REVIEW: HIGHLANDER: THE SERIES -SEASON 2

Starring

Adrian Paul (Arrow)
Alexandra Vandernoot (Pret-a-Porter)
Stan Kirsch (Shallow Ground)
Jim Byrnes (Sanctuary)
Philip Akin (Robocop 2014)
Michel Modo (The Troops Get Married)

Joe_Dawson_1

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Peter Hudson (Lockout)
Douglas Arthurs (Stargate SG.1)
Cameron Bancroft (Legends of Tomorrow)
J.H. Wyman (Sirens)
Geraint Wyn Davies (Forever Knight)
Traci Lords (Excision)
Andrew Jackson (Earth: Final Conflict)
Kendall Cross (Van Helsing)
Travis MacDonald (Cold Pursuit)
Frank C. Turner (IT)
Sheena Easton (Young Blades)
Andrew Kavadas (The 13th Warrior)
Callum Keith Rennie (Impulse)
Lorena Gale (Battlestar Galactica)
Michael Shanks (Stargate SG.1)
Elizabeth Gracen (Marked For Death)
Don S. Davis (Stargate SG.1)
Robert Wisden (Watchmen)
Mitchell Kosterman (Smallville)
Bruce A. Young (Jurassic Park III)
Mark Acheson (Elf)
Adrian Holmes (Arrow)
Roddy Piper (They Live)
Andrea Roth (Cloak & Dagger)
Bill Dow (Izombie)
Gabrielle Miller (Corner Gas)
Tom McBeath (Stargate SG.1)
Bruce Weitz (The Dukes)
Nicholas Lea (The X-Files)
Jonathan Banks (Breaking Bad)
Lochlyn Munro (Scary Movie)
Michelle Thrush (Pathfinder)
Ed Lauter (Cujo)
Doug Abrahams (Sanctuary)
Roland Gift (Brakes)
Stacey Travis (Ghost World)
Roark Critchlow (V)
Jeremy Brudenell (Alice In Wonderland 1999)
Peter Firth (Spooks)
Angeline Ball (Keeping Faith)
Nia Peeples (Walker, Texas Ranger)
James Faulkner (Game of Thrones)
Emile Abossolo M’bo (Hitman)
Nadia Cameron-Blakey (Batman Begins)
Michael Siberry (Birdman)

HighlanderDuncan4Spring boarding from the pluses of its debut season, Highlander: The Series opens its second season strongly. Though struggling midseason with some of the same growing pains as Season 1; the 93-94 Season 2 handles character departures and the introduction of the Watchers in fine form- allowing Highlander: The Series to come into its own away from the film franchise.highlander16Immortal Highlander Duncan MacLeod (Adrian Paul) becomes increasingly suspicious of Joe Dawson (Jim Byrnes) and his Watchers- a secret organization who are pledged to observed immortals and never interfere. Someone, however, is breaking the rules and killing immortals, making life more difficult for MacLeod after the loss of his mortal girlfriend Tessa (Alexandra Vandernoot). Richie (Stan Kirsch), now also immortal, has problems of his own learning how to fend off evil immortals after his head, and mortal dojo manager Charlie DeSalvo (Philip Akin) grows more and more curious about his new boss and Macleod’s secrets.Adrian Paul and Geraint Wyn Davies in Highlander (1992)Highlander: The Series hits the ground running in this sophomore season with critical departures and the establishment of its own mythos from here on out. The premiere episode ‘The Watchers’ introduces the critical organization and Season 2 stays strong thru ‘The Darkness’ and the exit of Tessa. Unfortunately, midseason the show’s writers David Abramowitz and David Tynan flounder when Highlander: The Series once again returns to the action textbook crime of the week or immortal in the regular drama ho hum. Issues about racism, sexism, injustice, and abused women are indeed handled very nicely thanks to MacLeod’s wise and chivalrous immortal angles. But again, these debates are on every other show then and now. Drastic character changes and internal fantasy mythology are enough for Highlander.Adrian Paul and Stan Kirsch in Highlander (1992)After such fine framework, Season 2 need not fall back on these stock scripts and filler episodes. Smartly however, this season distances itself from the internal inconsistencies of the film franchise by dropping mentions of The Gathering. The development of the Watchers, their deadly rogue faction the Hunters, and the wonderful observations and angst both provide pulls The Series away from the films once and for all. Further examinations of mortals dying after having full lives versus immortals who are numb to life also establish great drama beyond the standard crime villainy. Grief, infertility, and child loss also add extra depth and dimension, again proving Highlander: The Series is at its best, nay superior, when it adheres to the quality of its own immortal design.Adrian Paul and Manuel Bonnet in Highlander (1992)Yes, it is a little weird when MacLeod suddenly starts bagging some chicks so soon after Tessa’s exit, and there’s still a touch of those nineties hang ups with plenty of sweaty, shirtless dojo training montages. However, it’s nice to see less Action Mac and more on the consequences of immortality. He’s had plenty of time to develop his strict sense of honor and justice, but he also unhappily warns those around him that being his friend is deadly. Paul handles the kick ass, the somber, and the tears wonderfully. We think just as much of him when he cries as when he beheads the bad guy. The loss of Tessa Noel is also very nicely done in character and performance. Even though the leaving was largely Vandernoot’s decision, I don’t wonder if the exit of Mac’s steady girlfriend would not have happened in the future anyway. Obviously, there are so many more women and immortal bachelor angles to explore. Sometimes, MacLeod may even seem to get over Tessa too quickly, but his new cynicism and pains of mortality make their presence well known during Season 2 and beyond. Vandernoot’s exit and subsequent guest appearance in the two part finale ‘Counterfeit’ may even have the audience missing Tessa more, but her mortality reiterates that nothing on Highlander: The Series is sacred.Adrian Paul in Highlander (1992)Returning favorites and guest villains raise Season 2 to a new level. The titular ‘Return of Amanda’ and ‘Legacy’ has Elizabeth Gracen’s immortal con visiting for some much needed humor and female familiarity post-Tessa. Forever Knight alum Geraint Wyn Davies also has some wicked fun in ‘Turnabout’, and rocker Roland Gift returns as Xavier St. Cloud to join rogue watcher James Horton (Peter Hudson, Cousin William) in the stand out ‘Unholy Alliance I and II’. Recurring regular Michel Modo as the bemusing and pesky French neighbor Maurice also provides some balance when the immortal life gets a little too heavy, and truly, I love the spooky Victorian joy of ‘The Vampire’.Adrian Paul, Jim Byrnes, and Stan Kirsch in Highlander (1992)Though still a little dated with the pleated pants and too much denim, the styles of Season 2 are much improved.

REVIEW: CAPRICA – PART 2

 

Starring

Eric Stoltz (The Butterfly Effect)
Esai Morales (Titans)
Paula Malcomson (The Hunger Games)
Alessandra Torresani (The Big Bang Theory)
Magda Apanowicz (You)
Sasha Roiz (Grimm)
Brian Markinson (Sanctuary)
Polly Walker (Pennyworth)

Caprica (2009)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Kendall Cross (X-Men 2)
Peter Wingfield (Highlander: The Series)
Andrew Airlie (Fifty Shades of Grey)
Hiro Kanagawa (Izombie)
Panou (Flash Gordon)
Zak Santiago (Shooter)
Bridget Hoffman (Darkman)
Scott Porter (Speed Racer)
John Pyper-Ferguson (The Last Ship)
Anita Torrance (Smallville)
Genevieve Buechner (The Final Cut)
Ben Cotton (Stargate: Atlantis)
Teryl Rothery (Stargate SG.1)
Patton Oswalt (Veronica Mars)
Ryan Kennedy (Smallville)
Christopher Heyerdahl (Van Helsing)
Calum Worthy (American Vandal)
Tom McBeath (Stargate SG.1)
Aleks Paunovic (Van Helsing)
Elisabeth Rosen (Cult of Chucky)
Sina Najafi (Stargate SG.1)
Carmen Moore (Flash Gordon)
Mike Dopud (Arrow)

Esai Morales in Caprica (2009)Nothing would’ve made me happier than to deem Syfy’s decision to cancel Caprica a grave and unwarranted one, but that’s something which simply can’t happen. Bear with me now, because there’s a reason for saying this. As a defender of the series when it was on the brink of cancellation, there’s no joy in stating that it’s easy to see why Ron Moore and David Eick’s offshoot from Battlestar Galactica received the axe when it did. Though far from faultless, the first half of the series established a fine foundation for a world rife for exploration: the mechanics of a society that would ultimately create a sentient lifeform, robots which would rebel and eventually annihilate most of the human race. But concept’s only part of the journey, and Caprica saw tonal and storytelling issues that shaped it into a rough, erratic exploration of those ideas, reaching an especially stagnant point at the beginning of this second half. It’s a shame, then, that the writers and producers finally discover their rhythm in the last five-and-a-half episodes, as it truly becomes the series I had hoped it’d become.Paula Malcomson in Caprica (2009)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. 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.Magda Apanowicz in Caprica (2009)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.Eric Stoltz and Paula Malcomson in Caprica (2009)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 (read: they shelved the episodes), leaving curious minds in the dark for roughly seven months and, effectively, knocking the wind out of Caprica. Already, the series wasn’t on the strongest of legs; as mentioned before, 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. Yet it wasn’t all gelling together as of yet, only improving as the series went along but ultimately lacking the joie du vivre that pumped its inspiration forward.Eric Stoltz in Caprica (2009)Therefore, when Caprica’s second half starts off sluggish and overbearingly dour, it’s almost like a death toll. Let’s be perfectly honest here: the first three installments following a seven-month hiatus end up being misfired glut, something the series couldn’t withstand at that point. Starting with a jump-forward in time that echoes the end of Battlestar Galactica’s second season, it throws the story in a pit of depression, despair, and cutthroat politics surrounding Daniel that bloats beyond its boundaries. When the Ha’la’tha use killing one’s mother — someone unassociated with the crime syndicate — as a sign of loyalty, when the STO enact murderous power moves over their religious heads, or when Zoe’s avatar is bludgeoned to near-death for simply looking like the STO terrorist she’s perceived to be, the tone gets molasses-level thick and fairly objectionable. It’s as if Moore and Eick are overcompensating so their audience knows they’re not pulling any punches, while the output they produce leans toward ham-handed and hard-faced discomfort — and extremely awkward in “Things We Lock Away”, a sloppily glued-together hodgepodge of poorly-orchestrated arena brawls in New Cap City and intent Lacy/STO development.Esai Morales in Caprica (2009)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). The faces of Caprica are what keep the series afloat, both during the well-executed and bungled stretches in the show.Still from CapricaReally, 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 — which, by the way, the STO material’s fairly bland and oddly-executed during that stretch. In essence, it starts to go down a fairly generic path of aggressive human drama, leaving the intrigue behind Zoe’s presence somewhat alone for a two-hour burst. It’s pretty clear that the minds behind the show tinkered with some new (and time-weathered) ideas to try and wrangle together a new audience. And it didn’t really pan out as such.Caprica with Eric StoltzFortunately, the creative team seems to have had an inclination towards this. Starting with “False Labor”, Caprica begins to see an awakening, as if they both discover where their weaknesses lie and resurrect the spirit of Battlestar Galactica — which carries over in “Blowback”, marking the first of five episodes that Syfy shelved around the time of cancellation. 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. In short, it gets good. Really, really good.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, losing its abandon in a furious, gripping rush that certainly echoes to Battlestar Galactica’s aptitude in 11th-hour intensity. It hits the accelerator and really doesn’t stop until an unquestionably finite conclusion, bringing together Daniel’s hunt for Zoe’s avatar in V-World and the unsavory connections between Graystone Industries and the Tauron mob to a very fine, robust head. Moreover, the content surrounding Lacy’s presence in the STO finally reaches a meaningful point, instead of evoking the sensation that it’s a time-killing subplot like it did at first. But, much like the conclusion of Battlestar Galactica, it also ditches some sensibility in lieu of excitement, breaking some of its own rules and established character mannerisms just to find a definite close. When it all melts together, though, it’ll be worth gritting one’s teeth through a few questionable moments.Those who’ve watched Caprica and cashed in their chips owe it to themselves to check out the tense follow-through, with the knowledge that the tone’s anything but consistent. There’s only a handful of great moments scattered within; however, there are assuredly some really great moments, ones that ensnare the type of essence I’d hoped would resonate in a depiction of the pre-Cylon world. In the middle of that, along with blatant reflection on the current climate of terrorism, it also provokes thought about the extents that some might go to preserve the memories and essence of those they love, and whether the recreation of an individual would push the boundaries of their belief structure. Caprica’s an intelligent show at its core, one with a complex network of emotion buttons that simply never properly learned how and when to push them. What’s a shame is that the show reveals a few glimmers at the end that suggest it might’ve found out how, ones that likely hadn’t even been seen by those that made the decision to power down this tale of the pre-war Cylon race.

REVIEW: CAPRICA – PART 1

Starring

Eric Stoltz (The Butterfly Effect)
Esai Morales (Titans)
Paula Malcomson (The Hunger Games)
Alessandra Torresani (The Big Bang Theory)
Magda Apanowicz (You)
Sasha Roiz (Grimm)
Brian Markinson (Sanctuary)
Polly Walker (Pennyworth)Eric Stoltz and Paula Malcomson in Caprica (2009)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

William B. Davis (The X-FIles)
Sina Najafi (Stargate SG.1)
Hiro Kanagawa (Izombie)
Genevieve Buechner (The Final Cut)
Anna Galvin (Unspeakable)
Karen Elizabeth Austin (The Eye)
Scott Porter (Speed Racer)
Avan Jogia (Shaft)
Françoise Yip (The Predator)
Anita Torrance (Smallville)
James Pizzinato (Godzilla)
Michael Eklund (Bates Motel)
Patton Oswalt (Veronica Mars)
Kendall Cross (X-Men 2)
Peter Wingfield (Highlander: The Series)
Luciana Carro (Helix)
Teryl Rothery (Stargate SG.1)
Alex Arsenault (Tucker and Dale vs Evil)
Panou (Flash Gordon)
Eve Harlow (Bitten)
James Marsters (Buffy: TVS)
John Pyper-Ferguson (The Last Ship)
Leah Gibson (Jessica Jones)
Richard Harmon (The 100)
Patrick Sabongui (The Flash)
Jill Teed (Battlestar Galactica)
Zak Santiago (Shooter)
Ryan Robbins (Sanctuary)
Kacey Rohl (Hannibal)

 

Paula Malcomson in Caprica (2009)Creators Ronald Moore and David Eick relied on three key components for their hit SyFy series, Battlestar Galactica, to stay fresh and compelling for as long as it did: complex ideas behind evolved sentient lifeforms, religious parables, and the fondness for the characters’ home worlds — especially that of Caprica. The characters all look back at their previous lives almost as ghosts; Admiral Bill Adama painfully drudges up memories of his ex-wife and lawyer father, while Kara “Starbuck” Thrace carries memories of her small, ramshackle apartment and Samuel Anders yearns for the thrill of a sports stadium. Seems like such a rich mythos created just to be the ruminants of a past life, doesn’t it? The Moore-Eick team also sees this potential, now capitalizing on the gap left by Battlestar Galactica’s end to create the appropriately-titled Caprica. Though it moves slowly at first while constructing an involved narrative framework in its predecessor’s shadow, this mythos-rich offshoot eventually finds the footing needed to fall in-line with the original series’ current of storytelling.Patton Oswalt in Caprica (2009)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.Hiro Kanagawa in Caprica (2009)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.Alessandra Torresani in Caprica (2009)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.Eric Stoltz and Esai Morales in Caprica (2009)Upon 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.Esai Morales and Sasha Roiz in Caprica (2009)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.Polly Walker and Magda Apanowicz in Caprica (2009)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.

 

REVIEW: STARGATE SG.1 – SEASON 10

Starring

Ben Browder (Farscape)
Amanda Tapping (Sanctuary)
Christopher Judge (The Dark Knight Rises)
Michael Shanks (Smallville)
Beau Bridges (My Name Is Earl)
Claudia Black (Pitch Black)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Tony Amendola (Annabelle)
Robert Picardo (The Orville)
Matthew Glave (Argo)
Tim Guinee (Iron Man)
Eric Steinberg (Supergirl)
Gary Jones (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
Garry Chalk (Arrow)
Jodelle Ferland (Kingdom Hospital)
Robin Mossley (Elf)
David Hewlett (Rise of TPOTA)
Joe Flanigan (Thoughtcrimes)
Torri Higginson (Dark Water0
Sarah Strange (Men In Trees)
David Nykl (Arrow)
Matthew Walker (Highlander: The Series)
Chuck Campbell (Jason X)
Cliff Simon (Project Eden)
Peter Flemming (The X-Files)
Bill Dow (Izombie)
Keegan Connor Tracy (Bates Motel)
Eric Breker (Scary Movie 3)
Richard Dean Anderson (MacGyver)
Willie Garson (Hawaii Five-0)
Peter DeLuise (21 Jump Street)
Isaac Hayes (South Park)
Jill Teed (Battlestar Galactica)
Morena Baccarin (Gotham)
David Andrews (Fight Club)
Don Stark (That 70s Show)
Adrian Holmes (Smallville)
Sonya Salomaa (Watchmen)
Rudolf Martin (24)
Scott McNeil (Beast Wars)
Aisha Hinds (Mr. Brooks)
Aaron Craven (The Predator)
Kavan Smith (Mission To Mars)
Kendall Cross (X-Men 2)
Anne Marie DeLuise (Strange Empire)
David Lovgren (Antitrust)
Joshua Malina (The Big Bang Theory)
Ron Canada (Wedding Crashers)
Craig Fairbrass (London Heist)
John Tench (Andromeda)
Lexa Doig (Arrow)
Peter Kent (Total Recall)
Fred Willard (Anchroman)
Fulvio Cecere (Valentine)
Jonathan Walker (Flash Gordon)

Sarah Strange in Stargate SG-1 (1997)Largely thanks to Vala (Claudia Black) who’s as charming as she is side-splittingly, ingeniously, flirtatiously funny and who now becomes a credited member of the main cast, season ten gets off to a brilliant start as the action picks up right where the previous season left-off with episode 1- Flesh and Blood and doesn’t decrease in pace.Claudia Black, Ben Browder, Michael Shanks, and Amanda Tapping in Stargate SG-1 (1997)It explores the continued threat of the Ori and their ever-increasing capture and control of worlds unable to mount any effective resistance against such a seemingly omnipotent foe. Episode 3- The Pegasus Project is also very gripping with a finale that’s both surprising and tantalizing.Richard Dean Anderson and Willie Garson in Stargate SG-1 (1997)episodes 10- The Quest, Part I and 11- The Quest, Part II both of which work well in continuing SG-1’s discovery & unravelling of Arthurian-inspired mysteries surrounding their search for a weapon capable of destroying their enemy. Episode 14- The Shroud sees Daniel in a unique position to deal a crippling blow to the Ori, which is also solid.While episode 20- Unending is a wonderful episode- with a story that’s not just dramatic, but explores sides to the main characters never seen before, it ends the season with so much unresolved that it’s difficult to appreciate this tenth season as it should be appreciated as the final outing of SG-1. Obviously a great deal has been withheld to be used in the TV movie The Ark of Truth.

REVIEW: STARGATE SG.1 – SEASON 9

Starring

Ben Browder (Farscape)
Amanda Tapping(Sanctuary)
Christopher Judge (The Dark Knight Rises)
Michael Shanks (Smallville)
Beau Bridges (My Name Is Earl)

Ben Browder in Stargate SG-1 (1997)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Claudia Black (Pitch Black)
Richard Dean Anderson (MacGyver)
Obi Ndefo (Star Trek: DS9)
Gary Jones (The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
Bill Dow (Izombie)
Matthew Walker (Alone In The Dark)
April Telek (Rogue)
Lexa Doig (Arrow)
Julian Sands (What/If)
Wallace Shawn (Young Sheldon)
Barclay Hope (Final Destination 3)
Maury Chaykin (My Cousin Vinny)
Louis Gossett Jr. (Enemy Mine)
Cliff Simon (Project Eden)
Kendall Cross (X-Men 2)
Peter Flemming (Staragte: Atlantis)
Sonya Salomaa (Watchmen)
Chilton Crane (The 4400)
Jason George (Fallen)
Jarvis W. George (Gamer)
William B. Davis (The X-Files)
Tony Todd (Candyman)
Neil Jackson (Blade: The Series)
Robert Picardo (The Orville)
Panou (Flash Gordon)
Ty Olsson (War For TPOTA)
Cameron Bright (Birth)
Garry Chalk (Arrow)
Don S. Davis (Twin Peaks)
Anna Galvin (Tin Man)
William Atherton (Ghostbusters)
JR Bourne (The 100)
Teryl Rothery (Arrow)
Reed Diamond (Agents of Shield)
Dakin Matthews (Child’s Play 3)
Veena Sood (Timecop)
Eric Breker (Scary Movie 3)
Matthew Bennett (Battlestar Galactica)
John Aylward (Alias)
Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters)
Chelah Horsdal (You Me Her)
Peter Shinkoda (Daredevil)
Matthew Glave (Argo)
Eric Steinberg (Supergirl)
Tamlyn Tomita (The Eye)
Tim Guinee (Iron Man)
Daniella Evangelista (Ripper)
Michael Ironside (Total Recall)
John Noble (Sleepy HOllow)
Katharine Isabelle (Ginger Snaps)
Noah Danby (Bitten)

Claudia Black and Ben Browder in Stargate SG-1 (1997)Avalon, Part 1 is a great season opener, introduces  new kid on the block Ben Browder,  as the season progresses the character is definitely fleshed out more and he soon fits in nicely with the tightly-knit S.G.1 team.Ben Browder and Michael Shanks in Stargate SG-1 (1997)However, the bottom line is that this is still a character who bares a striking similarity in disposition to Browder’s other well-known TV personality- Farscape’s John Crichton- with that same irreverent humor and easy-going attitude, but it’s a style that clearly works for Browder and it’s difficult not to find that likable. Beau Bridges’ introduction is made with equally good fanfare, his character is one who I found myself liking more readily- he approaches the role of the General of the base differently to Don S. Davis, with more of an every man approach, although he never hesitates to exert the full force of his office against unfriendly aliens, or humans when required.Mark Houghton in Stargate SG-1 (1997)Largely thanks to the development of this season’s main story-arc with the introduction of God-wannabes the Ori and their powerful minions known as Priors, this ninth season becomes surprisingly mesmerising in very short order. Beginning with the concluding part and then into episode 3- `Origin’, this season soon establishes itself as one of the best `Stargate: S.G.1′ offerings in years. The use of Arthurian legend in this season is spread pretty thickly in the beginning and had me worried that this fantasy element might not work in a predominantly science-fiction-oriented series, but very soon the parallels the writers draw between the Arthurian myth and the familiar Stargate set-up, become very inventive and come to work surprisingly well at contrasting against the new and growing force of evil spreading through the galaxy. In the first five episodes that other recognizable `Farscape’ regular Claudia Black and her seductively disobedient alter-ego Vala are another reason to be enchanted by this season. Vala brings such humor and life to the series that I was really disappointed when she parted company with S.G.1, despite the welcome return of Sam Carter following her brief career change. Thankfully Vala returns towards the end of the season and here’s hoping it’s not the last we see of her.Larry Cedar in Stargate SG-1 (1997)This season’s other major success is in its stand-alone stories that continue to present unique, punchy and creative sci-fi ideas to its audience. In particular episode 9- `Prototype’ and episode 13- `Ripple Effect’ are a couple of my favourites, the first of which concerns the discovery of a prodigy of Anubis frozen on a distant planet and the second has multiple S.G.1 teams pouring through the Stargate from diverse alternate realities , both of which had me glued to my seat

REVIEW: ANDROMEDA – SEASON 5

 

Starring

Kevin Sorbo (Hercules: TLJ)
Lisa Ryder (Jason X)
Gordon Michael Woolvett (Bride of Chucky)
Laura Bertram (50/50)
Lexa Doig (Arrow)
Steve Bacic (Flash Gordon)
Brandy Ledford (Rat Race)

Kevin Sorbo in Andromeda (2000)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Alan Scarfe (Kingdom Hospital)
Kyle Cassie (Deadpool)
Alexander Kalugin (Final Destination 3)
Jim Byrnes (Highlander: The Series)
Mark Acheson (elf)
Ken Tremblett (Caitlin’s Way)
Kendall Cross (X-Men 2)
Don S. Davis (Stargate SG.1)
Noah Danby (Bitten)
Natassia Malthe (Bloodrayne 2& 3)
Matthew Bennett (Battlestar Galactica)
Bill Mondy (Blade: The Series)
Alex Diakun (Agent COdy Banks)
Lochlyn Munro (Scary Movie)
Robin Mossley (Elf)
Monika Schnarre (Waxwork II)
Kevin Durand (Swamp Thing)
Hiro Kanagawa (Izombie)
Ari Cohen (IT)
Françoise Yip (The Predator)
Kevan Ohtsji (Elektra)
John DeSantis (Arrow)
Emmanuelle Vaugier (Two and a Half Men)
Ty Olsson (Battlestar Galactica)
Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother)
Sarah Edmondson (Salvation)

Andromeda: The Weight: Part 2 (2004)Andromeda starred Kevin Sorbo (Hercules: The Legendary Journey’s) in a science fiction series created by Gene Roddenberry (Star Trek) with a variety of executive producers Robert Hewitt Wolfe (The 4400, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Majel Rodenberry (Earth: Final Conflict), Allan Eastman (Star Trek: Voyager), Robert Engels (seaQuest DSV), Jay Firestone (Mutant X, La Femme Nikita), and Adam Haight (Mutant X, Highlander: The Raven). With its diverse crew of producers with extensive experience in science fiction and drama productions, Andromeda put in five solid seasons from 2000 to 2005 and totaled one-hundred and ten episodes. The premise of Andromeda is about the adventures of the crew the Andromeda and their efforts to rebuild a massive civilization that spanned the universe.Kevin Sorbo in Andromeda (2000)In season five, the series takes a much different turn in events. At the end of the season four, there was some skepticism as to whether or not the show would continue into a fifth season. Well, the series was picked up for a fifth season, but with a smaller budget. And the budget (or rather lack of) shows in the episodes. The storylines lose the grandeur it once had with the epic space battles and massive story arcs. The series, stories, and character becomes more confined and lose a lot of the appeal found in previous seasons. In a nutshell, watching season five was more of a chore than fun. While there was some decent content, it does not compare to the quality of the past seasons.Andromeda (2000)In the close of season four, the Andromeda came to the space station Arkology to warn the inhabitants about their impending doom. The Magog Worldship was headed right for them and they need to get out of there. The inhabitants were a peaceful people and believed that they could make peace with the Magog. Dylan and the rest tried to tell them peace is not an option. Of course, they did not listen. When the Magog came, the Andromeda and its crew tried its best to stop the onslaught, but they failed miserably. In the close of the two-part season four finale, Dylan took the Route of Ages in a slipstream fighter and found himself transported into an alternative universe.Andromeda (2000)The two-part episode “The Weight” kicks off season five. In it, Dylan gets accustomed to his new life in the alternate universe on a planet called Seefra-1, which is one of nine barren wastelands. When Dylan tries to learn more about where he is, he finds little help. But when he meets a mysterious man named Flavin, he begins to get more clues about his situation. He is trapped in an isolated cluster of planets in another universe. Dylan explores Seefra-1 and later runs into a very disgruntled Rhade. Rhade and the others crew members (who Dylan runs into in later episodes) are unhappy with him for leaving them to die. It was through the efforts of Trance that the Andromeda (badly damaged) and her crew were brought into this alternate reality and not left to die at the hands of the Magog. They also blame him for being stuck on Seefra-1. Dylan returns to Flavin to get more information from him. Dylan learns his place is on Seefra-1; he must help the people in the coming days. Flavin also reveals the true nature of the Route of Ages.Alex Diakun in Andromeda (2000)After the not-so-exciting season premiere, “Phear Phactor Phenom” has the majority of the season four cast back together in some form or another, Dylan, Harper, Beka, Trance, and Rhade. We learn that Rommie was destroyed and Harper had been on Seefra-1 for over three years while the rest of the crew had only just recently arrived. During Harper’s time on the Seefra-1, he was able to rebuild a new android with portions of Rommie’s damaged core. The new character is Doyle, a blonde robot who was initially made to think she is human. The season five episodes proceed with the cast getting reacquainted with each other and Dylan trying to get the Andromeda up and running again. Some have changed with their new situation, most notably Trance who lost portions of her memory.Lochlyn Munro in Andromeda (2000)In the episode “Moonlight Becomes You”, Trance starts to remember who she is and the season starts to focus on the storyline hinted at in “The Weight”. The Seefra system is in jeopardy and the crew must work together to save the inhabitants of the nine wastelands over the next several episodes. But the story really ties into the power that is Trance. Trance is an avatar of the Vedran sun and the actual sun is approaching Seefra-1. When it arrives, the planets in the system (except for Seefra-1) will explode. The episodes “Past is Prolix”, “The Opposites of Attraction”, “Saving Light from a Black Sun”, “Quantum Tractate Delirium”, “One More Day’s Light”, and “Chaos and the Stillness of It” continue to focus on this storyline (uncovering more about Trance, the council of avatars she is a senior member of, and the crew trying to save the inhabitants), which is much more entertaining than the first portion of the season, but it still lacks the same punch the early seasons had.Andromeda (2000)In the two-part series finale “The Heart of the Journey”, the series come to a close by wrapping up the series story arc with the Abyss. While on Seefra-1, Harper receives a message transmission for Dylan. It is from Flavin, who had been killed by the Abyss, telling Dylan he is the last hope for the survival of the known worlds. The Council intends to destroy the galaxies of the known world in order to snuff out the Abyss. They, however, give Dylan and his crew the opportunity to return before their utter demise. Once back in their universe, they find only four days have passed since the Magog Worldship attacked. The Andromeda has to face the Nietzchseans and the Abyss. The situation that appeared dire ends with a happy ending and the destruction of the Abyss in a battle that is far from epic.Emmanuelle Vaugier in Andromeda (2000)Overall, I really did not care for this season. The level of grandeur in the storylines was significantly diminished. The big flashy effects were part of what made the sci-fi series so much fun were gone. The show tended to have very isolated stories with limited character development. In the end, I did not see much in this season that made it worthwhile. Sure, there are some decent episodes, but they fail to compare to the past seasons. Despite my lack of enthusiasm, I give it a rent it recommendation on the pure basis that it concludes the series and there are a few decent episodes to follow.

 

REVIEW: STARGATE SG.1 – SEASON 8

Starring

Richard Dean Anderson (MacGyver)
Amanda Tapping (Sanctuary)
Christopher Judge (The Dark Knight Rises)
Michael Shanks (Smallville)

Torri Higginson and Michael Shanks in Stargate SG-1 (1997)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Torri Higginson (Dark Matter)
G. Patrick Currie (Battlestar Galactica)
Kira Clavell (Ninja Turtles: Next Mutation)
Steve Bacic (Andromeda)
Gary Jones (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
Kevan Ohtsji (elektra)
David DeLuise (Wizards of Waverly Place)
Barclay Hope (Final Destination 5)
Chelah Horsdal (Hell on Wheels)
Gavin Hood (Eye In The Sky)
Alisen Down (Smallville)
Aaron Pearl (Man of Steel)
Cliff Simon (Project Eden)
Bill Dow (Izombie)
David Kaufman (Prom Night)
Colin Cunningham (The 6th Day)
Amy Sloan (Timeline)
Timothy Webber (War For TPOTA)
Matthew Bennett (BAttlestar Galactica)
Andrew Airlie (Fifty Shades of Grey)
Erica Durance (Smallvile)
Derek Hamilton (Arrow)
Charles Shaughnessy (Mad Men)
Tom O’Brien (The Accused)
Kendall Cross (X-Men 2)
Jolene Blalock (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Tony Amendola (Annabelle)
Mercedes de la Zerda (War For TPOTA)
Noah Dalton Danby (Bitten)
Brandy Ledford (Andromeda)
Mark Gibbon (Warpath)
Peter Bryant (Legends of Tomorrow)
Claudia Black (Pitch Black)
Don S. Davis (Twin Peaks)
Ellie Harvie (The New Addmas Family)
Eric Breker (Scary Movie 3)
Tom McBeath (Bates Motel)
Garry Chalk (Arrow)
Mike Dopud (The Predator)
Hiro Kanagawa (Izombie)
Dan Castellaneta (The Simpsons)
Deborah Theaker (A Mighty Wind)
Mel Harris (Raising Cain)
Isaac Hayes (South Park)
George Dzundza (Crimson Tide)
Clare Carey (Jericho)
David Hewlett (Rise of TPOTA)
Robert Wisden (Watchmen)
Alessandro Juliani (Smallville)
Georgia Craig (Good Luck Chuck)
Jay Acovone (Beauty and The beast)
Peter Williams (Catwoman)

Stargate has retained a massive level of consistency over the years, staying at the same level of quality, if not getting even a little bit better: it has always retained the humor, the characterization and the excitement and the action that has made it so loved.Richard Dean Anderson in Stargate SG-1 (1997)Since season seven, there has been more of a focus on characterization and a tad bit more humor: and i for one welcome this, as the characters have always been the best aspect of the show: season eight continues this trend, and also the trend of even better quality than ever before!Holly Ferguson and Amanda Tapping in Stargate SG-1 (1997)Highlights include the opening two parter: New order Parts one and Two which is very exciting with plenty of plot twists. Affinity is another highlight for me as it is an episode with very little action, it is a mystery with a huge focus on characterization and intrigue, and manages to be very intriguing, with, again, some brilliant little character moments. Prometheus unbound is a highlight.Richard Dean Anderson in Stargate SG-1 (1997)Reckoning parts one and two are possibly the best episodes of stargate ever made; they wrap up most of the major storylines, bringing the end to both the main enemies in the show, and are impossibly epic: there is so much going on, so much peril and a sense of doom, that you are kept on the edge of your seat the whole time, with some humour thrown in for good measure.