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: DARK ANGEL -SEASON 2

Starring

Jessica Alba (Machete)
Michael Weatherly (Bull)
Valarie Rae Miller (Crank)
J. C. MacKenzie (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Richard Gunn (Hemlock Grove)
Jensen Ackles (Supernatural)
Kevin Durand (Lost)
Ashley Scott (Birds of Prey)
Martin Cummins (Bates Motel)

Jensen Ackles in Dark Angel (2000)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

John Savage (American Romance)
Nana Visitor (Star Trekk: DS9)
Yee Jee Tso (Antitrust)
Grace Park (Battlestar Galactica)
Nicki Clyne (Saved)
Jesse Moss (The Uninvited)
Colin Cunningham (Elektra)
Craig Veroni (Two For The Money)
Connor Widdows (X-Men 2)
Rob LaBelle (Watchmen)
John DeSantis (Arrow)
Tyler Labine (Rise of The Planet of The Apes)
Byron Mann (Arrow)
Kris Pope (Josie and The Pussycats)
Rekha Sharma (The Core)
Sarah Carter (Smallville)
Todd Stashwick (The Originals)
John Mann (Pathfinder)
Sonya Salomaa (Watchmen)
Patrick Gallagher (Sideways)
Mike Dopud (The Predator)
William Gregory Lee (Xena)
Brian Markinson (Wolf)
Gus Lynch (North Country)
Jesse Hutch (Cedar Cove)
Anita Brown (The A-Team)
Kendall Cross (Paycheck)
Emily Holmes (The Wicker Man)
Michael Bower (Evolution)
Terry Chen (Jessica Jones)
Tiffany Lyndall-Knight (I, Robot)
Fulvio Cecere (Valentine)
Michael Kopsa (Apollo 18)
Meghan Ory (Once Upon A Time)
Eric Breker (Stargate SG.1)
Ty Olsson (Battlestar Galactica)
Peter Williams (Catwoman)
Enuka Okuma (Impulse)
Sarah Strange (Men in Trees)
Jerry Wasserman (Alive)
Sam Witwer (Supergirl)
Camille Sullivan (Kingsway)
Zak Santiago (Shooter)
Tracy Ryan (The Blows)
Callum Keith Rennie (Jessica Jones)
Gabrielle Rose (Sanctuary)
Garwin Sanford (Arrow)
Malcolm Stewart (Jumanji)
Devin Douglas Drewitz (X-Men 2)
Kandyse McClure (Battlestar Galactica)
Jorge Vargas (Power Rangers Ninja Storm)
Henri Lubatti (Zoo)
Rick Worthy (The Vamnpire Diaries)
Erin Karpluk (Being Erica)

Jessica Alba and Kevin Durand in Dark Angel (2000)James Cameron’s and Charles H. Eglee’s Dark Angellasted a short two seasons back in 2000-2002, launching Jessica Alba’s Hollywood career.  Like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, this show had a similarly headstrong, wise-cracking, female superhero at the helm.Jessica Alba and Valarie Rae Miller in Dark Angel (2000)Set in the near future in rainy Seattle, Washington, Max was a bike courier by day and thief by night, struggling to get by in Post-Pulse America.  She burgles the wrong rich guy one evening who recognises her for what she is, an escaped genetically-engineered human from Manticore, a secret training facility that creates kids like Max and raises them to become soldiers and assassins.  With rich guy Logan’s (Michael Weatherly) guidance/nagging, Max grudgingly uses her physical and mental talents to do some good in the world.Did I mention she did it grudgingly? Max is not a smiley, cheerful young woman.  Most of the time she’s got a scowl on her face but deep down she’s got heart, and despite the tough, ‘I don’t care about anyone but myself’ front she puts up, she’s still a normal young woman trying to put the trauma of being raised to be a weapon of destruction  behind her.  The torture and abuse she suffered as a child at the hands of those in Manticore still haunts her. Max was among a dozen children that fled the prison-like institution ten years previously.  She tries to keep a low profile, fearful that her worst nightmare and personal bogey man Lydecker (played chillingly by John Savage) will find her.  She’s also trying to track down her “brothers” and “sisters”, the other kids who fled.  Logan agrees to help her in this quest in exchange for her help with his noble causes.  Logan is “Eyes Only”, an underground journalist and thorn in the side of criminalsJessica Alba and Kevin Durand in Dark Angel (2000)Keeping Max company is her best friend Original Cindy (Valarie Rae Miller), Sketchy (Richard Gunn) an idiot who works alongside her and Normal, the grouchy but actually easy-going boss at the courier company Jam Pony.  Normal frequently shouts ‘bip bip’ at his employees in order to motivate them to do some work.  It rarely works!  Along the way we meet Zach (William Gregory Lee), her “brother” who is totally in love with her and Alec (played by hottie Jensen Ackles from Supernatural), another Manticore soldier.   We can’t forget about Joshua (Kevin Durrand), the dog-man, one of Manticore’s earliest experiments that left many of their people/creatures looking decidedly non-human.  They were confined to the basement in Manticore until Max releases them into the world in season 2 with devastating consequences. Max looks after Joshua and along with Alec, the three of them form somewhat of a weird, dysfunctional but tight-knit family.Logan’s and Max’s relationship continues the will they/won’t they line for the duration of the two seasons.  A lot of fans wanted her to hook up with Alec but it never happened, despite a few lingering looks.  I loved the universe and characters of Dark Angel.  It’s one of my favourite supernatural/sci-fi tv shows of all time, right up there with BuffyRoswell  and The X- Files. The music was great, the characters awesome and the dialogue snappy.  For me, the most intriguing character was Lydecker.  Yes he was a bad guy, but in a creepy way he was also like the father figure of the group.

REVIEW: CAPRICA

MAIN CAST

Eric Stoltz (The Butterfly Effect)
Esai Morales (Fast Food Nation)
Paula Malcolmson (The Hunger Games)
Alessandra Torresani (The Big Bang Theory)
Magda Apanowicz (The Bionic Woman)
Sasha Roiz (Grimm)
Brian Markinson (Izombie)
Polly Walker (Clash of The Titans)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Avan Jogia (Tut)
William B. Davis (The Dead Zone)
Sina Najafi (Stargate SG.1)
Hiro Kanagawa (Heroes Reborn)
Genevieve Buechner (Jennifer’s Body)
Anna Galvin (Tin Man)
Jorge Montesi (The Romeo Section)
Veena Sood (Timecop)
Scott Porter (Prom Night)
Karen Elizabeth Austin (The Eye)
Anita Torrance (Smallville)
Michael Eklund (Arrow)
Patton Oswalt (Young Adult)
Kendall Cross (Snakes on a Plane)
Peter Wingfield (Highlander: The Series)
Luciana Carro (Falling Skies)
Teryl Rothery (Stargate SG.1)
Alex Arsenault (Tucker and Dale vs Evil)
Françoise Yip (The Order)
Panou (Flash Gordon)
Camille Mitchell (Legion)
Richard Harmon (The 100)
A.C. Peterson (Shooter)
Eve Harlow (Bitten)
John Pyper-Ferguson (Suits)
James Marsters (Runaways)
Leah Gibson (Watchmen)
Jill Teed (Godzilla)
James Pizzinato (Rise of The POTA)
Zak Santiago (Ghost Wars)
Meg Tilly (Bomb Girls)
Ryan Robbins (Sanctuary)
Kacey Rohl (Arrow)
Andrew Airlie (Fifty Shades of Grey)
Bridget Hoffman (Hercules: TLJ)
Ben Cotton (Staragte: Atlantis)
Ryan Kennedy (Smallville)
Christopher Heyerdahl (Van Helsing)
Tom McBeath (Stargate SG.1)
Calum Worthy (American Vandal)
James Kirk (X-Men 2)
Aleks Paunovic (War For The POTA)
Elisabeth Rosen (Cult of Chucky)
Carmen Moore (Arrow)
Mike Dopud (Stargate Universe)

The story revolves around the polytheistic, technologically-advanced colony of Caprica roughly sixty years before “the downfall”, focusing on the conflict between, and within, two families: The Graystones, and the Adamas Adams. Lawyer Joseph Adams (Esai Morales) lives a somewhat normal life with his wife and two children, Tamara and Billy, attempting to juggle his high-profile stature in the legal realm with his domestic life. He fights a bit with keeping himself as distanced as he can from his unsavory lineage, the Tauron mob Ha’la’tha, though it’s hard since the organization funded his education and requires his services regularly — usually by messages delivered through his brother, Sam (Sasha Roiz). BSG devotees with get a jolt in seeing the blossoming of young “Billy” in this environment early on, watching the growth of the semi-troubled youth that’d transform into the disquieting, powerful Galactica commander Bill Adama.Caprica’s central draw, however, is the Graystones. Daniel Graystone (Eric Stoltz) heads a tech development firm working on a mechanized super-soldier that’s just not cutting the mustard, all the while generating profit (60% of net, to be exact) with virtual reality headsets — holobands — that connect to a network of fully-interactive, realistic digital worlds. Graystone’s seemingly safe digital construct quickly broke down into a laissez-faire underground, filled with hacked sections that exploit sex, drug-use, and violence. Daniel’s daughter, a silver-tongued high-school student named Zoe (Alessandra Torresani) who battles with her mother Amanda (Paula Malcomson) over authority, frequents the holoband V-Club with boyfriend Ben (Avan Jogia) and timid best friend Lacy (Magda Apanowicz), yet they’re beyond the carnal satisfaction that the place has to offer. Instead, they’ve found purpose in monotheistic religious belief within an activist organization, the Soldiers of The One (STO), and, in the process, created an exact digital copy of Zoe who will somehow aid the resistance.Observant fans will see where Caprica’s going with the duplicate Zoe, coming together in an introductory pilot that realizes the germ of an idea behind the genesis of the Cylon race, but it certainly doesn’t leave newcomers in the cold. Moore and Eick, with this freshness in mind, go in a startling direction with the content surrounding the Cylon conception; a murderous STO-related terrorist attack on a train rattles the city of Caprica, leaving the Graystones without their daughter and Joseph with only his son, Billy. The grief they endure becomes a convincing dramatic catalyst for what’s to come, breaking a floodgate for aggressive decision-making regarding family memories and Daniel’s technological advancement — with the idea of an exact digital replication of both mind and memory, such as the avatar of Zoe that lingers after her death, propelling it forward. It’s a thought-provoking launch that tackles some rather challenging concepts, including that of the human psyche as raw data and the extent that open-minded intellectuals might go to preserve those they’ve lost. And, of course, the narcissistic power behind potential immortality.imagesUpon the second episode, “Rebirth”, one fact becomes very clear: Caprica isn’t cut from the same cloth as its inspiration, instead existing as a compelling new creation with its own hurdles to cross. In retrospect, the reimagined Battlestar Galactica painlessly continued the momentum from its original two-part miniseries, thrusting forward with space warfare and political components into the dazzling episode “33”. With Caprica, a shrewd character-driven thriller with complexity surrounding terrorism and family grief, the carry-over isn’t as easy. Thankfully, the Moore-Eick team never shies away, hitting the gas with some rather incisive writing as they drive deeper into Caprica’s unraveling and the Graystone company’s waning success in the wake of the terrorist attack. Along the way, they also grapple with themes of Tauron racism (“dirt eaters”) and religious extremism through the STO and one of its leaders, Zoe’s teacher Sister Clarice (Polly Walker), that correlate to actual issues, while also cleverly using the concept of a digital underground — especially in the anarchistic “New Cap City” game simulation, a mix of World of Warcraft and Grand Theft Auto — as a way of escape and purpose-finding.Yet as Caprica focuses on these modern analogous ideas while its characters develop into a mixture of morally desolate entities, the first batch of six or so episodes move at a deliberate, slow-burning tempo that shifts between intrigue and sluggishness. The harsh chemistry between Daniel and Joseph as scorned parents electrifies, driven by Eric Stoltz and Esai Morales in two stark, authentic performances, and the pacing focuses on the causal events that unfold around their family-affecting decisions. But focusing on this calculated slow-burn can, at times, temper the series’ manner and cause the multiple plot threads to stray from the course, weaving intuitive dramatic performances around a lot of existential meditation and shots of neo-religious content without the right energy to propel it forward. I still find it compelling; the depth of Daniel’s egotism reaches a genuine depth that’s unexpected, while offering a cluster of explosive moments — such as the board meeting in “There is Another Sky” that actually starts the Cylon race — spliced within the persistent, astute drama.Then, as Caprica approaches “Ghosts in the Machine” and the mid-season finale “End of Line”, the gradual tension sees a much-needed outburst. These prior episodes extend into what’s essentially a rather lengthy fuse leading to this batch of dynamite, using brewing family turmoil and growing suspicions into an emotionally-taxing, brilliantly-realized culmination point. “Ghosts in the Machine” plays with the intensity of psychological torment in a staggering rush of emotion, while “End of Life” finds the first episode of the series to use the familiar “__ Hours Before” time mechanic frequently used in Battlestar Galactica. Quite simply, the build-up becomes worth the time at this point, igniting the series with the narrative outbreak it desperately lacked to become fully involving. Whether Caprica can maintain this momentum still remains to be seen, but the succession of these explosive developments that derive from subtly-evolving plot points — Amanda’s weakening sanity, Daniel’s obsession with meeting the development deadline, and the presence of the STO as violent radicals — satisfies with evocative, edge-of-your-seat chills at this midpoint, finally achieving that addictive science-fiction adrenaline that hallmarked its predecessor.The Second half of season 1 Caprica would be the end as Syfy decided to cancel it. Caprica utilized a cliffhanger episode at the end of the first half of the season, one that leaves the mortality of several characters up in the air. It’s uncertain whether the depression-driven grief that Amanda’s been going through truly led her to suicide; similarly, we’re unsure if the full-throttle abrasiveness that Zoe was enacting inside the U-87 Cylon body destroyed her at the end. Then, Syfy opted to go on a very lengthy mid-season break, leaving curious minds in the dark for roughly seven months and, effectively, knocking the wind out of Caprica. It establishes a fine world that explores the emotions coursing through decisions to either reject or embrace digital memories of loved ones, while also giving some deep-rooted glimpses into the underpinnings of Moore and Eick’s Emmy-winning Battlestar Galactica.None of Caprica’s issues root in the performances, however, or the production design. From the ground up, Moore and Eick continue the shrewdly-cast and stylish thrust of science-fiction with a fine vein of suspense, capturing the city’s expanses with a unique blend of metropolitan polish, futuristic gris-gris, and slick ’50s-esque allure. Locations like the Graystone mansion sport angular windows and a glaring pour of cold light, while the Adama household encapsulates a warm yet dark demeanor. These fitting aesthetic touches cradle some exceptional dramatic performances, including Eric Stoltz and Esai Morales whom have come into their own as tried-and-true denizens of Caprica. The same can be said for Magda Apanowicz as Lacy, who takes the complications surrounding a semi-innocent girl lost in the world of terrorism and runs with them with stalwart momentum. Lacy’s role, which gets sloshed around in the first half of the season, begins to grow more focused as she embeds further into the STO (and learns of her affinity with post-Zoe Cylons). Really, the issues hinge on a general question: “What’s the driving force behind Caprica?” At first, the series closed in on the machinations of the Cylon origins, as well as exploring monotheism vs. polytheism, the benefits and hindrances of an abandon-free V-World, and the reluctance for people to let go of those whom have died. Upon the second half of Caprica, all that’s somewhat switched out for direct drama involving the robots’ “creator”, as well as concentration on the gangster Adama network and the blossoming of the terrorist organization as idealists.Starting with “False Labor”, Caprica begins to see an awakening, In this episode, Daniel attempts to recreate Zoe’s “resurrection” software, while in the process using an avatar of Amanda as a basis for comparison. Since he knows all the mannerisms and minutiae of his wife, he’s able to determine exactly how human or inhuman she’s acting, and the content that unfolds as he dissects this digital Amanda can be both penetrating and emotionally stirring. On top of that, Lacy gets her first hearty taste of the STO’s domineering, contentious presence, while meeting other “recruits” similar to her. Moreover, it rediscovers its tonality; difficult drama remains, but the way it’s handled regains the excitement of its inspiration.Eric Stoltz and Paula Malcomson in Caprica (2009)With Syfy cancelling the show and five episodes still left to run, the big question likely will be: “Does it get a proper, strong conclusion?” Piggybacking off the regained proficiency that it rediscovers in “Blowback”, Caprica sprints through the remaining episodes as if it knows that the end’s coming. With a Coda at the end of the season you do get a conclusion that answers the questions of where the show would of gone had it been around for 5 years.