REVIEW: CHUCK – SEASON 4

 

CAST

Zachary Levi (Heroes Reborn)
Yvonne Strahovski (Batman: Bad Blood)
Adam Baldwin (Firefly)
Joshua Gomez (Invasion)
Sarah Lancaster (Saved By The Bell: The New Class)
Ryan McPartlin (J. Edgar)
Mark Christopher Lawrence (Halloween II)
Scott Krinsky (Transformers 3)
Vik Sahay (eXistenZ)
Bonita Friedericy (Veronica Mars)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Mekenna Melvin (Lie To Me)
Linda Hamilton (The Terminator)
Timothy Dalton (Flash Gordon)
Olivia Munn (X-Men: Apocalypse)
Isaiah Mustafa (The Island)
Stacy Keibler (How I Met Your Mother)
Dolph Lundgren (Masters of The Universe)
Summer Glau (Firefly)
Lauren Cohan (The Walking Dead)
Robin Givens (God’s Not Dead 2)
Ray Wise (Robocop)
Richard Chamberlain (Shogun)
Mini Anden (Tropic Thunder)
Larry Cedar (Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas)
Katie Cleary (Tomorrow’s End)
Harry Dean Stanton (Alien)
Lou Ferrigno (The Scorpion King 4)
Bronson Pinchot (Lois & Clark)
Karolina Kurkova (G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra)
Nicole Richie (The Simple Life)
Steve Austin (The Expendables)
Armand Assante (Judge Dredd)
Eric Roberts (The Dark Knight)
Dave Bautista (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Joel David Moore (Bones)
Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street)
Morgan Fairchild (Roswell)
Ana Gasteyer (Mean Girls)
Rob Riggle (21 Jump Street)
James Lew (G.I. Joe: Retaliation)
Monet Mazur (Just Married)
Matthew Willig (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
John Larroquette (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre)
Clare Carey (Hercules: TLJ)
Lesley-Ann Brandt (Lucifer)
Lou Diamond Phillips (Stargate Universe)
Mercedes Mason (The Finder)
Francois Chau (Lost)
David H. Lawrence XVII (Heroes)
Gary Cole (Crusade)

Season three of Chuck found the show getting more serious as it found the main character fully embracing his new life as a spy. Season four continued that streak. When we last left our characters, we were watching the Buy More  going up in flames. Meanwhile, Chuck Bartowski (Zachary Levi) was promising his sister Ellie (Sarah Lancaster) that he would give up the dangerous world of spying.

The season four premier picks up several months later. Chuck and his best friend Morgan (Joshua Gomez) are conducting a secret mission of their own. They are attempting to use clues left behind by Chuck’s dad to find Chuck’s mom, a woman who disappeared 20 years ago. When it turns out that Chuck’s former government handers Sarah Walker (Yvonne Strahovski) and John Casey (Adam Baldwin) are on the same hunt, Chuck goes back to work for the CIA. Meanwhile, the CIA rebuilds the Buy More as a continued cover for their Southern California base and giving the old Buy More gang their old jobs back in the process. Morgan begins dating Casey’s daughter. Ellie starts investigating her family history, and she and husband Devon (Ryan McPartlin) announce they are expecting. Plus Chuck and Sarah’s relationship continues to build as they work through various issues.

But that’s nothing compared to what happens when Chuck actually tracks down his mother Mary (recurring guest star Linda Hamilton) who is working for the Russian Alexei Volkoff (recurring guest star Timothy Dalton). Can she be trusted? Or is Chuck about to be hurt worse for having tracked her down? As the season unfolded the twists to the story were interesting, and I spent much of the season wondering exactly which side Mary was really on.

And there are some fun sub-plots to the season. Probably my favorite involves Morgan and Casey. The no-nonsense NSA agent has little patience for Chuck’s bumbling best friend, and the fact that they have to work together on missions is nothing compared to when he realizes that Morgan is dating his daughter. Those moments are priceless. The writers and producers did a good job of developing Chuck and Sarah’s relationship. They have managed to avoid the curse of killing a show when you get the main couple together by developing their relationship and giving them realistic things they need to work on. It’s interesting watching it develop, and I like that.

As always with this show, the acting is top notch. As with last season, the show was originally renewed for 13 episodes and then picked up for a back 11. That means that the first 13 episodes tell their own story with a second story springing off that one in the second half. Even the second half of the season reveals some secrets about the Bartowski family legacy. It also means that this season set includes 24 episodes of the show in original wide screen and full surround. In addition to the gag reel and deleted scenes, there’s a featurette about Zachary Levi stepping behind the camera to direct the Thanksgiving episode as well as a collection of Webisodes featuring Jeff and Lester’s quest for a video game.  The characters are still endearing and the storylines worth watching. If you haven’t caught all of season four, fix that today and prepare for season five.

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REVIEW: RED SANDS

CAST

Shane West (Nikita)
Leonard Roberts (Heroes)
Aldis Hodge (Leverage)
Callum Blue (Smallville)
Brendan Miller (Project X)
Theo Rossi (Luke Cage)
Noel Gugliemi (Training Day)
Mercedes Mason (The Finder)
J.K. Simmons (Spider-Man)

In 2002, Jeff Keller, who mysteriously survived the slaughter of his troops during a mission, is debriefed by an officer. The facts gathered indicate that he and his soldiers had been ambushed by al-Qaeda fighters who killed them all, leaving Keller for dead. Two weeks before, in September 2002, Keller’s crew gets a mission assignment and is set out to an isolated farmhouse where a family had been slaughtered days before. Their mission is to monitor a road as a sting to catch militants using it to transfer supplies. However, after an unintended stop at a mysterious shrine, a bored member of their group, Chard Davies, fires a few rounds at a stone idol, causing it to shatter. The squad’s interpreter Wilcox believes that it was a shrine to a Djinn, a powerful deity made from a smokeless flame, which in mythology matched the legend of a genie.
They return to their convoy and go to the farmhouse. While there, a series of bizarre events unfold. A sandstorm comes up and the group catches an unnamed Afghan woman running in, seeking shelter. Unable to speak her language they are unable to understand what she is saying, though dubious to her arrival, they keep her in case there are more. During the following days, tension begins to mount in the group. Staff Sergeant Howston is unable to reach any of their allies by radio; when Wilcox attempts to, he hears a strange distress call stating that their sergeant has gone AWOL which Howston cannot hear. Paranoia begins to get the better of them when Howston receives word that they missed a car on the road which they cannot see, and their truck’s ignition system is destroyed one night. Meanwhile, Howston and Wilcox are being haunted by gruesome images of people they had killed in the past.
Wilcox goes missing, and the only witness seems to be team member Tino Hull, who sees another member, Jorge Wardell, giving off a terrifying roar before him. That night, Wilcox’s dead body is found with his eyes removed and his face in a frozen expression of terror, and after a series of vivid and bizarre dreams Hull grabs another member Trevor Anderson and holds him at gunpoint as he accuses Wardell of killing Wilcox. Hull opens fire on Wardell and Davies is forced to retaliate, killing Hull. Howston orders them to take the bodies outside, and the next morning, the group is shocked to find that they are missing. Howston, slowly losing his grip on his sanity, orders Keller and Anderson to keep guard outside while he himself watches to make sure nothing else goes missing. While they are gone, Davies attempts to rape the Afghan girl, and in a heated moment calls Howston a “fucking nigger”, prompting Howston to hit him. In anger, Davies attempts to attack Howston, and Howston finally cracks, killing Davies and ordering Anderson and Keller to stash his body outside.
Afterwards, Howston goes missing, as does the girl as the remaining two attempt to make radio contact, Keller realizes that the voice he heard on the radio was that of Anderson when he makes the same radio call he had heard days prior. The pair plan to make a break for the rest of their group, but the girl appears briefly in the house and Keller goes to find her. Meanwhile, Anderson is confronted by the dead Wilcox who reveals himself to be a hideous creature. Before Anderson can react, however, he is killed by a shot to the head from the stalking Howston. Howston prowls the farm looking for Keller and is shocked when he comes across the same creature that Anderson had seen. His defenses lowered after running, Keller manages to gain the upper hand and slits the Sergeant’s throat. Keller then encounters the Afghan girl, who turns out to be the Djinn, and manages to escape by throwing a grenade into the ammo-filled farmhouse. The following morning, Keller is grabbed by something from underneath the sand and pulled down, disappearing under the desert. The first scene then recaps, and after the commanding officer tells him that he will be returned to the United States, he leaves. Keller then looks toward the camera, his eyes turning black revealing he is in fact the Djinn. As the screen pans out to the desert again it is revealed to the audience that Keller is dead, half buried in the sand, his eyes removed and his mouth open wide in terror. The screen then goes dark, and the credits roll.
Red Sands is a claustrophobic and tense psychological horror movie, with a great surrealistic story that can be interpreted as a madness process of a group of soldiers stranded in a place that they do not understand the culture and the language. Worth Watching for Smallvile’s Callum Blue.

REVIEW: ANGER MANAGEMENT – SEASON 1-2

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MAIN CAST

Charlie Sheen (Machete Kills)
Selma Blair (Hellboy)
Shawnee Smith (Saw)
Noureen DeWulf (American Dreamz)
Michael Arden (Bride Wars)
Daniela Bobadilla (The Middle)
Derek Richardson (Hostel)
Barry Corbin (Windsor)
Brian Austin Green (Terminator: TSCC)
Laura Bell Bundy (Scream Queens)
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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Brett Butler (Grace Under Fire)
Michael Boatman (Hamburger Hill)
James Black (Kick-Ass 2)
Darius McCrary (15 Minutes)
Aldo Gonzalez (Sons of Anarchy)
Stephen Monroe Taylor (Texas Rising)
Kerri Kenney (Role Models)
Denise Richards (Valentine)
Martin Sheen (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Meredith Salenger (Lake Placid)
Mimi Kennedy (Mom)
Steve Valentine (Mike & Molly)
Stacy Keach (Two and a Half Men)
Danielle Bisutti (Curse of Chucky)
CeeLo Green (Sparkle)
Ken Lerner (The Running Man)
Bryce Johnson (Popular)
Lindsay Lohan (Scary Movie V)
Eddie Shin (That 80s Show)
Don Stark (That 70s Show)
Marion Ross (Happy Days)
Steven Krueger (The Originals)
Carol Kane (Gotham)
Nicole Travolta (House of Dust)
LeAnn Rimes (Reel Love)
Greg Cipes (Teen Titans)
Kristina Anapau (Black Swan)
Brea Grant (Heroes)
Anna Hutchison (Power Rangers Jungle Fury)
Bob Clendenin (Birds of Prey)
Ajay Mehta (Spider-Man)
Meera Simhan (Miss India America)
Gina Gershon (Ugly Betty)
Odette Annable (The Unborn)
George Wyner (Spaceballs)
Ron West (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Bary Livingston (Argo)
Cheech Marin (Machete)
Carla Gallo (Bones)
Julia Duffy (Looking)
Brooke Lyons (Izombie)
Fred Stoller (Little Man)
Isaiah Mustafa (Chuck)
Aly Michalka (Izombie)
Tiffany Dupont (Greek)
Michael Gross (Tremors)
Elaine Hendrix (The Parent Trap)
Jacqueline MacInnes Wood (Arrow)
Ivar Brogger (Andromeda)
Eric Steinberg (Stargate SG.1)
Will Sasso (Movie 43)
Arden Myrin (Shameless USA)
Mercedes Mason (The Finder)
Gilbert Gottfried (Aladdin)
Ciara Hanna (Power Rangers Megaforce)
Robin Riker (Big Love)
Izabella Miko (The Cape)

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If there is anything that can be said about Charlie Sheen it’s that he lands on his feet, even when having very public melt downs.  After losing his job on Two and a Half Men the fact he managed to find himself another show where he was the star is surprising in ways, but in others it could be said to be a cheap attempt to cash in on the fact that he is quite a huge public figure.  Anger Management Season One is a show that rests firmly on Sheen’s shoulders and relies on his talents, which is both a good and bad thing.
Charlie, played by Charlie Sheen is a failed baseball player who ended his own career when he lost his temper and tried to break a bat over his knee, doing more damage to himself than the bat.  Having to find another form of employment he becomes an anger management therapist ranging from a group that meet every week at his house to a group in prison who are in need of the therapy to curb their violent actions.  Managing his patient’s therapy while trying to control his own anger issues he finds things further complicated by his own therapist that he’s sleeping with, his ex-wife and their daughter who suffers from OCD.
It’s quite interesting that Anger Management starts with an opening scene where Sheen shouts into the screen with a blatant message to his past employers over at Two and a Half Men, because Anger Management is very similar to his past show.  His character, although he drinks less and actually seems quite a smart guy but he is very much Charlie.  The other characters also have that oddball appearance about them that you expect to see in Two and a Half Men, it’s just missing the people he left behind.  In the defence of Anger Management defence though I found the show to be quite likeable and the fact that Selma Blair, who is very easy on the eye spends most of it in various stages of undress is nothing to be complained about.  Of course she also provides sound advice as his therapist and constantly challenges him to do the right thing.
If we further compare the show to Two and a Half Men the reason that show worked and continues to survive is down to the characters themselves, although most recently it seems that not only Charlie Sheen are causing it issues.  Looking to Anger Management though, with a more well behaved Sheen, a guest appearance from his father Martin Sheen and a good ensemble cast and we have a show that Sheen can work off quite well.  Shawnee Smith as his ex-wife pulls off a suitably fiery performance, verbally sparring with Sheen and holding her own, she’s the type of actress who seems to effortlessly have that edge to her characters, and in this she does it to good effect, though it’s obvious she still cares about her ex-husband.  Daniela Bobadilla as his daughter Sam is one of the quirkier of the characters, with her OCD giving her quite a few episodes when she’ll get herself into strange situations just as part of her daily life.
The highlight of the show though is arguably Charlie’s patients, Lacey (Noureen DeWulf), Patrick (Michael Arden), Nolan (Derek Richardson) and Ed (Barry Corbin) who display different varieties of anger that needs to be managed.  The sessions where they tell their tales of being in “control” are some of the funnier moments and I’d say for me Barry Corbin (Ed) is the stand out with his hatred of everybody in equal measure.  There are even episodes where the theme actually looks at ways for them to curtail their anger, which is a nice change.
Anger Management is a show that is enjoyably, but it does rely on Charlie Sheen which is always a risk.  It’s interesting that the show plays off the events that took place in Sheen’s life, which does include the shadow of Two and a Half Men.  It will be nice to see in the second season if the show can pull itself out of that shadow and Sheen can move on with the success, and it is believable that both he and the show can.
Charlie Sheen is in heaven. ‘Anger Management’ is the perfect show for him. He gets to walk around a set, cracking badly written jokes while a laugh-track validates them. The entire show is laden with attractive women who were probably in grade school when Sheen was doing ‘Major League.’ He gets to pretend to have a sex-filled no-strings-attached relationship with Selma Blair. And, to top it all off, the man who once pronounced “I’m different. I have a different constitution. I have a different brain, I have a different heart. I got tiger blood, man,” is playing a psychologist. One of the world’s greatest ironies I guess.
The problem – well the show has a ton of problems, but the biggest – is the fact that ‘Anger Management’ doesn’t play on the Charlie Sheen is batshit insane. It tries to make him a level-headed psychologist who happens to simply be way too addicted to females. At least one thing carried over from Charlie’s real-life shenanigans. Whenever one of his patients professes something crazy, or over-the-top, Charlie rolls his eyes, the laugh-track guffaws, and then he tries to set them straight. How much funnier would a show be about a therapist who happens to be just as crazy as Sheen is in real-life?
The show’s formula hasn’t changed from the first season. Sheen begins almost every episode gathered in his living room with his group of patients. Season two features maybe one or two semi-interesting storylines. In one episode Charlie’s father (played by his real-life father Martin Sheen) comes to visit. The gimmick is light-hearted fun for the first 10 minutes. There are a couple other episodes that focus more on the patients, which is a nice respite from chronicling Charlie’s endless female conquests. Yet again, most of the season revolves around Charlie trying to get into the pants of (extremely) younger women. Yes, it’s just as sleazy as it sounds even if there is a laugh-track trying to lighten the mood.
Anger Management is neither a bad show, nor a great one. Though there are some fairly talented people involved, the show is mediocre at best, happy to recycle the same gags repeatedly. This third volume picks things up partway through the series’ second season, but you could pick up this series at any point and not miss much. The show continues to try and find comic gold in the interactions between therapist Charlie Goodson (Sheen) and his ‘interesting’ array of patients including cantankerous old codger Ed (Barry Corbin); sexpot Lacey (Noureen DeWulf); passive Nolan (Derek Richardson), who has an unreciprocated crush on Lacey; and gay, disingenuous Patrick (Michael Arden).Since the characters haven’t been developed much beyond a surface level, generating any genuine, lasting laughs is near impossible.
This volume also has a handful of episodes continuing the “will they or won’t they” angle of Charlie’s relationship with Dr. Kate Wales (Selma Blair). It’s worth noting that Selma Blair look utterly uncomfortable in her appearances, making the storyline seem ridiculous. As many with an interest in entertainment news are aware, Blair complained that Sheen was a menace to work with…Charlie subsequently fired her, and she was soon replaced by eventually replaced by Laura Bell Bundy as Dr. Jordan Denby, a rather airheaded psychologist.
To be fair, even a mindless show like Anger Management can muster a laugh or two on occasion, and I always enjoy Martin Sheen’s appearances as Charlie’s father. By and large though, Anger Management has the feel of a show that’s put together on the fly, so as to not interfere with Charlie Sheen’s busy social schedule. A Nice addition to the series was Anna Hutchison who played a reformed hooker who Charlie falls in love, this kept my interest for the remainder of the show as she is one of my all time favorite actresses.

REVIEW: THE FINDER – THE COMPLETE SERIES

MAIN CAST

Geoff Stults (Bring It On Again)
Michael Clarke Duncan (Sin City)
Mercedes Masohn (Red Sands)
Maddie Hasson (Twisted)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Toby Hemingway (Black Swan)
Amy Aquino (White Oleander)
Jaime Murray (Ringer)
Roy Werner (Power Rangers Time Force)
John Francis Daley (Bones)
Mitch Pileggi (the X-Files)
Ryan Cutrona (Hot SHots)
Brandon W. Jones (Pretty Little Liars)
Blake Shields (Heroes)
Mario Van Peebles (Highlander 3)
Jodi Lyn O’Keefe (The Vampire Diaries)
Ian Reed Kesler (2 Broke Girls)
Lance Gross (Sleepy Hollow)
Jake Busey (Fast Sofa)
Joshua Leonard (The Blair Witch Project)
Jason Beghe (G.I. Jane)
Eric roberts (The Dark Knight)
Spencer Garrett (Air Force One)
T.J. Thyne (Bones)
Peta Wilson (Superman Returns)
Juliette Goglia (Mike & Molly)
M.C. Gainey (Lost)
Salli Richardson-Whitfield (I Am Legend)
Ignacio Serricchio (Quarantine 2)
Mercedes Colon (Route 666)
Kelly Carlson (Nip/Tuck)
Yara Shahidi (Salt)
Patrick Fabian (Veronica Mars)
Mageina Tovah (Spider-Man 2 & 3)
Chris Bronwing (Supergirl)
George Stults (Hydra)
Annette O’Toole (Smallville)
Patrick Fischler (Birds of Prey)
Karina Logue (Bates Motel)

I honestly didn’t expect to like The Finder. I wanted to like the show, of course. It has an intriguing concept — a former military man, now suffering from brain damage, is capable of finding absolutely anything — and comes from Hart Hanson, the man who made the weirdness of Bones possible. But I was not convinced. Fortunately, I was wrong. The Finder has flaws, but they are not enough to take away the show’s fun.

Viewers got their first peek at The Finder, when the show and its characters were introduced during an episode of Bones. That back-door pilot wasn’t a complete fiasco or anything, but it did indicate that The Finder might just be a clunky, non-murder version of Bones, only without the romantic chemistry.In its series debut, the central characters and setting of The Finder remain the same — Walter Sherman (Geoff Stults) hangs out in a Florida Keys bar with his mammoth-sized sidekick, Leo (Michael Clarke Duncan), when not actively looking for a bizarre assortment of people and possessions.

But there are changes. The character of Ike, a bartender and pilot played by Saffron Burrows, is gone. In her place, we get two new characters — Isabel (Mercedes Masohn), a US marshal with a casually semi-romantic interest in Walter, and Willa (Maddie Hasson), a felonious teen dropped at Walter and Leo’s bar by the juvenile justice system.

The crux and plot-generating device of The Finder is Walter’s almost-supernatural (and possibly brain damage-caused) ability to locate things. In the premiere episode, “An Orphan Walks into a Bar,” Walter manages to locate:

a) John Fogerty’s guitar
b) A bank robber attending a cock fight
c) The father of an orphaned teen who had crashed his plane and disappeared

Walter’s method and madness are both a lot of fun to watch. The central mystery is just twisted enough to provide solid entertainment throughout the hour. Geoff Stults and Michael Clarke Duncan are obviously having a great time with their characters, and that joy translates well on the screen. Mercedes Masohn’s Isabel is also a useful addition — not only does she have believable chemistry with Stults’ Walter, but she provides a much-needed connection to actual law enforcement.

Like its main character, The Finder is pleasant but a little bit awkward. The show is easy to watch, has an interesting mystery at the center and is well acted. It’s just going to take awhile before everything feels smooth. But a few bumps are not enough to derail the fun of The Finder. The show does crossover twice Bones, first Lance Sweet appears on the show then, Hodgens shows up for an episode.

As the show continued, it became a nice companion to Bones and a highly enjoyable show, sadly it was another show cancelled all too soon, with a cliffhanger leaving things unanswered. With the death of Michael Clarke Duncan it is unlikely we will ever see a conclusion of the story.