REVIEW: THE TRUST

CAST

Nicolas Cage (Ghost Rider)
Elijah Wood (The Hobbit)
Sky Ferreira (Baby Driver)
Ethan Suplee (My Name Is Earl)
Steven Williams (21 Jump Street)
Jerry Lewis (The Nutty Professor)
Kevin Weisman (Alias)

Sergeant David Waters and his boss/friend Lieutenant Jim Stone both work in the Evidence Management unit of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. Disillusioned and bored with their jobs, they also find it hard to make ends meet. While going through case files, Jim comes to know of a drug dealer who has access to large amounts of money, as indicated by his bail receipt, which was paid in $200,000 cash.Using his vacation days, Jim engages in a stint of undercover work at the same hotel as the drug dealer is employed and comes to discover that all of the merchandise the dealer and his gang move is taken to one building, and never moved again. David, after acquiring blueprints from the local planning office, discovers the dealer and his gang have built a large safe in the back of an industrial freezer in the building. Realising it is an easy hit, Jim and David scour items required for the heist, including a diamond tipped drill and unlicensed firearms, paying for them with illegally acquired cash from a corrupt colleague. They break into the apartment above the freezer building and muffle its two occupants, but Jim ends up shooting and killing one after he attempts to escape. After drilling and the use of improvised explosives, they are able to unlock and access the vault. David, who has become attached to the surviving female hostage, allows her to call her 3-year-old son’s father to assure him that she is okay.Jim and David search the safe, which contains vast quantities of diamonds, cash and gold coins. Despite Jim being elated, David becomes concerned that stealing so much valuable property from the gang will get them killed, and subsequently relocks the safe so Jim can’t access it. Enraged, Jim threatens David at gunpoint, forcing him to reluctantly open the safe and unload all of the valuables. As they are packing up the drill, David kills Jim in a brief shootout and returns the contents to the safe. He then drives off with the hostage to drop her up north, assuring her of her freedom. Later, David sees two vans following him and he notices the phone number advertised on the back of one of them as the same number the hostage called earlier. Despite identifying himself as a police officer, David is shot dead by men in the vans, who rescue the woman (implied to have been a member of the same gang responsible for watching over the safe). The movie ends with David’s badge and the drill being catalogued in the Evidence Management building where he and Jim used to work.A thoroughly decent film. I am not an Elijah Wood fan, and can take or leave Nic Cage, but you know, these 2 carried this film off. It had some real funny moments, and some tense scenes. It was a bit different as well, and i just really enjoyed it.

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REVIEW: CHUCK – SEASON 1

CAST
Zachary Levi (Heroes Reborn)
Yvonne Strahovski (Batman: Bad Blood)
Adam Baldwin (Firefly)
Joshua Gomez (Invasion)
Sarah Lancaster (Saved By The Bell: The New Class)
RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS
Ryan McPartlin (J. Edgar)
Mark Christopher Lawrence (Halloween II)
Scott Krinsky (Transformers 3)
Vik Sahay (eXistenZ)
Julia Ling (Undoing)
Bonita Friedericy (Veronica Mars)
Tony Todd (The Flash)
C.S. Lee (Dexter)
Matthew Bomer (Tru Calling)
Rachel Bilson (Jumper)
Anthony Ruivivar (Beauty and The Beast 2012)
Mini Anden (The Proposal)
Jim Pirri (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Matthew Willig (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Gwendoline Yeo (American Crime)
James Hong (Blade Runner)
Jonathan Sadowski (She’s The Man)
Kevin Weisman (Alias)
Chuck Bartowski’s (Zachary Levi) life was going no where fast. True, he is head of the Nerd Herd at his local Buy More. But he lives with his sister Ellie (Sarah Lancaster) and her boyfriend Devon (aka Captain Awesome, played by Ryan McPartlin). His best friend is Morgan (Joshua Gomez), a fellow nerd who also works at Buy More.

But things change drastically when Chuck gets an e-mail from former friend Bryce Larkin. The e-mail contains all the files of the intersect, the complete intelligence files of both the CIA and the NSA. And, to make things more exciting, Bryce has destroyed the original files.

All the information gets downloaded into Chuck’s brain, making him a highly valuable government secret. So valuable that he has two bodyguards, Sarah Walker (Yvonne Strahovski), a CIA agent who pretends to be Chuck’s girlfriend, and John Casey (Adam Baldwin), a NSA who moves in next door to Chuck and takes a job at Buy More.

Whenever Chuck sees something from the intersect, he flashes on more information. Unfortunately, these flashes are at random and uncontrollable. And Los Angeles seems to be a hot bed of activity. Even with two agents guarding him, Chuck finds himself in over his head with his new life as a spy. Can he survive and keep his secret?

Yeah, yeah, I know what you’re thinking. The premise sounds unbelievable. And if you stop and think about it, it is. Fortunately, the show never gives you time to think. They cram everything into these episodes. There’s action and intrigue, developing storylines involving the intersect and Chuck’s past, romance with Sarah that she is not willing to admit is there, and plenty of laughs. Many of the laughs come from the sub-plots focused on the Buy More. But we also get laughs from Chuck’s reaction to his new world. But in case this all sounds disjointed, let me assure you it works beautifully. Everything is balanced and blended so that it seamlessly flows from one event to the next. And the characters are outstanding. Honestly, that is what holds all of this together. Even gruff Casey is fun when it comes down to it.

REVIEW: ROSWELL – SEASON 1-3

MAIN CAST
Shiri Appleby (Swimfan)
Jason Behr (Dragon Wars)
Katherine Heigl (27 Dresses)
Majandra Delfino (Traffic)
Brendan Fehr (Bones)
Colin Hanks (King Kong)
Nick Wechsler (Revenge)
William Sadler (Iron Man 3)
RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS
John Doe (Torque)
Michael Horse (Skinwalkers)
Wendle Josepher (Twister)
Kevin Weisman (Alias)
Jonathan Frakes (Star Trek: TNG)
Richard Schiff (The Cape)
Julie Benz (Angel)
Mary Ellen Trainor (Ghostbusters 2)
Michael O’Neill (Bates Motel)
Robert F. Lyons (The Burning Dead)
Jason Peck (In Her Shoes)
Ebonie Smith (Xena)
Steve Hytner (The Prophecy)
Jo Anderson (Beauty and The Beast 1989)
Octavia Spencer (Mom)
Tod Thawley (Buffy)
Hilary Shepard (Power Rangers Turbo)
Eric Jungmann (Sabrina)
Diane Farr (Two and A Half Men)
Ned Romero (Walker, Texas Ranger)
Garrett M. Brown (Kick-Ass)
John Cullum (The Middle)
James O’Shea (Life on Top)
Michael Chieffo (Wild Things 2)
Kevin Cooney (Bring it On Again)
David Conrad (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Jim Ortlieb (Contagion)
Emilie de Ravin (Lost)
Liz Parker, Maria DeLuca, and Alex Whitman are high school students and best friends residing in the small town of Roswell, New Mexico, site of the famed Roswell incident. Liz Parker’s parents own the Crashdown Café, which serves alien-themed dishes, and while Liz is waitressing there, a disagreement between two customers results in Liz being fatally shot, setting the scene for the entire series. Fellow student Max Evans rushes to her side and heals the wound by placing his hand over it, bringing her back to life. He left a silver hand print on her stomach. This act arouses suspicions which follow the protagonists throughout the series. Max attempts to cover the mysterious act by breaking a ketchup bottle and pouring the ketchup on Liz before fleeing the scene with Michael.
During a biology class experiment the next day, Liz obtains a sample of Max’s saliva without his knowledge and examines it under a microscope. She discovers Max’s cells look nothing like human cells. She confronts Max, who then admits he, his sister Isabel and their friend Michael are aliens whose spaceship crashed at Roswell in 1947. Max, Isabel, and Michael were known to keep to themselves before the incident. Max admits to Liz he saved her life because he has strong feelings for her and the struggling romance between Liz and Max begins in earnest. However, Liz was dating the sheriff’s son Kyle, causing many torn feelings and creative excuses, as well as tension between Max and Kyle. In the first episode Max Evans swears Liz to secrecy, but she tells Maria about Max’s origins anyway. Tension around the secrecy issue becomes a major theme both in the development of the relationships of the protagonists, and also for the action elements of the plot. Eventually Alex is let into the secret, resolving the tension between best friends Liz, Maria, and Alex. This group of six teenagers are involved in a struggle to protect the alien trio from Sheriff Valenti, suspicious of them from the first episode and who alerts the FBI, and from FBI agents investigating the paranormal who secretly attempt to discover evidence of their real identities by fair means or foul.
In contrast to the romance tenderly portrayed between Liz and Max, Michael and Maria engage in a passionate and often explosive relationship – Maria terms Michael “the worst boyfriend ever”. Later in the first season a tentative romance develops between Isabel and Alex.
Toward the end of the season another alien named Nasedo is introduced, who is a shape shifter. Nasedo has a violent, murderous past and nearly causes Max’s demise at the hands of a vengeful alien hunter who lost his wife and unborn child to Nasedo. The gang initially believes Tess Harding, the new kid in town, is Nasedo as she seems to have a strange effect on Max, but it is revealed she is a fourth alien hybrid just like them. However, unlike them, she possesses knowledge of their past lives and the concept of their supposed destiny. At the end of the season, it is revealed that Max, Isabel, Michael and Tess are clones of the Royal Four of Antar, the planet they come from. Max is the king, Isabel his sister, Michael his second in command and Tess is Max’s wife. The four learn they are alien-human hybrids: their alien DNA was mixed with human DNA in order for them to assume human form and survive on earth. Their mission is to one day return to Antar and reclaim the throne from Kivar, Max’s enemy. As a result of this revelation, Liz distances herself from Max, as she believes she can’t get in the way of Max’s destiny.
One of the best TV shows I ever watched. Bought it to relive my childhood memories, and it did not disappoint.
MAIN CAST
Shiri Appleby (Swimfan)
Jason Behr (Dragon wars)
Katherine Heigl (27 Dresses)
Majandra Delfino (R.S.V.P.)
Brendan Fehr (The Forsaken)
Colin Hanks (Untraceable)
Nick Wechsler (Tru Calling)
Emilie de Ravin (Lost)
William Sadler (Iron Man 3)
RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS
David Conrad (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Jim Ortlieb (Contagion)
Gretchen Egolf (Journeyman)
Jeremy Davidson (Salt)
Jason Peck (In Her Shoes)
Sara Downing (Toolbox Murder)
Desmond Askew (Tru Calling)
J.G. Hertzler (Star Trek: DS9)
Mary Ellen Trainor (Ghostbusters 2)
Charles Napier (The Silence of The Lambs)
John Doe (Torque)
Miko Hughes (Newe Nightmare)
Holmes Osborne (Donnie Darko)
Jenny O’Hara (Mystic Pizza)
Garrett M. Brown (Kick-Ass)
Michael Chieffo (Wild Things 2)
Diane Farr (Two and a Half Men)
Keith Szarabajka (Angel)
Allison Lange (Single White Female 2)
Erica Gimpel (Freaky Friday)
Heidi Swedberg (Hot Shots)
Dennis Christopher (Fade To Black)
Taran Killam (How I Met Your Mother)
Jo Anderson (Beauty and The Beast 1989)
Jason Dohring (Veronica Mars)
 
The second part of Max and Liz’s love story involves Liz’s insecurities about getting in the way of the destined love between Max and Tess, even though Max assures her his heart only beats for her. This causes a rift between Tess and the rest of the gang, as she always feels unwanted. Right when Liz finally starts to believe Max will deny his destiny of being with Tess, the “Future Max” appears to Liz claiming they must find a way to get Max to fall out of love with Liz in order to save the future and the lives of everyone they know. This leads to a relationship between Max and Tess. Despite this, Liz maintains hope she and Max will one day be together.
The second season introduces the Skins, another alien race from Antar who have been searching for the alien hybrids since they hatched. Their mission is to locate and turn them over to Kivar, who is now king of Antar. It is revealed Liz’s new boss, Congresswoman Whitaker, is a Skin, and her brother Nicholas is the leader of the Skins. Along with renegade Skin Courtney, a Crashdown Café waitress, who believes Michael, not Max, should have been in charge of Antar, the group travels to the town where Congresswoman Whitaker is from and discovers the entire town is inhabited by Skins and that the Skins are ready for the “Harvest”. Skins unlike “The Royal Four” do not contain a mix of alien and human DNA. In order to survive Earth’s climate they create husks (fake bodies) which last around 50 years. Skins are so called because once their husks start to reach the end of their shelf lives, they shed their skin.
Nasedo, the shape shifter who was protecting the teen aliens as well as acting as a father to Tess, is killed by Congresswoman Whitaker at the beginning of the season. As Tess has nowhere to go, she moves in with Sheriff Valenti and his son Kyle. Shortly after, the “pod squad” destroys the Harvest. It is revealed during the “Harvest” that Isabel was named Vilandra on Antar. Vilandra was in love with Kivar, Max’s enemy and rival, and betrayed her family in favor of Kivar. This haunts Isabel so much it creates a rift between her and Max when they find out another set of clones of the Royal Four were created. The clones, known as the “dupes”, are exact copies of Michael, Max, Isabel and Tess, only they grew up in the sewers of New York City. Their names are Rath (Michael’s clone), Zan (Max’s clone), Lonnie (Isabel’s clone), and Ava (Tess’s clone).
Rath, Lonnie, and Ava come to Roswell after killing Zan to convince Max to return with them and represent the family at a summit meeting of the families of the five warring planets. Max and Tess go with Rath and Lonnie to New York, while Ava stays in Roswell because she is haunted by the death of her beloved Zan. Nicholas returns as a voice for Kivar, and it is revealed the owner of the UFO museum, Brody Davis, was used by an alien many times to communicate on Earth, acting as a puppet, explaining why he believes he was abducted by aliens although he has no memories of the incident. Rath and Lonnie tell Tess and Max if they give Kivar the Granilith (the rock which came with the “pod squad” when they landed on Earth), they can go home to Antar. Max remembers what Liz told him before he left — “the Granilith could be dangerous if in the wrong hands” and turns down Kivar’s deal. Lonnie betrays the others when she meets with Nicholas in secret to discuss her desire to return to Antar, as she remembers more about her past life and wants it back, regardless of whether Kivar gets the Granilith. Nicholas tells her that can be arranged as long as Max is dead. The assassination attempt fails, and Rath and Lonnie “disappear”. Ava, still in Roswell, goes to live a “normal” life and is also not mentioned again; however, she does reveal to Liz that since Max healed her and brought her back she has “changed” and will be different from now on.
For part of the second season, Alex is on a trip to Sweden. However, shortly after coming back and getting Isabel to see him as something more than a friend and start to love him, he dies tragically in a car accident. Liz is devastated when she discovers the police have evidence to rule Alex’s death a suicide. Investigating the wreck, she finds a torn photo of Alex, causing her to suspect that he was murdered. When Liz voices the possibility that an alien killed Alex, she causes tension between the aliens and the humans in the group. Through her investigation, she discovers Alex was never in Sweden, but had actually been living at a Las Cruces college. Liz, Maria, and Michael find out Alex had been working on the translation of the Destiny book. Even though they find the translation, they are unable to discover the identity of Alex’s killer.
As Max is angry towards Liz and her investigations, he grows closer to Tess and they end up sleeping together. Tess discovers that she is pregnant and informs Max that alien pregnancies last about a month. The baby can’t survive on Earth, so the aliens make a collective decision to leave the planet, with the knowledge gleaned from the Destiny translation. Everyone has 24 hours to say their goodbyes. Max and Liz make a last-ditch effort to find Alex’s killer. Isabel dances with Alex’s spirit at his grave. Michael and Maria make love for the first time. Just before the aliens are to leave, Maria and Liz realize that Tess mindwarped Kyle, and Kyle is able to recall Alex’s death. Michael decides at the last minute that he’d rather stay on Earth with Maria and exits the Granilith. Liz rushes in to tell Max that Tess was the one who killed Alex. Tess reveals that she mindwarped Alex to translate the book. Nasedo made a deal with Kivar: Tess can return home safely as long as she’s carrying Max’s child, but she must turn over Max, Isabel, and Michael to Kivar. Max lets Tess go and the gang watches as Tess leaves Earth via the Granilith. Maria realizes Michael stayed for her. Max tells Liz he loves her, and now he must save his son.
This second series of Roswell is the best by far. The characters are more familiar, and the storyline develops nicely, tugging at the heartstrings on many occassions.  There seems to be more of a general storyline in this series, though there are still many smaller subliners. The end episode (“Departure”) is one of my favourites – along with “The End Of The World” and “Cry Your Name”, and I think that all three deserve praise for their sensitivity towards the storylines and just for the great standard of acting not seen so much in the previous series.
MAIN CAST
Shiri Appleby (Swimfan)
Jason Behr (Dragon wars)
Katherine Heigl (27 Dresses)
Majandra Delfino (R.S.V.P.)
Brendan Fehr (The Forsaken)
Colin Hanks (Untraceable)
Nick Wechsler (Tru Calling)
William Sadler (Iron Man 3)
Adam Rodriguez (Ugly Betty)
RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS
Mary Ellen Trainor (Ghostbusters 2)
Jo Anderson (Beauty and The Beast 1989)
Garrett M. Brown (Kick-Ass)
Michael Chieffo (Wild Things 2)
Yorgo Constantine (Phone Booth)
John Doe (Torque)
Terry O’Quinn (Lost)
Michael Peña (American Hustle)
Earl Poitier (Drumline)
Steven Roy (Shattered)
Martin Starr (Knocked Up)
Colin Hanks (King Kong)
Stanley Anderson (Spider-Man)
John Billingsley (Enterprise)
Joe Pantoliano (Daredevil)
Stephen Tobolowsky (Groundhog Day)
Jonathan Frakes (Star Trek: TNG)
Missi Pyle (Dodgeball)
Spence Decker (Looking for Sunday)
Clayne Crawford (A Walk To Remember)
Gavin Fink (Lost at Home)
Colleen Flynn (Nip/Tuck)
Sean O’Bryan (Agent Carter)
Navi Rawat (Thoughtcrimes)
Yvonne Farrow (Alias)
Kristoffer Polaha (Dollhouse)
Meredith Scott Lynn (Legally Blonde)
Morgan Fairchild (Chuck)
Ashley Johnson (Teen Titans)
Jason Peck (In Her Shoes)
Harry Groener (Buffy)
Woody Brown (The Accussed)
Samantha Shelton (Shopgirl)
Larry Poindexter (Blade: The Series)
Emilie de Ravin (Lost)
The third and final season opens with Max’s quest to save his son. He and Liz are arrested in Utah after holding up a convenience store. They both end up getting out of jail, but their actions have serious consequences for the rest of the season. Liz’s father, who disapproves of the relationship throughout the series, threatens to send Liz to a boarding school, in attempt to split the couple up. Max, during the holdup, found an alien ship being stored in the basement, but when he goes back, the ship is gone. While they are in a Utah jail, Michael searches for evidence of a diamond (the key to the space ship) that Max tossed in a field while being chased. A man approaches Michael and warns him and the others to stop their search. This man is mysteriously murdered in L.A. by a fifth alien. Knowing the alien is a shape shifter and in the film industry, Max tries out acting and auditions for a role in Star Trek: Enterprise. The fifth alien is, in fact, a very successful film producer who is also Max’s protector. Max, against the fifth alien’s wishes, forces him to help find the ship, which is at a military base. They attempt to fly it, but the ship is too damaged from the crash in 1947. Max leaves L.A. disappointed, and he feels as though he has let down his son.
Isabel is revealed to be haunted by Alex’s ghost, but it is actually a figure of her subconscious. She begins a relationship with Jesse Ramirez, an attorney several years older than her and who works with Isabel’s father. As the season unfolds, Max and Isabel’s father is diving deeper into the past of his children, due to Max not giving him a satisfactory reason as to what happened in Utah, or why Max was even there in the first place. Midway through the season, Isabel gets married, much to the disappointment of her parents, Max, and Michael. While on her honeymoon with Jesse, Isabel comes in contact with Kivar. He awakens Isabel’s past self, Vilandra, who betrayed Max and Michael in their previous life for her love with Kivar, which is the reason the four of them died in their first life. Kivar tries to compel Isabel (now reawakened as Vilandra) to travel through a portal back to their home world, while Max and Michael attempt to stop them. In the end, Isabel pushes Kivar into the portal.
Michael and Maria are having trouble with their relationship, especially when Maria feels the whole “alien thing” is ruining her life and decides to take a break from the gang so she can try to live out a “normal” life. Michael takes a job as a security guard during the night at a local pharmaceutical factory. But little does Michael know, the owner of the company has been going through the trash to obtain Michael’s DNA. When the owners find out he is an alien, they kill one of Michael’s co-workers “Munk” to see if Michael is “the healer”. But of course Max is the healer, not Michael, so he is powerless to save his dying colleague. Michael and Former Sheriff Valenti find a room with all of Michael’s things and realize what the company has discovered; Valenti, however, is captured. Michael enlists the help of Max and Isabel in order to rescue Valenti. During the escape attempt Valenti is shot near the heart from behind. As Max is saving Valenti’s life he is taken by the millionaire’s desperate wife and goons and coerced into healing the dying millionaire. Max is wary of doing so, as the millionaire has lived out his life and will die of natural causes, but he tries anyway. Max ends up transferring his youth, and the millionaire’s body transforms into Max’s body, killing Max. While Michael and Isabel try to come to grips with Max’s death, a patrol of guards come. Michael and Isabel use their powers to destroy their vehicles, but Isabel is shot.Jesse sees the shooting and panics, insisting that they call an ambulance. Michael is forced to admit to Jesse that he and Isabel are aliens to keep Jesse from calling the authorities. Michael unknowingly inherited Max’s powers after his death, and then he heals Isabel during an emotional moment. The millionaire is at his house in Max’s body when he receives a memory of Liz. He can’t stop thinking about her, due to having Max’s soul inside him, so he decides he must kill Liz in order to get rid of Max. He travels to Vermont with his reluctant wife to find Liz. He murders his wife then sets his sights on Liz. As he is about to kill Liz, they both fall from the ‘Rat’ (Rathskeller) attic window of Liz’s boarding school. Seeing Liz is about to die, Max takes control over the body and uses his powers to save her life while he hits the ground. The millionaire’s soul dies and Max miraculously survives after Liz kisses him. The group heads back to Roswell.
Meanwhile, the FBI has been studying the group for many months and is closing in on them. Liz begins to exhibit alien powers, including premonitions, towards the end of the season, which later causes her to become a target. When Tess returns with Max’s son, Zan, the gang must group together and plan to escape Roswell. Tess’ unexpected arrival causes the FBI to find more evidence of the aliens, including a video revealing Isabel’s powers. Everyone is angry with Tess and at first tries to kill her, but instead end up helping her. Because of Liz’s forgiveness, Tess decides to sacrifice herself by turning herself in and blowing up the military base. The baby is revealed to be fully human, as only Max’s and Tess’ human DNA produced the baby. Max, realizing his son can have a normal life, gives him up for adoption; showing the Evans’ parents driving the child away to New York.
The series closes with Liz getting a premonition of her, Max, Michael and Isabel dying in an FBI setup, so they decide to leave Roswell after their high school graduation. With the realization he will be leaving Roswell, possibly forever, Michael professes his love for Maria and she makes the decision to be with him no matter what. After Liz, Max, Michael, Isabel, Maria and Kyle escape from their high school graduation, where the FBI setup is, they hit the road in a van, where there are several emotional goodbyes, especially between Kyle and his father, Jim Valenti. Isabel decides to leave her husband behind in order to save his life. The final scenes of the show feature Max and Liz getting married and Liz’s father reading her journal, chronicling the last three years. The final scene has Liz peering out of the van in her wedding dress and narrating, “I’m Liz Parker and I’m happy”.
As most of the Roswell die-hard fans will know it’s a great shame that the series was axed after only 3 short years.The acting is flawless, the writing and directing is a work of art.

REVIEW: CLERKS II

CAST

Brian O’Halloran (Vulgar)
Jeff Anderson (Now You Know)
Jason Mewes (R.S.V.P.)
Kevin Smith (Daredevil)
Ethan Suplee (Raising Hope)
Jennifer Schwalbach Smith (Jersey Girl)
Ben Affleck (Gone Girl)
Trevor Fehrman (Cheats)
Rosario Dawson (Sin City)
Kevin Weisman (Alias)
Jason Lee (My Name Is Earl)
Wanda Sykes (Evan Almighty)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Harley Quinn Smith (Yoga Hossers)

Eleven years after the events of the first film, Dante (Brian O’Halloran) opens the Quick Stop convenience store to find that it is on fire; Randal (Jeff Anderson) had left the coffee pot on after closing the night before. As a result of the destruction of Quick Stop and the adjacent RST Video, Dante and Randal begin working at a Mooby’s fast food restaurant along with Elias (Trevor Fehrman) and their manager Becky Scott (Rosario Dawson). A year later, Dante is planning to leave his minimum wage lifestyle in favor of a family life in Florida with his fiancée Emma Bunting (Jennifer Schwalbach), whose father will provide them with a home and a business to run. This leaves Randal bitterly disappointed, who fears that with Dante moving to Florida would leave him without his best friend. Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith) have since followed Dante and Randal, and now loiter outside of Mooby’s. Jay and Silent Bob no longer do drugs after they were arrested for the possession of drugs and were sent to rehab, and become devout Christians following their release. However, the duo continue selling drugs.
Dante eventually confesses to Becky that he is worried about dancing at his wedding, so she takes him up onto the roof of the restaurant to teach him some moves. Dante soon lets go of his inhibitions and learns how to dance. When the song ends, Dante, caught up in the moment, tells Becky he loves her, and she reveals to him that she is pregnant; Dante and Becky had a one night stand on the prep table a few weeks before. Becky tells Dante not to tell anyone about the baby; however Dante tells Randal, and an angered Becky leaves when she learns that Dante told Randal.

Randal encourages Dante to leave Mooby’s in search for Becky, and in the meantime, sets up a surprise going away party for Dante. Randal hires “Kinky Kelly and the Sexy Stud,” a donkey show with a fog machine. When Dante comes back, he mistakes the fog for a fire and calls the fire department, but upon discovering that it is not a fire, he proceeds to watch the show with Randal, Jay, Silent Bob, and Elias. The group soon discovers that “Kinky Kelly” is, in fact, the donkey, while the man (Zak Knutson), whom Randal thought to be the pimp, is “The Sexy Stud”. When Becky returns, Dante confesses his love for her. As they kiss, Emma arrives. She throws her engagement ring at Becky and angrily walks off.

The fire and police departments soon arrive and discover the show. Dante, Randal, Elias, Jay, Silent Bob, and The Sexy Stud are detained and jailed. Although they are informed they will soon be released, Dante blames Randal for ruining his life and expresses his eagerness to start a new life without Randal, while Randal condemns Dante for his willingness to live his life under the standards of others and for walking out of their friendship. Amid the argument, Randal proposes that they buy the Quick Stop and re-open it, although Dante says that neither have the money to purchase the store. Jay and Silent Bob offer to lend them some money (from the royalties they collected following the events of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back) on the condition that they can hangout outside of the Quick Stop anytime they want. Randal accepts their offer, but Dante remains skeptical, prompting Randal to emotionally confess his fear of losing Dante. As a result, Dante agrees to the proposition as well, and after his release, he proposes to Becky, who accepts. After the Quick Stop and RST Video are rebuilt, Elias applies for a job and is hired at RST Video. In the very last scene, with the store open, Dante says, “Can you feel it? Today is the first day of the rest of our lives.”

If you’re a fan of adult humour (or just enjoyed the original) then this is definitely one for you. Of course, if, like me, you’re a die-hard fan of Kevin Smith’s films, you’ll get added enjoyment out of Clerks II as it’s part of his ‘Askewniverse’ where all his films are interlinked and there are plenty of references to past situations and charters

REVIEW: ALIAS: DOPPELGANGER

Image result for alias tv logo

MAIN CAST

Jennifer Garner (The Kingdom)
Ron Rifkin (Limitless TV)
Michael Vartan (Bates Motel)
Bradley Cooper (Joy)
Merrin Dungey (Conviction)
Carl Lumbly (Justice League Unlimited)
Kevin Weisman (Clerks II)
Victor Garber (Legends of Tomorrow)

GUEST CAST

Tom Everett (Air Force One)
Lori Heuring (Wicked Little THings)
Yvonne Farrow (Roswell)
Greg Grunberg (Heroes)

 

Back in “So It Begins,” Alias used Vaughn’s expansive map of SD-6’s influence to give both Syd and the audience a sense of the scope involved to truly take down Sloane and Company. “Doppelgänger” emphasizes what “A Broken Heart” reinforced: that ultimately taking down The Alliance not only would be slow, but had a degree of difficulty so high that any single mistake could undo the entire operation. Usually mistakes come in the form of incomplete intelligence. Sometimes you don’t know the existence of a factory in Badenweiler. Sometimes you don’t know the true nature of a Social Security number. Sometimes you don’t know your partner has a secondary detonator. If knowledge is power, then sometimes the lack of it can be fatal.

As such, it’s fitting that this is the first hour that features a cliffhanger that represents an emotional moment, not simply an exciting stopgap in the action. The last three hours have featured final moments that interrupted an exciting sequence, but here all we have is fire shining in Syd’s horrified eyes. She might have maintained her double agent status, and Paul Kelvin might have only escaped with a broken arm, but the CIA field agents that died in the factory explosion are yet more casualties in a war Sydney may be waging but barely understands. What’s personal for her isn’t personal for Vaughn’s buddies inside of that blast, and that makes her guilt all the more potent.

 

Syd talks again in this hour of the difficulty with which she masks her true feelings towards Sloane in their daily briefings. That’s an intense struggle, to be sure, but it’s one she can ultimately manage since it’s specific and self-contained anger. She can put aside her desire for revenge in order to obtain a greater, more permanent justice for Danny’s death. But she has a much more difficult time assessing the collateral damage that her actions (augmented by the CIA’s actions, which are equally sincere though not as emotionally specific) cause. “Doppelgänger” is rife with people that consciously or inadvertently get caught up between a Syd and a Sloane place this week: Jeroen Schiller, Kelvin, Dixon, and Will are all caught up to some extent in Syd’s decision to tell Danny about her spy status.

The show never shies away from the weekly assets that come under duress from the show’s missions. Oftentimes, these people have either signed up for the rollercoaster or have made decisions that leave them no other choice. But Dixon and Will (and Marshall, to an extent, though he’s still way on the sidelines at this point) both fashion themselves as protagonists in a story that they don’t yet realize is fabricated. I’m always fascinated by thinking about certain shows, and how they might be better if they focused on a secondary/tertiary character as opposed to the one the show chooses to highlight. (Case in point: Covert Affairs, an Alias knockoff that apparently never actually watched a damn episode of Alias, might actually be a fairly interesting show if it were about Auggie, not Annie.) But I’m also equally fascinated to watch characters that have no idea they aren’t actually the most important person in the narrative being spun.

 

Dixon fashions himself the sturdy, non-flashy agent of an elite, noble government spy agency. He doesn’t think he’s James Bond, but he takes pride in a job well done. He acts as both partner and semi-father figure to a fellow agent that he worries may be in danger in light of her ex-fiancé’s death. He doesn’t picture himself as a hero per se, but definitely has trouble seeing himself as a pawn being used by other people. As for Will: we see in this hour how he can actually be a powerful player in the world of this show once his bullshit detector starts moving from green to red. Until this point, the evidence has been circumstantial at best, easily dismissed by someone like Francie. But a borrowed SSN from a dead woman? You can see his eyes harden in his interview with “Kate Jones,” turning him from a semi-skeevy dork willing to sell out his assistant’s looks for a scoop to a man that just might make some in-roads into the spy world after all. As for the spy world stuff this week, pretty good stuff here, if not the epic awesome of the past few weeks. Watching Dixon knock out Patel was hysterical, mostly for his “I am SO sorry!” apology pre-punch. And the subsequent ambulance chase is the type of sequence that Grand Theft Auto dreams are made of. But mostly the show eschewed big explosions for smaller, more intense interrogation scenes. Jack’s function as in-house Jack Bauer came to light this week which, along with his possible previous investigation by the FBI (Case 332L), gives yet more shading to Spy Daddy’s true leanings.

The lack of big action for a majority of the hour did, however, lead to make the final fireball that much more potent. Previous episodes have left us wondering how Sydney would get out of the situation she was in. This one leaves us wondering how Sydney will mentally cope with what she couldn’t prevent. While Alias will return to its more usual cliffhangers in episodes to come, it’s good to see them show that Syd’s life as a double agent won’t simply be threading the needle each week. There are consequences to her actions, even if she herself escapes them directly. Danny was only the first to die for her role in this dangerous world. But he won’t be the last. And he certainly may not be the only one close to her that has to suffer.

REVIEW: BUFFY: THE VAMPIRE SLAYER – SEASON 1-7

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Logo 3840x2160 wallpaper

CAST

Sarah Michelle Gellar (Ringer)
Nicholas Brendon (Children of The Corn III)
Alyson Hannigan (How I Met Your Mother)
Charisma Carpenter (Scream Queens)
Anthony Stewart Head (The Iron Lady)
Davis Boreanaz (Bones)
Seth Green (Austin Powers)
James Marsters (Caprica)
Marc Blucas (Red State)
Emma Caulfield (Supergirl)
Michelle Tractenberg (17 Again)
Amber Benson (The Killing Jar)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Mark Metcalf (Drive me Crazy)
Brian Thompson (Hired To Kill)
Ken Lerner (The Running Man)
Kristine Sutherland (One Life To Live)
Julie Benz (No Ordinary Family)
Eric Balfour (Skylive)
Persia White (The Vampire Diaries)
Mercedes McNab (The Addams Family)
Elizabeth Anne Allen (Bull)
Robin Riker (The Bold and The Beautiful)
Musetta Vander (Stargate SG.1)
Christopher Wiehl (Cold Hearts)
Geoff Meed (Little Miss Sunshine)
Andrew J. Ferchland (The Last Leprechaun)
Jennifer Sky (Cleopatra 2525)
Chad Lindberg (The Fast and The Furious)
Armin Shimerman (Star Trek: DS9)
Dean Butler (Little House on The Prairie)
Clea DuVall (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles)
Robia LaMorte (Spawn)
Michael Bacall (Django Unchained)
Juliet Landau (Ed Wood)
Ara Celi (American Beauty)
Clayne Crawford (Roswell)
Danny Strong (The Prophecy II)
Kavan Smith (Stargate SG.1)
Robin Sachs (Jurassic Park 2)
Larry Bagby (Walk The Line)
Jason Behr (Roswell)
Will Rothhaar (Kingpin)
Julia Lee (A Man Apart)
Bianca Lawson (The Vampire Diaries)
Saverio Guerra (Becker)
John Ritter (8 Simple Rules)
Jeremy Ratchford (Cold Case)
James Parks (Kill Bill)
Vincent Schiavelli (Batman Returns)
Jack Conley (Fast & Furious)
Willie Garson (Stargate SG.1)
Christopher Gorham (Ugly Betty)
John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone)
Meredith Salenger (Lake Placid)
Charles Cyphers (Halloween)
Wentworth Miller (Legends of Tomorrow)
Shane West (Nikita)
Max Perlich (Blow)
Richard Riehle (Office Space)
Carlos Jacott (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Nancy Lenehan (Two Guys and a Girl)
Jason Hall (American Sniper)
K. todd Freeman (The Dark Knight)
Fab Filippo (Guidestones)
Jeremy Roberts (The Mask)
Eliza Dushku (Tru Calling)
Ian Abercrombie (Army of Darkness)
Harry Groener (About Schmidt)
Jack Plotnick (Rubber)
Nicole Bilderback (Dark Angel)
Jeff Kober (New Girl)
Harris Yulin (Training Day)
Dominic Keating (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Michael Cudlitz (The Walking Dead)
Alexis Denisof (Dollhouse)
Christian Clemenson (Lois & Clark)
Ron Rogge (Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue)
Ethan Erickson (Jawbreaker)
Andy Umberger (Deja Vu)
Katharine Towne (Evolution)
Lindsay Crouse (The Insider)
Phina Oruche (The Forsaken)
Adam Kaufman (Taken)
Walter Jones (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers)
Kal Penn (Van Wilder)
Bailey Chase (Longmire)
Leonard Roberts (Heroes)
Andy Hallett (Chance)
Doug Jones (Hellboy)
George Hertzberg (Too Much Magic)
Alastair Duncan (The Batman)
Rob Benedict (Birds of Prey)
Erica Luttrell (Lost Girl)
Kathryn Joosten (desperate Housewives)
Connor O’Farrell (Lie To Me)
Rudolf Martin (Swordfish)
Tom Lenk (The Cabin In The Woods)
Charlie Weber (Gacy)
Clare Kramer (Bring it On)
Ravil Isyanov (Alias)
Amy Adams (Man of Steel)
Brian Tee (Jurassic World)
Kali Rocha (Buried)
Kevin Weisman (Alias)
Abraham Benrubi (Open Range)
Cynthia LaMontagne (That 70s Show)
Oliver Muirhead (The Social Network)
Shonda Farr (Crossroads)
Adam Busch (Sugar & Spice)
Joel Grey (Cabaret)
Karim Prince (Mighty Morphin Alien Rangers)
Wade Williams (Gangster Squad)
Todd Stashwick (The Originals)
Amber Tamblyn (Two and a Half Men)
Jordan Belfi (Surrogates)
Mageina Tovah (Spider-Man 2 & 3)
Ivana Milicevic (Casino Royale)
Lee Garlington (Flashforward)
Jan Hoag (Scream Queens)
Nicole hiltz (Smallville)
Alexandra Breckenridge (The Walking Dead)
D.B. Woodside (24)
Zachery Ty Bryan (The Fast and the Furious 3)
Sarah Hagan (Freaks and Geeks)
Jonathan M. Woodward (Firefly)
Stacey Scowley (The Brotherhood 2)
Felicia Day (The Guild)
Megalyn Echikunwoke (Arrow)
Ashanti (Resident Evil: Extinction)
Indigo (Broken City)
Nathan Fillion (Firefly)
Dania Ramirez (Heroes)
Julia Ling (Chuck)

Buffy The Vampire Slayer is one of the wittiest, most well developed, and consistent cult fantasy shows on television. Unlike other shows in the genre, it has been able to showcase a wide balance between fantastic character development, humor, topical plotlines, heart wrenching drama, science fiction, and horror- a horn a plenty of styles all in one 44 min episode. While entertaining, everyone probably can’t relate to the technobabble machinations of a Star Trek episode, or the convoluted paranoia of and X-Files episode, but we all went through high school and whether you were average, popular, or an outcast, we know, we remember, all too well, the emotional highs and lows of growing up. Its something everyone can relate to, and its the central fire that keeps Buffy grounded.


But, Buffy began as a humble mid season replacement on a non entity network, and its early days when it was gaining its footing, starting its mythology, seeing how far they could tweek the drama and the horror with a minuscule budget… well, its not nearly the powerhouse it would quickly become in its second season. There are of course, subtle signs of the drama and humor to come, little hints that it was more than a teen show with vampires. And, honestly, if you were going to try and impress someone who had never seen The X-Flies, you certainly wouldn’t show them the first season without saying, “It gets much better.”

KEY EPISODES ARE –


Episode 1: Welcome to the Hellmouth- Buffy Summers, a high school sophomore, transfers to Sunnydale High. There she meets her “Watcher” and learns she cannot escape her true destiny.— Like most pilots, its all about introductions- Buffy the reluctant Slayer, her pals and soon to be Scoobies, spazz with a heart of gold Xander, shy brain Willow, her stuffy Watcher Giles, the mysterious Angel, and the snobbish beauty queen Cordelia. Also, of course, establishes the first main villain, The Master, and the Hellmouth, the demonic portal that would provide the show with its main mythological device keeping the town of Sunnydale infested with all manner of creatures for Buffy to slay

Episode 2: The Harvest:- A Stranger named Angel tells Buffy that if she does not stop the Harvest, the Hellmouth will open and the Master roam free.— Whereas the first episode was focused on introducing the characters and didn’t have much room for tension or action, The Harvest provides a look at Buffy having to accept her role as Slayer as she realizes the deadly consequences if she abandons her destiny.

Episode 5 : Never Kill a Boy on the First Date:

While awaiting the arrival of a warrior vampire called the Anointed One, Buffy’s big date at the Bronze ends with an assault on a funeral home. — Once again, showing Buffy’s attempts to balance a normal life with her secret life as the Slayer. While a little weak and cornball, it also manages to show the villain thread well, how most main Buffy villains will have some sort of evolution, twists and turns to keep the viewer guessing.

Episode 7: Angel: A moment of passion turns to terror as Buffy discovers Angel’s true identity and learns about the Gypsy curse that has haunted him for almost 100 years.— Probably the most weak, ill-defined character early on, this episode finally showcased more about Angel and gave his character some considerable fleshing out. Taking into account the large part his character would play in the Buffyverse, and the leaps and bounds of change he would undergo, his affect on all the characters, particularly Buffy, in one way or another, it makes this one of the seasons better episodes.

Episode 11: Out of Mind, Out of Sight: As Cordelia prepares for Sunnydale High’s May Queen competition, an invisible force starts attacking her closest friends.— Another of the seasons better episodes, and a clever look an always pertinent issue, showing yet another sympathetic foe, those fringe kids who are always ignored, sometimes until it is too late.

Episode 12: Prophecy Girl:

As the Spring Fling dance approaches, Giles discovers an ancient book foretelling the Slayers death at the hands of The Master.— While a tad abrupt, this finale serves up everything one wants, tension, conflict, and turns you don’t quite see coming. Pivotal in the series for all players, but mainly Buffy, showing that she isn’t just an invulnerable buttkicker able to save the day alone, but through banding together her and the Scoobies will take on many a Big Bad to come.

Season 2 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is quite possibly the best season of the bunch. Season 2 is by definition, where things get darker and more complex, this was the season that really made Buffy an unpredictably smart series.

The season opens with ‘When She Was Bad’ which deals with the fallout of Buffy’s momentary death in the previous year one finale; this episode is appropriately handled and sees Buffy acting rather out of character after returning from her summer away from Sunnydale. The preceding episodes are a fun affair and help the viewer to settle back into the rhythm of the series with various episodes focusing upon certain characters.

The ‘Big Bads’ of the season appear early on and come in the form of Drusilla and Spike, the former being a rather off-her-rocker vampire and the latter a bleached, leather wearing, cocky undead Englishman! As villains they are a lot of fun and help to shape season 2 as something unique and well constructed. However, come the end of the year things are considerably shaken up in terms of ‘the Big Bads’, with the appearance of Angelus.

Willow, Xander and Giles all find themselves venturing into new territory: dating! Cordelia continues to redeem herself and becomes a fully fledged scoobygang member, whilst Buffy and Angel undergo many changes to their relationship which is mostly the driving force of the season. By the middle of the season the episodes gradually become darker and a more coherent storyarc begins to emerge, starting with the events of ‘Surprise (Part 1)’ which culminate in the emotional and incredibly shocking ‘Innocence’ (Part 2). Said episodes are some of the best in the history of the series and set in motion events that help to lead to the end of the season. The circumstances surrounding this two parter does literally change everything once established between Buffy and Angel; and brings into question their future. The continuity, witty one liners, oblique use of language does continue into this season and helps to boost the chemistry between the actors as they discuss, for example the oddness of some TV movies and sore thumbs. These subtle touches give the season a vibrancy and kooky edge; what makes Buffy such an enjoyable show is the warmth and heart it retains, mostly provided by the actors but also by the wonderfully consistent writing.

The two part finale ‘Becoming’ is well set up as a consequence of the episode ‘I Only Have Eyes For You’, which happens to be beautifully moving and tragic respectively. The complexity of the Angelus arc presented here really sets up and supports the actions that lead to the occurrences of the finale. ‘Becoming’ part 1 & 2 with all it’s flashback goodness brings about tumultuous change and throws one through the emotional wringer all the while its still surprising, sad and gut wrenching upon each rewatch. The issues dealt with this season are far more adult and dark than is the usual, and in turn it delivers a wonderfully realized arc which never fails to amaze.


This third season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer contains some of my favourite episodes from the entire run of the show and also has the fewest offbeat episodes. This year Buffy and the gang are in their final year of high school but living on the Hellmouth is never easy and in addition to the usual demons and vampires they must deal with the schemes of the Watchers Council, a new slayer and a politician after even more power.

Buffy has really found its feet with this season and I would say that it is this year that the show reaches its peak. All the regular cast members give their usual brilliant performances but the season is really stolen by the new cast members, specifically Eliza Dushku as Faith the new Slayer and Harry Groener as the eccentrically evil Mayor Wilkins, who is probably my favourite of all the Buffy villains.

It is difficult to choose favorite episodes from this season as it includes so many great ones. `Bad Candy’, `Amends’, `Earshot’ and the two part season finally `Graduation’ are all excellent episodes being both funny and enthralling but my favorite episode has to be `Lover’s Walk’ where a lovesick Spike returns to Sunnydale after breaking up with Drusilla in order to find a way to get her back. James Marsters is truly excellent in this episode and livens up the series brilliantly. Another couple of episodes of note are `The Wish’ and `Doppelgangland’ both of which involve a parallel universe where vampires have taken over and feature a vamped up Willow, brilliantly portrayed by Alyson Hannigan who seems to enjoy the role immensely. Although none of the episodes could truly be considered awful, `Gingerbread’ and `The Zeppo’ are the weakest episodes of this season and are slightly painful to watch in places.

Overall this season is truly great, with brilliant writing and a plot that never ceases to be in turns exciting, funny and touching.

With the loss of David Boreanaz and Charisma Carpenter to the spin-off show, “Angel”, there were voids to be filled in this, the first season out of high school, and Marc Blucas and Emma Caulfield suitably obliged. The fragmentation of the Scooby Gang was for many the core reason why Season Four didn’t match the heights of the previous three: nobody seemed to care enough about each other any more. With Giles out of work, Xander flitting from one deadbeat job to another, and Buffy and Willow settling in to life on campus, there was concern that the old gang would never get back together.


A big risk was taken in introducing a more sci-fi element with the arrival of a secret government demon-hunting operation. But there’s a big difference from other genre shows: the Initiative was never in control of its actions. And that’s the gist of the season: that Buffy and her traditional methods will always be superior, and that it’s through her skills and her friends that evil is defeated, not bureaucracy. Which is why there’s no big finish in episode 22 (the grand climax happens in episode 21), because the most important storyline is about the reaffirmation of friendships, demonstrated in the most bizarre way imaginable in an episode composed almost entirely of dream sequences.


There are some classics (the Emmy-nominated “Hush” was possibly the boldest piece of television attempted before “The Body” the following year). And in the final scene of the season, we get a great setting-up of what’s to come, without knowing any specific details. All in all, a season that left a few minor gripes, but which in the overall scheme of things, has continued the journey of life into adulthood. Now they’re all supposed to be grown up, but the future still holds a great deal of uncertainty, and that can only be good for the show.

Although Season 5  still has comedic moments, it also has many more serious moments. Not to spoil it for those who have not seen the series yet, two major deaths rock the Sunnydale Slayage Crew. These are excellently handled, and in no way seem like they are tying off loose ends.

The episodes are excellent. From fighting Dracula, to multiple Xanders. From a new sister, to an old foe swapping sides. This season is excellent. the first disc houses such gems as the introduction of Dawn, without any back story or any clues into why she is there. These facts are revealed slowly through the next disc, with amusing storylines for Spike, clearly an excellent addition to the principal cast. Anya also comes into her own, and becomes revels in the joys of capitalism.

Through the next disc a departure of a relatively new character, Riley, hurts Buffy tremendously, whilst the appearance of a troll lightens the mood considerably. The fourth disc includes the fun episode where the Watcher’s Council return to Sunnydale, and reveal a shocking secret about the main enemy of this series. Spike also has a choice to make, whether to fall back into the arms of his old flame, Drusilla, or to move on and persue his newest conquest, a source of exasperation for Buffy.

The fifth disc is a solemn affair, with the death of a principal cast member, who had been with Buffy from the beginning. As Buffy and her ‘Scoobies’ attempt to cope, the attacks on them by the villain of the series grow more violent and frequent, leaving a dissuaded Buffy sure that she cannot beat the villain. When his new enemy learns of an importance in the Scooby gang, and this member of the gang get captured, Buffy goes into meltdown. With the help of Willow, Buffy recovers and faces the most terrifying villain ever in the history of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, with a conclusion that is heart wrenching.


“The Gift”, the season five finale, ended with Buffy dead and buried after battling deranged fallen goddess Glory. Dying is kind of old hat for Buffy, and I don’t think I’m giving too much away by revealing that the show’s title character quickly gets over the whole death thing. Although the ensuing gang of biker demons is corny, I thought her return from the grave in the feature-length “Bargaining” hit all the right notes. Her reappearance is heartbreaking and almost horrifying, and it avoids undermining the events that concluded the previous season.

Rather than just toss her back in this mortal coil as if she’d never left, Buffy is distant and depressed, not quite the elated response her friends were expecting to see. The opening of the season offers an evenhanded blend of humor and drama, particularly the early escapades of the Troika. The all-nerd supersquad — robotics whiz Warren (Adam Busch), clumsy sorceror-lite Jonathan (Danny Strong), and summoner Andrew (Tom Lenk). They added a well-needed dose of geeky comedy to the season, which made the bitter pill of the agony Buffy and friends endure later on easier to swallow.

The darker spin the three of them eventually take also resonates more having seen several episodes worth of their giddiness at being supervillains. I also thought the aftermath of Buffy’s return, seen in “After Life”, “Flooded”, and “Life Serial”, worked well as she tried to find her place in the world (and her friend’s worlds) after being plucked from the afterlife. These episodes also manage to strike that perfect balance between humor and drama.

Another early highlight is “Tabula Rasa”, where a spell gone awry robs the Scoobies of their memories.  Of special mention from this chunk of the season, of course, is the musical episode “Once More with Feeling”. The version presented here is the original broadcast, a few minutes lengthier than your average Buffy installment. Although the concept of characters in an established drama singing and dancing for an hour screams ‘gimmick’, it’s not a standalone episode, tying in heavily to the previous episodes of the season and setting up some of what would soon follow. The songs are surprisingly good, particularly impressive considering that they were written by someone without much of a musical background.Image result for buffy once more with feeling

The season closes out with a series of strong episodes. “Hell’s Bells” features the chaos of a wedding between a human raised in a dysfunctional family and his millennia-old former vengeance demon fiancee, the aftermath of which is explored in “Entropy”.

One of the season’s best is “Normal Again”, which questions the reality of what we’ve seen for the past six seasons, and Buffy’s assault on her possibly-delusional friends and family is as chilling as anything seen up to that point on the series. The darkness pervasive throughout much of the season culminates in “Seeing Red”, which has two monstrous turning points. Its fatal closing events lead into the three-episode arc that rounds out the season. Similar to Angelus’ appearances on both Buffy and Angel, the immeasurably powerful antagonist in these final episodes tear down the main characters.

In its final season, Buffy the Vampire Slayer issued a mission statement you might not expect from a series that’s been on the air for seven years: go back to the beginning. After a foray at college and a year spent toiling away in the working world, Buffy’s going back to high school. Several years after its destruction at the hands…or giant coiled tail, whatever…of the ascended Mayor Wilkins, Sunnydale High has been rebuilt from the ground up. The Hellmouth beneath the school happens to lurk directly below the office of Principal Robin Wood (D.B. Woodside), who’s harboring some sort of dark secret that may or may not work to Buffy’s favor. Anyway, Wood continually stumbles upon Buffy as she spirits Dawn off to her first day of school as a freshman and ensuring both Summers girls make the most of the lovingly-crafted Sunnydale High set, Wood offers Buffy a job as a part-time counselor. Holed up in the bowels of Sunnydale High is Spike, who’s been driven mad by a combination of his newly-acquired soul and an entity that’s been haunting him, one that’s soon going to expand its grasp to the rest of the Scooby Gang and the world at large.

These early episodes really do capture the feel of the first few seasons of the series, a very welcome change after the grim year that came before it. This is one of the stronger opening salvos of Buffy. “Him” is played pretty much for laughs, revolving around a football player whose letter jacket makes him irresistible to the fairer sex, compelling Dawn, Buffy, Willow, and Anya to take drastic and wholly over-the-top measures to win his complete adoration.

 

Three of the season’s best episodes run back-to-back. “Same Time, Same Place” follows Willow’s return to the group, still reeling from the near-apocalyptic events of the previous year and further disheartened when she’s apparently abandoned by her friends. Buffy and company really are there for Willow, but the problem is that there are kind of two separate and distinct “there”s. The cannibalistic Gnarl is one of the most effectively creepy creatures of the show’s entire run, and his confrontation with Willow is unsettling and horrifying…and I mean that in the best possible way. “Help” quickly follows, chronicling Buffy’s quest to save the life of an awkward, introverted poet who foretells her own death.

Although I really like all of the first batch of episodes, this season has two particularly strong stand-outs. Following the excellent “Same Time, Same Place” and “Help” is “Selfless”, which features Anya returning to form as a mass-murdering vengeance demon, a decision that awes her demonic coworkers and conflicts her former friends as Buffy must make a difficult decision. The episode makes use of flashbacks from several vastly different time periods and juggles drastically different tones. We see what led young Aud to become the vengeful Anyanka in a hysterical glimpse back at her life with her wench-drenched, troll-hating brute of a husband, Olaf. There’s also a flashback to “Once More, With Feeling”, complete with a new musical number, followed by a brutal, brilliant cut to the present.

The other standout is “Conversations with Dead People”, an inventively structured episode penned by four different writers. The title is a decent enough synopsis, as a number of characters communicate in varying forms with the dearly departed. Buffy allows herself to be psychoanalyzed by a recently-risen Psych major, Dawn is haunted by a poltergeist that takes on a shockingly familiar image, Willow is delivered a message from a lost love one, Spike goes out on the town, and the remnants of last year’s nerdy Troika return to Sunnydale.

In general, season seven feels like Joss Whedon and company had a clear beginning and a clear ending. The Finale does give the show a nice ending, but is left open should the show ever return in any format.

REVIEW: ALIAS – SEASON 1-5

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MAIN CAST

Jennifer Garner (Elektra)
Ron Rifkin (Gotham)
Michael Vartan (Bates Motel)
Bradley Cooper (Joy)
Merrin Dungey (Edtv)
Carl Lumbly (The Alphabet Killer)
Kevin Weisman (Clerks 2)
Victor Garber (Legends of Tomorrow)
Greg Grunberg (Heroes)
David Anders (Izombie)
Lena Olin (Mystery Men)
Melissa George (Triangle)
Mia Maestro (Poseidon)
Rachel Nicols (G.I. Joe)
Balthazar Getty (Young Guns 2)
Elodie Bouchez (Reality)
Amy Acker (Angel)
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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Edward Atterton (Firefly)
Angus Scrimm (Phantasm)
Ric Young (The Transporter)
Evan Parke (King Kong)
Ravil Isyanov (The Jackal)
Sarah Shahi (Old School)
John Aylward (Armageddon)
Gina Torres (Serenity)
Keone Young (Men In Black 3)
Miguel Sandoval (Medium)
Faran Tahir (Iron Man)
Arabella Holzbog (Across The Universe)
Tom Everett (Air Force One)
Lori Heuring (Mulholland Drive)
Yvonne Farrow (The Hard Truth)
Tristin Mays (The Vampire Diaries)
John Hannah (Spartacus)
Maurice Godin (Boat Trip)
James Hong (Blade Runner)
Derek Mears (Friday The 13th)
Tobin Bell (Saw)
Aharon Ipale (The Mummy)
James Handy (Jumanji)
Quentin Tarantino (The Hateful Eight)
Joey Slotnick (Nip/Tuck)
Agnes Bruckner (Blood and Chocolate)
Patricia Wettig (City Slickers)
Jennifer Tung (Masked Rider)
James Lew (Traffic)
Amy Irving (Carrie)
Michelle Arthur (The Number 23)
Roger Moore (Octopussy)
Lindsay Crouse (Buffy)
Derrick O’Connor (End of Days)
Terry O’Quinn (Lost)
Peter Berg (Collateral)
Tony Amendola (Stargate SG.1)
Marisol Nichols (Riverdale)
Ira Heiden (A Nightmare On Elm Street 3)
Derek de Lint (Deep Impact)
James Lesure (Las Vegas)
Marshall Manesh (How I Met Your Mother)
Faye Dunaway (Supergirl)
Courtney Gains (Children of The Corns)
Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner)
Olivia d’Abo (Conan The Destroyer)
Ethan Hawke (The Purge)
Christian Slater (True Romance)
Lindsey Ginter (S.W.A.T.)
Tracy Middendorf (Scream: The Series)
Ahmed Best (Star wars – Episode I)
Bonita Friedericy (Chuck)
Richard Lewis (Drunks)
Stacey Scowley (The Brotherhood 2)
Danny Trejo (Machete)
Robert Joy (The Hills Have Eyes)
Jonathan Banks (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles)
Amanda Foreman (Super 8)
Kurt Fuller (Ghostbusters 2)
Brad Greenquist (Pet Sematary)
Ilia Volok (Power Rangers Wild Force)
Mark Bramhall (Vanilla Sky)
Justin Theroux (American Psycho)
Clifton Collins Jr. (Pacific Rim)
Djimon Hounsou (Stargate)
Alec Mapa (Ugly Betty)
George Cheung (Rush Hour)
Erick Avari (The Mummy)
Pruitt Taylor Vince (Heroes Reborn)
Richard Roundtree (Shaft)
Erica Leerhsen (Wrong Turn 2)
David Cronenberg (Resurrection)
Isabella Rossellini (Death Becomes Her)
Arnold Vosloo (G.I.Joe)
Francois Chau (lost)
James Kyson (Heroes)
Vivica A. Fox (Idle Hands)
Stana Katic (Castle)
Griffin Dunne (After Hours)
Ricky Gervais (The Invention of Lying)
Raymond J. Barry (Training Day)
Peggy Lipton (The Mod Squad)
David Carradine (Kill Bill)
Angela Bassett (Green Lantern)
Rob Benedict (Birds of Prey)
Rick Yune (The Fast and The Furious)
Kelly Macdonald (Brave)
Jim Pirri (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Julie Ann Emery (Fargo)
Sebastian Roche (Odyssey 5)
Jason Segel (How I Met Your Mother)
Sonia Braga (Angel Eyes)
Kevin Alejandro (Arrow)
Robin Sachs (Buffy)
Michelle Forbes (Powers)
Joel Grey (Cabaret)
Michael McKean (Smallville)
Jeff Yagher (V)
Andrew Divoff (Wishmaster)
Tyrees Allen (Robocop)
Larry Cedar (Deadwood)
Kevin Cooney (Roswell)
Patrick Bauchau (Secretary)
Angus Macfadyen (Chuck)
Michael Masse (Flashforward)

Alias is the creation of “Felicity” creator J.J Abrams and stars Jennifer Garner (“Dude, Where’s My Car”). The choice of Garner as Sydney Bristow is one of those things where most will likely not imagine anyone else in the role. Able to portray a natural sweetness and likability, Garner turns Sydney into a highly engaging character with complex and conflicting emotions, as well as one who is an expert in martial arts.

At the opening of the show, Sydney works for a top-secret organization called SD-6, who is searching for a mysterious device by a scientist named Rambaldi. It’s not long before Sydney realizes that SD-6 isn’t the branch of the CIA that it says it is, leading Sydney to work as a double agent for the real CIA to investigate SD-6. It’s not long before Sydney finds herself in the midst of double-and-triple crosses, not to mention surprises, as she finds out her father (a terrific Victor Garber) is an agent, as well.

The show does take a bit from previous efforts such as “Mission: Impossible” and “La Femme Nikita” (the latter was also turned into a well-liked TV show), while also running on the techno-pulse of a “Run Lola Run”. Still, the show manages to add its own twists and turns on a familiar genre. The show’s production design, cinematography and costumes are all first-rate, while the occasional jump to a foreign location or new gadget intro make the show fun and compelling. As with “Felicity”, Abrams and the show’s music supervisors make interesting choices that fit with the show rather than showcase certain artists. Quentin Tarantino makes a great guest appearance in “The Box”; while he might not win an Oscar for acting, Tarantino is never less than a fun, unpredictable presence in any acting appearance, and this is no different.

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Sydney Bristow (Jennifer Garner) is back as the double agent who works for the CIA and the evil organization known as SD-6. Sloane (Ron Rifkin) is the leader of SD-6, and Agent Vaughn (Michael Vartan) is Sydney’s handler. He’s also her would-be lover. Add to the mix another double agent who happens to be Sydney’s father (Victor Garber), and you have a show that seems like it would be too weird to work. But it does.

What surprises me most about this series is the fact that the action, and the reason for the action, is often the least important aspect of any particular episode. Sure, it gets all the glory, but the whole idea of chasing Rambaldi artifacts is nothing more than Hitchcock’s McGuffin. These chases are a means to get the characters in motion. What matters, however, is how the characters react and grow.

Season two continues the trend of letting the secondary characters in on the big picture. They’re not around just to give Sydney someone to talk with when she’s not at work. Instead, they have a life of their own; a life that is vitally important to the show, with intrigues that really drive the show’s emotion. In season two, Will (Bradley Cooper) gets a bigger roll, and it’s plausible and exciting. Francie (Merrin Dungey) even gets in on the act. These “smaller characters,” and many others, are used and developed throughout the show, an idea that other television shows can learn from.

Season two also features more humor, and this can only mean one thing. Yep, more Marshall. Lots more. This character, played perfectly by Kevin Weisman, adds the much-needed comic relief to the show, and at times, he’s outright hilarious. Add some subtle humor provided by Will, Vaughn, Weiss (Greg Grunberg), and even Jack, and you have some great stuff.

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But that doesn’t mean this season turns its back on the bread and butter of the series. If anything, the action and excitement have multiplied. Sydney goes on 33 missions, many with counter-missions for the CIA. That’s an awful lot of action and suspense for 22 one-hour episodes. Lena Olin joins the cast as Sydneys Mother who turns her self into the CIA, and it becomes a question of can she be trusted.

In the episode Phase One the entire Alias world is  turned upside down, beginning with the mysterious disappearance of Sloane that brings Anthony Geiger, the new head of SD-6 into Jack and Sydney’s life. As the Bristows struggle to stay one step ahead of having their secret blown wide open by Geiger, Will and Francie make a startling discovery of their own as she prepares to open her new restaurant. After an airborne mission to recover something called a Server 47 dive, Sydney uncovers a crucial weakness, one that could bring down the entire Alliance. But to put her plan into action, she must tell Dixon the truth about everything when Jack is captured, and Dixon has to make the decision to reveal the security code… enabling the CIA to launch a world-wide offensive against all SD cells to bring down. This allows Sydney to no longer be a double agent and just work for the CIA to take down Sloane.

The third season of Alias continues to bring an interesting mix of high-paced and intense action, drama, mystery, and suspense. This season picks up right at the end of the second season. For that reason, if you’ve missed the earlier seasons in this series, you should most definitely check them out before viewing the third season.


In the third season, the show focuses upon a major mystery, covering the details about Sydney Bristow’s past. At the end of the second season, she awakens without memory of the last two years. This season uncovers the truth of those missing two years and the truth is far from what Bristow expected. There are also some stories that touch upon the previous seasons. But it’s not specifically these stories that make the season entertaining, but rather the characters.

The cast of the previous season is the same, with the addition of Lauren Reed (Melissa George). But since this season is set two years after the previous season, the characters return with slightly different roles. Nothing is the way it was before. I enjoyed this change, because it gave this season a slightly different pace from the previous seasons. There’s also a lot of focus on these characters, which give new insights, making old enemies friends, and friends enemies. In a few cases, old enemies who became friends once again become enemies, which shouldn’t be too much of an eye-opener. This is done in a manner that makes it almost difficult to like or trust most of the cast. For this reason, you’re repeatedly left in suspense, wondering if this character will backstab our hero or someone close to her.

Some of the stories covered a sordid and twisted love affair. There’s also the introduction of the National Security Council’s (NSC) involvement with daily interactions of the CIA. This adds an interesting development, simply because the CIA and NSC do not always “play” well together. It’s your basic struggle for power. There’s also the development of older characters with new faces. The big bad guy of the previous two seasons, Arvin Sloane (Ron Rifkin) isn’t such a bad guy anymore. The development of his character adds a new layer of mistrust. With the earlier seasons seeing the major terrorist organization in the can, some new faceless bad guys have surfaced. It’s no surprise that the weasel of the earlier seasons, Julian Sark (David Anders) makes his bed with them. This pretty much gives the season a purpose to continue. Someone has to stop them and it might as well be Sydney and her friends at the CIA.

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The third season of Alias brings another strong season, filled with action, drama, and suspense for the fans. It’s pretty much extension of the previous seasons, with a few subtle changes to the overall format. The character roles are slightly different and there are new faces, new bad guys, new missions, and new gadgets. I found that it was solid with plenty of entertainment.

In season four we see the cast Alias come back together as one happy family. In the earlier seasons the cast worked together in an odd mish of double agents between SD6 and CIA. Now we find them all working together on the same team for a black ops CIA organization called APO, which stands for Authorized Personnel Only. It is an odd arrangement to see Sidney, Jack, Vaughn, Weiss, Marshall, Dixon, and a few others working along side each other and under the command of none other than Sloane.

The first two episodes “Authorized Personnel Only” parts 1 and 2 has the cast being put back together with Sloane acting as director, Jack the second in command, Marshall in charge of tech, and Sydney in the field with Dixon. Vaughn and Weiss also return to take a more active role. No longer are they the voice behind the microphone as we have seen them in the past. Instead we find them along side Sydney and Dixon more often than not. There is also an episode when Marshall gets put in the field and the combination of his comical geeky personality and the high pace seriousness of the situation make it pretty entertaining to see him working along side Sydney in this fashion. The major addition to the cast this season is Nadia Santos, who was introduced at the end of season 3 as Sydney’s half-sister (Sloane and Irena’s daughter) in season three. She joins the rest of the crew working for APO.

There is still plenty of action, suspense, and drama to keep you tuned in. This season uses the same tact previous seasons do, plenty of misdirection and dramatic shifts. The episodes do well keeping the characters, whether from the main cast or supporting roles, hard to make out. You just can’t tell if they are good or bad. Their loyalties seem to shift enough throughout the stories to keep you second guessing who will betray who and whether or not the betrayal really happened. Mix that well worked angle of suspense with plenty of action, some corny drama, and the ever-so-goofy Marshall and you’ve a pretty exciting addition to the Alias series.

Since Nadia is a new character, a majority of the season is about her relationship forming with the rest of the cast. It is a slightly odd setup as Sydney is her step-sister, Sloane is her father, and Jack is the man who was married to her mother. The back stories that tie into Nadia are. She becomes an integral part to the Rambaldi dream and there are a few other great tie-ins to other stories. The Rambaldi story found in the previous seasons comes to the fore and plays a big role in the season with the Derevko sisters acting as the villains. There are also familiar faces like Sark and Doren who make several appearances. We also see another back story with Vaughn trying to unravel mysteries about his father. This season has many other stories to keep you hooked and they do a pretty good job at building suspense and leaving you on the edge of your seat!

Season five sees several changes in the cast and how APO does their business. First off, Vaughn leaves the show. In season four’s cliffhanger, it was revealed that Vaughn was not exactly who he said he was. He was someone named Andre Michaux. Vaughn has a back story that ties into the bigger picture. After the season premiere, his character disappears after being shot several times in the chest by agents from the Shed, a rogue operation that is similar to SD-6 in nature. Another change is Weiss. While he has been a main character for the past two seasons, in the early parts of season five announces he was offered a job in Washington, D.C. heading covert ops for the NSC. He decides to take the job. Without Vaughn and Weiss, some new faces are brought into APO to replacement them.

There are two new characters in APO. Thomas Grace (Balthazar Getty) joins the cast in the season’s second episode. Grace is not your average going guy. He is tough, has a temper, and we first meet him as he is getting his ass kicked in a bar fight. Everyone in APO is hesitant to accept him into their ranks. Grace has his own back story that includes his family and an assassin. Rachel is a computer genius who has been in a situation much like Sydney. She has been working for the Shed, a criminal organization that pretends it is a black ops division of the CIA. Rachel had been working with the impression she was on the good guy’s side. When she found out the Shed was not part of the real CIA, she turned coat. Rachel and Sydney connect on a personal level, because Sydney understands the torment she is going through.

Another new face to this season is a well-known criminal named Renee Rienne (Elodie Bouchez). She is number eight on the CIA’s most wanted list. Vaughn has been working with her to gain information about his father and Prophet Five, which is the main season five storyline. Renee unofficially works with APO in their efforts against Prophet Five. Her back story ties directly into Prophet Five and she has sworn on her life to see it end. Kelly Peyton (Amy Acker) is the final addition to the season five line up. In the later half of the season, she is listed as a main character. Kelly worked with Rachel at the Shed under Gordon Dean. While Rachel did not know about the Shed’s true intentions, Kelly did. She is a bad girl.
As for the storylines, the season five introduces Prophet Five, which is filled with lots of mysterious and intrigue tied into all of the old and new players. Prophet Five is a criminal organization that is much like the Alliance. It houses smaller cells like the Shed. The APO team sets their sights on Prophet Five and stopping them from reaching their endgame. Another interesting aspect that continues to bring intrigue to the show is Sloane and his story. In season four, he was imprisoned for his crimes. He cuts a deal with some bad guys to be a mole in APO, which continue to give his character intrigue as you never know whose best interests he has in mind. Other storylines revolve around the characters, Rachel getting accustomed to her new life as an APO field agent, Grace fitting into the group, Sydney overcoming the loss of Vaughn and being pregnant.