REVIEW: THE SIMPSONS – SEASON 17-18

CAST

Dan Castellaneta (Super 8)
Julie Kavner  (Dr. Dolittle)
Yeardley Smith (Dead Like Me)
Nancy Cartwright (Kim Possible)
Hank Azaria (The Smurfs)
Harry Shearer (This Is Spinal Tap)
Pamela Hayden (Recess)
Tress MacNeille (Futurama)
Russi Taylor (Babe)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Alec Baldwin (The Shadow)
Joe Mantegna (Criminal Minds)
Maggie Roswell (Pretty In Pink)
Dennis Rodman (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Lily Tomlin (The West Wing)
Marcia Wallace (Full House)
Maria Grazia Cucinotta  (The Rite)
Michael York (Logan’s Run)
Maurice LaMarche (Futurama)
Antonio Fargas (Starsky and Hutch)
Susan Sarandon (Tammy)
Dave Thomas (Bones)
Ricky Gervais (Ghost Town)
Richard Dean Anderson (Stargate SG.1)
Frances McDormand (Fargo)
Larry Hagman (Dallas)
Melanie Griffith (Working Girl)
Stacy Keach (The Bourne Legacy)
Mandy Moore (Saved)
Michael Imperioli (The Lovely Bones)
Joe Pantoliano (The Matrix)
Fran Drescher (The Nanny)
Kelsey Grammer (Frasier)
Richard Lewis (Drunks)
Dr. Phil (Scary Movie 4)
Kiefer Sutherland (24)
J.K. Simmons (Spider-Man)
Sab Shimono (Teenage Mutant Ninja III)
Natalie Portman (Thor)
Eric Idle (Life of Brian)
Andy Dick (Dude, Where’s My Car?)
Meg Ryan (Amityvlle 3)
Jane Kaczmarek (Malcolm In The Middle)
Betty White (The Golden Girls)
Stephen Hawking (The Big Bang Theory)
Mary Lynn Rajskub (2 Broke Girls)
Ludacris (2 Fast 2 Furious)

When we were 17 it was a very good year — a year for Homer’s new dad, MacGyver gets mad, Sideshow Bob’s not so bad… Another comical compilation of “The Simpsons” – the longest-running scripted show in television history – has arrived. Season 17 contains all 22 outrageous episodes, a vast repertoire of Springfieldian special features, plus a mind-blowing list of celebrity guest voices, including Alec Baldwin, Larry Hagman, William H. Macy, Frances McDormand, Rob Reiner, Susan Sarandon and Lily Tomlin, just to name a few, with additional guest voices also providing commentary including Richard Dean Anderson, Ricky Gervais, Michael York and Kelsey Grammer. Phew!

SEASON 17 HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE

17.1) BONFIRE OF THE MANATEES

After Homer gets into trouble over his football gambling debts, he allows the Springfield Mafia to shoot a porno film (euphemistically called a “snuggle film”) in the house without Marge’s permission. When she and the kids return home from a trip to “Santa’s Village” and find production still going on, a furious Marge leaves for the beach–and encounters a marine biologist named Caleb Thorn who has dedicated his life to saving manatees.17.2) THE LITTLE GIRL WHO SLEPT TOO LITTLE

After the family successfully protests against a stamp museum being built next to their house, a cemetery is built near the Simpson house instead, making the normally unflappable Lisa realize that someone as smart as her can be afraid of something

17.5) MARGE’S SON POISONING

Marge buys a tandem bicycle and after she fails to ride it on her own, Bart offers to ride with her. He soon finds himself increasingly spending time with his mother, until school bullies accuse him of being a “mama’s boy”. Meanwhile, Moe pushes Homer into the world of professional arm wrestling after seeing Homer doing 50,000 reps on his right arm.17.6) SEE HOMER RUN

In order to win back Lisa’s love after shunning her Father’s Day gift (and fearing that the action will cause Lisa to despise all men), Homer takes a job as a costumed mascot known as “The Safety Salamander”, who wins public acclaim for saving drivers from a car accident. Meanwhile, Springfield holds a recall election to get Mayor Quimby out of office.17.7) THE LAST OF THE RED HAT MAMAS

Marge joins a woman’s group after Homer humiliates her at the Mayor’s Easter egg hunt, but Marge discovers that her new friends are thieves planning a heist. Meanwhile, Lisa searches for a tutor to help her speak Italian–and finds one in Milhouse.screen-shot-2012-10-14-at-12-39-35-pm17.8) THE ITALIAN BOB

After Mr. Burns is teased about his car, he sends Homer and the family off to Italy to pick up his new fancy sports car. While on their Italian adventure, the Simpsons end up stranded in a small Italian village where a rehabilitated Sideshow Bob reigns as mayor with a wife and son.17.10) HOMER’S PATERNITY COOT

Marge’s protest against a toll booth causes an accident at the Springfield Tire Yard (which has been perpetually on fire since the 1980s), melting a frozen section of a mountain and revealing the corpse of a mailman who has a letter from Homer’s mom, who had an affair with a handsome lifeguard who may be Homer’s biological father.17.11) WE’RE ON THE ROAD TO D’OHWHERE

After Bart steals a key from Principal Skinner’s office and gets himself into hot water (literally, by fooling around with the school’s steam system), Principal Skinner sentences Bart to a “behavior modification camp”–and Homer must give up his Vegas vacation with his bar buddies in order to take Bart there since he has been put on the airport’s “No Fly” List. Meanwhile, Marge and Lisa have a yard sale–and discover that their biggest-selling product are the many expired medications they have accumulated over the years.17.12) MY FAIR LADDY

Lisa attempts to transform Groundskeeper Willie into a proper gentleman after Groundskeeper Willie’s shack collapses and, like many other secondary and one-time characters over the years, is forced to live with The Simpsons. Meanwhile, Homer becomes a human billboard to save the company that makes his pants.17.15) HOMER SIMPSON, THIS IS YOUR WIFE

Homer’s obsession with Lenny’s new plasma TV prompts Marge to enter the family in a sweepstakes, and they win a trip to the Fox Studio Lot. Against Marge’s wishes, Homer signs them up for a Trading Spouses/Wife Swap-style reality show and is forced to take in a controlling wife, while Marge moves in with a beaten-down husband, Charlie, and his perfect son.17.17) KISS KISS, BANG BANGALORE

Patty and Selma abduct Richard Dean Anderson (the actor best known for playing MacGyver) during the Springfield Stargate SG-1 convention after Anderson rudely tells the terrible twins that he only did MacGyver to make money. Meanwhile, Mr. Burns outsources his nuclear plant to India and chooses Homer to be the new boss.17.19) GIRLS JUST WANT TO HAVE SUMS

Principal Skinner is replaced by a women’s education expert after making a sexist statement about women’s math skills during a musical (which was written by a former female Springfield Elementary school student who was a math whiz), who segregates the school by gender. At first, Lisa loves the arrangement, but when she discovers that the girls’ classes are more about self-esteem boosting than actual learning, Lisa disguises herself as a boy and attends the boys’ classes.17.20) REGARDING MARGIE

Marge goes nuts trying to clean the kitchen in time for a best house contest, but when she inhales the fumes of one too many cleaning solvents, she passes out and bangs her head on a stool. When Marge comes to at the hospital, she is stricken with amnesia, which does not last when she immediately remembers everyone in the family through their quirks–except for Homer. With Marge’s memory of Homer erased, Patty and Selma help their sister find a new man.17.21) THE MONKEY SUIT

Reverend Lovejoy is appointed to spread the word of creationism in Springfield after Flanders complains about a new museum display about evolution, leading creationism to be taught in schools — and Lisa to fight back with secret classes about Charles Darwin and his theories of evolution.17.22) HOMER AND MARGE TURN A COUPLE PLAY

A first baseman for the Springfield Isotopes calls upon Homer and Marge to help him with his marriage to a stripper/pop singer named Tabitha Vixx, who upstages him with a racy musical number during one of his games.71Mvq0DbknL._SL1500_The argument will rage long  about when exactly America’s finest television animated export actually peaked. After 18 seasons, the show is still going strong.

SEASON 18 HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE

18.1) THE MOOK, THE CHEF, THE WIFE AND HER HOMER

Lisa becomes friends with Fat Tony’s son Michael, who would rather cook than run a crime ring, but when the Simpsons are invited over for dinner and Fat Tony is shot, Homer ends up being the town’s newest kingpin.18.2) JAZZY AND THE PUSSYCATS

Bart gets a drum kit to work out his aggressions after being a nuisance at the funeral of Homer’s Vegas wife and becomes top pick for a local jazz band — a position that the saxophone-playing Lisa has been going after for years.18.3) PLEASE HOMER, DON’T HAMMER ‘EM

Marge takes an interest in carpentry after reading some books on the subject meant for Homer, but when everyone in town declines Marge’s services (because they believe that women cannot be carpenters), Marge uses Homer as a front. Meanwhile, Bart discovers that Principal Skinner is allergic to peanuts and uses his allergy to do his bidding.8_cWv8TwU5iSDN-wTr-T9YU_re018.6) G.I. D’OH

Homer finds himself in an army training camp after trying to get his children out of an agreement to join by age 18.18.6) MOE’N’A LISA

Lisa discovers that Moe’s written rantings are perfect fodder for poetry, but when Moe is invited to a writer’s convention that throws out anyone who uses someone else to create their works, Moe ends up taking the credit.18.7) ICE CREAM OF MARGIE: WITH THE LIGHT BLUE HAIR

After Homer gets fired once again from the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, he takes over Springfield’s ice cream truck business after his favorite driver dies. Meanwhile, Marge, depressed over seeing women more successful than her and looking for a way to be remembered, creates sculptures from the discarded Popsicle sticks in Homer’s ice cream truck.18.10) THE WIFE AQUATIC

When Patty and Selma save “Outdoor Movie Night” from going bust by playing an old home movie of their time at Barnacle Bay, Homer decides to surprise Marge by taking her and the kids there — only to find her childhood vacation spot an abandoned wreck.18.12) LITTLE BIG GIRL

When Cletus ineptly tosses his pipe, Springfield is in danger when the town is about to be hit by a ferocious fire. Bart unwittingly saves the day and is rewarded with a driver’s license. However, when he drives to North Haverbrook, he is then engaged with a girl named Darcy who ropes Bart into marriage after declaring that she’s pregnant. Meanwhile, Lisa lies about her family heritage in an essay and gets chosen to give a keynote speech at a convention.18.13) SPRINGFIELD UP!

Declan Desmond returns as he shows a documentary about Springfield’s current adult population as children, discussing their future aspirations and meets up with Homer to see if he followed his dreams.Rome-old_and_Juli-eh18.15) ROMEO-OLD AND JULI-EH

When Grampa gets kicked out of the retirement castle thanks to Homer declaring bankruptcy (and discovering that bankruptcy laws have changed), Grampa falls in love with Marge’s sister Selma, prompting sworn enemies Homer and Patty to team up to break them up. Meanwhile, Bart and Lisa con a delivery man into giving them cardboard boxes for a fort, but the delivery men fight back.18.16) HOMERAZZI

After the family photo album is destroyed in a fire involving a Krusty doll and a bottle of cologne, Marge restages all of the family’s photographs, and when a celebrity dating scandal is captured in the background of one of their photos, the Simpsons strike tabloid gold. Tasting success and seeing money to be made, Homer takes to the streets as one of the paparazzi, capturing Springfield’s celebrities at their worst.18.17) MARGE GAMER

Marge discovers the wonders of the Internet and becomes hooked on an online roleplaying game, where Bart is the game master. Meanwhile, Lisa resorts to cheating to score points with Homer (who is now a referee) during soccer matches.Simpsons_18_20_P418.19) CROOK AND LADDER

When reading a parenting magazine, Marge follows the advice too literally and throws away Maggie’s pacifier. However, when the pacifier is thrown in the trash, Maggie goes on a path of destruction in the Simpsons’ home. Meanwhile, Homer, Moe, Apu, and Principal Skinner become volunteer firefighters and begin stealing items from the homes whose fires they extinguish.18.21) 24 MINUTES

When finding out Jimbo, Dolph, and Kearney plan on sabotaging Springfield Elementary School’s annual bake sale by releasing the “ultimate stinkbomb” (a rotten yogurt cup from Springfield’s Nuclear Power Plant), Bart and Lisa enlist the help of Jack Bauer and Chloe O’Brian. Meanwhile, Marge attempts to make the perfect cake for the school bake sale.screen-shot-2012-11-27-at-1-31-02-pm18.22) YOU KENT ALWAYS SAY WHAT YOU WANT

Thanks to Ned Flanders’ meddling, Kent Brockman gets in trouble for blurting a horrible curse word during a soft-news interview about Homer winning Phineas Q. Butterfat’s 1,000,000th ice cream cone, and gets fired for allegedly being a cocaine addict. While living with the Simpsons, Brockman teams up with Lisa to create a YouTube video revealing why a politically conservative media empire like Fox would create raunchy television shows.DGERTGERERTWhatever people feel about the Simpsons later years, there’s still some great episodes here.

REVIEW: HIGHLANDER: THE SERIES – SEASON 1

Starring

Adrian Paul (Arrow)
Alexandra Vandernoot (Pret-a-Porter)
Stan Kirsch (Shallow Ground)
Amanda Wyss (A Nightmare On Elm Street)

Adrian Paul and Alexandra Vandernoot in Highlander (1992)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Christopher Lambert (Mortal Kombat)
Richard Moll (Scary Movie 2)
Wendell Wright (The Howling)
Peter DeLuise (Stargate SG.1)
J.E. Freeman (Alien: Resurrection)
Tamsin Kelsey (The Commish)
Matthew Walker (Alone In The Dark)
Dustin Nguyen (Legend Is Alive)
Soon-Tek Oh (Mulan)
A.C. Peterson (Shooter)
Vincent Schiavelli (Ghost)
John Novak (War)
Victor A. Young (Nemesis Game)
Garry Chalk (Arrow)
Jay Brazeau (Bates Motel)
Joan Jett (Light of Day)
Leslie Carlson (Videodrome)
Andrew Divoff (Wishmaster)
Gary Jones (Stargate SG.1)
Wes Studi (Mystery Men)
Marc Singer (V)
Brent Stait (Andromeda)
Doug Abrahams (Sanctuary)
Joe Pantoliano (The Matrix)
Catherine Lough Haggquist (Fifty Shades Freed)
Stephen Macht (Trancers 4)
Johannah Newmarch (When Calls The Heat)
John Tench (Watchmen)
Scott McNeil (Beast Wars)
Adrian Holmes (Smallville)
Vanity (The Last Dragon)
Tim Reid (IT)
Kevin McNulty (Snakes on A Plane)
J.G. Hertzler (Staragte SG.1)
Fulvio Cecere (Valentine)
Tom Butler (Blade: The Series)
Werner Stocker (The White Rose)
Peter Howitt (Defying Gravity)
Roland Gift (Brakes)
Dee Dee Bridgewater (The Brother From Another Planet)
Fay Masterson (Eyes Wide Shut)
Elizabeth Gracen (Marked For Death)
Jason Isaacs (Star Trek: Discovery
Martin Kemp (The Krays)
Nigel Terry (Excalibur)
Peter Guinness (Sleepy Hollow)
Anthony Head (Buffy: TVS)
Marion Cotillard (Inception)
Roger Daltrey (Tommy)
Peter Hudson (Lockout)

Alexandra Vandernoot in Highlander (1992)400-year-old Scottish Immortal Duncan MacLeod (Adrian Paul) has spent the last twelve years living a quiet life with his mortal girlfriend, sculptor Tessa Noel (Alexandra Vandernoot). Unfortunately, when young punk Richie Ryan (Stan Kirsh) breaks into their antiques store, he stumbles upon another uninvited guest- Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert), also an immortal Highlander. Connor insists Duncan return to The Gathering- an ongoing battle where immortals fight each other to the death by beheading their opponent to take their Quickening. Friendly immortals like the Parisian monk Darius (Werner Stocker) have no interest in the violence and remain on Holy Ground to avoid the evil, corrupt, insane, angry, and power hungry immortals Duncan must face. All this, however, is in addition to Duncan’s daily hiding of his secrets from pesky cops and nosey reporters like Randi MacFarland (Amanda Wyss).Adrian Paul and Soon-Tek Oh in Highlander (1992)I always find it tough to summarize the scenario that establishes the Highlander universe, even though it is a fairly simple fantasy once you get to know it. Longtime franchise producers Peter Davis and Bill Panzer and creative consultant David Abramowitz don’t have to waste much time in setting up The Series’ introductory mythology like most shows do thanks to its parent 1986 film, but that does not mean this First Season isn’t without its flaws. Highlander: The Series spends most of the 1992 debut here trying to adhere to the original film whilst also attempting to appeal to other compatriot shows of the time like Renegade. Sometimes, Duncan is an immortal who also just happens to get kidnapped, Tessa just happens to witness an immortal murder, Richie just happens to get caught up in some immortal romance or crime.Season 1 seems to meander between reopening its fantastical roots- which actually concluded at the end of the first film- and finding an audience with one off action plotlines and crazy guest star immortals. Toss in some ho-hum police investigations and one annoying journalist, and it feels like you have bits of every other nineties television program. It also seems like the filmmakers were light on material early on, for a slew of slow and dated musical montages about absolutely nothing also have not stood the test of time. Adrian Paul in Highlander (1992)I’ve complained, yes- but the irony is, Highlander as a series and its Season 1 still work damn fine. So they had to iron out a few special effects and immortal explanations. Maybe there is an uneven mix of normal real world crime storylines and charming, even glorious, period piece flashback sequences. Yes, they have to mimic the first movie while trying to establish episodic material. Yet somehow, all this and more gets done in fun, entertaining, stylized television. A few of the guest immortals do seem a bit interchangeable and even hokey in their maniacal ways, but that’s part of the bemusement. The lovely counterbalance of the tragedies, consequences, and ill desires of living forever are well played along with the beauty and value of morality, artistry, and time for those who inevitably grow old and die. Highlander: The Series may have lured audiences in the door with promises of nineties cool and wicked swordfights, but its intelligent core of immortal drama, heart, and soul win out today.Adrian Paul and Vanity in Highlander (1992)Although Adrian Paul (Tracker, Relic Hunter) has some big sneakers to fill in following Christopher Lambert, he quickly makes Duncan MacLeod his own with the perfect mix of fearless fighter and moral convictions. Yes, part of his fighting skills, suave ponytail, and immortal sexual buffness is meant to be dreamy for the ladies. However, Mac’s kickass ruthlessness against those who do wrong-whether they be mortal or immortal- combined with his sensitive ways and 400 year old hang ups appeal to all. Paul wonderfully expresses the love, loss, humor, and intelligence as well as the anger, vengeance, and violence each episode as needed. There’s no doubt MacLeod is our hero- and yet he is usually the one handing out killing blows. It’s a complicated mix with plenty of fine drama- and Alexandra Vandernoot (The Five Obstructions) is the perfect compliment to Adrian Paul. Though she can seem kind of uppity and European pissy to start, once you come to know Tessa’s artistic heart and moral fulcrum you can’t help but enjoy her and Mac’s relationship. The two have wonderful chemistry, but then you throw in illicit immortal love with mortal women growing old and dying to that romantic design and it’s dynamite. Such juicy and angst still has plenty of relatable, powerful stuff that never fades, wow, almost 20 years on.Still of Adrian Paul and Amanda Wyss in Highlander and See No EvilStan Kirsh (Invincible) is in the precarious hot young thing role as Richie Ryan, but he also proves himself more likeable then annoying here in Season 1. Despite some of the stereotypically juvenile, young love, and crime storylines in which he finds himself, Richie’s fun place within Mac and Tessa’s lives does a lot of good. He is in a way, their kid- always needing to be bailed out or protected in the ways of the world or waxing philosophical from his humorous spot in the backseat. Even over the course of these 22 episodes, however, Richie also becomes a useful ally and sounding board for each of the leads when immortality or mortality gets in the way. Sadly, the ill-used Amanda Wyss (A Nightmare on Elm Street), doesn’t fair so well. Her brief and needlessly stuck in the opening credits reporter Randi is absolutely unrealistic as a journalist and completely annoying in her attempted antagonizing and snooping. Perhaps more could have been done with the character in time, but thankfully, the role was dropped in favor of some  policemen and detectives. Wendell Wright’s (Benson) Sgt. Powell, Tim Reid’s (Sister, Sister) Bennett and Hugues Leforestier as Inspector LeBrun come and go too much in Season 1, but any one of them could have been fine continuing foil for MacLeod. You do have to wonder how the authorities haven’t discovered all these beheaded bodies!Adrian Paul in Highlander (1992)In addition to the lovely guest appearance by Lambert as Connor “same clan, different vintage” MacLeod in ‘The Gathering’, Season 1 offers an array of sweet guest stars. Critical immortals such as Elizabeth Gracen’s (later of the spinoff Highlander: The Raven) Amanda and Fine Young Cannibals’ singer Roland Gift as Xavier St. Cloud appear in ‘The Lady and the Tiger’ and ‘For Tomorrow We Die’ respectively. We don’t get to see the late Werner Stocker’s Darius as much as I would have liked, but he and Roger Daltry’s Hugh Fitzcairn are also wonderful pieces in Highlander: The Series’ repertoire, comparing the potential of pacifism for immortals to their apparent zest for women. As much as I love Joan Jett, her appearance as the first female immortal we see in ‘Free Fall’ is one of the woefully dated examples this season. Several other guest villains and street thugs of the week do seem a little the same- especially the maniacal and crazy, if no less understandable, immortals. Again, it’s tough to not have an over the top bad guy when it is your hero befrickingheading someone per episode. A few of the French supporting players also suffer; so many seemed poorly dubbed that you don’t wonder if it would have been better to just have some French dialogue. All in all however, the guests add debut credibility this season whilst laying the ground work for the series to establish itself beyond the films: the plots and players in the Season 1 finale ‘The Hunters’ directly lead to the events in Season 2 and beyond.Adrian Paul and Christian van Acker in Highlander (1992)Although the actors do their part, the designs of Season 1 could have used some…tweaking. The Quickening effects are definitely touch and go to start. Honestly, the lightning shows generally coming at the end of each episode waver from looking extremely painful and capable of powering a village to limp, sputtering light bulbs and quasi orgasmic shuddering. Women seriously seem to get the short end of the stick regarding Quickenings, and the fashions of the time have not been kind. Oh, the unflattering gaudy shoulder pads, pleated pants, and high-waisted jeans! Richie fairs no better, with some woefully colorful New Edition and Color Me Badd cast-offs. At least most of the immortal men seem to have classic, swanky style- except some of Duncan’s sweaters, vests, and colorful blazers are a miss. However, any men who can carry off such a variety of period fashion earn a plus in my book. The Leather jackets, cozy turtlenecks, tuxedos, and fedoras here are as timeless as the kilts, cavalier coats, French uniforms, and kimonos.Adrian Paul in Highlander (1992)While the MacLeod and Noel Antiques store, loft, and workshop design look just as good as the period production, it also seems a little too high end and unrealistic today. I know he is immortal and she is a sculptor, but real people could not live in such a pricey and overly designed museum. By contrast, Season 1’s opening Seacouver location seems obvious and bland- again looking like it’s a random warehouse back lot used by every other show made at the time. Thankfully, MacLeod’s barge on the Seine is just a little bit cooler. These French locations add a touch of Old World European class to Highlander. Even if I can’t quite figure the logistics of the barge, (How can one just park his boat on the Seine? What kind of codes and regulations are there for a refurbished ship? Where in the heck does Richie sleep if there’s one bed?!) it’s still a neat and unique set. Yes, Highlander: The Series’ location splits and prominence for French casting is thanks to French financing and production, but it also gives Season 1 a chance to correct its early flaws- including adjusting the opening credits and spending more time in our immortals’ pasts. Subtle connections to the original film are all that’s needed for Season 1 to find its footing- and those motifs largely come from the perfect use of Queen’s soundtrack. You can’t not love the ‘Princes of the Universe’ theme. Be honest, sometimes you just tune into Highlander just to hear the song! The somber ballad ‘Who Wants to Live Forever’ also makes a few appearances- however; it’s the nonchalant use of the titular question by unknowing mere mortals that adds extra zing and panache.Fans of the Highlander franchise surely already know and love these DVDs back to front, but 21st Century newcomers will be pleasantly surprised by the exhaustive amount of features for the Season 1 set. The interface is cumbersome, I grant; but the Watcher Chronicles’ menus, additional scenes, bloopers, commentary options, full script CDs, and behind the scenes features are almost obsessive in shear amount, variety, and content. Almost every episode contains some form of extras- and more is included as the season sets progress. I can even forgive the lack of subtitles here, because someone obviously took his time in making Highlander: The Series as complete as possible on DVD. New fans, however, should be forewarned, as there are often spoilers for the entire series within the features. In fact, all the extras from the Complete Series DVDs are probably best left in a marathon viewing all their own. Adrian Paul and Martin Kemp in Highlander (1992)Highlander: The Series is best when it is about the trials of immortality- not the contemporary messes into which an immortal could get himself. Season 1 falters some when it tries for the latter, but there’s plenty of immortal angst and juicy action established here to enjoy. Longtime fans can delight anytime, and audiences looking for action, adventure, fantasy, and romance can certainly find it here. Some scenes and storylines might be too saucy or complicated for younger tween viewers, but a show that matures in its mythos and quality along with its audience while also staying young forever is tough to find. Yes, just think, Highlander: The Series only gets better from here. Start anew or travel back with Season 1 today.

REVIEW: MEMENTO

CAST

Guy Pearce (Prometheus)
Carrie-Anne Moss (Jessica Jones)
Joe Pantoliano (The Matrix)
Mark Boone Junior (Batman Begins)
Stephen Tobolowsky (Groundhog Day)
Thomas Lennon (Santa Clarita Diet)
Callum Keith Rennie (Californication)
Jorja Fox (CSI)

The film starts with the Polaroid photograph of a dead man. As the sequence plays backwards the photo reverts to its undeveloped state, entering the camera before the man is shot in the head. The film then continues, alternating between black and white and color sequences.The black and white sequences begin with Leonard Shelby, an insurance investigator, in a motel room speaking to an unseen and unknown caller. Leonard has anterograde amnesia and is unable to store recent memories, the result of an attack by two men. Leonard explains that he killed the attacker who raped and strangled his wife, but a second clubbed him and escaped. The police did not accept that there was a second attacker, but Leonard believes the attacker’s name is John or James, with a last name starting with G. Leonard conducts his own investigation using a system of notes, Polaroids, and tattoos. From his occupation, Leonard recalls a fellow anterograde amnesiac: Sammy Jankis. Sammy’s diabetic wife, who wasn’t sure if his condition was genuine, repeatedly requested insulin; she hoped that he would remember having given her an injection and stop himself from giving another before she died of an overdose. However, Sammy continues to administer the injections, and his wife falls into a fatal coma.The color sequences are shown reverse-chronologically. In the story’s chronology, Leonard self-directively gets a tattoo of John G’s license plate. Finding a note in his clothes, he meets Natalie, a bartender who resents Leonard as he wears the clothes and drives the car of her boyfriend, Jimmy Grantz. After understanding his condition, she uses it to get Leonard to drive a man named Dodd out of town and offers to run the license plate as a favor. Meanwhile, Leonard meets with a contact, Teddy, who helps with Dodd, but warns about Natalie. However, a photograph instigates Leonard not to trust him. Natalie provides Leonard the driver’s license for a John Edward Gammell, Teddy’s full name. Confirming Leonard’s information on “John G” and his warnings, Leonard drives Teddy to an abandoned building, leading to the opening, where he shoots him.In the final black-and-white sequence, prompted by the caller, Leonard meets with Teddy, an undercover officer, who has found Leonard’s “John G,” Jimmy, and directs Leonard to the abandoned building. When Jimmy arrives, Leonard strangles him and takes a photo of the body. As it develops, the black-and-white transitions to the final color sequence. Leonard swaps clothes with Jimmy, hearing him whisper “Sammy.” As Leonard has only told Sammy’s story to those met, he suddenly doubts Jimmy’s role. Teddy arrives and asserts that Jimmy was John G, but when Leonard is undeterred, Teddy reveals that he helped him kill the real attacker a year ago, and he has been using Leonard ever since. Teddy points out that since “John G” is common, he will cyclically forget and begin again and that even Teddy himself has a “John G” name. Further, Teddy claims that Sammy’s story is Leonard’s himself, repressing the memory to escape guilt.After hearing Teddy’s exposition, Leonard consciously burns Jimmy’s photograph, writes a message to himself on Teddy’s photograph not to trust Teddy, and drives off in Jimmy’s car. He has Teddy’s license plate number tattooed as the second attacker, leading to his eventual death.This film will leave its own memento on your mind, and you’ll have a hard time forgetting how much you enjoyed it.

 

REVIEW: DAREDEVIL (2003)

CAST

Ben Affleck (Batman v Superman)
Jennifer Garner (Alias)
Michael Clarke Duncan (Sin CIty)
Colin Farrell (Intermission)
Jon Favreau (Iron Man)
Joe Pantoliano (The Matrix)
David Keith (Firestarter)
Scott Terra (Shadrach)
Leland Orser (The Bone Collector)
Erick Avari (Stargate)
Ellen Pompeo (Grey’s Anatomy)
Derrick O’ Connor (Lethal Weapon 2)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Kevin Smith (Dogma)
Coolio (Batman & Robin)

Daredevil stars Ben Affleck as Matt Murdock, a lawyer who lives and works in the Hell’s Kitchen area of New York City. As a child, Matt was blinded by biohazardous waste. However, this traumatic event augmented his other four senses, granting him with a radar-like vision, allowing him to “see” with sound. With his heightened senses, and his need to have justice fulfilled (stemming from his father’s murder), Matt roams the streets at night as Daredevil, a masked vigilante who serves as judge, jury, and executioner. Matt’s obsession with justice alienates him from others, even his law partner “Foggy” Nelson (Jon Favreau).Matt’s life changes when he meets the beautiful Elektra (Jennifer Garner). Matt is immediately taken by this strong, young woman who is an accomplished fighter. However, things go awry when Elektra’s father is targeted by the ruthless Kingpin (Michael Clarke Duncan), a crime-boss who will stop at nothing to keep his empire intact. Kingpin dispatches the assassin Bullseye (Colin Farrell), who has the ability to make any object into a deadly weapon, to eliminate Elektra’s father. Matt finds himself pulled into Elektra’s world, but clearly only Daredevil can stop Bullseye and The Kingpin.Jennifer Garner in Daredevil (2003)Daredevil is a very dark movie.  Thus capturing the feel of the years that Frank Miller worked on the comic. While most of the Marvel Comics characters are tortured souls, Daredevil is an especially bleek character, and the movie does a fine job of presenting this. Whereas the comic is full of thought balloons in which the character expresses his innermost feelings, the film presents montages essaying his loneliness and bitterness. This is a man who is pissed-off at the world, and even when something beautiful such as Elektra comes along, it gets blighted.Ben Affleck in Daredevil (2003)Along with the tone of the film, Johnson provides a nice pace as well. The action scenes here are nothing new, but they are very well-shot and edited. The film does a fine job of balancing the exciting scenes with the more dramatic ones, and Favreau is even able to throw in a few moments of comic relief. For the most part, the special effects are good.One of the film’s biggest surprises is the performance by Affleck. Maybe it’s the contact lenses that he had to wear to convey blindness, but he is very good as Matt Murdock, keeping his typically rakish behavior in check for most of the film. Garner is impressive as well as Elektra, although I would have liked to have seen a costume that was similar to that in the comics.   A director’s cut of the film was released for in 2004. This version contained new additions like previously unseen footage and a removed subplot, and was to be a bit darker with an R rating. One of the biggest changes to the film was the addition of a subplot involving a drug addict played by Coolio.