REVIEW: SUPERGIRL – SEASON 4

october-faction-netflix-review-1Starring

Melissa Benoist (Jay & Silent Bob Reboot)
Mehcad Brooks (Necessary Roughness)
Chyler Leigh (Not Another Teen Movie)
Katie McGrath (Jurassic World)
Jesse Rath (The Howling Reborn)
Sam Witwer (Smallville)
Nicole Maines (Bit)
April Parker Jones (Jericho)
David Harewood (Homeland)

Sam Witwer in Supergirl (2015)

Recurring/ Notable Guest Cast

Lynda Carter (Wonder Woman)
Brenda Strong (Starship Troopers)
Rhona Mitra (Nip/Tuck)
Robert Baker (The Originals)
Tiya Sircar (The Good Place)
Vincent Gale (Van Helsing)
Alison Araya (Riverdale)
Bruce Boxleitner (Babylon 5)
Andrea Brooks (When Calls The Heart)
Anthony Konechny (Fifty Shades of Grey)
Fulvio Cecere (Valentine)
Kirby Morrow (NInja Turtles: The Next Mutation)
Xander Berkeley (Kick-Ass)
Sarah Smyth (50/50)
Graham Verchere (Summer of 84)
David Ajala (Fast & Furious 6)
Justice Leak (Powers)
Chris Violette (Power Rangers SPD)
Helen Slater (City Slickers)
Steve Byers (Immortals)
Michael Johnston (Teen Wolf)
LaMonica Garrett (The Last Ship)
John Wesley Shipp (The Flash 90s)
Stephen Amell (Arrow)
David Ramsey (Dexter)
Carlos Valdes (The Flash)
Danielle Panabaker (The Crazies)
Tyler Hoechlin (Teen Wolf)
Grant Gustin (Glee)
Jeremy Davies (Hannibal)
Ruby Rose (The Meg)
Cassandra Jean Amell (Roswell, New Mexico)
Adam Tsekhman (Legends of Tomorrow)
Elizabeth Tulloch (Ther Artist)
Russell Wong (Romeo Must Die)
Kate Burton (The Ice Storm)
Hannah James (Mercy Street)
Brennan Mejia (Power Rangers Dino Charge)
Garwin Sanford (Staragte Atlantis)
Jessica Meraz (Bounty Hunter)
Michael Adamthwaite (Stargate SG.1)
Louis Ozawa Changchien (Kidding)
Jonathan Bennett (Mean Girls)
Jon Cryer (Two and a Half Men)
Azie Tesfai (Superstore)
William MacDonald (Riverdale)
Willie Garson (White Collar)
Carl Lumbly (Alias)
Izabela Vidovic (Veronica Mars)
Olivia Nikkanen (The Society)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Patti Allan (The Killing)

Melissa Benoist in Supergirl (2015)You have to admire the chutzpah of Supergirl’s writers and their choice to name the Season 4 finale in honor of what is widely regarded as the worst Superman movie of all time: “The Quest for Peace.” But it’s not so crazy when you consider how much Superman IV and Supergirl: Season 4 have in common. Both are steeped in political allegory about tensions between East and West. Both feature Lex Luthor trying to destroy one Kryptonian hero by harnessing their evil doppelgänger. Both are concerned with the need to achieve peace in our time. It’s just that Supergirl is much better about actually realizing those lofty ambitions.Sam Witwer in Supergirl (2015)Without burying the lead, Season 4 is easily Supergirl’s strongest to date; that much has actually been obvious for quite a while. While this season made some improvements to the supporting cast and other areas, it succeeded by turning what has historically been the show’s most glaring weakness into its greatest strength.David Harewood in Supergirl (2015)Prior to this season, Supergirl has never had a villain worthy of rivaling Kara Danvers. Not Maxwell Lord. Not Lillian Luthor. Not the Daxamites. Nobody. But Season 4 flipped the script by giving fans an embarrassment of riches. The season opened with the introduction of Agent Liberty/Ben Lockwood (Sam Witwer), a character who probably could have shouldered the burden all on his own. It helps that the show wasted so little time before delving into Lockwood’s tragic past and showing how even decent men can be transformed into hate-mongering bigots if pushed far enough.
Melissa Benoist in Supergirl (2015)But Lockwood was just the start of Season 4’s salvo. Even as the series worked to establish a new mission and purpose for ex-DEO head J’onn J’onzz (David Harewood), it also gave him a new antagonist in Manchester Black (David Ajala). That wrinkle is one of the more memorable twists to the source material in Season 4. In the comics, Manchester is a Superman villain, one hellbent on proving that the Man of Steel is an outdated, useless relic. While Supergirl never captured the full impact of the critically adored Action Comics #775 (which inspired the episode “Whatever Happened to Truth, Justice and the American Way?”), transforming Manchester into a Martian Manhunter villain generally worked well. The worst that can be said is that Manchester sort of dropped out of the running very abruptly in “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”.Melissa Benoist in Supergirl (2015)But Season 4 saved its biggest guns for last. The series finally paid off on Season 3’s cliffhanger, introducing Kara’s twisted doppelgänger Red Daughter and revealing she, Agent Liberty and Eve Teschmacher (Andrea Brooks) to be pawns of none other than Lex Luthor (Jon Cryer). After alluding to Superman’s greatest nemesis for years, the series not only brought Lex into the fold but molded him into the first truly great, season-ending villain the series has had. Cryer’s casting turned a lot of heads initially, but it didn’t take him long to make this iconic character his own and establish himself as the most forceful presence in the show’s ensemble cast.Chyler Leigh and Melissa Benoist in Supergirl (2015)Before getting into how the finale tied all of this together, I do want to mention the actual heroes of the series a bit. Melissa Benoist continues to be a crucial part of the series. Her warmth and inherent likability make her an ideal Supergirl, even as this season also allowed her to flex some darker muscles as Red Daughter. Lena (Katie McGrath) also fared well throughout the season, especially as her brother’s surprise return made her life a living nightmare.Melissa Benoist in Supergirl (2015)And as sad as it was to see Jeremy Jordan’s Winn written out of the picture at the end of Season 3, there’s no doubt that the series is better off for having Brainiac-5 (Jesse Rath) as the DEO’s new resident tech genius. Winn seemingly had nowhere left to go as a character, whereas Brainy brings his own brand of humor and his own foibles to the table. Not to mention his charming romance with another worthy new addition, Nia Nal (Nicole Maines). And beyond her relationship with Brainy, Nia proved to be just the sort of wide-eyed, uplifting character the series needed to balance out its growing sense of darkness.David Harewood, Jesse Rath, Melissa Benoist, and Nicole Maines in Supergirl (2015)All of these many threads paid off in the finale as Lex finally carried out his grand plan and manipulated his way right into the White House. With a secret villain pulling the strings of world governments, exploiting deep-seated fears and racial tensions and using a massive disinformation campaign to gaslight ordinary people, it’s not difficult to see how the series has been drawing from real-world events this year. The show has never been very subtle in that regard, and even less so this season.Melissa Benoist in Supergirl (2015)Not that the lack of allegorical subtlety harms the finale much. Capes and tights stories aren’t good for much if they aren’t about something bigger. If Supergirl struggled in the villain department prior to this season, at least the show has made a regular habit of dipping into the X-Men’s well and preaching tolerance and empathy in the face of a rising tide of fear and hatred. The finale hit home as well as any other episode this season, particularly near the end when it became clear that George Lockwood (Graham Verchere) escaped the cycle of hatred that so utterly consumed his father.David Harewood and Melissa Benoist in Supergirl (2015)It was also fitting that the season-long conflict boiled down not so much in metahuman fisticuffs – and honestly, what little action there was in this episode wasn’t terribly memorable or well-staged – but truth and knowledge. With Supergirl powerless to stop Lex’s rise to power, it fell on Kara Danvers to put pen to paper and expose Luthor for the con artist he is. The idea that one well-sourced article could immediately topple a corrupt government and make the general public come to their senses is… pretty naive in light of current events. But once again, you have to respect the show’s optimism and faith that good always triumphs in the end.Jon Cryer and Melissa Benoist in Supergirl (2015)What really sealed the deal in this episode, beyond Kara and friends’ hard-won victory, was that final confrontation between Lena and Lex. That was such a great moment between these two estranged siblings. It was disappointing that Lex gleefully killed Red Daughter seemingly without remorse. It would have been nice to see a more human side of the character as he eliminated a woman he essentially raised himself. But we did get that with Lex’s death scene, as he finally, begrudgingly but definitively accepted Lena as someone worthy of being called his sister.Best of all, this scene fueled what is easily the most compelling new plot thread heading into Season 5. Lena finally knows the truth about Kara, and it’s already eating away at her. It was fascinating seeing Lex treat that reveal as one last bit of revenge against his sister before the end. I especially enjoyed that extra layer of irony, with Lex taunting Lena for not seeing the truth right in front of her face, even as he himself has always been too blind to see the obvious truth about Superman and Clark Kent. Lex is going to be difficult to top going forward, but Lena has the potential to outdo even her brother if she makes that final plunge into darkness.With that welcome wrinkle to the status quo, I almost wish this episode didn’t devote so much time to laying seeds for Season 5. That seemed an unnecessary move in light of the Lena/Kara twist. Still, there’s clearly a lot to look forward to come October. J’onn has a new foe who hits very close to home. Leviathan is teased as the next great threat (a twist which must set a new speed record for a comic book storyline being adapted into live-action). And the Monitor (LaMonica Garrett) is busy preparing for the Crisis to come. All the pieces are in place for another terrific season, so long as the series can maintain the momentum it’s built up over the last several months.

 

25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: MEAN GIRLS

CAST

Lindsay Lohan (Freaky Friday)
Rachel McAdams (Sherlock Holmes)
Tina Fey (Date Night)
Tim Meadows (Son of Zorn)
Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation)
Ana Gasteyer (Suburgatory)
Lacey Chabert (Not Another Teen Movie)
Lizzy Caplan (Cloverfield)
Neil Flynn (Scrubs)
Amanda Seyfried (Ted 2)
Daniel Franzese (Conviction)
Jonathan Bennett (Veronica Mars)
Diego Klattenhoff (Pacific Rim)

Sixteen-year-old homeschooled Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan) and her zoologist parents (Ana Gasteyer and Neil Flynn) return to the United States after a 12-year research trip in Africa, settling in Evanston, Illinois. Cady attends a public school for the first time, meeting new classmates Janis (Lizzy Caplan) and Damien (Daniel Franzese). The two warn Cady to avoid the school’s most exclusive clique, the Plastics, who are led by queen bee Regina George (Rachel McAdams). The Plastics take an interest in Cady, however, and start to invite her to sit with them at lunch. Seeing that Cady is slowly becoming one of The Plastics, Janis hatches a plan of revenge against Regina, using Cady as the infiltrator.Cady soon learns about Regina’s “Burn Book”, a notebook filled with rumors, secrets, and gossip about the other girls and some teachers. Cady also falls in love with Regina’s ex-boyfriend, Aaron Samuels (Jonathan Bennett), whom a jealous Regina steals back at a Halloween party. Cady continues with Janis’s plan to cut off Regina’s “resources”, which involve separating her from Aaron; tricking her into eating nutrition bars that make her gain weight; and turning Regina’s fellow Plastics – insecure rich girl Gretchen Wieners (Lacey Chabert) and sweet but ditzy Karen Smith (Amanda Seyfried) – against her. In the process, Cady unwittingly remakes herself in Regina’s image, becoming spiteful, superficial, and abandons Janis and Damian.

When Regina is finally made aware of Cady’s treachery, she responds by spreading around the contents of her Burn Book, quickly inciting a riot. To avoid suspicion, Regina inserts a fake libel of herself in the book in order to blame the only female students not mentioned in the book, The Plastics. Principal Ron Duvall (Tim Meadows) soon quells the riot, and ends up sending all the girls in the school to gather in the auditorium. Math teacher Ms. Sharon Norbury (Tina Fey), whom the Burn Book slandered as a drug dealer, makes the girls mentioned in the book fess up to the rumors and apologize to the other students and teachers. When Janis’s turn comes, she confesses her plan to destroy Regina with Cady’s help and openly mocks Regina with the support of the entire school. Pursued by an apologetic Cady, Regina storms out and gets hit by a school bus, breaking her spine.Without any friends, shunned by Aaron, and distrusted by everyone, Cady takes full blame for the Burn Book. Her guilt soon dissolves and she returns to her old personality. As part of her punishment for lying and failing Norbury’s class, she joins the Mathletes in their competition. There, while competing against an unattractive girl, Cady realizes that mocking the girl’s appearance would not stop the girl from beating her. She then realizes that the best thing to do is just solve the problem in front of you and ends up winning the competition after her opponent answers incorrectly. At the Spring Fling dance, Cady is elected Queen, but declares that all her classmates are wonderful in their own way, whereupon she breaks her plastic tiara and distributes the pieces. Cady makes amends with Janis and Damian, reconciles with Aaron, and reaches a truce with the Plastics, who then disband.
By the start of the new school year, the fate of the newly disbanded Plastics are shown. Regina joins the lacrosse team, Karen becomes the school weather reporter, while Gretchen joins and befriends the “Cool Asians.” Aaron graduates from high school and attends Northwestern University, Janis and Kevin Gnapoor begin dating, and Cady declares that she is now normal. Regina walks past Cady and smiles, showing that they are now kind to one another. As this happens, Damien points to Cady the new “Junior Plastics” walking by, and Cady imagines the Junior Plastics being hit by a bus.Mean Girls is often clever and hilarious, with several great one-liners and performances. The film seems tamed down a tad for the PG-13 rating, but it’s still sharp and effective more often than not.

REVIEW: VERONICA MARS – SEASON 1

Starring

Kristen Bell (The Good Place)
Teddy Dunn (Jumper)
Jason Dohring (The Originals)
Percy Daggs III (Detention)
Sydney Tamiia Poitier (Death Proof)
Francis Capra (Izombie)
Enrico Colantoni (Flashpoint)

Kristen Bell in Veronica Mars (2004)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Michael Muhney (The Young and The Restless)
Corinne Bohrer (The Flash 90s)
Amanda Seyfried (Les Miserables)
Lisa Thornhill (Agter The Sunset)
Kyle Secor (The Purge: Election Year)
Daran Norris (Izombie)
Brandon Hillock (Villains)
Bradley Joseph (Stone & Ed)
Patrick Wolff (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers)
Duane Daniels (Fashion House)
Jonathan Chesner (Bones)
Christian Clemenson (Apollo 13)
Aaron Ashmore (Smallville)
Wilmer Calderon (Fast & Furious)
Paris Hilton (House of Wax)
Ryan Hansen (2 Broke Girls)
Bobby Edner (The Amanda Show)
Paula Marshall (Murder In The First)
Alison MacInnis (Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue)
Kyla Pratt (Dr. Dolittle)
Adam Wylie (Child’s Play 2)
Robert Baker (Supergirl)
Sam Huntington (Superman Returns)
Melissa Reneé Martin (The Secret Craft)
Lisa Rinna (Days of Our Lives)
Jane Lynch (Glee)
Harry Hamlin (Clash of The Titans)
Amanda Noret (Bunny Whipped)
Jessica Chastain (Zero Dar Thirty)
Adam Kaufman (Buffy: TVS)
Steven Williams (Jason Goes To Hell)
Bonita Friedericy (Chuck)
Alona Tal (Cult)
Tina Majorino (Scorpion)
Erica Gimpel (God Friended Me)
Anastasia Baranova (Z Nation)
Jonathan Bennett (Mean Girls)
Chris William Martin (The Vampire Diaries)
Megalyn Echikunwoke (That 70s Show)
Kevin Sheridan (Heart of Dixie)
Emmanuelle Vaugier (Two and a Half Men)
Max Greenfield (New Girl)
Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad)
Christopher B. Duncan (Legacies)
Katie Leclerc (The Big Bang Theory)
Bridget Hoffman (Total Recall)
Anthony Anderson (Transformers)
Jowharah Jones (Ugly Betty)
Ken Merckx (Masked Rider)
Christine Lakin (Family Guy)
Adam Scott (Krampus)
Leighton Meester (The Roommate)
Alyson Hannigan (Buffy: TVS)
Cynthia LaMontagne (Austin Powers)
Zachery Ty Bryan (Home Improvement)
Erin Chambers (Stargate: Atlantis)
Ken Marino (Agent Carter)
Jonathan Taylor Thomas (Last Man Standing)
Theo Rossi (Luke Cage)
Joey Lauren Adams (Chasing Amy)
Roy Werner (Power Rangers Time Force)
Kyle Gallner (American Sniper)

Veronica Mars is set in Neptune, California, a town without a middle-class. Everyone’s either a millionaire or works for one, and the man largely responsible for Neptune’s unparalleled success is Jake Kane (Kyle Secor), the resident billionaire software mogul. Kane and his family are still reeling from the murder of his daughter Lilly (Amanda Seyfried) some months earlier, and as if that loss wasn’t enough, the beloved Kane family was doggedly pursued by a county sheriff convinced that they were hiding something. Public sentiment turned against Sheriff Keith Mars (Enrico Colantoni), who was ousted from office and abandoned by his wife.Kristen Bell and Jessica Chastain in Veronica Mars (2004)Cue the title character. His daughter Veronica (Kristen Bell) had already lost her best friend with Lilly’s death, but standing by her father also cost Veronica her friends, her social status, her house…even her mother. Veronica had already been unceremoniously dumped by Lilly’s brother Duncan (Teddy Dunn) shortly before her friend’s murder, and a defiant visit to face her former friends at a party weeks later led to Veronica being drugged and raped. Despite having lost so much, Veronica is resilient enough to move on with her life, and as her father struggles to stay afloat as a private eye, Veronica puts her smarts and determination to work to help ease the caseload at Mars Investigations. She also puts her talents to use to help her classmates with their troubles — for a price, of course. To cap it all off, Veronica’s faced with a couple of her own mysteries to solve. What convinced Lianne Mars to abandon her family, and where is she now? Who was it who drugged and raped Veronica last December? Also, is her father right — did someone other than disgruntled Kane Software employee Abel Koontz murder Lilly? If there is, who orchestrated the conspiracy that led to Koontz’ confession and why?Kristen Bell in Veronica Mars (2004)The dialogue in Veronica Mars has the same sparkle as Joss Whedon’s work…arguably better, even, since Buffy sometimes sounded like a deliberate attempt to be hip, whereas Veronica Mars manages to be witty and clever without feeling quite so forced. The writing doesn’t skew as young as one might expect from a TV show set in a high school. If anything, the target audience seems to be twentysomething — I don’t know how many fifteen year olds would be able to appreciate references to Archie comics or 21 Jump Street, f’r instance. Characterization is another strength of the series, and part of the reason Veronica Mars works as well as it does is that the audience truly does care about the characters. Despite having a seemingly endless array of talents, Veronica isn’t some sort of idyllic Mary Sue. She’s not always right. Her investigations frequently take morally questionable turns. Things don’t always go the way she wants. Not every episode has a happy ending.Kristen Bell in Veronica Mars (2004)Along with the cases that are solved in the space of forty minutes and change every week, a couple of mysteries are introduced in the pilot that are gradually explored throughout the entire length of the season. That’s right — unlike the hydra that is Lost, where answering one question spawns ten more, all of Veronica Mars’ mysteries are resolved by the time the season finale rolls around. (The finale tosses out a couple questions of its own, but if a second season hadn’t gotten the green light, it still would’ve been a fitting end to the series.)Veronica Mars has a capable cast to match the quality of the writing. Veronica is strong and cynical…bright and sarcastic…and even though all of the trauma she’s suffered over the past year has aged her somewhat, she’s still an emotionally vulnerable teenage girl.Kristen Bell and Alona Tal in Veronica Mars (2004)That’s a lot to juggle, but Kristen Bell is talented enough to make such a colossal task seem effortless and captivating enough to carry a show on her shoulders. Of course, Bell is joined by a strong enough supporting cast that she doesn’t have to shoulder it all herself.VM-S2D2_04After cutting down Wallace (Percy Daggs III), the new kid at school, who’d been stripped naked and duct taped to a flagpole, he and Veronica become best friends. In teen-TV land, it’s an immutable rule that people of different genders can’t just be pals…there’s this endless temptation to couple everyone. Veronica Mars manages to resist, resulting in one of the few platonic friendships like this left on television.Enrico Colantoni, who plays Veronica’s father, is another fan favorite, able to shift from warm, loving, and borderline-goofy to secretive and deadly serious when the situation calls for it. There’s also Eli “Weevil” Navarro (Francis Capra), the leader of a local biker gang from the wrong side of the tracks who engages in some mutual backscratching with Veronica.Kristen Bell in Veronica Mars (2004)The character who stands out the most — aside from Veronica, of course — is Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring). Like Kristen Bell, Dohring is endlessly engaging. He’s introduced as an “obligatory psychotic jackass”, but as the season progresses, Logan’s humanized without being watered-down; even when he’s doing something as thoroughly loathesome as bribing a homeless vet to join in on his homebrew Bumfights video, there’s an undercurrent of understanding why Logan is the way he is. The character changes throughout the season, but the shift feels deserved and natural, not just because that’s what’s scrawled on the whiteboard in the writing room.Other guest stars throughout the season include Napoleon Dynamite’s Tina Majorino as computer whiz Mac, Aaron Ashmore as a love interest with a shady past, Logan’s movie star family (played by Harry Hamlin, Lisa Rinna, and Alyson Hannigan), Anthony Anderson, Zachary Ty Brian, Joey Lauren Adams, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, and, in a shameless bit of stuntcasting, Paris Hilton. Kristen Bell and Francis Capra in Veronica Mars (2004)The fact that the second episode of Veronica Mars manages to be really good despite a Paris Hilton guest spot really is a testament to how good a series this is. Oh, and, in true Laura Palmer fashion, just because Lilly Kane is dead doesn’t mean that Amanda Seyfried can’t rear her head in nearly every other episode.The conclusion to most of the mysteries caught me by surprise. Throughout the entire season, the only time I correctly guessed the culprit was in “Lord of the Bling”, and even then, the motivation and execution were well out of my reach. The many twists the stories take are clever, and watching these episodes a second time, I could spot all sorts of clues and hints that didn’t seem that important the first time through. Veronica Mars is a series that’s easy to dive into as a marathon, but for viewers catching these episodes for the first time, I’d recommend drawing it out a bit.

REVIEW: SMALLVILLE – SEASON 4

Starring

Tom Welling (Lucifer)
Kristin Kreuk (Beauty and The Beast)
Michael Rosenbaum (Impastor)
Allison Mack (Wilfred)
Jensen Ackles (Supernatural)
Annette O’Toole (The Punisher)
John Schneider (The Haves and the Have Nots)
John Glover (Shazam)

Tom Welling and Erica Durance in Smallville (2001)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Erica Durance (Supergirl)
Margot Kidder (Superman)
Ona Grauer (V)
Rekha Sharma (Dark Angel)
Michael Ironside (Scanners)
Robert Wisden (Highlander: The Series)
Brianna Brown ((Hollywood Homicide)
Eric Johnson (Flash Gordon)
Julianne Christie (Encino Man)
Amanda Walsh (Disturbia)
Lisa Marie Caruk (Final Destination)
Moneca Delain (Trick r Treat)
Chelan Simmons (Good Luck Chuck)
Kyle Gallner (American Sniper)
Benjamin Ratner (Wonder)
J.P. Manoux (Veep)
Terence Stamp (Superman II)
Trent Ford (The Island)
Jane Seymour (Wedding Crashers)
Claudette Mink (Children of The Corn 7)
Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother)
Malcolm Stewart (Jumanji)
Heather Doerksen (Van Hesling)
John Novak (Dr. Dolittle 3)
Jerry Wasserman (Watchmen)
Samantha Ferris (The Tall Man)
Sarah Carter (The Flash)
John Pyper-Ferguson (Caprica)
Derek Hamilton (Arrow)
Camille Mitchell (Izombie)
Chris Carmack (Shark Night
Nolan Gerard Funk (Arrow)
Diego Klattenhoff (Mean Girls)
Alvin Sanders (Tin Man)
Byron Mann (Dark Angel)
Peyton List (Gotham)
Peter Wingfield (Highlander: The Series)
Erica Cerra (Power Rangers)
Jesse Hutch (Arrow)
Kandyse McClure (Battlestar Galactica)
Beatrice Rosen (2012)
Jonathan Bennett (Mean Giels)
Tom Butler (Blade: The Series)
Pascale Hutton (Sanctuary)
David Orth (The Lost World)
Craig Veroni (The Net)
Colin Ford (Daybreak)

Kristin Kreuk, Tom Welling, and Erica Durance in Smallville (2001)

All my dreams are on the ground
Crawling’ round and round and round
Somebody saaaaaaaaaave me
Let your waters break right through
Somebody saaaaaaaaaave me
I don’t care how you do it
Just saaaave me, saaaave me
I’ve made this whole world shine for you
Just save, save
Come on, I’m still waiting for you

Anyone with even a passing affection for WB’s Smallville knows that song inside and out, upside and down … and they probably hear it while they’re trying to fall asleep, too.Jensen Ackles, Kristin Kreuk, and Tom Welling in Smallville (2001)When I hear that tune (recorded by Remy Zero, btw) I know I’m in for some good, goofy, Superman-sized fun. Yes, TV geeks, it’s true: The cold-hearted and perpetually cynical Scott Weinberg harbors a deep and devoted affection for the goofball X-Files / comic book amalgam known as Smallville. For all its pedantic plot twists, overbaked dialogue, and “aw-shucks” corn-pone-osity — I’m actually a big fan of the show. To me, Smallville is like a big bowl of Cool Whip; you’ll eat it because it’s really tasty, even though you should probably be spending your time on something a little more substantial or nutritious.Kristin Kreuk in Smallville (2001)But hey, I’m a sucker for the Superman mythology, plus there’s something quaintly endearing about the young Supes stories and the way they’ve been wedged into a fairly convention teen-centric soap-opera story. Plus, Smallville is one of those “comfort” shows, the kind in which you always know that things will turn out OK and that the few dangling character threads will always be tabled for another day. The story’s simplicity itself: Teenager Clark Kent is forever trying to juggle “normal” adolescence while discovering his own amazing powers. Needless to say, our hero must deal with snooping pals, protective parents, and a whole host of dangerous doings in one of TVdom’s most villain-producing burgs. (Second only to Buffy’s hometown, of course.) It’s all very broad and corny and cartoony … and all of it works exceedingly well in the context of “Superman.” Whenever the show gets too outlandish or sappy or (yes, even) silly, the Superfans can always sit back and think “Yeah, it’s cheesy, but it’d still fit well within the pages of a comic book.”Allison Mack, Tom Welling, and Erica Durance in Smallville (2001)Clark’s gang consists of the lovely Lana Lang, the ever-inquisitive Chloe Sullivan, Chloe’s sassy cousin Lois (yes, Lois Lane!), and the devilishly duplicitous Lex Luthor. Toss in a few doting parents, Lex’s perpetually scheming papa, Lana’s bland ol’ boyfriend, a few recurring characters, and an ever-fresh supply of colorful villains … and there’s your cast of players. Hardcore fans will find plenty to enjoy in Smallville’s fourth season, but I say there was way too much time devoted to Lana’s boyfriend, Jason, a lumbering subplot involving witchcraft got way too much screen time, and that the already well-established crush-triangles between Clark, Lana, and Chloe have, by now, been run effectively into the ground. But while I’d absolutely contend that Smallville’s fourth season is its “weakest” one yet, it’s still just comfy enough to keep the fans satisfied. The relatively weakest and somewhat repetitive fourth season of a series that I consider a goofily enjoyable good time, this collection exists mainly for those who already own Seasons 1, 2, and 3. There’s four or five episodes here that have real revisit value; the rest are perfectly watchable, but nothing more than that.

REVIEW: CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN 2

CAST

Steve Martin (Novocaine)
Bonnie Hunt (Jumanji)
Piper Perabo (Coyote Ugly)
Tom Welling (Smallville)
Eugene Levy (American Pie)
Carmen Electra (Scary Movie)
Jaime King (Pearl Harbor)
Shawn Roberts (Land of The Dead)
Hilary Duff (Agent Cody Banks)
Kevin Schmidt (The Butterfly Effect)
Alyson Stoner (Step Up)
Taylor Lautner (Twilight)
Jonathan Bennett (Van Wilder 3)
Jacob Smith (Troy)
Liliana Mumy (That 70s Show)
Morgan York (The Pacifier)
Forrest Landis (Flightplan)
Robbie Amell (The Flash)
Ben Falcone (New Girl)
Juliette Goglia (Mike & Molly)
Kathryn Joosten (Desperate Housewives)

Two years after the events in the previous film, the Baker family begins to undergo many changes, beginning with Lorraine’s (Hilary Duff) high school graduation and her desire to study in New York. Their oldest daughter, Nora (Piper Perabo), is now married to Bud McNulty (Jonathan Bennett) and heavily pregnant with his child. They intend to move to Houston because of Bud’s new job promotion.
Feeling the family is breaking apart as the children grow up and move away, Tom (Steve Martin) persuades the entire family to take one last family vacation together at Lake Winnetka. Tom’s old rival, Jimmy Murtaugh (Eugene Levy), his trophy third wife, Sarina (Carmen Electra), and his eight kids are also there for the summer. Jimmy constantly flaunts his wealth and success to Tom, as well as the accomplishments of his children, often suggesting to Tom that his children are less successful because of Tom’s parenting style. The Baker kids get into many incidents, several of which are accidental: at a fancy party, Mark (Forrest Landis) is given community service for accidentally setting off a backpack of fireworks that is thrown into a boat, igniting its engine and causing it to explode; Sarah (Alyson Stoner) is caught shoplifting makeup from a gift shop, and Mark, along with Kenny Murtaugh, crashes into a tennis court with a golf cart.
Jimmy again mentions that Tom needs to use a firmer hand on his kids. Tom is angered by this, and they decide to settle the matter at the Annual Labor Day Family Cup. Tom trains the kids for days, not realizing they are miserable. Sarah and Elliot Murtaugh (Taylor Lautner) go on a movie date to watch Ice Age, but are spied on by their fathers. The two men argue and end up humiliating their children. Upon returning home, Sarah is furious and refuses to compete for her father in the “stupid cup”. Everyone, including Kate, is angry with Tom, not only for spying on Sarah, but also for ruining the entire trip through his competitiveness.
The next morning, Tom goes to the Cup to compete, taking Nigel and Kyle, the only two still willing to go. However, after discovering an old “Team Baker” flag thanks to a well-known old “rival” rat of the family known as “The Chiseler”‘s theft, Kate and the rest of the family show up, showing they have forgiven Tom and are willing to compete. Unfortunately, after all the events, the Bakers and the Murtaughs are tied for first; a tiebreaking canoe race is announced, in which every family member must compete. At first, Tom kindly decides to forfeit for Nora’s pregnancy, but Nora bravely decides to join in after Jimmy rebuffs Tom. During the race, Nora’s water breaks; the Murtaughs want to help, but Jimmy, sensing the opportunity to defeat Tom once and for all, initially and carelessly refuses to help. Eventually, the Murtaugh kids convince their father that they should help the Bakers as they jump out of their canoe one by one to join the Bakers so, the Bakers and the Murtaughs work together to get Nora quickly to the hospital as she goes into labor. Bud, Lorraine (soon to be christened as their baby’s future godmother), and Kate go with Nora in the delivery room, while Tom, Jimmy, Sarina, and the rest of the kids stay in the waiting room.
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While talking to Jimmy, Tom realizes that he has to let his kids grow, but wherever they go, they will always be with him, and he will always be with them. Nora then gives birth to a baby boy. She and Bud name him Tom in honor of her father, who has shown them “there is no way to be a perfect parent, but a million ways to be a really good one.” Bud also announces that they have bought “The Big House”, the vacation home that the Bakers have been renting. Nora, Bud, and baby Tom leave for Houston three days later, Charlie (Tom Welling) and Anne Murtaugh (Jaime King) start a relationship as Charlie prepares to become a garage owner near Lake Winnetka and Anne decides to go to Madison Arts School to become an artist, and Sarah and Elliot start a relationship as well.Image result for cheaper by the dozen 2This film will give you laughs by the dozen. Steve Martin reprises his role as the Baker da and helps this film excel in being as good as the original. Eugene Levy is great as the competition. The children make this movie complete with a great ensemble. Hilary Duff shows she’s maturing. A good fun comedy.