REVIEW: DOOM PATROL – SEASON 1

Doom Patrol (2019)

Starirng

Diane Guerrero (Justice League vs The Fatal Five)
April Bowlby (Two and a Half Men)
Joivan Wade (the First Purge)
Alan Tudyk (Firefly)
Matt Bomer (The Magnificent Seven)
Brendan Fraser (The Mummy)
Timothy Dalton (Flash Gordon)

Doom Patrol (2019)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Julie McNiven (Mad Men)
Julian Richings (Man of Steel)
Kyle Clements (2 Guns)
Alan Heckner (The Mule)
Ashley Dougherty (Dynasty)
Phil Morris (Smallville)
Curtis Armstrong (American Dad)
Alec Mapa (Ugly Betty)
Lilli Birdsell (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Mark Sheppard (Battlestar Galactica)
Ted Sutherland (Rise)
Will Kemp (Reign)
Alimi Ballard (Sabrina: TTW)
Jasmine Kaur (Ender’s Game)
Lesa Wilson (Stargirl)
Bethany Anne Lind (Flight)
Ethan McDowell (The Gifted)
Jon Briddell (Nightmare Tenant)
Tommy Snider (Baskets)
Max Martini (The Order)
Joan Van Ark (Knots Landing)
Pisay Pao (Z Nation)
Susan Williams (The Accountant)
Devan Long (Bosch)
Edward Asner (Elf)
Haley Strode (Gangster Squad)
Victoria Blade (Chicago Fire)

Penultimate Patrol (2019)When I watched the first episode of Doom Patrol, I was immediately excited by what I saw: a great-looking, well-written story about surprisingly human superhumans with powers that were more than power fantasies. With the finale in the rear-view mirror, it’s time to look back and see if the show stuck to its ideas and made good on its promises.
In short, Doom Patrol is an incredibly special show – as a superhero/comic-book show, as a DC Universe show, and as just, you know, a dang TV show.April Bowlby and Joivan Wade in Doom Patrol (2019)At its roots, Doom Patrol is a show about people with disabilities. People with differences that separate them from “normal” people. They hide their disfigurements, struggle, and shame themselves. They stand out not as a matter of choice, but just by existing. And the show, the story, never loses sight of that. Through their adventures, the Patrol meets a sentient, teleporting, genderqueer street, a guy who gets special powers from eating beard hair (it’s gross), and a cockroach with a god complex. They get sucked into a donkey that farts words, end up inside a snowglobe with characters that would freak out the people who made Return to Oz, and break into a government facility that houses, among other things, carnivorous butts.Doom Patrol is a show that fully embraces its weirdness in a way very few shows manage. But throughout this, our characters continue to struggle and fight against the forces that work against them: a reality that wants to write their narratives for them, a government agency that wants to track, monitor, and use them because they don’t fit neatly into the idea of normalcy, and a few overprotective father figures with questionable ideas of what it means to protect their children or their charges.Diane Guerrero in Doom Patrol (2019)Together, the team validates each others’ struggles. Cliff immediately accepts Crazy Jane, and the eventual dive into her mind helps him understand that only she can put herself back together – and that it’s with the strength of her relationships that she can start to try to do it. Larry Trainor was a gay man living in mid-century America. When he was forcibly united with the Negative Spirit, the idea of hiding his real self from his loved ones became very literal, and the disfigurement he held for himself in his mind became real – and toxic. It wasn’t until he started to communicate with the spirit that he was able to find peace with his own truth. Cyborg, who I’ve previously described as a Justice-League-grade hero had to push his way out from under his helicopter-parent father to truly become himself and to find an even ground on which he could communicate with that father. The group went through therapy together, even if there was a rat inside Cliff’s head for it.Brendan Fraser, Diane Guerrero, and Riley Shanahan in Doom Patrol (2019)And while these characters were working through their collective and individual traumas, we got an incredibly good-looking show with stellar character designs and great visual effects. The arc that took the characters to Nurnheim stands out as an especially good-looking part of the show with some wild monsters for the characters to fight off, making them look like a superhero team for the first time.Riley Shanahan in Doom Patrol (2019)And few shows are so compassionate toward their characters. No show is perfect, especially when handling as many sensitive issues – disability, mental and physical trauma, sexual assault, hate, internalized ableism, just to start the list – but I don’t know if I’ve seen any show do it with such aplomb. This is a show about people with very real barriers to living normal lives, not super-geniuses who can take off their power armor, and it lets us into all of their struggles and loves them through it. With reports that suggest the show will see a second season, I can only cross my fingers and hope we’ll see more of these incredible characters.

REVIEW: THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE BEGINNING

CAST

Jordana Brewster (Fast & Furious)
Taylor Handley (Zerophilia)
Diora Baird (Wedding Crashers)
Matthew Bomer (Chuck)
R. Lee Ermey (Full Metal Jacket)
Lee Tergesen (Oz)
Andrew Bryniarski (Batman Returns)
Lew Temple (Domino)
John Larroquette (Stripes)

In 1939, a woman dies while giving birth in a slaughterhouse, and the manager attempts to dispose of the baby by leaving him in a dumpster. A young woman, Luda Mae Hewitt, finds the child, takes him back to the Hewitt residence, names him Thomas, and decides to raise him as her own. Thirty years later, Thomas, also known as Tommy, is working in the slaughterhouse under the same manager. When the plant is shut down by the health department, he refuses to leave until the manager forces him to. Later, Tommy returns, murders the manager, and then finds a chainsaw. Luda Mae’s son, Charlie Hewitt, kills the sheriff “Hoyt” to prevent him from arresting Tommy. He then assumes his identity and takes his body back home to use for stew meat.Meanwhile, two brothers, Eric and Dean, are driving across the country with their girlfriends, Chrissie and Bailey, to enlist in the Vietnam War. At a diner, they meet a female biker named Alex, who follows them. Alex soon draws a shotgun and orders the group to pull over. In the ensuing chaos, the car crashes, with Chrissie being thrown out into a field out of sight. Hoyt arrives and immediately kills Alex. After making them put Alex’s body in his car, Hoyt forces the group in as well, and calls for Uncle Monty to tow the wreckage, where Chrissie has hidden. Hoyt drives them to the Hewitt house where he has Tommy butcher Alex’s body. He then holds Eric, Dean and Bailey hostage. As Monty brings the wrecked car back to the house, Chrissie escapes and flags down Holden, Alex’s boyfriend, who follows her back to the house.At the house, Hoyt tortures Dean after finding out he had been intending to dodge the Vietnam War draft. When Hoyt leaves, Eric breaks free from his restraints and gets Dean to safety before sneaking into the house to free Bailey. In the process, Dean is caught in a bear trap and Hoyt knocks Eric unconscious. Bailey escapes in Monty’s truck, but Tommy stabs her in the shoulder with a meat hook and drags her back to the house. Meanwhile, Holden and Chrissie arrive at the house but part ways to search for their friends. Chrissie finds Dean, while Holden takes Hoyt hostage, ordering him to take him to Alex. Hoyt calls to Tommy for help; Tommy arrives and kills Holden with the chainsaw. Chrissie finds Eric in the basement but is unable to free him, and hides when Tommy returns. Tommy inspects Eric’s face before killing him with the chainsaw, skinning his face, and wearing it as a mask.Chrissie is about to flee when she hears Bailey’s screams and decides to go back and save her. She finds her upstairs, but Hoyt catches her and brings her downstairs for dinner, along with Bailey and an unconscious Dean. Leatherface kills Bailey and tries to take Chrissie to the basement, but she stabs him in the back and jumps out of a window. Dean regains consciousness and beats Hoyt before heading off to find Chrissie. Chrissie enters the slaughterhouse, and after noticing that Leatherface has tracked her, she grabs a knife and cuts Leatherface’s face, but he overpowers her. Dean intervenes, but Leatherface kills him with the chainsaw. Chrissie escapes, hijacks an abandoned car, and drives off. She sees a state trooper in the distance, but as Chrissie pulls over, Leatherface appears in the backseat and impales her with the chainsaw, causing her to lose control and run over both the trooper and the man he pulled over. Leatherface then exits the car and walks along the road back towards the Hewitt house.Very grim and graphic with no humor and shot in muted color…just as the 2003 one. Another plus is all the acting is good. Brewster, Handley, Baird and Bomer are all good-looking and likable–when the violence starts you really are horrified at seeing such great characters being tortured. Ermey is on hand giving another terrifying performance as Hoyt. His character is so twisted, violent and sick that when he got a taste of his own medicine most will applause. Also there’s good old Leatherface and his chainsaw chasing everybody.

REVIEW: TRU CALLING – SEASON 1 & 2

MAIN CAST

Eliza Dushku (Wrong Turn)
Shawn Reaves (Shadowheart)
Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover)
A.J. Cook (Final Destination 2)
Jessica Collins (Lois & Clark)
Benjamin Benitez (True Detective)
Jason Priestley (Beverly Hills, 90210)

Image result for tru calling
RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Matthew Bomer (Chuck)
Kristopher Polaha (Ringer)
Hudson Leick (Xena)
Heath Freeman (Bones)
John Newton (Superboy)
Callum Rennie (Flashforward)
Michael Trucco (Battlestar Galactica)
Missy Peregrym (Heroes)
Cobie Smulders (How I Met YOur Mother)
Joe Flanigan (Stargate: Atlantis)
Leonard Roberts (Smallville)
Kal Penn (Van Wilder)
Alaina Huffman (Stargate Universe)
Brendan Fletcher (News Movie)
Evangeline Lilly (Lost)
Ryan Kwanten (True Blood)
Mary Elizabeth Winstead (10 Cloverfield Lane)
Garwin Sanford (Stargate SG.1)
Chris William Martin (The Vampire Diaries)
Christina Hendricks (Mad Men)
Emily Holmes (Dark Angel)
Jodi Lyn O’Keefe (The Vampire Diaries)
Jennifer Spence (Stargate Universe)
Devon Gummersall (Roswell)
Sarah Deakins (Andromeda)
Clare Kramer (Buffy)
Alexandra Holden (The Hot Chick)
Michelle Harrison (The Flash)
Erica Durance (Smallville)
Rachel Hayward (Jingle All The Way 2)
Cotter Smith (Alias)
Wade Williams (Gangster Squad)
Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Watchmen)
Agam Darshi (Sanctuary)
Alec Newman (Dune)
Jesse Moss (Ginger Snaps)
Derek Hamilton (Disturbing Behavior)
Nick Wechsler (Roswell)
Daivd Lipper (Full house)
John Reardon (The Killing)
Carly Pope (Arrow)
Liz Vassey (Two and a Half Men)
Eric Christian Olsen (Not Another Teen Movie)
Lizzy Caplan (Cloverfield)
Parry Shen (Hatchet)
Erick Avari (Stargate)
Dominic Zamprogna (Odyssey 5)
Maggie Lawson (Two and a Half Men)
William Sadler (Iron Man 3)

Image result for tru callingAfter the grant sponsoring her internship loses funding, an aspiring medical student (Tru Davies) takes a job at the local morgue. On her first day of work, incidentally the 10th anniversary of her mother’s death, one of the bodies from the crypt springs to life for a brief moment and asks her for help. Instantly, her day “rewinds” and she quickly realizes that it’s her responsibility to try and save the woman who called out to her from a death that should not have happened, all the while trying to repair the lives of her immature brother and drug-addicted sister. With the help of her clumsy but loveable boss at the morgue, Tru strives to put right what once when wrong and hoping each time that her next leap will be the leap home.Eliza Dushku played prominent characters in a few popular films before Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but it was her portrayal of Faith in the 3rd season of the popular television show that helped set her on the path to becoming a star. It’s understandable, then, that fans of the show were not particularly happy with her when she turned down a chance for a television series based around the Faith character in favor of Tru Calling. However, it’s equally understandable that as an actor, she would want to try new things, and carrying an unproven series with a new character offered her that opportunity.On the surface, Tru Calling is a formula show. Borrowing elements from Quantum Leap, Early Edition and Goundhog Day, each episode follows a similar pattern. A body arrives in the morgue and asks for help triggering a rewind before the opening titles, and Tru spends the rest of the episode trying to piece together what caused the death and how to prevent it. The premise sounds interesting enough, but without clever writing and entertaining characters, such a concept could get stale very quickly, especially over an entire television season. Thankfully, the show’s creators appear to recognize this early on and make efforts to tweak the formula just enough to keep the stories fresh and interesting.As with any show that hopes to build an audience, Tru Calling is not just about the “Death of the Week.” While it is the focus of each episode, not every day is a rewind, and Tru still has a life of her own and a family she cares about. The death of their mother and subsequent remarriage and general absence of their father has made things difficult on the Davies family, and Tru is struggling to keep them together. This is not an easy task as her sister Meredith (Jessica Collins) is a fast-paced businesswoman in denial over her drug habit, and her brother Harrison (Shawn Reaves) has a bit of a responsibility problem. And what superhero story would be complete without the lead character’s romantic relationships suffering from the strains of a secret double-life? Certainly not this one. All the pieces are there, including the loveable but awkward mentor (Zach Galifianakis) who always seems to know just a little more than he lets on.The character of Tru is likeable and well meaning, and as she comes to empathize with those she is trying to help, the audience cannot help but do the same. Offsetting much of the dramatic tension is quite a bit of humor with Shawn Reaves’s performance as Harrison. He’s a complete screw-up, but he’s so charming and creative (not to mention very loyal to Tru) that his misadventures are a continuing source of entertainment. Equally effective is Davis who, although clumsy in his interactions with others, serves as a surrogate older brother and sounding board for Tru, something she desperately needs considering the double burden she carries.Tru Calling is an excellent example of a television series that can flourish if given time to grow. Many of the early episodes aren’t anything special. They’re a bit predictable and formulaic, but underneath them is a level of quality worth exploring. As they find their rhythm and tweak the show a bit, everything falls into place, and by the season finale, it’s a pretty darn good show. While Eliza Dushku is a capable actress and portrays Tru very well, much of the show’s quality can be attributed to outstanding performances by the supporting cast, most notably Zach Galifianakis and Shawn Reaves, as well as the addition of Jason Priestley, who elevates the show to another level. What he brings to the character and the show is both nuanced and compelling, and it’s fascinating to watch him on screen.The second season only offered a very brief six episodes before being pulled.  Once again, the season continues to improve over the early goings, ratcheting up the tension between Jack and Tru, which is effective due to the chemistry between the two and the fact that Priestley’s menacing performance is his finest work. It’s really too bad that the series couldn’t have at least finished out this second season, as it continued to improve and the final episode here really isn’t much of a conclusion.