REVIEW: HIGHLANDER: THE SERIES – SEASON 3

Starring

Adrian Paul (Arrow)
Stan Kirsch (Shallow Ground)
Jim Byrnes (Sanctuary)
Philip Akin (Robocop 2014)
Lisa Howard (Earth: Final Conflict)
Michel Modo (The Troops Get Married)

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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Tamlyn Tomita (The Day After Tomorrow)
Stephen McHattie (Watchmen)
Robert Ito (Quincy M.E.)
Hiro Kanagawa (Heroes Reborn)
Randall ‘Tex’ Cobb (Raising Arizona)
Chandra West (White Noise)
Michelle Thrush (Pathfinder)
Miguel Fernandes (Trancers)
Liliana Komorowska (Screamers)
Andrew Kavadas (Ninja Turtles: Next Mutation)
John Novak (Wishmaster 3 & 4)
Elizabeth Gracen (Marked For Death)
Brion James (Blade Runner)
Jason Gray-Stanford (Bones)
Rob Stewart (Painkiller Jane)
Gabrille Miller (Corner Gas)
Alan Scarfe (Andromeda)
John Pyper-Ferguson (Caprica)
Mark Acheson (Elf)
Peter Bryant (Legends of Tomorrow)
Catherine Lough Haggquist (The Flash)
Jonathan Scarfe (Van Helsing)
Myles Ferguson (Edgemont)
Jesse Moss (Ginger Snaps)
Cameron Bancroft (Legends of Tomorrow)
Sherry Miller (The Virgin Suicides)
Laura Harris (Dead Like Me)
Garwin Sanford (Stargate SG.1)
Frank C. Turner (IT)
Anthony De Longis (Masters of The Universe)
Vincent Gale (Van Helsing)
Tamara Gorski (Hercules: TLJ)
Stella Stevens (The Poseidon Adventure)
Barry Pepper (True Grit)
Vivian Wu (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III)
Richard Lynch (Puppet Master III)
David Robb (Downtown Abbey)
Eugene Lipinski (Arrow)
Lynda Boyd (Sanctuary)
John Tench (Andromeda)
Roger Daltrey (Tommy)
Peter Wingfield (Sanctuary)
Kim Johnston Ulrich (Passions)
Ben Pullen (Prince Valiant)
Paudge Behan (Love/Hate)
Robert Cavanah (Pimp)
Roland Gift (Brakes)
George Harris (Layer Cake)

Highlander - The Samurai 55After a few growing pains and struggles to find its footing and players in its first two seasons, Highlander: The Series’ third year sends the heads rolling with plenty of fine drama, sweet action, and immortal style.239560Duncan MacLeod (Adrian Paul) once again faces Kalas (David Robb) – an evil immortal enemy from his past- in a battle that threatens to expose the existence of Immortals and the secret Watcher organization to the world. Watcher Joe Dawson (Jim Byrnes) struggles between his oath to not interfere with immortal confrontations and his continuing friendship with Mac. Richie (Stan Kirsch) takes up bike racing- a risky prospect despite his immortality while 1,200-year-old thief Amanda (Elizabeth Gracen) just can’t stay on the right side of the law. However, is Dr. Anne Lindsey’s (Lisa Howard) budding romance with Duncan just as dangerous or is it the exact solace he needs?Highlander The Cross of St Antoine 68At last, Season 3 establishes some internal consistency for Highlander: The Series and the result is a damn fine season with nary a bad episode in sight. The mortal crimes and drama in “Blackmail” and “Take Back the Night” are fresh and dynamic, tying in nicely with the immortal deceptions and relationship angles presented in “Line of Fire” and “Shadows.” The Watchers are made useful and brought into the forefront, particularly in “Those Who Serve,” where we get a chance to see the Immortal Game from their supposedly uncolored perspective. Consequences to one’s actions and inactions are investigated wonderfully this season with immortals debating their ability to change for good or evil.MV5BNzY3NTI4MjAyOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODg0NTEzMjE@._V1_Can worthwhile redemption for horrid past doings be found for them? Whose place is it to forgive and judge immortals? Religion, spiritual motifs, and even immortal drug use are examined in “Courage,” “Blind Faith,” and “Mortal Sins.” Normal life issues such as parenting and the difficulty with computers also carry through Season 3, along with thoughts on the extreme price of perpetual youth in “The Lamb.” While die-hard Highlander fans may know an episode title when they see it- even if you don’t recognize the titles, almost every show had me saying, ‘Oh yeah! I remember this one!’MV5BNzY3NTI4MjAyOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODg0NTEzMjE@._V1_We learn a lot about our titular Highlander this season, beginning with the 1994 opener “The Samurai” and going straight through to the two-part “Finale.” Paul shows plenty of layers in Duncan through his past loyalties and contemporary justices. The sword fights and kick ass are without a doubt kick ass indeed, but there’s plenty of time for questioning immortality and space for 400 years of melancholy to get to someone. While he’s often shown enjoying himself in the flashbacks, Mac is afraid to open up again to another mortal girlfriend like Anne Lindsey. Of course, the audience knows there will be trouble thanks to all those pesky immortal secrets! While some may not like Anne simply because she follows Tessa in Duncan’s heart, its nice to have someone unaware who can be good for MacLeod.

MV5BYTkzMDExNWItZGZkMC00ZWI1LWI3ZmEtMzlhNGZlODczNzI5XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjk3NDI3OTk@._V1_Howard (Earth: Final Conflict) keeps Anne independent, intelligent, confident, and likeable. But could the good doctor deal with immortality? Her job is to save lives, so a man devoid of a medical history and no immunization scars is just too much of a mystery for Anne. Fortunately, Elizabeth Gracen adds some spice and familiar fun as Amanda in “The Cross of St. Antoine” and the two-part season ender. Her duck and run immortal loyalty and devotion to MacLeod are perfectly at odds with her inability to go legit and not screw things up.kalasUnfortunately, once again Richie and Philip Akin as Charlie DeSalvo get the short end of the supporting stick. Charlie is written out of Season 3 nicely- not that his leaving is super good, but the episode “The Revolutionary” is sublime. The character should have been a guest player as necessary all along, rather than been squeezed in willy nilly. Likewise, Richie, despite being in the opening credits, only appears in half the episodes this year. While the youthful immortal needed to go off and explore, sure, it’s tough to care again when he does come around for some motorcycle action. The stock footage for the races and the intercut of Richie and his pals getting rough doesn’t help either. Why not let him have a season off so we can enjoy when he returns with heavy, living forever angst? Sometimes we see recurring players more than the folks actually in the opening credits. Despite such a cool opening scheme, Highlander: The Series never seems to balance its core players or its ensemble repertoire properly in its listings. Michel Modo’s lovable but often drunk chef Maurice is also downgraded to a guest star this season, and it’s wonderfully that his few special appearances give him respect and something to do.finalepart2cWatcher Joe Dawson again doesn’t appear as much as I might have liked, but the growth of the watchers as a help, hindrance, or detriment comes along wonderfully in Season 3. Dawson is there for MacLeod despite the rules, and Duncan likewise. Joe’s new bar is also a great place for mortals and immortals to mingle, and the neat introduction of Peter Wingfield (24) as Methos adds a separate watcher buddy angle for Dawson to explore. Thankfully, this crack team unites wonderfully against David Robb (Swing Kids, I Claudius) as the Highlander’s bane this season, Kalas. His midseason trilogy of “Song of the Executioner”, “Star-Crossed,” and “Methos” is perhaps when Highlander: The Series truly becomes great TV. There’s not a crappy Renegade knock off plot in sight- just awesome immortals like Hugh Fitzcairn and Xavier St. Cloud- both played by cool rockers Roger Daltry and Roland Gift. By time things get juicy for the two-part “Finale” there isn’t anything in this season of Highlander: The Series not to like.finalepart2aI dare say it, but even the styles this season are catching up, with toned down dojo action, great blues music, and sweet French locations. But my goodness they use that same Tudor house for every frickin’ thing! Anne dresses a little edgy for a doctor- with short skirts and tall boots; but hey, it looks good and is actually still in relatively recent fashion. Of course, the period piece scenes are top notch again, and we spend more time in the past- even having flashbacks within flashbacks. The times and places we visit also vary it up some, but a few return nicely to places and people we’ve already seen. The transitions to the flashbacks are also nicely done; sometimes they are set up in crafty ways but other times they know the viewer knows and just cut right to it. The audience isn’t underestimated with excessive montages and unnecessary action anymore. Although sometimes entire swordfights and quickening flashbacks from previous episodes are revisited, I’m glad they now put the dates, times, and places onscreen for the past storylines. Some of those orgasmic quickenings still amuse me – but there are some seriously good ones this season as well.
highlander0322Once again, the DVD features for Highlander: The Series Season 3 are packed to the gills with bloopers, deleted scenes, interviews, audio and video commentaries, scripts, and more. The interface is a little dated, but its fun to go through the embedded Watcher’s Chronicles and look for all their treats within the episodes. Again, new fans or those who wish to remain unspoilt are better served with rental or online options or a features marathon post- series. If you’ve been remiss on the first two seasons, new audiences can still jump in here as well. Honestly, there’s no reason for anyone not to give this season a chance.

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: THE UNINVITED

Starring

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

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

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: TUCKER AND DALE VS EVIL

CAST

Tyler Labine (Rise of The Planet of The Apes)
Alan Tudyk (Powerless)
Katrina Bowden (Scary Movie 5)
Jesse Moss (Ginger Snaps)
Chelan Simmons (Final Destination 3)
Phillip Granger (The Killing)
Brandon Jay McLaren (Power Rangers SPD)
Christie Laing (Arrow)
Travis Nelson (Wild Roses)
Sasha Craig (Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue)

A reporter and cameraman sneak into a closed off murder scene looking for anything the police missed in the hopes of breaking a bigger story. They are ambushed by a crazed man with half of his face badly injured. Allison, Chad, Chloe, Chuck, Jason, Naomi, Todd, Mitch and Mike are going camping in West Virginia. While at a gas station, they encounter Tucker and Dale, two well-meaning hillbillies who have just bought the vacation home of their dreams: a run-down lakefront cabin, deep in the woods. On Tucker’s advice, Dale tries to talk to Allison, but because of his inferiority complex and appearance, he only scares her and her friends.Tucker and Dale arrive at their decrepit cabin and begin repairing it. Nearby in the woods, Chad tells a story about the “Memorial Day Massacre”, a hillbilly attack which took place 20 years ago. The college kids go skinny-dipping where Tucker and Dale are fishing, and Allison, startled, hits her head. Tucker and Dale save her, but her friends think she was kidnapped. When Allison wakes up in Tucker and Dale’s cabin the next day, she is initially scared but befriends the two hillbillies. The other college kids arrive at the cabin to save Allison from her “psychopathic captors”, and Chuck runs away to get the police. While Dale and Allison are inside the cabin, Tucker angers some bees and frantically waves around his chainsaw, which the college kids misinterpret as hostility. They scatter through the woods, and Mitch accidentally impales himself on a broken tree, killing him. After finding Mitch’s body, Chad persuades the others that they are in a battle for survival.Alison’s friends follow Tucker and Dale back to their cabin and see Allison helping out with construction of an outhouse, but they assume she is digging her own grave. The college kids attack, but Todd and Mike end up accidentally killing themselves, and Allison is accidentally knocked unconscious again by Dale’s shovel. The other kids assume the hillbillies killed them when they see Tucker trying to save Mike from the wood chipper. Tucker and Dale think the college kids are suicidal and that contacting the police will make them murder suspects. Chuck arrives back with a sheriff, who expresses doubt over Tucker and Dale’s suicide pact theory. The sheriff goes inside the cabin and accidentally kills himself, and Chuck accidentally kills himself with the sheriff’s gun. Chad reappears and attempts to shoot Tucker and Dale but only manages to capture Tucker, whom he ties upside down to a tree. Chad then tortures Tucker and cuts Tucker’s fingers. He then sends a message to Dale to come and get Tucker.Dale leaves to rescue Tucker while Chad and Naomi return to the cabin to save Allison. When Allison tries to explain the situation, they accuse her of having Stockholm syndrome. Tucker and Dale return, and Allison attempts to lead a calm discussion. Chad says his grandmother told him that his father was killed in the Memorial Day Massacre, and his mother was the lone survivor. Jason and Chloe break in to save everyone, and a fire breaks out. Tucker, Dale, and Allison escape; Naomi, Chloe and Jason die, and Chad, insane and scarred, vows revenge. After a car crash, an injured Tucker tells Dale that Chad has taken Allison to an old sawmill, where he forcibly kisses her. Dale rescues Allison, and the two barricade themselves inside an upstairs office, where they discover news clippings that reveal Chad’s father to be the killer and rapist, not one of the victims. Chad becomes enraged, and Dale stops his attack by throwing a box of chamomile tea at Chad, which triggers a severe asthma attack. Chad, while standing near a window, convulses and falls to his apparent death.The police and a news crew arrive late at the cabin and broadcast a news report stating that the deaths appear to be the result of a suicide pact and a deranged killer; the reporter and cameraman are the two from the opening scene. Tucker watches the report on the news while convalescing in the hospital. Dale enters, and they discuss Tucker’s recovery. Tucker asks Dale whether he managed to invite Allison on a date and is happy to hear the two of them are going bowling. Later that night at the bowling alley, the two profess their feelings for each other and kiss.This film has instant cult classic written all over it as the standard hillbilly survival horror is turned on its head. You can’t help but root for the hapless pair but also groan in enjoyable frustration as the teens start to drop dead in lots of extremely gory accidents. A total joy from start to finish.

REVIEW: STARGATE SG.1 – SEASON 3

Starring

Richard Dean Anderson (MacGyver)
Michael Shanks (Smallville)
Amanda Tapping(Sanctuary)
Christopher Judge (The Dark Knight Rises)
Don S. Davis (Twin Peaks)

Richard Dean Anderson in Stargate SG-1 (1997)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Suanne Braun (THe Princess Switch)
Tom Butler (Freddy vs Jason)
Samantha Ferris (The 4400)
Tony Amendola (Annabelle)
Colin Cunningham (Elektra)
Gary Jones (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
Steve Makaj (The X-Files)
Mitchell Kosterman (Smallville)
Lucia Walters (Stargate: Atlantis)
Ron Halder (Antitrust)
Jacqueline Samuda (The L Word)
Laara Sadiq (Arrow)
Teryl Rothery (Travelers)
Kevin McNulty (Fantastic Four)
Britt Irvin (The Vow)
Andrew Airlie (Fifty Shades of Grey)
Jay Acovone (Beauty and The Beast)
Peter Williams (Catwoman)
Ty Olsson (X-Men 2)
Sam J. Jones (Flash Gordon)
A.C. Peterson (Shooter)
Laura Mennell (Van Helsing)
Aaron Craven (The Predator)
Dion Johnstone (The Core)
Jesse Moss (The Uninvited)
Vaitiare Hirshon (Far Away Places)
Erick Avari (The Mummy)
Jason Schombing (Tin Man)
Megan Leitch (IT)
Jason Gray-Stanford (Monk)
Carmen Argenziano (House)
JR Bourne (THe 100)
William deVry (Earth: Final Conflict)
Peter Kent (Total Recall)
David Palffy (Blade: The Series0
Daniel Bacon (Brain of Fire)
Colin Lawrence (The 6th Day)
Tom McBeath (Riverdale)
Alex Zahara (2012)
Frida Betrani (The Deal)
Alexis Cruz (Drag Me To Hell)
Garwin Sanford (Arrow)
Kevin Durand (Swamp Thing)
Dom DeLuise (Spaceballs)
Michele Greene (Big Love)
Marie Stillin (The Commish)
Terry Chen (Jessica Jones)
Aaron Douglas (Battlestar Galactica)
Steve Bacic (Andromeda)
Jan Rubes (Witness)

Amanda Tapping in Stargate SG-1 (1997)Many people believe that subsequent seasons of Stargate: SG1 get progressively better. So far, no arguement from me. Season 1 was good, 2 was better, and season 3 is even better. Col. Jack O’Neill (Richard Dean Anderson), and his SG1 team of the now Maj. Samantha Carter (Amanda Tapping), Dr. Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks), and Teal’c (Christopher Judge) continued their adventures through the Stargate to various old and new planets. The team, as well as the SGC in general, were tested in many more ways than ever thought possible. The team went to “Hell” in order to save Sam’s dad, who is still a member of the Tok’Ra resistance, Daniel suffered a major loss, and O’Neill was blended, albeit briefly, with a Goa’uld. One of the reasons that I personally liked this year was that many of last year’s conflicts were resolved (Lenea, Destroyer of Worlds), which made room for new plotlines (the Replicators), as well as continuing old ones (the search for the Harsesis child).Stargate SG-1 (1997)Don S. Davis in Stargate SG-1 (1997)This is also the season when SG1 truly realizes that they truly have allies in their fight against the Goa’uld; the Asgard helped form a treaty between Earth and the Goa’uld, the Tok’Ra continue to offer their assistance and wisdom, the Nox have begun to reestablish contact with the SGC, and the Tollan.Ron Halder and Amanda Tapping in Stargate SG-1 (1997)Other good episodes include “Into the Fire”, “Fair Game”, “Legacy”, “Learning Curve”, “Point of View”, “Past and Present”, “Jolinar’s Memories”, “The Devil You Know”, “Foothold”, “Urgo”, “Shades of Grey”, “New Ground”, and “Nemesis”. Judging by the increase in quality each season.

REVIEW: DARK ANGEL -SEASON 2

Starring

Jessica Alba (Machete)
Michael Weatherly (Bull)
Valarie Rae Miller (Crank)
J. C. MacKenzie (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Richard Gunn (Hemlock Grove)
Jensen Ackles (Supernatural)
Kevin Durand (Lost)
Ashley Scott (Birds of Prey)
Martin Cummins (Bates Motel)

Jensen Ackles in Dark Angel (2000)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

John Savage (American Romance)
Nana Visitor (Star Trekk: DS9)
Yee Jee Tso (Antitrust)
Grace Park (Battlestar Galactica)
Nicki Clyne (Saved)
Jesse Moss (The Uninvited)
Colin Cunningham (Elektra)
Craig Veroni (Two For The Money)
Connor Widdows (X-Men 2)
Rob LaBelle (Watchmen)
John DeSantis (Arrow)
Tyler Labine (Rise of The Planet of The Apes)
Byron Mann (Arrow)
Kris Pope (Josie and The Pussycats)
Rekha Sharma (The Core)
Sarah Carter (Smallville)
Todd Stashwick (The Originals)
John Mann (Pathfinder)
Sonya Salomaa (Watchmen)
Patrick Gallagher (Sideways)
Mike Dopud (The Predator)
William Gregory Lee (Xena)
Brian Markinson (Wolf)
Gus Lynch (North Country)
Jesse Hutch (Cedar Cove)
Anita Brown (The A-Team)
Kendall Cross (Paycheck)
Emily Holmes (The Wicker Man)
Michael Bower (Evolution)
Terry Chen (Jessica Jones)
Tiffany Lyndall-Knight (I, Robot)
Fulvio Cecere (Valentine)
Michael Kopsa (Apollo 18)
Meghan Ory (Once Upon A Time)
Eric Breker (Stargate SG.1)
Ty Olsson (Battlestar Galactica)
Peter Williams (Catwoman)
Enuka Okuma (Impulse)
Sarah Strange (Men in Trees)
Jerry Wasserman (Alive)
Sam Witwer (Supergirl)
Camille Sullivan (Kingsway)
Zak Santiago (Shooter)
Tracy Ryan (The Blows)
Callum Keith Rennie (Jessica Jones)
Gabrielle Rose (Sanctuary)
Garwin Sanford (Arrow)
Malcolm Stewart (Jumanji)
Devin Douglas Drewitz (X-Men 2)
Kandyse McClure (Battlestar Galactica)
Jorge Vargas (Power Rangers Ninja Storm)
Henri Lubatti (Zoo)
Rick Worthy (The Vamnpire Diaries)
Erin Karpluk (Being Erica)

Jessica Alba and Kevin Durand in Dark Angel (2000)James Cameron’s and Charles H. Eglee’s Dark Angellasted a short two seasons back in 2000-2002, launching Jessica Alba’s Hollywood career.  Like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, this show had a similarly headstrong, wise-cracking, female superhero at the helm.Jessica Alba and Valarie Rae Miller in Dark Angel (2000)Set in the near future in rainy Seattle, Washington, Max was a bike courier by day and thief by night, struggling to get by in Post-Pulse America.  She burgles the wrong rich guy one evening who recognises her for what she is, an escaped genetically-engineered human from Manticore, a secret training facility that creates kids like Max and raises them to become soldiers and assassins.  With rich guy Logan’s (Michael Weatherly) guidance/nagging, Max grudgingly uses her physical and mental talents to do some good in the world.Did I mention she did it grudgingly? Max is not a smiley, cheerful young woman.  Most of the time she’s got a scowl on her face but deep down she’s got heart, and despite the tough, ‘I don’t care about anyone but myself’ front she puts up, she’s still a normal young woman trying to put the trauma of being raised to be a weapon of destruction  behind her.  The torture and abuse she suffered as a child at the hands of those in Manticore still haunts her. Max was among a dozen children that fled the prison-like institution ten years previously.  She tries to keep a low profile, fearful that her worst nightmare and personal bogey man Lydecker (played chillingly by John Savage) will find her.  She’s also trying to track down her “brothers” and “sisters”, the other kids who fled.  Logan agrees to help her in this quest in exchange for her help with his noble causes.  Logan is “Eyes Only”, an underground journalist and thorn in the side of criminalsJessica Alba and Kevin Durand in Dark Angel (2000)Keeping Max company is her best friend Original Cindy (Valarie Rae Miller), Sketchy (Richard Gunn) an idiot who works alongside her and Normal, the grouchy but actually easy-going boss at the courier company Jam Pony.  Normal frequently shouts ‘bip bip’ at his employees in order to motivate them to do some work.  It rarely works!  Along the way we meet Zach (William Gregory Lee), her “brother” who is totally in love with her and Alec (played by hottie Jensen Ackles from Supernatural), another Manticore soldier.   We can’t forget about Joshua (Kevin Durrand), the dog-man, one of Manticore’s earliest experiments that left many of their people/creatures looking decidedly non-human.  They were confined to the basement in Manticore until Max releases them into the world in season 2 with devastating consequences. Max looks after Joshua and along with Alec, the three of them form somewhat of a weird, dysfunctional but tight-knit family.Logan’s and Max’s relationship continues the will they/won’t they line for the duration of the two seasons.  A lot of fans wanted her to hook up with Alec but it never happened, despite a few lingering looks.  I loved the universe and characters of Dark Angel.  It’s one of my favourite supernatural/sci-fi tv shows of all time, right up there with BuffyRoswell  and The X- Files. The music was great, the characters awesome and the dialogue snappy.  For me, the most intriguing character was Lydecker.  Yes he was a bad guy, but in a creepy way he was also like the father figure of the group.

REVIEW: IZOMBIE – SEASON 1

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MAIN CAST

Rose McIver (Power Rangers RPM)
Malcolm Goodwin (The Bellman)
Rahul Kohli (Happy Anniversary)
Robert Buckley (Killer Movie)
David Anders (Alias)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Aly Michalka (Two and a Half Men)
Molly Hagan (No Good Nick_
Ty Olsson (Battlestar Galactica)
Nick Purcha (Cold Zone)
Daran Norris (Team America)
Hiro Kanagawa (Heroes Reborn)
Elysia Rotaru (Arrow)
Sarah-Jane Redmond (Disturbing Behavior)
Devon Gummersall (Roswell)
Elise Gatien (Smallville)
Serge Houde (50/50)
Dakota Daulby (Van Helsing)
Carrie Anne Fleming (Supernatural)
Aleks Paunovic (Van Helsing)
Ben Cotton (Stargate: Atlantis)
Bradley James (Merlin)
Ryan Hansen (2 Broke Girls)
Trezzo Mahoro (Van Helsing)
Chris Gauthier (Watchmen)
Jesse Moss (Final Destination 3)
Fulvio Cecere (Valentine)
Barclay Hope (paycheck)
Teryl Rothery (Stargate SG.1)
Chad Rook (The Flash)
Sunita Prasad (UnREAL)
Enid-Raye Adams (Riverdale)
Britt Irvin (Hot Rod)
Erica Cerra (Power Rangers)
Aaron Douglas (Battlestar Galactica)
Erica Luttrell (Westworld)
Percy Daggs III (Veronica Mars)
Andrea Brooks (Supegirl)
Bryce Hodgson (Kid Cannabis)
Bex Taylor-Klaus (Scream: The Series)
Brian Markinson (Tribal)
Leanne Lapp (Grave Encounters 2)
Steven Weber (2 Broke Girls)

I’ve been impressed with Rob Thomas (Veronica Mars’ creator) and Diane Ruggiero’s adaptation of iZombie. The comic of the same name by Chris Roberson and Michael Allred inspired the world on The CW show, but the series used the existing story as a launching pad. Thomas and Ruggiero developed the plot and world in new directions and executed one of the best first seasons of a television series in recent memory.One aspect that contributed to the success was how the stakes kept moving. When we first met Liv, life as a functioning zombie didn’t seem like the worst thing ever. The overall tone was more humorous, Liv was more introspective. She learned more about living and embracing existence by being undead. But then, things shifted. Different types of zombies were introduced, character paths started converging, and the stakes grew higher and higher — and much bigger than Liv and her self-actualization.The show followed a case of the week formula, which a tricky thing to manage, but it often worked to the benefit of the series. The new cases added consistency and allowed the relationships between Liv and Clive and Liv and Ravi to breathe. Though some of the cases didn’t particularly resonate, they occasionally tied into the larger story arc. When those tie-ins happened, they didn’t feel forced; they were a natural extension that helped grow the mystery or pushed characters into new territory. And oh boy, were the characters pushed. Liv went through a slew of personalities, sure, but additionally, she dealt with mortality, gaining and losing someone she loved, seeing her friends in danger, and the list goes on. Rose McIver rose to the challenge of portraying not only Liv, but Liv as several people. She did fantastic work keeping a thread of Liv present through all of the character’s various meals.McIver also communicated the weight and struggles of Liv’s problems in a way that was human. Liv put brains in all her food regularly (and I so appreciate how Liv changes up her methods of brain consumption), but she rarely came across as a monster. The entire cast played well together. Each relationship was the right amount of comfortable at the right time. Example: Liv took a little while to warm up to Lowell — as she should have — and then they were in the new couple phase where they were extremely adorable. Ravi and Liv is one of my favorite friendships on television, but then again, so is the Ravi and Major pairing. Clive’s more serious, get the job done personality is a wonderful complement to the group, and Blaine is the ideal villain.When you create a world where zombies are real, telling people the news and seeing how they react to it is a big part of the story. iZombie surprised me in this regard. I expected Clive to find out long before Peyton — and I do think Clive should know by now because he’s too smart and observant to not realize something’s off with Liv — and I didn’t think Major would be the person to react violently to the news. They showed varying responses, which is how it should be. It wouldn’t have been believable if everyone was as accepting as Ravi. Back to Major briefly, he went on the most unexpected journey. Transforming the nicest guy into a gun-toting zombie killer seems like an impossible task, but they accomplished it and made it believable. They found just the right hook to make the turn work.Seattle has a zombie problem, and the first season made us understand the extent of the issue without dumping it into our lap like a memo. We learned slowly as Liv learned, and the reveal of each puzzle piece made the severity of the situation hit home. With Blaine’s enterprising business presumably closed down and Max Rager employees potentially on the hunt for zombies, the pieces are lined up for a second season full of possibilities.iZombie had an incredibly strong first season. It was intricate and smooth in a way most series don’t come close to achieving in their initial episodes. Though a lighthearted tone was consistent throughout, they regularly upped the stakes and delivered emotional moments. The performances were top notch, and I look forward to seeing what this cast can do together in the years to come.

REVIEW: THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN (2008)

CAST

Benjamin Bratt (Catwoman)
Eric McCormack (Free Enterprise)
Christa Miller (Stepfather III)
Daniel Dae Kim (Insurgent)
Viola Davis (Suicide Squad)
Ricky Schroder (The Champ)
Andre Braugher (A Better Way To Die)
Louis Ferreira (Stargate Universe)
Paul Perri (Caprica)
Barry Flatman (Earth: Final Conflict)
Ted Whittall (Beauty and The Beast 2012)
Anna Galvin (Warcraft)
Jonathan Potts (Jason X)
Emily Holmes (Dark Angel)
Eve Harlow (Heroes Reborn)
Douglas O’Keeffe (Sanctuary)
Tom McBeath (Bates Motel)
Magda Apanowicz (Caprica)
Kurt Evans (Izombie)
Tom Butler (Blade: The Series)
Adrian Holmes (Smallville)
Jesse Moss (Ginger Snaps)
Panou (Flash Gordon)
Daniel Bacon (Brain on Fire)
Nels Lennarson (Horns)
Eric Breker (Jingle All The Way 2)

as

PART 1

A United States government satellite crash lands near Piedmont, Utah, and two teenagers find it and bring it back to town. The town’s inhabitants open it and release a deadly microorganism, which is later codenamed Andromeda by the Army. A team is sent from the Army’s bio-defense department to retrieve the satellite, only to die from the disease themselves. The video footage recorded by the retrieval team and their strange deaths capture the attention of General George Mancheck, the head of the bio-defense department, who activates “Wildfire,” a team of five scientists who are called upon when high-level bioterror threats occur in the United States. The team, headed by its creator, Dr. Jeremy Stone, investigates Piedmont. They retrieve the satellite and rescue a hysterical 60-year-old man and a colicky baby who have survived the Andromeda outbreak.the-andromeda-strain-2008-5027c3a9a7c02In an isolated underground laboratory, the Wildfire team begins their examination of the downed satellite and the two survivors. The laboratory is powered by a small water-cooled nuclear reactor. In the event of a contamination breach, a 15-minute self-destruct sequence would be automatically initiated; however if the activated sequence is deemed unnecessary, Major Bill Keane, designated by the Odd-Man Hypothesis (which states that unmarried men are capable of carrying out the best, most dispassionate decisions during crisis), is the only person able to deactivate the sequence, using his pass key and right thumbprint.the-andromeda-strainThe scientists begin their analysis of the Andromeda strain by recovering a sample from inside the satellite. They initially discover that the microorganism is contained within a delivery system of buckyballs, a technology more advanced than anything known at present. The team theorizes that Andromeda may have an extraterrestrial origin, as it has no DNA or amino acids. The team discovers Andromeda is an airborne microorganism that kills its host by entering the bloodstream through the lungs and coagulating the blood in the body, causing death within 10 seconds via a blood clot in the brain. Those who manage to survive the blood clot become insane, extremely violent and suicidal. It is revealed that the two survivors from Piedmont had not been affected by Andromeda because of their acidotic blood. However, all initial tests with antibiotics and chemical agents regularly used to kill other microorganisms show no effect on Andromeda.the-andromeda-hth

Cable news reporter Jack Nash becomes aware of some of the events related to the fallen satellite and Andromeda. As he investigates further, Chuck Beeter, the Director of the NSA, uses General Mancheck’s aide, Colonel Ferrus, to perform assassinations to prevent knowledge of Andromeda from reaching the civilian population. Nash travels to one of the temporary Army outposts performing quarantine procedures, and witnesses the effects of Andromeda spreading through various modes of transportation. He becomes a target of assassination due to his presence at the outpost, but manages to escape Ferrus and his subordinates.screenshot-03Meanwhile, there is part of a government’s conspiracy who aims to contain the microorganism for further uses, probably bio-weapon related. To handle the situation, General Mancheck deliberately isolated the Wildfire team and cut their contact with the lab’s exterior. However, Jack Nash managed to report to Dr. Stone about Project Scoop, a secret program that was hidden by the government and General Mancheck. Mancheck, being forcefully questioned by Wildfire and fearing for the whole world’s safety being threatened by Andromeda, reveals the truth about the satellite. Project Scoop was one of several attempts to investigate a singularity, or a worm hole, that has mysteriously appeared in the Solar System. Sent specifically to collect biological samples, the satellite malfunctioned upon approaching the worm hole and fell back to Earth. It was picked up and released the deadly agent.image-w1280In an attempt to neutralize the problem, the President of the United States authorizes a small tactical nuclear strike on the quarantine area in hopes of completely irradiating and destroying Andromeda. When the Wildfire team is informed, they realize that they have not reviewed the test results for irradiating Andromeda. They find that the microorganism grows at an exponential rate when irradiated. The Wildfire team alerts the President, and the air-strike is called off before the pilot launches the nuclear missile. However, as the jet continues to fly over the quarantine area, the pilot reports a malfunction of the aircraft’s controls. Through video feed, the Wildfire team and President watch in shock and horror as all plastic components of the aircraft, including the pilot’s visor, disintegrate.andromeda-wildfire-team

PART 2

The nuclear missile is re-armed, the jet and missile crash into the ground, and the missile detonates, irradiating the quarantine area. The team examine the footage of the crash, and realize that Andromeda has mutated again and now becomes a plastic-eating variant.1024x1024As Andromeda grows and mutates into more virulent forms and takes host in anything from mammals and reptiles to the bird population, the Wildfire team continue their tests to find a way to stop Andromeda before it reaches Las Vegas, the closest city to the quarantine zone with an international airport. Further studies reveal Andromeda is actually a sulfur-based compound. A set of tests with phages reveals that one phage has the ability to kill Andromeda. However, repeated tests with this phage prove unsuccessful, causing the Wildfire team to theorize that Andromeda can communicate through an unknown mechanism among its separate parts. By the time they discover a binary code encoded on buckyball casings with potassium and rubidium atoms, the team suspects Andromeda to be a message according to the Messenger Theory. The information included the six-digit number “739528” and the words “Bacillus infernus” encoded in ASCII plus a bitmap image of a symbol with interlocking triangles. Bacillus infernus is the name of an archaebacterium found only at the thermal vents on the ocean floors. At this time, President Scott was championing the new and controversial industry of thermal vent mining, and it was likely that the mining would eradicate the bacteria. Wildfire requests samples of the bacteria to begin testing its effects on Andromeda.1024x1024Tests with Bacillus infernus reveal that the bacterium easily consumes and destroys Andromeda because of Andromeda’s sulfur structure. The Wildfire team begins to grow large amounts of the bacterium in culture vats, intending to release the cultures over the quarantined area once a sufficient quantity is grown. As the team watches the footage video of the crashed fighter jet, Dr. Stone suspects and considers the possibility that Andromeda did not attack until the launching sequence of the nuclear warhead has been halted, which means that it could probably think and so attack the jet to force the warhead to be detonated, hence accelerating its own growth. The team therefore begins to destroy the remaining samples of Andromeda in the lab in an attempt to prevent Andromeda from communicating the nature of the tests with its other parts.2354_11_screenshotAs part of a government conspiracy to preserve Andromeda for future use, Colonel Ferrus blackmails Dr. Barton to keep a sample. The sample mutates and disintegrates the sample casing, setting off the lab’s contamination breach sensor and initiating the self-destruct sequence. The self-destruct sequence also causes the flashing emergency lights to turn on, triggering Chou’s photosensitive epilepsy, which causes him to inadvertently destroy the self-destruct control panel on the lab level of the complex. With the elevators deactivated due to the self-destruct sequence, Keane decides to climb to the control panel on the level above through the lab’s main exhaust vent. However, the pipes and other components in the vent have begun to deteriorate due to the mutation in the Andromeda sample. The pipe Keane climbs suddenly bends, dangling Keane above the radioactive water at the base of the vent. Before falling, Keane manages to throw his badge to Stone. Realizing Keane’s right thumb is also required to shut down the self-destruct sequence, Chou sacrifices his life to enter the radioactive water to cut off Keane’s thumb for Stone. With Keane’s thumb and badge, Stone reaches the control panel and deactivates the sequences; albeit with only seconds to spare.Eventually, the bacteria being dropped eradicate all traces of Andromeda.2354_11_screenshotAs the remaining Wildfire team attends the funerals of their fallen colleagues, both General Mancheck and Colonel Ferrus are secretly assassinated. Dr. Stone reveals some of the events to the public in an interview with Jack Nash. In the final scene, the saved sample of the Andromeda is inserted into a containment compartment with the access code “739528”, held in a vessel marked with a symbol with interlocking triangles. Director Beeter watches over the operation on the computer in his office. The camera then zooms out, revealing Andromeda has been stored within a space station orbiting Earth. The ending implies that the sample saved on the space station is the cause of the outbreak in the future that necessitated sending the virus back to the present via the wormhole, creating an ontological paradox as to the virus’s origin. The ending also implies that Andromeda could really think, since the future outbreak of Andromeda has happened after the bacteria Bacillus infernus, the only thing capable of exterminating Andromeda, was completely destroyed, and so Andromeda avoided unnecessary risks by waiting for its right opportunity.1024x1024This is a well produced and well acted remake of a classic. The director manages to add more tension to an already excellent story.