REVIEW: SUPERGIRL – SEASON 4

october-faction-netflix-review-1Starring

Melissa Benoist (Jay & Silent Bob Reboot)
Mehcad Brooks (Necessary Roughness)
Chyler Leigh (Not Another Teen Movie)
Katie McGrath (Jurassic World)
Jesse Rath (The Howling Reborn)
Sam Witwer (Smallville)
Nicole Maines (Bit)
April Parker Jones (Jericho)
David Harewood (Homeland)

Sam Witwer in Supergirl (2015)

Recurring/ Notable Guest Cast

Lynda Carter (Wonder Woman)
Brenda Strong (Starship Troopers)
Rhona Mitra (Nip/Tuck)
Robert Baker (The Originals)
Tiya Sircar (The Good Place)
Vincent Gale (Van Helsing)
Alison Araya (Riverdale)
Bruce Boxleitner (Babylon 5)
Andrea Brooks (When Calls The Heart)
Anthony Konechny (Fifty Shades of Grey)
Fulvio Cecere (Valentine)
Kirby Morrow (NInja Turtles: The Next Mutation)
Xander Berkeley (Kick-Ass)
Sarah Smyth (50/50)
Graham Verchere (Summer of 84)
David Ajala (Fast & Furious 6)
Justice Leak (Powers)
Chris Violette (Power Rangers SPD)
Helen Slater (City Slickers)
Steve Byers (Immortals)
Michael Johnston (Teen Wolf)
LaMonica Garrett (The Last Ship)
John Wesley Shipp (The Flash 90s)
Stephen Amell (Arrow)
David Ramsey (Dexter)
Carlos Valdes (The Flash)
Danielle Panabaker (The Crazies)
Tyler Hoechlin (Teen Wolf)
Grant Gustin (Glee)
Jeremy Davies (Hannibal)
Ruby Rose (The Meg)
Cassandra Jean Amell (Roswell, New Mexico)
Adam Tsekhman (Legends of Tomorrow)
Elizabeth Tulloch (Ther Artist)
Russell Wong (Romeo Must Die)
Kate Burton (The Ice Storm)
Hannah James (Mercy Street)
Brennan Mejia (Power Rangers Dino Charge)
Garwin Sanford (Staragte Atlantis)
Jessica Meraz (Bounty Hunter)
Michael Adamthwaite (Stargate SG.1)
Louis Ozawa Changchien (Kidding)
Jonathan Bennett (Mean Girls)
Jon Cryer (Two and a Half Men)
Azie Tesfai (Superstore)
William MacDonald (Riverdale)
Willie Garson (White Collar)
Carl Lumbly (Alias)
Izabela Vidovic (Veronica Mars)
Olivia Nikkanen (The Society)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Patti Allan (The Killing)

Melissa Benoist in Supergirl (2015)You have to admire the chutzpah of Supergirl’s writers and their choice to name the Season 4 finale in honor of what is widely regarded as the worst Superman movie of all time: “The Quest for Peace.” But it’s not so crazy when you consider how much Superman IV and Supergirl: Season 4 have in common. Both are steeped in political allegory about tensions between East and West. Both feature Lex Luthor trying to destroy one Kryptonian hero by harnessing their evil doppelgänger. Both are concerned with the need to achieve peace in our time. It’s just that Supergirl is much better about actually realizing those lofty ambitions.Sam Witwer in Supergirl (2015)Without burying the lead, Season 4 is easily Supergirl’s strongest to date; that much has actually been obvious for quite a while. While this season made some improvements to the supporting cast and other areas, it succeeded by turning what has historically been the show’s most glaring weakness into its greatest strength.David Harewood in Supergirl (2015)Prior to this season, Supergirl has never had a villain worthy of rivaling Kara Danvers. Not Maxwell Lord. Not Lillian Luthor. Not the Daxamites. Nobody. But Season 4 flipped the script by giving fans an embarrassment of riches. The season opened with the introduction of Agent Liberty/Ben Lockwood (Sam Witwer), a character who probably could have shouldered the burden all on his own. It helps that the show wasted so little time before delving into Lockwood’s tragic past and showing how even decent men can be transformed into hate-mongering bigots if pushed far enough.
Melissa Benoist in Supergirl (2015)But Lockwood was just the start of Season 4’s salvo. Even as the series worked to establish a new mission and purpose for ex-DEO head J’onn J’onzz (David Harewood), it also gave him a new antagonist in Manchester Black (David Ajala). That wrinkle is one of the more memorable twists to the source material in Season 4. In the comics, Manchester is a Superman villain, one hellbent on proving that the Man of Steel is an outdated, useless relic. While Supergirl never captured the full impact of the critically adored Action Comics #775 (which inspired the episode “Whatever Happened to Truth, Justice and the American Way?”), transforming Manchester into a Martian Manhunter villain generally worked well. The worst that can be said is that Manchester sort of dropped out of the running very abruptly in “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”.Melissa Benoist in Supergirl (2015)But Season 4 saved its biggest guns for last. The series finally paid off on Season 3’s cliffhanger, introducing Kara’s twisted doppelgänger Red Daughter and revealing she, Agent Liberty and Eve Teschmacher (Andrea Brooks) to be pawns of none other than Lex Luthor (Jon Cryer). After alluding to Superman’s greatest nemesis for years, the series not only brought Lex into the fold but molded him into the first truly great, season-ending villain the series has had. Cryer’s casting turned a lot of heads initially, but it didn’t take him long to make this iconic character his own and establish himself as the most forceful presence in the show’s ensemble cast.Chyler Leigh and Melissa Benoist in Supergirl (2015)Before getting into how the finale tied all of this together, I do want to mention the actual heroes of the series a bit. Melissa Benoist continues to be a crucial part of the series. Her warmth and inherent likability make her an ideal Supergirl, even as this season also allowed her to flex some darker muscles as Red Daughter. Lena (Katie McGrath) also fared well throughout the season, especially as her brother’s surprise return made her life a living nightmare.Melissa Benoist in Supergirl (2015)And as sad as it was to see Jeremy Jordan’s Winn written out of the picture at the end of Season 3, there’s no doubt that the series is better off for having Brainiac-5 (Jesse Rath) as the DEO’s new resident tech genius. Winn seemingly had nowhere left to go as a character, whereas Brainy brings his own brand of humor and his own foibles to the table. Not to mention his charming romance with another worthy new addition, Nia Nal (Nicole Maines). And beyond her relationship with Brainy, Nia proved to be just the sort of wide-eyed, uplifting character the series needed to balance out its growing sense of darkness.David Harewood, Jesse Rath, Melissa Benoist, and Nicole Maines in Supergirl (2015)All of these many threads paid off in the finale as Lex finally carried out his grand plan and manipulated his way right into the White House. With a secret villain pulling the strings of world governments, exploiting deep-seated fears and racial tensions and using a massive disinformation campaign to gaslight ordinary people, it’s not difficult to see how the series has been drawing from real-world events this year. The show has never been very subtle in that regard, and even less so this season.Melissa Benoist in Supergirl (2015)Not that the lack of allegorical subtlety harms the finale much. Capes and tights stories aren’t good for much if they aren’t about something bigger. If Supergirl struggled in the villain department prior to this season, at least the show has made a regular habit of dipping into the X-Men’s well and preaching tolerance and empathy in the face of a rising tide of fear and hatred. The finale hit home as well as any other episode this season, particularly near the end when it became clear that George Lockwood (Graham Verchere) escaped the cycle of hatred that so utterly consumed his father.David Harewood and Melissa Benoist in Supergirl (2015)It was also fitting that the season-long conflict boiled down not so much in metahuman fisticuffs – and honestly, what little action there was in this episode wasn’t terribly memorable or well-staged – but truth and knowledge. With Supergirl powerless to stop Lex’s rise to power, it fell on Kara Danvers to put pen to paper and expose Luthor for the con artist he is. The idea that one well-sourced article could immediately topple a corrupt government and make the general public come to their senses is… pretty naive in light of current events. But once again, you have to respect the show’s optimism and faith that good always triumphs in the end.Jon Cryer and Melissa Benoist in Supergirl (2015)What really sealed the deal in this episode, beyond Kara and friends’ hard-won victory, was that final confrontation between Lena and Lex. That was such a great moment between these two estranged siblings. It was disappointing that Lex gleefully killed Red Daughter seemingly without remorse. It would have been nice to see a more human side of the character as he eliminated a woman he essentially raised himself. But we did get that with Lex’s death scene, as he finally, begrudgingly but definitively accepted Lena as someone worthy of being called his sister.Best of all, this scene fueled what is easily the most compelling new plot thread heading into Season 5. Lena finally knows the truth about Kara, and it’s already eating away at her. It was fascinating seeing Lex treat that reveal as one last bit of revenge against his sister before the end. I especially enjoyed that extra layer of irony, with Lex taunting Lena for not seeing the truth right in front of her face, even as he himself has always been too blind to see the obvious truth about Superman and Clark Kent. Lex is going to be difficult to top going forward, but Lena has the potential to outdo even her brother if she makes that final plunge into darkness.With that welcome wrinkle to the status quo, I almost wish this episode didn’t devote so much time to laying seeds for Season 5. That seemed an unnecessary move in light of the Lena/Kara twist. Still, there’s clearly a lot to look forward to come October. J’onn has a new foe who hits very close to home. Leviathan is teased as the next great threat (a twist which must set a new speed record for a comic book storyline being adapted into live-action). And the Monitor (LaMonica Garrett) is busy preparing for the Crisis to come. All the pieces are in place for another terrific season, so long as the series can maintain the momentum it’s built up over the last several months.

 

REVIEW: SUPERGIRL – SEASON 2

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Starring

Melissa Benoist (Jay & Silent Bob Reboot)
Mehcad Brooks (Necessary Roughness)
Chyler Leigh (Not Another Teen Movie)
Jeremy Jordan (The Last Five Years)
Floriana Lima (The Punisher)
Chris Wood (The Vampire DIaries)
David Harewood (Hoemland)

Recurring/ Notable Guest Cast

Calista Flockhart (The Last Shot)
Tyler Hoechlin (Teen Wolf)
Katie McGrath (Jurassic World)
Brenda Strong (Starship Troopers)
Frederick Schmidt (Mission Impossible: Fallout)
Andrea Brooks (When Calls The Heart)
Ian Gomez (The Morning Show)
Lynda Carter (Wonder Woman)
Sharon Leal (Dreamgirls)
Nadine Crocker (Cabin Fever)
Laura Benanti (Royal Pains)
Dichen Lachman (Dollhouse)
John DeSantis (Thirteen Ghosts)
William Mapother (Lost)
Jason Gray-Stanford (Bones)
Dean Cain (Lois & Clark)
Robert Gant (13 Reasons Why)
Helen Slater (City Slickers)
Carlos Valdes (The Flash)
Harley Quinn Smith (Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood)
Robin Atkin Downes (Babylon 5)
Rahul Kohli (Izombie)
Brit Morgan (Friend Request)
Grant Gustin (The Flash)
Steven Valentine (Mike & Molly)
Peter Gadiot (Matador)
Ian Butcher (The 100)
Tamzin Merchant (Carnival Row)
Teri Hatcher (Lois & Clark)
Kevin Sorbo (Hercules: TLJ)
Darren Criss (American Crime Story)
Michael J Rogers (Siren)
Rahul Kohli (Izombie)
Gregg Henry (Black Lightning)
Jordana Taylor (A Wrinkle In Time)
Malina Weissman (A Series of Unfortunate Events)
Mark Gibbon (Man of Steel)

Melissa Benoist in Supergirl (2015)Supergirl went through some pretty fundamental changes in the transition from Season 1 to Season 2. Not only did the series add several key new cast members (and lose another), production shifted from Los Angeles to Vancouver as the series itself hopped from CBS to The CW. That shake-up wound up working in the show’s favor. unfortunately, over time it became clear that Supergirl still has some significant problems to work through before it can stand alongside the best of the Arrowverse.
The move to The CW did seem to work in the show’s favor for the most part. Even ignoring the fact that that it made crossovers with the other Arrowverse shows much easier, that shift helped Supergirl feel slightly more cohesive when held alongside its siblings. Stylistically and tonally, Supergirl felt very much like like a good-natured sister series to The Flash. And with The Flash often being unnecessarily mired in its own darkness this year, it often fell to Supergirl to be the bright, cheery, optimistic alternative.
Tyler Hoechlin and Melissa Benoist in Supergirl (2015)There’s also the fact that the crew working on these Arrowverse shows have gotten pretty skilled at making the most of their limited VFX budgets. Supergirl was a very expensive series for CBS, yet the often lackluster special effects didn’t always make it apparent how much money was being poured into the show. In Season 2, however, Supergirl looked better despite costing its new network less. That was especially true with the shots of Kara flying or those depicting Martian Manhunter in his true form. There were still cases where the show’s reach clearly exceeded its grasp in terms of special effects (particularly in the season finale), but on the whole Supergirl became a better-looking series in its second season.Melissa Benoist and Chris Wood in Supergirl (2015)Bucking the usual trend, the new season picked up exactly where the previous one left off, with Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) and Martian Manhunter (David Harewood) examining the mysterious space pod that crashed outside National City. That paved the way for the introduction of Mon-El (Chris Wood), a Daxamite refugee and new love interest for Kara. Mon-El’s arrival signaled a general change in direction for the series, one that saw the DEO set up a new headquarters in National City and the focus shift more towards the growing tension between Earth’s human citizens and the growing number of alien immigrants. The main villains of the season (including Brenda Strong’s Lillian Luthor and the members of Cadmus) sought to take advantage of that human/alien tension. Given the general state of the world these days, showrunners Andrew Kreisberg and Ali Adler could hardly have picked a more inspired and relevant direction for Season 2.Melissa Benoist in Supergirl (2015)That general direction worked because it was clearly and immediately topical and more because it spoke to the general appeal of the Superman franchise. More than ever, Kara emerged as a shining beacon of hope and optimism in troubled times. The season’s political elements were never really more political or controversial than a call for empathy and understanding among all peoples. And with a lead actress as charming as Benoist lighting the way, it’s impossible not to be won over by the show’s feel-good approach to superhero storytelling. More than ever, Benoist is the rock upon which this series rests.Melissa Benoist in Supergirl (2015)Mon-El’s debut only furthered Kara’s growth this year. Wood proved a fun addition to the cast, but his character really shone whenever the series focused on the growing romance between Mon-El and Kara. As the prince of a xenophobic and hedonistic world, Mon-El arrived on his new homeworld with plenty of rough edges. It was a lot of fun watching Kara help smooth over those edges and inspire Mon-El to become a hero even as the two fell in love. The two characters experienced their share of ups and downs over the course oft he season, and while the general trajectory of their romance was often predictable, the execution never failed to impress.
Melissa Benoist in Supergirl (2015)Mon-El wasn’t the only high-profile addition to the series in the early Season 2 episodes. The show finally stopped playing coy with Superman and cast an actual actor in the role (Tyler Hoechlin) rather than simply obscuring a stunt double in shadow. That may well be the best change the series made in Season 2. Within seconds, it became clear that Hoechlin was a worthy successor to actors like Christopher Reeve and Dean Cain, bringing a warmth and charisma to the part that’s been sorely lacking in certain other live-action Superman performances lately. The only disappointing part about Superman’s inclusion this year is that he didn’t appear more often. I can understand the desire to keep the series focused on its title character, but the Kara/Clark dynamic is simply too good not to exploit to its fullest.Melissa Benoist and Chris Wood in Supergirl (2015)This season also introduced two members of the Luthor clan in the form of the aforementioned Lillian and her estranged daughter, Lena (Katie McGrath). Lillian left quite a bit to be desired. One of the biggest problems with Season 1 was the show’s inability to generate nuanced, three-dimensional villains. Between Strong’s overly intense performance and the character’s general lack of memorable characteristics, Lillian did nothing to reverse that trend. Lena, at least, fared better than her mother, mostly because the writers had the foresight not to treat her as a villain. Instead, her defining struggle all season was her desire to redeem the Luthor name and prove that she shouldn’t be defined by her brother’s actions. The fact that Lena and Kara became close friends over the course of the season added an extra appeal to Lena’s character arc, as it only served to highlight the question of whether Lena is truly as selfless and noble as she claims. The season failed to deliver a satisfying conclusion to that arc, but I’ll get to that in a bit.Melissa Benoist and Chris Wood in Supergirl (2015)Alex (Chyler Leigh) proved to be another dependable member of the Supergirl cast this year, with some of the season’s best moments focusing either on the bond between Alex and her sister or the romance between Alex and Maggie Sawyer (Floriana Lima). Alex’s struggle to come to terms with her sexuality proved to be one of the more compelling subplots of the season, particularly thanks to the terrifically executed coming out scene in “Changing.” As much as the Arrowverse can frustrate with the insistence on forcing every available character into some sort of romantic subplot, the Alex/Maggie material gave this season real sense of emotional weight. In a show crammed full of metahumans and aliens, the ordinary human drama often stood out more than anything else.Melissa Benoist in Supergirl (2015)If any portion of the show was damaged by the shift to The CW, it was the CatCo characters. Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart) all but vanished this season as the move to Vancouver ƒwled to Flockhart departing as a series regular. The show was poorer for her absence. Worse, Cat’s absence called into question whether Supergirl even needs the CatCo elements at all, a question the show was never really able to answer this season. Sure, the perpetually cranky Snapper Carr (Ian Gomez) made for an entertaining foil to the Kara as she pursued her budding journalism career, but too often the CatCo subplots felt superfluous and unnecessary to the larger picture. Does Kara actually need a day job in addition to her DEO work?Melissa Benoist in Supergirl (2015)The two real casualties of the Season 2 shift were James Olsen (Mehcad Brooks) and Winn Schott (Jeremy Jordan). The Kara/James romance was basically cut short as soon as it began in the Season 1 finale, leaving the latter character adrift and in search of a new purpose. That was disappointing, but the real frustration came with the decision to transform James from intrepid photojournalist to honest-to-goodness superhero. James’ transformation into Guardians never felt like a logical extension of his Season 1 journey. Nor did his ongoing Guardian exploits add anything to the show. Equally frustrating is the way Winn became sucked into James’ delusions of superhero grandeur, preventing him from having any real storylines of his own (apart from a rather underwhelming romance with an alien). Just as the show has been struggling to justify the continued focus on CatCo as a whole, this season did little to suggest that James should remain an active player going forward.Melissa Benoist and Katie McGrath in Supergirl (2015)I mentioned how the move to The CW helped Supergirl in terms of facilitating more Arrowverse crossovers. The weird thing is that Supergirl itself didn’t benefit much from that trend. Yes, Kara was aMelissa Benoist in Supergirl (2015) big part of the “Invasion!” crossover, but the Supergirl episode, “Medusa,” barely tied into that crossover other than a bit of quick setup at the very end. And while the Flash/Supergirl musical team-up more than lived up to the hype, that was a Flash episode, not Supergirl. I’d like to see Supergirl benefit more directly from these crossovers in the future. Fortunately, that seems to be the case with next year’s four-way crossover. Supergirl definitely had its ups and downs over the course of Season 2, as all the Arrowverse shows tend to do. In general, the season hits its peak in February thanks to a string of excellent episodes focused on Lena’s troubled family history and the resurgent threat of Cadmus. Unfortunately, the show seemed to lose its momentum after that point, with the final three episodes ranking among the worst of the season. Supergirl seems to have inherited Arrow’s habit of completely falling apart in the homestretch.Melissa Benoist and Chris Wood in Supergirl (2015)In many ways, Supergirl improved in its second season as the show moved to The CW and bolstered its already solid cast with several new favorites. This season not only looked better, it managed to blend epic superhuman conflicts with very real, authentic character drama and a status quo marked by plenty of anti-alien sentiment in National City.

REVIEW: WONDER WOMAN – SEASON 3

Starring

Lynda Carter (Supergirl)
Lyle Waggoner (The Carol Burnett Show)

Lynda Carter in Wonder Woman (1975)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Michael Lerner (Elf)
Leif Garrett (The Outsiders)
Lance LeGault (Stripes)
Craig T. Nelson (Poltergeist)
Ed Begley Jr. (Better Call Saul)
Roddy McDowall (Planet of The Apes)
Gavin MacLeod (The Love Boat)
Michael DeLano (Commando)
Wolfman Jack (Motel Hell)
Joan Van Ark (Knots Landing)
Eric Braeden (Titanic)
Peter Mark Richman (Friday The 13th 8)
Mako (TMNT)
Rene Auberjonois (Star Trek: DS9)
George Cheung (Rush Hour)
Tim O’Connor (Buck rogers)
Sheryl Lee Ralph (Fam)
Judge Reinhold (Beverly Hills Cop)
Rick Springfield (Ricki and The Flash)
Barry Miller (Fame)
Donnelly Rhodes (Battlestar Galactica)
Bob Hastings (Batman: TAS)
Marc Alaimo (Star Trek: DS9)

Lynda Carter in Wonder Woman (1975)Wonder Woman still remains an icon to this day, thanks in many ways to the TV series and the performance of Lynda Carter in the lead role. As I stated in my Season 2 review, not many actresses could have pulled it off. But Lynda, however, had it, and still does. Between Seasons 1 and 2 of Wonder Woman things became a bit more modern. With Season 3 things seemed to change a bit more, and in my mind, for the better. Gone were the comic book-style captions. Although the comic book opening sequence and theme song were fun, it was nice to get something a little more serious for the third year. Diana Prince’s huge glasses also disappeared over time.Lynda Carter in Wonder Woman (1975)The Season 3 DVD set maintains a really nice packaging design that maintains the comic book roots of the original series while at the same time not looking cheesy. And, like I said, it’s nice to have all three sets side by side.Lynda Carter in Wonder Woman (1975)The set features commentary on the episode “My Teenage Idol Is Missing” with Wonder Woman herself, Lynda Carter. In the commentary, Ms. Carter talks about where she hoped the show would have ended, about the fads and feminism at the time of the show, and, of course, she talked about that episode’s guest star, then-teenage heartthrob Leif Garrett. (Leif did the rounds on late 70’s television during his pop star years… look for him also on other series such as CHiPs) Although it seemed that Carter had a list of things or a script she may have been referring to, it was really nice to hear her talking about it and even better considering it’s 25 years after the fact and she’s still willing to discuss it. The third season also features some of Wonder Woman’s alternative costumes, like the groovy motorcycle outfit, and she sometimes wears a cape.Wonder Woman (1975)Anyway, for comic book fans, or for fans of the Wonder Woman character, Wonder Woman is a great package, and a great series to own all the way through. I’ve only been able to watch a few of the episodes thus far, but the ones I’ve seen so far – particularly in this third season – I have liked a lot. Episodes that I haven’t watched yet, with titles like “The Boy Who Knew Her Secret,” sound very intriguing and I can’t wait to see more. Bonus! Look for guest stars like Craig T. Nelson, Ed Begley Jr., Joe E. Tata (“Nat” from 90210!), Gavin MacLeod (Captain Stubing!), Wolfman Jack, Knots Landing couple Ted Shackelford and Joan Van Ark, Rene Auberjonois, and Rick Springfield – all in the third season

 

REVIEW: WONDER WOMAN – SEASON 2

Starring

Lynda Carter (Supergirl)
Lyle Waggoner (The Carol Burnett Show)
Norman Burton (Planet of The Apes)

Lynda Carter and Beatrice Straight in Wonder Woman (1975)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Beatrice Straight (Poltergeist)
Fritz Weaver (Creepshow)
Jessica Walter (Archer)
Barry Dennen (The Dark Crystal)
James Hong (Blade Runner)
J. Kenneth Campbell (The Abyss)
Martin Mull (Sabrina: TTW)
Denny Miller (Tarzan The Ape Man)
Eve Plumb (The Brady Bunch)
Bob Hastings (Batman: TAS)
Juliet Mills (Avanati)
John Colicos (Battlestar Galactica)
Roddy McDowall (Planet of The Apes)
Earl Boen (The Terminator)
Anne Ramsey (Scrooged)
John Rubinstein (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
Frank Gorshin (Batman 60s)
Bubba Smith (Police Academy)
Henry Gibson (Sabrina: TTW)
Rick Springfield (True Detective)
Vaughn Armstrong (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Dick Gautier (Transformers)
Ed Begley Jr.(Veronica Mars)
Jennifer Darling (The Six Million Dollar Man)
John Fujioka (American Ninja)
Chuck Hicks (Dick Tracy)

Lynda Carter in Wonder Woman (1975)I was not  born in 1977, so obviously I didn’t catch Wonder Woman when it was first on the air. I remember seeing parts of it on the weekend when my Dad would watch repeats on Saturdays between The Incredible Hulk and In Search Of.Lynda Carter in Wonder Woman (1975)Lynda Carter’s image as the character is the one that stuck with me the most. The character has endured over the years with fantastic artists doing her comic – folks like George Perez, Phil Jiminez, and Adam Hughes. But to me, Lynda Carter was and is always going to be the definitive look of Wonder Woman in my mind. Christopher Reeve as Superman is one of the only other times there has been such a perfect transition from comics to film. Carter’s Wonder Woman jumps off the comic book page – literally, if you check out the opening credits.Lynda Carter in Wonder Woman (1975)The first, and most impressive, thing I noticed about Lynda Carter’s portrayal of the character on this DVD set is that she really became the character, and believed in it. Not every actress could pull this off. Some might take it the way of feeling ridiculous in the skimpy costume, or laugh at the concept of this Amazonian princess from Paradise Island who goes to the Man’s world and helps rescue doofus Steve Trevor every week. The DVD bonus interviews, which include new material with Lynda Carter, talk about this approach and it made me all the more impressed. Season Two takes Wonder Woman to the 1970’s and makes things more modern. Diana Prince (WW’s alter ego) gets a better fashion sense and we are introduced to new technologies like IRA the computer. Sure, ghosts from the World War II past do spring up, but the episodes seem a bit less silly and more down to Earth this time.Eve Plumb and Lynda Carter in Wonder Woman (1975)Lyle Waggoner in Season Two plays Steve Trevor Jr., son of the original Steve Trevor, who he played during the show’s first season. This plot device is very soap opera-like, but it works, in this case. In addition to the second season’s 22 episodes which include a feature-length season premiere, the DVD includes a bonus feature that includes interviews with Ms. Carter and comic book professionals Phil Jiminez (who may be Wonder Woman’s biggest fan, though we know his heart belongs to Donna Troy), Andy Mangels, and Adam Hughes.

 

REVIEW: WONDER WOMAN – SEASON 1

Starring

Lynda Carter (Supergirl)
Lyle Waggoner (The Carol Burnett Show)
Richard Eastham (Battle For The POTA)
Beatrice Colen (High Anxiety)

Lynda Carter in The New Original Wonder Woman (1975)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

John Randolph (Serpico)
Red Buttons (The Poseidon Adventure)
Stella Stevens (Say One For me)
Eric Braeden (Titantic)
Henry Gibson (Sabrina: TTW)
Kenneth Mars (Fletch)
Cloris Leachman (Spanglish)
Christine Belford (Christine)
Keene Curtis (Stargate SG.1)
Lynda Day George (Mission: Impossible)
Anne Francis (Forbidden Planet)
Dick Van Patten (Spaceballs)
John Saxon (Black Chirstmas)
Carolyn Jones (The Addams Family)
Debra Winger (The Ranch)
Pamela Susan Shoop (Halloween II)
Robert Loggia (Big)
Robert Reed (The Brady Bunch)
Tim O’Connor (Buck Rogers)
Scott Hylands (Earthquake)
Harris Yulin (Ghostbusters II)
Robert Hays (Airplane)
Charles Cyphers (Halloween)

Lynda Carter, Christine Belford, and Lyle Waggoner in Wonder Woman (1975)Season 1 of Wonder Woman is set in 1942 to the backdrop of the second world war. Following the comics Major Steve Trevor crash lands his plane of the secretive Paradise Island and the all-female residents take part in olympic style games to decide which of their warriors shall be the one to escort him back to man’s world. As we all know it is Diana, daughter of the Queen who wins the coveted role and along with her invisible jet she returns with Steve to America.Lynda Carter and Lyle Waggoner in Wonder Woman (1975)Before leaving her homeland Diana is presented with her costume features a golden belt, the source of her strength, bullet proof bracelets and the golden lasso of truth. Choosing to stay and fight the evil Nazi’s Diana takes up the guise of Diana Prince a yeoman for the US Navy. For much of the first season the show follows the formula of the Nazi’s attacking the US either on home soil or on rare occasions the show would require Diana to travel to Germany in order to resolve conflicts.Lynda Carter in Wonder Woman (1975)Many fans would testify that after season one the shift to stories told in the present day would see a downturn in the creativity of the show and eventually lead to its cancellation. So why does a WW2 Wonder Woman work so well? Much of it has to do with the feelings that WW2 evokes with viewers, so at the time in the 70s and with the young target audience there was a very black and white, good vs evil appearance to the show that barely exists in modern media. The time period of the shows setting and also the period of its production allow for a simplistic nature that also capitalises on the 1966 Batman series. They’re very similar in tone and ‘Wonder Woman’ would use the same extreme caricaturisation to portray its villains.Lynda Carter and Hayden Rorke in Wonder Woman (1975)There series is by no means complex, far fetched yes but in no way complex. For a modern audience it’s a great example of how superheroes were portrayed in the age before Tim Burton’s ‘Batman’. There’s an incredibly well defined moral compass which could teach the young audience of today many lessons. For the uninitiated ‘Wonder Woman’ would come across as looking cheap and cheesy but to those of us who grew up with this kind of show it has a great place in our hearts.Lynda Carter and James Olson in Wonder Woman (1975)The writing is strong for its age, it might not hold up against the scripted drama of today but as a nostalgia show it is one of the greats. There are plot hole abound but they come from a need for a great story rather than a tightly woven average story. At the time audiences were taken aback by the scale of the show and that’s what you must remember when watching it back. Lynda Carter will forever be the fans ultimate Wonder Woman and there is little that anybody can say to argue with it. Her presence on screen is excellent and the passion that she throws in to the role is commendable. She continues to ride the coat tales of ‘Wonder Woman’ to the present day and her legacy will run on long after she is no longer with us. If you’ve never watched this show before I highly recommend you check out the first season on DVD. If you have seen the show and yet don’t own it… well I don’t know but you better have a good excuse!

REVIEW: TWO AND A HALF MEN – SEASON 11

Starring

Ashton Kutcher (The Ranch)
Jon Cryer (Supergirl)
Amber Tamblyn (Girlfriend’s Day)
Conchata Ferrell (Krampus)

Jon Cryer and Amber Tamblyn in Two and a Half Men (2003)
Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Holland Taylor (D.E.B.S.)
Carl Reiner (Oceans Eleven)
Courtney Thorne-Smith (Melrose Place)
Shanti Lowry (Code Black)
Nicole Travolta (Anger Management)
D.B. Sweeney (The Cutting Edge)
Lynda Carter (Wonder Woman)
Mimi Rogers (Ginger Snaps)
Madison Dylan (Femme Fatales)
Spencer Locke (Resident Evil: Afterlife)
Melanie Lynskey (Heavenly Creatures)
Brian Stepanek (Young Sheldon)
Paula Marshall (Cupid)
Kate Miner (Fifty Shades of Black)
Diane Farr (Roswell)
Aly Michalka (Izombie)
Odette Annable (Supergirl)
Clark Duke (Kick-Ass)
Brooke Lyons (2 Broke Girls)
Marion Ross (Happy Days)
Carl Reiner (Oceans Eleven)
Tim Conway (Coach)
Steve Lawrence (The Blues Brothers)
Garry Marshall (Murphy Brown)
Marin Hinkle (Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle)
Kimberly Williams-Paisley (The Flash)
Brooke D’Orsay (The Skulls 3)
Mila Kunis (Ted)
Ken Davitian (Borat)
Jane Lynch (Glee)
Diedrich Bader (American Housewife)

Jon Cryer, Ashton Kutcher, and Amber Tamblyn in Two and a Half Men (2003)The creators decided to spice things up and give Charlie’s daughter Jennifer a prominent role in the series. Yes, apparently one time, Charlie wasn’t careful enough when he was dating a certain woman and so along came ‘Jenny’ (Amber Tamblyn). The minute she appears on the show, you can clearly see why the makers of Two and a Half Men decided to bring her along for the ride. She’s just another Charlie, but in the form of a lesbian girl. And she’s just as hilarious as her late father.Conchata Ferrell, Ashton Kutcher, and Carl Reiner in Two and a Half Men (2003)Besides Jenny, there’s another new recurring character who’s called Barry Foster (Clark Duke). Barry is a typical geek: very naïve, not that good with the ladies and a bit socially awkward. The newcomers are a much needed fresh wind in the series and they add a lot to the creation of hilarious moments. Besides those newcomers, you’ll see a lot more from Alan and Charlie’s mother Evelyn (Holland Taylor) as she has found a new lover (not coincidentally a very old man with lots and lots of money). Although Evelyn herself isn’t such a caricature like, for example, Alan or Jenny; she always succeeds in waiting for the right moment to drop sarcastic and ironic one-liners. As her screen time is mostly quite brief, it’s fantastic to notice how much of an impression she leaves behind every single time she crosses paths with the main actors. The same can be said of the-always-napping-housekeeper Berta (Conchata Ferrel) for that matter.Two and a Half MenStory wise, season 11 offers a lot of variety which keeps the viewer from getting bored with the plot. Acting performances are pretty good. Especially newcomer Amber Tamblyn knows how to put down a very likeable character without getting annoying. It’s great to see how Charlie’s role has been transferred to his daughter and it really fits the show perfectly. Kutcher too does a fantastic job with his Walden personage and of course, Two and a Half Men wouldn’t be the same without Jon Cryer.

REVIEW: SMALLVILLE – SEASON 6

Starring

Tom Welling (Lucifer)
Kristin Kreuk (Beauty and The Beast)
Michael Rosenbaum (Impastor)
Allison Mack (Wilfred)
Erica Durance (Supergirl)
Annette O’Toole (The Punisher)
John Glover (Shazam)

Michael Rosenbaum and Tom Welling in Smallville (2001)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Aaron Ashmore (Veronica Mars)
Leonard Roberts (Heroes)
Pascale Hutton (Sanctuary)
Terence Stamp (Superman II)
Justin Hartley (A Bad Moms Christmas)
Lochlyn Munro (Scary Movie)
Brendan Penny (The Wedding Chapel)
Amber McDonald (Without a Paddle 2)
Bill Mondy (Blade: The Series)
Lucas Grabeel (Family Guy)
Bryce Hodgson (Izombie)
Sebastian Gacki (The Thaw)
Bow Wow (Like Mike)
Brandon Jay McLaren (Power Rangers SPD)
Julian Christopher (Elysium)
Heather Doerksen (Van Hesling)
Dave Bautista (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Mike Dopud (Arrow)
Carmen Moore (Flash Gordon)
Tyler Posey (Truth Or Dare)
John Novak (Dr. Dolittle 3)
Zak Santiago (Caprica)
Tori Spelling (Scary Movie 2)
Kyle Gallner (Veronica Mars)
Alan Ritchson (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Lee Thompson Young (Flashforward)
Phil Morris (Doom Patrol)
Matthew Walker (Highlander: The Series)
Aleks Paunovic (Van Helsing)
Jordan Belfi (Entourage)
Peter Flemming (Stargate SG.1)
Greyston Holt (Bitten)
Adrian Hough (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
Sarah-Jane Redmond (V)
Benjamin Ayres (The Vampire Diaries)
Michael Eklund (Bates Motel)
Lynda Carter (Wonder Woman)
Barclay Hope (Stargate SG.1)
Tahmoh Penikett (Battlestar Galactica)
Emily Holmes (Dark Angel)
A.C. Peterson (Mutant X)
Peter Kelamis (Stargate Universe)

Justin Hartley in Smallville (2001)They say timing is everything, and for me the timing of watching season 6 of Smallville for the first time was perfect. Why is that? Because this was the season that introduced their take on Oliver Queen, aka Green Arrow, and I got hooked on the new show about him this last season on TV.Tom Welling and Justin Hartley in Smallville (2001)Of course, before we can get to new characters, we have a few cliffhangers to resolve. While all kinds of chaos is reigning down on the citizens of Earth thanks to the evil force that has taken over Lex Luther’s body (Michael Rosenbaum), Clark Kent (Tom Welling) can’t do much about it since he’s trapped in the Phantom Zone. While he does escape and manage to save the day, he unwittingly releases the evil prisoners from the Phantom Zone and must spend some time tracking them down this season. As things return to normal, characters explore new options. Lois Lane (Erica Durance) and Chloe Sullivan (Allison Mack) become roommates and Lois starts a new career as a reporter for a tabloid. They also both get new boyfriends in the two new characters that are introduced.Lee Thompson Young, Kyle Gallner, Justin Hartley, and Alan Ritchson in Smallville (2001)Lois starts dating the previously mentioned Olive Queen (Justin Hartley) while Chloe falls for Jimmy Olsen (Aaron Ashmore), a young photographer at The Daily Planet. Lana Lang (Kistin Kreuk), meanwhile, has moved in with Lex and their relationship becomes more serious when she finds out she is pregnant. Chloe learns a very surprising secret and is reunited with her mom as played by TV’s Wonder Woman herself, Lynda Carter.Tori Spelling in Smallville (2001)Other storylines of the season involve Clark and Oliver’s clashes over how to use their powers for good. Lex is collecting and hiding people with abilities. Those storylines clash when we see the first glimpse of the Justice League Smallville style. This season is really about the young adults. No one is in college any more (did they all drop out after one season or did they all graduate at lightning speed?) While Lionel Luther (John Glover) is still around being unclear in his intensions, Martha Kent (Annette O’Toole) is given very little to do. And before the season is over, one character makes an exit from the show.