HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: THE NEW ADDAMS FAMILY (1998-1999)

MAIN CAST

Glenn Taranto (Crash 2004)
Ellie Harvie (The Cabin In The Woods)
Brody Smith (Rat Race)
Nicole Fugere (Cosas Que Nunca Te Dije)
Betty Phillips (2012)
Michael Roberds (Elf)
John DeSantis (Little Man)

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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Monika Schnarre (Andromeda)
Gabrielle Miller (Highlander: The Series)
David Lewis (Man of Steel)
John Astin (The Frighteners)
Jennifer Copping (Slither)
Samantha Ferris (Along Came A Spider)
Jessica Harmon (Izombie)
Diane Delano (Jeepers Creepers 2)
Keegan Connor Tracy (Bates Motel)
David Palffy (Stargate SG.1)
Richard Ian Cox (Ghost Rider)
April Telek (Walking Tall)
Brendan Fehr (Roswell)
Morgan Fairchild (Chuck)
Mike Dopud (Stargate Universe)
Courtnay J. Stevens (Ripper)
Christopher Shyer (V)

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The 1991 film The Addams Family had distinguished performers Angelica Huston and Raul Julia, and took over $100,000,000 at the box office. Both this film and its 1993 sequel, Addams Family Values, were based heavily on Addams’ original cartoons, and introduced a whole new generation of fans to the Addamses. A script for another sequel had already been prepared before the sudden 1994 death of Raul Julia ended plans for a third movie. Despite the apparent end of the film franchise, rumours of a return to the small screen persisted. In the meantime, original Gomez John Astin loaned his vocal talents to an Emmy award winning 1992 animated series, which lasted for two seasons. In 1998, the Fox empire negotiated the acquisition of the US Family Channel, which wud be re-launched in the fall under the Fox banner, with a large number of new original programmes and specials, produced in partnership with Saban International. Saban had established themselves as leaders in the field of economical children’s television throughout the 1990s. A number of original TV movies were to be produced for airing on the channel, with prior releases on the sell-through home video market. Among the initial raft of titles announced was Addams Family Reunion, which would star Tim Curry and Daryl Hannah. Produced hastily in California in the early months of 1999, it debuted on Home Video in the fall to almost unanimous derision.

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However, before production on the new film wrapped, Saban and Fox Family Channel announced that a 65-episode series of The New Addams Family would debut as part of the new line-up. The new series was to be a joint effort between Saban and Shavick Entertainment. The series, which would “mix characters from both the classic series and recent films”, was to be produced in Vancouver at a cost of $35 million and represented a near unprecedented advance commitment. Filming in British Columbia, with its generous tax incentives, not to mention a cast of relative unknowns, it was hoped that the series could be produced economically to a high standard. As a further budgetary measure, many of the specialist props, costumes and settings from Reunion were put to use in the new episodes.

With budget and the Vancouver location immediately precluding the participation of much of the Addams Family Reunion troupe, it would be a largely new cast which would front the new series. The new cast was assembled mostly from Canadian talent, with the exceptions of Nicole Fugere, who would reprise her role of Wednesday from Reunion and Glenn Taranto, a last-minute placement in the role of Gomez, cast after the initial choice proved unsuitable.

Originally, the producers had envisaged a Gomez more in line with the Hispanic silhouette Raul Julia embodied on the big screen. With this in mind, Frank Roman was initially cast in the role, beating out Glenn Taranto, who had offered an audition performance based on John Astin’s interpretation. However, once rehearsals were underway, it became clear that the tone of the episodes owed more to the series of old than the films, convincing the producers to reconsider their decision, awarding the role to Taranto. The actor had kept a signed photograph of the original Gomez, John Astin, in his possession for a number of years, and felt a special affinity for the role; over the years, a number of people had commented on his physical and vocal similarity to Astin.

Award-winning comedienne Ellie Harvie would play Morticia, along with Michael Roberds as Uncle Fester. Veteran performer Betty Phillips would play the wizened Grandmama Addams, whilst newcomers John DeSantis, Brody Smith and Steven Fox would essay the roles of Lurch, Pugsley and Thing, respectively. Production on the new episodes began in earnest in the Spring of 1998.

As it emerged, the new series owed much of its style and tone to the Addamses of the small-screen, and a large number of the original television scripts were adapted and revised as the basis for new episodes. This task fell largely to the show’s Executive Consultant, Peggy Nicol and her successors Arnold Rudnik and Rich Hosek. The remade episodes were generally heavily restructured and rewritten, often with only the barest bones of the originals retained.  The Fox Family Channel intended to use the established Addams format as the ballast for its re-launch, with stripped broadcasts throughout weekday evenings. With a mammoth episode count required in time for the October launch-date, the new cast would shoot at a frantic pace, with an average of only three filming days devoted to each episode.

A number of large regular sets were built in the studio to represent the Addams abode. Budgets and time precluded the building of an exterior to the mansion, which was instead realised with computer animation. A small exterior backlot set housed the gateway to the mansion, allowing for rare outside excursions. Like the original series, location shoots would be few and far between. With rapid production imperative, the crew often worked 14-hour days. Make-up alone could last as long as 90-minutes at a time. However, despite the highly demanding working conditions, the cast members generally relished their roles. Harvie, Taranto and Roberds based their performances heavily on their sixties counterparts, having watched the original show as children. Between them, they gradually brought their own broader interpretations to their roles, adding their own comic style.

An early seal of approval was found in the form of an inspired guest appearance by original Gomez, John Astin, in the role of Great Grandpapa Addams. Both Astin and the regular cast enjoyed the experience immensely, as Ellie Harvie recalled: “There was one scene where I was speaking French and he runs in and says, ‘Tish, that’s French!’ and starts kissing my arm and then Gomez walks in and says, ‘Grandpapa, what are you doing?’ There was a second there when he was kissing my arm and I thought, ‘This is too weird. I’m Morticia’!” Astin reprised Great Grandpapa for a further two episodes of the series. The New Addams Family premiered on the Fox Family Channel on October 19th 1998, following a huge publicity drive. Fox Family used the series as the cornerstone for their 13 Days of Halloween special, and followed soon after with The Addams Family Scareathon, a day of stripped repeats linked with specially filmed promotional spots by the characters.

In print, posters advertising the show appeared throughout the New York Subway system whilst TV-Guide magazine featured prominent advertisements for the show. A number of items were produced purely for promotional purposes. These included engraved cigar boxes, complete with a preview videotape, New Addams Family picture frames (filled with plastic bugs and bones) along with t-shirts, rucksacks and other sundries.

Concurrently, Cool-Whip dessert topping was showcasing a major promotion for Addams Family Reunion. The network aired huge numbers of specially shot promotional spots, whilst the characters themselves were featured as part of the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade. Critical reaction was conservative, but generally positive.

Fox Family’s massive publicity drive paid off. In a press release issued shortly after the premiere, the network reported that: “Highlighting the prime time line-up was the debut episode of The New Addams Family, the highest-rated first-run series in Fox Family Channel history. Addams proved a particularly strong attraction to Kids 6-11, with the debut delivering a Fox Family Channel prime time series record 2.04 rating in that demographic. Having excelled as part of the Fox Family Channel’s re-launch, The New Addams Family was to prove a surprisingly short-lived revival, producing only one episode more than its television parent.

Sadly, the promising viewing figures and audience reaction were not enough to ensure a second number of episodes, and with its 65th episode, Death Visits the Addams Family, the new series bade farewell to its new-found fan base. Reportedly, during the final weeks of production an abortive proposal was made for a straight-to-video movie sequel. Ultimately, the motivations behind the cancellation are numerous, and neither Shavick nor Fox Family Channel have ever issued an official statement regarding it. However, certain facts and comments from production alumni do go some way to explaining the decision. For the network, it would seem that any interest in continuing beyond their contracted quota was minimal, as their huge order of episodes gave them a sufficient number of shows to exploit the series with its existing library. With large numbers of shows readily available, there was no immediate incentive for them to produce further episodes. The cast and crew had been engaged on fixed-rate contracts, which expired at the end of production. Having forfeited their rights to valuable residual payments for the series, it was inconceivable that they would agree to such frugal terms for a second run. While the news was disappointing to viewers, in fairness, the show’s production team had completed a quota of episodes far in excess of the annual 25 of most modern sitcom productions.

The disappointment of the cast and crew at the premature and abrupt nature of the cancellation was seemingly vindicated during the 2000 Leo Awards, where The New Addams Family retrospectively won eight awards out of a nominated nine

REVIEW: BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: BLOOD & CHROME

CAST

Luke Pasqalino (The Musketeers)
Ben Cotton (Slither)
Lili Bordan (The Martian)
Jill Teed (X-Men 2)
John Pyper-Ferguson (Caprica)
Brian Markinson (Izombie)
Karen Leblanc (Cracked)
Sebastian Spence (First Wave)
Ty Olsson (The 100)
Zak Santiago (Shooter)
Mike Dopud (Stargate: Atlantis)
Adrian Holmes (Arrow)
Carmen Moore (Andromeda)
Terry Chen (Bates Motel)
Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica)

Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome’ tells story of Adama’s first mission. Battlestar Galactica” is the franchise that will not die. The original television series in the 1970s was cancelled because of the cost of production. It was then revived for a short-lived budget-crunched version named “Galactica 80,” which brought the rag-tag fleet of star voyagers to the Earth and less special effects. The franchise was kept alive throughout the 1980s and 1990s by way of comic books and novels.

2003 saw the launch of the rebooted version of “Battlestar Galactica.” After a mini-series, the television show went on for four seasons. It also spawned two TV movies and several web series. “Caprica” premiered in 2009, proving once again audiences just couldn’t get enough of this sci-fi phenomenon. Unfortunately, the show ended abruptly after two seasons.

“Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome” once again proves you can’t keep a good show down. Originally filmed to be the pilot for a new SyFy Channel series, it was decided to split it up into 10 parts and aired on Machinima.com as a web series. The entire pilot has now been reassembled and made available on Blu-ray and DVD in an “Unrated Edition.”

Young William Adama graduates from the Academy in the tenth year of the First Cylon War. He’s appointed to serve aboard the Colonial Fleet’s newest battlestar, the Galactica. His first assignment is as a pilot for a Raptor transport ship. Adama, his co-pilot Coker, and former Graystone Industries employee Dr. Beka Kelly are sent on a secret mission that will take them deep into Cylon territory.

Blood and Chrome takes place between “Caprica” and the 2003 series. Director Jonas Pate takes series creators Michael Taylor and David Eick’s script and successfully drops us back into the world of Battlestar Galactica.Pate has a history working within the universe, having helmed episodes of both Battlestar Galactica and Caprica. This helps give Blood and Chrome a familiar look that matches that of the earlier shows. Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome is another essential piece to the franchise puzzle for fans. It will satisfy their taste for more of this intriguing and complex universe and its characters.

REVIEW: CAPRICA – PART 2

 

Starring

Eric Stoltz (The Butterfly Effect)
Esai Morales (Titans)
Paula Malcomson (The Hunger Games)
Alessandra Torresani (The Big Bang Theory)
Magda Apanowicz (You)
Sasha Roiz (Grimm)
Brian Markinson (Sanctuary)
Polly Walker (Pennyworth)

Caprica (2009)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Kendall Cross (X-Men 2)
Peter Wingfield (Highlander: The Series)
Andrew Airlie (Fifty Shades of Grey)
Hiro Kanagawa (Izombie)
Panou (Flash Gordon)
Zak Santiago (Shooter)
Bridget Hoffman (Darkman)
Scott Porter (Speed Racer)
John Pyper-Ferguson (The Last Ship)
Anita Torrance (Smallville)
Genevieve Buechner (The Final Cut)
Ben Cotton (Stargate: Atlantis)
Teryl Rothery (Stargate SG.1)
Patton Oswalt (Veronica Mars)
Ryan Kennedy (Smallville)
Christopher Heyerdahl (Van Helsing)
Calum Worthy (American Vandal)
Tom McBeath (Stargate SG.1)
Aleks Paunovic (Van Helsing)
Elisabeth Rosen (Cult of Chucky)
Sina Najafi (Stargate SG.1)
Carmen Moore (Flash Gordon)
Mike Dopud (Arrow)

Esai Morales in Caprica (2009)Nothing would’ve made me happier than to deem Syfy’s decision to cancel Caprica a grave and unwarranted one, but that’s something which simply can’t happen. Bear with me now, because there’s a reason for saying this. As a defender of the series when it was on the brink of cancellation, there’s no joy in stating that it’s easy to see why Ron Moore and David Eick’s offshoot from Battlestar Galactica received the axe when it did. Though far from faultless, the first half of the series established a fine foundation for a world rife for exploration: the mechanics of a society that would ultimately create a sentient lifeform, robots which would rebel and eventually annihilate most of the human race. But concept’s only part of the journey, and Caprica saw tonal and storytelling issues that shaped it into a rough, erratic exploration of those ideas, reaching an especially stagnant point at the beginning of this second half. It’s a shame, then, that the writers and producers finally discover their rhythm in the last five-and-a-half episodes, as it truly becomes the series I had hoped it’d become.Paula Malcomson in Caprica (2009)The story revolves around the polytheistic, technologically-advanced colony of Caprica roughly sixty years before “the downfall”, focusing on the conflict between, and within, two families: The Graystones, and the Adamas. Lawyer Joseph Adams (Esai Morales) lives a somewhat normal life with his wife and two children, Tamara and Billy, attempting to juggle his high-profile stature in the legal realm with his domestic life. He fights a bit with keeping himself as distanced as he can from his unsavory lineage, the Tauron mob Ha’la’tha, though it’s hard since the organization funded his education and requires his services regularly — usually by messages delivered through his brother, Sam (Sasha Roiz). BSG devotees with get a jolt in seeing the blossoming of young “Billy” in this environment early on, watching the growth of the semi-troubled youth that’d transform into the disquieting, powerful Galactica commander Bill Adama.Magda Apanowicz in Caprica (2009)Caprica’s central draw, however, is the Graystones. Daniel Graystone (Eric Stoltz) heads a tech development firm working on a mechanized super-soldier that’s just not cutting the mustard, all the while generating profit (60% of net, to be exact) with virtual reality headsets — holobands — that connect to a network of fully-interactive, realistic digital worlds. Graystone’s seemingly safe digital construct quickly broke down into a laissez-faire underground, filled with hacked sections that exploit sex, drug-use, and violence. Daniel’s daughter, a silver-tongued high-school student named Zoe (Alessandra Torresani) who battles with her mother Amanda (Paula Malcomson) over authority, frequents the holoband V-Club with boyfriend Ben (Avan Jogia) and timid best friend Lacy (Magda Apanowicz), yet they’re beyond the carnal satisfaction that the place has to offer. Instead, they’ve found purpose in monotheistic religious belief within an activist organization, the Soldiers of The One (STO), and, in the process, created an exact digital copy of Zoe who will somehow aid the resistance.Eric Stoltz and Paula Malcomson in Caprica (2009)Caprica utilized a cliffhanger episode at the end of the first half of the season, one that leaves the mortality of several characters up in the air. It’s uncertain whether the depression-driven grief that Amanda’s been going through truly led her to suicide; similarly, we’re unsure if the full-throttle abrasiveness that Zoe was enacting inside the U-87 Cylon body destroyed her at the end. Then, Syfy opted to go on a very lengthy mid-season break (read: they shelved the episodes), leaving curious minds in the dark for roughly seven months and, effectively, knocking the wind out of Caprica. Already, the series wasn’t on the strongest of legs; as mentioned before, it establishes a fine world that explores the emotions coursing through decisions to either reject or embrace digital memories of loved ones, while also giving some deep-rooted glimpses into the underpinnings of Moore and Eick’s Emmy-winning Battlestar Galactica. Yet it wasn’t all gelling together as of yet, only improving as the series went along but ultimately lacking the joie du vivre that pumped its inspiration forward.Eric Stoltz in Caprica (2009)Therefore, when Caprica’s second half starts off sluggish and overbearingly dour, it’s almost like a death toll. Let’s be perfectly honest here: the first three installments following a seven-month hiatus end up being misfired glut, something the series couldn’t withstand at that point. Starting with a jump-forward in time that echoes the end of Battlestar Galactica’s second season, it throws the story in a pit of depression, despair, and cutthroat politics surrounding Daniel that bloats beyond its boundaries. When the Ha’la’tha use killing one’s mother — someone unassociated with the crime syndicate — as a sign of loyalty, when the STO enact murderous power moves over their religious heads, or when Zoe’s avatar is bludgeoned to near-death for simply looking like the STO terrorist she’s perceived to be, the tone gets molasses-level thick and fairly objectionable. It’s as if Moore and Eick are overcompensating so their audience knows they’re not pulling any punches, while the output they produce leans toward ham-handed and hard-faced discomfort — and extremely awkward in “Things We Lock Away”, a sloppily glued-together hodgepodge of poorly-orchestrated arena brawls in New Cap City and intent Lacy/STO development.Esai Morales in Caprica (2009)None of Caprica’s issues root in the performances, however, or the production design. From the ground up, Moore and Eick continue the shrewdly-cast and stylish thrust of science-fiction with a fine vein of suspense, capturing the city’s expanses with a unique blend of metropolitan polish, futuristic gris-gris, and slick ’50s-esque allure. Locations like the Graystone mansion sport angular windows and a glaring pour of cold light, while the Adama household encapsulates a warm yet dark demeanor. These fitting aesthetic touches cradle some exceptional dramatic performances, including Eric Stoltz and Esai Morales whom have come into their own as tried-and-true denizens of Caprica. The same can be said for Magda Apanowicz as Lacy, who takes the complications surrounding a semi-innocent girl lost in the world of terrorism and runs with them with stalwart momentum. Lacy’s role, which gets sloshed around in the first half of the season, begins to grow more focused as she embeds further into the STO (and learns of her affinity with post-Zoe Cylons). The faces of Caprica are what keep the series afloat, both during the well-executed and bungled stretches in the show.Still from CapricaReally, the issues hinge on a general question: “What’s the driving force behind Caprica?” At first, the series closed in on the machinations of the Cylon origins, as well as exploring monotheism vs. polytheism, the benefits and hindrances of an abandon-free V-World, and the reluctance for people to let go of those whom have died. Upon the second half of Caprica, all that’s somewhat switched out for direct drama involving the robots’ “creator”, as well as concentration on the gangster Adama network and the blossoming of the terrorist organization as idealists — which, by the way, the STO material’s fairly bland and oddly-executed during that stretch. In essence, it starts to go down a fairly generic path of aggressive human drama, leaving the intrigue behind Zoe’s presence somewhat alone for a two-hour burst. It’s pretty clear that the minds behind the show tinkered with some new (and time-weathered) ideas to try and wrangle together a new audience. And it didn’t really pan out as such.Caprica with Eric StoltzFortunately, the creative team seems to have had an inclination towards this. Starting with “False Labor”, Caprica begins to see an awakening, as if they both discover where their weaknesses lie and resurrect the spirit of Battlestar Galactica — which carries over in “Blowback”, marking the first of five episodes that Syfy shelved around the time of cancellation. In this episode, Daniel attempts to recreate Zoe’s “resurrection” software, while in the process using an avatar of Amanda as a basis for comparison. Since he knows all the mannerisms and minutiae of his wife, he’s able to determine exactly how human or inhuman she’s acting, and the content that unfolds as he dissects this digital Amanda can be both penetrating and emotionally stirring. On top of that, Lacy gets her first hearty taste of the STO’s domineering, contentious presence, while meeting other “recruits” similar to her. Moreover, it rediscovers its tonality; difficult drama remains, but the way it’s handled regains the excitement of its inspiration. In short, it gets good. Really, really good.With Syfy cancelling the show and five episodes still left to run, the big question likely will be: “Does it get a proper, strong conclusion?” Piggybacking off the regained proficiency that it rediscovers in “Blowback”, Caprica sprints through the remaining episodes as if it knows that the end’s coming, losing its abandon in a furious, gripping rush that certainly echoes to Battlestar Galactica’s aptitude in 11th-hour intensity. It hits the accelerator and really doesn’t stop until an unquestionably finite conclusion, bringing together Daniel’s hunt for Zoe’s avatar in V-World and the unsavory connections between Graystone Industries and the Tauron mob to a very fine, robust head. Moreover, the content surrounding Lacy’s presence in the STO finally reaches a meaningful point, instead of evoking the sensation that it’s a time-killing subplot like it did at first. But, much like the conclusion of Battlestar Galactica, it also ditches some sensibility in lieu of excitement, breaking some of its own rules and established character mannerisms just to find a definite close. When it all melts together, though, it’ll be worth gritting one’s teeth through a few questionable moments.Those who’ve watched Caprica and cashed in their chips owe it to themselves to check out the tense follow-through, with the knowledge that the tone’s anything but consistent. There’s only a handful of great moments scattered within; however, there are assuredly some really great moments, ones that ensnare the type of essence I’d hoped would resonate in a depiction of the pre-Cylon world. In the middle of that, along with blatant reflection on the current climate of terrorism, it also provokes thought about the extents that some might go to preserve the memories and essence of those they love, and whether the recreation of an individual would push the boundaries of their belief structure. Caprica’s an intelligent show at its core, one with a complex network of emotion buttons that simply never properly learned how and when to push them. What’s a shame is that the show reveals a few glimmers at the end that suggest it might’ve found out how, ones that likely hadn’t even been seen by those that made the decision to power down this tale of the pre-war Cylon race.

REVIEW: BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (2004) – SEASON 4 (PART 2)

Starring

Edward James Olmos (Blade Runner)
Mary McDonnell (Donnie Darko)
Katee Sackhoff (Riddick)
Jamie Bamber (Marcella)
James Callis (Flashforward)
Tricia Helfer (Powers)
Grace Park (Hawaii Five-0)
Michael Hogan (Red Riding Hood)
Aaron Douglas (Chaos)
Tahmoh Penikett (Dollhouse)
Kandyse McClure (Mother’s Day)
Alessandro Juliani (Smallville)

Michael Hogan and Tricia Helfer in Battlestar Galactica (2004)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Lucy Lawless (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Callum Keith Rennie (Impulse)
Rekha Sharma (V)
Kate Vernon (Heores)
Jen Halley (Red Riding Hood)
Don Thompson (Slither)
Sonja Bennett (The Fog)
Richard Hatch (InAlienable)
Donnelly Rhodes (Legends of Tomorrow)
Keegan Connor Tracy (Bates Motel)
Bodie Olmos (Walkout)
Sebastian Spence (First Wave)
Mike Dopud (Arrow)
Ty Olsson (War For The POTA)
Leah Cairns (Interstellar)
Colin Lawrence (Watchmen)
Vincent Gale (Bates Motel)
Craig Veroni (Dark Angel)
Mark Sheppard (Doom Patrol)
Michael Trucco (Sabrina: TTW)
Adrian Holmes (Skyscraper)
Dean Stockwell (Quantum Leap)
Roark Critchlow (V)
G. Patrick Currie (Stargate SG.1)
Torrance Coombs (Reign)
Leela Savasta (Stargate Atlantis)
Rick Worthy (The Vampire Diaries)
Tobias Mehler (Young BLades)
Kevin McNulty (Elektra)
Sarah Deakins (Andromeda)
Tiffany Lyndall-Knight (I, Robot)

 

Wrapping up a beloved TV series with an enormous cult following is no easy task. Sci-Fi devotees like me can be tough to please since we’re deeply invested in the characters and the final trajectories their lives take. Fortunately, thanks to the Gods (plus executive producers David Eick, Ronald D. Moore, and a top-notch cadre of actors, writers, directors, and production staff), ardent followers of the outstanding series, Battlestar Galactica, are provided satisfying closure with the must-see release of Season 4.5.
Based on the original series, created by Glen Larson and first aired in 1978, the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica (abbreviated as BSG or Galactica) began as a three-hour miniseries in 2003 and ran for four seasons ending in 2009. Its premise: a civilization of humans, who inhabit the Twelve Colonies, develop a cybernetic race (Cylons) to serve as workers and soldiers. The Cylons, who become sentient and monotheistic, eventually rebel, opening a can of nuclear-style whoop-ass on their sinful creators. With billions of people annihilated, the remaining 50,000 or so survivors are on the run, led by the last remaining warship, the battlestar Galactica. Humanity’s hope is to reach the fabled Thirteenth Colony (Earth) before the Cylons wipe them out.Jamie Bamber and Aaron Douglas in Battlestar Galactica (2004)In Season 4.5, the wounds of New Caprica (a would-be refuge overrun by the Cylons at the end of Season 2) fester among humans and Cylons alike. Trust and betrayal take center stage for both sides as new, tenuous alliances are formed and mutinous elements take hold. As with previous seasons, it’s evident that Larson’s Mormon beliefs, the post-9/11 War on Terror, and Moore’s agnostic, humanist views influence Season 4.5’s, context, characters, and events. The result is thought-provoking stories that make this sometimes passive viewer sit up, take notice, and consider how the show’s religious, political, and ethical issues are critically relevant today. For folks who prefer not to delve too deeply into the storytelling – no worries. The visuals (both actual and CGI) are frakkin’ amazing. The menacing, mechanical, chrome Cylons send shivers up my spine and several of the human-looking, “skin-jobs” are, well… really HOT! Throw in some heart-stopping CGI space battles and its hands down the best looking show I’ve ever seen.Not to be outdone by the special effects are the stellar performances. Edward James Olmos (Galactica’s Commander William Adama) and Mary McDonnell (President Laura Roslin), both 2009 Saturn Award winners, are outstanding in their respective roles as strong but flawed leaders who support and deeply love one another. With all the May – December romances depicted in film and television, it’s refreshing to see a strong, yet tender relationship between age/power-equivalent adults over 50. Katee Sackhoff (Captain Kara ‘Starbuck’ Thrace) is terrific as the hot-headed, ace viper-pilot who’s grappling with her past familial dysfunction and current romantic and identity crises. Sackhoff effectively and realistically balances the opposing sides to her character: the confident feminist action heroine and the abandoned, damaged woman. Jamie Bamber (Lee Adama), James Callis (Dr. Gaius Baltar), and Tricia Helfer (Number Six) all give remarkable performances as well. Also, since the series was filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia, I was pleasantly surprised to see other standout Canadian actors added to the Season 4.5 cast; especially Darcie Laurie (who played the chief lieutenant and down-to-earth henchman Bob in the series Intelligence).Battlestar Galactica expertly tells the tales of complex, flawed characters; however, Season 4.5 is not without its own faults. For example, I found the flashbacks in the two-part series finale, “Daybreak” to be needlessly slow and irrelevant in advancing the plot. The purpose might have been to further round-out the characters, but the few added details given are misplaced at a time when viewers are seeking answers to larger questions. In addition, some may be frustrated that Season 4.5 doesn’t solve all of BSG’s mysteries. But life rarely reveals all its secrets, and the closure that’s provided will likely be sufficiently satisfying to most.

 

REVIEW: BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (2004) – SEASON 2

Starring

Edward James Olmos (Blade Runner)
Mary McDonnell (Donnie Darko)
Katee Sackhoff (Riddick)
Jamie Bamber (Marcella)
James Callis (Flashforward)
Tricia Helfer (Powers)
Grace Park (Hawaii Five-0)
Michael Hogan (Red Riding Hood)
Aaron Douglas (Chaos)
Nicki Clyne (Saved!)
Tahmoh Penikett (Dollhouse)
Kandyse McClure (Mother’s Day)
Paul Campbell (Knight Rider)
Alessandro Juliani (Smallville)

Tahmoh Penikett and Katee Sackhoff in Battlestar Galactica (2004)Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Samuel Witwer (Smallville)
Donnelly Rhodes (Legends of Tomorrow)
Rekha Sharma (V)
Callum Keith Rennie (Impulse)
Lucy Lawless (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Matthew Bennett (Stargate SG.1)
Dean Stockwell (Quantum Leap)
Rick Worthy (The Vampire Diaries)
Richard Hatch (InAlienable)
Lorena Gale (The Exorcism of Emily Rose)
Michael Trucco (Sabrina: TTW)
Michelle Forbes (Powers)
Graham Beckel (The Loft)
Leah Cairns (Interstellar)
Bodie Olmos (Walkout)
Luciana Carro (Helix)
Kate Vernon (Heores)
Alonso Oyarzun (Reindeer Games)
Jen Halley (Red Riding Hood)
Ty Olsson (War of TPOTA)
Aleks Paunovic (Van Helsing)
Malcolm Stewart (Jumanji)
Dominic Zamprogna (Stargate Universe)
James Remar (BLack Lightning)
Patricia Idlette (Ginger Snaps 2)
Benjamin Ayres (The Vampire Diaries)
Don Thompson (Watchmen)
Fulvio Cecere (Valentine)
John Pyper-Ferguson (Caprica)
Sebastian Spence (First Waves)
Mike Dopud (Arrow)
Vincent Gale (Bates Motel)
Colm Feore (Thor)
David Richmond-Peck (Sanctuary)
Claudette Mink (Paycheck)
Bill Duke (Black Lightning)
Christopher Jacot (Slasher)
John Heard (Home Alone)
Kavan Smith (Staragte Atlantis)
Stefanie von Pfetten (Cracked)
Erica Cerra (Power Rangers)
Alisen Down (Smallville)
David Kaye (Beast Wars)
Colin Lawrence (Watchmen)

Some cynical individual, at some time, blurted out that “there’s always room for improvement” about an accomplishment or achievement that was fine in its own right. In the spectrum of film and television, it’s true that all material can be tightened, focused, and made even more compelling with practice; but oftentimes creative teams fall back into comfort zones and neglect to spit-shine where improvement is needed. Ronald Moore and David Eick, the creators of the reimagined Battlestar Galactica series, understand this concept. They accomplished something intriguing, thrilling, and dramatically magnetic with their initial 2003 miniseries and, later, a full subsequent season that grappled the structure of the three-hour introduction — characters, mythos, and stunning production merits through striking photography and convincing computer effects — and ran with it. However, there’s always room for improvement, and Battlestar Galactica’s second season finds a deeper focus and more thrill-inducing pace that fully ratchets the series into the stratosphere of superb science-fiction creations.Nicki Clyne and Aaron Douglas in Battlestar Galactica (2004)The first season constructs a “reboot” of the highest accord, taking the original content from the 1978 television series and shaping it into an edgy and modern production in the vein of “West Wing … in space”. Grecian mythology, military-heavy hierarchal bickering, and the relationships between people on the space ship Galactica — both tender and volatile — are all sparked into action when the Cylons, humanity’s slave-like machines evolved into enlightened yet vengeful beings, attack their creators after 40 years of recoiled hibernation. These attacks, which left around 50,000 humans alive, wiped out sixteen of the individuals in-line for the presidency over the “colonies”, which left Secretary of Education Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell, Dances With Wolves) as the next in line. Somehow, this all gyrates around the weasel-like scheming of Dr. Gaius Baltar (James Callis, Bridget Jones’ Diary), who inadvertently fell for the whims of a blonde-haired Cylon (Tricia Helfer) and revealed humanity’s defense secrets — and, now, follows orders from the sultry “machine” in the confines of his own mind, with her as little more than an illusion reminding him of his “importance” as one of God’s pawns. Monotheistic God, not polytheistic, but that’ll become important later on.After its thrilling two-part miniseries and a handful of tense cat-and-mouse episodes at the start, the first season (which should be viewed before continuing this review, as the context here relies on the fact that you’ve seen the first season) coasts along a stream of dynamic back-and-forths between Galactica’s Commander Bill Adama (Edward James Olmos, Blade Runner) and President Roslin — leading to a point where Adama is stretched out on the ship’s command center deck, bleeding from gunshot wounds incurred by an assassination attempt. Season Two picks up directly after the shooting, showing how the military hierarchy moves its pieces around Adama’s incapacitation. His XO (second in command) Saul Tigh (Michael Hogan) wrestles with his alcohol addiction as he tries to juggle an unwanted leadership position, shrug off his wife Ellen’s (Kate Vernon) passenger-seat manipulation of the Galactica’s workings, and make the colonies understand why President Roslin has been arrested for subordination. On top of that, we’re also watching the way Adama’s ailment affects his son, Captain Lee Adama (Jamie Bamber), as his allegiance to the Colonial fleet sways between loyalty to his father and his belief in what the theologically-focused President Roslin is trying to accomplish.Richard Hatch and Michael Hogan in Battlestar Galactica (2004)But, as Battlestar Galactica veterans know, that core quarrel really only scoops up the top layer of the conflicts that lie underneath the Colonial fleet’s hunt for a safe, habitable planet — whether it be the fabled planet Earth, the newly-discovered planet of Kobol, or beyond. Season Two also finds a deeper focus on Kara Thrace (Katee Sackhoff, “Nip/Tuck”), aka Starbuck, as more than a novel imitation of the classic series’ character, concentrating on the depth of her belief in the gods, her bull-headedness giving way to a need for deeper connections with others, and a particular point where she’s, dare I say it, made hopelessly vulnerable in the episode “The Farm”. This happens on Cylon-occupied Caprica, the colonies’ once-thriving central metropolis, where she and Lieutenant ‘Helo’ Agathon (Tahmoh Penikett, “Dollhouse”) are attempting to locate a way off the planet and back to Galactica with the “Arrow of Apollo” in their possession. There, they interact with a second version of the “Sharon” model of Cylon (Grace Park), pregnant with Helo’s child and rebellious against her kind. Along those same lines, we also see how the cluster of Colonial soldiers stranded on Kobol — deck chief Galen Tyrol (Aaron Douglas) and his “knuckledragger” subordinates, as well as Vice President Baltar — find a way to survive until they’re able to make an escape attempt.Mary McDonnell and Katee Sackhoff in Battlestar Galactica (2004)Though the introductory season of Battlestar Galactica triumphs for establishing the storyline’s intricacies, a broad spectrum of characters, and suspenseful density, Ron Moore and David Eick still had a handful of creaks in the series’ bow that needed repair — such as tighter concentration on the political banter and more focused balancing between space warfare and non-CIC dramatics. Though intriguing to some, including myself, those elements also tended to bog down the pacing to a degree that could deter some from its deliberate concentration on policy. It’s important, and necessary, for a lengthy story to grow beyond its limitations, and the Moore / Eick team hone the introductory season’s successes into a poised, pulsating blend of drama and thrills that bolsters its initial successes forward two-fold. Everything that underscores the series’ quality — superb, straight-faced acting, slickly detailed cinematography ranging from cold and dark to acidic and overblown, and some of the best music on television, period — persists into the second season, now attached to a sense of obvious plot refinement.Jamie Bamber and Katee Sackhoff in Battlestar Galactica (2004)

does it differ? Well, this season knows when and how to play its cards, where the initial season struggles in knowing exactly what to do with the substantially impressive content that it’s generating. The thematic density that it crams into this season is staggering; the complications of martial law (military control of the government), delicateness around following an idealist (dying) leader with religion as their driving force, technology’s advancement and control over our everyday activity, the necessity of black market trade, and, eventually, the power of government-mandated control over population control. All of these elements are timely and meaningful, even allegorical to conflicts present in modern society, and they’re handled with a specific panache in this second season that remains vigilant throughout. But they’re not overtly heavy-handed; sly incorporation allows us to view these elements merely on the surface for service of the story or as deeper insights — whichever suits the viewer.James Remar and Jamie Bamber in Battlestar Galactica (2004)On top of that, Moore and Eick have set sights on how to tie these heady elements in with the bustling activity of operatic space battles, and they’ve succeeded in a way that maintains the series’ accessibility. The hyper-elaborate technobabble prevalent in other series — such as bits and pieces about a ship that “made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs” and about “trionic initiators in the warp coil” — gets tossed aside to allow for a direct focus on human interactions, such as ebbs and flows between father and son in authoritative positions, the fear and fatigue within a crew that’s never given much of a chance to relax, and an affinity with Laura Roslin as she succumbs to terminal breast cancer. Emotion-heavy episodes, such as the excellent “Flight of the Phoenix” where Chief Tyrol finds distraction and a sense of hope in building a new fighter ship from scraps, are there solely for that purpose. They even work in cliché taglines like, “They can run, but they can’t hide”, and hokey plot points like a bona-fide love triangle to convincing degrees — well, with their own spins on the material. In that, the creators rope us into the emotional fabric as if we’re members of the crew, sharing their plights. We’re not forced to try and comprehend scientific jargon, aside from a few scattered discussions about firewalls, viruses, and FTL drives, but instead asked to unswervingly, and powerlessly, hold our focus on the shifts in power aboard the Galactica.Mary McDonnell, Edward James Olmos, Jamie Bamber, and Katee Sackhoff in Battlestar Galactica (2004)Then, with a flick of the writers’ wrists, they change the way that we perceive just about everything in the series with the episode “Pegasus”. Out of nowhere, another one of the colonial fighter bases, the Battlestar Pegasus, arrives unexpectedly within the proximity of Galactica’s location. Once both have confirmed that they’re friendly ships, we’re introduced to Admiral Helena Cain (Michelle Forbes) — a strong, bloodthirsty woman with a very tight, dictatorial grip on her ship. Unlike the Galactica, the Pegasus is competitive, hardened, chauvinistic and far more stringent on policy, which creates a world of conflict once the two commanders begin comparing notes on Galactica’s personnel issues, power rankings, and the lenience in handling a Cylon prisoner. More importantly, Admiral Cain is Adama’s superior officer, and her iron-fist reclaim of power decidedly tears the fleet apart. In a matter of forty-some-odd minutes, the entire power structure of Battlestar Galactica is rearranged and tossed into volatile disarray, left for our characters to plot around and sort out. And it makes for thoroughly gut-swelling television because of it, stretching over an impressive three-episode arc (“Pegasus”, “Resurrection Ship” Parts One and Two).Lucy Lawless and Patrick Harrison in Battlestar Galactica (2004)It’s at this point, once the dust clears from the Pegasus incidents, that Battlestar Galactica begins to really claim a place in the annals of science-fiction as one of its finest creations — even with a few stumbling blocks that it still fights against. Ellen Tigh’s manipulation of Saul while he’s in command of the Galactica borders on the unbelievable, though one can certainly understand the swaying power of a significant other. A few character moments feel shoehorned into the mix, such as Lee’s character history revelations in “Black Market”, where the desire to beef up each and every character overreaches their bounds. And, quite simply, one or two of the episodes still fall a tad flat, whether they’re because of an unattractive character coming into focus, such as the hot-rod stem junkie pilot Kat in the ho-hum filler ep “Scar”, or the show simply attempting to do things that it can’t pull off, like the meandering MTV reality show style footage in “Final Cut”. Each of these faults are minor blemishes on otherwise successful, and thought-provoking, installments into the story arc, proving that even weak Battlestar Galactica episodes can be compelling to a middling degree.James Callis and Tricia Helfer in Battlestar Galactica (2004)With its continual and newly-sprung ideas bubbling at the cusp, Moore and Eick reach a conclusion to the second season, the masterful two-parter “Lay Down Your Burdens”, that focuses on the much-anticipated presidential race alluded to in the first season. Restoration of complete democracy and humanization become the weighty element at play, as the candidates — surprises aplenty — duke it out with the fleet’s concerns of safe planetary habitat and population boom as key driving forces. The interplay between all of the individuals is brilliant; however, it’s the outcome, and the legitimately shocking twist at the end of the finale, that’ll likely send one on a contemplative tailspin. With no less than three cliffhanger episodes in this season, it’s only expected that the finale in itself would be a weighty one, and Syfy’s heavy-hitting series doesn’t disappoint in that regard. It’s a brilliant way to swirl the entire season together, even if everything is turned upside down once again. That’s part of Ron Moore and David Eick’s game, a sci-fi neo-political chessgame that’s well worth playing.

 

REVIEW: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (2012) – SEASON 1

MAIN CAST

Kristin Kreuk (Smallville)
Jay Ryan (Mary Kills people)
Austin Basis (J. Edgar)
Nina Lisandrello (The Devil Wears Prada)
Brian White (The Cabin In The Woods)
Max Brown (Agent Carter)
Sendhil Ramamurthy (Heroes)

Kristin Kreuk and Jay Ryan in Beauty and the Beast (2012)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Yannick Bisson (Mutant X)
Britt Irvin (Big Eyes)
Khaira Ledeyo (Da Vinci’s Inquest)
Peter Outerbridge (Lucky Number Sleven)
Rob Stewart (Painkiller Jane)
Nicole Gale Anderson (Mean Girls 2)
Luke Macfarlane (Killjoys)
Elizabeth Blackmore (The Vampire Diaries)
Lara Jean Chorostecki (Hannibal)
Mädchen Amick (Twin Peaks)
Alex Carter (Out of Time)
Jenn Proske (Vampires Suck)
Kelly Overton (Van Helsing)
Mike Dopud (Stargate Universe)
Rachel Skarsten (Reign)
Hal Ozsan (Jessica Jones)
Bianca Lawson (Buffy: TVS)
Rena Sofer (Traffic)
Bridget Regan (Agent Carter)
Luke Roberts (Black Sails)
Brendan Hines (Lie To Me)
William deVry (Earth: Final Conflict)
Ty Olsson (Battlestar Galactica)
Ed Gathegi (X-Men: First Class)
Steve Lund (Bitten)
Shantel VanSanten (The Flash)
Ted Whittall (Smallville)

Beauty and the Beast is a remake of the 1987 series of the same name. That show starred Linda Hamilton and Ron Perlman and while it only lasted three seasons  it developed a very loyal fan base. This remake was not greeted with a lot of critical praise.The show begins in 2003 with Kristin Kreuk as Catherine Chandler. She works at a bar while preparing for her LSAT. She’s asked to close the bar, but when she tries to leave, her car won’t start, so she calls her mom. However, after her mom gets there, they are approached by two men. Her mother tells her to get in the car, but before she can, the men shoot her mother, so Cat runs into the woods. She doesn’t get too far before she trips and smacks her head. It looks like she will be killed, but then something attacks the two men and kills them. She can’t tell what it is, because of her concussion, but she thinks it is some kind of beast.Nine years later, Cat is a detective with the NYPD and while her mother’s murder hasn’t been solved yet, she’s mostly put it past her. However, that changes when there’s a new case she and her partner, Tess Vargas, are working on. There’s two main clues, a fingerprint and some DNA evidence. The DNA evidence is curious, as it points to mixed species. This is exactly what happened nine years ago with her mother’s murder. The finger print belongs to Vincent Keller (Jay Ryan) a soldier who was killed in Afghanistan years ago. While trying to find information on Vincent, she tracks down his old roommate, J.T. Forbes, and suspects he’s hiding something. She’s right, he’s hiding Vincent. Vincent underwent a super-soldier program in the military, but there were side effects. When angry, he transformers into a beast. He faked his death and is in hiding, because everyone else who underwent the procedure is dead. The company, Muirfield, killed everyone to cover their tracks, and they are willing to kill again to keep their secret. However, they didn’t count on Cat and Vincent teaming up to uncover what they covered up.Jay Ryan in Beauty and the Beast (2012)As I was watching the first season of Beauty and the Beast, It was slow at first, as the show was trying to find it’s feet, wth introduction of Sendhil Ramamurthy near the end of the season it did pick up.The cliffhanger does leave you clammering for more and thankfully this show did continue for another 3 seasons.

REVIEW: STARGATE UNIVERSE – SEASON 2

Starring

Robert Carlyle (One Upon A Time)
Louis Ferreira (Saw IV)
Brian J. Smith (Sense8)
Elyse Levesque (The Originals)
David Blue (Ugly Betty)
Alaina Huffman (Samllville)
Jamil Walker Smith (General Hospital)
Ming-Na Wen (Agents of Sheild)

SGU Stargate Universe (2009)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Julie McNiven (Doom Patrol)
Mike Dopud (Arrow)
Caroline Cave (Van Helsing)
Peter Kelamis (50/50)
Julia Benson (The Order)
Jennifer Spence (You Me Her)
Alisen Down (Smallville)
Robert Knepper (Izombie)
Lou Diamond Phillips (Young Guns)
Louise Lombard (CSI)
Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman (UnREAL)
Reiko Aylesworth (24)
Kathleen Munroe (Patriot)
Camille Sullivan (Kingsway)
Michelle Harrison (The Flash)
Vincent Gale (Van Helsing)
Bill Dow (Izombie)
French Stewart (Mom)
Victor Garber (Legends of Tomorrow)
David Hewlett (Rise of TPOTA)
Robert Picardo (The Orville)
Anna Galvin (Tin Man)
Sarah Smyth (Supergirl)

The Stargate franchise has literally run its course, some may feel. While others feel, similar to the “Star Trek” franchise, there are many stories that can still be told.From “Stargate SG-1′ to the animated series “Stargate Infinity” and then “Stargate Atlantis”, here we are with the final season of “Stargate Universe”, a series that met with fans who were split on whether they enjoyed or disliked the series. Unfortunately, for this series which began in 2009, there was no renewal for a third season and thus the second season ended with a cliffhanger, just when the series had made some major changes and had gotten better.SGU Stargate Universe (2009)Should Stargate Universe had a chance to prove itself? Afterall, even the popular syndicated series “Star Trek: The Next Generation” had its haters and also didn’t do well initially in the ratings, but given the chance to make the series better, it became one of the best “Star Trek” spinoff.SGU Stargate Universe (2009)I’m sure that this will be a debate in which these split fans will continue to have varying opinions but the fact is,Alaina Huffman, Jamil Walker Smith, Patrick Gilmore, and Brian J. Smith in SGU Stargate Universe (2009)“Stargate” is over and in April 2011, “Stargate” producer announced that any plans for continuation of “Stargate” have been cancelled and that he had officially packed his desk. 17 years of “Stargate” on television and it looks as if this was the final nail on the popular franchise.ursini1I do dislike when a series never receives its full run and in this case, ending with a cliffhanger but still, the creators and the fans did all they can to keep the series going. But for the fans who stuck with this series from beginning to end. perhaps one day the franchise will be brought back in some shape or form.