters in terms of abilities, though not so much in terms of their personalities.

Take Hiro Nakamura (Masi Oka) for example, he can bend the space time continuum if he concentrates hard enough, the Japanese office worker slaving away at his father’s corporation while dreaming of his special destiny. The guy is a stereotypical science fiction/comic book nerd too, wanting more than anything to become a hero rather than follow the path laid out for him by his father Kaito (George Takei of Star Trek fame). His hit or miss attempts to control his powers provide some of the comic relief of the show but he also serves as someone genre fans can identify with as he tries to uncover his own future with the help of his best friend, the mundane Ando Masahashi (James Kyson Lee). Then there was Claire Bennet (hotty Hayden Panettiere), a gal with Wolverine-like healing powers who figures out she will regenerate no matter what happens to her, the gal finding out her adopted father Noah (Jack Coleman) is working for an agency with special plans for anyone with her kind of talents. The Texas high school cheerleader becomes an integral part of the main picture as she is stalked by Sylar, a man with the ability to take special powers by decapitating those he encounters, their showdown predicted long before by Isacc Mendez (Santiago Cabrera), a precognitive that draws the future while under the influence of heroin.

The cast also included internet stripper Niki Sanders (hotty Ali Larter) whose multiple personality disorder grants her alias Jessica super strength, Nathan Petrelli (Adrian Pasdar) a district attorney running for Congress that can fly, his brother Peter (Milo Ventimiglia) that finds out his ability is especially powerful as time moves forward, Matt Parkman (Greg Grunberg) a street cop that can read minds, and DL Hawkins (Leonard Roberts) who can become intangible at will. Some of them try to keep their secret, like Nathan since he is running for office, while others are on the run from the agency searching such folks out (their point man being Noah with the aid of a Haitian that can negate powers and erase minds played by Jimmy Jean Louis), the conspiracy something straight out of shows like The X-Files, Jericho, or Angel. The interactions of the cast make the show quite special too, capturing the spirit of modern comic books better than anything else I have seen to date.Particularly appealing is the manner in which most of the powers are not overly flashy, the dramatic elements allowed to keep the science fiction elements present but downplayed so that a larger audience won’t be alienated.

CAST
Milo Ventimiglia (Gotham)
Jack Coleman (Kingdom Hospital)
Masi Oka (Get Smart)
Greg Grunberg (Alias)
Adrian Pasdar (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D)
Hayden Panettiere (Bring it on 3)
Noah Gray-Cabey (My Wife and Kids)
Ali Larter (Final Destination 1 & 2)
Sendhil Ramamurthy (Beauty and the Beast)
David Anders (Izombie)
Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars)
Dania Ramirez (American Pie: Reunion)
Dana Davis (Prom Night)
James Kyson Lee (Hawaii Five-O)
Zachary Quinto (Hitman: Agent 47)
NOTABLE / RECURRING GUEST CAST
Jimmy Jean-Louis (Arrow)
Adair Tishler (Dollhouse)
Stephen Tobolowsky (Groundhog Day)
Shalim Ortiz (Silver Case)
Nicholas D’Agosto (Gotham)
Katie Carr (Dinotopia)
Eriko (Dragon Evolution)
Ashley Crow (The Secret Circle)
Randall Bentley (Upside)
Cristine Rose (How I Met Your Mother)
Dianna Agron (I Am Number Four)
Mark Christopher Lawrence (Chuck)

Heroes Season 2 picked up four months after the events of Season One with the characters having moved on from the explosive finish. The prophecy thwarted at great cost and Sylar stopped, the clock was reset in many ways for those that survived. Peter is missing, Nathan has become a recluse, Hiro is stuck in Medieval Japan, and the Bennett family is on the run from the Company. Some characters die off-screen or are greatly downplayed and new people are introduced, the major players added in being Maya and Alejandro from Central America. Maya has an uncontrollable ability to infect people with some form of fast acting disease and only her brother seems able to calm her down to reverse the effects. They are on the run for murder (the authorities are not really particular about “how” the deaths occurred so much as “who” was responsible) and head to New York City to meet Dr. Suresh in hopes of finding a cure, not knowing he was murdered. Along the way, they pick up a helpful hitchhiker named Gabriel (guess who) and trouble ensues but that is only one thread of many the show goes back to.Image result for heroes season 2Of much greater interest to me was the Bennett family, particularly Noah in his efforts to destroy the Company, and Claire, as she struggles with her powers, puberty, and origins. Hiro’s trip to Japan circa the Seventeenth century where he meets his childhood hero, Takezo Sensei, proves to be a disaster when he screws up the timeline and must repair it lest the fate of the world be irreparably altered. Sadly, the quirky journey he goes through was arguably the most impacted part of the WGA writer strike that shortened the season to a mere eleven episodes  Takezo finding out that he is special too, though no explanation given. How he deals with his father upon his return and his own shame at his betrayal of his hero provided some relief from the admittedly weak storyline but not nearly enough to compensate for some of the worst writing seen on the show that has just started season three.

Another new chapter in the saga revolved around a relative of Micah named Monica, the Katrina refugee with an uncanny ability to mimic anything she watches on television. This was a thread that had a bit of potential, largely because it contained Micah and Niki, but felt the sting of the shortened season as well, the gal trying to become a heroine and falling short of the mark out of stupidity. Parkman has lost his wife and identity only to start over again in New York, having learned to keep quiet about his abilities and use them serendipitously to advance himself to detective. He and Suresh take in Molly but soon have to face a powerful telepath that is hurting her, the piece of the puzzle unveiled to the bigger picture of a long time conspiracy by the founders of the Company that include the parents of most of the players currently focused on in the series. Suresh ends up working directly for the company too, racing to uncover the secrets of the genetic component that gives the cast their powers but also an engineered virus (the Shanti Virus) that threatens not only the metahumans but the rest of the populace as well.

Perhaps most curious in the season for me, aside from the arcs starring Peter and Sylar of course, are those leading to Bob (the current head of the organization) and his daughter Elle, a gal with electrifying powers that shows what Claire would have become had Noah truly been unattached to her as he was supposed to have been. A psychopathic killer on a short leash, Elle does the dirty work to seek her father’s approval, the contrast between her and Claire referred to time and again by those around them. The introduction of “Adam”, the first person with powers and a founding member of the Company with a huge grudge against humanity, was also kind of abrupt and his use of Peter to try and destroy the world (“resetting the clock on humanity”) had a lot of untapped potential too.

To me, the writers should have pared down the new characters and tied up things like the Hiro saga much sooner given the strike and shortened season. They should have also kept in mind the show has a devoted following so making the characters act outside of their established norms or contrary to what they would have done given the way they acted in the first season weakened it as well. That the major threads employed cheap plot devices used in the past certainly did not help either  but this was indicative of the major problem of the season for me, the pacing. Every book, television show, and movie has an internal rhythm and pace that fans get used to. The WGA strike forced the slowly escalating pace of the show to be accelerated well beyond normal and leave off all the suspense of Season One behind it.

CAST
Milo Ventimiglia (Gotham)
Adrian Pasdar (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D)
Jack Coleman (Kingdom Hospital)
Sendhil Ramamurthy (Beauty and the Beast)
Cristine Rose (How I Met Your Mother)
Zachary Quinto (Hitman: Agent 47)
Hayden Panettiere (Bring it on 3)
James Kyson Lee (Hawaii Five-O)
Masi Oka (Get Smart)
Greg Grunberg (Alias)
Ali Larter (Final Destination 1 & 2)
NOTABLE / RECURRING GUEST CAST
Brea Grant (Battle Planet)
Ashley Crow (The Secret Circle)
Zeljko Ivanek (The Bourne Legacy)
Jamie Hector (Lie To Me)
Ntare Mwine (Blood Diamond)
Blake Shields (Carnivale)
Robert Forster (Jackie Brown)
David H. Lawrence XVII (Lost)
Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars)
Randall Bentley (Upside)
Jessalyn Gilsig (Nip/Tuck)
Jimmy Jean-Louis (Arrow)
Malcolm McDowell (Halloween I & II)
David Anders (Children of the Corn)
Alan Blumenfeld (In Her Shoes)
George Takei (Star Trek)
Dan Byrd (Firestarter 2)
Francis Capra (Veronica Mars)
Noah Gray-Cabey (My Wife and Kids)
Lisa Lackey (Bones)
Eric Roberts (The Dark Knight)
Adair Tishler (Dollhouse)
Stephen Tobolowsky (Groundhog Day)

The first volume of the third season, Villains, brought back what made the show so good in its first season, with shadowy bad guys and intricate conspiracies, in a storyline that explored what the line is between a hero and a villain. The return of the Petrelli patriarch Arthur (played with quiet badass-ness by Robert Forster) created an us-or-them scenario where characters had to choose sides and decide how far they would go to get what they want

The other key storyline surrounds Mohinder (Sendhil Ramamurthy) and his efforts to understand where the Heroes’ powers come from. The race to discover how to give and take away powers, which involves a hidden formula and an element known as the catalyst, which is key to the granting of special powers. Mohinder grants himself powers, which creates what could be gently described as an homage to The Fly and the distribution of powers becomes sctattershot, as powers change and mutate with each episode, creating characters who suffered from the Superman syndrome, as they were simply too powerful to be defeated in a realistic way.

The newcomers from season 2 have mostly disappeared, with only Elle and Maya sticking around, with Maya in  a somewhat minor role. The additions this time around are much better, including the ultra-creepy Puppet Master; Daphne, the morally-ambivalent Flash of the Heroes universe, and Utusu, an African version of Isaac Mendez, capable of painting the future on big rocks. Though they are, in some ways, repetitions of other characters, they bring enough to the show to be interesting, especially Brea Grant’s speedster, who has a memorable conflict with Hiro (Masi Oka) and a starcrossed relationship with Matt (Greg Grunberg.) There are a handful of other newcomers, including some thuggish bad guys and yet another  role for Ali Larter.


The first arc ended with a bit of a thud, as is probably the only way a battle with a ruthless, all-powerful villain can end, but it was followed up with the Fugitives arc, which tried a bit too hard to have real-world relevance. Guided by a questionably-motivated Nathan (Adrian Pasdar), the government has begun to round-up super-powered people for Guantanamo Bay-style imprisonment, including all our favorite heroes. It puts all the big-names wither in shackles or on the run, a situation that could have been promising, but instead just peters out, as the motivation for each character’s actions is no wildly different from what we know of them that it makes sense. Nathan is all over the ballfield in how he conducts his hunt for his fellow kind, while Sylar has more personality changes than could be explained by the supposed psychotic break he’s experiencing.

The show consistently is one of the finest-looking series on TV, with gorgeous photography and special effects, and from time to time, there are bits of inspired creativity, like the origin story in “1961,” which makes a terrific call-back all the way to a small-bit of dialogue in the pilot, Larter’s character’s powerful outburst in “Cold Snap” and the realistic rage the otherwise moral Matt Parkman (Greg Grunberg) experiences in “Trust and Blood.” And maybe I’m a bit blind, but I didn’t see foresee the identity of the anonymous underground agent helping the heroes in Fugitive and found it a smart re-use of characters.

CAST
Hayden Panettiere (Bring it on 3)
Robert Knepper (Cult)
Jack Coleman (Kingdom Hospital)
Zachary Quinto (Hitman: Agent 47)
Milo Ventimiglia (Gotham)
Masi Oka (Get Smart)
Greg Grunberg (Alias)
Adrian Pasdar (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D)
James Kyson Lee (Hawaii Five-O)
Sendhil Ramamurthy (Beauty and the Beast)
Ali Larter (Final Destination 1 & 2)
NOTABLE / RECURRING GUEST CAST
Dawn Olivieri (The Vampire Diaries)
Madeline Zima (The Hand That Rocks The Cradle)
Ray Park (Star Wars – Episode I)
Deanne Bray (2 broke Girls)
Elisabeth Röhm (American Hustle)
Jimmy Jean-Louis (Arrow)
Lisa Lackey (Bones)
Todd Stashwick (The Originals)
David H. Lawrence XVII (Lost)
Ashley Crow (The Secret Circle)
Sasha Pieterse (X-Men: First Class)
Saemi Nakamura (Jury Duty)
Jayma Mays (Ugly Betty)
Tessa Thompson (Veronica Mars)
Rick Worthy (Collateral Damage)
Kate Vernon (Battlestar Galactica)
Louise Fletcher (Star Trek: DS9)
Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters)
Željko Ivanek (Hannibal)
Swoosie Kurtz (Mike & Molly)
Richard Roundtree (Shaft)
George Takei (Star Trek)
Tamlyn Tomita (Highlander: The Series)

The big storyline this time out centers around Samuel Sullivan and his family of superpowered carnies. Samuel is busy building the group, recruiting various super-powered individuals to join them, in an effort to form a homeland of their own  As is usually the case with any story on Heroes, thanks to the need to add twists and turns to pad out episodes, it’s not that simple, and, of course, all of the show’s main characters will be drawn into the tale. It seems that the Heroes have the best contact system known to man, as no one misses an e-mail or call to get together. At some point, coincidence and contrived are very similar. Either way, the show tries to have it both ways with Samuel, attempting to make him both pure evil and a sympathetic soul, like they did with Sylar. While the inexplicably coincidental familial concerns of the Petrelli clan keep going for yet another run of episodes, adding in a new super-powered love interest for Peter, the relationship between Claire and her father Noah is the show’s secondary focus, as Claire goes off to college in an attempt to live a normal life, and ends up in a lesbian couple, while displaying her trademark poor judgment and weakly-motivated rebelliousness. Meanwhile, Dad’s whole world is falling apart in a super-midlife crisis.

The rest of the old crew are still around as well, including erstwhile samurai Hiro, who’s battling a terminal illness and trying his hand at being a hero-for-hire, and Matt Parkman and Sylar, who get closer than they’d really like to be in the aftermath of Season Three. Though the conflict between them is one of the better tales told, and Sylar  remains one of the most interesting characters in recent TV history.

The worst part of the season though has to be the ending. After you’ve sat through 18 episodes, Claire outs herself to the world on camera demonstrating her powers for all the world to see, then the iconic words to be continued appear….. The show was cancelled.

Perhaps the upcoming Heroes Reborn mini series will qive answers to what the aftermath will be.

REVIEW: HEROES REBORN

CAST
Jack Coleman (Kingdom Hospital)
Zachary Levi (Thor: The Dark World)
Robbie Kay (In Bruges)
Danika Yarosh (Shameless USA)
Kiki Sukezane (Death Yankees 2)
Ryan Guzman (Pretty Little Liars)
Rya Kihlstedt (Deep Impact)
Gatlin Green (Criminal Minds)
Henry Zebrowski (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Judith Shekoni (Garfield 2)
NOTABLE / RECURRING GUESTS
Sendhil Ramamurthy (Beauty and The BEast)
Jimmy Jean-Louis (Arrow)
Cristine Rose (How I Met Your Mother)
Greg Grunberg (Alias)
Masi Oka (Get Smart)
Noah Gray-Cabey (My Wife and Kids)
Francesca Eastwood (Final Girl)
Pruitt Taylor Vince (Constantine)
Peter Mooney (Rookie Blue)
Eve Harlow (Bitten)
Aislinn Paul (Degrassi: The Next Generation)
Carlos Lacamara (Independance Day)
Nazneen Contractor (Star Trek Into Darkness)
Dylan Bruce (Unstoppable)
Clé Bennett (Flashpoint)
Lucius Hoyos (What If)
Krista Bridges (Land of the Dead)
Hiro Kanagawa (The Secret Circle)
Michael Therriault (Reign)
A year ago, a terrorist attack in Odessa, Texas, left the city decimated. Blamed for the tragic event, those with extraordinary abilities are in hiding or on the run from those with nefarious motives.

Tim Kring pulled off a minor miracle, reviving the Heroes franchise after it sank so far during its first four seasons. In those seasons, there were elements of each that I really liked, but the overall story quality seemed to become more disconnected and surreal. Heroes truly has been reborn.

Kring and the Heroes crew have revived a universe of mystery and wonder. These people–these “evos”–do things that no human body could physically do, like the miracles of old. It gives us hope. They call them “evolved ones” or “evos,” but there is something wonderfully spiritual about this. We have new characters, new abilities, new mysteries and new challenges. I call it a “minor miracle,” because the hot potential Kring originally created, was always there, heavily squandered in seasons 3 and 4. Here, I like what they’ve done. I’m enjoying these new friends and enemies. I especially like how they portray the enemy as unknowingly selfish and arrogant, but who also accuse others of being selfish for wanting to save their own lives. There is so much of that going on in the American government these days, as it did in Nazi Germany nearly a century ago. The parallels are chilling. Yet, the promise of the heroes is gratifying.

The fact that Earth’s magnetic field goes to zero and leaves the planet vulnerable to a violent, civilization-ending solar storm, is a wonderfully solid scenario — far better than the “2012” film’s neutrino absorption nonsense. It reminds me of the wonderfully upside-down deliciousness perpetrated by the UN, NASA, governments and the Corporate mainstream media — turning science into a popularity circus (“consensus”) and stifling debate with cute catch phrases like “settled science” and “deniers,” all the while distracting people from the real horror story that Global Cooling is bad and Global Warming is good. Why? Because we’re in an Ice Age. When the Holocene ends, 7+ Billion people will be in jeopardy, just as they are in this mini-series. Art mimicking reality, despite all the propaganda to keep us from seeing that reality. Nice when entertainment can wake some people up, instead of making them brain dead. The show has some flaws but all in all its a decent mini series with the only problem being the cliffhanger ending knowing that this is just a one off season.

REVIEW: THE NET: THE SERIES

MAIN CAST

Brooke Langton (Swingers)
Joseph Bottoms (Blind Date)
Tim Curry (IT)
Eric Szmanda (CSI)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

William Katt (Carrie)
Kelli Taylor (Nightman)
Mackenzie Gray (Smallville)
Jeff Yagher(V)
Jack Coleman (Heroes)
Lee Garlington (Flashforward)
Jim Byrnes (Highlander: The Series)
Dion Luther (Stargate SG.1)
Louis Ferreira (Stargate Universe)
Kevin McNulty (Elektra)
Peter Bryant (Sanctuary)
Clyde Kusatsu (Alias)
Michael Milhoan (That 70s Show)
Keegan Connor Tracy (Bates Motel)
Jsu Garcia (A Nightmare on Elm Street)
Rachel Hayward (Jingle All The Way 2)
Carmen Moore (Andromeda)
Craig Veroni (Darl Angel)
Steve Bacic (Blade: The Series)
Richard Cox (Bones)
Zach Galligan (Gremlins)
Ken Tremblett (Watchmen)
Ona Grauer (Arrow)
Colin Cunningham (Stargate SG.1)
Lisa Robin Kelly (That 70s Show)
April Telek (The Brotherhood 4)
Bill Dow (The Fly 2)
Gary Jones (Stargate SG.1)
Jeffrey Combs (Gotham)
Richard Ian Cox (Stargate: Atlantis)
Katharine Isabelle (Ginger Snaps)
Brennan Elliott (Flight 93)
Hiro Kanagawa (Heroes Reborn)
Chris Owens (Mutant X)
Bruce Abbott (The Prophecy 2)
Jill Teed (Highlander: The Series)
Sarah Deakins (Andromeda)
Dwayne Johnson (Faster)
Jeremy Renner (The Avengers)
Ryan Robbins (Sanctuary)

Having seen the film The Net starring Sandra Bullock, and thoroughly enjoying it, I decided to check out the spin-off series. Of course, it isn’t Bullock playing the main character, but – naturally – a look-a-like, and to her credit actress Brooke Langton does a fine job. The series is obviously richer in scope than the film, but to begin with at least, sticks to the same storyline: Computer geek Angela Bennett loses her identity and gets framed for murder when baddies hack into the government’s computers and changes her file. Angela then goes on the run and tries to clear her name.Image result for the net (1996) brooke langton

Obviously, such a plot is by no means original and both David Jansen and Harrison Ford have traipsed over similar ground in The Fugitive, but to begin with at least, what we had here was an entertaining serial-thriller that was eminently watchable. Acting is top notch from both Langton and in particular Joseph Bottoms, who plays her nemesis Trelawney. In the first few episodes, Angela has an internet contact named Sorcerer who we know only by voice (played by the brilliant British actor Tim Curry), but when his real identity is revealed in Episode 10, the show changes lanes.untitledThe main story arc is resolved in Epsiode 19 leaving the last 3 episodes as a way of taking the show into a new direction that would of continued into a second series, sadly the show was cancelled after one sason, but at least they managed to resolved the major storyline of the show which many fallen shows dont get a chance too. If you enjoyed the movie(s) then the series is a worthy spin-off and is fun to watch

REVIEW: KINGDOM HOSPITAL

CAST
Andrew McCarthy (Mulholland Falls)
Bruice Davison (High Crimes)
Meagen Fay (The Big Bang Theory)
Ed Begley, Jr. (Veronica Mars)
Sherry Miller (Bitten)
Allison Hossack (Stargate SG.1)
Julian Richings (Highlander: The Raven)
Diane Ladd (Raging Angels)
Jack Coleman (Heroes)
Jodelle Ferland (Dead Like Me)
Kett turton (Blade: Trinity)
Recurring Cast / Guest Stars
Christopher Heyerdahl (Sanctuary)
Ryan Robbins (Arrow)
Alan Scarfe (Andromeda)
Callum Keith Rennie (Flashforward)
William B. Davis (The X-Files)
Christine Willes (Dead Like Me)
Like the best of Stephen King’s works, “Kingdom Hospital” draws its inspiration from a combination of another work and autobiographical details of his own life, in this case, Lars von Trier’s “Riget,” and King’s own 1999 experience being struck by a drunk driver in a hit-and-run accident. King wrote 8 of the 13 episodes himself and shares writing credit with his wife Tabitha on a 9th. The remaining 4 were scripted by his co-producer, National Book Award finalist Richard Dooling.
“Kingdom Hospital” is not “Riget” and does not pretend to be. A straightforward remake of “Riget” would not have played well to mainstream American audiences, besides being redundant and unnecessary. If you want to see “Riget,” you can rent “Riget,” but don’t look for it here. Instead, “Kingdom Hospital” uses “Riget” as the framework for a motherlode of subtext. From a modern re-telling of the Egyptian Anubis myth, to questions of Christian faith, from forays into the horrors of experimental medicine to frequent pot shots at American popular culture, from an exploration of obsessive attraction to biting commentary on the ways children have been treated historically–all of these things combine to tell a fascinating, multi-layered tale.
While the villain, Dr. Stegman, is rather one-dimensional in his obsessions and hubris, he serves as a mirror to the more fascinating Dr. Hook, a man so haunted by his own internal demons and guilt that he strives to be better. Stegman’s lack of guilt serves as his downfall, while Hook’s guilt and mistakes define him. Peter Rickman serves as the mirror to Stephen King, as he realizes he has defined himself by his craft (he is an artist), and just as King revealed in his memoir “On Writing” how writing ultimately healed him, so does Rickman’s artwork (he’s so defined by it that he uses drawings to communicate while comatose) set the stage for his own healing, and, ultimately, the “healing” of Kingdom Hospital. “It’s what I do,” he says at the story’s climax. “It’s solid.”
“Kingdom Hospital” is much better suited to viewing on DVD without the endless commercial interruptions that slowed the narrative during its prime-time run. On television the story was slow to build and often seemed to take pointless, meandering side trips, but watched in a single sitting, it takes on a new life, and those side trips pay off marvelously in end. This is fascinating stuff, great character studies. A definite must-see!

REVIEW: THE VAMPIRE DIARIES -SEASON 1-6

Image result for the vampire diaries logo

MAIN CAST

Nina Dobrev (Never Cry Werewolf)
Paul Wesley (Killer Movie)
Ian Somerhalder (Pulse)
Steven R. McQueen (Piranha 3d)
Sara Canning (Primeval: New World)
Kat Graham (Honey 2)
Candice King (Juno)
Zach Roerig (Rings)
Kayla Ewell (Impact Point)
Michael Trevino (The Riches)
Matthew Davis (Cult)
Joseph Morgan (Hex)
Michael Malarkey (The Selection)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Chris William Martin (Dollhouse)
Benjamin Ayres (Saving Hope)
Chris J. Johnson (Betrayal)
Marguerite MacIntyre (Red Dragon)
Robert Pralgo (Fast & Furious 7)
Susan Walters (The Flash)
Jasmine Guy (Dead Like Me)
Arielle Kebbel (Ballers)
Bianca Lawson (Beauty and The Beast)
Mia Kirshner (30 Days of Night: Dark Days)
Malese Jow (The Flash)
Gina Torres (Firefly)
Sean Faris (Never Back Down)
James Remar (The Shannara Chronicles)
Kelly Hu (Arrow)
Melinda Clarke (Spawn)
David Anders (Izombie)
Spencer Locke (Resident Evil: Afterlife)
Taylor Kinney (Zero Dark Thirty)
B.J. Britt (Agents of SHIELD)
Tiya Sircar (The Internship)
Maiara Walsh (The Starving Games)
Natashia Williams (Smiley Face)
Lauren Cohan (Chuck)
Trent Ford (Smallville)
Daniel Gillies (Young Hercules)
Dawn Olivieri (American Hustle)
Stephen Amell (Arrow)
Michaela McManus (Law & Order: SVU)
David Gallagher (Super 8)
Jack Coleman (Heroes)
Sebastian Roche (Odyssey 5)
Claire Holt (Mean Girls 2)
Anna Enger (Anchorman 2)
Alice Evans (Lost)
Torrey DeVitto (The Rite)
Robert Ri’chard (Veronica Mars)
Perisa White (Blood Dolls)
Nathaniel Buzolic (Out of The Blue)
Cassidy Freeman (Smallville)
Casper Zafer (Coffe Sex You)
Michael Reilly Burke (Mars Attacks)
Todd Williams (San Andreas)
Grace Phipps (Scream Queens)
Phoebe Tonkin (The Secret Circle)
David Alpay (Ararat)
Alyssa Diaz (Red Dawn)
Madeline Zima (Californication)
Rick Worthy (Collateral Damage)
Cynthia Addai-Robinson (Arrow)
Charles Michael Davis (Battle Scars)
Daniella Pineda (American Odyssey)
Leah Pipes (Fingerprints)
Callrd Harris (The Real St.Nick)
Eka Darvill (Spartacus)
Olga Fonda (Real Steel)
Hayley Kiyoko (Scooby-Doo 3 & 4)
Rick Cosnett (The Flash)
Janina Gavankar (The L Word)
Kendrick Sampson (Gracepoint)
Shaun Sipos (Texas Chainsaw 3d)
Caitlin McHugh (I Am Legdn)
Penelope Mitchell (Curve)
Chris Brochu (Soul Surfer)
Raffi Barsoumian (NCIS)
Colin Ferguson (Eureka)
Jodi Lyn O’Keefe (Halloween: H20)
Emily Chang (Total Recall)
Gabrielle Walsh  (The Hive)
Marco James Marquez  (The CLient List)
Chris Wood (Supergirl)
Tristin Mays (The Wedding Ringer)
Annie Wersching (Bosch)
Christopher Cousins (Wicker Park)

 


There are vampires, and there are indeed diaries. One of these diaries is being kept by Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev). Elena’s been writing down her thoughts for quite some time now, but in these dark days, her diary is her only outlet for the way she really feels. She’s still reeling from the deaths of both of her parents just a few short months ago, and while she tries to present a smiling face to the world at large, she’s emotionally ravaged inside. Elena has been keeping almost everyone around her at arm’s length, dumping one of her oldest friends who she’d only recently started to date and tearing just about every last page out of her social calendar. She’s dead inside.

Stefan Salvatore (Paul Wesley), meanwhile, is dead, period. He too keeps a journal, although having been alive…well, undead…for around 150 years, Stefan has had quite a bit more to write about than Elena. One of the first things Stefan did upon his return to his ancestral home of Mystic Falls, Virginia is re-enroll in high school. As an eternal 17 year old, he doesn’t run into any trouble looking the part. It certainly doesn’t hurt that as one of the few surviving vampires who doesn’t sizzle and smolder under the light of day, there’s little reason for anyone to suspect that Stefan is one of the undead. Stefan and Elena are inexorably drawn to one another, and the two of them are almost immediately established as a couple. Epic romance. Moony eyes. You know the drill.

Stefan can’t escape his blood. You can take that in the most literal sense: there’s the blood he must ingest in order to survive, although he’s long since sworn off feeding from humans, living instead off of small animals in the woods around his palatial family estate. This makes it easier to for Stefan to more seamlessly blend into mainstream society rather than feasting off it from the fringes, but it leaves him weaker than most other vampires as a result. It’s just not as potent as what’s coursing through our veins. There’s that sort of blood — the crimson, sticky kind — and then there’s the blood of his family. Stefan’s brother Damon (Ian Somerhalder) is also a creature of the night, and he long ago swore to make every last second of Stefan’s existence an eternal hell. Damon kills without hesitation…not only to feed, and not only to hide the existence of vampires from the world at large, but simply because he likes it. There’s more to Damon’s return to Mystic Falls than revenge, though. There’s a much greater — a much darker — motivation behind it all. At the same time, Mystic Falls isn’t being caught as unaware as Damon might like to think.

The Vampire Diaries finds its footing startlingly quickly. Take Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, for instance: as universally adored as those two series are, neither of them were really any good at all until the tail-end of their first seasons. Even with as strong as Supernatural quickly became in its first year, it got off to somewhat of a shaky start, and a fair number of the episodes from its first season are hit-or-miss. The Vampire Diaries, on the other hand, is just about perfect by the time the third episode rolls around. There really aren’t any weak episodes after that. There’s no filler dumped in just to pad out the rest of the season, and it doesn’t spin its wheels the way a lot of shows do when leading up to the big finale. It’s impressive enough that The Vampire Diaries hits such dizzying heights in its very first season, but to maintain that sort of consistency across virtually every episode…that’s exceptionally rare.


Admittedly, its pilot is kind of slow moving and sputters a bit, but the second episode is quite a bit stronger, and you’ll know from the end of “Friday Night Bites” if you’re in it for the long haul. Even with all of its genre underpinnings, at its core, The Vampire Diaries is a soap opera, complete with dead parents, drug abuse, adoption drama, alcoholism, and lots and lots of relationships. Don’t go in expecting it to be a Buffy clone or a Supernatural knockoff. The elements that make those series so brilliant are showcased here as well, but action, horror, and a snarky sense of humor don’t dominate. The great thing about The Vampire Diaries — and I write this from the perspective of someone who’s not the usual target demographic for this kind of show — is that the soapier elements are never overwhelming either. For instance, as the series opens, Elena’s younger brother Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen) has turned to drugs in a failed attempt at trying to cope with the sudden deaths of his parents. In any other show, there’d be some sort of big, overwrought intervention…drenched in syrupy strings, a heartfelt monologue, and saucer-plate weepy eyes. That, or he’d bottom out in some sort of cartoonishly over-the-top way. Because The Vampire Diaries is so respectful to its characters and its audience, it doesn’t trot down either of those paths. People try to reach Jeremy and fail. He has to arrive at the decision to improve his lot in life himself, and he quickly does. Though Jeremy is certainly given a helpful nudge, his maturation is handled quietly and convincingly. The Vampire Diaries doesn’t have all that much interest in settling for the obvious, and it resists wringing out drama from the same plot points episode after episode.

Every episode has some sort of intensely action or horror driven sequence to unleash, and some sort of shock or surprise is always lurking around the next corner. I seriously found myself shouting at my TV — the good kind of shouting! — with the way The Vampire Diaries so deviously caught me off-guard over and over again. The twists are also well-thought-out and wholly earned, not just lazily yanking out the rug. Very few people here are safe, and characters I assumed would be a fixture for the entire run of the show are suddenly slaughtered after a few episodes. The cinematography can be impressively cinematic as well, and quite a few moments of “You’re Undead to Me” and “Haunted” in particular look as if they could’ve been culled from a big-budget Hollywood horror flick. Especially once the pilot has come and gone, the pace screams along at a very steady clip. There are never really any threads in the storyline that are left dangling for long. Plot points that look like they’d be dragged out over the course of the first season or two are instead revealed a third of the way through. Key moments that feel like they belong in the season finale swoop in closer to the halfway mark. I mean that as the highest compliment too. Nothing ever feels rushed or underplayed. It’s all presented quickly enough to keep The Vampire Diaries from stagnating but is still given enough time to have a meaningful impact…it’s a perfect balance. Also, every episode offers some sort of payoff to something established earlier, and there’s generally some kind of reveal as well. So much happens that part of me honestly wonders how they can keep up this manic pace in season two, although the writers have very much earned the benefit of the doubt after this exceptionally strong first outing. I’m having a hard time thinking of the last show I watched with cliffhangers this consistently addictive too. Especially now that it’s out on Blu-ray, The Vampire Diaries kind of demands to be devoured in marathon viewings.

The cast and characterization straight across the board are particularly great. There’s something magnetic about every last member of The Vampire Diaries’ ensemble, and no weak links leap out at me. There’s certainly an effort to keep them even-keeled. There’s something likeable or sympathetic about most everyone. Each character has some sort of glaring flaw as well, and that includes Elena and Stefan. Elena isn’t some sort of impossibly perfect Mary Sue character. She has her shortcomings, and her friends and family aren’t afraid to call her on them and take her down a peg either. In most any other show, everyone in the supporting cast would be boiled down to a three or four word description: “horny best friend” or “hyperaggressive jock”…that sort of thing. They’d be defined less by who they are and more by what the plot requires them to do that week. In The Vampire Diaries, just about everyone is infused with quite a bit more thought and dimension. This may not be at all apparent at first glance. Some of the folks who at first seem destined to be dead air are soon given some additional depth. Well, that, or they’re quickly mauled.

The body count this season is kinda stratospheric, and it doesn’t hurt that the werewolves hinted at last year have started snarling their way into the series. Season two is teeming with all sorts of unrepentant killers, and the standout early on is Katherine. Nina Dobrev pulls double duty as the wholesome, responsible Elena and as the centuries-old scheming murderess Katherine (several very different incarnations of her, actually), and she’s more than a little bit awesome in both roles. The series milks a few really great jolts from the uncertainty of who you’re looking at, exactly — if it’s Elena or if it’s Katherine playing dress-up — and Katherine’s sinister smirk after she’s had her fun never fails to make me cackle. Katherine also subscribes to the theory that people don’t amount to much more than Happy Meals on legs, and the swiftness, ferocity, and complete lack of remorse as she cripples and murders one random girl just to prove a point winds up being one of the season’s standout moments. I do have to admit that later in the season, The Vampire Diaries’ writers seem to run out of really compelling things for Katherine to do, and her appearances start to pack less and less of a wallop. There’s a point to it, exploring a facet of the character that she’d just as soon refuse to acknowledge even exists, but it does seem anticlimatic with as much of a sultry, destructive force of nature as Katherine is early on. The Vampire Diaries more than makes up for Katherine’s descent into shrugworthiness by introducing a couple of truly ancient vampires — Klaus and Elijah — who are charismatic, startlingly compelling, and also regal and adult…an appreciated change of pace from a show where the monsters are generally played by witty early-twentysomethings.

Ian Somerhalder still stands strong overall as the best thing about The Vampire Diaries, scoring all the snarkiest lines and clearly having a hell of a lot more fun than anyone else in front of the camera. Still, despite being so manipulative, exploitative, hot-tempered, and occasionally murderous, the show still finds a way to keep him completely likeable and sympathetic. Some of the shades of gray with Damon are erased this season, and he’s much more overtly a dependable hero-type. I chalk that up as character development, natch, and the fact that he frequently does seem to approach becoming the man Elena wants him to be makes his slips back into monster-dom that much more tragic.

The Vampire Diaries season 2  is just a hell of a lot of fun to watch, screaming ahead at a manic pace and never settling into any sort of comfortable routine. It’s shockingly well-acted, there’s hardly any filler or unnecessary distractions, and The Vampire Diaries probably gets the nod as the most infectious and consistently entertaining drama I’m watching these days. Even the soapier stuff and the over-the-top melodrama winds up being more engrossing than I ever would’ve thought possible.

 

he third season of The Vampire Diaries is about family…or, rather, trying to hold onto one. Elena’s is all but gone, limited to just her increasingly distant brother Jeremy. The two of them have a surrogate father in Alaric, but even he’s content to set up shop on the couch rather than settle into one of the house’s depressingly vacant rooms. A fractitious family at best seems as if it could collapse at any moment. Elena and Damon both are desperately hunting for Stefan. The previous season closed with Stefan unleashing the monster within, swearing allegiance to the millenium-old original vampire Klaus. ‘The Ripper’ has resurfaced. Though he obeys Klaus’ every command to murder and maim, Stefan isn’t some mindless, manipulated slave; he relishes in the kill.

 

In any other series, Stefan would be back to his righteous old self within two or three episodes, but…well, this is The Vampire Diaries. Things will never be the same again. Klaus has much of his true family within arm’s reach, though he prefers to keep the bulk of them skewered and subdued. His aim is to raise a new family, one that’s both more loyal and more like him: a hybrid of vampire and werewolf. The birthing of this army proves to be far more difficult than Klaus could ever have dreamt, and his torment grows that much greater when he finds the family tree of his birth to be more expansive and more vengeful than once believed. The dominance of family this season doesn’t stop there. Hell, we learn that the existence of vampires at all is predicated on the idea of protecting one’s own. No one in Mystic Falls escapes unscathed from all this, with the sorceress Bonnie, undead Caroline, and lycanthropic Tyler all struggling with parents who’ve either turned their backs on them or can’t accept their children for who they now are.

The Vampire Diaries does so much right, and approaching the top of that list is its disinterest in convention. Stefan and Elena form the core of the series in so many ways, and yet it’s quite a while before the two ever share the same frame this year. They’re kept physically apart for far more of the season than I would ever have thought possible, and even after that point, they’re hardly ‘together’. Stefan has changed profoundly. He may never return to the unwaveringly good guy he once was, and the journey back proves to be a whole hell of a lot more grueling As the third season of The Vampire Diaries came to a close, Elena died. This year follows her rebirth as a vampire, although if Stefan and Damon have their way, Elena will be re-reborn soon enough.You see, there’s a cure for vampirism, entombed for two thousand years with an immortal creature known only as Silas. Even with the crypt on the other end of the continent and before embarking on one epic quest after another to unlock it, they all start fantasizing about what they’ll do if they ever get their hands on the cure.

They could shove it down Klaus’ throat and at long last end his reign of terror, although who knows what kind of collateral damage would result from slaying an Original. Perhaps it’s the shot at redemption that Rebekah has been waiting for. Maybe it’s a chance for Stefan and Elena to enjoy a long but less than eternal life together as humans. It ought to go without saying that not everyone will be able to get what they want, especially since they’re not the only ones in search of the cure. Supernaturally-fueled vampire hunters have started to make their presence known for the first time in ages, and they aim to strip Silas of his immortality and end him once and for all. Anyone who gets in their way is expendable, and it kind of follows that Elena’s vampiric bodyguards don’t pose much of a threat to seasoned killers engineered to butcher the undead.

Season four is largely shaped by those three plot threads: Elena coming to grips with her vampirism, the search for the cure, and the resurrection of Silas. Most everything else that happens this year is fallout from one or more of the above. One of the people closest to Elena is saddled with the mantle of a Hunter, and the path to Silas’ tomb can only be unearthed by having him slaughter as many vampires as possible…a compulsion he’s all too eager to indulge. Cut off from the source of her mystical gifts, Bonnie begins to embrace darker magic. They imbue her with the power needed to unlock Silas’ tomb, but this raw, boundless energy may consume Bonnie before she’s given the opportunity.

Season 5 the doppelganger of Stefan or “shadow self” in the form of Silas certainly keeps things interesting. Silas is one of the more intense bad guys of the show and while Silas appears as if Stefan (as is performed by the same actor), the differences between characters is huge. The same can be said for the continuing story-line of the other double, the seemingly identical look-alike Katherine (who continues to look the same as Elena, but also is nothing like her). In Season 5, Katherine turns from a vampire to a human (as the sole recipient of the long-sought vampire cure), and things are complicated because of it. Seeing the way that actors Nina Dobrev and Paul Wesley handle these scenes is part of the fun, and it’s an amazingly procifient example of the benefits of quality film editing to see the scenes where characters have interactions with one another as played by the same actor.

The production values of The Vampire Diaries are surprisingly strong for such a modest budget television production. The special effects are always minimally utilized so that when there are effects on the show they can count as something extra special. The efforts from the team that works on this show really impresses. The cinematography remains a constant things; always showcasing both the bright and dark elements of the storylines. The costumes fit with these performers well. The make-up department has their work cut out for them at times, and are capably bringing forth the supernatural elements to the show.

Considering relatively lower production costs compared to other network television series, it’s a very well produced creation that continues to impress with what the creator and producers have to work with.

In season six we get to find out what happened to Bonnie (Graham) and Damon (Somerhalder) after last season’s cliff-hanger, and what has become of the other side. There is also the introduction of a new coven of witches who have ties to some pre-existing characters. Last season’s new addition Enzo (Malarkey) also gets a much more beefed up role as well as back-story.

Amongst all of the new additions there are of course some exits, the most notable being that of leading lady. Audiences have spent the last six years investing in the life of Elena Gilbert, but now has come the time to say goodbye, and it isn’t easy. It’s not just Elena though as this year the show lost a total of four of its more long-standing cast members, and there isn’t going to be a dry eye in the house by the end of the season.

'The Vampire Diaries' Recap: Damon and Elena Return to 1994

What makes this box-set really special this season  is the extras. Thought has clearly been put into what to include, and it isn’t your standard deleted scenes and commentaries. Both of those elements are included, but the featurettes have been crafted with the true die-hard fans at the fore-front of their minds. Good Bit and Good Luck is an emotional documentary that gives the cast and crew a public forum to say goodbye to their co-stars. The second is a much more upbeat affair as the cast read out some of their favorite fan Twitter reactions to plot developments over the series. There’s never a dull moment in Mystic Falls and somehow, despite being over a hundred episodes old, the show manages to constantly reinvent itself and feel fresh. the cliffhanger leads into what is already starting to be an intriguing season 7.