CHRISTMAS 2017 REVIEW: THE FLASH – THE PRESENT

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MAIN CAST

Grant Gustin (Glee)
Candice Patton (Heroes)
Danielle Panabaker (The Crazies)
Carlos Valdes (Vixen)
Keiynan Lonsdale (Insurgent)
Tom Cavanagh (Van Helsing)
Jesse L. Martin (Injustice)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Tom Felton (Harry Potter)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Nicholas Gonzalez (Sleepy Hollow)
Danielle Nicolet (Central Intelligence)
John Wesley Shipp (The Flash 90s)

I’ll definitely say this for “The Present” – it takes a pretty eventful episode to make Mark Hamill reprising his role as the Trickster seem like a footnote. Apparently it’s becoming an annual tradition to celebrate Christmas with another Trickster appearance. This episode certainly shook up the formula by introducing the Earth-3 version of the villain. Hamill really went all-out despite his limited screen time, modeling this Trickster directly after Conrad Veidt’s character Gwynplaine from 1928’s The Man Who Laughs. This was the closest we’ll probably ever get to seeing Hamill playing the Joker in live-action. It was neat seeing him pay homage to Joker’s main inspiration, and neater still to see both Hamill and John Wesley Shipp reviving their rivalry from the 1990 Flash series.

It was frustrating to see so little of the Trickster this week. Hamill is too much fun in the role to On the other hand, how much could the writers feasibly focus on a character who’s clearly out of his pay grade battling two Flashes at once? And if Hamill got the short end of the stick, the same couldn’t be said for Shipp. This might have been the most Shipp-heavy episode of the entire series, regardless of which character he was playing. But that extra focus was certainly justified. Shipp is every bit as perfect for the role of Jay Garrick  as he was Henry Allen in the first two seasons. He was that natural charm and gravitas that befits the elder statesman of the speedster family.

Most importantly, Shipp succeeds in playing Jay as a much different character from Henry. He has the same fundamental decency, perhaps, but there’s a certain aloofness to Jay all the same. There’s a clear awkwardness between Jay and Barry. Barry is turning to Jay for advice almost in spite of himself, seeking fatherly support from a man who isn’t Henry, no matter how much he resembles him. And Jay, for his part, doesn’t seem quite comfortable in this mentor role yet. If there’s one thing this season has accomplished, it’s giving Flash fans the classic Jay Garrick Season 2 denied them.

“The Present” offered quite a bit of progress on the Savitar/Alchemy front, with multiple speedster battles and more insight into what makes both villains tick. The writers were able to retain Julian’s appeal with the reveal that he’s never been in control of his actions as Alchemy. He’s been little more than a pawn preparing the way for the self-proclaimed god of motion to enter this world. And now that Savitar has been exorcised, as it were, Julian seems poised to resume his old role as half friend/half antagonist to Barry. No doubt he’ll still have a major part to play once the Savitar conflict ramps up again, but for now I’m looking forward to seeing his prickly relationship with Barry become the main focus again.
Things are picking up on the Savitar front. The scene where Savitar possessed Julian and spoke to Team Flash was easily the highlight of the entire episode, as well as a reminder that less is often more when it comes to big, monstrous villains. The scene offered much more insight into Savitar’s background and reasons for targeting Barry. He’s not a god, despite his claims, but someone from Barry’s future who feels personally wronged by the Scarlet Speedster. Given his intimate knowledge of everyone in the room, it’s not much of a stretch to suggest that one of them will become Savitar.
Savitar’s cryptic tease about future tragedies awaiting Team Flash was a nice touch. With the Flashpoint conflict receding into the background now, it seems the driving force of the second half of Season 3 will be the question of whether the future is inevitable or if fate can be rewritten. Is Iris fated to be murdered by Savitar? Is Caitlin doomed to become Killer Frost? Actually catching a glimpse of what looks to be a pivotal scene in one of the final episodes of the season certainly lends an extra touch of impending doom to the series. Cisco had a solid subplot of his won this week, with Savitar preying on his grief over Dante’s death and using it to nearly usher in his second coming. Carlos Valdes is so often the designated comic relief on this show, so it’s been a refreshing change of pace seeing him explore Cisco’s mourning process and his rift with Barry over the past couple months.

And with all the doom and gloom this week, it was nice to see the writers take some time at the end of the episode to celebrate the holiday season and wrap up 2016 on a more upbeat note. The West family Christmas party was a fun, sentimental way to cap off the episode. We got to see HR get drunk on Grandma Esther’s eggnog, Julian get into the holiday spirit and Caitlin ensure everyone got to enjoy a white Christmas. Plus, Barry gave Iris a very romantic Christmas present. A great Mid-Season finale that keeps us waiting and wondering whats to come in 2017.

 

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CHRISTMAS 2017 REVIEW: THE FLASH – RUNNING TO STAND STILL

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RUNNING TO STAND STILL
MAIN CAST
Grant Gustin (Glee)
Candice Patton (Heroes)
Danielle Panabaker (The Crazies)
Carlos Valdes (Vixen)
Tom Cavanagh (Scrubs)
Jesse L. Martin (Law & Order)
Keiynan Lonsdale (Insurgent)
GUEST CAST
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Wentworth Miller (Prison Break)
Teddy Sears (American Horror Story)
Shantel VanSanten (Beauty and The BVeast 2012)
Patrick Sabongui (Stargate: Atlantis)
Violett Beane (The Leftovers)
Liam McIntyre (Spartacus)
Tony Todd (Candyman)
It seems we can always rely on The Flash to deliver a great mid-season finale that’s not just a brilliant instalment of the show, but also an unashamed Christmas episode with presents, Turkey and festive soul-searching for our viewing pleasure. I’d even be tempted to say that this, Running To Stand Still, was one of the strongest episodes the show has delivered so far this season, what with the effortless mix of great villains, attention given to the relationships between characters and some nice forward momentum for the Zoom story thread. We begin with Zoom running Wells down before wishing him a particularly threatening ‘Merry Christmas’, setting the tone for the rest of the episode before we flit back to our main gang. It wasn’t much of a secret that Mark Hamill would be returning as the Trickster, but pairing him up with the Weather Wizard was a stroke of genius. The Trickster is threatening enough in his madness but, combined with the guy who actually managed to win last year makes it more than just the run-of-the-mill meta-threat. It also makes for some terrific punning, excused just this one time entirely because it’s the season and all that. Captain Cold isn’t even around for most of it, making a feeble attempt to help Barry out by filling him in on his cohort’s dastardly plans before running for the hills. This is obviously all in service of his role on Legends, which is dangerously close now to actually being on our tellys now.
Because this is a mid-season finale, much of the episode is dedicated to parental angst. Chiefly, Iris finally tells Barry about the existence of Wally West in what was actually a very sweet scene between the two, and they later decide it’s probably best to present a united front to Joe. I worried when we heard about another West sibling that the show would muddle the relationship between Barry and the family, but this episode did a lot to allay those fears. Joe gives Barry his own father’s watch even after he finds out about Wally, for instance, and it highlights the nice place that part of the show is in now that the Barry/Iris romance is done (or at least on pause). But Joe’s understandably upset to discover that he has a son he never knew about, and we’ll have to wait until January to find out how that particular family reunion goes. We’re fairly sure that he’s going to become some kind of speedster, entirely because of his name, but it’ll just be interesting on its own to see how he slots into the show’s existing dynamic. It’ll also presumably give Iris something to do at last.
My highlight of the episode, though, was the fleshing out of Patty’s character, giving her layers beyond the cute Felicity-esque girlfriend for Barry she’s been so far. We already knew that her father had been killed by a metahuman, but here we discovered that metahuman was in fact the Weather Wizard. It’s slightly frustrating when there are two adjacent relationships going on – that between Barry and Patty and between The Flash and Patty, because while we know what’s going on, Patty has no clue that she’s opened up quite that far with her boyfriend yet. Her lack of Flash knowledge hasn’t been actively annoying yet, but it’s getting there. I’d like her to become a bigger part of the show and, to do that, she needs all the facts. We’re left on a cliffhanger that’s simultaneously very similar yet very different from last season’s – Wells is going to help Zoom take down Barry in exchange for his daughter. He doesn’t want to do it because, unlike Thawne, he’s fundamentally a good person, but it’s still his love for his child that drives him. I’ve been so impressed by how The Flash has slotted Wells back into things, all coming to a head in that scene between Barry and an unwitting Harry. It’s the equivalent of his through-glass talks with Henry while he’s off fishing , but it was done so beautifully. Barry has been struggling with what happened last season all year, and maybe this is his way of finally moving on.
All in all, the first half of season two has proven that the show is more than capable of measuring up to its first, with a inordinate amount of intricate pieces in place for an even better string of episodes once we come back.

CHRISTMAS 2017 REVIEW: BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES – CHRISTMAS WITH THE JOKER

CAST
Kevin Conroy (Batman Beyond)
Loren Lester (American Pie 3)
Bob Hastings (McHale’s Navy)
Robert Costanzo (Total Recall)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Clive Revill (Freakazoid)
Mari Devon (Digimon)
It’s Christmas Eve and even the inmates of Arkham Asylum are celebrating. They sing “Jingle Bells” and set up decorations. The Joker is given the golden ornament to put on top of the Christmas Tree. However, as soon as he places it on top of the tree, a hidden rocket activates and Joker rides out to freedom. Meanwhile, back at the Batcave, Robin tries to convince Batman to kick back and relax as there’s no need for them to go out on Christmas. Batman believes otherwise since Joker has escaped. Robin makes a deal with him: if they go out on patrol and find no sign of the Joker, then they’ll return home and watch It’s a Wonderful Life. Batman agrees and the duo heads out.
All seems quiet in Gotham for a change and Robin is convinced they aren’t needed. Batman is his usual self: seeing a man running after a rich woman and believing that she’s going to be robbed, he heads out after them. However, the man calls to the woman and tells her that she dropped a package a couple of blocks back and returns it to her. Robin asks to go home and Batman silently swings off. Now back at Wayne Manor, Dick and Bruce wait for dinner and turn on the TV. However, they discover that It’s a Wonderful Life isn’t on. Instead they find that Joker has hijacked the television waves and has a “Special” for Batman. Joker shows a tank with a giant Santa Claus on top crashing through the city. The show is announced to be “Christmas with the Joker”. Batman and Robin instantly work to find the Joker’s location by checking power surges and head out to find him.
Joker continues his show and shows everyone his stolen family, the Awful Lawful Family: Commissioner Gordon, Summer Gleeson, and Harvey Bullock. Joker tells Batman that he can have them if he can find them by midnight. If he fails, they will die. However, before Batman and Robin can reach him, Joker reveals “Laughy” his own Christmas Elf. Laughy and Joker explain that they will blow up a rail bridge just in time for the 11:30 train to arrive. Summer becomes agitated and explains that her mother is on that train.  Batman and Robin go to the train and while Batman goes after the engineer, Robin uncouples the passenger cars. The tasks are simple enough and they save the passengers. Afterwards, they pinpoint the source of Joker’s signal: the observatory at Mount Gotham. However, when they reach it, they find that Joker simply left a transmitter there and replaced the observatory telescope with a cannon. Batman draws the fire of the cannon while Robin runs in to disable it. Unfortunately, the outer controls are ruined and the cannon starts firing erratically at parts of Gotham.

Inside, Robin finds that there are several Joker statues with guns for hands. These statues give Robin trouble but he’s finally able to disable the cannon with an explosive. Unfortunately, they are no closer to finding Joker’s hideout and saving the hostages. Joker of course, doesn’t want to face Christmas without Batman and sends a broadcast of Summer opening a present: a Betty Blooper Doll. Batman realizes that the doll could only have come from the Laffco Toy Factory. The factory has been closed down for 14 years so it has to be Joker’s hideout. Batman and Robin make their way to the hideout and the Joker is more than ready. Joker plays the song, “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies” from the Nutcracker Suite by Tchaikovsky and several giant toy nutcracker soldiers attack. In spite of their size, the soldiers are easy enough to defeat. Just then, the song switches to “the Russian Dance” and toy planes fly after the duo. Batman grabs up a baseball bat and smashes most of them while Robin catches the rest in an oil barrel. Just as the planes are finished off, machine gun toting snipers shoot at the duo. Batman races up towards a set of giant teddy bears and hides. The snipers are confused by his disappearance until they see his cape and start firing. Much to their surprise, they find that it was only a giant teddy bear they shot at. The bear falls over and pins them down.
With Joker’s men and traps down, the duo sets out to find him but he reveals himself. His hostages are dangling over a vat of molten plastic and Joker threatens to drop them in if Batman doesn’t come and get his Christmas present. Batman takes the present and opens it to discover a spring-loaded pie inside. Joker has a laugh and cuts the rope holding his hostages. Fortunately, Batman saves them and goes after Joker. Joker manages to evade him for a while but trips on a roller-skate and almost falls into the vat. Batman saves him and bids him a Merry Christmas. Joker simply says, “Bah humbug!” Later, Bruce and Dick finish watching a recording of It’s a Wonderful Life and Bruce has to admit that it “has its moments”. Meanwhile, Joker spends his Christmas alone in his cell, but seems to be in good spirits, singing and laughing.
One of the best Christmas episodes of any show made, its well plotted,  and seeing the Joker being a men ace upon Christmas is just plain awesome. This episode clearly shows just how excellent Batman: The Animated Series was. A True Classic.

REVIEW: MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000: THE RETURN – SEASON 1

MAIN CAST

Jonah Ray (Attack of The Shw)
Felicia Day (The Guild)
Hampton Yount (The Nerdist Podcast)
Baron Vaughn (Right Now Kapow)
Patton Oswalt (Caprica)
Rebecca Hanson

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Erin Gray (Buck Rogers)
Wil Wheaton (The Big Bang Theory)
Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met YOur Mother)
Jerry Seinfeld (Seinfeld)
Bill Corbett (Meet Dave)
Kevin Murphy (The Film Crew)
Joel Hodgson (Freaks and Geeks)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Joel McHale (Spider-Man 2)

The new Mystery Science Theater episodes are very funny, and there are a handful of episodes — simply because of the movie choices and the gloriously dead-on riffs — that I’d totally watch again. As many episodes of MST3K as there are, there are still some specific installments that stand out to fans and certain movies that made for classic episodes. To get there takes the perfect combination of film and snark – the premise, or cheap production, of the movie plus the running gags and jokes that those elements inspire in the writers. Often times, a particularly meat-headed hero is enough to carry a film because of how much the host and the Bots can mock his dense machismo.The film choices for this resurrection are awesome. I’d say, of the 14 entries, there are only a couple of mediocre ones. Which is to say, still fun, but not exactly gut-busting. More often than not though, these are top-shelf choices with some truly hilarious commentary. There’s also a nice fluidity to the choices too. The third movie pick, The Time Travelers, was written by the guy who penned the first movie choice, Reptilicus. From there, one of the stars of the Rock Hudson disaster flick Avalanche, which the show lampoons in Episode 4, was actually in The Time Travelers. After that, there are two movies starring Doug McClure and two starring Caroline Munro, with At the Earth’s Core being the one that features the two of them and standing as the show’s season finale. So there’s a connective tissue, at times, to the film choices.Jonah and the Bots also have to experience, in a row, an awful ’80s fantasy film called Wizards of the Lost Kingdom and its in-name-only sequel, so time away definitely worked wonders for the series as it pertains to title selection.You even get a “Christmas Special” with this season, though the Mads make a funny point about how the new binge model means that no one will ever actually be watching it on Christmas. It’s with this movie, the Christmas That Almost Wasn’t, and the one preceding it, Carnival Magic, where the show really delivers the goods. These two films aren’t just bad, because that’s easy to do. You can have a movie that looks cheap or that’s acted and written poorly, but to have a movie where the story is so bafflingly bizarre that you can’t figure out, for the life of you, how it got made is a true treasure trove.I won’t spoil too much about the films but to say that one is about a a frightfully un-jovial Santa scrambling to make rent while the other involves a talking chimp who whips crowds into a frenzy by performing menial tasks. And Jonah and the Bots have a field day with them. Speaking of Jonah, Ray winds up owning the host role by the end. It takes an episode to get used to him, but by Cry Wilderness he and the jokes hit their full stride and the faster pace of the riffs really begins to settle in as the new style. As does the new mobility of Crow and Tom Servo (now played by Hampton Yount and Baron Vaughn, respectively) as they, occasionally, hover around the screen and interact with the movies more. Well, Tom hovers and Crow walks. Even Gypsy (Rebecca Hanson) pops in twice an episode for two wisecracks, while delivering the “payload” and retrieving the “payload.” Whatever the payload is.Toward the end, and this is where I’ll get into some light spoilers, things start to fully gel with not only the entire MST3K mythos — as both Joel and Mike are mentioned a few times as Jonah’s predecessors — but the entire story takes a surprising turn when Felicia Day’s Kinga decides she needs to get married as a stunt to increase her celebrity status. And who does she select as her betrothed? That’s right – Jonah! And this arc actually plays out over the course of the final four or five episodes, giving the season finale an actual season finale feel. One item I won’t spoil for you, however, is the names of the many guest stars who stop by the Satellite of Love (or the Moon 13 base) for some laughs – and a few musical numbers too! Day and Patton Oswalt also shine bright as the new mad scientists, though it takes a few episodes before their true dynamic kicks in. Patton’s Max, TV’s Son of TV’s Frank, carries a torch for Day’s Kinga, and his occasional swooning winds up playing into the final third of the season when Kinga starts eyeing Jonah as her groom-to-be. Both of them play off each other nicely and together they help shape this season into greatness.The new Mystery Science Theater 3000 is a fiercely funny continuation of the classic cult series with an affable new host, a quicker riff pace, and some exceptionally great bad movies to mock.

 

REVIEW: ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN

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MAIN CAST (VOICES)
Drake Bell (Sueprhero Movie)
Ogie Banks (Superman vs The Elite)
Greg Cipes (Teen Titans)
Clark Gregg (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Tom Kenny (Spongebob Squarepants)
Matt Lanter (Heroes)
Chi McBride (Human Target)
Caitlyn Taylor Love (I’m With The Band)
Logan Miller (Deep Powder)
J.K. Simmons (Spider-Man)
Steven Weber (Izombie)
RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST
Misty Lee (Killer Kids)
Jonathan Adams (Bones)
Tara Strong (The New Batman Adventures)
Eric Bauza (Batman: Assault on Arkam)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
Kevin Michael richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Stan Lee (Spider-Man)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)
Troy Baker (Lego Batman: The Movie)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Rob Paulsen (Teenae Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterpise)
Travis Willingham (Shelf Life)
Steve Blum (Wolverine and The X-Men)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Adrian Pasdar (Heroes)
Roger Craig Smith (Wreck-it Ralph)
Diedrich Bader (Batman: The Brave and The Bold)
Christopher Daniel Barnes (The Little Mermaid)
Maurice LaMarche (Futurama)
Dwight Schultz (The A-Team)
Jack Coleman (Heroes)
Robin Atkin Downes (Babylon 5)
Rose McGowan (Planet Terror)
Bumper Robinson (Sabrina: TTW)
Stan Lee (Avengers Aseesmble)
Seth Green (Family Guy)
Oded Fehr (The Mummy)
Freddy Rodriguez (Ugly Betty)
Phil Morris (Smallville)
Milo Ventimiglia (Heroes)
Cameron Boyce (The Descendants)
Maria Canals-Barrera (Justice League)
Will Friedle (Batman Beyond)
Eliza Dushku (Tru Calling)
Greg Grunberg (Heroes)
Michael Clarke Duncan (The Finder)
George Takei (Star Trek)
Iain De Caestecker (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Robert Patrick (Terminator 2)
Elizabeth Henstridge (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
James Marsters (Caprica)
Keith Szarabajka (Angel)
Billy West (Futurama)

I recently watched  Ultimate Spider-Man and I can honestly say that I have never wanted to stop watching a Spider-Man cartoon before in my life… until now. I have been a big fan of the Spider-Man comic series for many years and have liked almost all of the cartoon iterations of him, but this one just hurts to watch. I understand that Spider-Man is supposed to be a smart-mouthed teen who likes to make jokes while fighting crime, which is my favorite part about the character, but this show just takes it to an extreme.


I think one of the biggest problems for me was how much the stories are broken up by all of the “cut away” scenes.  I understand that Spider-Man is a show made for children and I get that the characters aren’t going to be nearly as serious as they are in the comics, but I feel like this was just too far from the source material for me to enjoy it. Another thing that bothered me was how just a few years ago we had, in my opinion, one of the best Spider-Man shows to date, Spectacular Spider-Man, and it was canceled in only it’s second season. I had really high hopes for Ultimate Spider-Man to fill the void that Spectacular Spider-Man left, but it just didn’t deliver at all.

As far as the voice acting on the show goes, they all seem to have done a really good job… with what they were given to read. So much of the writing in this show just seems so forced.why was Spectacular Spider-Man so much better and the most honest answer that I can give you is that it seems as though Marvel actually put a lot of work into Spectacular Spider-Man. I’m not saying that they didn’t put a lot of work into Ultimate Spider-Man, but it’s much harder to see in this one. The character designs in Spectacular Spider-Man may not have hit all of the right points for some people, but I really enjoyed it. The action in the show looked really good and it was easy to follow exactly what was happening, because you didn’t have a bunch of blur that you had to try and see everything through. The story for Spectacular Spider-Man was your standard Spider-Man fare, but while it was a show essentially for kids, it also appealed to many adults as well.


I really wanted to like Ultimate Spider-Man, but I just didn’t. I feel like if this show was about just another teen superhero other than Spider-Man it would have been much more forgivable, but for it to take such a dump on such a beloved character, it is just really sad to see. Now all that I can do is hope that the new Spider-Man movie can really bring something good to the table.

REVIEW: SPIDER-MAN (1994) – SEASON 1-5

 

 

CAST

Christopher Daniel Barnes (The Little Mermaid)
Edward Asner (Elf)
Linda Gary (He-Man)
Rodney Saulsberry (The Animatrix)
Jennifer Hale (Wreck-It Ralph)
Gary Imhoff (The Green Mile)
Sara Ballantine (Batman Year One)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Liz Georges (As Told By Ginger)
Hank Azaria (The Smurfs)
Joseph Campanella (Ben)
Patrick Labyorteaux (Yes Man)
Maxwell Caulfield (Alien Intruder)
Neil Ross (Rambo)
Roscoe Lee Brown (Babe)
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. (Batman: TAS)
Dawnn Lewis (Futurama)
Martin Landau (Ed Wood)
Gregg Berger (Transformers)
Don Stark (That 70s Show)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
George Buza (Mutant X)
Cedric Smith (Earth: Final Conflict)
Norm Spencer (Rescue Heroes)
Catherine Disher (Forever Knight)
Alison Sealy-Smith (You Kill Me)
Alyson Court (Beetlejuice TV)
Chris Potter (Heartland)
Malcolm McDowell (Star Trek Generations)
J.D. Hall (Undercover Brother)
Peter Mark Richman (Friday the 13th – Part 8)
George Takei (Star Trek)
John Vernon (Batman: TAS)
Courtney Peldon (Frozen)
Edward Albert (Power Rangers Time Force)
Robert Hays (Airplane)
Barbara Goodson (Power Rangers)
James Avery (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 80s)
Tony Jay (Lois & Clark)
Dorian Harewood (Earth: Final Conflict)
Jack Angel (A.I.)
Jeff Corey (Conan The Destroyer)
Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek)
Richard Moll (Scary Movie 2)
David Warner (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II)
Mira Furlan (Lost)
Earl Boen (The Terminator)
David Hayter (X-Men)
Roy Dotrice (Hercules: TLJ)
Paul Winfield (Star Trek II)
Majel Barrett (Star Trek)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)

The set itself is well presented, although the artwork is a little cheap, and clearly done in a way as to mimic the style of the 90s series. Anyone who has the recent X-Men Season releases will be familiar with this. Unlike those, this one also has a slipcase. A booklet with episode synopses is also included.

Spider-Man has season-long arcs, which when viewed in succession make for great television. Christopher Barnes is brilliant as Spider-Man (especially in those fleeting moments of extreme rage), and the guests were memorable too, particularly Rob Paulsen’s oafish Hydro Man and Jennifer Hale as Felicia Hardy/ Black Cat.

The music was great too, but while Spider-Man relied on several repeated  cues,  Another thing about Spider-Man is that even after all these years I find myself being surprised by some of the plot twists, which were even more abundant upon first viewing. Thankfully, John Semper (creative head of the show) was bold enough to change much of the original stories to make them worth animating in the first place. What else? A minor triumph, but the colouring on this cartoon is the best of any I’ve ever seen. A simple praise. While the show lost its way during the muddled fourth year it had some great episodes in the last series, with one of the greatest resolution-with-cliffhanger endings in animation history. A rare treat in that its much, much better than you remember it.

Some of the best episodes were – the three-parter, “The Alien Costume”- a marvellous introduction for the ultimately underused Venom (a deliciously insane Hank Azaria)- and the two-part “Hobgoblin” are among the best in the show’s five-year run. “Night of the Lizard”, a pilot of sorts, is interesting in that there’s an awful lot more effort put into the animation than in later episodes, as is often the case.

Animation from the 1990s doesn’t come much better than this, and Marvel have yet to top it.

REVIEW: 3RD ROCK FROM THE SUN – SEASON 2

 

MAIN CAST

John Lithgow (Rise of the Planet of The Apes)
Kristen Johnston (ugly Betty)
French Stewart (Mom)
Joseph Gordon-Levitt (The Dark Knight Rises)
Jane Curtin (The Heat)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Elmarie Wendel (Rumpelstiltskin)
Simbi Khali (Plump Fiction)
Wayne Knight (Jurassic Park)
Ian Lithgow (Rice Girl)
David DeLuise (Stargate SG.1)
Chris Hogan (Grounded For Life)
Danielle Nicolet (The Flash 2014)
Dennis Rodman (Blunt Movie)
George Takei (Star Trek)
John D’Aquino (Seaquest)
Ileen Getz (That 70s Show)
Jennifer Rhodes (Heathers)
Harry Morgan (M*A*S*H)
John Aylward (The Crazies)
Dan Gilvezan (Transformers)
Brenda Strong (Supergirl)
Shay Aster (Ernest Scared Stupid)
Laraine Newman  (Wall-e)
Danny Strong (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Tara Strong (Batman: The Animated Series)
Tom Towles (The Devil’s Rejects)
Mark Christopher Lawrence (Chuck)
Jan Hooks (The Simpsons)
Dick Martin (Two Guys and A Girl)
George Hertzberg (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Curtis Andersen (Sabrina: The Teenage Witch)
Philip Baker Hall (Bruce Almighty)
Michael Milhoan (That 70s Show)
Richard McGonagle (500 Days of Summer)
Jim Pirri (Lois & Clark)
Nicki Aycox (Roadkill 2)
Ron West (Anger Management)
Linda Cardellini (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
Nancy Lenehan (Two Guys and a Girl)
Henry Woronicz (When The Cradle Falls)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Christine Baranski (The Big Bang Theory)

3rd Rock From the Sun is one of the richest and hilarious television comedies to air. The series first aired in 1996 and lasted for a total of six seasons. The show molds science fiction into a sitcom and the results are a blast. A team of aliens from Mars take on human form in Rutherford, Ohio and integrate themselves into the local populace. Their goal is to learn everything they can about humans in a couple of days. Of course, it turns out humans are much more complex than expected and the team of aliens decide to stay a while longer. The strongest aspect of this show is its cast. They are remarkable together. Within minutes of any episode, it is apparent how well they interact and play off of each other. The show’s writing is also top notch and delivers one great joke after another. For more details about this series and its cast, please refer to my review of the first season.I had a lot of fun watching season one and I’m wasn’t really surprised I had an even better time with season two. All of the actors and actresses give stunning performances. The season two writing is clever, witty, and most importantly, funny. I think Lithgow says it best in the interview featurette included as an extra with this set. He makes a couple of comments regarding just how good the show was and his evidence is the cast, the writing, and the unique and very absurd situations they were allowed to get away with. And the truth is that Lithgow was right on every level. 3rd Rock From the Sun is one hell of a funny show and this second season speaks wonders.The second season picks up where the first season ended. In “See Dick Run – Part I”, the season one finale, Dick was replaced by Evil Dick after the Big Giant Head decided he was failing his duties as high commander. The second season concludes the story with “See Dick Continue to Run – Part II” and “See Dick Continue to Run, Continued – Part III”. In this three part episode Lithgow gives a stellar performance playing both his normal character and an evil diabolic version of himself. There are also some stunning performances with Lithgow and Stewart doing physical comedy. These episodes set a great tone for the rest of the season.The episode “World’s Greatest Dick” is perhaps the funniest this season has to offer. Sally goes into a gay bar and meets a really great guy named Glenn. Unfortunately, he thinks Sally is a man. Of course it takes her the entire episode to realize what’s going on in his mind. What makes this funny is not that it takes the common stereotypical gay guy, but rather that Sally as an alien doesn’t understand the stereotype. She just thinks Glenn is the perfect guy. “Proud Dick” is another episode that will leave you chuckling. As we’ve come to know the high commander, he’s a bit of an egotist. In this episode Mary gets a better parking space and Dick is furious he didn’t get it. So he goes to the university president and quits his job over the matter. Dick ends up working at a fast food joint. What makes this a funny episode is simply how Dick carries himself and the way the other cast members respond to his situation. Another fun part about this episode is getting to see Harry in a different light. He hits his head and undergoes amnesia. After spending some time with the family, he begins to believe the world is being taken over by aliens.3rd-Rock-from-the-SunThe two holiday episodes, “Gobble, Gobble, Dick, Dick” and “Jolly Old St. Dick”, which respectively cover Thanksgiving and Christmas are also worth noting. The Solomon family having arrived on Earth in January, they haven’t experienced America’s two biggest holidays. Their inexperience makes both of these episodes a riot. In the Thanksgiving episode, Sally rushes home after going to the grocery store on Thanksgiving. Now think about the last minute crowds at the grocery, grabbing up turkeys, potatoes, cranberry sauce, and just about everything imaginable. So naturally when Sally runs into these crowds, she thinks something bad is on the horizon, like the end of the world. Of course the Solomon’s find out what is really going on and trying to keep their human facade going, invite Mary, Mrs. Dubcek and her daughter over for an authentic Thanksgiving dinner. The Christmas episode is also full of laughs. They all learn what the Christmas spirit is all about, which includes the truth about old Saint Nick. I’m not sure if there is anything quite as funny as a grown man, err… Harry, learning that Santa isn’t real.The remaining season episodes are a blast. Our friend Wayne Knight best known for his role as Newman in Seinfeld appears in his reoccurring role as Don Orville, the cop who make san odd match for the beautiful Sally. He shows up in a number of episodes and the ridiculous and overzealous way he handles his character makes him a perfect match for the rest of the cast. This season also has a couple of big names as guests. In “Hotel Dick”, the Solomon’s go to a science-fiction movie about killer aliens and fear the general public has the wrong idea about them. In order to get the good word out, they go to a science fiction convention, where George Takei from Star Trek: The Original Series guest stars. In “Fifteen Minutes of Dick”, Sally punches out Star Wars’ Mark Hamill and becomes a local celebrity in Rutherford. The amount of attention she receives leaves Dick jealous beyond belief. In both episodes Hamill and Takei are portrayed in “I’m a washed up actor striving for attention” and damn it’s funny.Some other fun things that happen in this season include Sally coming to terms with being a virgin, Harry is pushed into running for city council, Dick learns what being a sports fanatic is like, Dick takes a sensitivity class, Dick tries to replace Nina with Harry, Harry gets a girlfriend, Tommy falls for glee club teacher, Sally finds out what it’s like to be a mother, Mary and Dick take the next step in their relationship, and plenty more. Overall this season promises to deliver even funnier and racier content than the first season. I repeatedly found myself laughing hysterical until it hurt and then rewinding the last scene to laugh just as hard again. Season two of 3rd Rock From the Sun is a must buy.What can I say? 3rd Rock From the Sun makes me laugh and laugh and laugh. The first season got off to a great start and this second season continues with episodes that are hilarious, riveting, amusing, ridiculous, and just a lot of fun. The characters are all handled extremely well in how they interact with each other, deliver dialogue, and use body language to the fullest. This season should make you laugh, cry, and leave you wanting more. Highly recommended.