REVIEW: HIGHLANDER: THE SERIES – SEASON 5

Starring

Adrian Paul (Arrow)
Stan Kirsch (Shallow Ground)
Jim Byrnes (Sanctuary)

 Cassandra

 Witch of Donen Woods

 The Highlander

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Tracy Scoggins (Babylon 5)
Matthew Walker (Ginger Snaps Back)
Gerard Plunkett (Sucker Punch)
Anna Hagan (The Possession)
Chris William Martin (The Vampire Diaries)
Réal Andrews (The Bay)
Rachel Hayward (Jingle All The Way 2)
Gary Jones (Stargate SG.1)
Bruce A. Young (Jurassic Park 3)
Eric McCormack (Will & Grace)
Aaron Pearl (Staragte SG.1)
Ian Tracey (Bates Motel)
Marcia Strassman (Third Watch)
Michael Kopsa (Fantastic Four)
Alastair Duncan (The Batman)
Sandra Bernhard (2 Broke Girls)
Elizabeth Gracen (Marked For Death)
April Telek (Hell on Wheels)
Tom McBeath (Stargate SG.1)
Nicholas Lea (V)
John Novak (Wishmaster 3 & 4)
Andrew Divoff (Lost)
Nathaniel DeVeaux (Andromeda)
Roger Cross (First Wave)
Steve Bacic (Androemda)
Kira Clavell (Frankie & Alice)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Peter Wingfield (Caprica)
Robert Wisden (Watchmen)
Fulvio Cecere (Valentine)
Musetta Vander (Wild Wild West)
Valentine Pelka (The Pianist)
Richard Ridings (Rise of TPOTA)
Marcus Testory (The Cyberstalking)
Anthony De Longis (Masters of The Universe)
Dolores Chaplin (The Ice Rink)
Michael Culkin (Dorian GRay)
Roger Daltrey (Tommy)
Michael J. Jackson (Emmerdale)
Jonathan Firth (Victoria & Albert)
Katie Carr (Heroes)
Michel Modo (The troops Get Married)
Peter Hudson (Hitman)

Jim Byrnes in Highlander (1992)The immortal suave and sword fighting style of Highlander: The Series continues for Season 5 – from BC to the nineties and then some. Immortal Highlander Duncan MacLeod (Adrian Paul) struggles with who he is and who is friends are- thanks to prophecies of good and evil and secrets withheld by the 5,000 year old Methos (Peter Wingfield). Watcher Joe Dawson (Jim Byrnes) also wrestles with his immortal friendships and the mortality they so often harbinger. Unfortunately, Amanda (Elizabeth Gracen) and Richie (Stan Kirsh) must also face immortal fame, infamy, and religion. imagesOne might think Highlander: The Series would retread a topic or two after such a solid syndicated tenure- but no. Faith and hope in immortal pacifism are tempted in “Little Tin God” and “The Messenger”; the uses and wastes of immortality are examined in “Haunted” and “The Modern Prometheus”; “The End of Innocence” questions the immortal mentor and student relationships. Yes, the season opener “Prophecy” and the finale “Archangel” do stray into a little mythical and magic fantasy much- but hey, what do you expect in a show about folks who live forever? Fortunately, there’s plenty of fun, too, especially in the period piece treats “Money is No Object” and “The Stone of Scone.” Despite its reduction to 18 episodes, Year 5 nicely balances one-off immortal explorations with ongoing storylines and multiple part shows. Instead of growing old and withered, Season 5 is the culmination of Highlander: The Series. The audience knows the mythos and the players well enough by now, so there’s no need for filler or fluff or straying beyond the exploration of our Immortal repertoire.highlanderWhile some of the Depression era hijinks are oft played, at least Duncan MacLeod has some fun in the past, from time to time, occasionally- just so long as he doesn’t get too fun and crazy in the present! MacLeod seems increasingly tired, weary, burned out beautifully by the likes of “The Valkyrie,” “Forgive Us Our Trespasses” and “Duende.” Perhaps part of that was indeed the growing stress of Adrian Paul- naturally so much rides upon him. However, it’s understandable that Mac gets tired of being the good guy after 400 years- in the same way he remains haunted by when he wasn’t always the good guy and made costly, nay deadly mistakes. Duncan clings to his friendships in an attempt to deal with all this routine death- the cost for his long life- but even his support system carries tragic consequences.s5-e16-5One thing that has always bugged me about the Watchers- you know the secret organization watching Immortals that isn’t really so secret and that isn’t supposed to interfere but always does- is that they’ve blindly keep their presence hidden from immortals. I’m so glad Joe Dawson at last gets his friendship with Mac out in the open. Why can’t the Watchers share on a case-by-case basis with immortals? Hey, he’s a good guy, I can ask him some questions about The Bronze Age and get the facts right! “Glory Days” again gives us a beautiful peak into Joe’s life thanks to Duncan and likewise, Joe provides wonderful reflection in, well, every episode he appears! By contrast, Amanda allows for more sexy fun and tongue in cheek cool with “Dramatic License.” Not without their immortal drama, it’s also great to see her and Mac wonder what their relationship really is under all the laughter and if their difficulties could not only survive mortal conventions, but immortal lifetimes. Then let’s toss in some competition from Nicholas Lea (The X-Files) as Cory Raines in “Money for Nothing” just to keep the romance on its toes. Of course, seeing Amanda and Roger Daltry’s Hugh Fitzcairn go head to head in “The Stone of Scone” is so, so sweet, too!highlander47I know I’ve mentioned some of the same episodes more than once- hey, they bear repeating- but most viewers probably remember ‘the horsemen ones’ most from Season 5, if not the entire series. Peter Wingfield guests in count ‘em seven episodes this year, and “Comes A Horseman” and “Revelation 6:8” finally give us a piece of the Methos mythos (hee). Not that “The Messenger” and “The Modern Prometheus” don’t, but seeing the wild side of Methos is an exceptional antithesis to do-gooder MacLeod. Toss in the lady scorned Tracy Scoggins (Babylon 5, The Colbys, and I always remember Watchers II for some reason) for 3 shows as immortal witch Cassandra, and oh me oh my! These storylines add to MacLeod’s own legend and the ancient presence of immortals without having to disastrously explain where they all come from- as in the various versions of Highlander 2. They are, they f*ck up, they move on. Highlander: The Series needs nothing else, indeed. Although I must say, I always thought I liked Fitz more than Methos, but now I’m not so sure. The Methos possibilities are just too interesting- be he good or evil, selfless and righteous for the greater good, or downright arrogant and self centered. highlander39Unfortunately, Richie always gets the short end of the sword and never quite gets a head above the rest. “The End of Innocence” tries to backpedal on Richie’s off screen whereabouts from last season- but if the audience is supposed to find all this so important, why weren’t we seeing snips of these adventures then? How ironic he’s a regular character who also appears in only 7 episodes. Sadly, in this rewatch, I think I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t really like Richie. He isn’t treated as any more significant than the guest immortals, he’s kind of a jerk who always screws up or never really learns anything, or if so, the changes never stick as he comes and goes. All that being said, when Richie gets a spotlight show like “Haunted,” Highlander: The Series still can’t go wrong. Here’s a lovely episode again exploring what exactly a Quickening may be- is it the spirit or the soul? Does it live on in the immortal who takes the victor’s head; do they obtain the quirks and characteristics of their beheaded comrades? If that is the case, immortals must fight to the death in order to pass on all their greatness in one culmination towards The Prize. In a way, it’s almost as if the Quickening is a unique form of…procreation towards one glorious being. Such Intriguing thoughts like this, however, are given a backseat so Richie can have another one off romance and then disappear. Snark. The visiting Bruce A. Young’s (The Sentinel) Carl Robinson in “Manhunt” is far more interesting as the slave turned ball player with political hopes who can’t quite get past his own immortal racism. 25309860c90b36158_wSome of the narrations leading into the flashbacks this season are, however, a little unusual. Show don’t tell, after all. Some exotic locations like Peru or unexplored times and places like Andersonville, the 1970s, and Spain add more zest and fun to the always lovely and upscale period design. Again, perhaps Depression era crime and Nazi motifs are over played- and the dojo really looks ready to retire. How can a members only gym be open all the time yet be so empty? How can it close down and get wrecked all the time and expect to keep such bare clientele? Then again, episodes like “The Stone of Scone” make one wonder why Highlander: The Series didn’t do an entirely period episode at least once a season- or continue on with stand alone totally in the past television movies or multipart miniseries.  Those who know and love the Highlander franchise will absolutely adore Season 5.

REVIEW: HIGHLANDER: THE SERIES – SEASON 3

Starring

Adrian Paul (Arrow)
Stan Kirsch (Shallow Ground)
Jim Byrnes (Sanctuary)
Philip Akin (Robocop 2014)
Lisa Howard (Earth: Final Conflict)
Michel Modo (The Troops Get Married)

thesamurai0

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Tamlyn Tomita (The Day After Tomorrow)
Stephen McHattie (Watchmen)
Robert Ito (Quincy M.E.)
Hiro Kanagawa (Heroes Reborn)
Randall ‘Tex’ Cobb (Raising Arizona)
Chandra West (White Noise)
Michelle Thrush (Pathfinder)
Miguel Fernandes (Trancers)
Liliana Komorowska (Screamers)
Andrew Kavadas (Ninja Turtles: Next Mutation)
John Novak (Wishmaster 3 & 4)
Elizabeth Gracen (Marked For Death)
Brion James (Blade Runner)
Jason Gray-Stanford (Bones)
Rob Stewart (Painkiller Jane)
Gabrille Miller (Corner Gas)
Alan Scarfe (Andromeda)
John Pyper-Ferguson (Caprica)
Mark Acheson (Elf)
Peter Bryant (Legends of Tomorrow)
Catherine Lough Haggquist (The Flash)
Jonathan Scarfe (Van Helsing)
Myles Ferguson (Edgemont)
Jesse Moss (Ginger Snaps)
Cameron Bancroft (Legends of Tomorrow)
Sherry Miller (The Virgin Suicides)
Laura Harris (Dead Like Me)
Garwin Sanford (Stargate SG.1)
Frank C. Turner (IT)
Anthony De Longis (Masters of The Universe)
Vincent Gale (Van Helsing)
Tamara Gorski (Hercules: TLJ)
Stella Stevens (The Poseidon Adventure)
Barry Pepper (True Grit)
Vivian Wu (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III)
Richard Lynch (Puppet Master III)
David Robb (Downtown Abbey)
Eugene Lipinski (Arrow)
Lynda Boyd (Sanctuary)
John Tench (Andromeda)
Roger Daltrey (Tommy)
Peter Wingfield (Sanctuary)
Kim Johnston Ulrich (Passions)
Ben Pullen (Prince Valiant)
Paudge Behan (Love/Hate)
Robert Cavanah (Pimp)
Roland Gift (Brakes)
George Harris (Layer Cake)

Highlander - The Samurai 55After a few growing pains and struggles to find its footing and players in its first two seasons, Highlander: The Series’ third year sends the heads rolling with plenty of fine drama, sweet action, and immortal style.239560Duncan MacLeod (Adrian Paul) once again faces Kalas (David Robb) – an evil immortal enemy from his past- in a battle that threatens to expose the existence of Immortals and the secret Watcher organization to the world. Watcher Joe Dawson (Jim Byrnes) struggles between his oath to not interfere with immortal confrontations and his continuing friendship with Mac. Richie (Stan Kirsch) takes up bike racing- a risky prospect despite his immortality while 1,200-year-old thief Amanda (Elizabeth Gracen) just can’t stay on the right side of the law. However, is Dr. Anne Lindsey’s (Lisa Howard) budding romance with Duncan just as dangerous or is it the exact solace he needs?Highlander The Cross of St Antoine 68At last, Season 3 establishes some internal consistency for Highlander: The Series and the result is a damn fine season with nary a bad episode in sight. The mortal crimes and drama in “Blackmail” and “Take Back the Night” are fresh and dynamic, tying in nicely with the immortal deceptions and relationship angles presented in “Line of Fire” and “Shadows.” The Watchers are made useful and brought into the forefront, particularly in “Those Who Serve,” where we get a chance to see the Immortal Game from their supposedly uncolored perspective. Consequences to one’s actions and inactions are investigated wonderfully this season with immortals debating their ability to change for good or evil.MV5BNzY3NTI4MjAyOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODg0NTEzMjE@._V1_Can worthwhile redemption for horrid past doings be found for them? Whose place is it to forgive and judge immortals? Religion, spiritual motifs, and even immortal drug use are examined in “Courage,” “Blind Faith,” and “Mortal Sins.” Normal life issues such as parenting and the difficulty with computers also carry through Season 3, along with thoughts on the extreme price of perpetual youth in “The Lamb.” While die-hard Highlander fans may know an episode title when they see it- even if you don’t recognize the titles, almost every show had me saying, ‘Oh yeah! I remember this one!’MV5BNzY3NTI4MjAyOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODg0NTEzMjE@._V1_We learn a lot about our titular Highlander this season, beginning with the 1994 opener “The Samurai” and going straight through to the two-part “Finale.” Paul shows plenty of layers in Duncan through his past loyalties and contemporary justices. The sword fights and kick ass are without a doubt kick ass indeed, but there’s plenty of time for questioning immortality and space for 400 years of melancholy to get to someone. While he’s often shown enjoying himself in the flashbacks, Mac is afraid to open up again to another mortal girlfriend like Anne Lindsey. Of course, the audience knows there will be trouble thanks to all those pesky immortal secrets! While some may not like Anne simply because she follows Tessa in Duncan’s heart, its nice to have someone unaware who can be good for MacLeod.

MV5BYTkzMDExNWItZGZkMC00ZWI1LWI3ZmEtMzlhNGZlODczNzI5XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjk3NDI3OTk@._V1_Howard (Earth: Final Conflict) keeps Anne independent, intelligent, confident, and likeable. But could the good doctor deal with immortality? Her job is to save lives, so a man devoid of a medical history and no immunization scars is just too much of a mystery for Anne. Fortunately, Elizabeth Gracen adds some spice and familiar fun as Amanda in “The Cross of St. Antoine” and the two-part season ender. Her duck and run immortal loyalty and devotion to MacLeod are perfectly at odds with her inability to go legit and not screw things up.kalasUnfortunately, once again Richie and Philip Akin as Charlie DeSalvo get the short end of the supporting stick. Charlie is written out of Season 3 nicely- not that his leaving is super good, but the episode “The Revolutionary” is sublime. The character should have been a guest player as necessary all along, rather than been squeezed in willy nilly. Likewise, Richie, despite being in the opening credits, only appears in half the episodes this year. While the youthful immortal needed to go off and explore, sure, it’s tough to care again when he does come around for some motorcycle action. The stock footage for the races and the intercut of Richie and his pals getting rough doesn’t help either. Why not let him have a season off so we can enjoy when he returns with heavy, living forever angst? Sometimes we see recurring players more than the folks actually in the opening credits. Despite such a cool opening scheme, Highlander: The Series never seems to balance its core players or its ensemble repertoire properly in its listings. Michel Modo’s lovable but often drunk chef Maurice is also downgraded to a guest star this season, and it’s wonderfully that his few special appearances give him respect and something to do.finalepart2cWatcher Joe Dawson again doesn’t appear as much as I might have liked, but the growth of the watchers as a help, hindrance, or detriment comes along wonderfully in Season 3. Dawson is there for MacLeod despite the rules, and Duncan likewise. Joe’s new bar is also a great place for mortals and immortals to mingle, and the neat introduction of Peter Wingfield (24) as Methos adds a separate watcher buddy angle for Dawson to explore. Thankfully, this crack team unites wonderfully against David Robb (Swing Kids, I Claudius) as the Highlander’s bane this season, Kalas. His midseason trilogy of “Song of the Executioner”, “Star-Crossed,” and “Methos” is perhaps when Highlander: The Series truly becomes great TV. There’s not a crappy Renegade knock off plot in sight- just awesome immortals like Hugh Fitzcairn and Xavier St. Cloud- both played by cool rockers Roger Daltry and Roland Gift. By time things get juicy for the two-part “Finale” there isn’t anything in this season of Highlander: The Series not to like.finalepart2aI dare say it, but even the styles this season are catching up, with toned down dojo action, great blues music, and sweet French locations. But my goodness they use that same Tudor house for every frickin’ thing! Anne dresses a little edgy for a doctor- with short skirts and tall boots; but hey, it looks good and is actually still in relatively recent fashion. Of course, the period piece scenes are top notch again, and we spend more time in the past- even having flashbacks within flashbacks. The times and places we visit also vary it up some, but a few return nicely to places and people we’ve already seen. The transitions to the flashbacks are also nicely done; sometimes they are set up in crafty ways but other times they know the viewer knows and just cut right to it. The audience isn’t underestimated with excessive montages and unnecessary action anymore. Although sometimes entire swordfights and quickening flashbacks from previous episodes are revisited, I’m glad they now put the dates, times, and places onscreen for the past storylines. Some of those orgasmic quickenings still amuse me – but there are some seriously good ones this season as well.
highlander0322Once again, the DVD features for Highlander: The Series Season 3 are packed to the gills with bloopers, deleted scenes, interviews, audio and video commentaries, scripts, and more. The interface is a little dated, but its fun to go through the embedded Watcher’s Chronicles and look for all their treats within the episodes. Again, new fans or those who wish to remain unspoilt are better served with rental or online options or a features marathon post- series. If you’ve been remiss on the first two seasons, new audiences can still jump in here as well. Honestly, there’s no reason for anyone not to give this season a chance.

REVIEW: HIGHLANDER: THE SERIES -SEASON 2

Starring

Adrian Paul (Arrow)
Alexandra Vandernoot (Pret-a-Porter)
Stan Kirsch (Shallow Ground)
Jim Byrnes (Sanctuary)
Philip Akin (Robocop 2014)
Michel Modo (The Troops Get Married)

Joe_Dawson_1

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Peter Hudson (Lockout)
Douglas Arthurs (Stargate SG.1)
Cameron Bancroft (Legends of Tomorrow)
J.H. Wyman (Sirens)
Geraint Wyn Davies (Forever Knight)
Traci Lords (Excision)
Andrew Jackson (Earth: Final Conflict)
Kendall Cross (Van Helsing)
Travis MacDonald (Cold Pursuit)
Frank C. Turner (IT)
Sheena Easton (Young Blades)
Andrew Kavadas (The 13th Warrior)
Callum Keith Rennie (Impulse)
Lorena Gale (Battlestar Galactica)
Michael Shanks (Stargate SG.1)
Elizabeth Gracen (Marked For Death)
Don S. Davis (Stargate SG.1)
Robert Wisden (Watchmen)
Mitchell Kosterman (Smallville)
Bruce A. Young (Jurassic Park III)
Mark Acheson (Elf)
Gregory smith (Small Soldier)
Adrian Holmes (Arrow)
Roddy Piper (They Live)
Andrea Roth (Cloak & Dagger)
Bill Dow (Izombie)
Gabrielle Miller (Corner Gas)
Tom McBeath (Stargate SG.1)
Bruce Weitz (The Dukes)
Nicholas Lea (The X-Files)
Jonathan Banks (Breaking Bad)
Lochlyn Munro (Scary Movie)
Michelle Thrush (Pathfinder)
Ed Lauter (Cujo)
Doug Abrahams (Sanctuary)
Roland Gift (Brakes)
Stacey Travis (Ghost World)
Roark Critchlow (V)
Jeremy Brudenell (Alice In Wonderland 1999)
Peter Firth (Spooks)
Angeline Ball (Keeping Faith)
Nia Peeples (Walker, Texas Ranger)
James Faulkner (Game of Thrones)
Emile Abossolo M’bo (Hitman)
Nadia Cameron-Blakey (Batman Begins)
Michael Siberry (Birdman)

HighlanderDuncan4Spring boarding from the pluses of its debut season, Highlander: The Series opens its second season strongly. Though struggling midseason with some of the same growing pains as Season 1; the 93-94 Season 2 handles character departures and the introduction of the Watchers in fine form- allowing Highlander: The Series to come into its own away from the film franchise.highlander16Immortal Highlander Duncan MacLeod (Adrian Paul) becomes increasingly suspicious of Joe Dawson (Jim Byrnes) and his Watchers- a secret organization who are pledged to observed immortals and never interfere. Someone, however, is breaking the rules and killing immortals, making life more difficult for MacLeod after the loss of his mortal girlfriend Tessa (Alexandra Vandernoot). Richie (Stan Kirsch), now also immortal, has problems of his own learning how to fend off evil immortals after his head, and mortal dojo manager Charlie DeSalvo (Philip Akin) grows more and more curious about his new boss and Macleod’s secrets.Adrian Paul and Geraint Wyn Davies in Highlander (1992)Highlander: The Series hits the ground running in this sophomore season with critical departures and the establishment of its own mythos from here on out. The premiere episode ‘The Watchers’ introduces the critical organization and Season 2 stays strong thru ‘The Darkness’ and the exit of Tessa. Unfortunately, midseason the show’s writers David Abramowitz and David Tynan flounder when Highlander: The Series once again returns to the action textbook crime of the week or immortal in the regular drama ho hum. Issues about racism, sexism, injustice, and abused women are indeed handled very nicely thanks to MacLeod’s wise and chivalrous immortal angles. But again, these debates are on every other show then and now. Drastic character changes and internal fantasy mythology are enough for Highlander.Adrian Paul and Stan Kirsch in Highlander (1992)After such fine framework, Season 2 need not fall back on these stock scripts and filler episodes. Smartly however, this season distances itself from the internal inconsistencies of the film franchise by dropping mentions of The Gathering. The development of the Watchers, their deadly rogue faction the Hunters, and the wonderful observations and angst both provide pulls The Series away from the films once and for all. Further examinations of mortals dying after having full lives versus immortals who are numb to life also establish great drama beyond the standard crime villainy. Grief, infertility, and child loss also add extra depth and dimension, again proving Highlander: The Series is at its best, nay superior, when it adheres to the quality of its own immortal design.Adrian Paul and Manuel Bonnet in Highlander (1992)Yes, it is a little weird when MacLeod suddenly starts bagging some chicks so soon after Tessa’s exit, and there’s still a touch of those nineties hang ups with plenty of sweaty, shirtless dojo training montages. However, it’s nice to see less Action Mac and more on the consequences of immortality. He’s had plenty of time to develop his strict sense of honor and justice, but he also unhappily warns those around him that being his friend is deadly. Paul handles the kick ass, the somber, and the tears wonderfully. We think just as much of him when he cries as when he beheads the bad guy. The loss of Tessa Noel is also very nicely done in character and performance. Even though the leaving was largely Vandernoot’s decision, I don’t wonder if the exit of Mac’s steady girlfriend would not have happened in the future anyway. Obviously, there are so many more women and immortal bachelor angles to explore. Sometimes, MacLeod may even seem to get over Tessa too quickly, but his new cynicism and pains of mortality make their presence well known during Season 2 and beyond. Vandernoot’s exit and subsequent guest appearance in the two part finale ‘Counterfeit’ may even have the audience missing Tessa more, but her mortality reiterates that nothing on Highlander: The Series is sacred.Adrian Paul in Highlander (1992)Returning favorites and guest villains raise Season 2 to a new level. The titular ‘Return of Amanda’ and ‘Legacy’ has Elizabeth Gracen’s immortal con visiting for some much needed humor and female familiarity post-Tessa. Forever Knight alum Geraint Wyn Davies also has some wicked fun in ‘Turnabout’, and rocker Roland Gift returns as Xavier St. Cloud to join rogue watcher James Horton (Peter Hudson, Cousin William) in the stand out ‘Unholy Alliance I and II’. Recurring regular Michel Modo as the bemusing and pesky French neighbor Maurice also provides some balance when the immortal life gets a little too heavy, and truly, I love the spooky Victorian joy of ‘The Vampire’.Adrian Paul, Jim Byrnes, and Stan Kirsch in Highlander (1992)Though still a little dated with the pleated pants and too much denim, the styles of Season 2 are much improved.