HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: ASH VS EVIL DEAD – SEASON 2

MAIN CAST

Bruce Campbell (Jack of All Trades)
Ray Santiago (My Name Is Earl)
Dana DeLorenzo (2 Broke Girls)
Lucy Lawless (Spartacus)
Michelle Hurd (Daredevil)
Ted Raimi (Xena: Warrior Princess)
Pepi Sonuga (Famous in Love)

Bruce Campbell in Ash vs Evil Dead (2015)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Joel Tobeck (Young Hercules)
Lee Majors (The Six Million Dollar Man)
Stephen Lovatt (Spartacus: Gods of The Arena)
Stephen Ure (Deathgasm)
Ellen Sandweiss (Oz The Great and Powerfui)
Campbell Cooley (Power Rangers Ninja Steel)
Sara West (Dead Girls)
Nicholas Hope (Soul Mates)

Ash vs Evil Dead (2015)Though not without a few stumbles, Ash vs Evil Dead’s second season was a definite improvement over its freshman year run. Not that Season 1 wasn’t fun and ferocious gooey gory goodness, but it didn’t quite have a handle on Ash, as a character, like Season 2 did. Last year, Ash seemed to bounce back and forth between total doofus and a more earnest sort of hero who was in the midst of a transformative arc. What was needed — and yes, it’s tricky — was a blend of the two. Ash needed to become less of a reluctant savior while still being fundamentally, you know, Ash.This is where Season 2 really nailed it. Sure, we got some truly awesome action set pieces involving rampaging killer cars, diabolical devil trees, and all sorts of evil minions of hell — sequences that awesomely pushed us to our hardcore gore, and good taste, limits — but what resonated the most about this second year was how well Ash came off as a character. Ash was allowed to be smart, but in his own goofball way. For example, he’d have ideas to track down books and demons that involved raging alcohol-infused parties and his iguana’s pet tracker. Plans that sounded totally asinine but fell into that “so dumb they actually worked” category. Even Ruby, Ash’s biggest critic, constantly had to admit that Ash, for better or worse, could get things done.Bruce Campbell, Ray Santiago, and Dana DeLorenzo in Ash vs Evil Dead (2015)Bringing Ash back home and revealing that he’d been ostracized by his town and family after the blood-soaked events of the Evil Dead films was a crucial part of this blending. Ash was given, of all things, an off-screen backstory and through this he could be afforded spare moments of vulnerability. Ash could bicker with his bigoted, bitter father (infused with wonderful crotchetiness by Lee Majors) while we, the viewers, could know that he secretly longed for his love and approval.Bruce Campbell and Ray Santiago in Ash vs Evil Dead (2015)Pablo’s story this year, as a wannabe warrior-turned-living version of the Necronomicon, helped give the season a nice flow. Season 1 was a road trip. Not every stop along the journey hit the mark. This time, even with the time travel, Ash sorta stayed put in Elk Grove and it was Pablo’s connection to the book, and the rise of Baal, that moved us groovily through the story. Pablo’s death also really added a cool exclamation point that the final two episodes needed. Sure, Ash’s little burrito would come back to life by the end, but Ash’s grief over losing his friend is what led to the final defeat of Baal.Lucy Lawless in Ash vs Evil Dead (2015)Another thing that Season 2 brought to the table was a better take on Lucy Lawless’ Ruby. Essentially the straight-laced reactive character in the group (though everyone side-eyes Ash), Ruby joined the Ghostbeaters this year as a half-demon who’d made a horrible mistake. Season 1 never gave us her origins or (well explained) motivations, so it was fitting to see her change completely and get rebooted for the good guys. Unfortunately, this Ruby died in the finale and was replaced with 80s evil Ruby..Bruce Campbell in Ash vs Evil Dead (2015)Ruby was in Kelly’s ear all season, talking destiny and taking matters into her own hands. Then Kelly even had her own “Ash Fight” when Ash was supposedly under the control of Baal and she got to throw down with the demented therapy puppet (which was amazing). She became even more of badass than season 1 and it will be interesting to see what becomes of Kelly in season 3.Lucy Lawless and Dana DeLorenzo in Ash vs Evil Dead (2015)I’d be remiss if I closed this review without mentioning Ash being dragged up into a possessed corpse’s butt. This season definitely went above and beyond when it came to, um, orifices and fluids (of all kinds), but this moment, back in the second episode, was really one of the most gag-worthy and “out there” moments the show has ever done, finally taking full advantage of being on an anything goes network like Starz. It was magnificent and, though the show may try, it’ll probably never be topped.
bp1o7i3a6alalclalucbAsh vs Evil Dead: Season 2 gave us a fully realized Ash, who was both hilarious and valiant, while also fleshing out his character more with a great “town boogeyman” backstory. It would have been nice to see Kelly’s arc land somewhere more significant, but overall this was a raunchy, gloppy good time filled with grit and guts.

REVIEW: BONES – SEASON 1

Starring

Emily Deschanel (Boogeyman)
David Boreanaz (Angel)
Michaela Conlin (Yellowstone)
Eric Millegan (The Phobic)
T. J. Thyne (Ghost World)
Jonathan Adams (Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths)

David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel in Bones (2005)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Sam Trammell (The order)
Chris Conner (Altered Carbon)
Larry Poindexter (17 Again)
Tyrees Allen (Robocop)
Bonita Friedericy (Chuck)
José Zúñiga (Next)
Anne Dudek (Mad Men)
Heavy D (The Cider House Rules)
Alex Carter (Out of Time)
Toby Hemingway (The Covenant)
Marguerite MacIntyre (The Vampire Diaries)
Tom Kiesche (Breaking Bad)
Morris Chestnut (Kick-Ass 2)
Bokeem Woodbine (Spider-Man: Homecoming)
Laz Alonso (Avatar)
Robert Gossett (The Net)
Rachelle Lefevre (Twilight)
Heath Freeman (Raising The Bar)
Michael Rothhaar (Eli Stone)
Josh Hopkins (Cold Case)
Alicia Coppola (Another World)
Leonard Roberts (Heroes)
Rachel Miner (Bully)
Jim Ortlieb (Roswell)
Billy Gibbons (Two and a Half Men)
Ty Panitz (Because I Said So)
Harry Groener (Buffy: TVS)
Claire Coffee (Grimm)
Michael B. Silver (Legally Blonde)
Penny Marshall (The Simpsons)
Zeljko Ivanek (Heroes)
Suzanne Cryer (Two Guys and a Girl)
Lawrence Pressman (Dark Angel)
Jaime Ray Newman (The Punisher)
John M. Jackson (NCIS: Los Angeles)
Judith Hoag (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Ivar Brogger (Andromeda)
Aaron Pearl (Breaking Bad)
Josh Keaton (Avengers Assemble)
Adriana DeMeo (Killer Movie)
Matt Barr (Sleepy Hollow)
Robert LaSardo (Nip/Tuck)
Jose Pablo Cantillo (Crank)
Emilio Rivera (Venom)
Michael Bowen (Kill Bill)
Adam Baldwin (Chuck)
David Denman (Power Rangers)
Brian Gross (2 Broke Girls)
James Parks (The Hateful Eight)
Clayton Rohner (Ozark)
Mercedes Colon (The Fosters)
Robert Foxworth (Transformers)
Rodney Rowland (Legacies)
Simon Baker (The Mentalist)
Cullen Douglas (Pure Genius)
Fredric Lehne (Lost)
Michael Chieffo (Disclosure)
Michelle Hurd (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Scott Lawrence (Star Trek Into Darkness)
Patricia Belcher (Flatliners)
Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad)
Mark Harelik (Trumbo)
Alexandra Krosney (Last Man Standing)
Sumalee Montano (Veep)
Aldis Hodge (Hidden Figures)
Matt Battaglia (Thor)
Kirk B.R. Woller (Hulk)
Loren Dean (Space Cowboys)
Pat Skipper (Halloween)

David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel in Bones (2005)Bones very quickly garnered rave reviews and amassed a loyal following. Bones is loosely inspired by real life forensic anthropologist and author Kathy Reichs. This funny, clever, sometimes gross, and totally addictive crime drama centers around forensic anthropologist Dr. Temperence Brennan (Emily Deschanel), who toils out of the Jeffersonian Institution and, on the side, writes mysteries starring her fictional heroine (and here’s the twist) Kathy Reichs. Because Brennan has an almost supernatural ability to generate accurate assumptions based on her examination of the corpse’s bones, she is often consulted by the FBI on difficult, seemingly unsolvable cases. She is frequently partnered by brash wiseacre FBI Special Agent Seely Booth (David Boreanaz), who seems to hold a bias against science and those who practice in that field. It’s Booth who breezily saddles Brennan with the nickname “Bones.” Naturally intuitive and freewheeling, Booth immediately is at odds with the clinically analytical Brennan. But, despite their personality clashes, and with the aid of Brennan’s gifted and quirky colleagues, the cases do get solved.David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel in Bones (2005)It’s no great secret that the palpable chemistry between Deschanel and Boreanaz is what actually propels the show and is what separates it from the other, more formulaic, dispassionate crime dramas. Every week, fans tune in for the leads’ deliciously caustic banter more so than for the weekly dose of mystery. You see, the mystery jones can be fixed by viewing any other one of the gazillion forensic dramas so currently prevalent on the airwaves. So the mystery is basically the MacGuffin that drives the show forward. But the cantankerous chemistry – that palpable “something” between the two leads as they hilariously bicker and wrangle – is definitely unique to this show.
Emily Deschanel is a find. And David Boreanaz. Yeah, I found it difficult going, at first, watching him in a new role, seeing as how I’m a fan of Buffy and Angel. But it helps that Booth isn’t much like our vampire with a soul. This ex-Army Ranger Special Agent is breezy, personable, and outgoing, not brooding, tortured, and introspective like Angelus. So, the transition, while disconcerting for me, was ultimately smooth enough. Boreanaz brings such command, self-assurance and charm to his character that I bought into it soon enough. My favorite episodes are the pilot episode, where we are introduced to the cast; “The Man in the Fallout Shelter” – the team is quarantied together in the Jeffersonian during Christmas and we learn personal stuff about the characters; “Two Bodies in the Lab” – character development galore in this episode as Brennan dates on-line and is targeted while she works on two cases; “The Superhero in the Alley” – a decomposed body is found wearing a superhero costume; and “The Woman in Limbo” – a gripping, emotional season finale as Brennan discovers shocking facts about her parents.

REVIEW: DAREDEVIL – SEASON TWO

MAIN CAST

Charlie Cox (Stardust)
Deborah Ann Woll (Ruby Sparks)
Elden Henson (The Buttefly Effect)
Jon Bernthal (World Trade Center)
Élodie Yung (Gods of Egypt)
Rosario Dawson (Sin City)
Stephen Rider (Safe House)
Vincent D’Onofrio (Men In Black)

GUEST CAST
Scott Glenn (The Silence of The Lambs)
Michelle Hurd (Flashforward)
Royce Johnson (Jessica Jones)
Peter McRobbie (Lincoln)
Rob Morgan (Pariah)
Amy Rutberg (The Mansion)
Carrie-Anne Moss (Jessica Jones)
Wai Chang Ho (Robot Stories)
Peter Shinkoda (Masked Rider)
Matt Gerald (Terminator 3)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Daredevil is a character about contrasts. Matt Murdock practices as a lawyer by day, but beats criminals as a vigilante at night. He’s a practicing Catholic, but dresses up like the devil. Also, he’s blind, but he can see the world around him unlike anyone else. Coincidentally, it is the second season of Marvel’s Daredevil that chooses to really explore the dichotomies, not only in its title hero but in those around him and the world at large. Charlie Cox once again stars as the Man without Fear in the series, and brings the same amount of dashing charm and selflessness that makes Matt such a great character. Cox has transcended himself in the role, too. Much like Robert Downey Jr. and Iron Man or Ryan Reynolds and Deadpool, there is no separating the actor from the character; they are one. He provides the pivotal anchor for the rest of the cast, who also continue to hit home run after home run. Elden Henson’s Foggy Nelson is still the perfect Milhouse to Matt’s Bart, the right combination of endearing, annoying, and funny. A combo that personifies the comic book character to a T, and makes him integral to Matt’s story. Furthermore there’s Deborah Ann Woll as Karen Page, bringing a lightness to this supremely dark (in tone and lighting) series. Woll and Cox also work off of each other in perhaps the most believable romantic subplot of the MCU. Then there’s Frank Castle.
Jon Bernthal takes on the role of The Punisher for the series, and he brings the goods. This is a character that also has two sides at work, not simply inherent to his actions but in how he is written as a piece of the puzzle. Bernthal can handle the militaristic elements with ease. No one has looked more natural walking down a hall while aiming a shotgun with precision, but when the more sensitive aspects of the character and his background unfold, he’s got it covered. The Punisher is at his most satisfying for an audience as an unstoppable killing machine, always five moves ahead. At his most interesting and nuanced, however, The Punisher is a fatally-flawed and broken individual that is two steps behind. The good news is that you get to have your cake and eat it too. When Bernthal isn’t laying waste to criminals, he’s tasked with delivering Shakespearean monologues, which he hits like a headshot.
The second season of Daredevil also brings along Elodie Yung as Elektra Natchios, the perfect wrench for everything Matt Murdock. Though The Punisher may be at his most satisfying when he’s a human hurricane leaving a path of destruction, Matt Murdock is at his most satisfying when literally everything is going wrong for him, and Elektra is a guarantee for that. Yung embodies the spirit of Elektra that shines a light on the character’s personality in exciting ways. She brings duel ferocity and gentleness that made me recognize something I had never thought before – Elektra is like a cat; Playful when it suits her, but mysterious and often a supreme and bitter jerk when she doesn’t get her way. The same way that Charlie Cox and Deborah Ann Woll hold onto everything wholesome and good about love, Cox and Yung grab all of the dangerous and potentially hurtful parts and hang them out the window while speeding down the highway.
The true achievement of Marvel’s Daredevil Season 2 is not how in how it escalates the stakes from Season 1 or how it manages to properly juggle new and returning characters with satisfying arcs, it’s in its narrative composition as a whole. Season 2 is perhaps the most comic book-like series on TV, because it mirrors the structure of comics in a way that ceases to feel like television. While the first season held onto the framework of serialized TV, guiding us through every turn, Season 2 takes the graphic novel approach. Clusters of episodes form their own cohesive arc for a few hours, but when all combined they form the grander story at hand of the season. And that larger story? A further example of the two dividends of Daredevil. Daytime Matt and nighttime Matt get equal footing, which you need in order to make them both special.
As hard as it may be to believe, Daredevil‘s second season is a step up from the first. By embracing the comic book form, the series has further separated itself from the rest of the MCU and scratches an itch none of them can reach. It’s not all perfect though, as what worked the first time keeps working, and what didn’t work remains a drag, specifically the tired exposition wherein characters must explain to other characters the things the audience already knows. The drama screeches to a halt in these moments, but luckily they are few and far between.
If you were as enthusiastic about the first season of Marvel’s Daredevil, I hope you’re as pleased as I am with the new episodes. There’s an intensity and toughness in the storytelling that gets at the heart of the character and provides further proof why Daredevil is the one of the best heroes in comics. The new additions to the series are welcome and only enhance the storytelling in thrilling ways.

REVIEW: JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA (1997)

 

CAST

Matthew Settle (Gossip girl)
Kimberly Oja (The OC)
John Kassir (Pete’s Dragon)
Michelle Hurd (Dardevil)
Kenny Johnston (Heli)
David Krumholtz (Hail, Caesar!)
Elisa Donovan (Sabrina: TTW)
Ron Pearson (Malcolm & Eddie)
David Ogden Stiers (Two Guys and a Girl)
Miguel Ferrer (Robocop)
Robert Gallo (In The Mix)

Image result for justice league of america tv pilot

The protagonist, Tori Olafsdotter (Kimberly Oja), is a meteorologist working at the Eno Meteorological Institute who will later become Ice. The city of New Metro is faced with a tornado controlled by a terrorist calling himself the Weatherman (Miguel Ferrer). The Flash (Ken Johnston) dissipates the tornado using his super speed while the other members of the JLA use their powers to save civilians.

Tori stumbles upon a hidden device in the lab where she works. While investigating its use, she spills water on it and it strikes her with strange blue electricity. She is unharmed and leaves the lab for home freezing everything she touches. En route she sees a man drowning; when she attempts to rescue him, the water freezes around her. The JLA, believing her to be the Weatherman, abduct and interrogate her. They release her and Tori believes it was all simply a bad dream.Michelle Hurd in Justice League of America (1997)The JLA suspect that Tori’s timid work colleague Arliss Hopke is The Weatherman. New Metro is attacked again, this time by golf ball-sized hailstones, but Fire melts them all. The JLA infiltrate a party at the Eno Meteorological Institute looking for evidence that Arliss Hopke is The Weatherman. Tori however discovers that it is her boss, Dr. Eno, who is The Weatherman. Tori takes this knowledge to the JLA and they in turn take her to their secret command center, an alien spacecraft hidden underwater. The JLA’s leader J’onn J’onzz (David Ogden Stiers) introduces himself to Tori and the other members of the League reveal their secret identities. Tori discovers that The Atom (John Kassir) is a man with whom she has been flirting. The JLA attempt to train Tori to hone her freezing powers without much success.Martin Walters, a young man who has been pursuing B.B. DaCosta romantically, watches a news broadcast about the JLA and sees that Fire is wearing earrings that he gave B.B. as a gift. Martin tells B.B. that he knows her secret identity. B.B. secretly alerts the JLA, and J’onn takes the shape of Fire and appears before Martin and B.B. “Fire” claims that B.B. is a close friend who lent “her” the earrings. Martin is embarrassed by his “mistake”, and B.B. gently terminates his romantic interest in her, although she assures him that he’s a nice guy and that he will find true love someday. The Weatherman demands $20 million or he will engulf New Metro in a tidal wave. He attacks the Watchtower using a heat ray. The JLA escape and devise a plan to stop the Weatherman, leaving Tori behind. They are unsuccessful, but Tori stops it by freezing the tidal wave solid. The other heroes apologize for leaving Tori behind, and offer her membership again, including a costume and the codename “Ice”. Tori forgives them and agrees to their offer.Meanwhile, the Weatherman plans his escape from prison.

There have been many comic book adaptations, some successful, some not so. This film unfortunately fits into the latter. It feels like it wants to succeed and certainly its heart is in the right place, but it ultimately falls short of it’s targets. The characterisation seems to be to create a variety of characters and not necessarily stay faithful to how they were portrayed in the orignal comics- the Flash and Green Lantern particularly so. However, Fire, The Atom and The Martian Manhunter are very much like their comic-book counterparts and are enjoyable to watch.The costumes are faithful to their four-color origins. The villain of the piece, Miguel Ferrer’s “Weatherman”, is indicative of the constraints of the budget and so doesn’t present a foe that seems to need the entire JLA to defeat. The plot, driven by the Weatherman and the origin of “Ice”  also reflect the fact its a TV pilot.  budget and TV guidelines stopped it from being what it should have been. Still, if you want to see some fun super-hero action and big-names working together, seek this out.