REVIEW: TMNT (2007)

 

CAST (VOICES)

Chris Evans (Caprain America)
Sarah Michelle Gellar (Cruel Intentions)
Mako (Conan The Barbarian)
Kevin Smith (Superman Doomsday)
Patrick Stewart (X-Men)
Ziyi Zhang (Hero)
Laurence Fishburne (Hannibal)
Mitchell Whitfield (The Legend of Korra)
James Patrick Taylor (Batman: TBATB)
Mikey Kelley (The Superhero Squad Show)
Nolan North (Pretty Little Liars)
John DiMaggio (Futurama)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
Grey DeLisle (The Replacements)

Image result for tmnt 2007Three thousand years ago, an Aztec warlord named Yaotl and his four generals discover a portal opening into a parallel universe which is said to have great power. Yaotl becomes immortal from the power, but his four generals were turned to stone. The portal releases 13 immortal monsters (such as the Bigfoot, the Centaur, Lethargo the Mapinguari, Aracknor the Jbafofi, Succubor the Popobawa, the Jersey Devil and the Sea Monster) that destroy his army as well as his enemies. In the present, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have grown apart. After defeating the Shredder, Master Splinter has sent Leonardo to Central America for training. Donatello works as an IT specialist, Michelangelo works as a birthday party entertainer called Cowabunga Carl and Raphael works at night as a vigilante nicknamed Nightwatcher. April O’Neil operates a company that locates and acquires relics for collectors with the help of her boyfriend, Casey Jones.
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During a business trip to Central America, April runs into Leonardo and tells him that the turtles have drifted apart. She returns to New York with a statue for her client, Max Winters, the richest man in the city. Upon arrival she calls Casey and tells him that she spoke to Leo and tells him that Leo’s not coming back. However a little later Leo does return, and April and Casey deliver the statue to Winters. Winters hires Karai and the Foot Clan to search the city for the thirteen beasts before the portal opens again. Raphael encounters Casey, who reveals his knowledge of Raphael’s double identity and joins him in hunting criminals.
Image result for tmnt 2007Winters, who is actually the still-immortal Yaotl, reanimates his generals with his company’s advanced technology, but they remain made of stone. Leo returns to the sewer, meeting Splinter. Splinter forbids the Turtles from fighting until they can act as a team again. While training, the Turtles encounter Bigfoot, one of the thirteen beasts battling the Foot Clan. The Turtles engage Bigfoot, going against Leo and Splinter’s orders. When Raphael visits Casey, they encounter Vampire Succubor and witness its capture by the Foot Clan and the Stone Generals, who spot them and knock Raphael unconscious. Casey takes him back to the apartment while April calls the Turtles for help and reveals the identities of Yaotl and his Generals. After being revived, Raphael suggests they pursue Yaotl, but Leo forbids him to go until Splinter gives out the order and so Raphael goes out to investigate alone as Nightwatcher.
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Leo, Donny and Mikey return to their sewer home to plan their next move, where Donny discovers the reopening of the portal will be directly over Winters’ skyscraper headquarters. Splinter informs Leo that his team is incomplete, and that he knows what he must do. After eleven monsters have been captured, General Aguila questions Yaotl’s actions. The Generals conspire betray Yaotl, wanting to remain immortal. Raphael encounters Jersey Devil, one of the remaining monsters but drives it off. Leo has been following him, wanting to put an end to the Nightwatcher’s vigilante acts, but when Raph is revealed, they battle. Raph breaks Leo’s twin swords and seems as though he is about to kill him but runs off instead. Immediately after Raph flees, the Generals ambush Leo, who is shot with a poison dart and too weak to fight them. Raph hears him scream in the distance as he’s taken hostage and doubles back in pursuit, but he fails to get there in time. He takes Leo’s broken swords back to Splinter and explains what happened.
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The Generals intend to substitute Leo for the thirteenth missing beast and Raphael decides to make amends for his past mistakes by rescuing Leo. As the portal opens, Yaotl discovers his Generals’ treachery, while Splinter and the Turtles, accompanied by Casey and April, fight their way through the Foot Clan cordon and breach the tower. Yaotl reveals the truth to the heroes: he wants to be free of his curse of immortality. The Generals reveal that they wish to preserve their immortality, but also to use the portal to bring in more monsters to conquer the world.
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Having refused to betray Yaotl in exchange for serving the Generals, April, Casey and the Foot Clan work together, searching for the final monster while the Turtles fight the Generals. Splinter and Yaotl fight off numerous monsters emerging from the portal. April, Casey and Karai arrive at the tower with the last monster, the Sea Monster. The Sea Monster crashes into the Generals, dragging them into the portal before it closes. Karai warns them to enjoy their victory while it lasts, claiming they will soon contend with a familiar foe, which the Turtles suspect to be the Shredder. She and the rest of the Foot Clan depart. Yaotl, now mortal, honors the Turtles and Splinter, thanking them with his dying breath for fulfilling his lifelong wish. Splinter places Yaotl’s helmet among his trophy collection, as well as Raphael’s Nightwatcher helmet and Michelangelo’s turtle costume, and the film ends with Raphael narrating that the Turtles will always be brothers.
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Taking cues from “Dark Crystal” and “Hellboy” for the finale, “TMNT” morphs into a non-stop action film that will surely delight children who need this sort of mayhem added to their Disneyfied diet every now and again. The conclusion hints at the return of an old enemy for the Turtles to battle, but a sequel was dropped in favor of the 2014 film.

REVIEW: COMIC BOOK: THE MOVIE

CAST

Mark Hamill (Star wars)
Billy West (Futurama)
Donna D’Errico (Candyman 3)
Roger Rose (Happy Feet)
Jess Harnell (Taz-Mania)
Lori Alan (Family Guy)
Daran Norris (Veronica Mars)
Jim Cummings (Aladdin)
Jill Talley (Sky High)
Tara Strong (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Jeremy Bulloch (A Night To Remember)
James Arnold Taylor (Batman: TBATB)
Tom Kenny (Super Hero Squad)
Peter Mayhew (Star Wars)
Bruce Campbell (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Kevin Smith (Dogma)
Hugh Hefner (Hop)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Lloyd Kaufman (Tales From The Crapper)
David Prowse (Star Wars)
Matt Groening (The Simpsons)
Arleen Sorkin (Batman: TAS)
Ray Harryhausen (20 Million Miles To Earth)
Phil Morris (Smallville)
Gary Owens (That 70s Show)
Chase Masterson (Star Trek: DS9)
J.J. Abrams (Alias)
Bill Mumy (Lost In Space)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Maurice LaMarche (Futurama)
Gary Anthony Williams (TMNT: OOTS)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)

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The story centers around Don Swan (Hamill), a middle-aged high school teacher and comics aficionado from Wisconsin who owns his own comic book store and even publishes a fanzine about the Golden Age of comics. He’s invited by a Hollywood film studio to be a technical consultant on a movie based on a comic, which in turn was based on a Golden Age comic he’s loved since childhood. It’s his insight Timely Studios wants to help make a good movie… or at least that’s what he thinks.
The fictional comic in question is “Commander Courage,” a WWII-era superhero who is a composite of every legendary, patriotic superhero ever (Superman, Captain America, the Lone Ranger, etc.). He’s got super powers, wears a mask, has a boy sidekick and fights the Nazis. This character eventually faded away but was resurrected as “Codename: Courage” after 9/11. The new version is updated for the times, but to Don’s chagrin, perhaps a little too modern. This new guy embodies every cliche of the mysterious loner/badass-to-the-extreme/tough-as-nails government assassin-type “superhero” to come out of comics in the last 15 years. Or, imagine every action movie character ever played by Stallone, Van Damme, Segal and Schwarzenegger all rolled into one. Now imagine what a movie company would like to do with a character like that!
Image result for comic book the moviePoor Don, he thinks he can actually persuade the studio execs to keep the Courage character close to his original conception and not ignore his 60-year history. Lori Alan and Roger Rose co-star as the vain, uptight, greedy movie moguls who are just using Don to endorse the film at the hugely popular San Diego Comic Con where over 60,000 other geeks are hoping for a sneak peek. After all, no word of mouth endorsements or condemnations travel faster than at the speed of geek. They even provide Don with a Tommy Chong-esque cameraman named Ricky (Jess Harnell) to document everything as a DVD bonus feature.
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As is the case with most mockumentaries, there isn’t really a plot to “Comic Book: The Movie,” it’s more of a meandering story of Don’s journey to Hollywood and then to the comic book convention and his feeble attempt to convince the world the original, wholesome character would make a better movie than the gritty one. Don is so committed to his quest he even has a Commander Courage costume professionally made and hires an actor to wear it at the convention CBTM2(Daran Norris is sublime as the clueless patsy). Don’s work on his fanzine manages to get him some pretty big contacts in Los Angeles too, most notably filmmaker Kevin Smith, Playboy publisher Hugh Hefner, and cult movie star Bruce Campbell. All three are genuinely interested in Don’s mission to keep the movie from becoming another lame potboiler. Voice actor extraordanaire Billy West (best known for Fry on Futurama) co-stars as Leo, the long-lost grandson of Commander Courage’s creator who has no idea of the royalties he’s entitled to. Leo’s very shy and not too bright, but over the course of a few days will be seduced by the Hollywood scene and the way he changes is hilarious.
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The film was shot entirely on video with hand held cameras to make it look as if you were watching a TV news magazine, or, dare I say it – MTV. It’s an original way to tell the story since the majority of the film takes place at the giant convention with thousands of people walking around. Shooting it this way makes it more believable when we see people standing around watching the main characters talk and even getting in on the action too. The only problem I had was that sometimes it’s difficult to tell where Comic Book: The Movie ends and the movie-within-the-movie begins. We occasionally see the “real” movie’s camera crew through Ricky’s camera, but unlike Ricky, these guys are never acknowledged. I didn’t feel this was a wink at the camera in-joke, but more of a sloppy filmming technique. It probably would have worked better had the actual movie been shot on film with Ricky’s video footage intercut when necessary instead of at random. The constant back and forth and the appearance of boom mikes is disorienting and confusing. Obviously, Comic Book: The Movie is targeted at a specific audience, and being part of that demographic I couldn’t help but enjoy it. To the non-comics fan it might come across as silly, but there’s really a lot of intelligent satire to be found here.

REVIEW: DAREDEVIL (2003)

CAST

Ben Affleck (Batman v Superman)
Jennifer Garner (Alias)
Michael Clarke Duncan (Sin CIty)
Colin Farrell (Intermission)
Jon Favreau (Iron Man)
Joe Pantoliano (The Matrix)
David Keith (Firestarter)
Scott Terra (Shadrach)
Leland Orser (The Bone Collector)
Erick Avari (Stargate)
Ellen Pompeo (Grey’s Anatomy)
Derrick O’ Connor (Lethal Weapon 2)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Kevin Smith (Dogma)
Coolio (Batman & Robin)

Daredevil stars Ben Affleck as Matt Murdock, a lawyer who lives and works in the Hell’s Kitchen area of New York City. As a child, Matt was blinded by biohazardous waste. However, this traumatic event augmented his other four senses, granting him with a radar-like vision, allowing him to “see” with sound. With his heightened senses, and his need to have justice fulfilled (stemming from his father’s murder), Matt roams the streets at night as Daredevil, a masked vigilante who serves as judge, jury, and executioner. Matt’s obsession with justice alienates him from others, even his law partner “Foggy” Nelson (Jon Favreau).Matt’s life changes when he meets the beautiful Elektra (Jennifer Garner). Matt is immediately taken by this strong, young woman who is an accomplished fighter. However, things go awry when Elektra’s father is targeted by the ruthless Kingpin (Michael Clarke Duncan), a crime-boss who will stop at nothing to keep his empire intact. Kingpin dispatches the assassin Bullseye (Colin Farrell), who has the ability to make any object into a deadly weapon, to eliminate Elektra’s father. Matt finds himself pulled into Elektra’s world, but clearly only Daredevil can stop Bullseye and The Kingpin.Jennifer Garner in Daredevil (2003)Daredevil is a very dark movie.  Thus capturing the feel of the years that Frank Miller worked on the comic. While most of the Marvel Comics characters are tortured souls, Daredevil is an especially bleek character, and the movie does a fine job of presenting this. Whereas the comic is full of thought balloons in which the character expresses his innermost feelings, the film presents montages essaying his loneliness and bitterness. This is a man who is pissed-off at the world, and even when something beautiful such as Elektra comes along, it gets blighted.Ben Affleck in Daredevil (2003)Along with the tone of the film, Johnson provides a nice pace as well. The action scenes here are nothing new, but they are very well-shot and edited. The film does a fine job of balancing the exciting scenes with the more dramatic ones, and Favreau is even able to throw in a few moments of comic relief. For the most part, the special effects are good.One of the film’s biggest surprises is the performance by Affleck. Maybe it’s the contact lenses that he had to wear to convey blindness, but he is very good as Matt Murdock, keeping his typically rakish behavior in check for most of the film. Garner is impressive as well as Elektra, although I would have liked to have seen a costume that was similar to that in the comics.   A director’s cut of the film was released for in 2004. This version contained new additions like previously unseen footage and a removed subplot, and was to be a bit darker with an R rating. One of the biggest changes to the film was the addition of a subplot involving a drug addict played by Coolio.

REVIEW: VERONICA MARS – SEASON 1-3

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MAIN CAST

Kristen Bell (Frozen)
Teddy Dunn (Jumper)
Jason Dohring (The Originals)
Percy Daggs III (Izombie)
Francis Capra (Heroes)
Enrico Colantoni (Powers)
Sydney Tamiia Poitier (Death Proof)
Tessa Thompson (Thor: Ragnarok)
Ryan Hansen (2 Broke Girls)
Kyle Gallner (Smallville)
Tina Majorino (Bones)
Julie Gonzalo (Dodgeball)
Chris Lowell (The Help)
Michael Muhney (Columbus Day)
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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Corinne Bohrer (Police Academy 4)
Amanda Seyfried (Jennifer’s Body)
Lisa Thornhill (The Family Man)
Kyle Secor (The Purge 3)
Daran Norris (Izombie)
Brandon Hilock (Villains)
Patrick Wolff (Power Rangers Lost Galaxy)
Bradley Joseph (A Cinderella Story)
Duane Daniels (First Strike)
Paris Hilton (Bottoms Up)
Aaron Ashmore (Smallville)
Melissa Leo (The Fighter)
Paul Marshall (Cheaper By The Dozen)
Alison MacInnis (Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue)
Kyla Pratt (Dr. Dolittle)
Adam Wylie (Under Wraps)
Sam Huntington (Superman Returns)
Lisa Rinna (Melrose Place)
Jane Lynch (Glee)
Harry Hamlin (Clash of The Titans)
Jessica Chastain (Interstellar)
Steven Williams (The Blues Brothers)
Adam Kaufman (Buffy)
Bonita Friedericy (Chuck)
Alona Tal (Cult)
Erica Gimpel (Roswell)
Christian Clemenson (Lois & Clark)
Jonathan Bennett (Van Wilder: Freshman Year)
Chris William Martin (The Vampire Diaries)
Megalyn Echikunwoke (Arrow)
Emmanuelle Vaugier (Two and a Half Man)
Christopher B. Duncan (Three Kings)
Anthoyn Anderson (Transformers)
Jowharah Jones (The Client List)
Leighton Meester (The Roommate)
Max Greenfield (New Girl)
Christine Lakin (Family Guy)
Adam Scott (Krampus)
Cynthia LaMontagne (That 70s Show)
Zachery Ty Bryan (Fast and The Furious 3)
Erin Chambers (Happy Feet)
Ken Marino (Agent Carter)
Jonathan Taylor Thomas (Smallville)
Roy Werner (Power Rangers Time Force)
Kevin Sheridan (The Closer)
Jeffrey D. Sams (Soul Food)
Charisma Carpenter (Buffy)
Steve Guttenberg (Police Academy)
Kevin Smith (Clerks)
David Starzyk (Bones)
Ari Graynor (For A Good Time, Call..)
Kristin Dattilo (Dexter)
Laura Bell Bundy (Anger Management)
Dana Davis (Heroes)
Krysten Ritter (Jessica Jones)
Rick Peters (The Craving Heart)
Tracey Walter (Batman)
Joss whedon (Angel)
Rodney Rowland (The 6th Day)
Taylor Sheridan (Sicario)
Jason Molina (Alpha Dog)
Lucas Grabeel (Smallville)
Alyson Hannigan (How I Met Your Mother)
B.J. Britt (Agents of SHIELD)
Curtis Andersen (Sabrina: TTW)
Jessy Schram (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles)
Michael Cera (Juno)
Kayla Ewell (The Vampire Diaries)
Patrick Fabian (The Last Exorcism)
Jason Beghe (G.I. Jane)
Samm Levine (Not Another Teen Movie)
Rider Strong (Cabin Fever)
Chastity Dotson (Single Ladies)
Lucy Lawless (Ash Vs Evil Dead)
Keri Lynn Pratt (Cruel Intentions 2)
Dan Castellaneta (The Simpsons)
Rachelle Lefevre (Twilight)
Ryan Devlin (Weather Girl)
Armie Hammer (The Social Network)
Lindsey McKeon (One Tree Hill)
Ed Begley Jr. (Batman Forever)
Parry Shen (The New Guy)
Blake Shields (Heroes)
Ryan Pinkston (Bad Santa)
Jaime Ray Newman (Bates Motel)
Krista Kalmus (North Shore)
Adam Rose (Up In The Air)
Amanda Walsh (Disturbia)
Charlie Weber (Buffy)
Sandra McCoy (Power Rangers Wild Force)
Michael Grant Terry (Bones)
David Tom (Pleasantville)
Charles Shaughnessy (Stargate SG.1)
David Blue (Stargate Universe)
Jeremy Roberts (The Mask)
Robert Ri’chard (The Vampire Diaries)
Jesse James (Jumper)
Paul Rudd (Ant-Man)
Suzanne Cryer (Two Guys and a GIrl)
Ed Gathegi (X-Men: First Class)
Travis Van Winkle (Meet The Spartans)

Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad)

 

Veronica Mars is set in Neptune, California, a town without a middle-class. Everyone’s either a millionaire or works for one, and the man largely responsible for Neptune’s unparalleled success is Jake Kane (Kyle Secor), the resident billionaire software mogul. Kane and his family are still reeling from the murder of his daughter Lilly (Amanda Seyfried) some months earlier, and as if that loss wasn’t enough, the beloved Kane family was doggedly pursued by a county sheriff convinced that they were hiding something. Public sentiment turned against Sheriff Keith Mars (Enrico Colantoni), who was ousted from office and abandoned by his wife.

Cue the title character. His daughter Veronica (Kristen Bell) had already lost her best friend with Lilly’s death, but standing by her father also cost Veronica her friends, her social status, her house…even her mother. Veronica had already been unceremoniously dumped by Lilly’s brother Duncan (Teddy Dunn) shortly before her friend’s murder, and a defiant visit to face her former friends at a party weeks later led to Veronica being drugged and raped. Despite having lost so much, Veronica is resilient enough to move on with her life, and as her father struggles to stay afloat as a private eye, Veronica puts her smarts and determination to work to help ease the caseload at Mars Investigations. She also puts her talents to use to help her classmates with their troubles — for a price, of course. To cap it all off, Veronica’s faced with a couple of her own mysteries to solve. What convinced Lianne Mars to abandon her family, and where is she now? Who was it who drugged and raped Veronica last December? Also, is her father right — did someone other than disgruntled Kane Software employee Abel Koontz murder Lilly? If there is, who orchestrated the conspiracy that led to Koontz’ confession and why?

The dialogue in Veronica Mars has the same sparkle as Joss Whedon’s work…arguably better, even, since Buffy sometimes sounded like a deliberate attempt to be hip, whereas Veronica Mars manages to be witty and clever without feeling quite so forced. The writing doesn’t skew as young as one might expect from a TV show set in a high school. If anything, the target audience seems to be twentysomething — I don’t know how many fifteen year olds would be able to appreciate references to Archie comics or 21 Jump Street, f’r instance. Characterization is another strength of the series, and part of the reason Veronica Mars works as well as it does is that the audience truly does care about the characters. Despite having a seemingly endless array of talents, Veronica isn’t some sort of idyllic Mary Sue. She’s not always right. Her investigations frequently take morally questionable turns. Things don’t always go the way she wants. Not every episode has a happy ending.Kristen Bell in Veronica Mars (2004)Along with the cases that are solved in the space of forty minutes and change every week, a couple of mysteries are introduced in the pilot that are gradually explored throughout the entire length of the season. That’s right — unlike the hydra that is Lost, where answering one question spawns ten more, all of Veronica Mars’ mysteries are resolved by the time the season finale rolls around. (The finale tosses out a couple questions of its own, but if a second season hadn’t gotten the green light, it still would’ve been a fitting end to the series.)Veronica Mars has a capable cast to match the quality of the writing. Veronica is strong and cynical…bright and sarcastic…and even though all of the trauma she’s suffered over the past year has aged her somewhat, she’s still an emotionally vulnerable teenage girl. That’s a lot to juggle, but Kristen Bell is talented enough to make such a colossal task seem effortless and captivating enough to carry a show on her shoulders. Of course, Bell is joined by a strong enough supporting cast that she doesn’t have to shoulder it all herself.VM-S2D2_04After cutting down Wallace (Percy Daggs III), the new kid at school, who’d been stripped naked and duct taped to a flagpole, he and Veronica become best friends. In teen-TV land, it’s an immutable rule that people of different genders can’t just be pals…there’s this endless temptation to couple everyone. Veronica Mars manages to resist, resulting in one of the few platonic friendships like this left on television.Enrico Colantoni, who plays Veronica’s father, is another fan favorite, able to shift from warm, loving, and borderline-goofy to secretive and deadly serious when the situation calls for it. There’s also Eli “Weevil” Navarro (Francis Capra), the leader of a local biker gang from the wrong side of the tracks who engages in some mutual backscratching with Veronica.

The character who stands out the most — aside from Veronica, of course — is Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring). Like Kristen Bell, Dohring is endlessly engaging. He’s introduced as an “obligatory psychotic jackass”, but as the season progresses, Logan’s humanized without being watered-down; even when he’s doing something as thoroughly loathesome as bribing a homeless vet to join in on his homebrew Bumfights video, there’s an undercurrent of understanding why Logan is the way he is. The character changes throughout the season, but the shift feels deserved and natural, not just because that’s what’s scrawled on the whiteboard in the writing room.Other guest stars throughout the season include Napoleon Dynamite’s Tina Majorino as computer whiz Mac, Aaron Ashmore as a love interest with a shady past, Logan’s movie star family (played by Harry Hamlin, Lisa Rinna, and Alyson Hannigan), Anthony Anderson, Zachary Ty Brian, Joey Lauren Adams, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, and, in a shameless bit of stuntcasting, Paris Hilton. The fact that the second episode of Veronica Mars manages to be really good despite a Paris Hilton guest spot really is a testament to how good a series this is. Oh, and, in true Laura Palmer fashion, just because Lilly Kane is dead doesn’t mean that Amanda Seyfried can’t rear her head in nearly every other episode.The conclusion to most of the mysteries caught me by surprise. Throughout the entire season, the only time I correctly guessed the culprit was in “Lord of the Bling”, and even then, the motivation and execution were well out of my reach. The many twists the stories take are clever, and watching these episodes a second time, I could spot all sorts of clues and hints that didn’t seem that important the first time through.  Veronica Mars is a series that’s easy to dive into as a marathon, but for viewers catching these episodes for the first time, I’d recommend drawing it out a bit.

The central arcs of Veronica Mars’ first season were all intensely personal: Veronica being abandoned by her mother, not to mention every one of her former friends, roofie-fueled date rape at a party a year earlier, and the brutal murder of her closest friend, Lilly Kane. How do you follow up a season like that? t’d be nearly impossible to craft another set of stories that’d resonate in quite that same way without retreading familiar ground, so season two of Veronica Mars takes a different approach, shifting the focus away from our plucky junior detective and more towards the sticky underbelly of Neptune, California as a whole.Mayoral candidate Woody Goodman (Steve Guttenberg) has a vision for the glorified country club that is Neptune. Incorporating Neptune would have a Tide with Bleach effect, making the whites whiter and the rich richer as property values are boosted and less desirable elements are rezoned onto someone else’s doorstep. Woody’s plan is announced as the tensions between the haves and have-nots are already boiling over in Neptune.Logan Echols, the cocky son of an aging Hollywood action hero, has walked away unscathed from accusations of stabbing a Hispanic biker to death, prompting a series of vicious attacks from both sides. The stark differences between the classes are also apparent after a school-sponsored trip; the rich kids hop in a limo and ride back in style, and the not-so-privileged cram into a rank schoolbus and careen off the side of a cliff. The town is torn apart by the tragedy, and Veronica, who’d barely missed the bus and was very nearly among the dead, is determined to find out if the crash was a terrible accident, suicide, or something much more ominous.Image result for veronica mars driver edIt’s a hectic season, with a bus crash, two murder trials, class-slash-racial tensions throughout Neptune, a sheriff race, the possibility of Neptune incorporating, the ambiguity about Wallace’s family life, a coma-baby, Beaver following in his shamed father’s footsteps as he tries to get his own real estate endeavour off the ground, the strife former baseball star Terrence Cook and his overbearing daughter Jackie (Tessa Thompson) bring to Neptune, the newly-introduced clan of Irish drug-peddlers known as the Fitzpatricks, and the machinations of Dick and Beaver’s scheming stepmother Kendall (Charisma Carpenter). There’s enough to follow The season plays a lot better on DVD; it’s easier to keep the scores of characters and plot points fresh in the mind over the course of a few days as opposed to the better part of a year.In its third — and ultimately final — season, Veronica Mars steps away from any season-length stories. Slightly truncated to twenty episodes, season three is neatly grouped into three distinct chunks of episodes. The season opens with Veronica settling into her freshman year at Hearst College, but the campus continues to be plagued by a spree of sexual assaults. Mac’s bubbly roommate Parker (Julie Gonzalo) is the latest victim to be roofied and raped, with the attacker leaving his calling card by shaving her head. Having suffered through the past couple of years as a rape victim herself and unwittingly in a position to have caught Parker’s rapist during the attack, Veronica’s grim determination to put an end to this reign of terror makes up the first and the lengthiest of the season’s arcs.The season’s second arc picks up a couple of months after the grisly final shot of “Spit and Eggs” as the police have shrugged off the death of someone close to Veronica as a suicide. A devastating emotional blow delivered just hours earlier, a gunshot to the temple, a vague suicide note typed on a PC…it’s tragic, yes, but the pieces fit neatly together just the same. Still, it’s a scenario lifted directly from a paper Veronica penned for her criminology class on how to commit the perfect murder. Throughout the course of their investigation, Veronica and her father become entangled in a pair of other murders, among them the death of one of Veronica Mars’ most enduring characters.Facing cancellation and attempting to make the largely serialized series more accessible to new viewers, Veronica Mars draws to a close with a set of five standalone episodes. There aren’t any overarching investigations, although some threads leak from one episode to the next, including a sheriff’s race between Keith Mars and an unlikely contender.

The season premiere introduces two other Hearst students who’d go on to stick around for the rest of the year: Wallace’s roommate Stosh “Piz” Piznarski (Chris Lowell) and Mac’s roomieuntitledThe hunt for Hearst’s rapist, which runs for the nine of the season’s twenty episodes, is the highest point of the set. It’s the most engaging of the season’s various arcs, which is impressive considering that these episodes have to juggle the weekly mysteries, the overarching search for the rapist, and introduce the new characters and Hearst College as a whole. There seems to be some connection between the rapes and the Greek system at Hearst, pitting Veronica against a group of feminists determined to bring the frats down, forcing her to defend the same lecherous halfwits she thought were tied to the rapes last season, and clawing her way into the Zeta Theta Beta house. This first half of the season also gives the supporting cast a reasonable amount of screentime, including Wallace and Logan on opposite ends of an Abu Ghraib-inspired prison experiment, Logan stumbling onto a life-changing discovery when trying to find out why his trust fund is dwindling so quickly, and Keith making the same sorts of excuses with a married client as the skeevy men whose infidelities pay his rent. The arc comes to a close with “Spit and Eggs”, which, in true Veronica Mars form, plays like more of a thriller than a mystery, and it’s by far the most intense episode of the season. Veronica Mars was an excellent a show spread across 3 seasons and become a great cult show, and with the arrival of the movie saw resurgence in its popularity.

REVIEW: RED STATE

CAST

Michael Parks (Kill Bill)
John Goodman (10 Cloverfield lane)
Kerry Bishe (Argo)
Melissa Leo (The Fighter)
Michael Angarano (Sky High)
Kyle Gallner (Smallville)
Nicholas Braun (Poltergeist)
Ralph Garman (Ted)
Stephen Root (Robocop 3)
James Parks (Death Proof)
Haley Ramm (X-Men 3)
Kevin Pollak (Mom)
Matt Jones (Adventure Time)
Kevin Alejandro (Arrow)
Jennifer Schwalbach Smith (Now You Know)
Kevin Smith (Dogma)
Marc Blucas (Buffy)

Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad)
Molly Hagan (No Good Nick)

Ralph Garman and James Parks in Red State (2011)It begins as the story of three teenagers (Michael Angarano, Nicholas Braun, and Kyle Gallner) from a small Midwestern town in the proximity of the Cooper family, an evangelical sect in the Phelps mold that only seems to venture out of their church/compound to for vile public demonstrations, usually at funerals. The boys are aware of the Coopers, but their primary interests lie elsewhere: namely, the pursuit of anonymous sex, which one promises can be had with an anonymous woman he’s connected with online via a Grindr-style app. They make a date. It doesn’t go as planned.The dirty-talking set-up isn’t too far removed from Smith’s usual style–he’s toying with our expectations, palming quarters while entertaining us with patter. What is surprising about Smith’s screenplay is how tightly wound the storytelling is. There’s a confidence and a momentum to the progression of the events, which echo the Phelps; the ground he’s covering sounds far-flung, but the narrative pushes forward with such precision that there’s an inevitability to the way the events unfold.It is more of an unsettling movie, a disturbing one, in which the responsibility for jangling the audience is less on the sound designer and his library of cat shrieks, and more on the filmmaker’s ability to create tension and his actors’ skill at getting under our skin. To that end, not enough can be said about Michael Parks, the terrific character actor (and, more recently, favorite of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez) who plays Abin Cooper, the Fred Phelp-esque patriarch of the fundamentalist family. His voice a gravelly growl, his eyes black as night, his delivery deceptively laid-back, Parks delivers a long, riveting, and thoroughly creepy sermon early on that masterfully shifts the picture’s tone; he’s just talking, but there’s evil in his bones (“God doesn’t love you… ‘less you fear him”).Kyle Gallner and Kerry Bishé in Red State (2011)He doesn’t raise his voice–he doesn’t have to. He waits until the end to go for broke, and when he does, it’s tremendous. John Goodman, as a good-hearted but petrified ATF agent, is terrific as well–but then again, there’s not a bad performance in the movie,  Kerry Bishé, Stephen Root, and newly minted Oscar winner Melissa Leo all turn up; all inhabit their roles with believability and immediacy.

 

REVIEW: THE BIG BANG THEORY – SEASON 1-8

CAST

Johnny Galecki (Hancock)
Jim Parsons (Garden State)
Kaley Cuoco (Killer Movie)
Simon Helberg (Dr. Horrible)
Kunal Nayyar (Trolls)
Sara Gilbert (Poison Ivy)
Kevin Sussman (Ugly Betty)
Melissa Rauch (I Love You, Man)
Mayim Bialik (Blossom)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Vernee Watson (Mike & Molly)
Brian Patrick Wade (Agents of Shield)
Laurie Metcalf (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Mark Harelik (Election)
Rachel Cannon (Fresh off the Boat)
Brooke D’Orsay (Two and a Half Men)
James Hong (Blade Runner)
Carol Ann Susi (Cats & Dogs)
Brian George (Ghost World)
Alice Amter (The Good Girl)
Sarayu Blue (Monday Mornings)
DJ Qualls (Road Trip)
Charlie Sheen (Hot Shots)
Octavia Spencer (Insurgent)
Riki Lindhome (The Muppets)
Sara Rue (Mom)
Michael Trucco (Battlestar Galactica)
John Ross Bowie (The Heat)
Christine Baranski (Into The Woods)
Summer Glau (Terminator: TSCC)
Valerie Azlynn (Julia X)
Jodi Lyn O’Keefe (The Vampire Diaries)
Will Wheaton (Powers)
Katee Sackhoff (Riddick)
Danica McKellar (The Wonder Years)
Yeardley Smith (The Simpsons)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Judy Greer (Ant-Man)
Ally Maki (Wrecked)
Brian Smith (The Flip Side)
George Takei (Heroes)
Aarti Mann (The Monogamy Experiement)
Eliza Dushku (Dollhouse)
Eric Andre (2 Broke Girls)
Jesse Heiman (Chuck)
Keith Carradine (Dexter)
Rick Fox (Holes)
Jessica Walter (Dinosaurs)
Joshua Malina (Scandal)
LeVar Burton (Star Trek: TNG)
Katie Leclerc (Switched at Birth)
Brent Spiner (Star Trek: TNG)
Courtney Ford (Revenge)
Lance Barber (Gangster Squad)
Becky O’Donohue (Fast & Furious)
Peter Onorati (Goodfellas)
Leonard Nimoy (Star Trek)
Stephen Hawkings (Futurama)
Margo Harshman (Sorotiy Row)
Ken Lerner (The Running Man)
Howie Mandel (Gremlins)
Ryan Cartwright (Bones)
Casey Sander (16 Blocks)
Meagen Fay (Barton Fink)
Regina King (Ray)
Kate Micucci (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2012)
Bob Newhart (Elf)
Brian Posehn (New Girl)
James Earl Jones (Conan The Barbarian)
Carrie Fisher (Family Guy)
Tania Raymonde (Texas Chainsaw)
Laura Spencer (Bones)
Billy Bob Thornton (Bad Santa)
Stephen Root (King of the Hill)
Nathan Fillion (Firefly)
Kevin Smith (Daredevil)

As the series opens, into this world in walks Penny (Kaley Cuoco). She’s literally the beautiful girl next door since she moves into the apartment across the hall from Leonard and Sheldon. She’s an aspiring actress, which naturally means she’s making a living as a waitress. Most of the guys immediately develop crushes on her, but it’s Leonard who is the most serious about her.And despite how little they have in common, the five main characters form a friendship. But first, Penny has to deal with Sheldon and Leonard cleaning up her place for her while she slept. Sheldon gets fired for telling his new boss exactly what he thinks of him. Leonard and Sheldon stop speaking to each other after Leonard decides to present a paper they both authored. Sheldon tries to tell a sufficiently complex lie to Penny. And Penny must take care of a sick Sheldon. If there is any standout character that makes this show hilarious, it’s Sheldon. The guy may be brilliant when it comes to his job, but he is a complete idiot when it comes to interacting with anyone. His reaction to things, or lack of reaction, makes for some of the best jokes in the show.
The acting on the show is universally great. The main actors are great as breathing life into their characters and really rounding them out. Yes, even Simon Helberg is good as Howard. Special praise must go to Kunal Nayyar whose Raj is too terrified to talk to women. His facial expressions alone are priceless. But the undisputable star of the show is Jim Parsons. He makes anti-social Sheldon completely believable and funny without resorting to too many stereotypes. He was born for this role pure and simple.
Due to the writer’s strike of the fall of 2007, there were only 17 episode in the first season. All of them are here on three discs in widescreen and stereo sound. They look and sound great. There is one 17 minute behind the scenes type featurette that talks about the creation of the show and the characters.

In season two, the laughs continue as the goofy cast gets into many hilarious situations, as the combined brain power of The Big Bang Theory is no match for normal life. This season continues to build upon the romance between Leonard and Penny, which has its ups and downs. Leonard also dates a couple girls and Howard has his eye on both. Sheldon’s neurotic and weird portrayal of life continues to be the butt of almost every joke, as he is far from normal. Raj has his fifteen minutes of fame, which go to his head. Overall, it is a strong season.
The season premiere episode is “The Bad Fish Paradigm”. Leonard and Penny have their first date. Unfortunately, it is their only date. At first, Leonard thinks the date went well. However, his odd friends convince him that things did not go as he thought. Penny confides in Sheldon. She does not feel smart enough for Leonard and fears he will get bored with her. She forces him to keep it a secret, which causes Sheldon to move out of the apartment, staying with Raj and Howard. Eventually Leonard learns about Penny’s fear and only makes it worse. The episode is fun way to start the season with Sheldon’s neurotic behavior stealing the spotlight.In the next episode “The Codpiece Topology”, Leonard is jealous of Penny who is dating again. He considers his options, which are slim. Oddly enough, Leslie Winkle (Sara Gilbert) has her eyes on him. They had a brief romance in the past, but Leslie was only looking for short-term fun. Now, she wants to settle down and thinks Leonard might be Mr. Right. The new relationship causes complications for Sheldon and Penny. The episode is really fun. Gilbert and Galecki have great chemistry together, which is a rehash from their time together on Roseanne. Gilbert shows up in additional episodes this season and has a romance with Howard.“The Griffin Equivalency” is a fun episode where Raj gets put in the spotlight. He is listed by People magazine on their ’30 Under 30 to Watch’ for his contributions to science. When Raj tells his friends about it, they do not give supportive reactions. Sheldon attacks him for getting lucky. Leonard and Howard decide to take him out to dinner to celebrate his accomplishment. However, the tables turn when Raj is given special treatment by the university, which causes jealous amongst his friends. He invites them to a party and they refuse. Penny agrees to go with him and it turns out to be a little more than she bargained for… Penny meets Raj’s parents and it does not go well for anyone.
In “The Barbarian Sublimation”, Penny is feeling down about not accomplishing any substantial with her life and turns to Sheldon for comfort. He gets her hooked on online gaming, which is a real fun sight to see. Penny takes on an odd persona and even scares Leonard. It is a classic and geeky episode. In “The Euclid Alternative”, everyone is tired of Sheldon leeching off of them for rides and force him to get his driver’s license, which he is apparently incapable of. Sheldon, again, steals the spotlight with his neurotic physical comedy and turns this very common situation into a bunch of laughs.
“The Lizard-Spock Expansion” introduces a multi-episode story arc and Stephanie Barnett (Sara Rue), a new love interest for Leonard and Howard. Howard uses his access to the Mars Rover to pick up Stephanie, but when he crashes it, he calls on his friends for help. Leonard and Stephanie hit it off and start dating, behind Sheldon’s back. Oddly enough, Howard thinks they’re together. The Leonard-Stephanie-Howard threesome produces a lot of laughs. Stephanie also appears in “The White Asparagus Triangulation”, Sheldon tries to help Leonard’s relationship, but only dampens his style, and “The Vartabedian Conundrum”, Leonard realizes Stephanie is living with him.As for the rest of the season, there are many more fun episodes, such as “The Cooper-Nowitzki Theorem”, Sheldon gets a girlfriend (sort of) and no one understands what is happening, “The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis”, Penny dates Dr. David Underhill (Michael Trucco), Leonard’s better looking counterpart, “The Friendship Algorithm”, Sheldon befriends someone at work to everyone’s amazement, “The Maternal Capacitance”, Leonard’s mother visits and her personality is identical to Sheldon, ” The Terminator Decoupling”, the guys run into Summer Glau (Firefly, Serenity, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) on a train, and “The Hofstadter Isotope”, Penny goes with the guys to the comic book store and exchanges phone numbers with someone, and it eats away at Leonard.Overall, The Big Bang Theory’s second season continues to be very strong. The cast has a great dynamic together. The leading males’ geeky views of life provide neurotic and hilarious situations. Cuoco is a good balance to them, and also provides her own silliness. However, Parsons repeatedly steals the spotlight with physical comedy and excellent delivery of dialogue. He manages to turn many common situations, as he interacts with the other cast members, into a riot. The show’s writing is also topnotch. It provides witty dialogue that leaves you laughing. The plotlines can be simplistic, but they work and never fail to draw in your attention. In the end, The Big Bang Theory is a major success with its second season.

At the end of season 2, Leonard, Sheldon, Raj and Howard were leaving for a three month expedition to the North Pole to test one of Sheldon’s theories. Leonard was sad to be leaving Penny behind, though they weren’t dating and surprisingly, Penny was upset to be away from Leonard too. As this season opens the group has just gotten back from the far north and when Leonard knocks on Penny’s door to inform her of their return she leaps into his arms and kisses him passionately.  Turns out Penny really missed Leonard, and they go into her apartment and close the door.
The Big Bang Theory continues to remain one of the funniest sitcoms on network television today. eason 3 showed us exactly why this is the case bringing us some of the funniest BBT episodes yet to date. This show is at its very best when its five main characters, rather than being shoehorned into conventional sitcom devices like hook-ups and infighting, are simply allowed to be their smart, socially awkward, idiosyncratic selves. And for the most part, they were.

One of the pleasures of this show is that you can throw together practically any two characters and have a unique, unpredictable and funny dynamic. Forget Leonard and Penny — perhaps the best odd-couple pairing we got all season was Sheldon and Penny, who despite all odds, have figured out that they enjoy each other’s company. Something about his smug childishness gels perfectly with her unsinkable good humor and ability to deliver a zinging comeback. “The Adhesive Duck Deficiency” showcased Sheldon and Penny’s unique chemistry to great effect on multiple levels — not only did Sheldon have to tolerate hours alone with Penny, but he was forced to adopt the role of caretaker while the other guys were off getting stoned in the desert. The episode culminated in a newfound trust between the two, who by the end of the season grew to think of each other as friends.

Speaking of Sheldon, he continues to be an amazing comic force. Jim Parsons shone this season, and the writers wisely showcased him at every possible opportunity. It’s hard to imagine this actor ever playing any other role. We followed Sheldon from the North Pole to his home state of Texas (where Laurie Metcalf did a very funny turn as his uber-conservative mother), learned the back story of his friendship with Leonard, and best of all, saw him face off against his sixth most hated rival, Wil Wheaton. Wheaton’s guest appearance in “The Creepy Candy Coating Corollary” was so well received that the show brought him back a second time, in “The Wheaton Recurrence.” Sometimes you can tell when actors are really enjoying themselves onscreen and this always seemed to be the case when Wheaton showed up, so hopefully he’ll continue to play himself on a semi-regular basis. Season 3 also introudced us in the finale to  Amy Farrah Fowler, (played by Mayim Bialik) who would become a regular in season 4.

The writers introduced two female characters to the regular cast this year, although both did show up in season three. Melissa Rauch returns as Howard’s girlfriend Bernadette. And Mayim Bialik, who appeared in the final few moments of season three, is back as Amy Farrah Fowler, Sheldon’s not girlfriend but friend who is a girl. Since both either have doctorates or are going for doctorates, that still leaves Penny as the only non-super smart person of the cast. However, everyone has trouble relating to us mere mortals, and that’s where Penny really shines. Her heart comes through in every moment she is on screen..
Over the course of the season, Sheldon breaks up with Amy Farrah Fowler over scientific differences and buys a bunch of cats to ease his loneliness. Howard’s past mistake comes out when the FBI investigate him for a security clearance. The guys enter a New Year’s Eve costume contest with some surprising additions to their group. Leonard’s idea for a smartphone app gets out of hand when Sheldon gets involved. Raj begins to have feelings for Bernadette while Leonard starts seeing Raj’s sister Priya (guest star Aartia Mann). Everyone winds up at an out of town science convention where friendships get tested. And in one of my favorites, Amy Farrah Fowler and Sheldon decide to experiment with gossip by starting rumors and seeing how long it takes the entire group to find out.

Of course, with this show, some of the sub-plots can be just as great as the main plot. I’m especially fond of one involving Howard performing a magic trick that Sheldon can’t figure out. Another memorable one involves Sheldon and his new three person chess game.
The new additions haven’t dampened the acting at all. The original cast knows their characters and invests everything they have in bringing them to life every week. Melissa Rauch and Mayim Bialik slip into the cast seamlessly and feel like they’ve been playing these characters just as long. Jim Parsons went into this season having just won a well-deserved Emmy for Lead Actor in a Comedy, and his work is just as impressive here.

Season 5 picks up exactly where season 4 left off. Penny (Kaley Cuoco) has just spent a drunken night with Raj (Kunal Nayyar). While it wasn’t quite what it appeared, they quickly go back to normal, which isn’t hard when Raj will only talk to women when he’s drunk.
Meanwhile, Leonard (Johnny Galecki) tries to maintain a long distance relationship before putting his relationship with Penny back in a beta test. Sheldon (Jim Parsons) is forced to take his relationship with Amy (Mayim Bialik) to the next level – and he insists they both sign a relationship agreement. Leonard finds a loophole in his relationship with Sheldon when he voids the friendship clause. And Howard (Simon Helberg) gets ready for a trip into space and his marriage to Bernadette (Melissa Rauch).
That’s just a few of the bigger storylines of the season. Each episode is filled with laughs. Some people complain the show isn’t as funny as it used to be, but I find it hysterical just about every week. Yes, they have one or two weeks that fall flat, but they are by far the exception rather than the rule. And even then, there are some great lines and classic moments. Howard and Bernadette have the biggest story arcs of the season, and I must say I love watching the two of them interact. Usually, they are so sweet together, although when they fight it can be pretty funny as well. Howard used to annoy me like crazy, but now I actually find I like him.As far as guest stars we’ve got Wil Wheaton, Brent Spiner, and Dr. Stephen Hawkins appear as themselves, and Leonard Nimoy voices a Spock doll. The show pasted the 100 episode mark this season, and that means the cast is very familiar with their characters. It shows, too, in the acting. Everyone is believable and comfortable with their parts, and it’s easy to just sit back and laugh as the show plays.
Season 6 starts off with 5 overarching plot episodes based around Howard’s trip to space and return to Earth with a less than warm welcome. These are some very good episodes, the premiere has some nice moments during Amy and Sheldon’s anniversary. Another highlight in the first 5 is when Game night turns into Men vs Women. These episodes put quite a bit of spotlight onto Howard and his accomplishment that no one else acknowledges, and I enjoyed them immensely, some character developing episodes for him.The season has some great highlight episodes. We get a very good dramatic episode (rare for TBBT) called “The Closet Reconfiguration” where Sheldon being Sheldon, he cleans out Howard’s closet and comes across an unopened letter sent to Howard from his father who abandoned him. They all get to show off their acting chops in this episode (especially Helberg). We get another appearance from Wil Wheaton in “The Habitation Configuration” (Which Jim Parsons just won an Emmy for his work in) that turns into another fantastic episode when Sheldon has to choose between his friend or his girlfriend. “The Closure Alternative” involves one of Sheldon’s favorite shows being cancelled, and lastly “The Proton Resurgence”, which features Bob Newhart in an Emmy award winning guest appearance as Sheldon’s childhood hero, Professor Proton.

As for the relationships, this season was a huge one. Leonard and Penny finally take the next step in their relationship. Sheldon and Amy continue to move forward at a Snails pace, with Sheldon finally considering more. Raj gets some much needed character development when he finally finds a girlfriend, who is essentially A reflection of himself, named Lucy. The cast is as great as ever, with their chemistry remaining tip top…Parsons again steals the show with his excellent physical comedy and strong delivery of his dialogue. Galecki plays off perfectly against Jim. Simon Helberg gets some meat to chew on this season and he kills it, especially the episode where he finds the letter from his father that was sent years earlier. The writing remains witty and top notch, that is conveyed perfectly on screen through the excellent performers. The writers need to continue with this great writing, The Big Bang Theory proves here why it’s still one of the funniest shows on TV.

This season picks up exactly where the last one left off. Leonard (Johnny Galecki) is on a ship in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean on a research trip. Back at home, the gang must learn to deal with his absence, especially his roommate Sheldon (Jim Parsons) and his girlfriend Penny (Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting). However, when he comes back, his desire to spend some time with Penny over Sheldon shows the beginnings of the first changes in the group, a theme that actually echoed through the season.

Following up on the sixth season finale, Raj (Kunal Nayyar) is now able to talk to girls even when he’s sober. What didn’t change there is that he still isn’t a lady’s man, although it does open up a few new relationship possibilities for him. Speaking of relationships, Sheldon and Amy (Mayim Bialk) wind up taking what for them is a huge step forward in their relationship on a romantic train ride up to the Napa Valley. Penny makes a huge change to forward her career as an actress and finds herself in a less than desirable roll opposite a surprising co-star. I would argue that the only main characters not to have major changes this season are Howard (Simon Helberg) and Bernadette (Melissa Rauch), but since they adjusted to married life last season, maybe that’s for the best. They still get some great stories, like Howard’s drastic change after trying to help out his mother and how they deal with having Raj has a house guest for a week.

And the geekiness continues. Stuart (Kevin Sussman) and his comic book store regularly appear in the series. When the guys don’t get into Comic Con, Sheldon decides to start his own, leading to a day with James Earl Jones. Speaking of which, the show finally celebrates Star Wars day in what is a touching and funny episode featuring the third appearance of comedy legend Bob Newhart.

Relationships are a key element of the season, which starts with the socially-awkward Sheldon stuck in an Arizona railroad station without any pants, the victim of poorly-received changes in his life. What exactly is going on between him and Amy, as well as what is happening with Penny and Leonard and their extended engagement, are the engine of this run of episodes, as Sheldon faces the need to overcome his off-putting personality, and Leonard has to overcome Penny’s new-found success. After seven seasons, the show hasn’t felt the need to artificially change its main characters and their lives, instead going in a more organic direction, choosing to highlight change that happens naturally in a relationship. That evolution also powers an impactful cliffhanger of a season finale.

The series did have a sudden change to cope with though, when Carol Ann Susi, the actress who gave voice to Howard’s unseen harpy of a mother, died, and her passing was written into the series, creating more change for Howard and giving a bit of a goose to the other characters, who took from her death in different ways.

Season 8 once again had excellent guest stars such as  Laurie Metcalf, Christine Baranski, Billy Bob Thornton, Nathan Fillion, Wil Wheaton and Stephen Hawking. The Shocking Cliffhanger leaves fans wondering where certain relationships will end up.

REVIEW: JUBILEE

 

CAST

Cliff Curtis (Training Day)
Theresa Healey (Filthy Rich)
Jaime Passier-Armstrong (Power Rangers Ninja Storm)
Charley Murphy Samau (The Tribe)
Hori Ahipene (Maddigan’s Quest)
Kevin Smith (Xena)
Taungaroa Emile (Whale Rider)
Ross Duncan (Young Hercules)
Marise Wipani (Shortland Street)
Stephen Tozer (City Life)
Liddy Holloway (Hercules: TLJ)
Elizabeth Hawthorne (Cleopatra 2525)
Bruce Hopkins (Housebound)

0

Jubilee is a funny, warm-hearted comedy set in heartland New Zealand. It is the story of Billy Williams, his family and the small town of Waimatua – the sweet potato capital of the world. Our hero Billy Williams may be hopeless, but he’s no loser. He’s a likeable guy who’s always volunteering to help out where he can, and he’s a great Dad to Lucille and Walter. But unfortunately he never finishes a job and is the world’s worst procrastinator – much to his wife Pauline’s dismay. Billy’s opportunity to redeem himself comes when Agnes Morrison, the driving force behind the Waimatua School 75th Jubilee, is killed in a tragic bovine semen extraction accident. Billy gets lumbered with the task and he’s determined to prove his worth as the new Jubilee Chairman. He’ll organize the mother of all Jubilees! Meanwhile, the impending celebration and the thought of those who will return to Waimatua forces Pauline to question the choices she has made in her life. While Billy fulfills his desire to be the big man around town, Pauline starts renovating herself – finishing all those uncompleted jobs the way she wants. A new woman is in the making…. For a small town in decline, the Jubilee gives everyone something to look forward to and Billy wins a new-found respect in Waimatua.The story has a simple, even classical, comedy arc and Hurst and writer Michael Bennett, working from Nepi Solomon’s novel, don’t try anything fancy bringing it to the screen. The absence of anything greatly original is one of the film’s chief virtues. It’s so genial and self-confident that it carries itself along. It’s buoyed up, too, by terrific performances.