REVIEW: ENEMY MINE

CAST

Dennis Quaid (Movie 43)
Louis Gossett Jr. (Iron Eagle)
Brion James (Blade Runner)
Richard Marcus (Tremors)
Carolyn McCormick (Star Trek: TNG)
Bumper Robinson (Mojave)

In the late 21st century, an interstellar war between the humans (associated as the Bilateral Terran Alliance, or BTA) and the Dracs (a sentient, bipedal reptilian humanoid race) is fought. Battles are periodically fought between fighter spacecraft, and no human pilot hates the Dracs more than Willis E. Davidge (Dennis Quaid). During one such battle, Davidge and Drac pilot Jeriba Shigan (Louis Gossett, Jr.) engage in a dogfight which results in both crash-landing on Fyrine IV, an alien world uninhabited by intelligent life, with two moons, a breathable atmosphere, water, native fauna, and a hostile environment.After initial hostilities, the two eventually learn to cooperate to survive. They work together to build a shelter for protection against meteorite storms, a natural phenomenon that periodically strikes the planet. Over the next three years, they overcome their differences, become friends and learn each other’s languages and cultures. Each saves the other’s life several times. Davidge, haunted by dreams of spaceships landing on the planet, leaves in search of help. He finds evidence of humans, but learns that the planet has only been periodically visited by human miners known as “Scavengers”, who use Dracs as slave labor. He returns to warn Jeriba, (nicknamed “Jerry”), only to discover that Jeriba is pregnant; Dracs are hermaphroditic and reproduce asexually.A blizzard and an attack by an indigenous predator forces Davidge and Jeriba to flee their shelter. To pass the time Jeriba teaches Davidge his full lineage. Jeriba later slowly dies in childbirth, but not before making Davidge swear to take the child back to the Drac homeworld and recite his full ancestry, so that he can join Drac society. Davidge raises the child Zammis (Bumper Robinson). Davidge and Zammis form a very close bond and the young Drac loves Davidge as any sentient child loves a parent, despite referring to Davidge as “uncle”. One day a ship flies overhead and Davidge goes to investigate. However, Zammis is curious and follows. He is discovered by a pair of Scavengers. Davidge attacks the men, but Zammis inadvertently stands between Davidge and one miner, and Davidge is gunned down. Later, a BTA patrol ship finds Davidge apparently dead, and returns him to his base space station.On the station during an impersonal funeral ceremony, Davidge suddenly awakens when a disposal technician tries to steal the book Jerry gave him years before to learn the Drac language. Davidge’s old team vouch for his loyalty, even after they find he speaks the enemy’s language fluently. Davidge is later reinstated to duty, but not as a pilot, as his superiors want to make sure he has not been brainwashed by the Dracs. Unable to get help in rescuing Zammis, Davidge steals a spaceship to find the child by himself. He manages to find the Scavenger ship and sneak aboard. Davidge speaks to the Drac slaves in their own language as he searches for Zammis. The slaves know who Zammis is and realize that Davidge is “uncle”. Davidge enters the facility and fights with one miner after another as he searches for Zammis. In the confusion caused by Davidge, the slaves revolt against the miners. Towards the end of the battle, Davidge is assisted by the BTA crew who pursued the stolen ship. They realize that whatever it was he experienced while missing in action (MIA) has made him more human; he no longer hates Dracs.In the epilogue, Davidge and Zammis return to the Drac homeworld of Dracon for Zammis’s heritage ceremony before the Drac Holy Council. As he promised Jerry, Davidge recounts the complete Jeriba ancestry before the Holy Council in the traditional ritual as he was taught. The narrator explains that when “in the fullness of time, Zammis brought its own child before the Holy Council, the name of ‘Willis Davidge’ was added to the line of Jeriba.”Simply a masterpiece, and due primarily to the masterful FX on Lou Gossett and his inspired, magnificent performance.

 

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REVIEW: BRAM STOKER’S LEGEND OF THE MUMMY

CAST

Louis Gossett Jr. (Enemy Mine)
Amy Locane (Secretary)
Eric Lutes (So Little Time)
Mark Lindsay Chapman (Swamp Thing: The Series)
Lloyd Bochner (Point Blank)
Mary Jo Catlett (Serial Mom)

1813087,TfpHoAlyl6FoVNR2ljANu6zfG6xNplQYfKbP39Vm3ZKmieqf1zKkLVkXbNG3hm0kOZWcydgMV7bprf5m_mClgg==Robert Wyatt is called to the house of his former girlfriend Margaret Trelawny. Her father, an Egyptologist, has been mysteriously attacked and left in a coma. However, her father was expecting this and has left a list of detailed instructions that he be guarded at all times. As other members of the household begin to turn up dead, Wyatt realises the killings relate to the mummy of the Egyptian Queen Kara that Trelawny disturbed from its tomb and brought back to the house. He realises that the mummy has arisen to claim victims so that Kara can reincarnate.1813091,j8lRRzimVq0aW57pvmyVDqVmzOSWbpC9rjF0BAr1M6c3yT0CcOGfb6Gf8IFod5N+WaaOen8ziJMaAFgjMT0NlA==The Jewel of the Seven Stars (1917) was one of Bram Stoker’s less known horror novels. Despite its’ being regarded as stodgy by readers (and moreover a work that was left uncompleted by Stoker upon his death in 1912), it has proved surprisingly popular as a film adaptation. Legend of the Mummy was the third adaptation and had been preceded by Hammer’s Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb (1971) and the A-budget The Awakening (1980). Of course, what really inspired Legend of the Mummy was the success of Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992). Following Coppola’s Dracula, several filmmakers turned to other Stoker works, all likewise headlining Stoker’s name above the credits, with the likes of Bram Stoker’s Burial of the Rats (1995) and Bram Stoker’s Shadowbuilder (1997). Legend of the Mummy was directed by Jeffrey Obrow, who had previously co-directed The Power (1980), The Dorm That Dripped Blood (1982) and The Kindred (1986) along with Stephen Carpenter, before branching out solo with the Dean R. Koontz adaptation Servants of Twilight (1991) and this.bramstokersmummy1The film is utterly dull. It is drearily photographed in a way that wrings all possible atmosphere out of the film and moreover makes it look cheap and amateurish. Jeffrey Obrow seems unable to invest rudimentary suspense in the show – a scene with bugs crawling out of a wall fails to in any way look like anything other than a medium angle shot of some ants milling about. Some of the attack scenes – one with a Jamaican investigator who staggers around his room as a diary suddenly explodes into flame on him, and especially a scene where Richard Karns of Home Improvement fame is fried in a telephone box – are just plain silly. The initial scenes with the heroine’s father comatose under puzzling circumstances with a mysterious set of instructions left for how to protect him, and a servant girl hinting at unearthly happenings in the stables, suggests a wonderfully Lovecraftian set-up, but the rest of the film is dull and utterly unatmospheric. Even if one had not seen any of the other adaptations of Jewel of the Seven Stars, the twist ending is unsubtly telegraphed way in advance.

 

REVIEW: COVER UP

 

CAST

Dolph Lundgren (War Pigs)
Louis Gossett Jr. (The Punisher)
John Finn (Cold Case)

Mike Anderson (Dolph Lundgren), a tough American reporter on a dangerous foreign assignment, finds his own life in jeopardy when he uncovers a deadly labyrinth of political intrigue that threatens the lives of thousands. Despatched to investigate a mysterious and fatal attack on an overseas US naval base, Anderson, a leading investigative journalist and ex-US marine, finds himself back on familiar ground. Instinct makes him question the official CIA explanation that cites an unknown terrorist group called Black October. Alone, and armed only with his combat training and determination to uncover the truth, he sets out to expose a complex and dangerous political web. Anderson quickly discovers he can trust no one. Renewing a fiery affair with his ex-Iover Susan Clifford, now the US Embassy press attaché, he soon finds himself confronting an old adversary, CIA boss Lou Jackson. And when his former marine colleague Colonel John Cooper is murdered moments after a secret rendezvous with him, Mike realises he holds the pieces to a deadly plot. In a race against time, Anderson battles to save the lives of thousands of innocent people, in a desperate attempt to prevent a deadly plan to create an international disaster of catastrophic proportions.Director Manny coto does a fine job keeping the story alive but there is a lit of bit lacking in the action department but for Dolph Lundgren fans this is worth seeing.

 

REVIEW: A FIGHTING MAN

CAST

Dominic Purcell (Legends of Tomorrow)
Kim Coates (Black Hawk Down)
Louis Gossett Jr. (Enemy Mine)
Adam Beach (Windtalkers)
Michael Ironside (Total Recall)
Jenessa Grant (Reign)
Famke Janssen (X-Men_
James Caan (Elf)
Emma Campbell (The Woods)
Sheila McCarthy (Die Hard 2)

Sailor O’Connor (Purcell) is a retired Irish boxer, who has not once been knocked down in the 63 matches he’s fought. O’Connor’s mother Rose (McCarthy) is dying of cancer and Sailor wants to take her to Ireland one last time before she passes. After negotiating with Fast Eddie (Beach), a local promoter, Sailor secures enough money whether or not he wins. Though a long way from his prime, Sailor convinces his old training team Brother Albright and Max (Caan and Ironside) to get into shape for the bout against a younger opponent. A local priest, Father Brennan (Coates), tries to convince Rose to have Sailor back out of the fight, to which she says it’s up to him to leave.King Solomon (Smith) is a young upcoming boxer, seeking to earn a way out of the life he’s currently in. His girlfriend Peg (Grant) tells him she’s pregnant and Solomon wants to live a life with her. Quitting his life as an adult film actor, Solomon comes back to his old boxing coach (Gossett Jr.) and promises to stick with it and begins his training for the fight with Sailor. Solomon’s mother, a drug user and alcoholic, cannot cope with her son’s wanting to leave, and like his father, believes he will be back. Leading up to the fight, Sailor, Rose, Solomon, Father Brennan, and Diane Scheuler (Janssen), a recovering alcoholic, all attempt to overcome their demons. Diane attempts to ask Sailor several times for forgiveness for what she did to Sailor, and each time he rebuffs her. As the fight commences, both fighters do not show signs of giving up out of either stubbornness or motivation. As the final round comes to open, Fast Eddie offers up a large sum of money for either man to call it quits right then and there. Neither take it up on the offer and continue the fight. When the final seconds and punches hit, Sailor remembers his tragedy in which Diane killed Sailor’s wife and children in a drunk driving accident. Never knocked down and refusing to give up, Sailor stays up as the last round closes, and the two boxers congratulate each other. King Solomon is declared the winner of the bout and each man heads to the locker room. As Diane passes by Sailor, he tells her that there may be a way that he may forgive her some time in the future.Acting-wise you get quite a lot of good people in this. James Caan, Kim Coates, Michael Ironside and Famke Janssen to name a couple. Mostly they don’t share the screen together, but you still get the gravitas a movie like this needs. It’s nice storytelling, with slowly revealing/uncovering its layers. Not really surprising in the end, but still a nice movie to watch

 

REVIEW: FAMILY GUY – DVD SEASONS 6-10

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MAIN CAST (VOICES)

Seth MacFarlane (Flashforward)
Alex Borstein (Power Rangers Zeo)
Seth Green (IT)
Mila Kunis (Black Swan)
Mike Henry (Ted)
Jennifer Tilly (Curse of Chucky)
Patrick Warburton (Scream 3)
Adam West (60s Batman)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST (VOICES)

Lori Alan (Wall-E)
Ellen Albertini Dow (The Wedding Singer)
Alexandra Breckenridge (She’s The Man)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Phyllis Diller (A Bug’s Life)
Carrie Fisher (Star Wars)
Indigo (Weeds)
Rachael MacFarlane (American Dad)
Louis Gossett Jr. (Stargate SG.1)
Samm Levine (Veronica Mars)
Drew Barrymore (Poison Ivy)
Robert Constanzo (Batman:TAS)
Gary Cole (One Hour Photo)
Taylor Cole (Heroes)
Lauren Conrad (The Hills)
David Cross (Scary Movie 2)
Stacey Scowley (The Brotherhood 2)
Garrett Morris (2 Broke Girls)
Rob Lowe (Code Black)
Ted McGinley (Highlander 2)
Connor Trinneer (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Charles Durning (The Sting)
Michael Clarke Duncan (The Finder)
Hugh M. Hefner (Citizen Toxie)
Roy Schneider (Jaws)
Gilbert Gottfried (Anger Management)
Neil Patrick Harris (The Smurfs)
Josh Radnor (How I Met Your Mother)
Tara Strong (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Adam Carolla (Road Hard)
Will Sasso (The Three Stooges)
Paula Abdul (Bruno)
Randy Jackson (American Idol)
Simon Cowell (The X Factor)
Patrick Stewart (X-Men)
Ted McGinley (Highlander 2)
Ricardo Montalban (Star Trek II)
James Woods (Another Day In Paradise)
Jessica Barth (Ted)
Chace Crawford (Gossip Girl)
Harvey Fierstein (Independence Day)
Bryan Cranston (Drive)
Brian Blessed (Flash Gordon)
Elisha Cuthbert (24)
Andy Dick (2 Broke Girls)
Debbie Reynolds (Singin’ In The Rain)
Frank Sinatra Jr. (Cool World)
Mae Whitman (Boogeyman 2)
Meredith Baxter (Family Ties)
Seth Rogen (Bad Neighbours)
Ed Helms (The Hangover)
Fred Savage (The Wonder Years)
LeVar Burton (Star Trek: TNG)
Denise Crosby (Trekkies)
Michael Dorn (Ted 2)
Jonathan Frakes (Lois & Clark)
Gates McFadden (Star Trek: TNG)
Marina Sirtis (The Grudge 3)
Brent Spiner (Dude, Where’s My Car?)
Wil Wheaton (Powers)
Wentworth Miller (Legends of Tomorrow)
Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World)
Jay Leno (The Simpsons)
Richard Dreyfuss (Tin Man)
John Ross Bowie (The Big Bang Theory)
Keri Lynn Pratt (Veronica Mars)
Chevy Chase (Chuck)
Dan Aykroyd (Ghostbusters)
Hart Bochner (urban Legends 2)
Christine Lakin (Valentine’s Day)
Brittany Snow (Prom Night)
Nana Visitor (Star Trek: DS9)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)
Johnny Galecki (The Big Bang Theory)
Hugh Laurie (House)
Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory)
Dwayne Johnson (Faster)
Adrianne Palicki (Agents of SHIELD)
Allison Janney (Mom)
Lucas Grabeel (Smallville)
Anne Hathaway (The Dark Knight Rises)
Charlie Sheen (Two and a Half Men)
Danielle Panabaker (The Flash)
Ioan Grufford (Ringer)
David Lynch (The Cleveland Show)
Sanaa Lathan (Blade)
Shelley Long (Cheers)

At this point in the series, the beginning of the fifth season, the show has settled into being a showcase for Peter’s stupidity, throwing a bone to Brian and Stewie once in a while, and occasionally Lois and family. Only four of the 13 episodes aren’t focused on the head of the family, and unsurprisingly, the two of those four that aren’t Brian and Stewie stories are two of the best in the volume, “Prick Up Your Ears” and “Barely Legal.”
While it’s easy to see where an episode can go, one of the show’s biggest strengths is its willingness to do anything to get there, even if it won’t make it to TV, because they know that there will be a DVD release. Thus, you have jokes that would never get past standards and practices, and a reason for the show’s fans to check out the DVDs, as the episodes are expanded and uncensored. It has to be incredibly freeing to have almost no boundaries, and the writers take full advantage of it. It’s in this relatively free medium that a character like Quagmire, who has no filter and is obsessed with sex, can really shine. His behavior in “Bill and Peter’s Bogus Journey” is actually very funny simply because of how utterly obscene he can be on DVD.
As noted before, “Prick Up Your Ears” and “Barely Legal” are two of the best episodes in this collection, both of which feature the Griffins’ daughter Meg, voiced by Mila Kunis (“That ’70s Show”.) Meg’s character has grown up a bit, though she remains an awkward teen, and these two episodes focus on her explorations into love and lust. “Prick Up Your Ears” is a smart jab at the conservative Christian approach to sex education, and the effect it has on Meg, as well as Peter, is great, while “Barely Legal” show’s Meg’s crazier side, as she falls in love with Brian after they make out at her prom. A joke that’s born out of Meg’s insanity and efforts to woo Brian is among the series’ funniest, and again, one you only get on DVD. Also worth checking out is the B-story of “Mother Tucker,” in which Brian and Stewie host a morning zoo radio show. It’s a perfect parody of everything that’s wrong in radio.
The show’s guest-star list continues to be surprising in both its depth and quality, including Phyllis Diller (as Peter’s mom), Gore Vidal, Samm Levine, Carrie Fisher, Drew Barrymore (playing Jillian, Brian’s hot, but dumb girlfriend in several episodes), David Cross, Rob Lowe, Hugh Hefner and Roy Scheider. That the series can get a Gore Vidal to play himself getting shot in the mouth with a hot dog (it’s actually a funny scene, but not for that reason) is impressive.

This latest offering from the ‘Family Guy’ team finds the writers and producers doing their best to be more outrageous than ever before. No celebrity is too big to ridicule and absolutely no topic is considered too taboo.


But the acid test is this: when being profane and attacking and offending every minority group in existence, is it actually funny? The short answer is `yes’. This is not merely funny, it is very funny indeed. Rosie O’Donnell features in one particularly insulting sequence, and when Joe has a leg transplant and becomes his old active self, the guys decide the only way to fix things is to `re-cripple him again’. This is quite literally the most non-PC programme ever put on your TV screen, but it contains more invention and (frequently hilarious) jokes per minute than practically any sitcom. Highlights are two numerous to mention, but I particularly enjoyed the sofa at Quagmire’s shack and Peter’s stripper-cop routine at his daughter Meg’s hen night. Shocking stuff!

Only downside is the first two episodes were put out separately as the `Star Wars’ spoof `Blue Harvest’, so this pack is a little light at only 13 episodes.

another great Family Guy set Some of the best episodes include the one where Stewie helps Frank Sinatra Jr turn his fortune around with a club; the one where Peter meets Jesus; the one where Quagmire, Joe and Peter do Jackass style stunts, and the one where Mort ends up transporting himself to 1940’s Poland.


Even though everyone hates the episode, the one with Surfing Bird is a great episode, especially the parody with Stewie and Brian doing a scene from Office Space. Some people say it’s not Seth’s best moment, but it’s memorable like the chicken fight in series 6 and Brian being ribbed about his book by Stewie (“has it got a beginning, and end and a narrative?”

Highlights of this latest season to name a few include Brian committing murder, Quagmire becoming a Father, the truth behind Hannah Montana, Major West being ‘activated’ and the genius “Road to The Multiverse” which in my opinion is one of the greatest episodes within the last few seasons if not the entire collection.

Many of the episodes are extended when compared to their TV counterparts (blame the censors) along with dozens of deleted scenes which will keep even the most devoted or demanding Family Guy fan happy. Other special features worth noting are the Multi-verse featurette which was pretty interesting along with commentaries from cast and crew alike.

Despite being cancelled twice the show is still going strong and still offers brilliant humor, dialogue and cutback scenes after all this time. The characters continue to amuse and develop as the seasons progress (Stewie on Steroids stroke of brilliance) and there is plenty of scope for the future. The vast majority of the episodes are gold. I’ve already mentioned Multi-verse but also up there is “Dog Gone”.

If further proof is needed as to the series’ ability to succeed without its usual crutches, it can be found in “And Then There Were Fewer…” a mystery in Family Guy clothing. Series semi-regular James Woods gathers the town people for dinner, hoping to atone for his past wrongs, but someone starts bumping them off, leaving the group to figure out who the killer is and escape with their lives. Though the cutaways are present, they are worked into a genuine storyline, that’s both well-crafted and funny, feeling like a quality parody of the Agatha Christie school of mysteries. It may be close to blasphemy to say so, but there’s definitely a touch of Clue to the proceedings. The quality story is matched step-by-step by the animation (in the series’ first widescreen episode) and music, both of which may be the best the show’s ever produced (which is no feint praise.) The series may find itself in a rut at times, going to the same comedy well again and again, but when inspiration strikes, they take the show to another level.
As is often the case with this series, there’s always an attempt to push the envelope, including episodes focusing on suicide and sex changes, but “Extra Large Medium” is one of the show’s most controversial to reach airwaves, and it’s mainly due to a throwaway joke. Following a life-changing event, Chris (Seth Green) decides to finally ask out a girl he likes, and it so happens that she has Down’s syndrome. This leads to one of the finest songs the show’s produced to date in “Down’s Syndrome Girl,” as well as a line where the girl notes that he mom was the former governor of Alaska. It’s hard to figure out what the joke really is (it’s not really making fun of anyone, be it Palin or people with Down’s) but it pissed off a lot of people. Fortunately, the rest of the episode, especially that song, makes the headaches worth it, as Chris struggles with his feelings for his special gal and Brian’s attempts to break Lois of her belief in psychics accidentally convinces Peter he actually is psychic.
Though the series proudly sees the world from a liberal point-of-view, savaging republicans and conservatives at every chance, “Excellence in Broadcasting” stands as an unusual team-up, with Rush Limbaugh giving voice to himself, as he visits Quahog and gets what could be considered a friendly reception (at least by Family Guy standards.) Yes, there are jokes about the Republicans and Limbaugh himself, but he doesn’t get it too rough, and if anyone comes off badly, it’s Brian, who is easily swayed by Limbaugh into selling out his own convictions. It’s rather odd to see, and makes one wonder what went on behind the scenes to make it happen, as MacFarlane doesn’t seem the type to play nice, and the idea of Limbaugh working in tandem with an atheist pot advocate is mind-bending.

REVIEW: STARGATE – SG.1 – SEASON 1-10

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MAIN CAST

Richard Dean Anderson (MacGyver)
Michael Shanks (Smallville)
Amanda Tapping (Sanctuary)
Christopher Judge (The Dark Knight Rises)
Don S. Davis (Andromeda)
Corin Nemec (Parker Lewis Can’t Loose)
Ben Browder (Farscape)
Beau Bridges (My Name Is Earl)
Claudia Black (The Originals)

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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Jay Avocone (Beauty and The Beast 1989)
Vaitiare Bandera (Out of The Blue)
Peter Williams (Catwoman)
Brent Stait (Blade: The Series)
Gary Jones (Highlander: The Series)
Alexis Cruz (Dark Wolf)
Rachel Hayward (Jingle All The Way 2)
Colin Lawrence (X-Men 2)
Adam Harrington (The Secret Circle)
Kevin McNulty (Elektra)
Alan Rachins (Batman: TAS)
Jorge Vargas (Power Rangers Ninja Storm)
Soon-Tek Oh (Death Wish 4)
Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Mortal Kombat Legacy)
Crystal Lowe (Poison Ivy 4)
Teryl Rothery (Arrow)
Steve Makaj (IT)
Roger Cross (First Wave)
William Russ (American History X)
Harley Jane Kozak (Santa Barbara)
Gabrielle Miller (Highlander: The Series)
Bobbie Phillips (Two Guys and a Girl)
Galyn Gorg (Robocop 2)
Tamsin Kelsey (Needful Things)
James Earl Jones (Star Wars)
Keene Curtis (Lois & Clark)
Elizabeth Hoffman (Sisters)
Paul McGillion (Stargate: Atlantis)
Tony Amendola (The Mask of Zorro)
Katie Stuart (She’s The Man)
Tobin Bell (Boogeyman 2)
Ronny Cox (Robocop)
Douglas Arthurs (Act of War)
Bonnie Bartlett (Firefly)
Dwight Schultz (The A-Team)
Tobias Mehler (Wishmaster 3)
Peter Bryant (Dark Angel)
Chris Owens (Red)
Erick Avari (Heroes)
Tom McBeath (Bates Motel)
Sarah Douglas (Superman 2)
JR Bourne (Arrow)
Christina Cox (Earth: Final Conflict)
Matthew Walker (Highlander: The Series)
Eric Breker (X-Men Origins)
Marshall R. Teague (Armageddon)
Colin Cunningham (Elektra)
Carmen Argenziano (Identity)
Amber Rothwell (Andromeda)
Tom Butler (Blade: The Series)
Samantha Ferris (Along Came a Spider)
Mitchell Kosterman (Smallville)
Andrew Airlie (Final Destination 2)
Britt Irvin (V)
Ty Olsson (Izombie)
Sam J. Jones (Flash Gordon)
Dion Johnstone (The Core)
Megan Leitch (IT)
Jason Gray-Stanford (Bones)
William deVry (Earth: Final Conflict)
David Palffy (Blade: The Series)
Garwin Sanford (The Fly 2)
Kevin Durand (Dark Angel)
Terry Chen (Bates Motel)
Steve Bacic (Andromeda)
Anne Marie DeLuise (Smallville)
Rene Auberjonois (Star Trek: DS9)
Musetta Vander (Buffy)
Vanessa Angel (Puppet Master vs Demonic Toys)
Marina Sirtis (Star Trek: TNG)
Alessandro Juliani (Smallville)
Brian Markinson (Arrow)
Peter Wingfield (Highlander: The Series)
Willie Garson (White Collar)
Matthew Bennett (Battlestar Galactica)
Steven Williams (Jason Goes To Hell)
Anna-Louise Plowman (Shanghai Knights)
Paul Koslo (The Flash 90s)
Dion Luther (The Net: The Series)
Christopher Cousins (The Vampire Diaries)
Michelle Harrison (The Flash)
Elisabeth Rosen (House of The Dead)
Hrothgar Mathews (Deception)
Bill Dow (Legends of The Fall)
Sean Patrick Flanery (Raging Angels)
John de Lancie (Star Trek: TNG)
John Prosky (The Devil Inside)
Colleen Rennison (The Story of Us)
Jacqueline Samuda (The L Word)
Larry Drake (Firefly)
Garry Chalk (Dark Angel)
Bill Marchant (Chappie)
Michael Deluise (Lost)
Jill Teed (Arrow)
Courtenay J. Stevens (Beach)
Grace Park (Battlestar Galactica)
David Kopp (Blade: The Series)
Cliff Simon (Days of Our Lives)
Jennifer Calvert (Earthsea)
Obi Ndefo (Angel)
Rick Worthy (The Vampire Diaries)
Danielle Nicolet (3rd Rock From The Sun)
David Hewlett (Splice)
Aleks Paunovic (Mortal Kombat Legacy)
Aaron Douglas (Battlestar Galactica)
Dorian Harewood (Termiantor: TSCC)
Ona Grauer (V)
Blu Mankuma (Tin Man)
Michael Eklund (Arrow)
Dean Stockell (Quantum Leap)
Patrick Mckenna (Robocop: The Series)
John Billingsley (Cold Case)
Michael Adamthwaite (Tru Calling)
Peter Stebbings (Bates Motel)
Gwynyth Walsh (Taken)
George Wyner (Spaceballs)
Kendall Cross (X-Men 2)
Ian Buchanan (Justice League Unlimited)
Tahmoh Penikett (Dollhouse)
G. Patrick Currie (Smallville)
Francois Chau (Lost)
Sarah Deakins (Andromeda)
David Paetkau (Flashpoint)
John Novak (Wishmaster 3 & 4)
Thomas Kopache (Catch Me If You Can)
Michael Welch (All The Boys Love Mandy Lane)
David Richmond-Peck (V)
Christopher Heyerdahl (Sanctuary)
James Parks (Kill Bill)
Michael Rooker (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Kavan Smith (Sanctuary)
Jolene Blalock (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Christine Adams (Agents of SHIELD)
Emily Holmes (Dark Angel)
David Deluise (Vampires Suck)
Sebastian Spence (First Wave)
Saul Rubinek (Memory Run)
Adam Baldwin (Chuck)
Peter Flemming (Love Sick)
James McDaniel (Sleepy Hollow)
Jessica Steen (Armageddon)
William Devane (The Dark Knight Rises)
Torri Higginson (Highlander: The Raven)
Kira Clavell (Ninja Turtles: Next Mutation)
Alisen Down (Smallville)
David Kaufman (Superman: TAS)
Amy Sloan (The Aviator)
James Kidnie (Arrow)
Erica Durance (Smallville)
Derek Hamilton (Out Cold)
Charles Shaughnessy (Sabrina: TTW)
Barclay Hope (Paycheck)
Dan Castellaneta (The Simpsons)
Isaac Hayes (South Park)
Mel Harris (Thirtysomething)
Clare Carey (Hercules: TLJ)
Lexa Doig (Andromeda)
April Telek (Supernatural)
Julian Sands (Gotham)
Louis Gossett Jr (The Punisher 80s)
Maury Chaykin (Andromeda)
Sonya Salomaa (Watchmen)
William B. Davis (The X-Files)
Robert Picardo (Star Trek: Voyager)
Cameron Bright (Running Scared)
Tony Todd (The Flash)
Anna Galvin (Caprica)
William Atherton (Die Hard)
Reed Diamond (Dollhouse)
Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters)
John Aylward (Alias)
Peter Shinkoda (Masked Rider)
Tamlyn Tomita (Highlander: The Series)
Tim Guinee (Iron Man)
Daniella Evangelista (Edgemont)
Michael Ironside (Total Recall)
John Noble (Sleepy Hollow)
Katharine Isabelle (Ginger Snaps)
Eric Steinberg (Terminator: TSCC)
Noah Danby (Bitten)
Jodelle Ferland (Kingdom Hospital)
Joe Flanigan (Thoughtcrimes)
Sarah Strange (Dark Angel)
David Nykl (Arrow)
Chuck Campbell (Jason X)
Keegan Connor Tracy (Bates Motel)
Corey Monteith (Glee)
Morena Baccarin (Gotham)
Rudolf Martin (Buffy)
Scott McNeil (Beast Wars)
Aisha Hinds (Cult)
Mike Dopud (X-Men: Days of Future Past)
Ron Canada (Wedding Crashers)
Craig Fairbrass (Termiantor: TSCC)
John Tench (Andromeda)
Fred Willard (Anchorman)
Jonathan Walker (Flash Gordon)

Most TV shows spun off from movies are uninvolving and uninteresting, and hopefully die and are forgotten.

That wasn’t the case with the spinoff of the 1995 movie “Stargate,” a science fiction movie that spawned an excellent television series, “Stargate SG-1.” The first season is not nearly as brilliant as the ones that followed it, but it’s a welcome change from distant space operas — excellent writing, acting, and a sense of humor about itself and its characters.

The Stargate has been inactive for a year — until it is activated, and a bunch of Egyptian-styled warriors come through and kidnap a young officer. General Hammond (Don S. Davis) pulls Jack O’Neill (Richard Dean Anderson) out of retirement to learn what really happened on the planet of Abydos, and where these mysterious aliens have come from. O’Neill and a small team go to Abydos and find Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks) who has been learning about a vast network of Stargates over the past year. But when Daniel’s wife Sha’re and brother-in-law Skaara are abducted by the same warriors, O’Neill, Jackson and Air Force scientist Sam Carter (Amanda Tapping) use the Stargate to venture to where they’re being kept. What they find is an alien race who inhabits human hosts, the Goa’uld, and their ruthless slave warriors, the Jaffa. Carter, O’Neill and Jackson are captured by the powerful Apophis — but to escape, they must have the help of an unlikely ally: Teal’c (Christopher Judge), Apophis’ First Prime. Since Earth has now annoyed the Goa’uld, several exploration teams are formed to go through the Stargate and find weapons and allies.
And SG-1 — Carter, O’Neill, Jackson and Teal’c — encounters some very strange problems: a plague that turns people into savages, a people who live only a hundred days, a Viking planet, a Stargate explorer stranded since 1945, a little girl turned into a bomb, the seductive Goa’uld queen Hathor, and coming back as robots. And when the military shuts down the SG program, Daniel reveals that the Earth is about to be destroyed by Apophis’ armies. The first season of “Stargate SG-1” isn’t the most impressive, though the last three episodes hint at the series’ future greatness. And thankfully, it drops the usual space opera stuff — instead we get Stargates, real military, and a very plausible reason why everybody in the galaxy (more or less) looks just like us. It’s graced with kitschy Egyptian-styled sets, lots of shoot-em-up action from Marines and Air Force, and plenty of planets influenced by Earth cultures, like the Minoans and the Vikings. Best of all is the snappy dialogue, mostly from the tart-tongued O’Neill.

When we last left Our Heroes, they were on Apophis’ ship, facing the impending destruction and/or enslavement of everyone on Earth.
So unsurprisingly, the second season of “Stargate SG-1” can only get better from there on. In fact, this is when the clever, innovative sci-fi series really started to gel together, with more intriguing storylines, character arcs, and some new alien allies — basically, it all blooms.
Intending to blow up Apophis’ ship, our heroes get captured by the Jaffa and thrown in a cell — only to be unexpectedly rescued by Bra’tac (Tony Amendola), Teal’c’s old teacher. As Earth mounts a pitiful defense against the Goa’uld, SG-1 joins with a small band of rebel Jaffa to stop Apophis’ invasion — but they may have to leave one of their number behind.
Obviously the Goa’uld make things awkward throughout the season, with the second episode featuring Sam (Amanda Tapping) being possessed by a Goa’uld during a rescue mission — but it seems that it’s part of a rebel Goa’uld faction called the Tok’ra. Teal’c’s (Christopher Judge) son is kidnapped and brainwashed, and Daniel (Michael Shanks) finds that his beloved wife is pregnant with Apophis’ child.
And of course, SG-1 has to deal with lots of other stuff — insectile transformations, black holes, prison planets, Native American “spirits,” invisible bugs, hostile alien orbs, reliving their most traumatic memories in a VR world, and time traveling to 1969. And O’Neill (Richard Dean Anderson) gets an ancient repository of knowledge downloaded into his head — and he’ll die if they can’t reverse it.
“Stargate SG-1” really got into its stride in the second season — the basic Air-Force-versus-evil-headsnakes story gets expanded out into a bunch of arcs. We get new villains, some surprising new allies, hints about the true origins of the Stargates and the human race, and corrupt factions on Earth who use the spare Stargate for evil ends.

The writing gets even steadier and the alien worlds more interesting — even stuff that sounds goofy, like the planet of singing mushroom-people, somehow works. The drama is stronger, and the sci-fi usage of the Stargate ever more creative, such as when a black hole’s gravity well keeps the gate open, and is slowly sucking Earth through the wormhole.  Of course, all the action and sci-fi is heavily tempered with comedy. Even in grim situations, there’s usually at least a few funny moments, such as Daniel’s tour of the custodial closet. And of course, the dialogue is priceless — most of the good stuff comes from O’Neill, but Teal’c and the others usually get some good ones as well. Of the main cast, Amanda Tapping gets the juiciest role in this season — Sam deals with the impending death of her father, becoming a Goa’uld host, and trying to deal with the feelings it left behind. Including a Tok’ra boyfriend. Yet when we see Sam’s vulnerable sides, Tapping never lets her character be anything but a strong, capable military woman.

But the other actors aren’t neglected — Shanks’ Daniel grapples with the news that his wife is pregnant with Apophis’ baby, while Teal’c faces losing his entire family. Anderson is brilliant as the quirky, capable O’Neill, but he really gets brilliant when Jack’s brain is being overwritten — he has to emote and communicate without a comprehensible word. The second season of “Stargate SG-1” is where the story began to really get great, building up a series of strong story arcs, funny dialogue, and strong characters.

Many people believe that subsequent seasons of Stargate: SG1 get progressively better. So far, no arguement from me. Season 1 was good, 2 was better, and  season 3 is even better. Col. Jack O’Neill (Richard Dean Anderson), and his SG1 team of the now Maj. Samantha Carter (Amanda Tapping), Dr. Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks), and Teal’c (Christopher Judge) continued their adventures through the Stargate to various old and new planets. The team, as well as the SGC in general, were tested in many more ways than ever thought possible. The team went to “Hell” in order to save Sam’s dad, who is still a member of the Tok’Ra resistance, Daniel suffered a major loss, and O’Neill was blended, albeit briefly, with a Goa’uld. One of the reasons that I personally liked this year was that many of last year’s conflicts were resolved (Lenea, Destroyer of Worlds), which made room for new plotlines (the Replicators), as well as continuing old ones (the search for the Harsesis child).

This is also the season when SG1 truly realizes that they truly have allies in their fight against the Goa’uld; the Asgard helped form a treaty between Earth and the Goa’uld, the Tok’Ra continue to offer their assistance and wisdom, the Nox have begun to reestablish contact with the SGC, and the Tollan.


Other good episodes include “Into the Fire”, “Fair Game”, “Legacy”, “Learning Curve”, “Point of View”, “Past and Present”, “Jolinar’s Memories”, “The Devil You Know”, “Foothold”, “Urgo”, “Shades of Grey”, “New Ground”, and “Nemesis”. Judging by the increase in quality each season.

he Replicators. The Russians. The Aschen. These are only a few of the new enemies presented this year, in Stargate: SG-1 (okay, so technically, the Replicators were introduced last year). These new baddies made a lot of trouble this year for the SGC in what is definitely the best season yet. We learn more about the Replicators this year when Sam (Amanda Tapping) is brought to an Asgard-controlled planet to help defend the O’Neill, the Asgard’s newest and most advanced ship ever. Also, the Russians retrieve the Giza gate from the bottom of the ocean from when Thor’s ship, the Beliskner, crashed, while the SGC is now using the Antarctica gate. And, 10 years in the future, an advanced race, known as the Aschen, are quietly wiping out the human race by making humans infertile.


These are just a handful of the amazing new stories that occurred this year. It seems that Col. O’Neill (Richard Dean Anderson), Maj. Carter, Dr. Jackson (Michael Shanks), and Teal’c (Christopher Judge) can never catch a break. This year, not only have their alien enemies become more powerful than ever, especially Apophis (Peter Williams), their enemies on Earth have truly become a threat. Senator Kinsey (Ronny Cox), the man who tried to shut down the SGC in Season 1, has been linked to the rogue sector of the NID, the civillian organization responsible for the theft of numerous alien technologies over the last few years.


The stories this year are better than ever, especially with an increasing number of arcs occurring. Episodes like “Crossroads” and “The Serpent’s Venom” were expertly executed, and had immense emotional effects on our heroes. However, I have to praise the stand-alones this year, especially “Window of Opportunity” and “The Other Side”, which have never been better.

Some other great episodes are: “Small Victories”, “Upgrades”, “Watergate”, “Point of No Return”, “Tangent”, “The Curse”, “Chain Reaction”, “2010”, “Absolute Power”, “Double Jeopardy”, and “Exodus”.

The year began with a cool premiere, “Enemies”,  There were some amazing story developments this year, beginning with the final demise of Apophis (Peter Williams), the Goa’uld System Lord who has been making life difficult for the SGC ever since the first season. Next, the Tollan, an extremely advanced race of humans who are allied with Earth, begin acting suspiciously, the SGC begins recruiting new officers, the motives of the Aschen from last season are revealed, the Tok’Ra are nearly destroyed, and the Jaffa rebellion begins to truly become a problem for the System Lords.

And then, Daniel is brought to a System Lord summit where he has the chance to wipe out the Goa’uld threat forever, that is until he learns of the return of Anubis, an ancient System Lord who was banished for his horrific crimes. Also, we finally learn the origins of the Replicators. Finally, SG-1 must endure a change that they never thought would happen in the episode “Meridian”, and then, Anubis and Osirus (Anna-Louise Plowman) reveal plans to attack the Asgard.


This is a very important season, good episodes include: “Enemies”, “Threshold”, “Between Two Fires”, “2001”, “Wormhole X-Treme”, “Proving Ground”, “Summit”, “Last Stand”, “The Warrior”, “Menace”, “Meridian”, and “Revelations”.

The season begins with SG-1 still trying to find a fourth man. Ever since the death/ascension of Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks), they have been unable to find a suitable replacement. Refugee Jonas Quinn (Corinn Nemec) has expressed a desire to join, but Col. O’Neill (Richard Dean Anderson) never seemed to warm up to the idea. Also, Anubis (David Paffly) has found a machine created by the Ancients that uses one stargate to destroy another, and he used it to attempt to destroy Earth.

Using the new X-302, a craft capable of aerial combat and intersellar travel, O’Neill successfully avoids disaster, but the Antarctica gate is destroyed. After that, we don’t see Anubis for a while, but the threat of his powers is always hanging over the heads of the SGC.


With Jonas as the new member of SG-1, the team embarks on another year of amazing missions. This year, we see the end of the exiled System Lord Niirti, known for her attempts to create a superior human host through genetic experimentation, we are introduced to some technology of the Furlings, one of the members of the intergalactic UN group who rallied against the goa’uld, Earth’s first interstellar capital ship, Prometheus is unvailed, the Replicator threat is ended, and, in one of my favorite episodes, Gen. Hammond (Don S. Davis) discloses the existence of the SGC to representitives of the UK, France, and China.


Some great episodes include “Redemption Pts. 1 and 2”, “Descent”, “Nightwalkers”, “Abyss”, “Shadow Play”, “Allegiance”, “Prometheus”, “Unnatural Selection”, “Smoke and Mirrors”, “Disclosure”, “The Changeling”, and “Full Circle”, the best episode of the season.

That is the season when Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks) returns from being an ascended being, albeit on an alien world without his memory (“Fallen”). This required getting rid of Jonas Quinn (Corin Nemec) to get the old gang back together again, which happens when Anubis download Jonas’ memory and the Goa’uld attack Kelowna (“Homecoming”). Wisely, this is not the last appearance of Jonas for the season (“Fallout”) as he becomes another one of recurring guest characters that are a major strength of the series.

There are several Daniel Jackson stories that make a point of giving the actor interesting things to do, such as “Lifeboat,” where his mind becomes a resting place for a bunch of alien minds, “Enemy Mine,” which requires Jackson to show diplomatic skills, and big time flashbacks in “Chimera,” to before Daniel first saw the Stargate.

Overall, Season 7 is really Samantha Carter’s season and Amanda Tapping has several episodes where she pretty much goes it alone. “Space Race” has her joining an alien pilot for a little intergalactic competition, while “Death Knell” finds Carter being hunted by the supers soldiers of Anubis after an attack on Earth’s secret off-world base. In “Grace” Carter literally ends up alone when the Prometheus is attacked and she wakes up to find herself the only one on a ship drifting in deep space. The other characters show up as the angels of her better nature, which is the only way that Sam and Jack are ever going to have an honest conversation.

The whole Anubis/Lost City bit ends up being equal parts time to beat another bigger and badder system lord and find a fitting end point for the series that can also work as a transition to the spinoff.

Stargate has retained a massive level of consistency over the years, staying at the same level of quality, if not getting even a little bit better: it has always retained the humor, the characterization and the excitement and the action that has made it so loved.

Since season seven, there has been more of a focus on characterization and a tad bit more humor: and i for one welcome this, as the characters have always been the best aspect of the show: season eight continues this trend, and also the trend of even better quality than ever before!
Highlights include the opening two parter: New order Parts one and Two which is very exciting with plenty of plot twists. Affinity is another highlight for me as it is an episode with very little action, it is a mystery with a huge focus on characterization and intrigue, and manages to be very intriguing, with, again, some brilliant little character moments. Prometheus unbound is a highlight.

Reckoning parts one and two are possibly the best episodes of stargate ever made; they wrap up most of the major storylines, bringing the end to both the main enemies in the show, and are impossibly epic: there is so much going on, so much peril and a sense of doom, that you are kept on the edge of your seat the whole time, with some humour thrown in for good measure.

Avalon, Part 1 is a great season opener, introduces  new kid on the block Ben Browder,  as the season progresses the character is definitely fleshed out more and he soon fits in nicely with the tightly-knit S.G.1 team.

However, the bottom line is that this is still a character who bares a striking similarity in disposition to Browder’s other well-known TV personality- Farscape’s John Crichton- with that same irreverent humor and easy-going attitude, but it’s a style that clearly works for Browder and it’s difficult not to find that likable. Beau Bridges’ introduction is made with equally good fanfare, his character is one who I found myself liking more readily- he approaches the role of the General of the base differently to Don S. Davis, with more of an every man approach, although he never hesitates to exert the full force of his office against unfriendly aliens, or humans when required.

Largely thanks to the development of this season’s main story-arc with the introduction of God-wannabes the Ori and their powerful minions known as Priors, this ninth season becomes surprisingly mesmerising in very short order. Beginning with the concluding part and then into episode 3- `Origin’, this season soon establishes itself as one of the best `Stargate: S.G.1′ offerings in years. The use of Arthurian legend in this season is spread pretty thickly in the beginning and had me worried that this fantasy element might not work in a predominantly science-fiction-oriented series, but very soon the parallels the writers draw between the Arthurian myth and the familiar Stargate set-up, become very inventive and come to work surprisingly well at contrasting against the new and growing force of evil spreading through the galaxy. In the first five episodes that other recognizable `Farscape’ regular Claudia Black and her seductively disobedient alter-ego Vala are another reason to be enchanted by this season. Vala brings such humor and life to the series that I was really disappointed when she parted company with S.G.1, despite the welcome return of Sam Carter following her brief career change. Thankfully Vala returns towards the end of the season and here’s hoping it’s not the last we see of her.

This season’s other major success is in its stand-alone stories that continue to present unique, punchy and creative sci-fi ideas to its audience. In particular episode 9- `Prototype’ and episode 13- `Ripple Effect’ are a couple of my favourites, the first of which concerns the discovery of a prodigy of Anubis frozen on a distant planet and the second has multiple S.G.1 teams pouring through the Stargate from diverse alternate realities , both of which had me glued to my seat.

Largely thanks to Vala (Claudia Black) who’s as charming as she is side-splittingly, ingeniously, flirtatiously funny and who now becomes a credited member of the main cast, season ten gets off to a brilliant start  as the action picks up right where the previous season left-off with episode 1- Flesh and Blood and doesn’t decrease in pace.

It explores the continued threat of the Ori and their ever-increasing capture and control of worlds unable to mount any effective resistance against such a seemingly omnipotent foe. Episode 3- The Pegasus Project  is also very gripping with a finale that’s both surprising and tantalizing.

episodes 10- The Quest, Part I and 11- The Quest, Part II both of which work well in continuing SG-1’s discovery & unravelling of Arthurian-inspired mysteries surrounding their search for a weapon capable of destroying their enemy. Episode 14- The Shroud  sees Daniel in a unique position to deal a crippling blow to the Ori, which is also solid.

while episode 20- Unending is a wonderful episode- with a story that’s not just dramatic, but explores sides to the main characters never seen before, it ends the season with so much unresolved that it’s difficult to appreciate this tenth season as it should be appreciated as the final outing of SG-1. Obviously a great deal has been withheld to be used in the TV movie The Ark of Truth.

REVIEW: THE BATMAN – SEASON 1-5

Image result for the batman logo

 MAIN CAST (VOICES)

Rino Romano (Get Him To The Greek)
Alastair Duncan (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo)
Danielle Judovits (Naruto)
Evan Sabara (The Polar Express)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Ming-Na Wen (Agents of SHIELD)
Steve Harris (The Rock)
Jesse Corti (Bringing Down The House)
Mitch Pileggi (The X-Files)
Adam West (Batman 60s)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Joaquim de Almeida (Fast & Furious 5)
Amanda Anka (Lost Highway)
Diedrich Bader (Batman: TBATB)
Jeff Bennett (Porco Rosso)
Victor Brandt (The Head Mistress)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Dan Castellaneta (The Simpsons)
Kevin Conroy (Batman: TAS)
Piera Coppola (Phineas and Ferb)
Jim Cummings (Ben 10)
Dana Delany (Desperate Housewives)
Grey DeLisle (Danny Phantom)
Jack DeSena (JLA Adventures)
John DiMaggio (Futurama)
Greg Ellis (Dr. Dolittle 5)
Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street)
Miguel Ferrer (Robocop)
Dave Foley (Monkeybone)
Will Friedle (Batman Beyond)
Gina Gershon (Bound)
Christopher Gorham (Ugly Betty)
Frank Gorshin (Batman 60s)
Louis Gossett Jr. (Enemy Mine)
Kevin Grevioux (Cradle 2 The Grave)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Chris Hardwick (Halloween II)
Dorian Harewood (Full Metal Jacket)
Tom Kenny (The Powerpuff Girls)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Lex Lang (Power Rangers Turbo)
Wallace Langham (Daddy Day Care)
John Larroquette (Chuck)
Rachael MacFarlane (American Dad)
Peter MacNicol (Ghostbusters II)
Jason Marsden (Full House)
Ian Abercromdie (Birds of Prey)
Kellie Martin (Army Wives)
Daran Norris (Veronica Mars)
Michael Massee (Flashforward)
Dermot Mulroney (New Girl)
George Newbern (Justice League)
Jerry O’ Connell (Superman/Shazam)
Edward James Olmos (Battlestar Galactica)
Patton Oswalt (Caprica)
Robert Patrick (Terminator 2)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Fred Willard (Anchorman)
James Remar (The Vampire Diaries)
Brandon Routh (Legends of Tomorrow)
Allison Mack (Smallville)
Charlie Schlatter (Batman Unlimited)
Glenn Shadix (Beetlejuice)
Hynden Walch (Teen Titans)
Patrick Warburton (Family Guy)
Gwendoline Yeo (Vacancy 2)

 

It would be an impossible task to live up to “Batman: The Animated Series” and its various later incarnations. Not only has the series, which ran throughout the 1990s, been hailed by fans as the definitive representation of the Dark Knight, but it also ranks among the very best television series ever aired.

So when the folks at Warner Bros. Animation decided to put together an all-new Batman series to tie in with the impending release of “Batman Begins,” they made the daring but ultimately wise choice of completely revamping the world of Bruce Wayne, at least in terms of style and presentation. “The Batman,” which debuted in September 2004 on the Kids WB!, played out as something of a “Young Batman Adventures,” with the episodes focusing on the Dark Knight’s earliest years as a superhero. The deep, raspy voice of Kevin Conroy (who took the lead role in the 1990s series, and who still voices Batman on Cartoon Network’s “Justice League”) was replaced with Rino Romano, a thirtysomething voiceover veteran who sounds like he’s in his early twenties. Commissioner Gordon is nowhere to be seen; instead, we get two young detectives who are always on Batman’s trail – and in a nifty twist, one of them is Bruce Wayne’s best friend. Robin is also absent, Bruce has yet to get a handle on how to be Batman and run Wayne Industries, and the Rogues Gallery of villains are only beginning to emerge.

The most notable change is the stylistic choice to loosen up the storytelling, with a far heavier focus here on action and fantasy. “The Batman” is above all else a series that skews younger than its predecessors; taking a cue from the success of anime in grade schools across the nation, the series’ producers push the action sequences above all else. In some episodes, fight scenes and chases take up an entire third, or more, of the running time.

Accent is also placed on gadgets (Batman’s “Bat Wave” is a pre-Bat Signal pager-like device that flashes when crime’s afoot), alternate costumes (Batman faces off against Mr. Freeze in a souped-up arctic gear Batsuit), and anything else that might translate well into toy sales. Which is neat for the kids, but it takes up screen time, forcing into the background the character development and intelligent drama that made the older series such a hit with fans of all ages. Since all this tinkering was taking place, the producers felt that now would be a perfect time to also revamp the famous villains. The Joker is now a big guy, far more athletic than we’ve ever seen him before, his bare feet allowing him to climb and kick with ease. The Penguin is still short, birdlike, and obnoxious, but this time, he’s a kung fu expert with two silent female assassins (with scissor-like blades on their fingers) at his side. Mr. Freeze, not a scientist but a petty thief, now shoots ice from his hands – no ice gun is necessary.

These changes work for the tone of the series,  I’ve come to like the series. Now knowing what to expect has helped with the adjustment. Yes, it still has its many problems – mainly, most of the villain revamps come off as too silly (and the writers rely on the Joker and Penguin way too much in the early episodes) – but it also has so much going for it. For starters, the animation is breathtaking, the combination of influences (the series borrows as much from the sleek 1990s cartoons as it does from recent anime) resulting in a eye-popping visual style that’s a true joy to watch. And as with its predecessor, “The Batman” relies on a healthy dose of impressive guest stars, including Tom Kenny, Gina Gershon, Peter MacNicol, Clancy Brown, Jason Marsden, Udo Kier, Edie McClurg, Glenn Shadix, Fred Willard, Dan Castellaneta, John Di Maggio, and yes, even Adam West, who stars here as the mayor of Gotham City. Combine this with a top notch regular cast and you’ve got a series that matches Warner Brothers’ usual high level of quality.

With this season, the producers opted to play mix-and-match with baddies: Catwoman and Ragdoll, Catwoman and Penguin, Penguin and Man-Bat, Penguin and Joker, Penguin and Joker and Riddler, Mr. Freeze and Firefly.  The Catwoman episodes work much better; the series’ take on the Selina Kyle character is as refreshing as has ever been in the decades of Batman tales. She’s one of the few multifaceted characters in this uncomplicated series, working somewhere between heroine and villainess, assisted by clever writing and a commendable vocal performance from Gina Gershon.

Other episodes manage to shake the series’ problems and find a sturdy balance between fast-paced action and inventive plotting. The introductory adventure with the Riddler (here designed as some sort of Marilyn Manson wannabe) makes for a rollicking quest; an episode that takes Batman literally into the mind of the Joker allows for a fresh take on some overly well-worn cartoon material; a sinister Halloween tale about “swamp zombie” Solomon Grundy’s mythic return makes for ripping holiday viewing. These episodes all show the grand potential of this series. Consider the season’s best episode, “Meltdown,” which provides a return for Clay Face, last seen in season one’s finale. There’s a lot that happens in this episode character-wise, all of it both thrilling and quite emotionally touching.

In order to make the show more friendly to the notion of reruns, the producers avoid any serious episode-to-episode continuity. Instead, we see ideas that slowly grow – Detective Bennett’s evolution as a character in season one (and slightly in season two), Detective Yin’s secret partnership with Batman in season two – in tiny chunks over the course of a dozen or so episodes. The good news is that these seemingly unimportant arcs do get a payoff in the season finales. In its favor, the series does showcase some incredible animation; “The Batman” remains a genuine treat for the eyes.

The Batman” went through plenty of growing pains for its third season. Dropped without explanation from the story was Detective Ellen Yin, who had been working toward becoming a new sidekick of sorts to the Dark Knight (actress Ming-Na had become unavailable to return to the series); in her place, we have the arrival of Batgirl, whose presence takes the series in a whole new direction.

It’s something of a mini-almost-sorta reboot as a result. There’s a new opening sequence, with The Edge’s twangy theme song replaced by a crunchy surf-rock tune from Andy Sturmer, who also wrote the “Teen Titans” theme. That series’ popularity obviously had an influence on this new season, as Batgirl’s wide-eyed character design is similar to the heroes of the Cartoon Network series. In addition, the Gotham landscape is now slightly more abstract, most notably in the swirling red and purple skies above. An entire episode is designed to showcase an all-new Batmobile. Finally, season-long story arcs have been toned down, delivered on a smaller scale, with Dr. Hugo Strange’s ongoing manipulations from behind the walls of Arkham Asylum not carrying the full weight of, say, the Clayface and Ellen Yin storylines of previous seasons. Even Batman’s gradual acceptance of a sidekick is something of a restrained arc.


The most obvious adjustment is that Batgirl is introduced before Robin (who would not appear in the series until season four). This comes with its share of awkwardness, not because the deviation from Batman mythology (the retooling plays quite well, actually), but because Commissioner Gordon was just introduced in the series two finale. We never get a chance to settle in with him before he’s thrown into the thick of things, and now here he is with a teenage daughter – a daughter whose co-star status means the Gordons now become a key part of nearly every episode. Yet the series plows ahead with the Gordons at the center and never looks back, allowing for a rather quick adjustment to the change.
The season opens on a very high note, with the excellent two-part saga, “Batgirl Begins,” introducing not only our new heroine, but also Poison Ivy, revamped to be a high school pal of Barbara’s; she’s a young eco-terrorist who gets slimed with nasty plant-growth chemicals. Early episodes that follow manage to revisit old villains – the Penguin, Scarface, Catwoman – while offering new spins, thus keeping stories quite fresh. New baddies are also introduced, most memorably the cybernetic Gearhead (voiced by “Batman Beyond” himself, Will Friedle), whose race car exploits allow the show to provide some thrilling chase sequences, and Cosmo Krank (Patton Oswalt in a deliciously over-the-top turn), a flashy toymaker.

Few animated TV shows have improved as greatly and as rapidly as much as “The Batman.” When the program debuted on the Kids WB! network in 2004, it was a reboot of the franchise, and while repeat viewings did help the show’s more radical changes become acceptable to lifelong fans of the character, it still never quite hit the heights of the 1990s’ “Batman: The Animated Series,” deemed by most as the definitive presentation of the hero.

The season opens with the introduction of Robin, the Boy Wonder. Series producers took a brave risk the season prior by breaking from the continuity of the Batman mythology and bringing in Batgirl as a sidekick first; the official reason given is that Robin was tied up on the “Teen Titans” cartoon, but the switcheroo seems to go beyond that, as it led to a shakeup that helped breathe new life into the franchise.

Perhaps to counterbalance such changes, the season premiere strays very little from the established Robin backstory: young Dick Grayson (seen here at around age 10 or 11, unlike several other incarnations that aged him slightly) is the son of a successful circus act. Here, Dick’s father also runs the circus, so he’s directly responsible for shooing away the thugs that show up one night for a little extortion. Batman arrives to thwart the baddies, but they return to sabotage the trapeze. The Graysons are killed mid-performance, and Bruce Wayne, seeing a parallel with his own history, takes Dick in as a foster son. Dick later discovers the Batcave, dons his old circus outfit, and sets out to capture the mobsters; by episode’s end, he’s properly christened as Robin.

It’s interesting to note that every time this legend is retold, its writers find new ways of infusing some modern day logic into the proceedings. Like Dick’s circus costume, which now comes right off the bat with the familiar “R” crest, only for “Richard,” not “Robin.” He later decides to use “Robin” as his superhero alter ego not in tribute to Robin Hood, or because of the goofy motorcycle helmet design from “Batman Forever,” but simply because Dick’s mom liked that nickname. It adds a bittersweet human touch to the myth that feels so natural, I’m surprised it’s never been used before. (In a nice touch, Kevin Conroy, the voice actor who played Batman in the 1990s, appears as Dick’s father. It’s a wonderful passing-the-torch moment that reminds me of when Adam West showed up on “Batman: The Animated Series” as the Grey Ghost. Also providing guest star voice work this season are Mark Hamill, Louis Gossett, Jr., Ron Perlman, James Remar, Wallace Langham, and Brandon Routh.)

Batgirl is absent from this episode (wisely so – although it’s an excellent story, it’s also pretty cluttered with characters and events). She returns in the follow-up, and there we set the stage for the rest of the season’s tone. The sidekicks spend their time bickering and trying to one-up each other, in pure brother-sister mode. It’s a fun dynamic to the show that allows Batman to remain  his moody self without forcing the series to become overly brooding. A peculiar moment regarding the sidekicks comes late in the season, when Robin pauses in the middle of a dangerous mission to ask Batgirl if she’s afraid. After some fudging between the two, she admits that she is. Not only is this a deeper, more thoughtful character moment than the series would have ever attempted a few years earlier, but it’s a startling moment of character honesty that you rarely get in a children’s adventure.

Over time the show has definitely grown and it’s safe to say that it’s come into its own. Though this may be the final season it’s definitely one of the stronger ones and in the end this is a ride any fan of the character should take. In the previous seasons of The Batman all sorts of things happened that continue to have an impact upon Gotham in this fifth outing. Batgirl was added to the roster during the third season with Dick Grayson as Robin in the fourth. Several familiar villains were brought into the fold as well but most notably the finale of the fourth season featured an alien invasion and the introduction of The Justice League. That’s right where we pick up this time around with Gotham reeling in the aftermath of the alien attack.


Destruction is everywhere and the people are in need of support. Lucky for them Superman comes to town with a massive check from Metropolis but unluckily for Superman Metallo is waiting for his chance to strike. What transpires is a team up between Batman and Superman to take down Lex Luthor who has his eyes set on Gotham. In the meantime Superman falls under Lex’s control thanks to some help from Poison Ivy and kryptonite. Naturally it’s up to Batman and Robin to stop the man of steel and there’s plenty of fighting between the DC legends.

If you have been following the series this marks Superman’s first appearance on the show and you’ll notice a trend that follows throughout this year. The previous season’s introduction of characters such as Green Arrow, Flash, Hawkman, and Green Lantern fleshes out The Batman’s roster somewhat and really gives is a Justice League feel.

This season is very entertaining even though the focus shifts from Batman and his universe. At this point in The Batman’s run the creative cast definitely had it going on but you can tell that even in the final moments they were experimenting. I see what the producers were aiming to do with this season and for all intents and purposes it is successful.