12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: TWO GUYS AND GIRL: THE CHRISTMAS EPISODES

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MAIN CAST

Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool)
Richard Ruccolo (Rita Rocks)
Traylor Howard (Son of The Mask)
Suzanne Cryer (10 Cloverfield Lane)
Nathan Fillion (Firefly)
Jillian Bach (Julie & Julia)

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GUEST CAST

Marguerite MacIntyre (The Vampire Diaries)
Michael Welch (Star Trek: Insurrection)
Robert Goulet (Scrooged)
Adam Caine (Days of Our Lives)

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TWO GUYS, A GIRL AND A CHRISTMAS STORY

Pete embarks on a new relationship with an older woman who has a 10-year old son. Sharon is having trouble organizing an office Christmas party and it’s only 4 days till Christmas. Berg is having trouble with one of his older patients who doesn’t seem to like him.

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OUT WITH THE OLD

Berg treats Robert Goulet for an ear infection. When Goulet learns that he cannot fly to the destination where he is doing a gig, Berg seizes the opportunity to get him to sing at Ashley’s New Year’s Eve party. But Berg has to work that night, so he swaps with another doctor whom Ashley has a crush on. She thinks he did it intentionally. Johnny tries to get out of a romantic evening with Sharon to hear Robert sing saying that his late grandfather used to sit him on his lap when he was a kid and play some of Goulet’s songs. Pete invites Irene to the party and she surprises him by acting normal. He even starts to fancy her, but Goulet moves in on his gal before he can get anywhere with her. To be a nice guy, Berg goes back to the hospital and swaps back his shift with the English doctor that Ashley likes. Ashley goes to the hospital to thank him and they end up having sex on a hospital bed.

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This was one of the funniest sit-coms ever, and it’s a shame that it had low ratings. Both the writing and acting were top rate. I usually hate TV sit coms. The actors tend to over do it, and most stories are trite, ie, been there, done that. But Two Guys, A Girl and a Pizza Place was always inventively funny, and, I think, very genuine for the age group it was portraying. The Christmas episodes were some of the best they ever made. I highly recommend it.

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REVIEW: TWO GUYS, A GIRL AND A PIZZA PLACE – SEASON 1-4

 

MAIN CAST
Ryan Reynolds (The Voice)
Richard Ruccolo (Desperate Housewives)
Traylor Howard (Son of The Mask)
Julius Carry (The New Guy)
Jennifer Westfeldt (Kissing Jessica Stein)
David Ogden Stiers (Stargate: Atlantis)
Suzanne Cryer (Bones)
Jillian Bach (American Pie)
Nathan Fillion (Firefly)
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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST
Sean O’Bryan (Yes Man)
Matt Landers (Commando)
Jean Speegle Howard (Apollo 13)
Rena Sofer (Traffic)
Jason Clarke (Rise of The Planet of The Apes)
Amy Van Horne (The Amityville Haunting)
Carmen Electra (Scary Movie)
Howard Hesseman (Flight of The Navigator)
Harve Presnell (Fargo)
Maury Ginsberg (Voodoo)
Sarah Thompson (Cruel Intentions 2)
Fred Willard (Anchorman)
Kenneth Kimmins (Lois & Clark)
Kathy Kinney (Scrooged)
Brigitta Dau (Retro Puppet Master)
Jane Carr (The Five Year Engagement)
Suzy Nakamura (Dodgeball)
Jon Cryer (Two and A Half Men)
Dick Martin (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Adam Carolla (Family Guy)
Bobbie Phillips (Showgirls)
Marguerite MacIntyre (The Vampire Diaries)
Michael Welch (All The Boys Love Mandy Lane)
Beth Grant (Wonderfalls)
Conchata Ferrell (Mr Deeds)
Anthony Head (Buffy)
John Ducey (Sabrina)
Suzanne Krull (Go)
Giuseppe Andrews (American History X)
Stephen Tobolowsky (Heroes)
Cheryl Ladd (Charlies Angels)
Terry Kiser (Lois & Clark)
James Denton (Desperate Housewives)
Tiffani Thiessen (Saved By The Bell)
Sam Anderson (Angel)
Christie Lynn Smith (Swamp Thing)
James Avery (That 70s Show)
Bo Derek (Tommy Boy)
Alanna Ubach (Meet The Fockers)
Lacey Kohl (Secretary)
Robin Riker (The Glades)
The series premiered on March 10, 1998, as Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place. The episode entitled “The Pilot” was watched by almost 18 million viewers. The story of season 1 centers around the pizza place. Actors such as Jennifer Westfeldt (Melissa), and Julius Carry (Bill) were credited as secondary cast members to principals Ryan Reynolds, Richard Ruccolo and Traylor Howard. Mr. Bauer, played by David Ogden Stiers, frequently appeared around the pizza place, telling stories of life events which actually occurred in movies. Pete and Berg share an apartment, on which Peter pays the rent every month, with Berg testing experimental drugs to supplement their income. Pete structures his life around architecture and grad school, while Sharon, their friend upstairs, works for an evil corporation who exploit the Earth’s natural resources, much to her dislike.
The episodes contained storylines including: Pete preparing for a presentation which Berg ruins; Berg stealing the Celtics’ ’81 championship banner; Sharon joining the softball team; and the story of how they all met. Because the episodes aired out of order, the season seems very disjointed. This is demonstrated by the status of Pete’s relationship with Melissa: in episode 8 – “Party” Melissa and Pete are still together despite having previously broken up in episode 5 – “Apartment”.
Season 2 had a more structured basis for each episode. Two additional primary characters arrived, Ashley Walker (Suzanne Cryer) and Johnny Donnelly (Nathan Fillion), as well as the dismissal of characters Bill, Mr. Bauer and Pete’s long-time girlfriend Melissa.
The season starts with Berg’s realization that someone in his class, Walker, is cleverer than he is. This leads to an anticipated romance between Berg and Ashley as they both head down the path of becoming physicians. Jukebox repairman Johnny Donnelly begins a relationship with Sharon. Other secondary characters (Irene, Kamen, Shaun) are introduced throughout the season. Episodes of season 2 include: “Two Guys, a Girl and an Engagement”, “Two Guys, a Girl and a Valentine’s Day” and “Two Guys, a Girl and Ashley’s Return,” all of which mark turning points in the story of the show. Johnny and Sharon break up on Valentine’s Day due to Sharon’s jealousy of Shaun, Johnny’s best friend. Berg and Ashley finally get together in “…And Ashley’s Return,” Pete confesses his feelings towards Sharon, and Johnny proposes in “…And an Engagement”. The season ends with Sharon not giving Johnny an answer as well as her realizing she may have feelings for Pete.
The pizza place is completely abandoned in the third season so that the characters can pursue different dreams. The premiere resolves the season two cliffhanger, with Sharon answering Johnny’s proposal with ‘Yes, in theory’, although she is still holding out on her feelings for Pete. Evidently, Pete flew to Paris after the night’s events and returns completely over Sharon, with a new girlfriend who speaks only French and is revealed to be extremely racist. Berg and Ashley continue to build on their relationship and finally become doctors involved in Psych rotations. The season portrays their relationship as unsteady and completely built on hate of one another. This leads to Berg breaking up with Ashley during the middle of the season.
Ashley lives with Pete and Berg before moving into her own apartment, which was originally Sharon and Johnny’s, who move to the basement to become the new supers. She starts dating Boston Red Sox baseball star Nomar Garciaparra, who appears as himself. Pete finds his true calling by becoming a firefighter. He enjoys the experiences of being an honorary firefighter until the feisty Marti, played by Tiffani Thiessen, comes along to thwart him at every turn. The two continue to take shots at each other until she starts dating Berg, to Pete’s dislike. Pete and Berg get into a huge fight concerning Marti and consider not being roommates anymore.
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When Pete gets his acceptance letter to Fireman Boot Camp, he goes to Marti with open arms and they become an item. Pete continues to hate Berg throughout the final episodes of the season. Sharon and Johnny bicker at one another until Johnny calls off the wedding. When they get back together, they decide that a quickie wedding is the best idea. Irene, Pete’s alleged stalker, agrees to throw Sharon and Johnny a wedding on the roof of the building. This results in her inviting Robert Goulet, who conducts the ceremony and brings Pete and Berg back together as friends during the wedding. At the end of the two part season finale, Pete and Marti leave to go to Fireman Boot Camp, Sharon and Johnny go on their honeymoon, and Ashley leaves to sort out a joke that Pete told Nomar, causing him and Ashley to break up. Berg and Irene are left alone at the wedding and start to dance. The series ends with another cliffhanger as the audience is led to believe something will happen between Berg and Irene.
FWRO
 Season 4 continues the story arc from the end of Season 3. Johnny and Sharon are married, Pete and Marti are now firefighters and Berg and Irene are sleeping together. After Berg gets over being on academic probation, he continues to be Irene’s “sex buddy”. The two start sleeping together secretly, hoping that Pete won’t find out. Johnny continues to be the superintendent until Sharon makes him an honorary fireman for the day on his birthday. Johnny decides that he wants to be a fireman, much to Sharon’s dislike. Meanwhile, Berg and Irene become a couple and Pete and Marti break up. Marti leaves Pete for Ashley’s ex, Nomar. Sharon feels unfulfilled after leaving her evil corporate job and decides that she wants to be a lawyer.
When Berg tells Irene that he loves her and she has no reply, Berg goes out and meets someone else. Katie, the girl he meets, admits that she’s been following him for 8 years. However, the two of them kiss and Berg tells Irene. Berg apologizes and Irene breaks up with him for the mailman Roger. In the final episode, Berg assumes that Irene may be pregnant and decides that he must win her back.
Hilarious and just as fun to watch as it was when it was originally aired. Even though it ends as though it could have been carried to another series the questions were answered. Some episodes are not in the correct order so it can be a little frustrating, but this due to the airdate order and not production order, still it’s a great show which introduced us to Ryan Reynolds and Nathan Fillion.

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: THE VAMPIRE DIARIES – THE CHRISTMAS EPISODES – PART 1

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MAIN CAST

Nina Dobrev (Arena)
Paul Wesley (Killer Movie)
Ian Sommerhalder (Pulse)
Steven R. McQueen (Piranha 3D)
Kat Graham (Honey 2)
Zach Roerig (As The World Turns)
Candice King (Juno)
Michael Trevino (Cane)
Joseph Morgan (The Originals)
Matthew Davis (Bloodrayne)
Michael Malarkey (The Selection)
O COME ALL YE FAITHFUL
GUEST CAST
Claire Holt (Mean Girls 2)
Susan Walters (Kill The Messenger)
Grace Phipps (Scream Queens)
Phoebe Tonkin (Bait)
David Alpay (Flashpoint)
Alyssa Diaz (Lie To Me)

The Season 4 winter finale was the first step in bringing everything together in there season arc , bringing Tyler’s quest to use his unsired hybrids to defeat Klaus into the fold as well. What we know about Professor Shane’s ultimate plan is that it involves “expression” magic, a magic so evil it only works with human sacrifice, and Pastor Young blowing up the 12 members of the council in the season premiere was just the beginning. Whatever Shane is up to, it requires at least 12 more sacrifices of the hybrid variety, and Hayley’s job was to deliver them on a silver platter. So while Tyler believed he was unsiring hybrids to ultimately have them rise up against Klaus and defeat him for good, Hayley was working an entirely different agenda, one that ended with her offering up all of the hybrids to Klaus for him to slaughter in a murder montage so incredible. The Klaus presented here , the one who has absolute power but whose soul suffers because of it, the one who kills Tyler’s mother because he knows that’s a much more evil punishment than killing Tyler himself, that’s the Klaus the show needs.

such a wonderful episode set around and an all around classic episode.

CHRISTMAS THROUGH YOUR EYES
GUEST CAST
Penelope Mitchell (Hemlock Grove)
Marguerite MacIntyre (Red Dragon)
Chris Brochu (Soul Surfer)
Jodi Lyn O’Keefe (Halloween: H20)
Chris Wood (Browsers)
With the holidays approaching, Bonnie attempts to replicate her favorite traditions, while reminiscing about happier times with her friends. Not able to return home to Mystic Falls for her favorite time of the year, Caroline is surprised when Sheriff Forbes brings the holidays to her at Whitmore College. Meanwhile, after discovering that Jo has gone missing, Alaric turns to Damon and Elena for help of trying to find her, while Liv and Luke find themselves at odds when Tyler approaches them with a risky plan. Elsewhere, Jeremy helps Matt carry out a plan to take down Enzo but grows concerned when Matt takes things too far. Lastly, Stefan is forced to break some devastating news to Caroline. Alaric and Damon Capture Kai but he absorbs the Travellers spell and escapes, the episode ends with Elena outside the Salvatore Mansion, Kai cloaks her and himself and Damon does not hear or see her as she talks to him, revealing that he has used a clocking spell on them. He then knocks Elena out and abducts her .
Another classic Vampire Diaries Christmas, this episode throws so much stuff at us, The Sheriff having cancer, Kai abducting Elena, its a great episode but with the cliffhanger makes you wait for the next episode to see how it turns out.
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GUEST CAST
Annie Wersching (Birds of Prey)
Elizabeth Blackmore (The Road Home)
Scarlett Byrne (Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows)
Teressa Liane (Neighbours)
Todd Lasance (Spartacus)
Damon, Stefan, Nora and Valerie put Lily to rest. Later, as Christmas rings in the air, Stefan and Damon’s search for Julian leads them to a town outside Mystic Falls. While they search based on Bonnie’s locator spell-given address, they end their search at a bar filled with dead Santa’s. After a while, Julian appears and there is a tiff between the brothers and him which later aggravates back home. Meanwhile, Nora becomes friendly with Bonnie during a toy drive. Alaric fears that Caroline is struggling with her pregnancy as her blood feeding urges keep her on the edge. Caroline shares a heart-to-heart talk with Sheriff Forbes’s gravestone. Valarie teams with Stefan to abduct Mary Louise in order to force Julian to come out in the open and fight. Later, an unseen being whisks the unconsious Mary Louise away. The Salvatore brothers-Julian fight finally leads to Damon being staked by the Phoenix stone-dagger and getting trapped inside his hell. The same happens for Stefan as a revenge-seeking Nora pushes the dagger inside him, after siphoning out Bonnie’s magic. It is shown that Damon is reliving his Civil War days while being trapped in the Phoenix stone – where he is gravely injured and scared.
WOW!! a great way to end on a mid season making us all wait till January 2016, just like The Originals 2015 Christmas this one leaves you on a gut wrenching moment not knowing what will happen next.

REVIEW: THE VAMPIRE DIARIES -SEASON 1-6

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MAIN CAST

Nina Dobrev (Never Cry Werewolf)
Paul Wesley (Killer Movie)
Ian Somerhalder (Pulse)
Steven R. McQueen (Piranha 3d)
Sara Canning (Primeval: New World)
Kat Graham (Honey 2)
Candice King (Juno)
Zach Roerig (Rings)
Kayla Ewell (Impact Point)
Michael Trevino (The Riches)
Matthew Davis (Cult)
Joseph Morgan (Hex)
Michael Malarkey (The Selection)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Chris William Martin (Dollhouse)
Benjamin Ayres (Saving Hope)
Chris J. Johnson (Betrayal)
Marguerite MacIntyre (Red Dragon)
Robert Pralgo (Fast & Furious 7)
Susan Walters (The Flash)
Jasmine Guy (Dead Like Me)
Arielle Kebbel (Ballers)
Bianca Lawson (Beauty and The Beast)
Mia Kirshner (30 Days of Night: Dark Days)
Malese Jow (The Flash)
Gina Torres (Firefly)
Sean Faris (Never Back Down)
James Remar (The Shannara Chronicles)
Kelly Hu (Arrow)
Melinda Clarke (Spawn)
David Anders (Izombie)
Spencer Locke (Resident Evil: Afterlife)
Taylor Kinney (Zero Dark Thirty)
B.J. Britt (Agents of SHIELD)
Tiya Sircar (The Internship)
Maiara Walsh (The Starving Games)
Natashia Williams (Smiley Face)
Lauren Cohan (Chuck)
Trent Ford (Smallville)
Daniel Gillies (Young Hercules)
Dawn Olivieri (American Hustle)
Stephen Amell (Arrow)
Michaela McManus (Law & Order: SVU)
David Gallagher (Super 8)
Jack Coleman (Heroes)
Sebastian Roche (Odyssey 5)
Claire Holt (Mean Girls 2)
Anna Enger (Anchorman 2)
Alice Evans (Lost)
Torrey DeVitto (The Rite)
Robert Ri’chard (Veronica Mars)
Perisa White (Blood Dolls)
Nathaniel Buzolic (Out of The Blue)
Cassidy Freeman (Smallville)
Casper Zafer (Coffe Sex You)
Michael Reilly Burke (Mars Attacks)
Todd Williams (San Andreas)
Grace Phipps (Scream Queens)
Phoebe Tonkin (The Secret Circle)
David Alpay (Ararat)
Alyssa Diaz (Red Dawn)
Madeline Zima (Californication)
Rick Worthy (Collateral Damage)
Cynthia Addai-Robinson (Arrow)
Charles Michael Davis (Battle Scars)
Daniella Pineda (American Odyssey)
Leah Pipes (Fingerprints)
Callrd Harris (The Real St.Nick)
Eka Darvill (Spartacus)
Olga Fonda (Real Steel)
Hayley Kiyoko (Scooby-Doo 3 & 4)
Rick Cosnett (The Flash)
Janina Gavankar (The L Word)
Kendrick Sampson (Gracepoint)
Shaun Sipos (Texas Chainsaw 3d)
Caitlin McHugh (I Am Legdn)
Penelope Mitchell (Curve)
Chris Brochu (Soul Surfer)
Raffi Barsoumian (NCIS)
Colin Ferguson (Eureka)
Jodi Lyn O’Keefe (Halloween: H20)
Emily Chang (Total Recall)
Gabrielle Walsh  (The Hive)
Marco James Marquez  (The CLient List)
Chris Wood (Supergirl)
Tristin Mays (The Wedding Ringer)
Annie Wersching (Bosch)
Christopher Cousins (Wicker Park)

 


There are vampires, and there are indeed diaries. One of these diaries is being kept by Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev). Elena’s been writing down her thoughts for quite some time now, but in these dark days, her diary is her only outlet for the way she really feels. She’s still reeling from the deaths of both of her parents just a few short months ago, and while she tries to present a smiling face to the world at large, she’s emotionally ravaged inside. Elena has been keeping almost everyone around her at arm’s length, dumping one of her oldest friends who she’d only recently started to date and tearing just about every last page out of her social calendar. She’s dead inside.

Stefan Salvatore (Paul Wesley), meanwhile, is dead, period. He too keeps a journal, although having been alive…well, undead…for around 150 years, Stefan has had quite a bit more to write about than Elena. One of the first things Stefan did upon his return to his ancestral home of Mystic Falls, Virginia is re-enroll in high school. As an eternal 17 year old, he doesn’t run into any trouble looking the part. It certainly doesn’t hurt that as one of the few surviving vampires who doesn’t sizzle and smolder under the light of day, there’s little reason for anyone to suspect that Stefan is one of the undead. Stefan and Elena are inexorably drawn to one another, and the two of them are almost immediately established as a couple. Epic romance. Moony eyes. You know the drill.

Stefan can’t escape his blood. You can take that in the most literal sense: there’s the blood he must ingest in order to survive, although he’s long since sworn off feeding from humans, living instead off of small animals in the woods around his palatial family estate. This makes it easier to for Stefan to more seamlessly blend into mainstream society rather than feasting off it from the fringes, but it leaves him weaker than most other vampires as a result. It’s just not as potent as what’s coursing through our veins. There’s that sort of blood — the crimson, sticky kind — and then there’s the blood of his family. Stefan’s brother Damon (Ian Somerhalder) is also a creature of the night, and he long ago swore to make every last second of Stefan’s existence an eternal hell. Damon kills without hesitation…not only to feed, and not only to hide the existence of vampires from the world at large, but simply because he likes it. There’s more to Damon’s return to Mystic Falls than revenge, though. There’s a much greater — a much darker — motivation behind it all. At the same time, Mystic Falls isn’t being caught as unaware as Damon might like to think.

The Vampire Diaries finds its footing startlingly quickly. Take Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, for instance: as universally adored as those two series are, neither of them were really any good at all until the tail-end of their first seasons. Even with as strong as Supernatural quickly became in its first year, it got off to somewhat of a shaky start, and a fair number of the episodes from its first season are hit-or-miss. The Vampire Diaries, on the other hand, is just about perfect by the time the third episode rolls around. There really aren’t any weak episodes after that. There’s no filler dumped in just to pad out the rest of the season, and it doesn’t spin its wheels the way a lot of shows do when leading up to the big finale. It’s impressive enough that The Vampire Diaries hits such dizzying heights in its very first season, but to maintain that sort of consistency across virtually every episode…that’s exceptionally rare.


Admittedly, its pilot is kind of slow moving and sputters a bit, but the second episode is quite a bit stronger, and you’ll know from the end of “Friday Night Bites” if you’re in it for the long haul. Even with all of its genre underpinnings, at its core, The Vampire Diaries is a soap opera, complete with dead parents, drug abuse, adoption drama, alcoholism, and lots and lots of relationships. Don’t go in expecting it to be a Buffy clone or a Supernatural knockoff. The elements that make those series so brilliant are showcased here as well, but action, horror, and a snarky sense of humor don’t dominate. The great thing about The Vampire Diaries — and I write this from the perspective of someone who’s not the usual target demographic for this kind of show — is that the soapier elements are never overwhelming either. For instance, as the series opens, Elena’s younger brother Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen) has turned to drugs in a failed attempt at trying to cope with the sudden deaths of his parents. In any other show, there’d be some sort of big, overwrought intervention…drenched in syrupy strings, a heartfelt monologue, and saucer-plate weepy eyes. That, or he’d bottom out in some sort of cartoonishly over-the-top way. Because The Vampire Diaries is so respectful to its characters and its audience, it doesn’t trot down either of those paths. People try to reach Jeremy and fail. He has to arrive at the decision to improve his lot in life himself, and he quickly does. Though Jeremy is certainly given a helpful nudge, his maturation is handled quietly and convincingly. The Vampire Diaries doesn’t have all that much interest in settling for the obvious, and it resists wringing out drama from the same plot points episode after episode.

Every episode has some sort of intensely action or horror driven sequence to unleash, and some sort of shock or surprise is always lurking around the next corner. I seriously found myself shouting at my TV — the good kind of shouting! — with the way The Vampire Diaries so deviously caught me off-guard over and over again. The twists are also well-thought-out and wholly earned, not just lazily yanking out the rug. Very few people here are safe, and characters I assumed would be a fixture for the entire run of the show are suddenly slaughtered after a few episodes. The cinematography can be impressively cinematic as well, and quite a few moments of “You’re Undead to Me” and “Haunted” in particular look as if they could’ve been culled from a big-budget Hollywood horror flick. Especially once the pilot has come and gone, the pace screams along at a very steady clip. There are never really any threads in the storyline that are left dangling for long. Plot points that look like they’d be dragged out over the course of the first season or two are instead revealed a third of the way through. Key moments that feel like they belong in the season finale swoop in closer to the halfway mark. I mean that as the highest compliment too. Nothing ever feels rushed or underplayed. It’s all presented quickly enough to keep The Vampire Diaries from stagnating but is still given enough time to have a meaningful impact…it’s a perfect balance. Also, every episode offers some sort of payoff to something established earlier, and there’s generally some kind of reveal as well. So much happens that part of me honestly wonders how they can keep up this manic pace in season two, although the writers have very much earned the benefit of the doubt after this exceptionally strong first outing. I’m having a hard time thinking of the last show I watched with cliffhangers this consistently addictive too. Especially now that it’s out on Blu-ray, The Vampire Diaries kind of demands to be devoured in marathon viewings.

The cast and characterization straight across the board are particularly great. There’s something magnetic about every last member of The Vampire Diaries’ ensemble, and no weak links leap out at me. There’s certainly an effort to keep them even-keeled. There’s something likeable or sympathetic about most everyone. Each character has some sort of glaring flaw as well, and that includes Elena and Stefan. Elena isn’t some sort of impossibly perfect Mary Sue character. She has her shortcomings, and her friends and family aren’t afraid to call her on them and take her down a peg either. In most any other show, everyone in the supporting cast would be boiled down to a three or four word description: “horny best friend” or “hyperaggressive jock”…that sort of thing. They’d be defined less by who they are and more by what the plot requires them to do that week. In The Vampire Diaries, just about everyone is infused with quite a bit more thought and dimension. This may not be at all apparent at first glance. Some of the folks who at first seem destined to be dead air are soon given some additional depth. Well, that, or they’re quickly mauled.

The body count this season is kinda stratospheric, and it doesn’t hurt that the werewolves hinted at last year have started snarling their way into the series. Season two is teeming with all sorts of unrepentant killers, and the standout early on is Katherine. Nina Dobrev pulls double duty as the wholesome, responsible Elena and as the centuries-old scheming murderess Katherine (several very different incarnations of her, actually), and she’s more than a little bit awesome in both roles. The series milks a few really great jolts from the uncertainty of who you’re looking at, exactly — if it’s Elena or if it’s Katherine playing dress-up — and Katherine’s sinister smirk after she’s had her fun never fails to make me cackle. Katherine also subscribes to the theory that people don’t amount to much more than Happy Meals on legs, and the swiftness, ferocity, and complete lack of remorse as she cripples and murders one random girl just to prove a point winds up being one of the season’s standout moments. I do have to admit that later in the season, The Vampire Diaries’ writers seem to run out of really compelling things for Katherine to do, and her appearances start to pack less and less of a wallop. There’s a point to it, exploring a facet of the character that she’d just as soon refuse to acknowledge even exists, but it does seem anticlimatic with as much of a sultry, destructive force of nature as Katherine is early on. The Vampire Diaries more than makes up for Katherine’s descent into shrugworthiness by introducing a couple of truly ancient vampires — Klaus and Elijah — who are charismatic, startlingly compelling, and also regal and adult…an appreciated change of pace from a show where the monsters are generally played by witty early-twentysomethings.

Ian Somerhalder still stands strong overall as the best thing about The Vampire Diaries, scoring all the snarkiest lines and clearly having a hell of a lot more fun than anyone else in front of the camera. Still, despite being so manipulative, exploitative, hot-tempered, and occasionally murderous, the show still finds a way to keep him completely likeable and sympathetic. Some of the shades of gray with Damon are erased this season, and he’s much more overtly a dependable hero-type. I chalk that up as character development, natch, and the fact that he frequently does seem to approach becoming the man Elena wants him to be makes his slips back into monster-dom that much more tragic.

The Vampire Diaries season 2  is just a hell of a lot of fun to watch, screaming ahead at a manic pace and never settling into any sort of comfortable routine. It’s shockingly well-acted, there’s hardly any filler or unnecessary distractions, and The Vampire Diaries probably gets the nod as the most infectious and consistently entertaining drama I’m watching these days. Even the soapier stuff and the over-the-top melodrama winds up being more engrossing than I ever would’ve thought possible.

 

he third season of The Vampire Diaries is about family…or, rather, trying to hold onto one. Elena’s is all but gone, limited to just her increasingly distant brother Jeremy. The two of them have a surrogate father in Alaric, but even he’s content to set up shop on the couch rather than settle into one of the house’s depressingly vacant rooms. A fractitious family at best seems as if it could collapse at any moment. Elena and Damon both are desperately hunting for Stefan. The previous season closed with Stefan unleashing the monster within, swearing allegiance to the millenium-old original vampire Klaus. ‘The Ripper’ has resurfaced. Though he obeys Klaus’ every command to murder and maim, Stefan isn’t some mindless, manipulated slave; he relishes in the kill.

 

In any other series, Stefan would be back to his righteous old self within two or three episodes, but…well, this is The Vampire Diaries. Things will never be the same again. Klaus has much of his true family within arm’s reach, though he prefers to keep the bulk of them skewered and subdued. His aim is to raise a new family, one that’s both more loyal and more like him: a hybrid of vampire and werewolf. The birthing of this army proves to be far more difficult than Klaus could ever have dreamt, and his torment grows that much greater when he finds the family tree of his birth to be more expansive and more vengeful than once believed. The dominance of family this season doesn’t stop there. Hell, we learn that the existence of vampires at all is predicated on the idea of protecting one’s own. No one in Mystic Falls escapes unscathed from all this, with the sorceress Bonnie, undead Caroline, and lycanthropic Tyler all struggling with parents who’ve either turned their backs on them or can’t accept their children for who they now are.

The Vampire Diaries does so much right, and approaching the top of that list is its disinterest in convention. Stefan and Elena form the core of the series in so many ways, and yet it’s quite a while before the two ever share the same frame this year. They’re kept physically apart for far more of the season than I would ever have thought possible, and even after that point, they’re hardly ‘together’. Stefan has changed profoundly. He may never return to the unwaveringly good guy he once was, and the journey back proves to be a whole hell of a lot more grueling As the third season of The Vampire Diaries came to a close, Elena died. This year follows her rebirth as a vampire, although if Stefan and Damon have their way, Elena will be re-reborn soon enough.You see, there’s a cure for vampirism, entombed for two thousand years with an immortal creature known only as Silas. Even with the crypt on the other end of the continent and before embarking on one epic quest after another to unlock it, they all start fantasizing about what they’ll do if they ever get their hands on the cure.

They could shove it down Klaus’ throat and at long last end his reign of terror, although who knows what kind of collateral damage would result from slaying an Original. Perhaps it’s the shot at redemption that Rebekah has been waiting for. Maybe it’s a chance for Stefan and Elena to enjoy a long but less than eternal life together as humans. It ought to go without saying that not everyone will be able to get what they want, especially since they’re not the only ones in search of the cure. Supernaturally-fueled vampire hunters have started to make their presence known for the first time in ages, and they aim to strip Silas of his immortality and end him once and for all. Anyone who gets in their way is expendable, and it kind of follows that Elena’s vampiric bodyguards don’t pose much of a threat to seasoned killers engineered to butcher the undead.

Season four is largely shaped by those three plot threads: Elena coming to grips with her vampirism, the search for the cure, and the resurrection of Silas. Most everything else that happens this year is fallout from one or more of the above. One of the people closest to Elena is saddled with the mantle of a Hunter, and the path to Silas’ tomb can only be unearthed by having him slaughter as many vampires as possible…a compulsion he’s all too eager to indulge. Cut off from the source of her mystical gifts, Bonnie begins to embrace darker magic. They imbue her with the power needed to unlock Silas’ tomb, but this raw, boundless energy may consume Bonnie before she’s given the opportunity.

Season 5 the doppelganger of Stefan or “shadow self” in the form of Silas certainly keeps things interesting. Silas is one of the more intense bad guys of the show and while Silas appears as if Stefan (as is performed by the same actor), the differences between characters is huge. The same can be said for the continuing story-line of the other double, the seemingly identical look-alike Katherine (who continues to look the same as Elena, but also is nothing like her). In Season 5, Katherine turns from a vampire to a human (as the sole recipient of the long-sought vampire cure), and things are complicated because of it. Seeing the way that actors Nina Dobrev and Paul Wesley handle these scenes is part of the fun, and it’s an amazingly procifient example of the benefits of quality film editing to see the scenes where characters have interactions with one another as played by the same actor.

The production values of The Vampire Diaries are surprisingly strong for such a modest budget television production. The special effects are always minimally utilized so that when there are effects on the show they can count as something extra special. The efforts from the team that works on this show really impresses. The cinematography remains a constant things; always showcasing both the bright and dark elements of the storylines. The costumes fit with these performers well. The make-up department has their work cut out for them at times, and are capably bringing forth the supernatural elements to the show.

Considering relatively lower production costs compared to other network television series, it’s a very well produced creation that continues to impress with what the creator and producers have to work with.

In season six we get to find out what happened to Bonnie (Graham) and Damon (Somerhalder) after last season’s cliff-hanger, and what has become of the other side. There is also the introduction of a new coven of witches who have ties to some pre-existing characters. Last season’s new addition Enzo (Malarkey) also gets a much more beefed up role as well as back-story.

Amongst all of the new additions there are of course some exits, the most notable being that of leading lady. Audiences have spent the last six years investing in the life of Elena Gilbert, but now has come the time to say goodbye, and it isn’t easy. It’s not just Elena though as this year the show lost a total of four of its more long-standing cast members, and there isn’t going to be a dry eye in the house by the end of the season.

'The Vampire Diaries' Recap: Damon and Elena Return to 1994

What makes this box-set really special this season  is the extras. Thought has clearly been put into what to include, and it isn’t your standard deleted scenes and commentaries. Both of those elements are included, but the featurettes have been crafted with the true die-hard fans at the fore-front of their minds. Good Bit and Good Luck is an emotional documentary that gives the cast and crew a public forum to say goodbye to their co-stars. The second is a much more upbeat affair as the cast read out some of their favorite fan Twitter reactions to plot developments over the series. There’s never a dull moment in Mystic Falls and somehow, despite being over a hundred episodes old, the show manages to constantly reinvent itself and feel fresh. the cliffhanger leads into what is already starting to be an intriguing season 7.

 

 

 

REVIEW: RED DRAGON

 

CAST

Anthony Hopkins (The Mask of Zorro)
Edward Norton (The Bourne Legacy)
Ralph Fiennes (Harry Potter)
Emily Watson (War Horse)
Harvey Keitel (Little Nicky)
Mary-Louise Parker (Red)
Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Ides of March)
Anthony Heald (X-Men: The Last Stand)
Bill Duke (Commando)
Frankie Faison (Luke Cage)
Ken Leung (Lost)

In Baltimore, Maryland, Dr. Hannibal Lecter attends a symphonic orchestra performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He is irritated by a flute player who repeatedly misses out on his part. Later, he hosts a dinner party in his townhouse for the orchestra’s board of directors. During conversation, the disappearance of the flute player is brought up. When one of the guests asks about the dish Lecter made, he responds that if he tells her, she might not try it, implying he is serving the flute player.Lecter is visited by Will Graham, a gifted FBI agent who has the ability to empathize with psychopaths. Graham has been working with Lecter on a psychological profile of a serial killer. The killer removed edible body parts from his victims, leading Graham to believe him to be a cannibal. During the consultation, Graham discovers evidence implicating Lecter. Lecter attacks and almost disembowels Graham, before Graham impales him with several arrows then empties his handgun into him. Lecter is sentenced to life imprisonment in an institution for the criminally insane. Graham is traumatized by the experience, and retires.Some years later, another serial killer, nicknamed The Tooth Fairy, appears. He stalks and kills entire families during sequential full moons. Special Agent Jack Crawford seeks Graham’s assistance in determining the killer’s psychological profile. When the death of another family weighs on his conscience, Graham reluctantly agrees. After visiting the crime scenes and speaking with Crawford, Graham concludes he must once again consult Lecter.

The Tooth Fairy is actually Francis Dolarhyde, who kills at the behest of an alternate personality he calls “The Great Red Dragon”. He is obsessed with the William Blake painting The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed in Sun, and believes that each victim he “changes” brings him closer to “becoming” the Dragon. His pathology is born from the severe abuse he suffered as a child at the hands of his sadistic grandmother.
Meanwhile, Freddy Lounds, a tabloid reporter, who hounded Graham after Lecter’s capture, follows him for leads on The Tooth Fairy. There is a secret correspondence between Lecter and Dolarhyde. Graham’s wife and son are endangered when Lecter gives The Tooth Fairy the agent’s home address, forcing them to be relocated to a farm owned by Crawford’s brother. Hoping to lure out The Tooth Fairy, Graham gives Lounds an interview in which he disparages the killer as an impotent homosexual. This provokes Dolarhyde, who kidnaps Lounds and glues him to an antique wheelchair. Dolarhyde then forces Lounds to recant his allegations, bites off his lips and then sets him on fire outside his newspaper’s offices. Later, at his job in a St. Louis photo lab, Dolarhyde falls in love with Reba McClane, a blind co-worker. He takes her home, where they make love. However, his alternate personality demands that he kill her. Desperate to stop the Dragon’s “possession” of him, Dolarhyde goes to the Brooklyn Museum, tears apart the original Blake painting and eats it.Meanwhile, Graham deduces that the killer knew the layout of his victims’ houses from their home videos. He concludes that the killer works for a company that transfers home movies to video cassette and edits them. He starts searching the companies and their workers. Watching Reba’s house, Dolarhyde finds her having spent the evening with a co-worker, Ralph Mandy, whom she actually dislikes. Enraged by this apparent betrayal, Dolarhyde kills Ralph, kidnaps Reba, takes her to his house, and then sets it on fire. Finding himself unable to shoot her, Dolarhyde apparently shoots himself. Reba is able to escape the house as the police arrive.Dolarhyde, having staged his own death, turns up at Graham’s home in Florida. He holds Graham’s son hostage, threatening to kill him. To save his son, Graham slings insults at the boy, reminding Dolarhyde of his grandmother’s abuse. Enraged, Dolarhyde attacks Graham. Both men are severely wounded in a shootout which ends when Graham’s wife kills Dolarhyde. Graham receives a letter from Lecter which praises him for stopping The Tooth Fairy, bids him well, and says they are going to cross paths soon.Some time later, Lecter’s jailer, Dr. Frederick Chilton, tells him that he has a visitor, a young woman from the FBI. Lecter curiously asks of her name.

After “Silence of the Lambs” became so popular, and the sequel, “Hannibal,” it was decided to re-do that first film and this time obtain Hopkins’ services. It worked because not only do you have the incomparable Hopkins at Dr. Lecter but you have one this generations best actors, Edward Norton, as the leading character “Will Graham.” Norton, as always, gives a solid performance. And – look at the backup cast: Ralph Fiennes, Emily Watson, Harvey Keitel, Mary Louise Parker and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Not bad. This is one of those movies that gets better and better with each viewing.