REVIEW: THE PURGE: ANARCHY

CAST
Frank Grillo (Beyond Skyline)
Carmen Ejogo (Selma)
Zach Gilford (The Last Stand)
Kiele Sanchez (Lost)
Zoe Soul (Prisoners)
Justina Machado (Final Destination 2)
Noel Gugliemi (The Fast and The Furious)
Michael Kenneth Williams (Gone Baby Gone)
Edwin Hodge (Red Dawn)
On March 21, 2023, the media credits the Purge for low unemployment and poverty levels across the country. Hours before the annual Purge begins, people either prepare to commit violence or barricade themselves indoors. Meanwhile, an anti-Purge resistance group intermittently hacks into TV programs to broadcast messages challenging the system, stating that the Purge does not cleanse aggression, but rather eliminates the poor. In Los Angeles, a waitress named Eva Sanchez (Carmen Ejogo) rushes home to her daughter Cali (Zoë Soul) and her terminally ill father. As they prepare to lock down for the evening, Eva’s father slips out and into a waiting limo. A note left behind explains that he has sold himself as a Purge offering for $100,000 to be paid to Eva following the Purge.
Married couple Shane (Zach Gilford) and Liz (Kiele Sanchez) are driving to Shane’s sister to wait out the Purge. Their car dies just as the Purge commences. A gang that cut their fuel line when they stopped at a market appears, forcing Shane and Liz to flee on foot. Elsewhere, an unnamed off-duty police Sergeant (Frank Grillo) tells his ex-wife that he must Purge to avenge the death of his son, and goes out into the streets heavily armed.
Moments after the Purge commences, a truck pulls up at the apartment house and disgorges heavily armed paramilitary men into the neighborhood. The apartment building’s superintendent Diego, who felt rejected by Eva in the past, bursts in with a shotgun intending to rape and kill them both. Diego sexually abuses Eva as he hears noises outside. As Diego stands up and challenges the paramilitary men, they shoot him to death, and drag Eva and Cali out into the street to their leader Big Daddy (Jack Conley) for his own personal Purge. As Big Daddy prepares his minigun to murder Eva and Cali, the Sergeant exits his car, murders all the surrounding paramilitary men and shoots Big Daddy in his cheek, incapacitating him. He rescues Eva and Cali, offering them protection. Returning to his car, the Sergeant finds Shane and Liz hiding in the back. The Sergeant is forced to take them when Big Daddy begins firing the minigun at the Sergeant’s car. When the heavily damaged car breaks down a few blocks later, Eva promises him the car of her co-worker Tanya (Justina Machado) if the Sergeant takes them to her apartment.
The group descends into the city’s underground subway system where the homeless are hiding to avoid the Purgers on higher ground. They think they are safe, but a Purge pyrotechnics gang wielding flamethrowers and a minigun arrive in the tunnel and begin to set the homeless people on fire, while also starting to advance on the Sergeant and the others. The gang attempts to murder the group, but Shane and Liz use the Sergeant’s machine guns and open fire on their assailants, creating a massive explosion which kills the murderers, and the five leave the tunnel to reach higher ground.
As the five survive intense street fighting, they notice a man in a suit tied to a wall outside with a knife in his stomach, implying that many wealthy Purgers and paramilitary men are being murdered by Anti-Purge resistance fighters. After reaching Tanya’s apartment, Eva admits that there is no car. As Tanya’s family aids the five with food and medicine, her sister Lorraine (Roberta Valderrama) suddenly shoots and kills Tanya for having sex with her husband. Lorraine shoots at family members and engages in a gunfight with the Sergeant as he tells Eva and the others to leave, and they exit the apartment. As the group flees, Big Daddy, who has tracked them through traffic cameras, arrives with more armed guards. The group evades Big Daddy only to be captured by the gang that was pursuing Liz and Shane.
Liz asks the gang why they are doing this, and one of the masked members responds that they will not kill them, but that they will die that night. The gang leaves the five at a building where they are delivered to a theater where wealthy Purgers bid on them, and if they are chosen then will be forced into a chamber to be killed. Five wealthy Purgers bid on the group, and they are forced into the chamber. However, the Sergeant and the others gain the upper hand over the Purgers. The observers of the event alert the theater’s elite security forces of the activity after the Sergeant kills five of the wealthy Purgers, and they swarm the chamber and kill Shane. Just before the security can kill the four, Anti-Purge insurgency forces storm the chamber and begin to murder the security guards, killing a large number of them. Liz chooses to join the fighters to avenge Shane’s death. The Sergeant hijacks a wealthy Purger’s Cadillac with Eva and Cali, and threatens her before they drive away.
The Sergeant drives to a suburban neighborhood. He explains that a year earlier, a man named Warren Grass (Brandon Keener) was driving under the influence one day when Grass hit the Sergeant’s son, killing him. Sergeant attacks Grass and his wife in their bedroom, threatening Grass with a knife before the camera cuts away. Leaving the house, the Sergeant is shot and wounded by Big Daddy, who says the New Founding Fathers believe the Purge eliminates too few of lower class and they have secretly dispatched death squads to increase the body count. He states the unwritten rule: do not save people. But before he kills Sergeant, Grass appears and shoots Big Daddy, killing him, revealing that Sergeant chose to forgive and spare him. Eva, Cali, and Grass have a standoff with Big Daddy’s death squad when the siren blares, ending the 12-hour Purge and forcing the death squad to leave the scene. Grass, Eva, and Cali rush the Sergeant to the hospital as emergency services begin cleaning up after the Annual Purge.
Yes the movie isn’t perfect- we don’t get to know our characters well enough to care too much. But there is this underlining dread about the movie, like waiting for something to happen that grips your most inner fears, and this movie has that down to a tea. It could have been better and the climax isn’t as rewarding as it promises to be, but The Purge: Anarchy is a real surprise.
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REVIEW: A.I.: ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

CAST

Haley Joel Osment (The Sixth Sense)
Jude Law (Sherlock Holmes)
Frances O’Connor (Bedazzled)
Sam Roberds (American Beauty)
Jake Thomas (The Cell)
William Hurt (Captain America: Civil War)
Brendan Gleeson (The Smurfs 2)
Ashley Scott (Birds of Prey)
Jack Angel (Transformers)
Ben Kingsley (Iron Man 3)
Robin Williams (Hook)
Meryl Streep (Into The Woods)
Chris Rock (Rush Hour)
Ken Leung (Lost)
Clark Gregg (Agents of SHIELD)
Kevin Sussman (The Big Bang theory)
April Grace (Whiplash)
John Prosky (The Devil Inside)
Kathryn Morris (Cold Case)
Daveigh Chase (S.Darko)
Justina Machado (Final Destination 2)
Adrian Grenier (Drive Me crazy)
Paula Malcolmson (Capria)
Enrico Colantoni (Veronica Mars)

A.I. began life as a short story by Brian Aldiss, but it blossomed into something more sprawling under Kubrick. It is the story of the first-ever robot boy. Set in a future where climate change has left multiple major cities underwater, a refocused society has made many technological advancements since the cataclysm–including synthesized life. Robots have different functions in society, but largely act as servants, be it of the more traditional kind (maids, chauffeurs) or less domestic (sexbots). At the start of the movie, a scientist (William Hurt) proposes a new function: true love. What if they could create a simulacrum of a real child, one that could be programmed to love its adoptive parents unconditionally? Could then the humans love it in return?The prototype is David (Haley Joel Osment), a specially built android that looks real in every way. He is given to a married couple (Sam Robards and Frances O’Connor) whose own child is currently in cryogenic stasis until a fatal health problem can be solved by medical science. Stuck in her grief, the mother, Monica, takes to her new “son,” developing a strong attachment to him. Only, when her actual child (Jake Thomas) is healed and returned to her, the human boy’s jealousy makes it impossible to keep David. Monica is unwilling to send David back to the factory for destruction and so lets the robot boy go instead. Devastated by this rejection, David takes his animated toy teddy bear (voiced by Jack Angel) and goes looking for the Blue Fairy, the angel who turned Pinocchio into a real boy at the end of the story Monica read to him. If he can become real, she can love him as much as her flesh-and-blood offspring.What follows is David’s fairy-tale journey. Like Pinocchio, he will run into many hazards, including a destructive carnival where robot-hating humans dismantle artificial life as a form of entertainment. There David meets Gigolo Joe (Jude Law), a pleasure robot who is on the run, as well. He agrees to help David find the Blue Fairy, detouring to a dazzling futuristic city where all manner of carnal delights can be found before finally heading to Manhattan and, supposedly, the edge of the world.The philosophical question at the core of A.I. Artificial Intelligence is the difference between authenticity and artifice. Are they mutually exclusive, or is that just a matter of perception? Kubrick famously put off making the movie for over a decade in hopes that an actual robot could be built to play the part of David. Spielberg came into the mix after Kubrick had seen Jurassic Park. It apparently made Stanley realize that if an approximation of a dinosaur was good enough, fake robots would be, as well. Extending the metaphor into the creative process, he embraced the idea that artifice could stand in for the authentic. One could even take it further to say this necessary balance was also the difference between the two directors, why it took both of them to make this extraordinary picture: the authenticity of Stanley Kubrick lent credibility to the artifice of Steven Spielberg, and vice-versa.

Spielberg doesn’t so much repress his style for A.I. as he tries on another man’s clothes and walks around in them for a while. The final movie has the chilly rigor of a Kubrick movie, but with touches of Spielberg’s slick storytelling. The teddy bear that serves as David’s Jiminy Cricket is perfectly integrated into the live action, and the fully imaginary Rouge City, inspired as it was by European comics, is just as believable–and indeed, indistinguishable in terms of craft–as the version of New York City that Spielberg sinks into the Atlantic. One is created from whole cloth, the other uses reality as its starting point–and neither is more real or unreal than its counterpart.

In terms of acting, it’s easy to see why Osment was viewed as the leading actor of a new generation. His performance as David is remarkably subtle. He uses carefully choreographed body language to convey the character’s “otherness.” He carries himself awkwardly, maintaining a blank naïveté that is essential to illustrating David’s lack of experience. It’s a far more complex construction than it might appear. Also good are O’Connor as the grieving mother (she has the widest range of emotions of anyone in the movie) and Jude Law as the charming hustler. He brings a touch of classic Hollywood style to the role–a gigolo is just another type of actor, after all.

There is nothing else quite like A.I. Artificial Intelligence, and given that once upon a time Stanley Kubrick showed us the dawn of humanity, it seems fitting that his career should end by showing us what the world would be like once humanity was gone.

REVIEW: BONES – SEASON 1-10

Image result for bones tv logo

MAIN CAST

Emily Deschanel (Boogeyman)
David Boreanaz (Angel)
Michaela Conlin (Enchanted)
T.J. Thyne (Ghost World)
Eric Millegan (The Phobic)
Jonathan Adams (Castle)
Tamara Taylor (Serenity)
John Francis Daley (Waiting…)
John Boyd (Argo)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Larry Poindexter (Blade: The Series)
Tyrees Allen (Robocop)
Bonita Friedericy (Chuck)
Chris Conner (Walk of Shame)
Anne Dudek (White Chicks)
Heavy D (The Cider House Rules)
Toby Hemingway (The Finder)
Alex Carter (Out of Time)
Bokeem Woodbine (Spider-Man: Homecoming)
Morris Chestnut (Kick-Ass 2)
Rachelle Lefevre (Twilight)
Michael Mantell (Angel)
Jeffrey Nordling (Arrow)
David Starzyk (Veronica Mars)
Heath Freeman (Nancy Drew)
John M. Jackson (JAG)
Josh Hopkins (Cold Case)
Leonard Roberts (Agent Carter)
Rachel Miner (The Butterfly Effect 3)
Alicia Coppola (Bull)
Jim Ortlieb (Roswell)
Billy Gibbons (Two and a Half Men)
Ty Panitz (Because I Said So)
Harry Groener (Buffy)
Michael B. Silver (I Am Sam)
Penny Marshall (The Simpsons)
Suzanne Cryer (Two Guys and a Girl)
Lawrence Pressman (Dark Angel)
Jaime Ray Newman (Bates Motel)
Zeljko Ivanek (Heroes)
Judith Hoag (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Ivar Brogger (Andromeda)
Josh Keaton (Transformers Prime)
Adriana DeMeo (Killer Movie)
Robert LaSardo (Nip/Tuck)
Jose Pablo Cantillo (Standoff)
Emilio Rivera (Renegade)
Michael Bowen (Lost)
Adam Baldwin (Firefly)
David Denman (Power Rangers)
Brian Gross (2 Broke Girls)
James Parks (Kill Bill)
Robert Foxworth (Evil Beneath Loch Ness)
Rodney Rowland (Veronica Mars)
Cullen Douglas (Agents of Shield)
Michelle Hurd (Jessica Jones)
Patricia Belcher (Mike & Molly)
Giancarlo Esposito (Son of Batman)
Alexandra Krosney (Lost)
Loren Dean (Apollo 13)
Ray Wise (Robocop)
Sam Witwer (Smallville)
Shane Johnson (Birds of Prey)
Jessica Capshaw (Valetnine)
Chris Conrad (Young Hercules)
Leah Pipes (The Originals)
Christie Lynn Smith (Swamp Thing: The Series)
Keri Lynn Pratt (Cruel Intentions 2)
Carlos Lacamara (Heroes Reborn)
Cerina Vincent (Cabin Fever)
Kali Rocha (Buffy)
Kyle Gallner (Smallville)
Lisa Thornhill (Veronica Mars)
Ariel Winter (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang)
Nelson Lee (Blade: The Series)
Benito Martinez (Million Dollar Baby)
Julie Ann Emery (Hitch)
Charles Mesure (V)
Sali Richardson-Whitfield (I Am Legend)
Joshua Leonard (The Blair Witch Project)
Michael Trevino (The Vampire Diaries)
Eddie McClintock (Agents of SHIELD)
Alex Winter (Waynes World)
French Stewart (Mom)
Stephen Fry (The Hobbit 2 & 3)
Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters)
James Hong (The Big Bang Theory)
Deborah Theaker (Best In Show)
Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family)
George Coe (The Entity)
Johnny Lewis (Felon)
Ryan O’Neal (Love Story)
Brian Hallisay (Bottoms Up)
Roxanne Hart (Highlander)
Cleo King (Mike & Molly)
Eugene Byrd (Arrow)
Cynthia Preston (Prom Night III)
Scout Taylor-Compton (Halloween)
Ron Canada (Ted 2)
Michael Cudlitz (The Walking Dead)
Christina Cox (Earth: Final Conflict)
Erin Chambers (Stargate: Atlantis)
Beth Grant (Wonderfalls)
Scoot McNairy (Batman V Superman)
Denise Crosby (Star TreK: TNG)
Rider Strong (Cabin Fever)
Azura Skye (28 Days)
Lyndsey Bartilson (Grounded for Life)
Sam Jones III (Smallville)
Xander Berkeley (Kick-Ass)
Patrick Fabian (Veronica MArs)
Patrick Fischler (Birds of Prey)
Bess Wohl (Flightplan)
David Deluise (Vampires Suck)
Reginald VelJohnson (Die Hard)
Alessandra Torressani (Caprica)
Chris William Martin (Dollhouse)
James Black (Anger Management)
Jamil Walker Smith (Stargate Universe)
Dasniel Roebuck (Lost)
Whitney Anderson (Zombie Strippers)
Taylor Kinney (Zero Dark Thirty)
Mekia Cox (Undercovers)
Austin O’Brien (The Lawnmower Man)
George Wyner (American Pie 2)
Ethan Phillips (Bad Santa)
Ian Reed Kesler (2 broke Girls)
Sean Blakemore (Star Trek Into Darkness)
Indira Varma (Game of Thrones)
Carla Gallo (Superbad)
Elizabeth Lackey (Heroes)
Jill wagner (Blade: The Series)
Richard Grant (Rocky V)
Dean Norris (Breaking Bad)
Devon Gaye (Dexter)
Adam Rose(Veronica Mars)
Michael Grant Terry (Cold Case)
Joel David Moore (Julia X)
David Gallagher (7th Heaven)
Bruce Thomas (Legally Blonde)
Blake Shields (Heroes)
Jonathan LaPaglia (Seven Days)
Nichole Hiltz (Smallville)
Eric Lange (Lost)
Brendan Fehr (Roswell)
Gina Torres (Firefly)
Ryan Cartwright (Alphas)
Mageina Tovah (Spider-Man 2 & 3)
Andy Ritcher (Arrested Development)
Stephen Lee (The Negotiator)
Bianca Lawson (Buffy)
Nathan West (The SKulls 2)
Marisa Coughlan (Super Troopers)
Noel Fisher (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2014)
Deirdre Lovejoy (American Gothic)
Tara Buck (True Blood)
Zachary Knighton (Flashforward)
Christine Lakin (Family Guy)
Kayla Ewell (The Vampire Diaries)
Pej Vahdat (Lie To Me)
Spencer Breslin (Wonderfalls)
Dana Davis (Heroes)
Audrey Wasilewski (Pushing Daisies)
John Pyper-Ferguson (Caprica)
Linda Hart (The Insider)
Mayim Bialik (The Big Bang Theory)
Tania Raymonde (Texas Chainsaw)
Brian Tee (Jurassic World)
Bumper Robinson (Sabrina: TTW)
Jaimie Alexander (Thor)]
Rick Peters (Veronica Mars)
Edwin Hodge (The Purge)
Ryan Pinkston (Bad Santa)
Scottie Thompson (Skyline)
Seth MacFarlane (Ted)
Cyndi Lauper (Girls Just Want To Have Fun)
Michael Arden (Anger Management)
Christopher B. Duncan (Veronica Mars)
Riki Lindhome (Million Dollar Baby)
Tiffany Hines (Lie To Me)
Billy Gardell (Mike & Molly)
Josie Davis (Sonny)
Amy Gumenick (Arrow)
Diedrich Bader (Vampires Suck)
Andy Umberger (Angel)
Tracy Middendorf (Scream: The Series)
Dan Castellaneta (The Simpsons)
Debbie Lee Carrington (Total Recall)
Wynn Everett (Agent Carter)
Martin Klebba (The Cape)
Lindsay Hollister (Blubberella)
Ralph Waite (The Waltons)
Nakia Burrise (Power Rangers Turbo)
Mickey Jones (V)
Dorian Missick (The Cape)
Zooey Deschanel (New Girl)
Dale Dickey (My Name Is Earl)
Penny Johnson Jerald (Star Trek DS9)
Richard T. Jones (Terminator: TSCC)
Rusty Schwimmer (Highlander 2)
Henri Lubatti (Angel)
Joshua Malina (The Big Bang Theory)
Clea DuVall (The Faculty)
Ben Falcone (New Girl)
Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street)
Victor Webster (Mutant X)
Ravil Isyanov (Alias)
Rena Sofer (Heroes)
Michael Des Barres (Ghoulies)
Jillian Bach (Two Guys and a Girl)
Kate Vernon (Battlestar Galactica)
Wade Williams (Buffy)
Dylan Bruno (The Rage: Carrie 2)
Danielle Bisutti (Curse of Chucky)
Justina Machado (Final Destination 2)
Bobby Hosea (Xena)
Karina Logue (Bates Motel)
Katheryn Winnick (Vikings)
B.J. Britt (Agents of SHIELD)
Antonio Sabato Jr (Lois & CLark)
David Alan Grier (Jumanji)
Thomas Kopache (Catch Me If You Can)
Greg Cipes (Anger Management)
Kelly Stables (Two and a Half Men)
Wayne Knight (3rd Rock The Sun)
Enrico Colantoni (Veronica Mars)
Francis Capra (Heroes)
Arnold Vosloo (The Mummy)
Matthew John Armstrong (Heroes)
Laura Regan (Minority Report TV)
Leslie-Anne Huff (The Vampire Diaries)
Marisa Ramirez (Spartacus: Gods of The Arena)
Michael Welch (All The Boys Lvoe Mandy Lane)
Sarah Baker (Mike & Molly)
Saffron Burrows (Agents of SHIELD)
Danny Trejo (Machete)
Michael Clarke Duncan (Sin City)
Mini Anden (Chuck)
Suzie Plakson (Red Eye)
Geoff Stults (Wedding Crashers)
Carlo Rota (Stargate Universe)
Sean O’Bryan (Roswell)
McKenzie Applegate (Torchwood)
Luke Kleintank (The Man In The High Castle)
John Ross Bowie (The Big Bang Theory)
Morgan Fairchild (Chuck)
Tina Majorino (Veronica Mars)
Chrlie Weber (Buffy)
Andrew Leeds (Cult)
Jessica Tuck (Super 8)
Pruitt Taylor Vince (Heroes Reborn)
Neil Hopkins (Lost)
Jennifer O’Dell (The Lost World)
William Sanderson (Blade Runner)
J.p. Manoux (Birds of Prey)
John Ducey (Sabrina: TTW)
Rosalind Chao (Star TRek: DS9)
Scott Lowell (Queer as Folk)
Reed Diamond (Dollhouse)
Alexandra Holden (The Hot Chick)
Drew Powell (Gotham)
Lori Alan (Family Guy)
Danielle Panabaker (The Flash)
Abraham Benrubi (Buffy)
Charlayne Woodard (Unbreakable)
Brad William Henke (Fury)
Henry Simmons (Agents of SHIELD)
Vik Sahay (Chuck)
Larry Poindexter (Blade: The Series)
Tamlyn Tomita (Highlander: The Series)
Brooke Langton (The Net: The Series)
Brian Klugman (Cloverfield)
Danny Woodburn (Watchmen)
Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine (Queen of Katwe)
J.D. Walsh (Two and a Half Men)
Nishi Munshi (The Originals)
Curtis Armstrong (New Girl)
Dave Thomas (Rat Race)
Allison Scagliotti (Warehouse 13)
Danielle Harris (urban Legend)
Joanna Cassidy (Blade Runner)
Kenneth Mitchell (Odyssey 5)
Alimi Ballard (Sabrina: TTW)
Sarah Stouffer (Chastity Bites)
Mather Zickel (The Cape)
Kathleen York (Crash)
Alastair Duncan (The Batman)
Freddie Prinze Jr (Scooby-Doo)
John Ratzenberger (Cheers)
Millicent Martin (Alfie)
Rebecca McFarland (Two and a Half Men)
Angela Alvarado (Freedom Writers)
Joaquim de Almeida (Desperado)
Loren Lester (Batman: TAS)
Nora Dunn (New Girl)
Margo Harshman (The Big Bang Theory)
Ben Lawson (No Strings Attached)
Bonnie Root (Coming Soon)
Kelly Rutherford (Gossip Girl)
Chad Donnella (Smallville)
Robert Picardo (Stargate: Atlantis)
Chris Browning (Supergirl)
Nazneen Contractor (Heroes Reborn)
Ignacio Serricchio (The Wedding Ringer)
Elizabeth Ann Bennett (The Passing)
Courntey Gains (Children of The Corn)
Sam Anderson (Lost)
Rance Howard (Angel)
JD Cullum (Glory)
Laura Spencer (The Big Bang Theory)
Francois Chau (Lost)
Gil Bellows (Flashforward)
Sean Marquette (All My Children)
Chastity Dotson (Veronica Mars)
Steven Williams (Jason Goes to Hell)
Nathaniel Buzolic (The Originals)
Jason Gray-Stanford (Monk)
Jeremy Ratchford (Cold Case)
Vito D’Ambrosio (The Flash 90s)
Kurt Fuller (Midnight In Paris)
Taylor Spreitler (Melissa & Joey)

Bones very quickly garnered rave reviews and amassed a loyal following. Bones is loosely inspired by real life forensic anthropologist and author Kathy Reichs. This funny, clever, sometimes gross, and totally addictive crime drama centers around forensic anthropologist Dr. Temperence Brennan (Emily Deschanel), who toils out of the Jeffersonian Institution and, on the side, writes mysteries starring her fictional heroine (and here’s the twist) Kathy Reichs. Because Brennan has an almost supernatural ability to generate accurate assumptions based on her examination of the corpse’s bones, she is often consulted by the FBI on difficult, seemingly unsolvable cases. She is frequently partnered by brash wiseacre FBI Special Agent Seely Booth (David Boreanaz), who seems to hold a bias against science and those who practice in that field. It’s Booth who breezily saddles Brennan with the nickname “Bones.” Naturally intuitive and freewheeling, Booth immediately is at odds with the clinically analytical Brennan. But, despite their personality clashes, and with the aid of Brennan’s gifted and quirky colleagues, the cases do get solved.

It’s no great secret that the palpable chemistry between Deschanel and Boreanaz is what actually propels the show and is what separates it from the other, more formulaic, dispassionate crime dramas. Every week, fans tune in for the leads’ deliciously caustic banter more so than for the weekly dose of mystery. You see, the mystery jones can be fixed by viewing any other one of the gazillion forensic dramas so currently prevalent on the airwaves. So the mystery is basically the MacGuffin that drives the show forward. But the cantankerous chemistry – that palpable “something” between the two leads as they hilariously bicker and wrangle – is definitely unique to this show.
Emily Deschanel is a find. I haven’t seen her before but she’s awfully good and ingratiating enough with her acerbic character. She imbues Brennan with a cooly detached yet vulnerable and lonely quality that intrigues and endears her to the fans. Her social awkwardness and pop culture ignorance are also quite charming. It’s pretty funny that a mention made regarding a pop culture reference almost always elicits a response of “I don’t know what that means” from the clueless Bones. And, of course, her expertise in the martial arts doesn’t detract from her allure.

And David Boreanaz. Yeah, I found it difficult going, at first, watching him in a new role, seeing as how I’m a fan of Buffy and Angel. But it helps that Booth isn’t much like our vampire with a soul. This ex-Army Ranger Special Agent is breezy, personable, and outgoing, not brooding, tortured, and introspective like Angelus. So, the transition, while disconcerting for me, was ultimately smooth enough. Boreanaz brings such command, self-assurance and charm to his character that I bought into it soon enough.
My favorite episodes are the pilot episode, where we are introduced to the cast; “The Man in the Fallout Shelter” – the team is quarantied together in the Jeffersonian during Christmas and we learn personal stuff about the characters; “Two Bodies in the Lab” – character development galore in this episode as Brennan dates on-line and is targeted while she works on two cases; “The Superhero in the Alley” – a decomposed body is found wearing a superhero costume; and “The Woman in Limbo” – a gripping, emotional season finale as Brennan discovers shocking facts about her parents.

The start of the season sees a new boss, Cam, arrive at the Institute. Not only is she very hands on, she is a former love of Booth, and Tempe and Cam do not hit it off in the early episodes. The new character is well written and softens as the season progresses until it is hard to imagine the team without her input. Meantime Zac undergoes a make-over in order to secure a permanent place on the staff once he gains his doctorate, and Hodkins and Angela begin a tentative office romance.
Booth and Brennan continue to spar verbally with each other and some of their exchanges will have you laughing out loud. When a fellow agent, Sully, begins a relationship with Tempe, Booth’s feelings are confused – but as is observed, Tempe “is rubbish at being a girl” and her own complicated life does not bode well for a permanent relationship. Tempe continues to put her foot in it socially, particularly when a case involves Booth’s Catholic religion.

Among the classy episodes are ‘The Girl with the Curl’ about child beauty Queens, (with a wonderful scene of Tempe trying to talk to a group of 8 year olds at a dance class!), ‘Aliens in a Spaceship’ which has Tempe and Hodgkins buried alive by a serial killer, and ‘The Headless Witch in the Woods’ which has more than a nod to The Blair Witch Project. Guest stars this season include Stephen Fry as a laid back, insightful Psychiatrist whom Booth must see after he shoots an ice cream van, and Ryan O’Neal as Tempe’s estranged and mysterious father whose elusive character comes into his own when Booth is targetted by the Mob. And, once again, Angela’s instantly recognisable father – from ZZ Top – pops up!

BONES keeps on keeping on. Two excellent seasons under its belt, and a truncated Season 3 (damn you, writers’ strike!) finally all wrapped up, and predictably, these are good episodes, as well. But only fifteen of them! As Season 3’s first episode (“The Widow’s Son in the Windshield”) opens up, we learn that Bones has been reluctant to go in the field with Booth and she won’t say why. However, a head flung off a bridge forces her to reconnect with Booth. This episode also begins a new serial killer arc, this one being particularly even more gristly and diabolical than most, and of which resolution later down the season would have tragic consequences.

Season 3 doles out several other subplots. As per the startling news learned at the altar from Season 2’s finale, Angela is already married. An ongoing story arc becomes Hodgins and Angela’s search for her long-time but vaguely remembered husband. “The Secret of the Soil” introduces Dr. Sweets, a 22 year old psychotherapist assigned to counsel Bones and Booth, this stemming from the FBI’s concern due to Booth having arrested Bones’ father. These sessions are generally funny stuff as, mostly, Booth can’t help but treat Sweets like a kid. Plus, these scenes tend to open things up even more between Bones and Booth.

I’ve a couple of Season 3 favorites. “The Widow’s Son in the Windshield” introduces the cannibalistic Gormogon killer, which would become a key ongoing story arc of the season. “Mummy in the Maze” is a very neat Halloween show, wherein Booth’s shameful phobia is unveiled and Bones’s costume is…simply awesome. “The Knight on the Grid” is a taut thriller as the Gormagon killer returns, this time with a personal vendetta against Bones and Booth. And “The Santa in the Slush” is a standout sentimental episode and provides one of the best moments in the series as Bones cuts a deal to have Christmas brought to her incarcerated father and brother. Cool ending, too. “The Baby in the Bough” has Bones forced to babysit an infant involved with a case (you see the potential, right?). Meanwhile, “The Wannabe in the Weeds” (in which Zach and Bones both sing) and “The Pain in the Heart” are striking for their ability to stun the audience, even if the latter episode definitely had a rushed feeling to it. I feel that the after-effects of “The Wannabe in the Weeds” should’ve been developed further in “The Pain in the Heart.” In fact, “The Pain in the Heart” – which wraps up the Gormogon killer storyline and, by the way, will upset busloads of fans.
The cases are still bizarre and the corpses borderline grotesque. But the draw remains Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz, and that electric “thing” between them. These two still get aces in chemistry, and are still the smokingest hot couple on television. Emily Deschanel continues to nail her role of Temperance “Bones” Brennan. And while her character might’ve loosened up a little bit (not too much), there’s still that endearing naivette and vulnerability which peek out occasionally. And, of course, her refreshing bluntness (some call it social awkwardness) has never left. Boreanaz, he’s just a great leading man. Confident and charming, bristling with machismo, yet with a sensitive side. His unveiling of his Christmas present to Bones in “The Santa in the Slush” is one of the best, most touching scenes of the season.

World-renowned forensic anthropologist Temperance “Bones” Brennan is as brusque and tactless as ever, as confounded by the subtleties of social decorum as ever (or as Sweets exclaims: “She is wicked literal!”). Bones is still very much that intimidating icy intellect, still a wounded soul, and still solving murders. FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth is still the one with the people skills and that well-developed bump of intuition. More onions are peeled in this season as we learn even more about the underpinnings of our core characters. The absolute big draw of this show is that sizzle between David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel, their fabulous interplay tantalizing and frustrating the viewers. Could this be the season that they get together? Well, kind of, sort of. Taking what the show is giving, I wallow in their ever evolving relationship.

Staying on the personal, Hodgins and Angela are trying to move past their break-up. “The Skull in the Sculpture” demonstrates that Angela is more ready to move on than Hodgins, and if you thought Angela was a free spirit before, well, now… This episode also has Sweets demonstrating the best way ever to fire someone. Young FBI psychologist Lance Sweets, by the way, becomes a regular cast member in this season, and I like him more and more as each episode progresses, even if Booth and Bones continually treat him like a pesky little brother. Even Dr. Saroyan’s past is delved into.

Zack Addy, apprentice to the Gormagon Killer, has been institutionalized, which doesn’t keep him from strolling out to help the squints on a baffling case. Still, this gives rise to a running theme, that of the rotating roster of interns as Saroyan and Bones attempt to fill Zack’s spot, and the fun thing is that each of these interns comes with baggage. There’s the morbid one, the excessively chirpy one, the one constantly dispensing trivia, etc. The most martyred one may well be that repressed intern who insists on keeping things professional at all times – except that, the squints being a tight bunch, he keeps getting exposed to a deluge of innuendo and gossip in the workplace.

There isn’t really a running mystery arc to tie these episodes together – no one like the Gormagon Killer running around, for example. But that doesn’t mean that the cases aren’t gripping; some of them are really interesting. The season opens with “Yanks in the U.K.”  which plants Brennan and Booth in jolly old England, investigating a murder and running into a British version of themselves. In “The Passenger in the Oven” Bones and Booth are on a flight bound to China and have only four hours to solve a murder before the plane lands and Booth loses jurisdiction. “Double Trouble in the Panhandle” has Booth and Bones infiltrating the Big Top as “Buck & Wanda and their Knives of Death,” and their circus act is actually fraught with more suspense than in just about any other scene in this season.

Some other favorites? In “The Double Death of the Dearly Departed,” Bones and Booth steal a corpse due for cremation from a funeral home, Bones believing that the body had been “translated,” which is Booth’s made-up code for murder. “Mayhem on a Cross” unveils some dark stuff about Sweets’ past, this episode also featuring the return of the awesome Stephen Fry as FBI shrink Gordon Gordon Wyatt. It also had me cracking up whenever Bones insisted on correctly pronouncing “skalle” (the Norwegian word for “skull”). “The Hero in the Hold” features the return of the Grave Digger serial killer. “The Princess and the Pear” plonks Bones and Booth’s temp replacement in the world of comic book conventions, and Bones finally gets another chance to flash her martial arts mojo.
Image result for bones the critic in the cabernetIn “The Critic in the Cabernet” Bones drops a bomb on Booth and Booth gets advice from a cartoon character, a frivolous conceit which goes on to have a terrifying payoff. Finally Season 4 closes with a quirky fantasy episode featuring a re-shuffling of roles. In this reality, Dr. Saroyan and Booth’s brother are homicide detectives and Booth and Bones are a married couple who run a nightclub and who end up as suspects in a murder case. It’s neat that just about everyone is in this one.

At the beginning of the fifth season of the wildly popular forensic drama “Bones,” many viewers tuned in trepidatiously after the spectacularly strange fourth season finale. Thankfully, all fears were allayed and relieved when the fifth season kicked into high gear in the very first episode and maintained that pace throughout the season; “Bones”‘ fifth season is perhaps its greatest yet.
The one thing that has always set “Bones” apart from the countless other procedurals on the airwaves right now is the focus on the characters solving the crimes rather than the crimes themselves, and the strength of this approach shines through brilliantly in every episode of this season.
David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel return to the roles of Booth and Bones and deliver their strongest performances yet as each character is shaken to their core. As Booth struggles to regain his sense of self, he has to confront the knowledge of his feelings for his partner, while Bones herself goes through a whirlwind of emotion as the emotional barriers she has erected around her heart begin to crumble down, leaving her questioning not only herself but her relationship with Booth as well as her work at the Jeffersonian itself. The tension between the two has never been more delicious or more addictive, and both lead actors knock their roles absolutely out of the park.
But while the relationship between Booth and Brennan becomes increasingly more complex, the wonderful supporting cast of engaging characters at the Jeffersonian keep the show moving along briskly and lightly. Cam (Tamara Taylor) must run the lab while dealing with the challenge of being a good mother, guiding the team effectively toward each conclusion; Sweets (John Francis Daley) continues to provide invaluable insight into the minds of the team; Angela (Michaela Conlin) remains the emotional heart and soul of the team as she opens her heart to love’s possibilities; and Hodgins (TJ Thyne) struggles with his feelings for Angela as he returns to his abrasive, loveable self.

The cases themselves have regained a fascinating light as the mysteries the team confronts become more complex, and the special effects department has outdone themselves in the gore and goop department this year as Booth and Bones investigate some of the most gruesome crime scenes in history, all moved along by the brisk black humor the show excels at; the team investigates a possible secret agent locked in a truck for days, a would-be rocker torn to pieces by an industrial washer/dryer, a gamer literally melted in a vat of fast-food grease, and a dozen more cheerfully disgusting cases where the outcomes of the mysteries hold the power to shock and surprise the audience; the writers have once again caught the perfect balance between the whodunnit and the drama to craft a truly unique show. But it’s not merely the cases that hold the viewers’ attention this season; season five is full of true powerhouse episodes: heartbreaking cases like “The Plain in the Prodigy”; darkly comical shows like “The Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”; truly shocking mysteries like “The Proof in the Pudding,”; and even a historically fascinating case written by the author of the original Temperance Brennan novels Kathy Reichs herself (“The Witch in the Wardrobe”) — however, all of these merely lead up to the three knockout moments of the season:
In the fifth season, “Bones” reaches its 100th episode, “The Parts in the Sum of the Whole.” Likely the most beloved and most contested episode in the show’s history, the 100th episode completely redefined Booth and Brennan’s relationship as it showed the viewers the pair’s first meeting, something never before revealed, and circles around to one of the most hearbreaking and yet most powerfully hopeful moments of the series. “Parts” was also directed by David Boreanaz, one of the series’ leads, and the sheer emotion wrung out of Boreanaz and Deschanel by the end speaks volumes to the talent of the show’s leads.
As the series continues, however, the characters were shocked to their cores as they were forced to come face-to-face with their most terrifying adversary yet: the cunningly frightening sociopath dubbed The Gravedigger, in “The Boy with the Answer,” a nail-bitingly tense hour of television that had viewers’ hearts pounding as Heather Taffet, the Gravedigger, proved that her true arena was the courtroom, tearing apart her victims and throwing the entire future of Brennan’s life into question.
This only segues into the season’s amazingly dramatic finale, “The Beginning in the End.” As the team investigates the home of a hoarder, Bones questions what she truly wants to do with her life, Booth’s past comes calling, and Angela’s father blows back into town, all leading to a truly shocking season ender, a masterful finale that not only redefined the very foundations of the show and the characters but also continued to set the show on a rising point, ensuring that every faithful viewer of “Bones” will be frantically waiting for the sixth season to premiere in the fall.

To resuscitate a dead team out of their scattered disappearance is not an easy task. Luckily the DA in Washington DC is a powerful woman, stubborn and resolute, and she generally gets what she wants. So she brought Agent Booth back from Afghanistan, and Temperance Brennan, aka Bones, from the exotic place where she was trying to get some archaeologically interesting bones with Daisy, Dr Sweet’s girl friend, and Dr Sweet from his hideout somewhere in Paris where he was having a showbiz career as a cabaret singer. They all come back, change clothes and back in the business in a jiffy. Angela and Dr Hodgins are also back though from not so far away and Angela is pregnant.
As usual one case per episode, clean and neat, always dealing with a lot of bones, gross and dirty, soaked in a lot of decomposed muck with a tremendous number of maggots, worms and other corpse parasites. A series not to watch while eating anything more delicate than dry cookies.
Angela and Dr Hodgins have a full plate with the pregnancy and the delivery of the baby. For them that’s enough and that will require some help from a friendly psychiatrist because it is hard for the father not to become overprotective and it is hard for the mother to accept the physical handicap this pregnancy may represent. Yet they decided that working with the people they are used to work and live with was the best thing for the pregnancy, the mother and the child. Angela was not alone at any moment of her days or nights.
Agent Booth brought a journalist back from Afghanistan, a sort of love substitute for Temperance. But will that not cause some problems, like conflicting interests between the two professions? And Booth with his own son is already very busy in life. Will that new woman in the picture be able to cope with a child, what’s more the child of another woman? And the question of marriage will come up sooner or later and how are the two going to react to that eventuality? Probably not very well, maybe not too bad. A decision that is always difficult to take for someone who is constantly in the field of police investigation and for a journalist just back from a war zone.

You have the interns still rotating, the four of them. They are the surprise of each episode because they are so different and they can be so funny, though at times they are just funny for us because they are mismatched with what is happening around them, but that’s what interns are all about. Unluckily one will end up very badly. That’s not the first case, but so far none had ended up that badly. But a song will carry him through: lime and coconut, sung in a chorus all together, mellow and heart stirring.
There will be a case that will run over the whole season, the case of a sniper who had been a colleague and friend of Booth in Afghanistan and who came back slightly berserk and decided that what he did over there was good enough for the USA too and he started killing those who were rotten, and those who were in his way for his type of justice and these were only collateral victims for him, hence justified by the end. It will take the whole team to stop him and it will bring a lot of suffering and even mourning to that team.

This refreshingly different season of Bones is gearing up to be one of the series’ best! It is just the reinvigoration the show needed! Life has changed at the Jeffersonian since we last saw our favorite crime-solvers. After last season’s pregnancy bombshell of an ender, we pick up with forensic anthropologist Dr. Temperance Brennan entering her third trimester, hormones all over the place as she bumbles in that adorable way that only Brennan can into the frightening role of motherhood. As always, her partner FBI Agent Seeley Booth is there by her side, more loving and more happy than we’ve ever seen him.

I think David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel slipped into this new relationship quite easily. What’s great is that not a lot has changed, and yet, everythinghas. They live together, they’re planning on buying a house, they kiss and cuddle on the couch and Booth croons to Brennan’s belly in the cutest baby voice you will ever hear… and yet, they’re still “Booth and Bones”. They still solve murders. They still bicker good-naturedly over everything under the sun.

They banter. They get overprotective. They make mistakes- and own up to them after. They’re like any new couple expecting a child. But are they normal? Far from it, because at its core, Bones is still the same show: a journey of love between two very different people… one a woman who views the world through utmost rationalism and who is still learning how to open her heart; the other a man who relies on instincts and gut feeling to do his job, and who lets faith and emotion drive his personal life. Both coming from traumatic pasts and both craving a new beginning.That, and the other characters are still as charming and as “comedic gold” as ever. Hodgins and Angela’s baby situation juxtaposes nicely with Booth and Brennan’s, Cam struggles with keeping the workplace professional, there’s a new intern, a new recurring villain, and other familiar faces return.

The end of the seventh season of “Bones” left Bones on the run with her infant child after being framed for murder by the highly skilled serial killer Christopher Pelant. The opening of the eighth season finds Booth and her colleagues at the Jeffersonian Institute trying to clear her name. Fortunately for the series, they succeed, although Pelant eludes justice to pose a future threat. This eighth season continues to feature crime-of-the-week murders for Bones, Booth, and the Jeffersonian lab rats to solve through clever forensics and Booth’s old-fashioned police work. One of the most interesting episodes is told through the eyes of the murder victim, with the assistance of a psychic (a well-cast Cindy Lauper). Another standout episode involves a group effort to resolve a cold case whose victim turns out to be a forgotten hero of the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon.

Outside the lab, Bones has an uncomfortable but touching period of readjustment to living with Booth, after her time on the run. Her changed perspective will lead to some of the most interesting conversations as she and Booth commute to crime scenes. Just to complicate things, staff psychiatrist Dr. Sweets will temporarily move in with the couple right after he breaks up with girlfriend Daisy, a technician in the lab. Series regulars Angela and Hodgins will have their own challenges as working parents. The continuing parade of interns through the Jeffersonian crime lab will feature in several episodes, and one of them will become a surprising emotional complication for Dr. Saroyan. Christopher Pelant will return to menace the team in a gut-wrenching season finale.

“Bones” returns for a welcome ninth season with its core cast, clever plots, and sense of humor intact. Forensic anthropologist Dr. Temperance “Bones” Brennan and her crack team of specialists at the Jeffersonian Institute continue to work with their FBI liaison, Special Agent Seeley Booth, on new and challenging criminal cases. First, however, the team will have to resolve their long-running, lethal battle with cyber-genius serial killer Christopher Pelant, who has stayed one step ahead of them while inflicting pain on each member of the cast.
When we last saw the team, they had barely survived their most recent encounter with Pelant. In a final twist of spite, Pelant blackmailed Booth into withdrawing his marriage proposal to Bones, while forbidding him to reveal the reason why. Booth’s promise puts a strain on his relationship with Bones. He will reach out to old Army buddies, including a CIA agent and a former priest turned bartender, for advice. Pelant has his own plan for separating Bones from Bones from Booth, permanently. The entire team will have to be on its mettle to head off Pelant’s insidious plot.
The ninth season continues to feature crime of the week murders for Bones, Booth, and the Jeffersonian lab rats to solve. One episode will have Booth and Bones resurrecting their undercover “Tony” and “Roxie” identities for a hilarious marriage retreat in which they talk all too frankly about their relationship. Psychologist Dr. Sweets will take a leave of absence to work in an outreach center, only to find himself drawn back into a gut-wrenching case involving a gang feud. As in past seasons, other members of the team, including Lab boss Dr. Saroyan, Dr. Hodgins, Angela, and the interns will have their moments in the spotlight.
The biggest highlight is the Woman in White, featuring the  wedding of the two leads after nine years they final tie the knot.

In the 10th season of Bones, suspense is at an all-time high as Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz) is framed and jailed for the murder of three FBI agents while Temperance Brennan (Emily Deschanel) considers committing blackmail to get him out of prison.


The new season brings some changes. The team will lose a key player at a dramatic moment early in the season, and have to work in a replacement after an emotional farewell. Another primary character will develop a emotional bond with one of the rotational lab interns, one that threatens their official relationship. Still another will strike it rich, a couple of season after having been cleaned out by a particularly nasty serial killer. Yet another character will revisit a gambling habit that threatens a job and a relationship. And, one key character will become pregnant. And those events are just character development. There is a fresh lot of challenging cases that will need solving.

Those week to week cases continue to be innovative and interesting, challenging the team and the viewer to keep up. At the same time, the series hasn’t lost its sense of humor, or its willingness to experiment. As an example, you just have to see this season’s throwback Hitchcock episode. “Bones” is still good fun and recommended to its loyal fans in its tenth season.

REVIEW: ANGEL – SEASON 1-5

 

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MAIN CAST

David Boreanaz (Bones)
Charisma Carpenter (Scream Queens)
Glenn Quinn (R.S.V.P)
Alxis Denisof (Dollhouse)
J. August Richards (Agents of SHIELD)
Amy Acker (The Cabin In The Woods)
Vincent Kartheiser (Mad Men)
Andy Hallett (Chance)
James Marsters (Smallville)
Mercedes McNab (The Addams Family)

Image result for angel tv series

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Tracy Middendorf (Scream: The Series)
Christian Kane (Just Married)
Josh Holloway (Lost)
Sarah Michelle Gellar (Ringer)
Michael Mantell (The Ides of March)
Elisabeth Rohm (Joy)
Obi Ndefo (Stargate SG.1)
Johnny Messner (Anacondas)
Jennifer Tung (Masked Rider)
Seth Green (Family Guy)
Andy Umberger (Deja Vu)
Tushka Bergen (Mad Max 3)
Beth Grant (Wonderfalls)
Bai Ling (The Crow)
Jesse James (Blow)
J. Kenneth Campbell (Mars Attacks)
Henri Lubatti True Blood)
Christina Hendricks (Mad Men)
John Mahon (Zodiac)
Kristin Dattilo (Intolerable Cruelty)
Carlos Jacott (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Lee Arenberg (Once Upon A Time)
Jeremy Renner (Avengers Assemble)
Ken Marino (Veronica Mars)
Stephanie Romanov (Thirtten Days)
Tamara Gorski (Man With The Screaming Brain)
Julie Benz (Punisher: Warzone)
Eliza Dushku (Tru Calling)
Alastair Duncan (The Batman)
Sam Anderson (Lost)
Todd Stashwick (The Originals)
Justina Machado (Final Destination 2)
Matthew James (American Crime)
J.P. Manoux (Birds of Prey)
Tony Amendola (Stargate SG.1)
David Herman (Futurama)
Edwin Hodge (The Purge)
Daisy McCrackin (Halloween 8)
Juliet Landau (Ed Wood)
Brigid Brannagh (Army Wives)
W. Earl Brown (Bates Motel)
Tony Todd (Wishmaster)
Jim Piddock (The Prestige)
Julia Lee (A Man Apart)
Gerry Becker(Spider-Man)
Eric Lange (Lost)
Leah Pipes (The Originals)
Thomas Kopache (Catch Me If You Can)
Brody Hutzler (Days of Our Lives)
Persia White (The Vampire Diaries)
Daniel Dae Kim (Lost)
Mark Lutz (Bitch Slap)
Alyson Hannigan (How I Met Your Mother)
Keith Szarabajka (The Dark Knight)
Frank Salsedo (Power Rangers Zeo)
David Denman (Outcast)
Justin Shilton (Little Miss Sunshine)
Rance Howard (Chinatown)
Kristoffer Polaha (Ringer)
Jack Conley (Payback)
Jim Ortlieb (Roswell)
Laurel Holloman (Boogie Nights)
Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Losers)
Sunny Mabrey (Snakes On A Plane)
Summer Glau (Firefly)
John Rubinstein (Red Dragon)
Alexa Davalos (Clash of The Titans)
Kay Panabaker (No Ordinary Family)
Joel David Moore (Bones)
Adrienne Wilkinson (Xena)
Gina Torres (Hannibal)
Annie Wersching (The Vampire Diaries)
Danny Woodburn (Watchmen)
Sarah Thompson (Cruel Intentions 2)
Jonathan M. Woodard (Firefly)
T.J. Thyne (Bones)
John Billingsley (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Simon Templeman (Black Road)
Roy Dotrice (Beauty and the Beast)
Brendan Hines (Lie to Me)
Tom Lenk (Argo)
Navi Rawat (Feast)
Roy Werner (Power Rangers Time Force)
Alec Newman (Dune)
Adam Baldwin (Chuck)
Jaime Bergman (Soulkeeper)
Stacey Travis (Easy A)
Dennis Christopher (Django Uncahined)

When Joss Whedon pitched Angel: the Series, he described it as a detective-style film-noir-themed take on the supernatural, much in the same way Buffy was pitched as a look from the viewpoint of the Horror genre. Buffy’s style took some time to get right, but the aesthetics of this show in its first year are well thought out and crafted; darkness and emotive shadow creep over, tense musical swells linger, and the picture is shot in a large resolution to provide just a bit of grain. I’d be damned if it didn’t seem intentional. Joss also said that where Buffy looked, metaphorically, at the hell of High School, Angel’s show would look at life past it in your early adulthood and the life and relationship issues of that unique, big city world. This metaphor is dominant in the first season, and is one of the main themes.

Angel, as a series, is always and will always be about redemption, but the themes of its respective seasons are about the different facets to it. Exploring what it is, losing the chance at it or the responsibility one pledges to it is all covered over the duration of the show. With season one, it was most direct: How do you get it? At the start of the season we see Angel arrive in LA, see him save lives, but we also watch him slip deeply into apathy about his goal. To understand the importance and worth of a human and life and soul, Angel learns in “City of” (1×01) that one must have a human connection; friends and allies that make his life worth living so his mission can be worth fighting for, and most importantly so that he doesn’t become detached from (and even dangerous to) those he hopes to save.

The season, as I mentioned, does lack a cohesive arc, but it also has a tremendous amount of hugely entertaining and well-written standalones. Many of them focus on Angel’s mission: “helping the helpless.” Angel makes it his goal to not only save lives, but save souls and make life worth living for others, and as a result of this his connections are solidified as he carries this out. He and his group slowly form into a legitimate investigation team which takes cases and makes money off of them, and many of the seasons situations out of which the characters are developed are a result of these cases. Cordelia, who in “Rm w a Vu” (1×05) is still defining herself by her possessions, searches for a place to live. Instead what she finds is a stronger sense of self, and in that a connection to the world of humans rather the one of plastic. Doyle and Wesley both find their own connections, as well. Episodes such as these are the season’s order, in every one of which something new happens that alters the main or supporting characters, or teaches the audience something about them.

This is, in my opinion, what sets shows like Buffy and Angel apart: relevance. More than any other show, each episode contains progressive, ongoing development that charts development in a very realistic way. On a more specific level, this particular season has an extremely strong episode to episode consistency, with each individual showing striking its own tone and exploring the main theme in different ways. A few larger, more exciting events may have helped, but at the same time I appreciate this season for what it is and how it does something a bit different from most other seasons of Buffy or Angel. There’s a lot more to talk about, including the metaphorical basis’ used and what we’re being fed through them, as well as the general ups and downs. The strongest suit this season has is its extremely fluid use of theme. Though the ponderings on connection, redemption and starting a new life are not as intricately detailed, subtle or socially penetrating as the themes of any other season, the careful and consistent way they’re used to develop characters and give the stories real world relevance is masterful. Angel made it his mission to save souls, and we were shown him connecting with people by helping them, failing to help them, or losing them altogether. All the supporting characters followed, gaining their own redemption through helping Angel and the helpless.

With the exception of Wesley being overly bumbling at times, nothing felt out of character this season, and that’s extremely impressive considering the length of a season. Doyle’s sacrifice in “Hero” (1×09), Angel’s re-ignited belief in himself in “To Shanshu in LA” [1×22] or Kate’s decision to see Angel kiss daylight in “Sanctuary” [1×19] were all thematically conclusive, resonant and well built up to.

The preceding season was,strong and coherent. While looking at the tribulations of life after High School in the big city, it managed to do so in a way that developed the characters within another major theme: Connection; Human emotions and growth that make us a part of the world, make us human. By the end of the season, Angel had been given a purpose, both short and long term, and a mission to fight for: Fighting in the final battles and surviving to be made a breathing human being again. Season Two, with a much broader theme, builds logically on that, and asks our vampire hero just what it means to really be human. Much of the season’s development is split in that way, with Angel increasingly being led off into his own world, with his friends developing entirely in a place away from him.screen-shot-2016-09-09-at-10-18-22-am-e1473430782777While he and the fate that ties him to Darla explore the complexities of human existence, Cordelia, Wesley and Gunn become forced to suffer through and succeed in it on their own. Though not as characterized by pain and hopelessness as much as S3 post “Sleep Tight” [3×16] through to the end of the series is, there’s much darkness and suffering abound, especially for Angel. His epic trials and will for revenge separate him harshly from humanity, only for him to realize that his worst actions are indeed wholly human, and that this is what humanity really can be. Season Two has such interesting ideas in spades, and its theme looks at all the best (“Untouched” [2×04], “Guise Will Be Guise” [2×06], “Epiphany” [2×16]) and worst (“Reunion” [2×10], “Reprise” [2×15]) sides of our existence: forgiveness, self-control, image, obsession, revenge, victory, belonging and the very nature of evil itself. By the time the season closes, Angel’s re-examined entirely what his mission is and how he’s to fight it, and goes from a champion vampire-with-a-soul to simply a genuinely good human being who helps people.fake-dwarvesWith the exception of the brilliant period piece Are You Now or Have You Ever Been?, and a few rare others, the season doesn’t have quite as much use for pure standalones. Its arc employs its best metaphors and situations in the interest of exploring all sides of the characters’ journey, and as such, the season gives the impression that more happens this year than last because of the depth of each phase of the arc: the four episode standalone period, the first part of the Darla arc (“Dear Boy” [2×05] to “Reunion” [2×10]), the second part of the Darla arc (“Redefinition” [2×11] to “Epiphany” [2×16]), another couple of standalones (“Disharmony” [2×17] and “Dead End” [2×18]) and the Pylea arc (“Belonging” [2×19] to “There’s No Place Like Plrtz Glrb” [2×22]).

This is likely why the season finds such a strong and undivided following. While some dispute the worth of the standalones or the Pylea arc, others like them, and everyone loves the story arc; there’s something for everyone. The best aspect of this year of the character’s journey in L.A. is how broad and all encompassing the season is. With the exception of Season Five, I find this to be the best season of the show. It has a few great metaphors, an engaging, unpredictable story arc, fun standalones, important character development, strong drama, and some of the most intelligent moral and social considerations I’ve ever seen on a TV show or in a movie.

Like at the start of Season Two, the writers seemed to have a clear direction in mind at the start of Season Three, and they wisely picked up the story at the logical introductory point: With Angel having conquered his innermost doubts about his own humanity. He begins to live a truly human life. He’s accepted his role in the world as a good person rather than a champion, and recognizes the world as a wide-open, random place with no greater destiny or order about it. It’s the kind of world where even the smallest acts of kindness mean everything, because they mean someone is able to shrug off the horrible burdens of life long enough to make another life better.screen-shot-2016-09-09-at-10-18-22-am-e1473430782777It opens with a six episode prelude looking at various facets of the responsibilities and obligations of normal human life, and then really begins with “Offspring” [3×07] when Darla returns to L.A. in a very, very pregnant state. Like “Dear Boy” [2×05] was for S2, this is where the beginning of S3 truly lies. With Darla’s death and the birth of baby Connor (“Lullaby” [3×09]) as the emotional forces driving the season, the writers used the question of responsibility and all the ideas that fall under it (justice, deserving, chaos and guilt) to create some truly, gut-wrenchingly impossible situations for our characters to face. If I have to commend this year for one thing alone, it’s the painstaking drama that the writers plunge the characters into throughout the main arc and in the mini-arcs that follow. Although there’s not nearly as much thematic depth as S2 or as much consistency as S1, the tragedies and difficult moral situations our beloved Angel Investigations team members are forced to face moved me deeper than a lot of other episodes in the series.

Aesthetically, S3 also has a much more sprawling scope than the previous two seasons. While the first six episodes were essentially standalones, everything that followed “Offspring” [3×07] was in some way tied to the main plot arc of the show, even when some of its key players disappeared following the epic tragedy of “Sleep Tight” [3×16]. Just when it seemed the story was about to move in another Pylea-like offshoot after the main storyline concluded, Connor and Holtz returned and the plot kept on chugging. This led to some problems, of course, as all season-long arcs eventually do. Tension sometimes tried to take the place of real content and it often showed. It also led to there being an uncomfortable setup/payoff ratio on the episode list. But on the plus side, S3 (and S4, which moves even further in this direction) had a feeling of epic scope that no other seasons manage, so to even think of the better aspects that lie within strikes me. Such a sprawl is one of the reasons many people love S3 even if they haven’t looked very deeply at it.Image result for angel forgiving“Forgiving” [3×17] was another gem, as it looked at the human need to assume we live in an ordered world where someone is responsible for everything that happens. But it’s never that easy, and watching Angel struggle with that was fascinating. The final three episodes (“A New World” [3×20], “Benediction” [3×21], “Tomorrow” [3×22]) made up another interesting stretch where we saw how our characters could be motivated by pain, hatred or love and the effects of all those things.

Having already been on the air for three years, Angel had more then enough time to establish its theme, characters, and relationships. It was in its fourth year that it would bring all of these elements to the forefront and then mix them up in a season that would come to be known for its complex twists and turns.The season begins with our title character trapped at the bottom of the ocean – put there by his son – with the rest of his gang broken up. From this grim beginning, things only get darker – literally. Enter the Beast, a rock-encrusted devil whose arrival is heralded by a rain of fire and promptly blocks out the sun over L.A. All signs are pointing to the apocalypse, and it’s up to Angel and the rest of his demon-fighting crew to put a stop to it. From a storytelling point of view things just keep getting worse and worse and it’s a credit to the writers that they somehow manage to end it all on a positive note.Since Season 2 Angel has been a very arc-heavy show, but in its fourth year it would approach almost 24 levels of continuity and follow-through. In addition to being very cool to watch, the interlinked episodes add up to a season that is one big experience unto itself. It’s as if the entire season is one episode with many chapters.This year we get to watch everything get shaken up. Wedges are slowly driven between certain relationships while jealousy quickly divides others. The great thing about it is that you get to see what has caused all of these problems. Despite their best efforts to hold together, these characters have no choice but to push each other apart. It makes for gripping television.Visually and stylistically the show is very well put together. The directing efforts of Joss Whedon (who is always excellent), Tim Minear (who has grown by leaps and bounds over the course of the series), and even Sean Astin (yes that Sean Astin) give the show a very polished and theatrical feel. The producers repeatedly stated that they were going for an ‘operatic’ feel to the season and they pulled it off very well. The use of darkness and shadow deserves special mention as does the great use of wide shots and the directors’ ability to fill each frame with as much information as possible. Wesley goes from bumbling dork to dark James Bond. Cool! While the twists and turns are great, the really cool thing to the season is the multiple layers that you’ll find within. Just when you think you know who the real ‘big bad’ is or in which direction the show is going, the rug is pulled out from under your feet. The entire season keeps you guessing from start to finish. Of course, our heroes win in the end — but everyone is left wondering if they did the right thing. And that’s what sets the show apart: It’s action with substance.

Nobody, not the producers, not the actors, and certainly not the fans could have predicted where this show would go. Where it could go. After all, this is an hour-long fantasy about a guy who spends so much time sitting in the shadows and brooding so much he would give Batman a run for his money. Or utility belt, as the case may be. So why is it that after five years and over a hundred episodes this show was still one of the freshest on TV? Simple: this is a story about something. What started off as just a Buffy spin-off has ended up as a massive epic that challenges, if not surpasses, its parent show. Unfortunately, the WB didn’t think so. After giving the producers a hard time and insisting on several changes, the network decided to bring the show back for a fifth, and what would be its final year.

 

So, in previous seasons we’ve had operatic apocalypses, quests for meaning, and our hero even went evil for a while. There’s only one place left to go. Into the belly of the beast, into hell itself: a law firm. Based on the out-of-left-field plot twist that was thrown at Angel and the gang in previous season’s finale, the team is now in charge of wolfram and hart the evil law firm that they’ve spent the entire series battling. The trick then becomes changing the system from the inside, all the while making sure that it doesn’t change them.


Unfortunately when the network decided to renew the show for a fifth year, there were conditions. First and foremost, it had to be more stand-alone. No more back-to-back cliffhangers. Next, the budget was cut. And finally, to sweeten the deal, the producers decided to bring over Spike – who was barbequed in the Buffy finale – in the hopes that his fans would follow. Luckily the introduction of Spike worked out well. He added a nice flavor to the show and helped flesh out Angel’s character in a way that nobody else could have. The punky vampire brought out the worst in our hero, which ended up resulting in some great comedy. Even if this Spike was different from whom he became on Buffy, he made for a nice addition.

The most unwelcome change was the standalone mandate. Yes, it can work, but it’s just not as good. The greatest strength of this show has always been its own history and tying the hands of the writers was a mistake. It resulted in a bump in the show’s overall flow. Even though it seems rushed, things tie up nicely and the finale certainly puts the “grand” in grandiose; now there’s a balls-to-the wall showstopper for you. Most people will agree that the show finished with perfect thematic closure. These characters fight an impossible fight knowing they’ll probably lose, but that’s not the point. They fight, not to win, but because that’s who they are. They don’t give up. No matter what.