REVIEW: TWO AND A HALF MEN – SEASON 9

Starring

Ashton Kutcher (The Ranch)
Jon Cryer (Supergirl)
Angus T. Jones (Bringing Down The House)
Marin Hinkle (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle)
Conchata Ferrell (Krampus)
Holland Taylor (D.E.B.S.)

Jon Cryer and Ashton Kutcher in Two and a Half Men (2003)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Jenna Elfman (Fear The Walking Dead)
Thomas Gibson (Criminal Minds)
John Stamos (Full House)
Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica)
Katherine LaNasa (The Campaign)
Jenny McCarthy (Dirty Love)
Jodi Lyn O’Keefe (The Vampire Diaries)
Missi Pyle (Gone Girl)
Jeri Ryan (Star Trek: Voyager)
Jennifer Taylor (Shameless)
Liz Vassey (The Tick)
Emmanuelle Vaugier (Human Target)
Melanie Lynskey (Heavenly Creatures)
Ryan Stiles (Hot Shots)
Joel Murray (Mad Men)
Martin Mull (Sabrina: TTW)
Judy Greer (Jurassic World)
Stephany Jacobsen (Terminator: TSCC)
Courtney Thorne-Smith (Melrose Place)
Nicholas Gonzalez (Sleepy Hollow)
Jane Lynch (Glee)
Joe Manganiello (Rampage)
Macey Cruthird (Hope & Faith)
Taylor Cole (The Originals)
Rebecca McFarland (Scream 2)
Amanda Schull (Suits)
Gary Busey (Predator 2)
Vernee Watson (The Big Bang Theory)
Sophie Winkleman (The Chronicles of Narnia)
Jonathan Banks (Breaking Bad)
Graham Patrick Martin (Major Crimes)
Jim Piddock (Best in Show)
Jane Carr (Legends of Tomorrow)
Mimi Rogers (Ginger Snaps)
Travis Van Winkle (Transformers)
Talyan Wright (Five)
Patton Oswalt (Young Adult)
Brian Stepanek (Young Sheldon)
Kathy Bates (Misery)
Eddie Shin (Westworld)
Jason Alexander (Shallow Hal)

Two and a Half Men (2003)This season focus on Alan (Jon Cryer) and his son Jake (Angus T. Jones) moving on with their lives after Charlie Harper (Charlie Sheen) unexpectedly dies off-screen due to a subway train while in Paris with Rose with the help of their new housemate, internet billionaire Walden Schmidt (Ashton Kutcher), who buys the Malibu Beach House which was put up for sale by Alan and Jake Harper. Walden, who is a dot-com billionaire, is in the process of being divorced by his wife.Jon Cryer, Conchata Ferrell, and Ashton Kutcher in Two and a Half Men (2003)Alan temporarily moved in with his and Charlie’s mother Evelyn after Charlie’s beach house was sold to Walden. Alan and Jake were invited to move back into Charlie’s beach house by Walden after Alan with the help of Walden’s ex-wife Bridget saved him from a con-artist. Walden, Alan and Jake eventually bond and formed a surrogate family unit. Walden starts to date Zoey, a British woman he met at The Malibu Grocery Store. Charlie pays Alan a visit from the afterlife, as a ghost trapped in a woman’s body (Kathy Bates) but his intentions for coming back are rather suspicious. Jake approaches adulthood fast pending his graduation from high school. Jake joins the army after graduation and leaves Malibu at the end of the season.Jon Cryer and Ashton Kutcher in Two and a Half Men (2003)Although season 9 takes some getting use to without Charlie Sheen, I think Ashton Kutcher adds a freshness to the show, with his child like nature and blossoming friendship with Alan makes this season worth while. Waldans relationship with Zoey is just adorable and its nice to see her in several episodes

REVIEW: TWO AND A HALF MEN – SEASON 8

Starring

Charlie Sheen (Hot Shots)
Jon Cryer (Supergirl)
Angus T. Jones (Bringing Down The House)
Marin Hinkle (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle)
Conchata Ferrell (Krampus)
Holland Taylor (D.E.B.S.)

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Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Ryan Stiles (Hot Shots)
Courtney Thorne-Smith (Melrose Place)
Graham Patrick Martin (Major Crimes)
Kelly Stables (The Ring Two)
Judd Nelson (The Breakfast Club)
J.D. Walsh (The Amazing Spider-Man 2)
Steve Hytner (Roswell)
Erinn Hayes (The Watch)
Liz Vassey (The Tick)
Krista Kalmus (Veronica Mars)
Melanie Lynskey (Heavenly Creatures)
Martin Mull (Sabrina: TTW)
Macey Cruthird (HOpe & Faith)
Carl Reiner (Oceans Eleven)
Jenny McCarthy (Dirty Love)
Jane Lynch (Glee)
Dakin Matthews (Child’s Play 3)

MV5BMjE1MTY5MjAzMF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjAwODM5Mw@@._V1_Season 8 was filmed at the time Charlie Sheen had his meltdown. What is interesting is that although the real-life Charlie now seems to be a lot like the onscreen Charlie, the onscreen Charlie is a lot happier, a lot more care-free, a comic rather than tragic figure. But enough of the psycho-analysis, what’s the show like, given that this is Charlie’s last season?MV5BNzA5MjIzMTMxOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTYxNDUwNA@@._V1_Alan and Charlie are of course the classic comedy duo – the uptight dweeb and the anarchic, cool, funny guy – and although it is played very broadly and superficially, they are presented as essentially good, likeable characters. Jake remains a bit-player throughout the season, never really given any room to shine, which is a shame, but well-judged and very funny cameos from Jane Lynch, Ryan Stiles and Judd Nelson help break up the at times repetitive and derivative interplay between the leads.MV5BNzg4MjQ1NDUyN15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjMzODcwNA@@._V1_The season opener is a stand-alone, but after that a series of plots lines are introduced which play out over a number of episodes, which proves much more satisfying. Most enjoyable are the episodes that involve Alan’s developing relationship with Lyndsey, the mother of one of Jake’s class-mates. It is one of those situations that is not milked to death, but is allowed to become at times desperately painful and embarrassing, but also very funny and enjoyable.MV5BNzM4Mzg0MDM4M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzE1Njc3MjE@._V1_The season seems to end awfully abruptly with the collapse of Alan’s Ponzi scheme and the various loose ends of Charlie’s relationship with his stalker, this was due to the fireing of Charlie Sheen and paved the way for Season 9 with a new lead.

REVIEW: TRU CALLING – SEASON 1 & 2

MAIN CAST

Eliza Dushku (Wrong Turn)
Shawn Reaves (Shadowheart)
Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover)
A.J. Cook (Final Destination 2)
Jessica Collins (Lois & Clark)
Benjamin Benitez (True Detective)
Jason Priestley (Beverly Hills, 90210)

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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Matthew Bomer (Chuck)
Kristopher Polaha (Ringer)
Hudson Leick (Xena)
Heath Freeman (Bones)
John Newton (Superboy)
Callum Rennie (Flashforward)
Michael Trucco (Battlestar Galactica)
Missy Peregrym (Heroes)
Cobie Smulders (How I Met YOur Mother)
Joe Flanigan (Stargate: Atlantis)
Leonard Roberts (Smallville)
Kal Penn (Van Wilder)
Alaina Huffman (Stargate Universe)
Brendan Fletcher (News Movie)
Evangeline Lilly (Lost)
Ryan Kwanten (True Blood)
Mary Elizabeth Winstead (10 Cloverfield Lane)
Garwin Sanford (Stargate SG.1)
Chris William Martin (The Vampire Diaries)
Christina Hendricks (Mad Men)
Emily Holmes (Dark Angel)
Jodi Lyn O’Keefe (The Vampire Diaries)
Jennifer Spence (Stargate Universe)
Devon Gummersall (Roswell)
Sarah Deakins (Andromeda)
Clare Kramer (Buffy)
Alexandra Holden (The Hot Chick)
Michelle Harrison (The Flash)
Erica Durance (Smallville)
Rachel Hayward (Jingle All The Way 2)
Cotter Smith (Alias)
Wade Williams (Gangster Squad)
Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Watchmen)
Agam Darshi (Sanctuary)
Alec Newman (Dune)
Jesse Moss (Ginger Snaps)
Derek Hamilton (Disturbing Behavior)
Nick Wechsler (Roswell)
Daivd Lipper (Full house)
John Reardon (The Killing)
Carly Pope (Arrow)
Liz Vassey (Two and a Half Men)
Eric Christian Olsen (Not Another Teen Movie)
Lizzy Caplan (Cloverfield)
Parry Shen (Hatchet)
Erick Avari (Stargate)
Dominic Zamprogna (Odyssey 5)
Maggie Lawson (Two and a Half Men)
William Sadler (Iron Man 3)

Image result for tru callingAfter the grant sponsoring her internship loses funding, an aspiring medical student (Tru Davies) takes a job at the local morgue. On her first day of work, incidentally the 10th anniversary of her mother’s death, one of the bodies from the crypt springs to life for a brief moment and asks her for help. Instantly, her day “rewinds” and she quickly realizes that it’s her responsibility to try and save the woman who called out to her from a death that should not have happened, all the while trying to repair the lives of her immature brother and drug-addicted sister. With the help of her clumsy but loveable boss at the morgue, Tru strives to put right what once when wrong and hoping each time that her next leap will be the leap home.Eliza Dushku played prominent characters in a few popular films before Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but it was her portrayal of Faith in the 3rd season of the popular television show that helped set her on the path to becoming a star. It’s understandable, then, that fans of the show were not particularly happy with her when she turned down a chance for a television series based around the Faith character in favor of Tru Calling. However, it’s equally understandable that as an actor, she would want to try new things, and carrying an unproven series with a new character offered her that opportunity.On the surface, Tru Calling is a formula show. Borrowing elements from Quantum Leap, Early Edition and Goundhog Day, each episode follows a similar pattern. A body arrives in the morgue and asks for help triggering a rewind before the opening titles, and Tru spends the rest of the episode trying to piece together what caused the death and how to prevent it. The premise sounds interesting enough, but without clever writing and entertaining characters, such a concept could get stale very quickly, especially over an entire television season. Thankfully, the show’s creators appear to recognize this early on and make efforts to tweak the formula just enough to keep the stories fresh and interesting.As with any show that hopes to build an audience, Tru Calling is not just about the “Death of the Week.” While it is the focus of each episode, not every day is a rewind, and Tru still has a life of her own and a family she cares about. The death of their mother and subsequent remarriage and general absence of their father has made things difficult on the Davies family, and Tru is struggling to keep them together. This is not an easy task as her sister Meredith (Jessica Collins) is a fast-paced businesswoman in denial over her drug habit, and her brother Harrison (Shawn Reaves) has a bit of a responsibility problem. And what superhero story would be complete without the lead character’s romantic relationships suffering from the strains of a secret double-life? Certainly not this one. All the pieces are there, including the loveable but awkward mentor (Zach Galifianakis) who always seems to know just a little more than he lets on.The character of Tru is likeable and well meaning, and as she comes to empathize with those she is trying to help, the audience cannot help but do the same. Offsetting much of the dramatic tension is quite a bit of humor with Shawn Reaves’s performance as Harrison. He’s a complete screw-up, but he’s so charming and creative (not to mention very loyal to Tru) that his misadventures are a continuing source of entertainment. Equally effective is Davis who, although clumsy in his interactions with others, serves as a surrogate older brother and sounding board for Tru, something she desperately needs considering the double burden she carries.Tru Calling is an excellent example of a television series that can flourish if given time to grow. Many of the early episodes aren’t anything special. They’re a bit predictable and formulaic, but underneath them is a level of quality worth exploring. As they find their rhythm and tweak the show a bit, everything falls into place, and by the season finale, it’s a pretty darn good show. While Eliza Dushku is a capable actress and portrays Tru very well, much of the show’s quality can be attributed to outstanding performances by the supporting cast, most notably Zach Galifianakis and Shawn Reaves, as well as the addition of Jason Priestley, who elevates the show to another level. What he brings to the character and the show is both nuanced and compelling, and it’s fascinating to watch him on screen.The second season only offered a very brief six episodes before being pulled.  Once again, the season continues to improve over the early goings, ratcheting up the tension between Jack and Tru, which is effective due to the chemistry between the two and the fact that Priestley’s menacing performance is his finest work. It’s really too bad that the series couldn’t have at least finished out this second season, as it continued to improve and the final episode here really isn’t much of a conclusion.

REVIEW: DR. HORRIBLE’S SING-ALONG BLOG

CAST

Neil Patrick Harris (The Smurfs)
Nathan Fillion (Firefly)
Felicia Day (The Guild)
Simon Helberg (The Big Bang Theory)
Liz Vassey (Two and a Half Men)

 

Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion, and Felicia Day in Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog (2008)In July of 2008 something special premiered exclusively on the Internet — for free! The three-part web series Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog is an absolutely wonderful gem of a comedy.Neil Patrick Harris in Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog (2008)Horrible showcases the talent of Joss Whedon & company. As Whedon explains in his commentary, industry professionals immediately asked if the show could be extended into a TV series length, or be adapted to some other commercial format. Strike rules put a limit on the show’s commercial prospects, but that’s beside the point. Dr. Horrible was purposely made for free, to get mass visibility and enlarge the careers of the talent involved: Maurissa Tancharoen and the collective Whedon genius of the Joss, Jed & Zack variety.Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog (2008)The story is frivolous genre joy from the very first rushed stack of title cards. The ambitious, sensitive Billy (Neil Patrick Harris) strives for success as the nefarious Dr. Horrible, his Holy Grail being to gain entry into the exclusive Evil League of Evil. Billy remains undeterred despite the fact that, even when his outrageous Evil schemes succeed, they are thwarted by the smug, conceited & oversexed superhero Captain Hammer (Nathan Fillion of Firefly). Hammer repeatedly humiliates Dr.Horrible in public. Complicating matters is Billy/Horrible’s crush on Penny (Felicia Day), the Sweetheart of the Laundromat and an activist for homeless shelters. Our lovesick arch-villain is crushed to discover that Penny is dating the insincere womanizer Captain Hammer. Horrible’s sidekick Moist (Simon Helberg) delivers a final warning letter from “Bad Horse”, the chairman of the Evil League of Evil: Dr. Horrible must assassinate somebody if he expects to pass the entrance exam. And who better to kill than Captain Hammer?Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog (2008)Perfectly cast and performed, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog has the sparkle that comes when talented people do what they love: put on a show! When we’re not dazzled by Neil Patrick Harris’s spot-on delivery and great singing, we have the charming Felicia Day to admire.   Fillion pulls off the he-man posing and sings well enough to make Captain Hammer deliciously hiss-able. Felicia Day, a completely non-standard beauty, is several times more effective for it, and sings like angel. At only 43 minutes, one might be tempted to think that the makers couldn’t sustain the fun. That length is actually perfect for Horrible.

REVIEW: SUPERBOY – SEASON ONE

 

CAST

John Newton (Tru Calling)
Stacy Haiduk (Heroes)
James Calvert (House)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Peter White (Armageddon)
Scott Wells (The Taking of Beverly Hills)
Michael Manno (B.L. Sryker)
Abe Vigoda (The Godfather)
Courtney Gains (Children of The Corn)
Leif Garrett (Wonder Woman TV)
Salome jens (Star Trek:DS9)
Stuart Whitman (The Comancheros)
Marc Macaulay (Swamp Thing: The Series)
George Chakiris (West Side Story)
Gary Lockwood (Star Trek)
Michael J. Pollard (Scrooged)
Liz Vassey (Two and a Half Men)
Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Mortal Kombat Legacy)
John Matuszak (The Goonies)
Joaquin Phoenix (Gladiator)
Joseph Campanella (Guding Light)
Gail O’Grady (NYPD Blues)
Sybil Danning (Halloween)
Rance Howard (A Beautiful Mind)

I knew a couple of people who enjoyed the Superboy TV show (later re-named the Adventures of Superboy) when it was airing in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Running for four seasons in syndication, the program had a fair following. Iyla & Alexander Salkind who were behind the 80’s Superman films. This first season takes a good few episodes before it becomes the hidden gem it was destined to be.

A majority of the villains are your run-of-the-mill crooks too. Though there are some aliens who cause some trouble, but the majority of the foes are just ordinary people, and that doesn’t make for an exciting program.

The actor playing Lex is really bad, which is why from season two hje was replaced. The worst acting job award goes to Michael J. Pollard who played the 5th dimensional magical imp Mr. Mxyzptlk. This nemesis, taken straight from the comics and appearing in an episode written by comic legend Denny O’Neil would have been a lot better if Pollard had ever read one of the comics or even had a basic understanding of the character. He plays the mischievous menace without any of the humor or light-heartedness that makes his comic appearances so memorable. All of the imp’s lines are delivered in a flat monotone and the actor never gets in the spirit of the character. The show does improve over the course of the season, and was fun to watch. The Beast and Beauty where a someone dresses up as Superboy and robs stores was good, and the final episode in the season, Luthor Unleashed, was arguably the best. In this show a young Luthor steals a secret weapon and agrees to sell it to the person who can kill Superboy. They also adapt Luthor’s origin from the comics which worked very well. If the whole series was as good as this episode it would have been more  enjoyable