REVIEW: THE FLASH – SEASON 4

 

The_Flash_season_4_poster_-_Let_the_Mind_Games_Begin

Starring

Grant Gustin (Glee)
Candice Patton (The Guest)
Danielle Panabaker (The Crazies)
Carlos Valdes (Vixen)
Keiynan Lonsdale (The Turning)
Neil Sandilands (The 100)
Tom Cavanagh (Scrubs)
Jesse L. Martin (Injustice)

Grant Gustin in The Flash (2014)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Kim Engelbrecht (Dominion)
Danielle Nicolet (Central Intelligence)
Britne Oldford (God Friended Me)
Jessica Camacho (Watchmen: The Series)
Dominic Burgess (The Good Place)
Richard Brooks (The Crow: City of Angels)
Sugar Lyn Beard (Sausage Party)
Violett Beane (God Friended Me)
Chelsea Kurtz (Scandal)
Hartley Sawyer (The Young and The Restless)
Vito D’Ambrosio (Bones)
Danny Trejo (Machete)
Emily Bett Rickards (Brooklyn)
Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica)
Stephen Amell (Arrow)
Victor Garber (The Orville)
John Wesley Shipp (Dawson’s Creek)
Caity Lotz (The Pact)
Morena Baccarin (Gotham)
Chyler Leigh (Not Another Teen Movie)
Franz Drameh (See)
Paul Blackthorne (The InBetween)
Jeremy Jordan (The Last Five Years)
Juliana Harkavy (Last Shift)
Melissa Benoist (Whiplash)
Wentworth Miller (Underworld)
Russell Tovey (Being Human)
Max Adler (Into The Dark)
Patrick Sabongui (Power Rangers)
Kendrick Sampson (Relationship Status)
Mark Valley (Human Target)
Corinne Bohrer (Tellers)
Devon Graye (13 Sins)
Bill Goldberg (Santa’s Slay)
Jessica Parker Kennedy (Cam)
Derek Mears (Swamp Thing)
Kendall Cross (Another Life)
Paul McGillion (Stargate: Atlantis)
Leonardo Nam (Westworld)
Bethany Brown (The 100)
Kevin Smith (Clerks)
Jason Mewes (Mallrats)
Arturo Del Puerto (For All Mankind)
Katie Cassidy (Taken)
Ryan Alexander McDonald (Izombie)
Mark Sweatman (Uncut)
David Ramsey (Dexter)

Grant Gustin in The Flash (2014)For the last three years, “The Flash” has proven itself to be one of the very best  superhero shows on television. With its incredible mix of compelling characters, intricate storytelling, and tense thrills, it has continued to deliver a wonderful blend of drama, comedy, action, and even a little romance. Heading into season four, the show has shown no signs of slowing down, and coming off of a particularly excellent season, expectations remain quite high. Now, at last, it’s time to see if “The Flash” continues its “streak” of greatness, or if the show has at last run its course.Neil Sandilands in The Flash (2014)At the end of season three, Barry Allen/The Flash (Grant Gustin) found himself with no other choice but to go into the speed force itself to save Central City. This left the rest of Team Flash, including Iris (Candice Patton), Cisco (Carlos Valdes), and Wally (Keiynan Lonsdale), to pick up the slack in regards to fighting crime in the city. However, they find that not only do they miss Barry, but that their team just isn’t the same without him, which eventually leads Cisco to devise a way to free him from the speed force.Grant Gustin and Hartley Sawyer in The Flash (2014)Their happiness at being reunited is short-lived however, as they quickly discover that the rift they opened to free Barry also unleashed a massive amount of dark matter that changed a dozen civilians into meta-humans with extraordinary powers. Meanwhile, a new brilliant foe by the name of Clifford DeVoe, aka “The Thinker” (Neil Sandilands) has emerged with a mysterious plan that involves collecting the powers of these recently-created meta-humans. It’s up to Team Flash (including new team member Ralph Dibney/”The Elongated Man” (Hartley Sawyer)) to discover how all of it is connected, and what DeVoe’s ultimate goal is before he can carry it out, all while trying to protect the people of Central City from the continuous onslaught of criminals.One of the most impressive things about “The Flash,” aside from everything mentioned so far, has been the remarkable ability of the writing staff to fill its lengthy 23-episode season. In an age where TV shows are moving away from the older model of having epic-sized seasons of 20+ episodes and moving towards more streamlined lengths of about 10-13 episodes, it’s quite something to see a show continue to utilize so many AND be able to actually fill it with quality material. Sure, some episodes aren’t an actual part of the season’s main arc, but even when they don’t further the main plot, the writers usually still manage to deliver consistently fun and exciting episodes.Grant Gustin in The Flash (2014)It’s rather satisfying to say that season four is no exception. Once again, we have a compelling storyline that sees the entire city put in danger, forcing our group of heroes to use every means at their disposal to take down “The Thinker.” That actually brings us right to the main reason this season stands out as being particularly special: for once, the villain is not an evil speedster, but rather a man with an insanely-advanced intellect. In the first three seasons, we saw our heroes go up again The Reverse Flash, Zoom, and Savitar, but now, in a refreshing change of pace, we have a villain who uses sheer brainpower (and eventually several neat powers) to challenge Flash and co., literally forcing them to have to try and out-think their foe.Kim Engelbrecht and Neil Sandilands in The Flash (2014)In the same vein, the showrunners have also made the wise decision to get rid of certain characters that hadn’t been working particularly well. Most notably, Wally West leaves early on, and actually joins the Legends on “Legends of Tomorrow.” His character never really found a satisfying place on “The Flash,” so it made perfect sense to put him with other b-characters on one of the weaker superhero shows on the network. He still pops in every now and again for important events, but for the most part, he’s been removed. It’s also worth noting that this season doesn’t feature an appearance from the silliest villain in the show’s repertoire, Gorilla Grodd. Perhaps after the misguided arc in the previous season, they’ve finally learned that the character was just a bad idea.Grant Gustin and Violett Beane in The Flash (2014)As far as complaints about this latest season, I suppose the somewhat simple ending was a little bit of a drawback. After all of the buildup, it seemed a little too easy to get to the end result, but still, it worked well enough for the show’s purposes. That being said, it hardly seems worth mentioning with everything that went so well this season. Once again, we had 23 episodes that flew by at top speed, delivering everything that fans have come to expect from this fast-paced and remarkably entertaining show. As usual, we’re left with another cliffhanger that shows that yet another wild season will probably be in store for Team Flash. What kind of villain will we get this time? Another speedster? Another brainiac of sorts? Or will it be something entirely new and surprising? Just like everyone else, I can’t wait to find out.

 

REVIEW: THE FLASH – SEASON 3

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Starring

Grant Gustin (Glee)
Candice Patton (The Guest)
Danielle Panabaker (The Crazies)
Carlos Valdes (Vixen)
Keiynan Lonsdale (THe Turning)
Tom Cavanagh (Scrubs)
Jesse L. Martin (Injustice)
Tom Felton (Harry Potter)

Matt Letscher and Grant Gustin in The Flash (2014)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Alex Désert (Swingers)
Michelle Harrison (Tru Calling)
Matt Letscher (Her)
Todd Lasance (The Vampire Diaries)
John Wesley Shipp (Dawson’s Creek)
Tobin Bell (Saw)
Emily Bett Rickards (Brooklyn)
Joey King (Slender Man)
Violett Beane (God Friended Me)
Peter Flemming (Staragte SG.1)
Wentworth Miller (Underworld)
Danielle Nicolet (Central Intelligence)
Grey Damon (Aquarius)
Ashley Rickards (Pretty Little Stalker)
Patrick Sabongui (Power Rangers)
Susan Walters (The Vampire Diaries)
Greg Grunberg (Heroes)
Victor Garber (The Orville)
Franz Drameh (See)
Stephen Amell (Arrow)
Willa Holland (Legion)
Caity Lotz (The Pact)
Dominic Purcell (Prison Break)
David Ramsey (Dexter)
Brandon Routh (Superman Returns)
Melissa Benoist (Whiplash)
Audrey Marie Anderson (The Unit)
Christina Brucato (The Intern)
Donnelly Rhodes (Battlestar Galactica)
Jerry Wasserman (I, Robot)
Robin Atkin Downes (Babylon 5)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Nicholas Gonzalez (Sleepy Hollow)
Jessica Camacho (Watchmen: The Series)
Stephen Huszar (Faces In The Crowd)
Andrea Brooks (When Calls The Heart)
Keith David (Pitch Black)
Vanessa Williams (Candyman)
Robbie Amell (The Duff)
Rick Cosnett (The Vampire Diaries)
John Barrowman (Torchwood)
David Harewood (Homeland)
Jeremy Jordan (The Last Five Years)
Chris Wood (The Vampire Diaries)
Darren Criss (Glee)
David Dastmalchian (Reprisal)
Anne Dudek (White Chicks)

 

John Wesley Shipp and Grant Gustin in The Flash (2014)Season 3 appears to be the real test for The CW’s Arrowverse shows. Arrow followed up its first two seasons with a much rockier third season, leaving that series in a hole of which it’s only just now managed to climb out. The Flash went through a similar series of hurdles this year. The Flash: Season 3 was noticeably more uneven than its predecessors, suggesting that maybe Barry Allen’s best days are behind him. Luckily, the show was able to recapture its footing where Arrow continued to struggle. The strong last couple months of the season went a long way towards making up for the mistakes that came before.Grant Gustin and Violett Beane in The Flash (2014)It was clear right away that Season 3 faced a long, uphill battle. Season 2 ended with an exciting cliffhanger, as Barry (Grant Gustin) traveled back in time, undid his parents’ deaths and created the alternate timeline known as Flashpoint. Anyone who’s read the Flashpoint comic or watched the animated movie Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox was surely salivating at the thought of seeing a twisted, dystopian vision of the Arrowverse. What the premiere episode, “Flashpoint,” actually delivered was slightly less exciting. Aside from a few key differences, this world wasn’t a particularly dramatic change from the norm. There was still a definite appeal in seeing Barry briefly granted the happy, quiet life he’s always dreamed of.Tobin Bell in The Flash (2014)
Looking back at  the first half of Season 3, it wasn’t until the midseason finale that any episode scored above the low 8 range. That pretty much encapsulates the problems with the season right there. The show was often perfectly fine on a week-to-week basis, but it was rare for any episode to really stand out from the pack. The general status quo in the first half of the season too often struggled to measure up to the Reverse-Flash and Zoom conflicts from seasons past. The end result of Barry’s three months spent living in Flashpoint was a handful of changes to the Team Flash dynamic, many of which became all but irrelevant after a week or two. Flashpoint also resulted in the rise of two new villains – Doctor Alchemy and Savitar (both voiced by Tobin Bell). Alchemy never amounted to much more than a shadowy, mysterious string-puller, while it wasn’t until the final few episodes of the season that Savitar truly came into his own.Danielle Panabaker in The Flash (2014)There was plenty of character drama to work through early on, much of it the direct result of Barry’s time-meddling. Iris (Candice Patton) and Joe (Jesse L. Martin) dealt with a mutual estrangement. Cisco (Carlos Valdes) mourned the death of someone close to him. Both Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) and Wally (Keiynan Lonsdale) dealt with the spontaneous appearance of metahuman powers (with the former dreading her transformations into Killer Frost and the latter relishing his opportunity to follow in Barry’s footsteps). That’s to say nothing of the complications created by Barry’s new co-worker/frenemy, Julian Desmond (Tom Felton). When all else failed, the Team Flash family drama could usually be relied upon to keep the show humming along.Stephen Amell and Grant Gustin in The Flash (2014)Julian proved an entertaining and somewhat unpredictable addition to the recurring cast, adding a unique voice and temperament to the Team Flash dynamic. But the best addition this year was H.R. (Tom Cavanagh), the latest alternate universe incarnation of Harrison Wells. It’s part of The Flash’s charm that there must always be a Wells in the picture, even if Cisco and friends have to go on a recruitment drive to find one. Cavanagh again proved to be one of the show’s MVP’s, playing H.R. as a wholly distinct character compared to Season 1’s Dr. Wells and Season 2’s Harry. There were even a few opportunities to see Cavanagh play multiple Wellses in the same scene, just for kicks.Grant Gustin and Keiynan Lonsdale in The Flash (2014)

This season also got a lot of mileage out of John Wesley Shipp’s new role as the real Jay Garrick. Like Cavanagh, Shipp successfully managed to set his new character apart from the old, casting Jay as a grizzled veteran not entirely comfortable with his status as mentor to Barry and his fellow speedsters. The only complaint here is that the season never used Jay as often as it could. That was especially true with the midseason finale, “The Present,” which offered a tantalizingly brief glimpse of Jay’s rivalry with Earth-3’s Trickster (Mark Hamill).Grant Gustin, Keiynan Lonsdale, and Violett Beane in The Flash (2014)Looking back, the one character who felt oddly underutilized this year was Wally. On paper, it was a big year for Wally, as he gained his speed powers and took his place alongside Barry. That paved the way for several memorable speedster team-ups (including one with Violett Beane’s Jesse Quick thrown in for good measure). But there was a specific point in the season where it seemed like the writers completely lost interest in Wally. He all but completely faded to the background and never recovered as a result. Andre Tricoteux in The Flash (2014)The character drama gave the early episodes weight where villains like Alchemy faltered, but that drama brought about its own set of problems. Not only was the scope of Flashpoint itself disappointingly limited, the fallout often felt small and perfunctory. Some subplots, particularly the Joe/Iris rift, were quickly resolved and forgotten, almost like they never happened at all. And at some point, the series simply felt too mired in darkness. Character drama is great, but this series has always thrived on its ability to balance that drama with lighthearted adventure and that ever-important sense of hope. But Barry Allen became more morose than ever this year, and his misery seemed to envelop everyone around him. It didn’t help that The Flash was airing new episodes at the same time as fellow Arrow-verse/CW series Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow, two shows that did a much better job of balancing character drama with lighthearted fun this year.Melissa Benoist and Grant Gustin in The Flash (2014)Once the reveal came and Savitar’s true endgame became apparent. The final five episodes went a long way towards reviving the Savitar conflict and building the character into someone worthy of Reverse-Flash and Zoom. That doesn’t necessarily excuse the writers for keeping their cards close to the vest for so long, nor their decision to focus on a third speedster villain when there are so many other worthy Flash villains who haven’t gotten their due yet.. But at the same time, the reveal did make it apparent why that prolonged secrecy was necessary. Moreover, the reveal wound up tying the season together, forcing Barry to confront his mistakes and his habit of being the architect of much of his own misery. For a villain who remained so aloof for much of the season, Savitar wound up becoming a surprisingly personal villain in the end.Grant Gustin in The Flash (2014)It also didn’t hurt that the later episodes placed so much emphasis on Caitlin’s fall from grace. I still maintain that Killer Frost should have been the central villain of Season 3. But even as a supporting player in the Savitar conflict, Caitlin added a great deal of dramatic weight to the series, with the writers banking heavily on the strong bond linking Barry, Cisco and Caitlin and the tragedy that arose when those bonds were shattered. This was also a valuable chance for Panabaker to play Killer Frost not as an overt villain, but someone torn between her twisted metahuman side and the good, loyal friend that still remained within.
As for the dark tone, it’s no coincidence that some of the best episodes this season were those that diverged from the Savitar conflict and focused on the lighter side of Barry’s world. The two-part Gorilla Grodd storyline was very entertaining, offering fans their first real glimpse of Earth-2’s Gorilla City and suggesting that Grodd would make for an excellent recurring villain if not for the sheer expense involved in bringing the character to life. The series even took the opportunity to throw in a little levity right before the end, as “Infantino Street” offered a wonderfully entertaining Flash/Captain Cold team-up before moving into the dramatic fallout of Savitar’s final attack.But nowhere did the series shine brighter this season than in the long-awaited musical episode/Supergirl crossover “Duet.” For one glorious hour, all the darkness fell away and Grant Gustin and Melissa Benoist were given free reign to sing, dance and just have fun playing superheroes. It certainly didn’t hurt that so many actors involved, including Victor Garber, John Barrowman and Jesse L. Martin have serious musical theater chops of their own. Not only did that episode strongly suggest that the musical crossover needs to become an annual tradition, it served as a crucial reminder of how enthralling The Flash can be when it focuses on the lighter side of Barry Allen’s life. Hopefully that episode, and the generally improved state of the series in the second half of Season 3, are signs of what to expect when the show returns in the fall.
The Flash: Season 3 is a clear step down from the show’s first two years. It’s not that there were many truly bad episodes this year, but more that the show struggled too long to find a compelling status quo and make the most of the fallout from “Flashpoint.” Some of the best episodes this season had little to do with the overarching Savitar conflict. Luckily, the show did find its footing in the final two months of Season 3, and that strong finish went a long way toward redeeming the season as a whole.

REVIEW: WATCHMEN – SEASON 1

Regina King in Watchmen (2019)

Main Cast

Regina King (The Big Bang Theory)
Don Johnson (Cold In July)
Tim Blake Nelson (Fantastic Four)
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Aquaman)
Andrew Howard (The Outpost)
Tom Mison (Sleepy Hollow)
Sara Vickers (Endeavour)
Dylan Schombing (Sharp Objects)
Louis Gossett Jr. (The Punisher)
Jeremy Irons (Batman V Superman)
Jean Smart (Legion)
Hong Chau (Artemis Fowl)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Jacob Ming-Trent (Ray Donovan)
Jessica Camacho (The Flash)
Frances Fisher (Titanic)
Wayne Pére (Cloak & Dagger)
James Wolk (Mad men)
Jim Beaver (Breaking Bad)
Robert Wisdom (The Dark Knight Rises)
Cheyenne Jackson (Descendats 3)
Dustin Ingram (The Magicians)
David Andrews (Terminator 3)
Lee Tergesen (The Purge TV)
Robert Pralgo (The Vampire Diaries)
Paula Malcomson (Caprica)
Jovan Adepo (Mother!)
Jake McDorman (Limitless TV)
Anatole Taubman (Hex)
Glenn Fleshler (Joker)

Watchmen is a bold, ambitious show. There’s no mistaking it for some wallflower or small, quiet drama. This is a big-budget, high-profile production that declares its presence. You can’t ignore it and you wouldn’t want to because it’s extremely compulsive viewing. The latest offering from HBO, the nine-episode Watchmen is based on Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ iconic and beloved 1980s comic book series of the same name.Jeremy Irons in Watchmen (2019)Before you roll your eyes and chuck a Scorsese or Coppola and go, “oh, it’s a comics thing,” know that Watchmen strikes a hard-to-achieve balance between spectacle and groundedness. And you don’t need to be familiar with the comics or the 2009 Zack Snyder movie adaptation to dig in. Created for TV by Lost and The Leftovers’ Damon Lindelof, this version of Watchmen has been described as more of a companion series. Lindelof explained it as, if the comics were the Old Testament, then this series is the New Testament — and there are still plenty of Easter eggs and direct references for old fans.The original comics were set in the mid-1980s and the TV show time jumps to our present day, 2019. So it’s set some 30 years after the events of the books, and only carries over a handful of the characters. The world of Watchmen is similar to ours except there’s no internet, throngs of tiny squid sometimes rain from the sky and Robert Redford has been the US president since the 1990s.The early focus is on Angela Abar (Regina King), a Tulsa, Oklahoma police detective whose masked persona is known as Sister Night. To the outside world, she’s a retired cop after a calamitous event some three years earlier. But in reality, she’s one of legion of masked cops who now have to hide their identities for fear of retribution against them and their families — despite the fact vigilante heroes are now outlawed.Yahya Abdul-Mateen II in Watchmen (2019)The villain(s) of the series is a white supremacist group called The Seventh Cavalry who have co-opted the now-dead anti-hero Rorschach’s image on their masks. They’re the ones who are violently targeting police in Tulsa. But when both the good guys and the bad guys wear masks, who can you really trust? In Watchmen, the police go too far, meting out extrajudicial justice with little hesitation. At one point, one character says to another, “You know how you can tell the difference between a masked cop and a vigilante?” to which the other responds, “No”. While the show exists in an alternate version of our world and many of its markers feel heightened and exaggerated, it feels very resonant of America in 2019. The series is racially charged and declares itself so in the opening sequence which is a dramatisation of the real-life Tulsa race riots in which white mobs killed hundreds of African-Americans and injured even more.Regina King in Watchmen (2019)Watchmen plays in the grey space between black and white with its moral complexity. While we follow Angela, she also commits acts we personally wouldn’t approve of from our own law enforcement. This constant negotiation of our empathies is the kind of layered storytelling Lindelof excels in, having done so previously in The Leftovers, another HBO series. Watchmen is packed with striking visuals — the first two episodes are directed by Nicole Kassell — and the production values are extraordinary, including a visceral score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. Clearly a lot of money has been spent and it shows. The pilot episode is strong and has a great twist that guarantees you’ll be back for more. It also features compelling performances from Oscar winner King, Don Johnson as Tulsa police chief Judd Crawford, Tim Blake Nelson as Looking Glass and Louis Gossett Jr as the mysterious Will Reeve. These are new characters to the Watchmen world.Among the comic original characters, there’s Jeremy Irons as Adrian Veidt, also known as Ozymandias, who is now exiled (as it were) in a luxurious country estate where he delights in strange games with his strange servants. But it’s Jean Smart as Laurie Blake/Silk Spectre who steals the third episode, which is her first appearance. The former superhero is now working for the FBI in the anti-vigilante squad and her combination of no-bullshit tenacity, concealed vulnerability and killer instincts make her a magnetic character. The very blue-hued and powered Doctor Manhattan will also appear. Watchmen is a thrilling and scintillating series that is sure to find armies of fans, old and new, who will undoubtedly be besotted. You might as well see for yourself what they’re all going to be obsessing about.

 

25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: THE FLASH – DON’T RUN

The Flash (2014) title card w/Lightning Bolt background

CAST

Grant Gustin (Glee)
Candice Patton (Heroes)
Danielle Panabaker (The Crazies)
Carlos Valdes (Vixen)
Neil Sandilands (The 100)
Tom Cavanagh (Scrubs)
Jesse L. Martin (Law & Order)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica)
Hartley Sawyer (Glory Daze)
Patrick Sabongui (Power Rangers)
Kim Engelbrecht (Dominion)
Kendrick Sampson (The Vampire Diaries)
Jessica Camacho (Sleepy Hollow)

Oh, DeVoe is good. I’m not sure why he would let Barry know about his new, Dominic-shaped form when he didn’t have to, but framing Barry for his own murder is a new villainous move for this show—and one that is welcome after seasons of speedsters who rely on their physical prowess to try to take Team Flash down.Barry’s arrest for the murder of DeVoe is also a nice call back to the crime that set his life down a path of crime-solving and helping others: the murder of his mother, and his arrest of his father for the crime. Like Barry, Henry Allen was also falsely accused. Like Henry, Barry is not someone who runs away from his problems. When given the chance to speedster away, Barry decides to stay. “Don’t run,” he says aloud, looking at a picture of Iris. He not only promised Iris his love, but a life together in the light. If Barry has to stay in the shadows, running from the law, then so will Iris. Much of Don’t Run was a set up for this final reveal and, as far as water-treading goes, this was some pretty entertaining diversion. Katee Sackhoff continues to be delightful as the evil Amunet, bringing energy to the screen whenever she saunters into frame with her over-the-top nefarious nanny accent. Seeing her and Caitlin play off each other again worked well, especially as a vehicle for Caitlin to explore her insecurities about her value compared to the value of Killer Frost.Having your friends potentially like your evil alter-ego more than you may not be a particularly high-stakes problem, but it has some relatable qualities to it. I feel kind of bad for Killer Frost, however, that everyone felt the need to say how terrible she was in order to play up Caitlin’s ego. Can’t we have room for both of them? Killer Frost needs some love too.Heading into the midseason hiatus, things are looking complicated for Team Flash, but not as grim as they have in the past.  Barry may be behind bars, but this is a problem that exists within a system that has established rules, unlike some of the chaos Team Flash has had to deal with in the past. It’s also a villainous obstacle that we haven’t seen before from The Flash. It keeps the very sci-fi drama of DeVoe grounded in something real, at least for now.

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: SLEEPY HOLLOW: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES

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MAIN CAST

Tom Mison (Venus)
Nicole Beharie (Shame)
Lyndie Greenwood (Nikita)
Nikki Reed (Twilight)
Zach Appleman (Kil Your Darlings)
Lance Gross (House of Payne)
Shannyn Sossamon (A Kngiht’s Tale)

GUEST CAST

Emily Deschanel (Bones)
David Boreanaz (Bones)
Jessica Camacho (Longmire)
Nicholas Guest (Frozen)

DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES

Pandora reanimated the body of General Howe and unleashed him and his troops on Sleepy Hollow. They didn’t exactly call the General and his men zombies, but that’s what they were. I couldn’t really tell whether the men became zombies after they joined the General’s command or whether these were simply the men that were under his command at the time he died. Whatever the case, Pandora sent General Howe and his zombies to wreak havoc on Sleepy Hollow. They didn’t really get the chance to do much damage though. Howe’s personal grudge against Ichabod proved to be his undoing though, since Ichabod and Abbie were ultimately able to use it to lure him into their trap.

While Ichabod and Abbie were working the zombie case, Jenny and Joe were tracking some guy named Nivens. Apparently, Nivens is the guy who wanted to procure the Shard of Anubis. It also turns out that Sheriff Corbin and Nivens were in the army together. Joe immediately jumped to the conclusion that Sheriff Corbin was somehow helping Nivens in his criminal activities, but I’m not sure why he jumped to that conclusion. Yes, Sheriff Corbin kept a lot of things a secret, but I can’t say I blame him. If he had shared his theories with other people, they would’ve locked him away in the crazy house and thrown away the key. Joe knows that Sheriff Corbin had knowledge of the war against evil, and a lot of what he’d done was in preparation for fighting that war.maxresdefaultI’m still not sure what Pandora’s end game is. It seems like everything she’s unleashed thus far has been to bring up Ichabod and Abbie’s worst fears. At least that’s what it sounded like she said about the blossom at the end of the episode. I’m wondering whether she knew that Ichabod and Abbie were going to triumph over all of the monsters she’s unleashed thus far, and maybe that was the point. Maybe none of the blossoms could bloom if the monster wasn’t defeated first. Maybe her plan all along has been to send these less powerful creatures after The Witnesses to see how they work and figure out what kind of resources they have. I say that because she hasn’t looked disappointed at the outcome of any of these confrontations. If that’s the case, then she’s been using all of these things as cannon fodder for something much worse. That doesn’t bode well for our heroes.

Jenny and Joe’s side investigation may now cause some friction for Abbie at work. Reynolds is apparently investigating Nivens as well, and now he’s giving Abbie heat over Jenny possibly being involved with Nivens. I don’t know what it’s going to take for them to realize that failing to keep each other apprised of their side projects is always going to cause them trouble. I don’t know what part Nivens has to play in everything, but I have a feeling there’s more to it meets the eye. It also looks like Ichabod and Zoe might take a few more steps in their relationship, but I don’t know how well that’s going to work out for Zoe. Ichabod doesn’t exactly have the best track record when it comes to women. A strange crossover with Bones, but it actually works.

REVIEW: ANOTHER LIFE- SEASON 1

Katee Sackhoff in Another Life (2019)

Starring

Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica)
Selma Blair (Mom and Dad)
Tyler Hoechlin (Supergirl)
Justin Chatwin (War of The Worlds)
Samuel Anderson (The History Boys)
Elizabeth Ludlow (Max Steel)
Blu Hunt (The New Mutants)
A.J. Rivera (Grandfathered)
Alexander Eling (Make It Pop)
Alex Ozerov (Bitten)
Jake Abel (Percy Jackson)
JayR Tinaco (always be My Maybe)
Jessica Camacho (The Flash)
Barbara Williams (Thief of Hearts)

Katee Sackhoff in Another Life (2019)It’s been ten years since we last saw Katee Sackhoff suit up as Kara “Starbuck” Thrace in the critically acclaimed series Battlestar Galactica, and now she’s taking to the stars once again in her new Netflix series Another Life. This dark intergalactic adventure sees Sackhoff leading a team of scientists on a mission to uncover the truth about a mysterious alien vessel that has appeared on Earth. Unfortunately, despite the show’s best efforts to channel Sackhoff’s earlier sci-fi success (along with several other notable staples of the genre), it struggles to establish its own identity in a season filled with underdeveloped characters and stakes that somehow manage to simultaneously feel both too high, and not quite high enough.A.J. Rivera and Alexander Eling in Another Life (2019)From creator Aaron Martin (Slasher), Another Life opens on influencer-journalist Harper Glass (Selma Blair) watching as an alien spacecraft (which resembles a giant, metallic Möbius strip) passes outside her window. It eventually lands in a field, where it promptly cocoons itself in a shimmering crystalline shell, reminiscent of Annihilation’s Shimmer. This is the last we see of Harper in the pilot episode; she won’t reappear until midway through episode two, which feels indicative of the show’s general lack of focus when it comes to its large supporting cast. They appear when the plot requires it, and feel as though they fizzle out of existence the second they leave the screen.Katee Sackhoff and Elizabeth Faith Ludlow in Another Life (2019)Following the arrival of the alien craft, Another Life jumps ahead six months in time, switching perspectives to Niko Breckenridge (Sackhoff), her husband, Erik Wallace (Justin Chatwin), and their young daughter Jana (Lina Renna). Erik is a scientist who has been studying the “Artifact,” as the humans have come to call the alien structure. While he and his team haven’t made much headway in determining who the aliens are or what they want, they do know that the Artifact is sending signals out into space, and Niko has just been appointed as the commander of the ship tasked with following those signals to their destination, Pi Canis Majoris. Neither of them really want Niko to go, but she worries that without her, the mission will fail, putting their family in jeopardy.Tyler Hoechlin and Jessica Camacho in Another Life (2019)So Niko heads off on the Salvare, where the plan is to spend most of the months-long mission in induced soma sleep, but of course, there wouldn’t be much of a series if everything went according to plan. A month into their journey, Niko is awakened by William (Samuel Anderson) the ship’s holographic onboard computer, who has been programmed to be the ideal complement for Niko — which makes sense — and also, bafflingly, to feel human emotions, including fear, anger, and uncertainty, which is a little perplexing given that William controls every system on the ship. I have a hard time coming up with a scenario in which it makes sense to give a glorified auto-pilot the potential to have a panic attack if things get intense (and they do indeed get very intense), but okay. Despite taking itself extremely seriously, Another Life is not a series that welcomes peeking underneath the hood to examine its internal logic, so it’s best to just let it be.another-lifeUnsurprisingly, William informs Niko that the Salvare has encountered a complication while en route to Pi Canis Majoris, and soon the entire primary crew has been awakened in order to deal with it. I say “primary” crew because the Salvare also has a seemingly limitless supply of backup crew members still in soma sleep, conveniently stowed away in their soma pods until the moment they’re needed to take over for a member of the primary crew who is no longer able to serve their function. But we’ll get to that in a minute. This crew consists of a dozen diverse twenty-somethings, ostensibly chosen at least in part for their youth; one character explains in the pilot that cowardice tends to flare up after people turn 27, and that it therefore makes sense to staff a dangerous mission with a crew who won’t shy away from risks. This logic doesn’t entirely track — both Niko and her second-in-command, Ian Yerxa (Tyler Hoechlin)are in their 30s — and is one of many, many examples throughout Another Life’s first season of the show doing its best to answer small questions no one was asking, while ignoring other, much bigger ones.another_life-publicity_still_2-h_2019Chief among them: who are all these people? Another Life has an intimidatingly large cast, and with the exceptions of Niko and Erik, it doesn’t seem particularly interested in exploring who any of them are. I spent most of the ten-episode season barely able to recall any of the Salvare crew’s names or jobs, and there’s a few whose roles I still can’t quite pin down. It doesn’t help that Another Life has a shockingly high body count, with multiple members of the Salvare’s crew dying horribly every couple episodes. However, those deaths don’t carry the weight they should, for either the viewers or the characters. We never get to know these characters well enough to really mourn their loss, and the endless supply of backup personnel ensures that the Salvare will never have to operate with less than a full crew, making the life-or-death stakes feel both too extreme — watching one shallowly drawn character after another die excruciating deaths becomes rapidly exhausting — and weirdly meaningless.AAAABWDQDqrL-l-hBEBHjJ51Yx47hUQzwWmO1Dw_amNoig7V7dK-xaVhmyy5nknFcoNWr3O45AvHLK7HmTUDqqRNVaf7gq8iZIZgCgThe only characters Another Life imbues with any real sense of history or interiority are Niko and Erik, who each do their admirable best to carry their respective storylines, Niko on the Salvare, and Erik back on Earth, doing his best to solo parent Jana while continuing to study the Artifact. Sackhoff and Chatwin each give earnest performances (although Sackhoff does occasionally succumb to the urge to chew the scenery, and often defaults to a facial expression I can best describe as “Blue Steel intensity”), making it easy to buy into their relationship, despite their limited screen time together. But for every flashback (or occasionally, more inventive method) used to explore their identities and backstories, it becomes even more glaring how little Another Life is willing to dig into the rest of its characters. With so many people to keep track of, I found myself longing for the show to deep-dive one supporting character at a time, rather than spend so much energy on Niko while giving the rest only the most surface-level treatment.94c04b8770a38df67ba71b5fca00aac12802c6c9Throughout its first season, Another Life intentionally channels a number of intense sci-fi films such as Alien, Arrival,or Annihilation, although it’s debatable whether including such heavy parallels to highly acclaimed properties works in its favor, or whether they simply function as a reminder of all that Another Life isn’t. However, as I watched, I couldn’t help drawing comparisons to other, perhaps less-obvious shows like LOST or even Game of Thrones, which also had large ensemble casts and a tendency to brutally kill off principal characters without warning, but were skilled in developing those characters in ways that made their deaths uniquely devastating. Even in their first seasons, deaths on those shows were heartwrenching, not just because death is innately painful, or because the circumstances were objectively horrifying, but because we had emotionally invested in those specific characters, and it hurt to lose them.0475c1200ce9f4d1c1bb05b74ec58ed78e63af09More than anything else, it’s this lack of specificity that holds Another Life back in its first season. Despite its familiarity, its premise is still intriguing, and while the pacing can occasionally get bogged down in undercooked subplots that don’t seem to tie neatly into the main thread of the series, the show is adept at ending each episode in a way that had me immediately reaching for the remote, eager to start the next one. And although I wished for more conflict that stemmed from the characters’ actions as opposed to originating externally, Another Life still manages to keep the moment-to-moment excitement pretty high. But the series’ failure to invest in any of its cast outside of Sackhoff and Chatwin means that even when Another Life is functioning at its best, it still feels as though it’s holding its audience at arm’s length.3lEzD6kE_oIt’s a shame, because there’s a ton of unmined story potential in the characters of Another Life, who are diverse across a variety of spectrums, including race, sexuality, and gender. It’s only toward the end of the season that the show begins hinting at more in-depth storylines and relationships for a few of its secondary characters, who have spent most of the season running, screaming, and spouting exposition-heavy technical dialogue. Yet even those brief glimpses at what might lie ahead already feels more compelling and interesting than most of the narratives they’ve been given up until that point. There is a much better, more emotionally affecting show lying just beneath the generically futuristic trappings of Another Life, but in its first season, it fails to develop its characters in a way that would give its extraterrestrial threats and space-horror scares any sort of significant weight. As such, despite some intriguing central mysteries — what is the Artifact? Who sent it? And what do they want? — the series has a hard time getting me to invest in finding answers. I can only hope that, should Another Life receive a second season, it spends a little more time building up the connections and conflicts within the Salvare itself, so that it’s all the more terrifying when the dangers lurking outside threaten to rip them apart.

REVIEW: VERONICA MARS (MOVIE)

CAST

Kristen Bell (Frozen)
Jason Dohring (The Originals)
Krysten Ritter (Jessica Jones)
Ryan Hansen (2 Broke Girls)
Francis Capra (heroes)
Percy Daggs III (Izombie)
Chris Lowell (Enlisted)
Tina Mojorino (Santa Fe)
Enrico Colantoni (Powers)
Gaby Hoffmann (Wild)
Jerry O’Connell (Sliders)
Brandon Hillock (Villains)
Martin Starr (Spider-Man: Homecoming)
Ken Marino (Agent Carter)
Max Greenfield (New Girl)
Amanda Noret (City Guys)
Daran Norris (Izombie)
Sam Huntington (Superman Returns)
Duane Daniels (Murder on Vine)
Lisa Thornhill (Rush Hour 3)
Christine Lakin (Family Guy)
Jamie Lee Curtis (Scream Queens)
Justin Long (Mom)
Dax Shepard (Hit and Run)
James Franco (Spider-Man)
Eddie Jemison (IZombie)
Jessica Camacho (The Flash)

Kristen Bell and Jason Dohring in Veronica Mars (2014)The world of cult TV is a peculiar one. Television shows are canceled all the time, but through the world of DVDs, Netflix, and Amazon, shows pulled from network schedules before their time now have the opportunity to grow a loyal, faithful audience long after the grass has grown over their graves.Kristen Bell in Veronica Mars (2014)Those fans often wonder if they’ll ever see their favorite characters again, and every once in awhile that wish comes true. Seven years after it was canceled, Veronica Mars, which became a cult phenomenon since it premiered its last new episode on The CW in 2007, returned for one more mystery, this time on the big screen. As any true fan can tell you, Veronica Mars was a witty, one-of-a-kind teen noir series that tackled everything from rape and murder to class warfare.A social outcast after her sheriff father (Enrico Colantoni) wrongfully accused a very rich, very powerful man of murdering his daughter (who was Veronica’s best friend and the sister of Veronica’s boyfriend), Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell) was largely on her own in a town full of obnoxious and privileged children of movie stars and CEOs. But the Southern California town of Neptune was divided along class lines. Veronica didn’t fit in with the popular kids, known as the 09-ers, after her father’s wrongful accusation, but she didn’t fit in with the working class either on account of her former association to those same 09-ers. She became a fierce, independent teen whose weapon of choice against her enemies was her mind, her wit, and the occasional stun-gunning. Each episode of the series tackled a new mystery for Veronica to solve, while an overarching larger mystery unfolded over the course of the entire season. It’s not every day a series like Veronica Mars shows up on TV, and so it makes perfect sense that Veronica Mars in its film incarnation be as unique as the series from which it was born.veronicamarsFunded by fans via a Kickstarter that broke several records and reached its goal of $2 million in less than 12 hours, the Veronica Mars film was a labor of love for all parties involved. The movie, which looked great despite not having had the funds it would have had if it had been completely backed by the studio, felt like an extended episode of the TV series. Some people might look at that and see a failure, but to any Veronica Mars fan, that’s the highest form of praise. Instead of an ending, the movie felt like a brand-new chapter recently discovered at the end of a favorite book.Series creator Rob Thomas has always been cognizant of the fact that the film would not exist if it weren’t for the fans, and has said on more than one occasion that it was imperative that they make a film that would do right by the fans who donated their hard-earned cash to bring this beautiful work to life. And that’s what he did. He created a film that he knew the fans would love. And he should know, because he’s probably the series’ biggest fan outside of Kristen Bell herself. Without Thomas and Bell keeping alive their dream of one day shooting a film, fans might have given up hope of ever returning to the seedy seaside town of Neptune, California.Kristen Bell and Ryan Hansen in Veronica Mars (2014)By the time Veronica traded in her pin-straight hair and fancy New York lawyer duds for the jeans, jacket, and beach waves uniform she wore for three seasons, it was clear Veronica was never going to go back to the seemingly perfect life she had in New York with Piz (Chris Lowell). It doesn’t matter if everyone knew going in that she’d end up choosing Neptune over New York and ex-boyfriend Logan (Jason Dorhing) over Piz, because it’s exactly what the fans wanted to see. It’s what the fans paid upfront to see. It’s the open-ended ending the fans waited seven years for. In short: The film delivered.rs_560x415-140311131242-1024.Veronica-Mars-Kristen-Bell.ms.031114_copyThe movie, which followed the first case Veronica had worked since she transferred to Stanford after one year at Hearst College, and which happened to coincide with her 10 year high school reunion, felt exactly like that: A reunion. Because Thomas wanted to please the fans, the movie attempted to bring back as many original cast members from the series as possible, from the still-bitchy Madison Sinclair (Amanda Noret), to the dirty and shameless Vinnie Van Lowe (Ken Marino), who might actually be living in a van now, to the effortlessly charming Deputy-now-detective Leo (Max Greenfield). The movie was a parade of familiar faces, but to fans of the series, it felt a bit like home. Each time a character appeared on screen, it was a wink and a nod to fans.Kristen Bell and Jason Dohring in Veronica Mars (2014)It makes sense that the person to pull Veronica back to Neptune and the private eye world was Logan. He’d been part of the reason she’d left town and their self-proclaimed epic love story was left unfinished. If I take issue with anything in the film, however, it would be the way in which it portrayed her relationship with both Logan and the job of being a private investigator as a drug. Over the course of the series, it was clear her relationship with Logan was toxic, but Logan has grown up and matured considerably in the nine years since we last saw him. Yes, he was quick to resort to violence when Veronica’s sex tape played at the reunion, but that doesn’t change the fact that Logan has come very far since his self-destructive days. He joined the navy and became a pilot. He became a stabilizing force for his girlfriend, Carrie Bishop, whose murder was the central mystery of the movie.Kristen Bell and Jason Dohring in Veronica Mars (2014)Keith’s vocal opposition to Veronica leaving New York and the opportunities there felt real and were grounded in reality. He’s a father who only wants the best for his daughter. But it was never going to happen. The mystery of who killed Carrie Bishop wasn’t the most exciting or intricate case Veronica has ever tackled, but once again, the movie had to find a way to work in a case that would draw Veronica back to Neptune, as well as find a way to work in the cameos fans desperately wanted to see in a short, finite amount of time. Revealing Martin Starr’s new character Stu “Cobb” Cobbler to be Carrie’s murderer made sense, because having it be someone fans knew and loved would have been crushing to the audience. The fact that Dick really never knew the truth about what happened to Susan Knight on that boat was in line with the Dick that fans have come to love or come to love to hate. In short, everything that happened in the film felt just right.Success in this industry will always be measured by how much money a film makes, and there is a special dollar amount the movie must bring in to warrant a sequel, but to fans of the series, none of that really matters. It was never about the money, it was about seeing Veronica, Logan, Keith, Wallace, Mac, Dick, Weevil, and Piz again. Veronica Mars’ success will never be measured in dollar signs, but in whether or not the film made fans happy, and to that end it definitely succeeded.