25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: VERONICA MARS – THE CHRISTMAS EPISODES

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CAST
Kristen Bell (Frozen)
Percy Daggs III (Izombie)
Teddy Dunn (Jumper)
Jason Dohring (The Originals)
Francis Capra (Heroes)
Enrico Colantoni (Flashpoint)
Lisa Rinna (Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D)
Lisa Thornhill (The Family Man)
Emmanuelle Vaugier (Human Target)
Harry Hamlin (Clash of The Titans)
Kyle Secor (The Purge 3)
Brad Bufanda (A Cinderella Story)

Alona Tal (Cult)
Michael Muhney (The Young and The Restess)
Max Greenfield (New Girl)
Steve Guttenberg (Police Academy)

Season 1:

An Echolls Family Christmas

Veronica and Keith decorate their Christmas tree. Meanwhile, Duncan (Teddy Dunn) dances around drunkenly at a poker party with Logan, Weevil (Francis Capra), and two others, Sean (Kevin Sheridan) and Connor (Travis Schuldt). Weevil wins $5,000 from Logan when they both go all in. However, when Logan opens his money box, he finds that the money is missing. Weevil grows angry and asks each of the other members for $1,000. The next day at school, Duncan confronts Weevil, who stole his laptop. Veronica approaches him, and Duncan tells her about his problem. Duncan tells Veronica that his computer contains some private information regarding their past relationship. Veronica asks Weevil for the computer back, but he refuses. Weevil explains why he was at the card game and says that Logan had an opportunity to hide the money during the game. Logan’s mother, Lynn (Lisa Rinna), visits Keith and tells him about threatening letters that a mysterious person sent to her husband. Later, Veronica talks to Duncan, who gives his side of the story. Duncan also blames Logan. Later, Duncan confronts Logan about stealing the money, but he refuses to give any details. When Keith visits the Echolls’ house, he finds a pumpkin outside their front door with Aaron’s face on it and a knife through it. Veronica stops by the Echolls’ house and talks to Logan, and he says that he thinks that Connor stole the money.
Veronica visits Connor’s movie set, and she questions him about the poker game. However, he does not know who could have stolen the money. Veronica attempts to visit Sean, but his father turns her away. After deducing that the pumpkin probably has something to do with a halloween encounter or incident, Keith goes to the caterer of the party Aaron was at that day. The caterer tells him that Aaron was having an affair at that party. The next day, Veronica talks to Sean, who tells her that he thinks that Weevil stole the money. Keith talks to Aaron, who admits to the affair and says that it was with his agent’s wife, Monica Hadwin (Emmanuelle Vaugier). Veronica frets about Duncan’s diary before Veronica comes up and makes a deal with Logan: He will host another poker game so Veronica can determine who the thief is. At the poker game, Veronica reveals her findings: Duncan was faking being drunk in order to win the money, not steal it, Connor was simply using a muscle enhancer, and Logan is not the thief because his room was messy (and Veronica figures that if he hid the money, he wouldn’t tear apart his room looking for it. Veronica figures out that Sean is the criminal, not Weevil. Sean stuffed the money into the recycling and picked it up the next morning. Sean and Weevil go off by themselves, presumably so Weevil can punish him.Keith talks to the caterer again and asks her to describe the woman she fired. The poker guests then go to Aaron Echolls’ party. Veronica, off by herself, finds Jake Kane and confronts him about the pictures of her taken by his security chief, Clarence Wiedman. Jake screams at her that he doesn’t know, and Keith views the scene. Jake then angrily talks to his wife, Celeste (Lisa Thornhill), who actually sent Clarence to take the pictures. The majority of the guests go outside to sing Christmas carols while Aaron is confronted by his stalker, the woman whom the caterer fired. The stalker stabs Aaron, but the other guests do not notice because they aren’t there. Keith tackles the stalker, and Lynn calls for an ambulance as Logan looks on, ending the episode on a cliffhanger.
An excellent first Christmas episode for an iconic show.

Season 2: One Angry Veronca

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It is almost Christmas break at Neptune high. Veronica tells Duncan (Teddy Dunn) that Meg (Alona Tal) is pregnant, and Duncan says that he already knew because of the letter he got previously. Dick (Ryan Hansen) comes up and invites Veronica and Duncan to a party while informing them that Meg has woken up. Veronica decides to sneak into the hospital. Woody Goodman (Steve Guttenberg) tells Keith that someone has stolen the Lilly Kane-Aaron Echolls sex tapes. Keith agrees to help him with the case. Veronica and Duncan visit Meg, who talks to them. Meg says that her parents want to give the child up for adoption and don’t want Duncan to have a say in the matter. After Duncan leaves, Meg asks Veronica to prevent the adoption if “anything happens to” her. That night, Veronica learns that she has jury duty. Veronica is voted jury foreman. Keith talks to Sheriff Lamb, who says that the Sheriff’s department is secure. One member of the jury gives the facts of the case—two men are charged in the assault of a woman named Anissa. The prosecution and defendant have very different accounts of the incident. Veronica takes a vote, and the vote is 11 innocent, 1 guilty.
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Keith interrogates another member of the Sheriff’s department but gets nowhere. The holdout identifies herself and makes the other jurors question their votes. Keith talks to Leo D’Amato (Max Greenfield), who says that someone probably sold the tapes. Keith talks to an acquaintance in journalism, who agrees to contact the tabloids. One of the bikers comes up to Veronica and threatens her about the jury case. The holdout makes more deductions that support the guilty vote. Keith interrogates Logan before the journalism insider tells him that the sex tapes are on the open market for $500,000. The jurors take another vote, and another juror and Veronica have switched over to guilty. Veronica decorates the apartment for Keith. Veronica finds out that Anissa’s “pimp” was actually a sports star. Veronica ties up some loose ends that show that the defendants are guilty. However, one juror refuses to change his vote no matter what. The entire Sheriff’s department received an email about the sex tapes.
Logan (Jason Dohring) has the tapes and is watching them, crying. Afterwards, Logan burns the tapes. Keith comes in and finds out that Logan bought the tapes. The remaining juror changes his vote, believing that the defendants will appeal and win. After, one of the jurors invites Veronica to Heart College. Veronica finds that her car is vandalized. Leo actually stole the tapes in order to pay for his sister with Down syndrome to go to a private school. Leo knowingly sent the tapes to Logan. Later, Keith tells Veronica that Meg has died, but her baby daughter has survived. On New Years’ Eve, Veronica hears a knock on the door, and Wallace (Percy Daggs III) appears. They spend New Years’ Eve together.Related image
 A great Christmas episode, seeing Veronica do jury duty is hilarious.

REVIEW: VERONICA MARS – SEASON 1

Starring

Kristen Bell (The Good Place)
Teddy Dunn (Jumper)
Jason Dohring (The Originals)
Percy Daggs III (Detention)
Sydney Tamiia Poitier (Death Proof)
Francis Capra (Izombie)
Enrico Colantoni (Flashpoint)

Kristen Bell in Veronica Mars (2004)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Michael Muhney (The Young and The Restless)
Corinne Bohrer (The Flash 90s)
Amanda Seyfried (Les Miserables)
Lisa Thornhill (Agter The Sunset)
Kyle Secor (The Purge: Election Year)
Daran Norris (Izombie)
Brandon Hillock (Villains)
Bradley Joseph (Stone & Ed)
Patrick Wolff (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers)
Duane Daniels (Fashion House)
Jonathan Chesner (Bones)
Christian Clemenson (Apollo 13)
Aaron Ashmore (Smallville)
Wilmer Calderon (Fast & Furious)
Paris Hilton (House of Wax)
Ryan Hansen (2 Broke Girls)
Bobby Edner (The Amanda Show)
Paula Marshall (Murder In The First)
Alison MacInnis (Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue)
Kyla Pratt (Dr. Dolittle)
Adam Wylie (Child’s Play 2)
Robert Baker (Supergirl)
Sam Huntington (Superman Returns)
Melissa Reneé Martin (The Secret Craft)
Lisa Rinna (Days of Our Lives)
Jane Lynch (Glee)
Harry Hamlin (Clash of The Titans)
Amanda Noret (Bunny Whipped)
Jessica Chastain (Zero Dar Thirty)
Adam Kaufman (Buffy: TVS)
Steven Williams (Jason Goes To Hell)
Bonita Friedericy (Chuck)
Alona Tal (Cult)
Tina Majorino (Scorpion)
Erica Gimpel (God Friended Me)
Anastasia Baranova (Z Nation)
Jonathan Bennett (Mean Girls)
Chris William Martin (The Vampire Diaries)
Megalyn Echikunwoke (That 70s Show)
Kevin Sheridan (Heart of Dixie)
Emmanuelle Vaugier (Two and a Half Men)
Max Greenfield (New Girl)
Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad)
Christopher B. Duncan (Legacies)
Katie Leclerc (The Big Bang Theory)
Bridget Hoffman (Total Recall)
Anthony Anderson (Transformers)
Jowharah Jones (Ugly Betty)
Ken Merckx (Masked Rider)
Christine Lakin (Family Guy)
Adam Scott (Krampus)
Leighton Meester (The Roommate)
Alyson Hannigan (Buffy: TVS)
Cynthia LaMontagne (Austin Powers)
Zachery Ty Bryan (Home Improvement)
Erin Chambers (Stargate: Atlantis)
Ken Marino (Agent Carter)
Jonathan Taylor Thomas (Last Man Standing)
Theo Rossi (Luke Cage)
Joey Lauren Adams (Chasing Amy)
Roy Werner (Power Rangers Time Force)
Kyle Gallner (American Sniper)

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.Kristen Bell and Jessica Chastain in Veronica Mars (2004)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?Kristen Bell in Veronica Mars (2004)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.Kristen Bell and Alona Tal in Veronica Mars (2004)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.Kristen Bell in Veronica Mars (2004)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. Kristen Bell and Francis Capra in Veronica Mars (2004)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.

REVIEW: NICK FURY: AGENT OF S.H.I.E.L.D.

CAST

David Hasselhoff (Click)
Lisa Rinna (Veronica Mars)
Sandra Hess (Mortal Kombat: Annilation)
Neil Roberts (Holby City)
Garry Chalk (Dark Angel)
Tracy Waterhouse (Elysium)
Tom McBeath (Bates Motel)
Ron Canada (Cinderella Man)
Bill Croft (Andromeda)
Roger Cross (Arrow)

hqdefaultThe first live-action interpretation of Nick Fury, played by none other than David Hasselhoff. In this 1998 made-for-TV movie, The Hoff stars as the comic-book super spy, alongside soap star Lisa Rinna as Contessa Valentina ‘Val’ de Allegro Fontaine and a cast of relative unknowns. Now, in an effort to capitalize on Jackson’s notable appearance and the current popularity of comic-book properties on the big screen, the first Nick Fury film was released on DVD.There are a few things you should know. Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. is not a good film.At times it seems as if the filmmakers knew they didn’t have the talent, schedule or budget to make a quality film, so they took the so-bad-it’s-good approach. Except they never quite got as far as the “good” part. The acting is cringe worthy, the dialogue is laughable, the action scenes are awkwardly choreographed, the plot is unoriginal and little attempt has been made to be faithful to the original comic-book mythology beyond the use of the characters’ names.andrea-von-strucker-nick-fury-agent-of-shieldFor what it’s worth, the story centers on a plot hatched by Andrea von Strucker (aka Viper), the daughter of Nick Fury’s defeated nemesis, Baron Wolfgang von Strucker, described in the film as “last of the great global boogey men.” As the new head of the terrorist organization known as HYDRA, she threatens to launch a deadly biological attack on Manhattan in the form of the Death’s Head Virus, unless she is paid in the sum of $1 billion.forgottenfilmsnickfuryThe threat is big enough to bring Nick Fury back into the field after five years of forced retirement. He’s understandably reluctant to return to S.H.I.E.L.D. — which, in this case, stands for the inelegantly named “Supreme Headquarters International Espionage Law Enforcement Division”  until his old flame Val shows up and convinces him of the impending danger posed by von Strucker’s evil spawn. He assembles a task force — including Val, psychic Kate Neville (Tracy Waterhouse) and the eager but untested Agent Pierce (Neil Roberts) — to disarm the missiles containing the virus and to take down Viper before she can escape to do more damage. Don’t let the cover of the DVD fool you. Though this is touted as coming “from one of the writers of Batman Begins” there’s no trace of the realism or tragic darkness of that film. The writer in question is David Goyer, who’s been involved in his share of high-profile genre projects (namely the Blade trilogy). As one of his earlier and less successful efforts, he’d probably be content for this title to remain in obscurity.Even if the dialogue was stellar, the real problem would be with Hasselhoff’s forced and overly dramatic performance. He’s hopelessly miscast as the hard-as-nails, playing-by-his-own-rules Fury. No matter how much he poses or chomps on cigars with flourish, there’s nothing tough or intimidating about him. As a fighter, he’s slow and stiff in his movements. So much so that it’s distractingly obvious whenever the choreography has been adjusted to compensate for his lack of agility and when a stunt double has been brought in to do it for him. There’s never any danger of the audience taking the character too seriously. But Hasselhoff is not alone in this regard. There’s plenty of atrocious acting in this film that he’s not responsible for, amplified by a mesh of excruciating attempts at various accents, both foreign and American. The worst offender is Sandra Hess as Viper, who takes the character too far into the realm of camp that she actually surpasses Hasselhoff in terms of overacting. In the end, the story’s resolution allows for her return in future adventures. Needless to say, and thankfully,  that’s not going to happen.hqdefault.jpgThe character of Nick Fury has a rich history and a deep back story that may someday make for a good film. But this low-budget, low-quality affair is definitely not it.