REVIEW: HEROES – SEASON 4

Starring

Hayden Panettiere (Nashville)
Robert Knepper (Izombie)
Jack Coleman (Spawn)
Zachary Quinto (Star Trek)
Milo Ventimiglia (This Is Us)
Masi Oka (Get Smart)
Greg Grunberg (Alias)
Cristine Rose (How I Met Your Mother)
Adrian Pasdar (Supergirl)
James Kyson Lee (Sleepy Hollow)
Ali Larter (Final Destination)
Sendhil Ramamurthy (Beauty and The Beast)

Robert Knepper in Heroes (2006)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Dawn Olivieri (The Vampire Diaries)
Madeline Zima (Crazy Eyes)
Ray Park (G.I. Joe)
Deanne Bray (Universal Signs)
Elisabeth Röhm (Angel)
Ashley Crow (Minority Report)
Jimmy Jean-Louis (Arrow)
Lisa Lackey (Planet of The Apes)
Rachel Melvin (Sleepy Hollow)
Saemi Nakamura (The Truman Show)
Zeljko Ivanek (The Event)
Louise Fletcher (Star Trek: DS9)
Rick Worthy (Duplicity)
Swoosie Kurtz (Mike & Molly)
Tessa Thompson (Westworld)
Christine Adams (BLack Lightning)
Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters)
Candice Patton (The Flash)
Jayma Mays (Paul Blart: Mall Cop)
Danielle Savre (Boogeyman 2)
Santiago Cabrera (Big Little Lies)
Danica Stewart (Passions)
Andrew Connolly (Patriot Games)
Ravi Kapoor (Bones)
Carlson Young (Scream: The Series)
Todd Stashwick (The Originals)
David H. Lawrence XVII (Lost)
Kate Vernon (Battlestar Galactica)
Tamlyn Tomita (The Eye)
David Anders (Izmbie)
Sasha Pieterse (Pretty Little Liars)
Eric Roberts (The Finder)
K Callan (Lois & Clark)

Deanne Bray in Heroes (2006)

The first season of Heroes remains a landmark moment in television. Taking Watchmen’s ‘if superheroes existed’ thesis to its natural conclusion, the show’s realisation of the ultimate nerd fantasy of ordinary people with extraordinary powers and subtle nods to comic book tropes was a revelation, producing one of TV’s all time great villains, the delightfully menacing Sylar. Then it all fell apart.Masi Oka in Heroes (2006)The fun, frenetic pace of the first season was almost completely absent from its follow-up. In a jarring and completely misjudged shift of tone, the show became more about the nefarious dealings of the mysterious ‘Company’ and less about character development and the simple joy of watching a cheerleader mend her own bloody and broken shinbone. (The season also introduced the worst superpower ever: the ability to kill by dilating your pupils.) Admittedly, this was partially as a result of the 07/08 US writers’ strike, but the show never recovered critically, haemorrhaging viewers at an alarming pace. In following this unmitigated disaster, Tim Kring and co attempted to return to the heart of what made the show such a blast in the first place and, a handful of ridiculous plot points aside, they have been reasonably successful. However, viewers had lost faith and THE show was officially axed by NBC.Robert Knepper in Heroes (2006)However, with the fourth and final season going back to basics, as well as injecting some much needed warmth and depth into several previously underdeveloped characters, Heroes definitely went out with a bang. Season four follows the characters attempts to return to normality following the tragic events of Nathan Petrelli’s death at the hands of Sylar. In an attempt to keep his death a secret, psychic ex-cop Matt Parkman enters an unconscious and powerless Sylar’s mind, convincing him he is Nathan. All does not go to plan, however, as Sylar’s subdued consciousness worms its way into Matt’s head, taunting him and attempting to force Parkman to restore his identity by any means necessary.Robert Knepper and Zachary Quinto in Heroes (2006)Hiro Nakamura, previously just a loveable, if highly one-dimensional, comic book nerd, is finally given some depth, after discovering he is terminally ill with a brain tumour. Following a mysterious encounter with shadowy carnival owner Samuel Sullivan (played to creepy perfection by Prison Break’s Robert Knepper), Hiro decides to use his time travelling powers to change tragic or regretful moments in his past, often to destructive effect. The majority of the plot revolves around the arrival of Samuel’s peculiar fair. As self-healing cheerleader-turned-fresher Claire Bennet soon discovers, it is much more than a travelling freak show. The carnival is a tight knit group of ‘heroes’ travelling under the radar. However, as Samuel tries to convince Claire to join his family, things may not be as they appear.Hayden Panettiere and Madeline Zima in Heroes (2006)With season four, the creators have finally realised what it is viewers loved about Heroes in the first place. Like all good comic books, the series is a rollercoaster ride, with an engaging (if a tad stupid) plot, and a plethora of dastardly villains. Characters are given conflict that, for a change, is genuinely thrilling. Hiro’s awful dilemma is particularly heartbreaking, bringing some essential empathy to what was previously the show’s increasingly tired comic relief. Although it may have proven too little, too late for casual viewers, the season is a worthy farewell to what deserves to be remembered as one TV’s most enjoyable shows.

 

REVIEW: THE DEVIL’S ARITHMETIC

CAST

Kirsten Dunst (Bring It On)
Brittany Murphy (Just Married)
Paul Freeman (MMPR: The Movie)
Mimi Rogers (Ginger Snaps)
Louise Fletcher (Exorcist II)
Daniel Brocklebank (The Hours)
Dustin Hoffman (Last Chance Harvey)

The film opens with Hannah, a teen girl, in a tattoo parlor with her friends, contemplating what tattoo she wants. Before she can decide, she notes the time and realizes she is late for a Passover dinner. Hannah hates going to her family seder as her family tells the same stories and Hannah is tired of hearing about the past. Her aunt tells her every year that Hannah looks like her namesake, Chaya, but won’t tell Hannah who Chaya was or what she did. During the seder Hannah opens the front door to let in the prophet Elijah, but she sees a Polish village instead of the outside of the apartment. All of a sudden she is not only in a new place but also in the year 1941.Hannah learns she is in the home of Rivka, who says she is Hannah (now Chaya)’s cousin, and her aunt Gitl. They tell Hannah she has been sick and that should explain her strange ramblings about the future. The next day, the family goes into the village for a wedding, which is interrupted by Nazi soldiers, who say the whole village will be resettled. After a long journey, they arrive at a Nazi concentration camp assumed to be Auschwitz. There, their valuables are stolen, their heads are shorn, they are tattooed, and they are made prisoners.Life is brutal, but Hannah tells fairy tales and stories to the women in her bunk to keep their spirits up, and she insists that she knows what is coming because of her history classes in school, but no one will believe her. Tensions rise when a family is revealed to have typhus and when a woman goes into labor, some of the men attempt an escape when they find a guard they think they can trust, only to be caught and executed. One day, the commandant notices that Rivka and other inmates are ill,he orders them to go to the gas chamber. Before he can see, Hannah switches places with Rivka. As she enters the gas chamber, she is transported back to the present day. As she rejoins her family at the dinner table, she notes that her aunt has Rivka’s number tattooed on her arm, and she tells everyone the story about the Chaya who saved her aunt’s life.Although I have not had the opportunity to read the novel, I felt that this film, despite its low-budget status, is well done, engaging and unequivocally moving. The surprising highlight of the film is the portrayal of Hannah and Rivkah by Kirsten Dunst and Brittany Murphy. Dunst and Murphy bring an inner-strength to the protagonists leaving the viewer speechless as she/he inexorably contemplates the value of life, friendship and courage in the face of evil and physical/spiritual death.

REVIEW: CRUEL INTENTIONS

CAST

Sarah Michelle Gellar (Ringer)
Ryan Phillippe (Antitrust)
Reese Witherspoon (Devil’s Knot)
Selma Blair (Hellby)
Louise Fletcher (Star Trek: DS9)
Swoosie Kurtz (Mike & Molly)
Sean Patrick Thomas (Save The Last Dance)
Christine Baranski (The Big Bang Theory)
Joshua Jackson (Cursed)
Eric Mabius (Resident Evil)
Tara Reid (American Pie)
Charlie O’Connell (Sliders)
Herta Ware (Critters 2)
Ginger Williams (Lucky Numbers)

In an upscale New York City mansion, wealthy and popular teenager Kathryn Merteuil (Gellar) is discussing her prep school with Mrs. Caldwell (Christine Baranski) and Mrs. Caldwell’s daughter, Cecile (Blair). Kathryn promises Mrs. Caldwell that she will look out for the sheltered and naïve Cecile. Kathryn’s step-brother, Sebastian (Phillippe), enters the room, whereupon Mrs. Caldwell reacts to him coldly and leaves with Cecile. Kathryn reveals to him that her real intention is to use Cecile to take revenge on her ex-lover Court Reynolds (Charlie O’Connell), who has dumped her for Cecile. Kathryn asks Sebastian to seduce Cecile; he refuses as he is planning to seduce Annette Hargrove (Witherspoon), the virgin daughter of their prep school’s new headmaster. Annette is a ‘paradigm of chastity and virtue’ who recently wrote a published essay about saving herself for marriage and has been temporarily staying with Sebastian’s aunt. The two make a wager: if Sebastian fails to bed Annette, Kathryn gets Sebastian’s vintage Jaguar XK140; if he succeeds, Kathryn will have sex with him. It is mentioned that Sebastian keeps a journal detailing his conquests.Sebastian’s first attempt to seduce Annette fails, as she had already been told of his reputation as a womanizer. He vents to his friend, Blaine Tuttle (Joshua Jackson), who suggests that the informant might be Annette’s ex-boyfriend and closeted jock, Greg McConnell (Eric Mabius), revealing to Sebastian that Greg tried to make a pass at him. He uses that to seduce Greg while being secretly filmed by Sebastian. Sebastian confronts Greg with the photographs, but he denies warning Annette. Greg is pressured into investigating who did, and Sebastian also orders him to present him in a good light to Annette. Later, while gushing about Sebastian to Annette, Greg discovers that the culprit is Cecile’s mother, Mrs. Caldwell. Wanting revenge on the Caldwells, Sebastian agrees to seduce Cecile.Meanwhile, Cecile’s music teacher, Ronald Clifford (Sean Patrick Thomas), is in love with her. Cecile confesses this to Kathryn. Kathryn tells Mrs. Caldwell about Ronald and Cecile’s romance and Mrs. Caldwell orders Cecile to end it. Sebastian, in turn, calls Cecile to his house, ostensibly to give her a letter from Ronald. There he blackmails Cecile in order to perform oral sex on her. The next day, Cecile confides in Kathryn, who advises her to learn from Sebastian so that she can make Ronald happy in bed.Sebastian begins to fall in love with Annette, who returns his feelings but still resists him. Sebastian calls her a hypocrite because she claims to be waiting for her one true love, but when her one true love chooses to love her back, she resists. She relents, but Sebastian refuses her, confused about his feelings colliding with his stolid sexuality. Annette flees to the estate of her friend’s parents. Sebastian tracks her down, professes his love, and makes love to her. As he has won the bet, Kathryn offers herself to Sebastian the next day, but he refuses; he now only wants Annette. Kathryn tries kissing him, but he rejects her again saying that it’s only a stupid bet. She starts taunting him and he tells her he was planning on confessing the truth to Annette anyways. Kathryn warns him not to do it, that people don’t change overnight and that it would not only be destroying his reputation, but also hers.Afterwards, Sebastian full of remorse tells Annette he just wanted to see what she was like in bed. Heartbroken, Annette tells him to leave. He then goes to see Kathryn to fulfill the initial arrangement they had and tells her that he has broken up with Annette and arranged for Cecile and Ronald to be together. Kathryn reveals that she has known all along that he was truly in love with Annette and that it amused her to make him feel ashamed of it. She tells him he gave up on the first person he ever loved, all because she threatened his reputation. Sebastian desperately tries to get a hold of Annette to confess the truth and beg for her forgiveness. Kathryn calls Ronald, telling him that Sebastian slept with Cecile and lying to him that Sebastian hit her. Annette refuses to see or speak to Sebastian, so he leaves his journal for her to read. In which, he has detailed all of Kathryn’s manipulative schemes as well as their bet, and written his true feelings for Annette. As he heads home, Ronald intercepts him on the street, starting a fight. Annette runs out and tries to stop it, but is accidentally thrown into the way of traffic. Sebastian pushes her to safety, and is hit by a cab. Before dying, Sebastian confesses he loves her and Annette tells him she loves him too. Ronald realizes that Kathryn lied to him and used him to kill Sebastian.At Sebastian’s funeral, Cecile distributes copies of his journal, made into a book by Annette, titled Cruel Intentions. Kathryn is humiliated and rejected by her classmates and teachers. Her reputation is ruined when cocaine is discovered in her rosary. In the final scene, Annette drives away in Sebastian’s car with his journal at her side as she remembers the moments they shared.If you haven’t yet seen ‘Cruel Intentions’, I can only recommend you do so, as it has elements of everything that most audiences will enjoy. Ryan and Sarah Michelle excel as their nasty, manipulative characters, and the ending is very apt and satisfying.

REVIEW: FIRESTARTER

CAST

Drew Barrymore (Poison Ivy)
David Keith (Bottoms Up)
Freddie Jones (Son of Dracula)
Heather Locklear (Wayne’s World 2)
Martin Sheen (The West Wing)
George C. Scott (Patton)
Art Carney (Last Action Hero)
Louise Fletcher (Exorcist II)
Moses Gunn (Roots)
Antonio Fargas (Foxy Brown)

kinopoisk.ruAndy McGee (David Keith) met his future wife, Vicky Tomlinson (Heather Locklear), in college while they were earning money by participating in an experiment in which they were given a dose of a low-grade hallucinogen called LOT-6. The experiment grants them telepathic abilities; Vicky has the ability to read minds, and Andy can take over minds and make others do and believe what he wants, but the effort gives him nosebleeds (the novel revealing them to be “pinprick” hemorrhages). Andy and Vicky went on to get married, and they now have a nine-year-old daughter named Charlene “Charlie” McGee (Drew Barrymore), who has pyrokinetic abilities (can start fires with the mind). Charlie can also see the near future.
firestarter-1984-movie-drew-barrymore-6Andy comes home from work one day to find that Vicky has been murdered and Charlie abducted; the family had already suspected that the government agency that sponsored the experiment, the Department of Scientific Intelligence (aka “the Shop”), was checking on them. The government wants Charlie to harness her powerful ability as a weapon. Andy rescues Charlie from abduction by agents of the Shop by making the agents blind and for the next year, they are on the run.
firestarter_592x299-7To protect themselves, Andy writes letters to major newspapers, but mailing them reveals their location. They need to rest and end up taken in by a farmer and his wife. Andy tells the farmer the truth so when the Shop arrives, he is ready to stand with them. However, he soon sees that there is no need since Charlie makes quick work of the agents who have invaded the quiet refuge they have found. They again are on the run, but Andy is weak from the use of his gift. They go to their secluded cabin to rest and prepare to finally go public with their story. Unfortunately, the head of the Shop, Captain Hollister (Martin Sheen), sends Agent John Rainbird (George C. Scott) to capture them and stop the release of information. After capture, father and daughter are kept separated. Andy is medicated and subjected to tests, which show his powers have decreased. Meanwhile, Rainbird takes on the role of “John the friendly orderly” to befriend Charlie and gain her trust to encourage her to submit to the tests.
dbfirehd093
Charlie’s powers increase exponentially, and she continually demands to see her father as they promised. Andy is revealed to be faking the acceptance of his drugs, meaning that his powers have never decreased and it was all a ruse to make Hollister drop his guard. Then once alone on a walk far from the house, he uses his power to get information from Hollister (such as John’s true identity) and arrange to leave with Charlie that night. He slips Charlie a note and she immediately tells “John” about the escape. He’s wanted to kill Charlie since first hearing about her and hides in the barn so he can kill her father as well. Charlie enters the barn first and “John” succeeds in convincing her to begin the climb up the ladder to him. His plan is put to an end once Andy enters and Charlie instead runs to her father. She tells him that John is present and asks if they can take him with them. She is saddened and angered to find out the truth, yet believes John when he states that he will not kill her father if she comes to him. To save his daughter, Andy instructs Hollister to shoot at Rainbird. However, Rainbird kills Hollister and fatally wounds Andy and after he causes Rainbird to leap to the ground, breaking his leg. Charlie then kills Rainbird and cries at her father’s wound. He pleads with her to use her powers to bring the facility down after he takes his last breath. The entire security team arrives and she dispatches them all one by one to make her way off of the property.
dbfirehd093Charlie returns by hitchhiking back to the farm. Without a word, she reveals what has happened since she left with her father and is welcomed back. Shortly afterwards, Charlie and the farmer head to New York City to tell her story to the media.firestarterThe film is without a doubt a classic and watchable even today. It is thoroughly entertaining and once watched won’t easily be forgotten.

REVIEW: STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE – SEASON 1-7

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MAIN CAST

Avery Brooks (Roots: The Gift)
Nana Visitor (Dark Angel)
Rene Auberjonois (Boston Legal)
Alexander Siddig (Game of Thrones)
Terry Farrell (Hellraiser 3)
Colm Meaney (Intermission)
Cirroc Lofton (Soul Food)
Armin Shimerman (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Michael Dorn (Ted 2)
Nicole de Boer (Rated X)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Patrick Stewart (American Dad)
Felecia M. Bell (Nightman)
Marc Alaimo (Total Recall)
Aron Eisenberg (Puppet Master 3)
Max Grodenchick (Apollo 13)
J.G. Hertzler (Roswell)
April Grace (Lost)
Majel Barrett (Babylon 5)
Andrew Robinson (Hellraiser)
Gwynyth Walsh (Taken)
Bertila Damas (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)
Vaughn Armstrong (Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue)
Rosalind Chao (I Am Sam)
Edward Albert (Power Rangers Time Force)
Scott MacDonald (Jack Frost)
Jennifer Hetrick (L.A. Law)
John De Lancie (The Hand That Rocks The Cradle)
Tom McCleister (Angel)
Gregory Itzin (Firefly)
Fionnula Flanagan (The Others)
Julie Caitlin Brown (Babylon 5)
Chris Latta (Transformers)
Barry Gordon (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Wallace Shawn (The Princess Bride)
Cliff De Young (Glory)
Jonathan Banks (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles)
Keone Young (Men In Black 3)
Jack Shearer (Star Trek: First Contact)
Harris Yullin (Rush Hour 2)
Louise Fletcher (Heroes)
Frank Langella (Masters of The Universe)
Stephen Macht (Galaxina)
Steven Weber (Izombie)
John Glover (Smallville)
Tim Russ (Samantha Who?)
Daphne Ashbrook (The Love Letter)
Don Stark (That 70s Show)
Brian Thompson (The Terminator)
Salli Richardson-Whitfield (I Am Legend)
William Schallert (Innerspace)
K Callan (Lois & CLark)
Chris Sarandon (Child’s Play)
John Colicos (Battlestar Galactica)
Michael Ansara (Batman: TAS)
William Campbell (Dementia 13)
Tony Plana (Ugly Betty)
Michael Bell (Rugrats)
Alan Oppenheimer (Transformers)
Salome Jens (Superbot)
Martha Hackett (Leprechaun 2)
Ken Marshall (Krull)
Mary Kay Adams (Babylon 5)
Bumper Robinson (Sabrina: TTW)
Brett Cullen (Lost)
Jeffrey Combs (The Frighteners)
Tricia O’ Neil (Gia)
Dick Miller (Gremlins)
Deborah Van Valkenburgh (Free Enterprise)
Clint Howard (Apollo 13)
Richard Lee Jackson (Saved By The Bell: The New Class)
Andrew Prine (V)
Tracy Scoggins (Lois & Clark)
Erick Avari (Stargate)
Carlos Lacamara (Heroes Reborn)
Leland Orser (Seven)
Chase Masterson (Terminal Invasion)
Penny Johnson Jerald (Castle)
Andrea Martin (Wag The Dog)
Diane Salinger (Batman Returns)
Sherman Howard (Superboy)
Robert O’ Reilly (The Mask)
Obi Ndefo (Stargate SG.1)
Patricia Tallman (Babylon 5)
Galyn Gorg (Robocop 2)
Jeremy Roberts (Veronica Mars)
James Cromwell (Species II)
Charles Napier (The Silence of The Lambs)
Conor O’Farrell (Lie To Me)
Robert Foxworth (Syriana)
Brock Peters (Soylent Green)
Casey Biggs (Broken Arrow)
Tony Todd (The Flash)
Robert DoQui (Robocop)
D. Elliot Woods (Agents of SHIELD)
Jason Marsden (Full House)
Ron Canada (Just Like Heaven)
Jeffrey Nordling (Flight 93)
Gerrit Graham (Child’s Play 2)
Cliff De Young (THe Craft)
Jim Jansen (Death Becomes Her)
Tom Towles (Fortress)
Philip Anglim (The Elepehant Man)
Bruce Gray (Cube 2)
Ron Taylor (The Simpsons)
Larry Cedar (Deadwood)
Bill Mondy (Smallville)
Michael Reilly Burke (Mars Attacks)
Heidi Swedberg (Hot Shots)
Amanda Carlin (Friends)
Bernie Casey (Under Siege)
Molly Hagan (Izombie)
Michael Jace (The Fan)
Dennis Christopher (IT)
Joseph Ruskin (The Scorpian King)
Lawrence Pressman (Dark Angel)
Jill Sayre (Hercules and The Amazon Women)
Jonathan Frakes (Sar Trek: TNG)
Tina Lifford (Babe)
Bill Smitrovich (Ted)
Lark Voorhies (Save By The bell)
John Doman (Gotham)
Marshall R. Teague (Babylon 5)
Susanna Thompson (Arrow)
Clarence Williams III (The Butler)
Loren Lester (Batman: TAS)
Charlie Brill (Silk Stalkings)
Vanessa Williams (Ugly Betty)
Brian George (The Big Bang Theory)
Lawrence Tierney (Resevoir Dogs)
Thomas Kopache (Catch Me If You Can)
Rick Worthy (The Vampire Diaries)
Paul Popowich (Rupture)
Courtney Peldon (Out on a Lamb)
Michelle Krusiec (The Invitation)
Clayton Landey (Staragte: Atlantis)
Kevin Rahm (Bates MNotel)
Mike Starr (Ed Wood)
James Black (Anger Management
Meg Foster (Masters of The Universe)
Tracy Middendorf (Scream: The Series)
John Prosky (The Devil Inside)
Hilary Shepard (Power Rangers Turbo)
Phil Morris (Smallville)
Charlie Brill (Silk Stalkings)
Kurtwood Smith (That 70s Show)
Eric Pierpoint (Alien Nation)
Robert Picardo (Stargate: Atlantis)
Marjean Holden (Hostage)
Brian Markinson (Arrow)
Christopher Shea (Bounty Killer)
Marc Worden (Ultimate Avengers)
Gabrielle Union (Ugly Betty)
Shannon Cochran (The Ring)
Iggy Pop (The Crow 2)
Brad Greenquist (Alias)
Leslie Hope (24)
Stephen McHattie (300)
Michael Weatherly (NCIS)
Henry Gibson (Sabrina: TTW)
James Darren (T.J. Hooker)
Bill Mumy (Babylon 5)
Kevin Rahm (Bates Motel)
Adrienne Barbeau (Swamp Thing)
William Sadler (Roswell)

DS9 is one of my all-time favourite television shows. It edges out Star Trek’s original series just barely as my favourite in the franchise. I am not going to state that it’s the best Star Trek series, because it definitely will not appeal to everybody, but it is my favourite.

DS9 deviates from the Trek franchise formula in an important way – it is based on one location – a Cardassian-built space station near the planet Bejor. So even the architecture of the main set is alien – not another sterile militaristic star ship inhabited by a primarily white European crew – but a true Babel. Bejor has just been liberated from 60 years of occupation by an expansionist militaristic race – the Cardassians. Both Bejorans and Cardassians will play important roles throughout DS9. Since the station does not move much during the show’s seven year run, DS9 has a much stronger sense of place than the other ST series, and is able to develop story arc and character continuity much more powerfully than the others.

All of the major characters and most of the frequent returning characters have their own interwoven story arcs – most of which span the entire series. Ben Sisko (Avery Brooks), the station’s commander, is a somewhat disgruntled Star Fleet officer who has several personal vendettas which have almost driven him from Star Fleet. He is also a single parent and a genius. In the very first episode, Sisko’s arc begins and it is clear that his story will be the frame within which the entire series is organized – though the reasons for this will no become entirely clear until near the end. Also memorable are the gruff, shape-shifting Chief Constable Odo(Rene Auberjunois) who does not know what he is and where he came from; Kira (Nana Visitor) Sisko’s aggressive and intense Bajoran second officer; Garak (Andy Robinson) a Cardassian Tailor and – possibly – spy, who is easily the most well-developed, well-acted and interesting recurring guest star Star Trek has ever had; Jadzia Dax (Terry Farrell) – the beautiful Trill science officer whose consciousness is enhanced by the memories and personality of a 600 year old symbiotic slug who lives in her stomach and has inhabited dozens of previous hosts; Julian Bashir (Alexander Siddig) the station’s young, brilliant, adventurous and naive doctor; and Quark (Armin Shimmerman), the greedy, conniving, but entirely lovable Ferengi casino owner.

The characters, cast, and serialized stories make DS9 stand apart from the franchise as the most powerfully plotted, intensely dramatic and politically charged Star Trek ever. The show is, however, not for those with limited attention spans and a disdain for complexity. While it isn’t exactly hard to follow, the dialog is often dense and DS9 – more than any other Trek show – uses non-verbal communication very well. Brooks, Visitor and Robinson – all of whom are masters at this – are particularly non-verbal and make a big impression from the first few episodes.

Throughout the series, there are constant underlying political intrigues and surprisingly little filler. Almost every story connects with the main story arc (Sisko’s and Bejor’s) in one way or another, and no time is wasted with aimless experimentation by the writing team (a problem Voyager and Enterprise both suffered from).

The production is consistently theatrical in scope. The special effects are still – even today – above average for television, and even the new BSG doesn’t approach the scope and coherence of the plot.Highly recommended for bright people looking for something more than typical TV drama normally delivers.

REVIEW: EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC

CAST

Linda Blair (Hell Night)
Richard Burton (Ellis Island)
Kitty Winn (Peeper)
Max Von Sydow (Conan The Barbarian)
Paul Henreid (Casablanca)
James Earl Jones (Star Wars)
Ned Beatty (Superman)
Louise Fletcher (Star Trek: DS9)

Philip Lamont, a priest struggling with his faith, attempts to exorcise a possessed South American girl who claims to “heal the sick”. However, the exorcism goes wrong and a lit candle sets fire to the girl’s dress, killing her. Afterwards, Lamont is assigned by the Cardinal to investigate the death of Father Lankester Merrin, who had been killed four years prior in the course of exorcising the Assyrian demon Pazuzu from Regan MacNeil. The Cardinal informs Lamont (who has had some experience at exorcism, and has been exposed to Merrin’s teachings) that Merrin is up on posthumous heresy charges due to his controversial writings. Apparently, Church authorities are trying to modernize and do not want to acknowledge that Satan as an actual evil entity exists.
Regan, although now seemingly normal and staying with guardian Sharon Spencer in New York, continues to be monitored at a psychiatric institute by Dr. Gene Tuskin. Regan claims she remembers nothing about her ordeal in Washington, D.C., but Tuskin believes her memories are only buried or repressed. Father Lamont visits the institute but his attempts to question Regan about the circumstances of Father Merrin’s death are rebuffed by Dr. Tuskin, believing that Lamont’s approach would do Regan more harm than good. In an attempt to plumb her memories of the exorcism, specifically the circumstances in which Merrin died, Dr. Tuskin hypnotizes the girl, to whom she is linked by a “synchronizer” — a biofeedback device used by two people to synchronize their brainwaves. After a guided tour by Sharon of the Georgetown house where the exorcism took place, Lamont returns to be coupled with Regan by the synchronizer. The priest is spirited to the past by Pazuzu to observe Father Merrin exorcising a young boy, Kokumo, in Africa. Learning that the boy developed special powers to fight Pazuzu, who appears as a swarm of locusts, Lamont journeys to Africa, defying his superior, to seek help from the adult Kokumo.
Lamont learns that Pazuzu attacks people who all have some form of psychic healing ability. Kokumo has since become a scientist, studying how to prevent grasshoppers from becoming locust swarms. Regan is able to reach telepathically inside the minds of others; she uses this to help an autistic girl to speak, for instance. Father Merrin belonged to a group of theologians who believed that psychic powers were a spiritual gift which would one day be shared by all humanity in a kind of global consciousness, and thought people like Kokumo and Regan were foreshadowers of this new type of humanity. In a vision, Merrin asks Lamont to watch over Regan.
Lamont and Regan return to the old house in Georgetown. The pair are followed by Tuskin and Sharon, concerned about Regan’s safety. En route, Pazuzu tempts Lamont by offering him unlimited power, appearing as a succubus doppelgänger of Regan. Lamont initially succumbs to the demon but is brought back by Regan and attacks the Regan doppelgänger while a swarm of locusts deluge the pair and the entire house begins to crumble around them. However, Lamont manages to kill the Regan doppelgänger by beating open its chest and pulling out its heart. In the end, Regan banishes the locusts (and Pazuzu) by enacting the same ritual attempted by Kokumo to get rid of locusts in Africa (although he failed and was possessed). Outside the house, Sharon dies from burn injuries after she immolates herself and Tuskin tells Lamont to watch over Regan. Regan and Lamont leave and Tuskin remains at the house to answer the police’s questions.
In the end, Exorcist II: The Heretic is an awkward affair, with scenes that end abruptly, and truly bad acting by an overly cute Blair and a bored, if intense, Burton. Like most sequels, it merely tarnishes its predecessor, instead of enhancing it, though it tries.

REVIEW: WONDERFALLS

MAIN CAST

Caroline Dhavernas (Hannibal)
Katie Finneran (Bewitched)
Tyron Leitso (Being Erica)
Lee pace (The Hobbit)
William Sadler (Iron Man 3)
Diana Scarwid (Pushing Daisies)
Tracie Thoms (Cold Case)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Gabriel Hogan (Heartland)
Kari Matchett (Cube 2)
Chelan Simmons (Final Destination 3)
Neil Grayston (Eureka)
Sarah Drew (Grey’s Anatomy)
Carrie Preston (True Blood)
Audrey Wasilewski (Red)
Colin Fox (Goosebumps)
Beth Grant (Child’s Play 2)
Louise Fletcher (Heroes)
Ted Whittall (Beauty and the Beast)
Spencer Breslin (The Happening)
Jewel Staite (Firefly)

1441440402“Wonderfalls” was one of those outstanding cult shows that burn bright and briefly — it lasted only four episodes before being yanked, with nine unaired in the usa. Now fans of this cult show are rewarded with the full series, in all its witty, quirky glory. Twentysomething Jaye Tyler (Caroline Dhavernas) is an underachieving slacker. She has a philosophy degree from Brown University, but now works as a shopgirl at Niagara Falls and lives in a trailer. Needless to say, her ultra-successful family finds this galling and disturbing, even though they themselves are far from the Cleaver clan — her sister Sharon (Katie Finneran) is a lesbian, her parents are splitting, and her brother is just a weirdo.captain-america-serial-44-2-g-1Then weirder things happen to Jaye. Suddenly toys are talking to her, and prompting her to help the people around her — returning purses, dealing with ghosts, helping an old enemy from high school, and deal with a long-dead Indian girl. Following the instructions of her “muses,” Jaye begins to learn a few things about other people, and the quality of kindness. It’s an unusual idea for a TV show — an embittered young woman hears “muses” talking to her, including a stuffed lizard, lawn flamingos and a brass monkey. Most people would just check themselves into a padded cell, but that doesn’t make for scintillating TV watching. So instead, it becomes a deeply warped inspirational series.maxresdefaultWhat sets it apart from other series is the surreal touch and wicked sense of humor. It’s never made clear why Jaye hears toys and bookends talking cryptically to her — is it God? Aliens? Her own mind? Pantheistic souls in everything? Nothing is made specific, which makes it all the weirder and more intriguing — especially since the toys give her advice even when she doesn’t want it. And the humor can be beyond weird, but is always funny, such as Jaye arguing with a cow creamer (shades of P.G. Wodehouse?) that she doesn’t want a pancake. Another example is a solemn, intense moment after she scatters a deceased person’s ashes…. and promptly gets fined for littering. The dialogue is witty and well-written — not in a laugh track way, but in a smile-and-chuckle-softly way.hqdefaultCaroline Dhavernas does a phenomenal job as Jaye. She narrowly avoids the sullen teen/twentysomething cliche, making Jaye’s dissatisfaction with her family and life seem realistic. She can be nasty and incisive and angsty, but can also be sweet and even vulnerable. The supporting cast, such as nice-guy bartender Eric (Tyron Leitso) and Jaye’s bizarro overachiever family, are surprisingly well-rounded for such quirky characters. “Wonderfalls” is destined to remain a cult hit — delicate, weird and thoroughly original. It didn’t last long, but now everyone can enjoy what there was of it. Absolutely wonder-fall.