REVIEW: THE SIMPSONS – SEASON 14-16

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

Maggie Roswell (Pretty In Pink)
Elvis Costello (Spice World)
Mick Jagger (Free Jack)
Keith Richards (Pirates of The Caribbean 3 & 4)
Lenny Kravitz (The Hunger Games)
Tom Petty  (Kick of The Hill)
Brian Setzer (Such Good People)
Marcia Wallace (Full House)
Tony Bennett (Bruce Almighty)
Jan Hooks (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Adam West (Batman 60s)
Burt Ward (Batman 60s)
Kelsey Grammer (Frasier)
Sally Stevens (Norbit)
Little Richard (Last Action Hero)
Elliott Gould (Ocean’s Eleven)
Jane Kaczmarek (Pleasantville)
Tony Hawk (The New Guy)
Marisa Tomei (Spider-Man: Homecoming)
Eric Idle (Life of Brian)
Joe Mantegna  (Criminal Mind)
Scott Thompson (Hannibal)
‘Weird Al’ Yankovic (Animal Man)
Andy Serkis (The Hobbit)
Jonathan Taylor Thomas (Home Imporvemant)
Stacy Keach (The Bourne LEgacy)
Steve Buscemi (Boardwalk Empire)
Jennifer Garner (Alias)
Jerry Lewis (The Nutty Professor)
Glenn Close (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Michael Moore (Canadian Bacon)
Jane Leaves (Frasier)
Ian McKellan (The Hobbit)
Charles Napier (The Silence of The Lambs)
Mr. T  (The A-Team)
Jackie Mason (Caddyshack II)
Ashley Olsen (Full House)
Mary-Kate Olsen (Full House)
William Daniels (Knight Rider)
Dick Tufeld (Lost In Space)
Isabel Sanford (The Jeffersons)
Nick Bakay (Sabrina: TTW)
Simon Cowell (Scary Movie 3)
Jon Lovitz (Bg)
Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy)
Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek)
James Caan (Elf)
Kim Cattrall (Big Trouble In Little China)
50 Cent (Spy)
Gary Busey (The Gingerdead Man)
Lucy Liu (Kill Bill)
Robert Wagner (Austin Powers)
John DiMaggio (Futurama)
Amy Poehler (Inside Out)
Stephen Hawkings (The Big Bang Theory)
Ray Romano (Everybody Lves Raymond)
Albert Brooks (Drive)
Fantasia Barrino  (Soul Kittens Cabaret)
Jason Bateman (The Gift)
Liam Neeson (Taken)

The longest-running primetime animated series in history, The Simpsons is also a cultural institution.  The Simpsons has an extremely loyal and dedicated fan base worldwide. Intelligently written, subversively humorous and delightfully witty, the show pokes fun at itself and everything in its wake. This season’s stellar guest voices include rock ‘n’ roll legends Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Lenny Kravitz, Tom Petty, Elvis Costello and Brian Setzer. Also paying Springfield a visit are Elliott Gould, Marisa Tomei, Little Richard and the dynamic duo of Adam West and Burt Ward. Pro skateboarding legend Tony Hawk and alternative rock band Blink 182 will lend their voices to the historic 300th episode. 14.2) HOW I SPENT MY STRUMMER VACATION

A drunken Homer appears on the show Taxicab Conversations and rants about how awful his life as a husband and father is. Although his family is at first outraged, they realise that they do somewhat burden him and decide to make up for it by sending him to a Rock ‘n Roll Fantasy Camp where he mingles with rock stars, including Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. The rock stars ask Homer to help out at a concert and, expecting that he will be allowed to perform, he accepts. Actually, they want him to test the microphones; however, a humiliated Homer grabs a guitar and starts playing.14.4) LARGE MARGE

Thinking Homer does not find her attractive anymore, Marge decides to get liposuction, but instead receives breast implants. She becomes adored by many of the men in Springfield, and becomes a spokesmodel for trade shows. Meanwhile, Bart and Milhouse try to imitate a stunt they saw on an episode of Batman that guest stars Krusty the Clown. When the stunt ends badly, media watchdog groups blame Krusty, forcing the clown to make his show more safety-conscious and less fun.14.6) THE GREAT LOUSE DETECTIVE

The Simpson family win a free spa weekend, and Homer is nearly killed when a mysterious figure locks him in a sauna. Chief Wiggum decides to hire someone who can think like a murderer in order to find one. Bart’s mortal enemy Sideshow Bob is sent to live with the Simpsons so he can help find Homer’s attempted killer. Bob and Homer track down the attempted murderer and discover that it is Frank Grimes, Jr., the son of a man that Homer drove to insanity (in the season eight episode “Homer’s Enemy”). After Grimes is arrested, Bob tries to kill Bart, but he finds that he has “grown accustomed to his face” and cannot harm him.14.7) SPECIAL EDNA

Ms. Edna Krabappel begins to lose faith in her relationship with Principal Skinner and becomes depressed. Bart wants to cheer her up and decides to nominate her for the Teacher of the Year Award. Ms. Krabappel and the Simpsons are given a free trip to Epcot Center in Orlando, Florida. Skinner decides that he needs to do something to win Edna back, so he follows them there. He tries to sabotage Edna’s chances of winning the award, in hopes that she will become so depressed that she will come back to him. However, he has a change of heart and proposes to her.14.8) THE DAD WHO KNEW TOO LITTLE

Homer disappoints Lisa on her birthday when he gives her a thoughtless present. He realizes that he knows little about her and decides to hire private detective Dexter Colt to spy on her. Colt compiles a report, the information from which helps Homer bond with his daughter. However, Colt soon demands to be paid $1000, which Homer refuses. In retaliation, Colt vandalises an animal research lab and steals all the animals, leaving behind several clues that implicate Lisa. Homer and Lisa go on the run as fugitives and end up at a circus, where they meet Colt. He tries to kill Homer, but Lisa saves him. Later, Colt is arrested and Lisa exonerated. She finally receives the present she wanted from Homer.14.9) THE STRONG ARMS OF MA

Marge gets mugged and becomes so traumatized that she develops Agoraphobia. She hides in the basement. Having little else to do, she decides to exercise with a weight set Homer bought from Rainier Wolfcastle’s garage sale. She becomes so strong and confident that she is able to leave the basement. She continues working out and decides to start taking steroids so she can enter a bodybuilding competition. One night at Moe’s Tavern she loses her temper and starts destroying the bar and fighting all of the patrons. Homer confronts Marge and says he misses the sweet woman that he married. Marge, horrified at what she has done, apologizes and decides to stop working out.14.10) PRAY ANYTHING

Homer becomes depressed when he sees that Ned Flanders seems to be better off than him. To remedy this, he begins to pray constantly. Meanwhile, the Simpsons discover that tree roots have clogged up their plumbing. The house becomes too run down to live in, and Homer prays for a solution. Homer is injured while attending church; he sues Reverend Lovejoy and is awarded the deed to the church. He throws a huge house-warming party, in which all of the partiers drink and engage in sinful activities. It suddenly starts raining and the town begins to flood. The townspeople flee to the roof of the church. Homer tries praying again but the flood keeps rising. Reverend Lovejoy returns in a helicopter and leads everyone in prayer, asking God to forgive them, and the rain stops.14.11) BARTING OVER

Bart learns that he was once a child actor in commercials and that all the money earned was spent by Homer. In retaliation, Bart petitions the court to have himself legally emancipated from his parents and moves out of the Simpson house. Bart is initially miserable in his new apartment, but discovers that skateboarder Tony Hawk lives on one of the floors above. He and Hawk become friends, and Bart is content with his new life. Homer apologizes to Bart and requests that he return home. Bart accepts the apology, but tells his family that he is going on tour with Hawk. At an event, Homer speaks to Bart and finally promises Bart that he will never treat him badly again.14.12) I’M SPELLING AS FAST I CAN

Lisa competes at a spelling bee and earns the right to compete in the Spell-lympics, becoming the pride of the town. The host of the show George Plimpton, asks her to intentionally lose so that a more popular boy can win. Lisa refuses and continues to compete, but accidentally misspells a word and loses. Meanwhile, Homer tours with a group obsessed with eating Krusty Burger’s latest sandwich.14.13) A STAR IS BORN AGAIN

During the annual Jellyfish Festival, Ned Flanders realizes that he is lonely and becomes depressed. One night, he meets a beautiful woman, who asks him out on a date. He soon learns that the woman is Sara Sloan, a famous actress. Sloan is charmed by Flanders’ wholesomeness, and they continue to date to the point at which she asks that he move to Hollywood. Flanders, worried that Hollywood would conflict with his conservative Christian values, refuses, so Sloan instead decides to stay in Springfield. However, their relationship does not work out, due to his insistence on marriage.14.14) MR. SPRITZ GOES TO WASHINGTON

An air traffic route is redirected so that airplanes start flying directly over the Simpsons’ house. The noise starts to disrupt their lives and, desperate for a solution, the family turns to their Congressman. However, he dies of a heart attack, so they ask Krusty the Clown to run for Congress so that he can help them. Krusty is successful in his campaign, but finds that his air traffic bill is ignored by the veteran Congressmen. He soon becomes disillusioned with the system, so the Simpsons, with guidance from Walter Mondale, help him out by blackmailing one of his opponents and attaching the bill to a more popular one. The bill passes, and the air traffic is re-routed.14.15) C.E.D’OH

Homer decides to try for a promotion at Springfield Nuclear Power Plant and suggests several ideas to Mr. Burns, all of which are rejected. One night, Homer overhears Burns admit that the plant’s real owner is a canary to protect Burns from responsibility for any wrongdoing by the power plant. Homer releases the bird and tells Burns that nuclear inspectors have arrived for a surprise inspection. Burns, desperate to find a scapegoat, names Homer the new owner. As his first act, Homer fires Burns and takes control of the Plant. However, he finds that his work life as a CEO is conflicting with his family life. Homer decides to return to his old job and gives ownership back to Burns.14.16) ‘SCUSE ME WHILE I MISS THE SKY

A snobby British filmmaker named Declan Desmond begins making a documentary about student life at Springfield Elementary School. When introduced to Lisa, he tells her that she has too many goals and suggests that she pick one career. Lisa focuses on astronomy, but cannot watch the stars because of light pollution. She convinces Mayor Quimby to decrease the light’s intensity during the night, which only results in an increase in the crime rate. Quimby bows to public pressure and switches the lights back on permanently. Lisa overloads the generators at the Power Plant, causing a power outage, and is able to watch a meteor shower undisturbed by light.14.17) THREE GAYS OF THE CONDO

While searching in his closet, Homer discovers an old letter from Marge that states that she no longer loves him. He begins to think that she only married him because he impregnated her and moves out. He finds a new apartment in Springfield’s gay district and moves in with a male homosexual couple. Marge and Homer attempt a reconciliation dinner, but Homer becomes intoxicated and arrives late. Homer goes to Moe’s Tavern, where he continues drinking and gets alcohol poisoning. At the hospital, Dr. Hibbert shows Homer a videotape that documents Homer’s first alcohol poisoning. It shows Marge’s compassion for the unconscious Homer, as she tells him she loves him. Back in the present, Marge comes into the hospital room and says that she still loves Homer and they kiss.14.18) DUDE WHERE’S MY RANCH

When challenged to think up a new Christmas carol, Homer instead writes a song about how much he hates Ned Flanders. The song becomes such a hit that the Simpsons become sick of hearing it and take a trip to a dude ranch. Lisa develops affections for a local boy named Luke but becomes jealous when he hears him talking to a girl named Clara on the telephone. One night, she meets Clara and gives her the wrong directions, leading her to become lost. After Lisa discovers that Clara is actually Luke’s sister, she rushes to find her. She saves Clara, and decides to tell Luke what happened, but he is offended and dumps her. Meanwhile, Bart and Homer decide to help a tribe of Native Americans who want a beaver dam removed so they can reclaim their land.14.20) BRAKE MY WIFE, PLEASE

Homer becomes obsessed with using new gadgets in his car. One day, he becomes distracted and drives off a pier, losing his driver’s license. Unable to use a car, Homer starts to learn the joys of walking. Meanwhile, Marge shoulders the burden of Homer’s driving duties and becomes stressed out. One day, as Homer sings about the virtues of walking, Marge accidentally runs him over with her car. Later, as Homer recuperates from the accident, he begins to suspect that Marge is trying to hurt him. They fight and go to see a marriage counselor. The counselor advises Homer to perform one completely unselfish gesture to win Marge back. Homer holds a party with all of her friends and a surprised Marge tells Homer that she loves him.14.22) MOE BABY BLUES

Moe Szyslak becomes lonely and decides to commit suicide by jumping off a bridge. However, he inadvertently saves Maggie Simpson when she is sent flying from the Simpsons’ car window and into his arms. He starts playing with Maggie and becomes attached to her, telling her the story of The Godfather. Homer and Marge become upset about how much time Moe is spending with Maggie and forbid him from seeing her again. One night, Maggie wakes up and hears Fat Tony and the Springfield Mafia outside the house and decides to follow them. When Homer and Marge find her missing, they automatically assume that Moe kidnapped her. When Moe is told that Maggie is missing, his request to help find her is granted by Homer. Maggie follows the mobsters to Luigi’s restaurant, where Fat Tony’s gang gets into a gun battle with a rival family. Homer, Marge and Moe track Maggie down and Moe decides to go inside and save Maggie. After Moe saves Maggie’s life, Homer allows the two to spend more time together.The Simpsons reside in the town of Springfield. Homer works as a safety inspector at the local nuclear power plant; Marge tries to keep the peace in her family; Bart is the mischievous 10-year-old hellion; 8-year-old Lisa is the intelligent, saxophone-playing vegetarian member of the family; and baby Maggie conveys emotions via pacifier sucks. Viewers also have come to know and love the rich, and sometimes quirky, universe of characters who inhabit Springfield. Guest stars paying Springfield a visit this season include British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Glenn Close, famed author J.K. Rowling, Jennifer Garner, comedian Jerry Lewis, Evan Marriott, Sir Ian McKellan, documentarian Michael Moore and Simon Cowell. 15.2) MY MOTHER THE CARJACKER

Homer’s mother returns, and after being cleared of all charges, is re-imprisoned on a technicality.15.3) THE PRESIDENT WORE PEARLS

In this loose parody of the musical/movie Evita, Lisa is elected Student Body president, but is unaware that the school staff is using her for their own devices and as a scapegoat if something goes wrong.115.4) THE REGINA MONOLOGUES

After making over $3000 from his own museum featuring a $1000 bill, Bart takes the family to London (on the suggestion of Grampa), where Homer is arrested for treason after crashing into the Queen.115.8) MARGE VS. SINGLES, SENIORS, CHILDLESS COUPLES AND TEENS AND GAYS

When a group of singles, seniors, childless couples, teens and gays band together to protest having to accommodate families (including paying property taxes used to teach children they do not have) after a riot at a children’s concert, Marge takes up the cause for the families, with some help from Bart and Lisa.DSC0404415.9) I D’OH-BOT

Homer builds a battle robot to win Bart’s respect, and places it in a tournament against other robots. What Bart does not know, though, is that the robot is actually Homer in costume. Meanwhile, Snowball II dies and Lisa tries to find a replacement cat.Diatribe_of_a_Mad_Housewife_(19)15.10) DIATRIBE OF A MAD HOUSEWIFE

Marge writes a romance novel with characters based on Homer and Ned Flanders that becomes a hit. Meanwhile, Homer gets fired from the power plant again and becomes an ambulance driver.maxresdefault15.13) SMART AND SMARTER

When Maggie does better than Lisa on an IQ test, Lisa becomes so despondent over no longer being the smart one that she tries to change her identity.simpsons-ziffwhocametodinner_122088740315.14) THE ZIFF WHO CAME TO DINNER

The Simpsons go on a late-night attic search after Bart and Lisa (who are freaked out over a horror movie Homer let them watch) begin hearing voices — and find Marge’s ex-prom date Artie Ziff, who’s on the run for cheating the shareholders of his company.15.15) CO-DEPENDENT’S DAY

Homer and Marge’s bond becomes stronger when they both get drunk on wine, but soon the bond unravels when Homer blames Marge for crashing the car and Marge gets sent to rehab. Meanwhile, Bart and Lisa complain to Randall Curtis (a George Lucas-esque science fiction movie director) about his latest film.15.16) THE WANDERING JUVIE

Bart gets sent to juvenile hall after fooling everyone that there was a marriage concerning him. He encounters a dangerous girl there… He flees with Gina, but then the two are caught by Wiggum.15.17) MY BIG AT GEEK WEDDING

After hearing that Skinner is getting cold feet about their wedding, Edna leaves Skinner at the altar and, after sending back one marriage gift, hooks up with Comic Book Guy. Meanwhile, Homer and Marge have an argument about if their marriage is still solid or not.15.18) CATCH ‘EM IF YOU CAN

After a ruined movie night, thanks to Bart and Lisa, Homer and Marge take a vacation away from them, but decide to go to Miami instead of going to see an uncle. When Bart and Lisa catch wind of their parents’ secret plan, Bart steals Rod’s credit card (just like Homer stole Ned’s) and go after them.15.19) SIMPLE SIMPSON

Homer becomes “Pie Man”, a masked vigilante who delivers a pie in the face of justice to evildoers. However, after attacking Mr. Burns, Burns hires him as a personal hitman, until Homer is ordered to attack the Dalai Lama.15.21) BART-MANGLED BANNER

After receiving an injection from Dr. Hibbert, Bart becomes temporarily deaf, which makes him impervious to being bullied, until he accidentally moons the American flag during a donkey basketball game, prompting everyone in town to accuse the Simpsons of being unpatriotic under the new “Government Knows Best” Act.15.22) FRAUDCAST NEWS

Mr. Burns buys out Springfield’s media outlets after a newspaper mistakenly reports his death, and Lisa’s homemade newspaper is next on his list.

The Simpsons just clicks at every level. This family may be dysfunctional but in the end, they are still a family in every way and we are gently reminded of this in almost every episode. Also, the cast of supporting characters that inhabit Springfield is no less funny than the main characters themselves, providing the show with comically colourful and screwball situations that just never get old. Not even after 16 seasons.16.2) ALL’S FAIR IN OVEN WAR

Marge resorts to sabotage as payback on the contestants who sabotaged her food entry for a cook-off. Meanwhile, Homer finds his old issues of Playdude in the ceiling, which Bart finds (after Marge cuts out all of the centerfolds and other nude photos) and uses as a guide on how to live the bachelor life.16.3) SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY

Feeling unappreciated by her own children, Marge takes in Nelson as her surrogate child. Meanwhile, Lisa becomes self-conscious of her weight after the girls in school ake fun of her butt and purposely starves herself in order to be skinny.she-used-to-be-my-girl16.4) SHE USED TO BE MY GIRL

Marge bumps into an old high-school acquaintance who is now a successful news reporter. While Marge becomes jealous of her friend’s success and wonders what may have been had she not stayed with Homer, Lisa becomes inspired by this new, strong woman.Fat_Man_and_Little_Roy16.5) FAT MAN AND LITTLE BOY

Bart becomes depressed about growing older after losing his last baby tooth, and, following advice from Lisa, deals with his problems by writing ironic slogans on T-shirts. Meanwhile, Homer tries to help Lisa make a science project after Bart cuts Homer out of helping him sell T-shirts.Homer_and_Ned's_Hail_Mary_Pass_(Promo_Picture)16.8) HOMER AND NED’S HAIL MARY PASS

After Homer inadvertently performs a wild crowd-pleasing dance at a local carnival, he is hired by several sports figures to teach them how to showboat. Meanwhile, Flanders creates ultra-violent, ultra-gory Bible movies à la Passion of the Christ.Pranksta_Rap_2716.9) PRANKSTA RAP

Bart fakes his own kidnapping to get out of being punished for going to a rap concert, but the ruse goes too far when Milhouse’s father is implicated as the kidnapper and Chief Wiggum sees this as an opportunity to make a name for himself as a competent police officer.16.10) THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARRYING

Homer becomes a minister after Springfield legalizes gay marriage (to boost their damaged reputation for tourists) and Patty comes out of the closet, much to the shock of her sister, Marge, who was naive to her sister’s sexuality.On_a_Clear_Day_I_Can't_See_My_Sister_6916.11) ON A CLEAR DAY I CAN’T SEE MY SISTER

After years of tolerating his antics, Lisa files a restraining order against Bart, forcing him to live in the backyard. Meanwhile, Homer becomes a greeter for a WalMart-esque department store called “Sprawl-Mart”.Goo_Goo_Gai_Pan16.12) GOO GOO GAI PAN

The Simpsons are going to China, after Selma (who recently began menopause) lists Homer as her husband in order to adopt a Chinese baby (while Marge poses as Selma and Homer’s live-in nanny).
16.15) FUTURE-DRAMA

Through Professor Frink’s future machine, Bart and Lisa see their lives in the year 2013, where Bart steals Lisa’s chances at going to an Ivy League school in order to impress a skater girl named Jenda while Homer (now separated from Marge and living in an underwater apartment) fights Krusty the Clown after Marge begins dating him.16.16) DON’T FEAR THE ROOFER

Sick of being unwanted, Homer befriends a man who works as a roofer. However, no one else can see him and Homer’s insistence that the roofer does exist prompts everyone to think he has gone crazy.A_Star_is_Torn_5116.18) A STAR IS TORN

Lisa participates in a singing competition with Homer as her manager, but helps Lisa’s rival after being fired.hqdefault16.19) THANK GOD IT’S DOOMSDAY

Homer sees a movie about the end of the world and fears the same thing will happen in real life after seeing a chain of random occurrences (celebrities [“stars”] falling from the sky, raining blood, a man in a realistic devil costume) and doing a complicated math equation that predicts the end will come on May 18th, but when the end does not come, Homer discovers a flaw in the equation and ends up in Heaven where he meets God and learns that God is planning The Rapture.

Home_Away_from_Homer_44
16.20) HOME AWAY FROM HOMER

Flanders rents a room to two college girls who, without his knowledge, use the spare room to broadcast live softcore pornographic web videos of themselves. Upset that no one in town told him this (and that Homer was the one who told everyone), Ned moves to the seemingly perfect town of Humbleton, Pennsylvania, while a brash coach moves into Flanders’ house and begins harassing Homer the same way Homer harassed Ned.screen-shot-2012-10-14-at-12-39-35-pm16.21) THE FATHER, THE SON, AND THE HOLY GUEST STAR

Bart gets expelled from school and transfers to a Catholic school, where a hip priest named Father Sean tries to convert Bart and Homer to Catholicism, which worries Marge when she believes that Catholics do not go to the same heaven as Protestants and discovers that Catholic women do not use birth control.

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 3

Starring

Tom Welling (Lucifer)
Kristin Kreuk (Beauty and The Beast)
Michael Rosenbaum (Impastor)
Sam Jones III (Glory Road)
Allison Mack (Wilfred)
Annette O’Toole (The Punisher)
John Schneider (The Haves and the Have Nots)
John Glover (Shazam)

Kristin Kreuk and Tom Welling in Smallville (2001)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Terence Stamp (Superman)
Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner)
Ryan Robbins (Sanctuary)
Emmanuelle Vaugier (Two and a Half Men)
Jill Teed (Battlestar Galactica)
Françoise Yip (The Predator)
Camille Mitchell (Izombie)
Jesse Metcalfe (Dead Rising)
Katharine Isabelle (Ginger Snaps)
Christopher Shyer (The Core)
John DeSantis (Thirteen Ghosts)
Michael McKean (This Is Spinal Tap)
Lorena Gale (Traitor)
Patrick Gallagher (Glee)
William B. Davis (TheX-Files)
John Mann (Dark Angel)
Kendall Cross (The Butterfly Effect)
Tim Henry (88 Minutes)
Kevin Zegers (Dawn of The Dead)
Patrick Bergin (Lawnmower Man 2)
Michael Daingerfield (Sausage Party)
Ian Somerhalder (The Vampire Diaries)
Jonathan Taylor Thomas (Home Improvement)
Shawn Ashmore (X-Men)
William MacDonald (Riverdale)
Missy Peregrym (Van Helsing)
Martin Cummins (Bates Motel)
Chris Gauthier (Watchmen)
Meghan Ory (Once Upon A Time)
Ryan Merriman (Final Destination 3)
Moneca Delain (Trick ‘r Treat)
Sarah Carter (The Flash)
Lynda Boyd (Sanctuary)
Jerry Wasserman (I Robot)
James Kirk (She’s The Man)
Tahmoh Penikett (Man of Steel)
Julian Christopher (Elysium)
Terry Chen (Jessica Jones)
Aaron Pearl (Godzilla)
Christopher Reeve (Superman)
Gary Hudson (Fifty Shades Freed)
Alisen Down (Stargate SG.1)
Andrew Airlie (Fifty Shades of Grey)
Gordon Tootoosis (Lone Star)
Nathaniel Arcand (Pathfinder)
Neil Flynn (Scrubs)
Amber Rothwell (Whoite Noise)
Adrianne Palicki (The Orville)
Sarah Deakins (Andromeda)
Robert Wisden (Highlander: The Series)
Brandon Jay McLaren (Power Rangers SPD)

Michael Rosenbaum and Tom Welling in Smallville (2001)Season Three begins three months after the cliffhanger that ended Season Two – with Clark under the influence of Red Kryptonite, which doesn’t hurt him – but does bring out his darker side. Clark has left Smallville because he feels responsible for his mother’s miscarriage at the end of Season Two, and the first two episodes – Exile and Phoenix – deal with Clark’s coming to terms with what he has done and where he belongs.Much like The X-Files and other sucessful science-fiction programs, Smallville has both “mythology” episodes and “stand-alone” shows, with the former moving along the overall story, and the latter tending to be more “fun” – generally focusing on someone in town who has a special ability or power that Clark has to deal with. Season Three is also peppered with some great guest-starring roles for notable actors, including Rutger Hauer playing criminal mastermind Morgan Edge; Michael McKean (who happens to be the real-life husband of Smallville star Annette O’Toole) guest-starring as Perry White; and the return of Christopher Reeve as Dr. Swann in Legacy in what would sadly be Reeve’s final appearance on the show.John Schneider and Tom Welling in Smallville (2001)Perhaps more than any previous season, there’s a lot of context to the ongoing storyline in this third season, which may be why many fans (including some right here at DVD Talk) got so frustrated with some of the episodes. Because of the ongoing storyline involving Clark’s biological father, Jor-El (voiced by Terrance Stamp) and his connection to some mysterious caves in Smallville, the chant of “Another Cave Show” and “No More Caves!” became a frequent one on forums here and elsewhere on the Net.John Glover and Michael Rosenbaum in Smallville (2001)But all in all, this is a quite satisfying season of one of the more underrated (and under appreciated) series on TV. Smallville is easily the best incarnation of the Superman legend since Christopher Reeve’s theatrical films, and any fan of The Man of Tomorrow will want to add this boxed set to their collection – assuming you’ve seen the first two seasons first, of course! Entertaining, well-written, well-acted and featuring some impressive special effects, television programs don’t get much better than Smallville. While this may be the weakest season of the first three, it’s still better than most seasons of any hour drama that is currently on the air. This one’s an easy call: fly (don’t walk!) to your local store or online retailer and pick a copy up.

REVIEW: SMALLVILLE – SEASON 2

Starring

Tom Welling (Lucifer)
Kristin Kreuk (Beauty and The Beast)
Michael Rosenbaum (Impastor)
Sam Jones III (Glory Road)
Allison Mack (Wilfred)
Annette O’Toole (The Punisher)
John Schneider (The Haves and the Have Nots)
John Glover (Shazam)

Kristin Kreuk and Tom Welling in Smallville (2001)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Tom O’Brien (The Accused)
Rekha Sharma (Star Trek: Discovery)
Julian Christopher (Elysium)
Jerry Wasserman (Watchmen)
Krista Allen (Feast)
Mitchell Kosterman (Stargate SG.1)
Sarah-Jane Redmond (Disturbing Behaviour)
Joe Morton (God Friended Me)
Andrew Jackson (Earth: Final Conflict)
Michael Kopsa (Fantastic Four)
Sara Downing (Roswell)
Garwin Sanford (Arrow)
Sean Faris (Never Back Down)
Gwynyth Walsh (Star Trek: Generations)
Richard Moll (Batman: TAS)
Maggie Lawson (Santa Clarita Diet)
George Coe (The Stepford Wives)
Jesse Hutch (Arrow)
Fulvio Cecere (Valentine)
Neil Grayston (Wonderfalls)
Patrick Cassidy (Lois & Clark)
Blair Brown (Space Cowboys)
Ryan Kelley (Teen Wolf)
Martin Cummins (Dark Angel)
William B. Davis (The X-Files)
Mark Gibbon (The 6th Day)
Jonathan Taylor Thomas (Home Improvement)
Emmanuelle Vaugier (Two and a Half Men)
Robert Wisden (Highlander: The Series)
David Richmond-Peck (V)
Amara Zaragoza (Perfect Stranger)
Gordon Tootoosis (Lone Star)
Eric Johnson (Flash Gordon)
Lizzy Caplan (Cloverfield)
Byron Mann (Arrow)
Colin Cunningham (Elektra)
Jill Teed (Godzilla)
Eileen Pedde (Juno)
Jason Connery (Wishmaster 3)
Eric Keenleyside (Dreamcatcher)
Barclay Hope (Paycheck)
Rob LaBelle (Jack Frost)
Shaun Sipos (Texas Chainsaw)
Haig Sutherland (The Flash)
Luciana Carro (White Chicks)
Paul Wesley (The Vampire Diaries)
Craig Veroni (Dark Angel)
Christopher Reeve (Superman)
Anson Mount (Inhumans)
Michael Adamthwaite (Horns)
Camille Mitchell (Izombie)
Zachery Ty Bryan (Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift)
Neil Flynn (Scrubs)
Jodelle Ferland (Case 39)
Ingrid Torrance (Scooby Doo 2)
David Lewis (Man of Steel)
Terence Stamp (Superman II)

 

Sam Jones III and Tom Welling in Smallville (2001)The first season of Smallville got off to a bit of a rocky start, as the program didn’t really find its footing until midway through the season. The show suffered from what fans called “Freak of the Week” syndrome, in which a new Kryptonite-mutated supervillain would emerge in every episode with some pretty weak storylines. The “Bug Boy” and “Coach Firestarter” episodes come to mind pretty quickly, and it makes me shudder just thinking about them. However, the show gradually shifted into telling more stories that advanced Clark Kent’s overall storyline, with multipart episodes that focused on slowly revealing Clark’s origin as Kal-El and his “immigration” to Earth, as well as the ongoing storylines of the supporting cast. Not to say that the show still doesn’t have an occasional “Freak of the Week”, but when they do they are either (1) fewer in frequency or (2) somehow related to the overall show’s story arc.Sam Jones III and Tom Welling in Smallville (2001)With that out of the way, let’s talk about the cast. Tom Welling is pitch-perfect as the teenage Clark Kent. With his tall stature and ripped physique, he certainly looks the part, but he also captures the insecurity and awkwardness of youth while portraying an inner nobility and morality for which his character will eventually become renown. As Lana Lang, Clark’s childhood crush and current on-again, off-again love interest, Kristin Kreuk is about as superhumanly lovely as one could imagine. She’s the “girl next door” multiplied by about three million, not only because of her phenomenal physical beauty but also due to her bright-eyed, compassionate, down-to-earth demeanor. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see why Clark loves her, or why it rips him apart when he has to push her away in order to keep his powers a secret and keep her from being harmed (people who tend to learn about Clark’s powers generally end up dead or insane.)Kristin Kreuk and Tom Welling in Smallville (2001)Michael Rosenbaum brings young Lex Luthor to life in what has become my favorite character of the show. Making Lex Luthor and Clark Kent childhood friends is a novel (and daring) conceit by the show’s creators, and it pays off handsomely. Lex adds a darker, more cynical dynamic to Clark’s teenage development that was missing in previous iterations of the character. Rosenbaum, who rather ironically provides the voice for the DC superhero “The Flash” on the Justice League animated series, makes Luthor a dark, sympathetic, and conflicted figure. He’s charismatic enough to make one want to like him, Machiavellian enough to make one worry if they can trust him, and – since we know his eventual fate – an overall tragic figure. We know he’s going to “go bad”; his slow transition from Clark’s trusted friend to worst enemy makes for some truly compelling material.Annette O'Toole and John Schneider in Smallville (2001)The cast is rounded out by John Schneider as Jonathan Kent, Academy Award-nominated songwriter Annette O’Toole (and a former Lana Lang herself from Superman III) as Martha Kent, John Glover as Lionel Luthor, Sam Jones III as Clark’s childhood friend Pete Ross, and Allison Mack as Chloe Sullivan, whose unrequited love for Clark has emerged as a critical subplot in the development of the series. The group makes for an attractive ensemble, and there’s not a bad apple in the bunch. My only real complaint about the cast could be the little screen time Pete Ross gets (which gets worse in Season Three). As Clark’s best friend since childhood, his relationship with Clark gets laid by the wayside in favor of the Clark/Lex dynamic. Every now and then he turns up to provide some expository dialogue, and while he is featured prominently in a few episodes (especially “Duplicity”), his role in the show has slowly diminished over time.John Glover and John Schneider in Smallville (2001)Smallville: The Complete Second Season picks up from the cliffhanger ending that ended Season One, and slowly grows into a stronger and more self-assured show. Over the course of the season we get introduced to heat vision, red Kryptonite, a trip to Metropolis (with a cameo by The Daily Planet), and, in the episode “Rosetta”, an appearance by the former Man of Steel Christopher Reeve which stands out as one of the series’ best episodes. When I heard bits of John Williams’s amazing film orchestrations woven into the show’s score, I had goose bumps everywhere.Tom Welling and Amara Zaragoza in Smallville (2001)While still a little bumpy at times, Smallville’s second season is a huge step above the first, and remains one of the most entertaining shows on television.