REVIEW: GOTHAM – SEASON 3

 

MAIN CAST

Ben McKenzie (Batman: Year One)
Donal Logue (Ghost Rider)
David Mazouz (New Girl)
Morena Baccarin (Homeland)
Sean Pertwee (Dog Soldiers)
Robin Lord Taylor (Cold Comes The Night)
Erin Richards (The Quiet Ones)
Camren Bicondova (Girl House)
Corey Michael Smith (Wonderstruck)
Jessica Lucas (Cloverfield)
Chris Chalk (12 Years A Slave)
Drew Powell (Straw Dogs)
Maggie Geha (Ted 2)
Benedict Samuel (The Walk)
Michael Chiklis (Fantastic Four)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Leslie Hendrix (Arthur)
James Carpinello (Gangster Squad)
Jamie Chung (The Gifted)
John Doman (Blue Valentine)
Jada Pinkett Smith (Magic Mike XXL)
B.D. Wong (Jurassic World)
Chelsea Spack (Blue Bloods)
Raymond J. Barry (Training Day)
Richard Kind (Stargate)
Naian Gonzalez Norvind (The Devil You Know)
Anthony Carrigan (The Flash)
Ivana Milicevic (Vanilla Sky)
Cameron Monaghan (Amityville: The Awakening)
James Remar (Black Lightning)
Nathan Darrow (Preacher)
Camila Perez (Star)
Tonya Pinkins (The Book of Henry)
Paul Reubens (Batman Returns)
Alexander Siddig (Game of Thrones)
Clare Foley (Sinister)
David Dastmalchain (Ant-Man)

Maggie Geha in Gotham (2014)Gotham is the crime drama series based on DC Comics’ Batman universe. Having premiered on Fox in the autumn of 2014, the show initially focused on young versions of James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz). Over time, though, the series introduced younger iterations of well-known villains in the Batman franchise, as well as lesser-known characters to provide a wider representation of the Dark Knight’s universe. Additionally, with Season Two, the episodes were grouped into “Rise of the Villains” (Episodes 1-11) and “Wraith of the Villains” (Episode 12-22), and that concept was continued in Season Three, with Episodes 1-14 grouped into “Mad Love” and Episodes 15-22, under the subtitle of “Heroes Rise.”Benedict Samuel in Gotham (2014)Concepts deriving from the overarching themes were weaved throughout the various storylines. Betrayal is often associated with love, and this theme was well represented throughout the season. Between lovers, siblings, work colleagues, and enemies, betrayal was a symptom of the deterioration of Gotham. Gordon tried to take the high road with his ex-fiancé Lee (Morena Baccarin) who moved on to a relationship with Dr. Mario Falcone (James Carpinello) and fell into an uneasy sexual relationship with Valerie Vale (Jamie Chung) that included a number of lies and betrayals due to their goals arising from their respective jobs – bounty hunter and reporter. But, the downfall between Gordon and Vale came when he is forced by Jervis Tetch (Benedict Samuel) to choose between Vale or Lee in “Follow the White Rabbit” (Episode 6). Although he chooses Vale, all parties easily infer that Gordon is still in love with Lee. Later in the season, Bruce commits a deadly betrayal against Alfred (Sean Pertwee) in “Destiny Calling” (Episode 21) after being kidnapped by the Court of Owls to spend time with The Shaman (Raymond J. Barry) and meeting Ra’s al Ghul (Alexander Siddig). Surprisingly, one ray of light occurred between Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor). Desperate to know why she didn’t kill him, Penguin was surprised and humbled that Fish saw in him her greatest creation (“Burn the Witch” Episode 2).Robin Lord Taylor and Cory Michael Smith in Gotham (2014)

As often that a character was turning on another individual, sometimes the betrayal came from within. Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) seemed to be one of the most conflicted characters through the season, trying to answer the question, “Who am I?” His identity, publicly as Penguin’s Chief of Staff, and privately as Penguin’s mastermind, resulted in a vacuum of questions after Nygma shot Penguin, believing he had killed his best friend who overshadowed and defined him. As a result, Nygma tested a number of the city’s intelligent people for assistance in determining his own identity separate from Penguin. The Tetch virus enhanced and brought out certain traits of characters and finding themselves at odds with themselves. Captain Nathaniel Barnes (Michael Chiklis) received a drop of blood from Alice Tetch (Naian Gonzalez Norvind) which heightened his commitment to the concept of justice, becoming judge, jury, and executioner as well as embodying the law (“New Day Rising” Episode 4). Marios jealousy was amplified, and Lee became a bad girl looking for the bad boy in Gordon, who was forced to self-infect the virus on himself in “Pretty Hate Machine” (Episode 20). As one of the heroes, Gordon was the only one who could control his magnified emotional state.

Amongst chaos, the heroes rise; however, the idea of heroes is a double-edged sword, so the viewer’s traditional definition of hero will be challenged in Season Three. Executive Producer John Stephens said, “Everyone goes through a major character metamorphosis throughout the course of the yea,r” in an interview with Comicbook.com. What is the most dramatic event that a character could go through? Well, it seemed that death (or near-death) and rebirth was a common event for most of the characters. For instance, Ivy Pepper (Maggie Geha) was touched by one of Dr. Strange’s (B. E. Wong) monsters and not only did she age about 10 or so years, but it was the belief of Selina (Camren Bicondova) that Ivy had died. Fish Mooney, Victor Fries (Nathan Darrow), who became Mr. Freeze, and Bridgit Pike (Camila Perez), who became Firefly, actually died and were reborn. It should be noted that while some characters died, they did not embody their familiar mantle: Ivy isn’t known as Poison Ivy, Selena hasn’t become Catwoman, and Jerome Valeska (Cameron Monaghan) may have the iconic creepy wide smile, but nary a whisper of “Joker” has been heard – yet.David Mazouz and Camren Bicondova in Gotham (2014)The parallels amongst pairs of characters did deliver intriguing comparisons. For example, viewers witness the very public destruction of Penguin, each layer of his personae being taken away from him. The betrayal is deliberate, a conscious effort on the part of Nygma, Barbara Keen (Erin Richards), Tabitha Galavan (Jessica Lucas), and Butch Gilzean (Drew Powell). Eventually, even Penguin’s life is taken from him; however, there is also a private betrayal occurring in Lee. She has internalized her loss and although she argues for justice and grabs for the preverbal straws, she finally realizes that she is the root cause of her own betrayal. She hits rock bottom and as a result, injects herself with the Tetch virus, embracing her ruin.Robin Lord Taylor in Gotham (2014)Due to the large ensemble cast of regular cast members, plus the recurring and special guests through the 22 episodes, one of the inherent issues is affording enough screen time to each character so that their origin story is fully explored, resulting in a well-developed character. While Gordon and Wayne/514A (David Mazouz, in a dual role) are central characters and will typically appear in each episode, some of the other regular characters, such as Selina Kyle, Lucius Fox (Chris Chalk), or Butch, seem to disappear from the storyline. For example, in the closing minutes of “How the Riddler Got His Name” (Episode 15), Edward Nygma/The Riddler reveals to Lucius that he is struggling with defining his identity separate and outside of the shadow of Penguin. After announcing to Lucius that he is the Riddler, Nygma knocks Lucius out in his car. Viewers next see Lucius in “Light the Wick” (Episode 18). Fish Mooney is another character that is missing for most of the season after appearing in the season’s opening episode, “Better to Reign in Hell…” Their disappearances do cause some gaps, such as where was Lucius for two episodes, 16 and 17 – one would assume that someone from the GCPD would notice Lucius sleeping off Nygma’s attack in the front seat of his car, parked across the street from the precinct.Drew Powell, Jessica Lucas, and Cory Michael Smith in Gotham (2014)The third season of Gotham provides intriguing complexities to the overarching denigration of the city into chaos and the telling of individual character origin stories. While the origin stories are fascinating, the fact that there is foreknowledge that most of the characters cannot die because they will one day face Bruce Wayne as Batman does cause a wrinkle with the audience’s engagement with the storylines. To compensate, spending more time on character development would alleviate some of the indifference inherent to the nature of prequel narratives. That said, Gotham is a binge-worthy show. The city is visually stunning, and the Steampunk feel captivating. Audiences unfamiliar with the origin stories will likely enjoy the show just as much or more so than those that come to the show with familiarity from reading the comics.

 

REVIEW: BLACK LIGHTNING – SEASON 2

 

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Starring

Cress Williams (The Death of superman)
China Anne McClain (Descendants 2 & 3)
Nafessa Williams (Black and Blue)
Christine Adams (Batman Begins)
Marvin Jones III (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse)
Damon Gupton (Bates Motel)
Jordan Calloway (Riverdale)
James Remar (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)

Cress Williams in Black Lightning (2018)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Robert Townsend (The Meteor Man)
Skye P. Marshall (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
Clifton Powell (Saints and Sinners)
Bill Duke (Predator)
Charlbi Dean Kriek (Blood In The Water)
Kyanna Simone Simpson (Chambers)
Myles Truitt (Kin)
Chantal Thuy (Half Magic)
Jason Louder (Prodigal)
Andy Allo (Pitch Perfect 3)
Shein Mompremier (Swiped)
Erika Alexander (Bosch)
P.J. Byrne (Rampage)
Jennifer Riker (Mad Men)
Salli Richardson-Whitfield (Eureka)
Birgundi Baker (The Chi)
Sofia Vassilieva (Looking For Alaska)
Tonia Jackson (Greenleaf)
Kearran Giovanni (Major Crimes)
RJ Cyler (Power Rangers)
Tosin Morohunfola (The Chi)
Yolanda T. Ross (Love Triangle)
Dabier (Reawakened)
William Catlett (First)
Tracey Bonner (Den of Thieves)
Michael Wright (V)

Cress Williams in Black Lightning (2018)Season 1 of Black Lightning was chock full of social commentary, exceptional scenes of emotional gravitas and the bulkiest superhero costume known to man. Season 2 looks to keep the ball rolling, opening with scenes of police brutality and civil unrest within the black community of Freeland. The series’ main strong point has been its grounded characters, and its willingness to deal with real-world issues.Black-Lightning-_-The-Book-Of-The-Apocalypse_-Chapter-Two_-The-Omega-Promo-_-The-CW-0-14-screenshot-600x326The show’s uncompromising depiction of gang violence, police brutality, racism, messages of peace, and the pursuit of black excellence all make a compelling, and sometimes uncomfortable drama. Witnessing a young black man high on Green Light being strangled to death by the police is difficult to watch. The writers are willing to go that far to both ground Freeland and raise awareness of daily injustices. The Pierce family continue to be the glue that holds the drama together. The interplay between Jefferson (Cress Williams) and Lynn (Christine Adams) is always a treat. Watching these parents bicker about the health of their children, and their ongoing communication issues make the world feel real. It’s not always about super-powered people throwing each other around.Black-Lightning-S02E01-84ba81effe57f3f78066464cb7f72c4b-fullJennifer Pierce (China Anne McClain) continues to shine on screen as well. Her ongoing struggle with her new reality as a meta-human and her inability to return to a normal is portrayed beautifully by McClain. Jennifer exudes the angst of a teen trying to fit in, all while her former life slips away. As her powers evolve, it will be interesting to see what makes her accept her destiny as Lightning.The women of Black Lightning steal the show in the Season 2 premiere. Syonide (Charlbi Dean) and Kara (Skye P. Marshall) have a well-choreographed fight together, all backed by a beautiful soundtrack. Anissa (Nafessa Williams) also puts on a show of strength as undercover Thunder. Her tussle with a den of drug dealers feels like a well-done homage to the much-heralded hallway fight scene from Netflix’s Daredevil. A suited up Black Lightning takes a back seat in the season premiere.black-lightning-season-2-episode-16-reviewThe titular character makes a short cameo but never shoots a bolt. Instead, Jefferson takes center stage as he deals with Garfield’s School Board, his family’s adjustment to all these weather-based powers cropping up in their household, and a much-needed confrontation with his friend and ally Deputy Chief Henderson, who has finally worked out his secret identity. When The second season of Black Lightning came to a close . Though it was a few episodes longer than the first, The CW seems to be sticking with shorter seasons for this show. That has its advantages. It makes for tighter storytelling. The finale brought us the first real use of Thunder. In the finale Jenn figured out how to use her powers to fly.black-lightning-season-2-finaleI have to admit, that’s probably the coolest visual the series has given us so far. hopefully we do get amore of this in the third season of Black Lightning, She reaches Tobias first and she’s more powerful than her dad ever was. She wraps him up in energy, holding him to the ceiling. The radiation starts killing him. It would have if Jefferson hadn’t shown up and convinced her not to. He had to grab onto her, nearly killing himself. When Jenn realized her dad would sacrifice himself to stop her from becoming a murderer, she finally relents. That’s when we get the episode’s coolest fight scene. The Black Lightning-Thunder team up has been great, but seeing Jenn and her father work together to kick Tobias’ ass is the most cathartic moment of the series. He’s taken everything from both of them, and it felt so good to watch Black Lightning kick Tobias over a railing. I laughed out loud when Tobias tried to shoot them both only to find out he had no bullets.Black-Lightning-the-Book-of-the-Apocalypse-Chapter-Two-the-Omega-featuredThat simultaneous “please” from Jenn and Jeff was amazing. And hey, for now it really looks like Tobias has been defeated. He’s been classified as a dangerous metahuman, meaning he’s sent to a black site prison where even his lawyer can’t get him out. I’m generally not an advocate for extrajudicial imprisonment like this (gets real fascist real quick), but at least this lets the show move on to a different story for a while. We find out just what that is right at the end. That teleporting bounty hunter we’ve been seeing? Turns out he works for Markovia. He’s been hired to kidnap Dr. Jace to work on their metahuman weapons program. Agent Odell shows up at the Pierce home to catch the entire family up to speed. He tells them he knows who and what they are and delivers a warning. The Markovians plan to use a metahuman army to become the dominant power in the world. Freeland’s high concentration of Green Light metas makes it a guarantee that it’ll be the first place they’ll attack.Black-Lightning-s2-finale-13-600x400It’ll take Black Lightning, Thunder and now Lightning all working together to keep the city standing. So we have our plot for Season Three.black-lightning-jennifer-costumeThe finales end was just setting up for the big war coming next season. As a result, a lot of story elements set up by the last few episodes ended on a whimper. Lala showed up to kill Tobias only for Tobias to disable him with a second trigger phrase. The police shootings and riots got little more than lip service and were completely forgotten. Dr. Jace and the pod kids…. well, the show kicked those cans down the road to next season. It leads to a finale that feels more like a stopping point than a definitive end to any story. It’s important to set up hooks and maybe even a cliffhanger for the next season, but too much of that leaves us unsatisfied. We get the sense that only surface-level story elements changed. Everything else was either forgotten or put off. Of course this episode at least balanced that out with some fantastic action and the introduction of Jenn as a full-fledged superhero. Bring on Season 3

REVIEW: BLACK LIGHTNING – SEASON 1

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Starring

Cress Williams (The Death of superman)
China Anne McClain (Descendants 2 & 3)
Nafessa Williams (Black and Blue)
Christine Adams (Batman Begins)
Marvin Jones III (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse)
Damon Gupton (Bates Motel)
James Remar (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)

Cress Williams in Black Lightning (2018)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Dabier (Reawakened)
Skye P. Marshall (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
William Catlett (First)
Charlbi Dean Kriek (Blood In The Water)
Kyanna Simone Simpson (Chambers)
Jordan Calloway (Riverdale)
Tracey Bonner (Den of Thieves)
Clifton Powell (Saints and Sinners)
Shein Mompremier (Swiped)
Jill Scott (The First Wives Club)
Eric Mendenhall (Lawless)
Chantal Thuy (Battle for Skyark)
Edwina Findley Dickerson (Get Hard)
Antonio Fargas (Foxy Brown)
Terrence Carson (Last Call)
Al-Jaleel Knox (Venom)
Gregg Henry (Slither)
Jason Louder (Prodigal)

Cress Williams in Black Lightning (2018)Black Lightning Season 1 ratings were good enough by CW standards, if not superb, to justify a second season, holding steady at around 1.5 million viewers after a fourth episode drop-off from the first three. But consider this: it’s based on a much less well-known superhero than the likes of Green Arrow and the Flash, and comments made by the showrunners suggesting that it wasn’t going to be connected to the other CW superhero shows may have put off some of the faithful.It’s true that Black Lightning exists in a world that so far takes and leaves what it wants from the real world and the fictional: it’s set in a fictional city called Freeland (the comics’ “Suicide Slum” was likely too on-the-nose), and Supergirl is referred to as if she exists, but the characters read DC Comics (then again, it could be a case like the X-Men comics in Logan), and Barack Obama was definitely president. Short answer: they can connect it to the “Berlanti-verse” at any time if they really want to.Still, it makes more sense to keep it as separate, storywise, as possible, and here’s why: Black Lightning is specifically based on the African-American experience, and having, say, blonde Caucasian Supergirl swoop in to help save the day would be contrary to the show’s theme of empowerment versus responsibility.Cress Williams in Black Lightning (2018)Like Luke Cage, the Black Lightning comics were born of the blaxploitation era; unlike season 1 of Luke Cage, the show never forgets that it is a superhero show, and people want to see superhero-ing every episode. With 13 episodes that all tell one larger story, it’s akin to the Netflix shows, but as it’s designed to be week-to-week rather than binged, there can’t be any weeks that risk being boring by going on a different tangent or spend all their time in flashback. The ’70s Incredible Hulk TV show established a formula wherein the Hulk was guaranteed to show up twice per episode; the best superhero shows stick to some version of that. And Black Lightning is surely among the best.One of many refreshing aspects to Black Lightning is that it doesn’t begin any way you might expect.There is no origin story until late in the first season, and most of the details are left offscreen; we begin with a world where Black Lightning has been retired for eight years. Given that specific timeframe, we can assume that perhaps he expected a black president would make his deeds unnecessary, because yes, Obama exists in this show, and Black Lightning even wears a Barack mask at one point when it’s unsafe to don his regular duds. The hero’s alter-ego, high-school principal Jefferson Pierce (heroically muscular Cress Williams), is a man we first meet getting unjustifiably pulled over and harassed by police, becoming silently enraged to the point of electrifying his eyes and blowing out the bulbs on the cop car. Pierce, it is made clear very quickly, is as upstanding a citizen as you could expect, teaching the value of hard work and sacrifice, and standing up to bullies in his own community, even (and especially) when they turn out to be his former students.Nafessa Williams in Black Lightning (2018)He’s the ideal African-American man that media personalities always say they want, yet he is still treated as second-class by law enforcement and, at times, school authorities.Well, maybe he’s not perfect–he is divorced, but it’s a typical wife-blaming storyline where she couldn’t bear to be with a great superhero who risks his life nightly. Christine Adams does a wonderful job humanizing Lynn, his ex, up to and including a perfect American accent when the actress is actually English, but there’s something mildly regressive in the fact that she’s mostly there to realize how wrong she was to leave him for being a hero and role model, and ultimately fall in love all over again for the exact reasons she supposedly left him.Cress Williams and Marvin 'Krondon' Jones III in Black Lightning (2018)Even then, though, it’s not that simple: they have two daughters, and the fact that the parents can come together for the sake of the kids, no matter how hard it is for them personally, is laudable. In addition to deciding whether or not to come back as a superhero (OBVIOUS SPOILER: he does), Jefferson’s dilemma is how to raise his girls, especially when they begin manifesting powers too. How do you balance telling them to stand up and be strong in a world where institutional racism may smack them down with lethal force for doing so? They have a little inside help thanks to tech-genius pal Gambi (an excellently cast James Remar), who’s part Alfred Pennyworth and part-Kingsman, but ever-so-slightly corrupt and compromised as well.James Remar, Cress Williams, China Anne McClain, and Nafessa Williams in Black Lightning (2018)In true blaxploitation fashion, there is both a community villain (BL’s traditional arch-enemy Tobias Whale, played by rapper Krondon) and The Man, represented here by Gregg Henry’s Martin Proctor, a racist white government type with bad orange hair, a plan to steal and imprison children, and a penchant for saying “Make America Great Again!”Also ripped from the headlines here is a version of the Charlottesville Tiki torch march. Naturally, the villains sow the seeds of their own doom: in a plot that combines the Tuskegee experiments with the CIA-crack cocaine connection, the government bad guys are testing drugs on the black community with the help of local gangsters. Sometimes the drugs make people psychotic; other times, they create someone like Black Lightning.Nafessa Williams in Black Lightning (2018)Whale as a character was always a tad problematic: as an evil albino man, he’s both a negative stereotype of people with albinism and an overt metaphor for black men “acting white” as an ultimate sin. Krondon humanizes him as much as possible, and in the casting removes the additional fat-shaming aspect to the character as conceived.Christine Adams and Cress Williams in Black Lightning (2018)He’s a sadistic jerk, but one you love to hate; a guy who can fight, but is even better at running and hiding like a cowardly heel. And while he constantly spits out the word “Negro” like an epithet so you know what he actually wants to say but can’t on network TV, his looks are never made an issue. It’s as good an update as you can probably do while still keeping him recognizably Whale, and the first season is more his origin story than Black Lightning’s; he only finally slips into the role of arch-nemesis by the end, and as he’s the best villain on the show, you’ll be glad he does.Marvin ‘Krondon’ Jones III in Black Lightning (2018)As for the hero himself, he smartly ditches the Afro-wig that was integral to the comics’ disguise, and the disco-era chest-baring is gone, replaced by electrical symbols that merely suggest it. You wonder at first how someone with as perfectly groomed and sculpted a beard as Jefferson Pierce has could possibly not be identified, but the show explains this away quickly with a throwaway: an electric field around his face makes it painful to look at him while in hero mode.When his eldest daughter (Nafessa Williams) becomes Thunder–the first live-action black lesbian superhero I can recall–she changes her hair to a Lara Croft-ish ponytail in addition to her eye-mask, which seems sufficient, though in reality doing those braids might take unfeasibly long. (Let’s just say she has super-hairdressing speed too.)Cress Williams and Marvin ‘Krondon’ Jones III in Black Lightning (2018)This season tells a complete story in itself; one you may well find yourself wanting to relive. And like Black Panther, it’s got something for you whether this stems from your reality and you can relate, or you’re just tired of the same old and want to see comic-book stories come from a new place.

REVIEW: ONCE UPON A TIME…IN HOLLYWOOD

Starring

Leonardo DiCaprio (Inception)
Brad Pitt (Moneyball)
Margot Robbie (Suicide Squad)
Emile Hirsch (Alpha Dog)
Margaret Qualley (The Nice Guys)
Timothy Olyphant (Santa CLarita Diet)
Julia Butters (American Housewife)
Austin Butler (Arrow)
Dakota Fanning (Ocean’s 8)
Bruce Dern (Freaks)
Mike Moh (Inhumans)
Luke Perry (Riverdale)
Damian Lewis (Homeland)
Al Pacino (The Devil’s Advocate)
Brenda Vaccaro (Supergirl)
Nicholas Hammond (Stealth)
Samantha Robinson (Cam)
Lena Dunham (This is 40)
Harley Quinn Smith (Yoga Hosers)
Danielle Harris (Halloween 4)
Scoot McNairy (Argo)
Clifton Collins Jr. (Westworld)
Dreama Walker (Compliance)
Rebecca Rittenhouse (The Mindy Project)
Rumer Willis (Return To Sender)
Clu Gulager (Feast)
Martin Kove (The Karate Kid)
Rebecca Gayheart (Dead Like Me)
Kurt Russell (The Christmas Chronicles)
Zoë Bell (The Hateful Eight)
Michael Madsen (Species)
James Remar (Black Lightning)
Corey Burton (Critters)
Quentin Tarantino (Planet Terror)
Maurice Compte (Power)
James Marsden (X-Men)
Townsend Coleman (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Perla Haney-Jardine (Steve Jobs)

Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio in Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (2019)In February 1969, Hollywood actor Rick Dalton, star of 1950s Western television series Bounty Law, fears his career is over. Casting agent Marvin Schwarz advises him to make Spaghetti Westerns, which Dalton feels are beneath him. Dalton’s friend and stunt double, Cliff Booth —– a war veteran who lives in a trailer with his pit bull, Brandy —– drives Dalton around because Dalton’s alcoholism has resulted in multiple DUIs. Booth struggles to find work due to rumors that he murdered his wife. Actress Sharon Tate and her husband, director Roman Polanski, have moved next door to Dalton, who dreams of befriending them to restore his status. That night, Tate and Polanski attend a celebrity-filled party at the Playboy Mansion.Margot Robbie in Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (2019)The next day, Booth repairs Dalton’s TV antenna. He reminisces about a sparring contest he had with Bruce Lee on the set of The Green Hornet, resulting in Booth being fired. Charles Manson stops by the Polanski residence looking for Terry Melcher, who used to live there, but is turned away by Jay Sebring. Tate goes for errands and stops at a movie theater to watch herself in The Wrecking Crew. While driving Dalton’s car, Booth picks up a hitchhiker, named Pussycat. He drops her off at Spahn Ranch, where Booth once filmed Bounty Law. He notices the hippies living there (the Manson Family). Suspecting they are taking advantage of the owner, George Spahn, Booth insists on checking on him despite Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme’s objections. Spahn dismisses Booth’s fears. Booth discovers that Steve “Clem” Grogan slashed a tire on Dalton’s car; Booth beats him and forces him to change it. Tex Watson is asked to deal with the situation but arrives as Booth drives away.Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio in Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (2019)Dalton plays a villain on the pilot of Lancer, and strikes up a conversation with his eight-year-old co-star, Trudi Fraser, a committed Method actor. Dalton struggles with his dialogue. After having a breakdown in his trailer, Dalton delivers a performance that impresses Fraser and the director, Sam Wanamaker, bolstering Dalton’s confidence. After watching Dalton’s guest performance on an episode of The F.B.I., Schwarz books him as the lead of Sergio Corbucci’s next Western, Nebraska Jim. Dalton takes Booth with him for a six month stint in Italy, during which he appears in two additional Westerns and a Eurospy comedy, and marries Italian starlet Francesca Capucci. Dalton informs Booth he can no longer afford his services.Leonardo DiCaprio in Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (2019)On the evening of their first day back Dalton and Booth go out for drinks, then return to Dalton’s house. Booth smokes an acid-laced cigarette and takes Brandy for a walk. Tex, Susan Atkins, Linda “Flower Child” Kasabian, and Patricia “Katie” Krenwinkel park outside in preparation to murder everyone in Tate’s house. Dalton hears the car and orders them to leave. Changing their plans, they decide to kill Dalton after Sadie reasons Hollywood “taught them to murder”. Flower Child drives off, deserting the other three. They break into Dalton’s house and confront Capucci and Booth, who recognizes them from Spahn Ranch. Booth orders Brandy to attack, and together they kill Katie and Tex and severely injure Sadie. Booth is injured in the altercation. Sadie stumbles outside, alarming Dalton, who was listening to music on headphones, oblivious to the mayhem. He retrieves a flamethrower – a souvenir from one of his movies – and incinerates her. Booth is hospitalized, Sebring engages Dalton in conversation, and Tate invites Dalton over for drinks.The ending leaves you wondering “What if…” over and over again, questioning what reality would look like if these fictional characters of Rick Dalton and Cliff Booth actually existed. And I think that’s when I realized how perfect the title was: it’s a humorous, fairy-tale (although not completely violent-free) ending to the tragic fate of Hollywood in the 60s…

25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: BLACK LIGHTNING – The Book of Resistance: Chapter Four: Earth Crisis

Christine Adams, Cress Williams, China Anne McClain, Marvin 'Krondon' Jones III, and Nafessa Williams in Black Lightning (2018)

Main Cast

Cress Williams (Reign of The Supermen)
China Anne McClain (Descendants 2)
Nafessa Williams (Brotherly Love)
Christine Adams (Tron: Legacy)
Damon Gupton (Bates Motel)
James Remar (Dexter)

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Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Bill Duke (Predator)

black-lightning-s03e09-the-book-of-resistance-chapter-four-earth-crisis-720p-web-dl-dd5-1-h-264-lazy-largeBlack Lightning the character is part of the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover, but the Black Lightning show itself isn’t. Despite that, the show found its own way to partake in the festivities. As the barrier between multiverse worlds blurs and wanes, Jennifer Pierce finds herself looking at doppelgangers from other worlds, where they were forced to make the choice she will soon be faced with. Black-Lightning-Season-3-Episode-09-01Black Lightning — “The Book of Resistance: Chapter Four: Earth Crisis”. While Flash, the Green Arrow, and all their Super Friends are preparing to fight for the multiverse, the people of Freeland are fighting for their freedom from oppression by the ASA and invasion by Markovian forces. Black Lightning has chosen his side, and Lynn Pierce has chosen hers. In the middle is their daughter Jennifer Pierce. Jennifer is a wildly powerful metahuman who has only recently gained control over her powers, and who has subsequently gotten the attention of the ASA. Agent Odell, who is in charge of the operation in Freeland, sees an opportunity in the powerful but naive Jennifer. All season, he’s been feeding her half-truths that tell a story where the ASA–an organization bent on controlling and weaponizing metahumans–is the good guy. The nature of Jennifer’s powers means that the anti-matter wave devouring the multiverse is destabilizing her own existence. She blurs in and out and ends up in a void, faced with two other versions of herself. One wears a containment collar, while the other is dressed in such classically ‘evil’ garb that I expected her to have a goatee.Black-Lightning-Season-3-Episode-09-03

Gen Pierce

Jennifer witnesses life through the eyes of both of these doppelgangers. The first, Gen, made the decision to de-power the city of Freeland by manipulating the water supply to make metas lose their powers. In return for her move, Odell threw her in the black site prison called “The Pit.” The ASA allows Gen to go home for Christmas, only to invade her home and execute her father for helping to run an underground railroad with Reverend Holt.black-lightning-season-3-episode-9-review-the-book-of-resistance-chapter-four-earth-crisis

Jinn Pierce

The second, Jinn, worked directly with Odell, blowing up the Markovians and ending the war. Jinn is proud of her kills and struts around Freeland like she owns it. Her family holds an intervention. Her mother, sister, and father are all there. Enraged, Jinn kills her mother and sister easily and then faces off against her father in a one-on-one battle. He loses, and her whole family is dead.Black-Lightning-Season-3-Episode-09-11The whole episode gives us a sort of Ghosts of Christmas Future look at who Jen could be. It gives actress China Ann McClain the chance to act herself ragged as she swings from the desperation of Gen to the corrupted swagger of Jinn. Jen sees the benefits of her father’s code of honor versus Adrian Veidt’s “save a billion by killing a million” philosophy. She also sees the danger of being passive and in trying to act like someone with what amounts to nuclear powers can have a totally normal life.Black-Lightning-Season-3-Episode-09-22This episode ended up being a fun way to use the Crisis to look at what Jennifer, who is sure to be a crucial player in the episodes to come, has on her mind. However, just as she finished with her internal struggle, that pesky anti-matter wave wiped out her and everyone else on her Earth. This is the show’s mid-season finale, so we have to wait until 2020 to find out how things will resolve – both in terms of how the Arrowverse will restore Jen and her world and how that will play into everything happening in Freeland.

 

REVIEW: RED

CAST

Bruce Willis (Cop Out)
Morgan Freeman (Lucy)
John Malkovich (Burn After Reading)
Karl Urban (Dredd)
Helen Mirren (Woman In Gold)
Mary-Louise Parker (Weeds)
Rebecca Pidgeon (Allegiant)
Brian Cox (Rise of The Planet of The Apes)
Richard Dreyfuss (Piranha 3D)
Julian McMahon (Nip/Tuck)
Ernest Borgnine (From Here To Eternity)
James Remar (Gotham)
Greg Bryk (Bitten)
Audrey Wasilewski (What Women Want)
Michelle Nolden (Saving Hope)
Dan Shea (Stargate SG.1)

Frank Moses, retired black-ops CIA agent, lives alone in Cleveland, Ohio. Lonely, Frank often chats on the phone with Sarah Ross, a worker at the General Services Administration’s Pension Office in Kansas City, Missouri. He creates opportunities to talk to her by tearing up his pension checks and calling her to say they had never arrived.One night, a “wetwork” (assassination) squad raids Frank’s house and attempts to kill him, but he easily wipes them out. Knowing they have tapped his phone, he believes Sarah will be targeted. In Kansas City, as Sarah refuses to go with him, he forcibly ties her up and gags her with duct tape. Meanwhile, CIA agent William Cooper is assigned by his boss, Cynthia Wilkes, to hunt down and kill Frank.To find out who is targeting him, Frank tracks down his old associates for help. He goes to New Orleans, Louisiana and visits his C.I.A. mentor, Joe Matheson, who now lives in a nursing home. Joe tells Frank that the same hit squad murdered a reporter for The New York Times. Locked in a motel by Frank, Sarah escapes. Another agent, posing as a police officer, tries to kidnap her, but Frank returns in time. Cooper attacks them, but Frank tricks the police into arresting Cooper and escapes with Sarah. The two head to New York City and find clues left behind by the deceased reporter, which leads them to a hit list. They then find Marvin Boggs, another former black ops agent and a paranoid conspiracy theorist. Marvin tells them the people on the list, including Frank and Marvin, are connected to a secret 1981 mission in Guatemala. Another person on the list, Gabriel Singer, is still alive. The trio tracks down Singer, who tells them that the mission involved extracting a person from a village. Singer is then assassinated by a helicopter-borne machine-gunner, and the team escapes as Cooper closes in.Frank goes to ex-Russian secret agent Ivan Simanov, who helps him infiltrate CIA headquarters. In the CIA archive, the records keeper, who has much respect for Frank, simply hands him the Guatemala file. Frank confronts Cooper in his office and the two have a vicious fight. Though victorious, Frank is shot during his escape. Having escaped an attempt on his life, Joe arrives and helps extract the team. They hide out in the home of former wetwork agent Victoria (Helen Mirren), who treats Frank’s wound and joins the team. The file gives them clue to the next lead, Alexander Dunning, an illegal arms dealer. Frank, Marvin and Joe enter Dunning’s mansion, with Joe posing as a buyer, while Victoria and Sarah keep watch outside. They interrogate Dunning, who reveals the target for extraction was the now–Vice President Robert Stanton (Julian McMahon). Stanton ordered the hit on the people involved in the mission to hide the fact that he massacred village civilians.Cooper and the FBI surround Dunning’s mansion. Cooper tries to negotiate Frank’s surrender, and Frank tells him about the Vice President’s treachery. The terminally ill Joe pretends to be Frank, walks outside, and is killed by sniper from the Vice President’s personal hit squad. The confusion, as well as Victoria’s cover fire, buys the team enough time to leave the mansion, but Sarah is captured. They escape with the help of Ivan, who is Victoria’s old flame. Frank calls Cooper from his family’s phone and warns him against harming Sarah.The team, along with Ivan, kidnaps Stanton. Frank calls Cooper, offering to trade Stanton for Sarah. At the meeting point, Dunning arrives. After a short dialogue, Dunning injures Stanton, revealing himself and Cynthia Wilkes to be masterminds behind the assassinations. Disgusted with Wilkes’ corruption, Cooper pretends to arrest Frank, but shoots Wilkes. Marvin and Victoria kill Dunning’s bodyguards, and Frank kills Dunning by crushing his windpipe. Cooper lets Frank’s team go. As they leave the scene, Frank and Sarah are eager to start a new life together. Ivan reminds Frank of his favor. A few months later, Frank and Marvin are in Moldova with a stolen nuclear device. They flee from Moldovan Army troops with Marvin wearing a dress and in a wooden wheelbarrow being pushed by Frank.Red was entertaining. It’s funny without trying to get overly silly. Action scenes where good. Bruce Willis, Mary Louise Parker, Helen Mirren, Karl Urban, Richard Dreyfuss, Brian Cox, and Morgan Freeman. But it’s John Malkovich who steals the show, with his funny one liners. And also a great co starring role by veteran actor Ernest Borgnine. A great comic book/action movie.

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: THE UNBORN

CAST

Odette Annable (Cloverfield)
Meagan Good (D.E.B.S)
Gary Oldman (Red Riding Hood)
Cam Gigandet (Easy A)
James Remar (Judge Dredd)
Jane Alexander (Glory)
Carla Gugino (Watchmen)
Idris Elba (Thor)
Rhys Coiro (Straw Dogs)
C.S. Lee (Chuck)

Casey Beldon has nightmarish hallucinations of strange-looking dogs in the neighbourhood and an evil child with bright blue eyes following her around. While babysitting Matty, her neighbor’s son, she finds him showing his infant sibling its reflection in a mirror. Matty attacks Casey, smashing the mirror on her head, and tells her: “Jumby wants to be born now”. She puts him to bed and leaves in shock.Casey’s friend Romy tells her of a superstition that newborns should not see their reflections in the mirror for at least a year because otherwise they will die soon. Casey’s eyes begin to change color; a doctor asks if she is a twin, and explains the change as tetragametic chimerism and heterochromia, and that is completely normal. Her neighbor’s infant dies, supporting the superstition.

Casey’s father admits that she had a twin brother years ago who died while he was in the womb when her umbilical cord strangled him, and whom he and Casey’s mother had nicknamed “Jumby”. She begins to suspect that the spirit is haunting her and that is the soul of her dead twin wanting to be born so it can enter the world of the living as evil.

Casey meets Sofi Kozma—whom she later learns is her grandmother—who explains that as a child she had a twin brother who died during Nazi experiments in Auschwitz during World War II. A dybbuk brought the brother back to life to use as a portal into the world of the living. Kozma killed her twin to stop the spirit, and now it haunts her family for revenge, which is why Casey’s mother became insane and committed suicide.  Kozma gives Casey a hamsa amulet for protection; instructs her to destroy all mirrors and burn the shards; and refers her to Rabbi Joseph Sendak, who can perform a Jewish exorcism to remove the dybbuk out of her soul. Sendak does not believe Casey’s story until he sees a dog with its head twisted upside down in his synagogue. The dybbuk kills Kozma and, soon after, Romy. Casey and her boyfriend Mark—who both see the spirit after it kills Romy—realize that it is getting stronger.Sendak, Mark, Episcopal priest Arthur Wyndham, and other volunteers begin the exorcism, but the dybbuk attacks them and several are wounded or killed. The spirit, having possessed the priest, chases Casey and Mark. Mark knocks Wyndham unconscious but gets possessed. Casey stabs Mark in the neck with the amulet; Sendak arrives and he and Casey complete the exorcism. The rite draws the dybbuk out of the human world, but Mark falls and dies during the separation. Casey mourns her boyfriend but still wonders why the dybbuk became suddenly active in her life now, and why it didn’t attack her earlier. She takes a pregnancy test, and learns that she is pregnant by Mark, with twins.I didn’t think it was all bad. I have seen better horror movies, but this certainly wasn’t the worst.  I thought that the plot was quite.  I thought Odette Yustman was a fair leading actress as Casey and I thought her best friend Romey was quite entertaining.

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: HORNS

 

 

CAST

Daniel Radcliffe (The Woman In Black)
Max Minghella (The Social Network)
Joe Anderson (The Crazies)
Juno Temple (The Dark Knight Rises)
Kelli Garner (Lars and The Real Girl)
James Remar (Flashforward)
Kathleen Quinlan (Apollo 13)
David Morse (The Green Mile)
Alex Zahara (Dark Angel)
Michael Adamthwaite (Stargate SG.1
Nels Lennarson (Cold Pursuit)
Don Thompson (Slither)
Jay Brazeau (Bates Motel)
Christine Willes (Dead Like me)
Panou (Caprica)

Ignatius “Ig” Perrish is the prime suspect when his girlfriend Merrin is raped and murdered. Despite his declarations of innocence, he is shunned by the community, and only his childhood friend and lawyer Lee seems to believe him. He stays with his parents and brother Terry, hiding from the press. After a vigil led by Merrin’s father, who believes Ig to be guilty, Ig drinks heavily and wakes up with a pair of horns protruding from his head. While at his doctor to try and remove his horns, Ig, under anesthesia, dreams of his childhood, when he first met Merrin after the death of her mother. A young Ig and his friends play with cherry bombs near the docks; Ig risks a dangerous dare to win a cherry bomb, and nearly drowns, but is saved by Lee. He later trades the cherry bomb with Lee in exchange for fixing Merrin’s broken necklace; however, Lee loses two fingers when the cherry bomb goes off accidentally. Ig and Merrin bond over the fixed necklace and fall in love, frequenting a treehouse in the woods together.

The horns are revealed to force people around Ig to tell him their darkest secrets and desires. Ig goes to visit his parents, but under the power of the horns his mother reveals that she doesn’t want him as her son, while his father tells him that he is worthless without Merrin. Ig goes to a bar, where he goads the reporters into a brawl and attempts to find evidence that he didn’t kill Merrin. Ig gets three people to confess their darkest secrets, leading the bartender to burn down his bar. From one of his confessions he also learns that the new witness for the prosecution is from the diner where Merrin had broken up with him the night she died. Ig finds the waitress, and discovers that she has been fabricating her stories to become famous. When Ig talks to Terry, he learns that Terry had driven Merrin from the diner the night she died. Touching Terry’s skin, Ig sees what happened that night: Merrin left the car en route to her home and ran into the woods; Terry passed out in the car, and woke up the next morning with a bloody rock in his hand before finding Merrin dead under the treehouse. Afraid that he would be implicated, he threw the rock away and fled. Infuriated, Ig brutally assaults Terry until he is arrested by a police officer, another childhood friend named Eric. The next morning Ig is released from jail with Lee’s help, discovering that Lee had been wearing Merrin’s cross necklace and as a result couldn’t see Ig’s horns.Ig realizes that snakes are following him wherever he goes, and uses them to exact vengeance against the waitress. He also forces Terry to overdose on drugs, causing Terry to be tormented with memories of Merrin’s death. Ig meets Lee by the docks and pulls off Merrin’s necklace; exposed to the horns, Lee falls under their influence, admitting he killed Merrin. In flashbacks, it is shown that Lee was also in love with Merrin and was deeply jealous of Ig throughout their childhood. Lee followed Merrin into the woods, thinking that she had broken up with Ig to be with him, and in a jealous rage he raped her, killed her with a rock—which he planted on Terry—and stole her necklace. As Ig sees all of this, Lee overpowers him and lights him on fire in his car, causing Ig to drive into the bay. To the authorities, Lee claims that Ig confessed to the crime and committed suicide. In reality, with the power of the horns, Ig survives, horrifially burned and disfigured.Daniel Radcliffe in Horns (2013)Merrin’s father, who now believes Ig’s innocence, gives Ig the key to Merrin’s lock box. When Ig puts on Merrin’s cross, his body is restored and his horns disappear. In the box, he finds a note from Merrin that explains that she knew he was going to propose and wanted to accept, but she was dying from cancer and didn’t want him to suffer through what her father did, so she pushed him away under the pretense of loving someone else. Ig confronts Lee, who does not remember their earlier fight, and leads him into the woods where Merrin was killed. Meanwhile, Eric and Terry arrive, intent on arresting Lee. Lee confesses to the murder, but then gleefully kills Eric and injures Terry. Ig tears off the necklace, sprouting a pair of wings and bursting into flame, transforming into a demonic monster. Despite Lee mortally wounding him, Ig impales Lee on one of his horns and telepathically orders a snake to slide down Lee’s throat, fatally suffocating him. Stating that his vengeance was all-consuming, Ig dies from his injuries and his smoldering corpse slowly cools and turns to hardened ash, and appears to be reunited with Merrin in the afterlife.Daniel Radcliffe and Juno Temple in Horns (2013)The acting was excellent. Daniel Ratcliffe does a great job of being American, it was weird to hear him without the accent at first but he does such a good job. The rest of the supporting cast did a great job, all the characters were extremely interesting and well written so that may have had something to do with it. Overall I really enjoyed this. It definitely isn’t for everybody and has a pretty long run time of 2 hours so I could see people getting bored with it if it isn’t exactly there thing. But if you want to see something that you haven’t seen before, something that tries to be original but not too overly artsy, something with heart then I suggest giving this a try.

REVIEW: BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (2004) – SEASON 2

Starring

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

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

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

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

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

 

REVIEW: HUMAN TARGET – SEASON 2

Mark Valley in Human Target (2010)

Starring

Mark Valley (Zero Dark Thirty)
Chi McBride (Hawaii Five-O)
Jackie Earle Haley (Watchmen)
Indira Varma (Game of Thrones)
Janet Montgomery (Black Swan)

Rick Hoffman and Indira Varma in Human Target (2010)
RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Timothy Omundson (Xena)
Tahmoh Penikett (Dollhouse)
Molly Parker (Lost In Space)
M.C. Gainey (Lost)
Mike Dopud (Arrow)
Douglas O’Keeffe (Sanctuary)
Cameron Daddo (Stealing Candy)
Jorge Montesi (Caprica)
Lennie James (The Walking Dead)
Nick Chinlund (Eraser)
Tracie Thoms (Cold Case)
Colin Lawrence (Watchmen)
Christopher Rosamond (The Revenant)
John Michael Higgins (Still Waiting)
Rebecca McFarland (Two and a Half Men)
David orth (The Lost World)
Marie Avgeropoulos (The 100)
Alexander Calvert (Arrow)
Leonor Varela (Blade II)
David Barrera (NYPD Blue)
Anna Van Hooft (Flash Gordon)
Tony Hale (American Ultra)
Kendall Cross (X-Men 2)
Carlo Rota (Saw V)
James Remar (Black Lightning)
Lauren German (Hostel Part II)
Nicole Bilderback (Dark Angel)
Michael Massee (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Adrian Holmes (Smallville)
Steven Brand (The Scorpion King)

Human Target (2010)FOX has become notorious for cancelling great shows before they’d even gotten started. To them, if the show isn’t in the top 50 after it’s initial 13 episode run, it isn’t worth their time or money. As a result, some of the most imaginative and intense shows to come along in years are cancelled before they’ve even gotten started. Human Target is on a list that includes, Alcatraz, The Chicago Code, Gracepoint, Almost Human, Dollhouse, and dozens of others that you’ve probably never heard of. Unless it’s a top 50 show right from the start, or a lame animated comedy, Fox has no use for it and shows like Human Target are replaced with Bob’s Burgers and The Cleveland Show.Mark Valley in Human Target (2010)For those unfamiliar with the story, Human Target is based on a long running DC comic by the same title. It is the story of Christopher Chance (Mark Valley), a mysterious man with a mysterious past. Joined by a former police detective, and a hacker/thug named Guerrero, Chance has formed a company that discreetly serves an elite clientele. Their job is to protect their clients from threats at any cost, by injecting themselves into the persons life. Chance’s job is to identify the threat and eliminate it before anything happens to the client. I don’t know how Mark Valley is not a household name at this point. This guy is so intense, always has tremedous, unorthodox ways of getting out of trouble, and to be honest, he really reminds me of MacGyver. Valley has the looks, the charm, and of course the skills to make Christopher Chance jump off the pages and come to life.Douglas O'Keeffe and Mark Valley in Human Target (2010)But this show isn’t just an episonic show, there is also a deep and complex back story that gets more intense with each episode. We know the players and what they are capable of very quickly in the series, but what we don’t know is their history. As more and more is revealed, the characters just get deeper and more intense.Mark Valley in Human Target (2010)Human Target was a great show, it was original, exciting, and better than almost anything on FOX at the present time. Mark Valley is very impressive, as is the writing. Every episode has at least one thing in it that you did not see coming, and if it were up to me, this show would have been on for years.