REVIEW: BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES – VOLUME 1

Starring

Kevin Conroy (Justice League Doom)
Loren Lester (Red Eye)
Bob Hastings (General Hospital)
Robert Costanzo (Total Recall)
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. (Hot Shots)

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Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Richard Moll (Scary Movie 2)
Lloyd Bochner (Point Beak)
Clive Revill (Transformers: The Movie)
Marc Singer (Arrow)
Rene Auberjonois (Star Trek: DS9)
Meredith MacRae (The Rockford Files)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Mari Devon (Digimon)
Henry Polic II (Mork & Mindy)
Pat Fraley (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Diane Pershing (Gotham Girls)
Ingrid Oliu (Real Women Have Curves)
Michael Pataki (Halloween 4)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Dorian Harewood (Space Jam)
George Murdock (Star Trek V)
Jim Cummings (Aladdin)
Justin Shenkarow (Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse)
Robert DoQui (Robocop)
Murphy Cross (Taxi)
John Vernon (Dirty Harry)
Linda Gary (He-Man)
Townsend Coleman (The Tick)
Jeff Doucette (Bedazzled)
Peter Jason (They Live)
Josh Keaton (Voltron)
Eugene Roche (Soap)
Lndsay Crouse (Buffy: TVS)
Paul Williams (Adventure Time)
Rob Paulsen (Animaniacs)
Michael Ansara (The Message)
Michael Bell (Transformers: The Movie)
Adrienne Barbeau (Argo)
Kate Mulgrew (Star Trek: Voyager)
Mary McDonald-Lewis (Grimm)
Neil Ross (An Americal Tail)
Frank Welker (Transformers)
Michael Gross (Tremors)
Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale)
Jean Smart (Garden State)
Brock Peters (Star Trek IV)
Adam West (60’s Batman)
Edward Asner (Elf)
Ed Begley Jr. (Better Call Saul)
Dick Gautier (Get Smart)
Arleen Sorkin (Days of Our Lives)
Aron Kincaid (Transformers)
Alan Rachins (Showgirls)
Jeff Bennett (Johnny Bravo)
Diana Muldaur (Star Trek: TNG)
Jeffrey Tambor (The Hangover)
Roddy McDowall (Planet of The Apes)
Kimmy Robertson (Speed 2)
Loretta Swit (M*A*S*H)
Takayo Fischer (Moneyball)

MV5BYTcwYzdlOTctNmRmMS00ODkxLThjZDgtNDRiMzMwNTgzZWFhXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTAyODkwOQ@@._V1_In 1992, Warner decided to revive Batman for TV as an animated series. Luckily, they had a couple of talented individuals already working on Tiny Toons – animator Bruce Timm and background artist Eric Radomski, who were keen to take a stab at the character. They created a pilot film involving Batman and a Gotham City that was at the same time modern and a throwback to the pre-50’s styleMV5BNGQzNzZmNTgtYmJkZS00MzFlLTk0Y2YtOWUxZTg5M2FiMWM5XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTQ0NjQzNTE@._V1_It’s fitting that this set is called ‘Volume One’ and not ‘Season One,’ as the episodes were aired completely out of order, with a few episodes of this set not reaching airwaves until the second year. However, you get the first 28 shows to see production, which arguably contain the best of the series’ four-year run as well. As this series is a reinterpretation of the world created in the comics, most of the episodes here are origins of the villains, and for the most part the episodes work very well. What allowed this series to age so well (in fact, I think I can appreciate it even more now than when I was twelve) is that the writing is top notch. Each episode feels like a self-contained short film, and the writers have at once managed to give every character a great deal of humanity and individuality to underscore the directness of the visuals.MV5BODY0MmZlYmEtOWExMC00ZGFhLWEyZmEtZjFlZGE1ZjBjZTY5XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTQ0NjQzNTE@._V1_Paul Dini had been writing for television a decade prior to this, but Batman was where he finally got his chance to shine, and the episodes he crafted, particularly Heart of Ice are some of the most effective of the series. Timm, Dini and Radomski were able to create a world that was iconic without being one-sided or silly. The idea of a guy who runs around in a cape essentially beating enemies into submission can’t be presented effectively at face value, and the creators of this series were more than willing to delve into the psychological aspects of their characters. Batman is never entirely good, nor are most of his enemies entirely evil. Rather the show focuses on people who have been emotionally scarred in life, and deal with those scars by either seeking to help other people, or harm them. What drives Batman isn’t too different from what drives his villains. It’s not uncommon to feel more sympathy for one of the show’s villains than the hero himself, because more often than not the villain isn’t even entirely sure what they’re doing or why they’re doing it.MV5BNjBlMjNmMWUtMjczYy00YWU5LTg5MzEtNzIwM2I3MDQwMWMwXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTQ0NjQzNTE@._V1_The Two-Face episodes are a prime example of the quality of storytelling in the series, because the character, who is such a silly concept (a two-faced man flipping a two-headed coin to decide evil deeds) is handled very subtly, with the emphasis placed on childhood trauma and emotional repression. Not every episode shines, however. The two part introduction to Catwoman, The Cat and the Claw, is plagued with generic characters and situations, and plays too heavily on the environmental card. And there are a few other stinkers, although you can generally tell which episodes are going to be good by who’s writing each. MV5BN2MxNWJkZDktN2U5YS00OTc5LWI2NjMtODI5YjViYTJjMmEzXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTQ0NjQzNTE@._V1_Casting is absolutely perfect. As vocal director Andrea Romano discusses in the extras, rather than hire trained vocal artists to develop new characters, the producers instead sought out actors with specific character already in their voices. Mark Hamill has the performance of his career as the Joker, with just the right mix of menace and hilarity. Hellboy’s Ron Perlman shows up as Clayface for a few episodes, ’70s bombshell Adrienne Barbeau is sultry as Catwoman and Edward Asner features as a prominent crime boss. The cast list is an absolute who’s-who for any film buff.MV5BNTIxOTc5MDQtMGIxMi00ODgzLWFlMmMtOWI4ZmExMDc0NDAwXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTQ0NjQzNTE@._V1_But it’s episodes like “Beware of the Gray Ghost” where the casting really shines. Batman teams up with a former television hero who’s down on his luck. In an inspired decision the producers cast former Batman Adam West for the role, who brings such humanity and poignancy to the part that it ends up one of the best episodes in the series.MV5BOWIyOTg5ZTYtMjM4NC00MzMxLWFiMmItOGEzYTA3ZTNlYzQ5XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTQ0NjQzNTE@._V1_All minor quibbling aside however, you’ll be hard-pressed to find another collection with writing, acting and visuals this stellar from the early 90’s. The impact of “Batman: The Animated Series” was overwhelming to television, with a noticeable shift from the slapstick “Animaniacs / Tiny Toons” style to markedly darker action fare, many of the shows still being overseen today by Timm, Radomski and Dini themselves. “Batman: The Animated Series” changed what American TV animation could be, and this set is a fantastic glimpse into the origin of that.

 

REVIEW: FLASHFORWARD

CAST

Joseph Fiennes (Hercules)
John Cho (Sleepy Hollow)
Courtney B. Vance (Final Destination 5)
Sonya Walger (Lost)
Christine Woods (The Walking Dead)
Jack Davenport (Pirates of The Caribbean)
Zachary Knighton (Cherry Falls)
Peyton List (The Flash)
Dominic Monaghan (Lost)
Brían F. O’Byrne (Million Dollar Baby)

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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Ryan Wynott (The Cape)
Lennon Wynn (Jennifers Body)
Barry Shabaka Henley (Heroes)
Genevieve Cortese (Supernatural)
Michael Ealy (Almost Human)
Gabrielle Union (10 Things I Hate About You)
Michael Masse (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Lee Thompson Young (Smallville)
Neil Jackson (Blade: The Series)
Rachel Roberts (Simone)
Yūko Takeuchi (Ring)
James Callis (Battlestar Galacitca)
Shohreh Aghdashloo (The Exorcism of Emily Rose)
Gil Bellows (Sanctuary)
Mark Famiglietti (Terminator 3)
Annabeth Gish (Mystic Pizza)
Alex Kingston (Arrow)
Ricky Jay (Lie To Me)
Loren Lester (Batman: TAS)
Cynthia Addai-Robinson (Arrow)
Alan Ruck (Speed)
Kim Dickens (Lost)
Gina Torres (Firefly)
Keir O’ Donnell (Paul Blart: Mall Cop)
Navi Rawat (Thoughtcrimes)
Lindsay Crouse (Buffy)
Carmen Argenziano (Stargate SG.1)
Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy)
Lee Garlington (A Lot Like Love)
Callum Rennie (Legends of Tomorrow)
Peter Coyote (Sphere)
Jake Johnson (New Girl)
Thomas Kretschmann (Dracula)
Adam Tsekhman (Legends of Tomorrow)
Michael O’Neill (Transformers)
Patti Yasutake (Drop Dead Gorgeous)
Jessica Tuck (True Blood)
John Prosky (Bowfinger)
Anthony Azizi (Priest)
James Frain (Star Trek: Discovery)
Ivar Brogger (Andromeda)
Paula Newsome (Guess Who)
James Cosmo (Game of Thrones)
Rodney Rowland (Legacies)
James Remar (Black Lightning)
Yûko Takeuchi (Midnight Eagle)
Ravi Kapoor (Flight)

In the summer of 2009 ABC realized that their ratting juggernaut, Lost, was coming to an end. When it started, Lost was the first real hit they’d had in half a decade and the network wanted to replace it with another show that would keep viewers coming back week after week for years. Their answer: Flashforward. Reportedly planned to last five seasons, the show starts out with a deep mystery that gets more complex and intricate as the show progresses. Unfortunately the show wasn’t renewed for a second season.


On October 6th, 2009 at precisely 11:00:00 PST on the dot, without warning, every person in the world blacked. This caused mayhem as planes fell out of the sky, cars plowed into crowds, and helicopters crashed into skyscrapers. Two minutes and seventeen seconds later everyone woke up, having all experienced the same thing: they saw what they would be doing on April 29, 2010, six month in the future.


People started calling this event a flashforward and it naturally affected people in different ways. To many the glimpse of what was to come was life altering, both good and bad. One man sees his daughter, who he thought was killed in Afghanistan, alive but wounded. A happily married woman sees a strange man in her bed. An alcoholic sees himself drinking. A few people don’t see anything. Does that mean that they’ll be dead in half a year?An FBI agent, Mark Benford (Joseph Fiennes), sees himself investigating who or what triggered the flashforward as armed gunmen break into the LA branch of the FBI with the purpose of killing him. Armed with what he can remember from the bulletin board covered with leads, Benford and his partner, Demetri Noh (John Cho), head up the investigation of the event. They start a web site, Mosaic, where people can publically post what they saw in their future and use the data to come up with a picture of what the world will look like in 6 months. They also discover some very interesting things that are hard to explain. Like the fact that not everyone was knocked out. Examining camera footage from a baseball stadium they discover images of a person calmly walking through the thousands of unconscious people towards an exit. He  is labeled ‘Suspect Zero’ and finding this person is the agency’s top priority. Second only to the person he was talking to on his cell phone.

When it originally aired, the program ran ten episodes and then took a three-and-a-half month break, then came back for another 12 installments. The show really hits its stride in that later half .  it was cancelled at the end of the first season. The show was conceived to run for 5 years and when this set ends, there are still a lot of plot lines that are unresolved. That’s going to be really disappointing to a lot of people who get hooked on this show