REVIEW: LOST – SEASON 3

Starring

Evangeline Lilly (Ant-Man and The Wasp)
Matthew Fox (Alex Cross)
Josh Holloway (Colony)
Elizabeth Mitchell (V)
Henry Ian Cusick (Hitman)
Dominic Monaghan (Flashforward)
Naveen Andrews (The Brave One)
Michael Emerson (Arrow)
Jorge Garcia (How I Met Your Mother)
Daniel Dae Kim (Insurgent)
Yunjin Kim (Shiri)
Terry O’Quinn (The Rocketeer)
Emilie de Ravin (Operation: Endgame)
Rodrigo Santoro (300)
Kiele Sanchez (A Perfect Getaway)
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Suicide Squad)

Josh Holloway in Lost (2004)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Julie Adams (Code Red)
Brett Cullen (Ghost Rider)
M.C. Gainey (Breakdown)
William Mapother (The Mentalist)
Julie Bowen (Modern Family)
John Terry (Full Metal Jacket)
Michael Bowen (Kill Bill)
Tania Raymonde (Texas Chainsaw)
Paula Malcomson (The Hunger Games)
Ian Somerhalder (The Vampire Diaries)
Chris Mulkey (Whiplash)
Justin Chatwin (War of The Worlds)
Kim Dickens (Gone Girl)
Bill Duke (Black Lightning)
Adetokumboh M’Cormack (Gods & Heroes)
Andrew Divoff (Wishmaster)
Aisha Hinds (Cult)
François Chau (The Tick)
Nathan Fillion (Firefly)
Fredric Lehne (Men In BLack)
Zeljko Ivanek (Heores)
Nestor Carbonell (Bates Motel)
Robin Weigert (Jessica Jones)
Alan Dale (Ugly Betty)
Sonya Walger (Flashforward)
Shishir Kurup (Coneheads)
Fionnula Flanagan (The Others)
Bai Ling (The Crow)
Diana Scarwid (Wonderland)
Cheech Marin (Coco)
Kimberley Joseph (Hercules: TLJ)
Sung Hi Lee (The Girl Next Door)
April Grace (A.I.)
Shaun Toub (Iron Man)
Gabrielle Fitzpatrick (MMPR: The Movie)
Kevin Tighe (My Bloody Valentine)
Cleo King (Mike & Molly)
Patrick J. Adams (Legends of Tomorrow)
Billy Dee Williams (Star Wars)
Daniel Roebuck (Final Destination)
Beth Broderick (Sabrina: TTW)
Andrew Connolly (Heroes)
Marsha Thomason (White Collar)
Jon Gries (Welcome To The Jungle)
Doug Hutchison (Punisher: War Zone)
Samantha Mathis (American Psycho)
Carrie Preston (True Blood)
Sterling Beaumon (The Killing)
Sam Anderson (Angel)
L. Scott Caldwell (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
Andrea Gabriel (2 Broke Girls)
Neil Hopkins (The Net 2.0)
Tracy Middendorf (Scream: The Series)
Lana Parrilla (Once Upon A Time)
Malcolm David Kelley (Detroit)
James Lesure (Las Vegas)
Fisher Stevens (Hackers)
Mira Furlan (Babylon 5)

This season is easily broken down into two separate parts; the first six episodes that aired before an eight week hiatus and then the rest of the season. Even though the first six are considered part of the third season, they feel much more like a prologue. Very little time is spent with the survivors on the beach and the main focus of the story is Jack (Matthew Fox), Kate (Evangeline Lilly) and Sawyer’s (Josh Holloway) imprisonment by the Others.Evangeline Lilly in Lost (2004)The second half of the season also featured some of the show’s best episodes to date. Including the brilliantly told “Flashes Before Your Eyes”, which is an interesting twist on Lost’s flashback scenario. Other episodes like “The Man from Tallahassee” and “The Brig” answered long asked questions while “The Man Behind the Curtain” and “One of Us” gave us a much needed back-story on both Ben (Michael Emerson) and Juliet (Elizabeth Mitchell).Really, the only weak point of the final sixteen-episode run would be “Stranger in a Strange Land”, an episode that primarily focused on the origins and meaning of Jack’s tattoo. We still don’t really understand the significance and we’re not too sure if the writers do either as they never bring up the subject again for the rest of the season.Terry O'Quinn in Lost (2004)Even “Expos¿”, an episode that featured fan-hated Nikki (Kiele Sanchez) and Paulo (Rodrigo Santoro), told an interesting “Twilight Zone” style story and we couldn’t be happier with the conclusion.If you were to suggest that the theme for season one was man vs. the unknown and that season two’s was man vs. machine it would be fair to suggest that the theme for season three is man vs. man, as the main crux of the season deals with the survivors of Flight 815 dealing with the Others. There is a constant power struggle between the two groups and the narrative frequently shifts back and forth from the Others camp to the survivor’s beach. Intertwined throughout, are personal struggles for several of the characters in both camps and we realize as the story pushes forward that even though they are enemies, their survival appears to be dependant on each other.At the core of this struggle is Benjamin Linus, and it would be a sin not to mention Michael Emerson’s fantastic performance as the enigmatic leader of the Others. He never once falters in portraying a creepy and unnerving nemesis for the survivors of Flight 815 and in particular, John Locke.Evangeline Lilly in Lost (2004)Terry O’Quinn puts in an equally inspired performance and every time these two appeared on screen together, you knew something special was about to happen. Everything culminates in what can be described as one of the best season finales in recent memory. Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof deliver a brilliantly told story that is full of emotion, suspense and action.

REVIEW: JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED – SEASON 2

Main Cast

Kevin Conroy (Justice League Doom)
George Newbern (Law & Order: SVU)
Susan Eisenberg (Lego aquaman)
Phil LaMarr (Futurama)
Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville)
Carl Lumbly (Alias)
Maria Canals (Batman: The Dark Knight Returns)

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Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Powers Booth (Sin City)
Corey Burton (Critters)
Seymour Cassel (Dick Tracy)
Takayo Fischer (Moneyball)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
James Remar (Black Lightning)
Gina Torres (Firefly)
John DiMaggio (Futurama)
Giselle Loren (Happy Feet)
Malcolm McDowell (Halloween)
Kim Mai Guest (G.I. Joe: Reneages)
Nicholle Tom (Gotham)
Kin Shriner (Manhunter)
Michael Beach (Aquaman)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Alexis Denisof (Avengers Assemble)
Raphael Sbarge (Once Upon a Time)
Juliet Landau (Aquaman)
David Ogden Stiers (Two Guys and a Girl)
Sab Shimono (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III)
Nathan Fillion (Firefly)
J.K. Simmons (Spider-Man)
CCH Pounder (Avatar)
Tara Strong (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Oded Fehr (V)
Ted Levine (The Silence of The Lambs)
Lauren Tom (Bad Santa)
Morena Baccarin (Gotham)
Amy Acker (The Gifted)
Virgina Madsen (Highlander II)
Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator)
Joanne Whalley (Willow)
Hector Elizondo (The Princess Diaries)
Robin Atkin Downes (Babylon 5)
Michael Ironside (Scanners)
Bud Cort (MASH)
Daniel Dae Kim (Lost)

MV5BMjQwMjQ0MTUzM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTAwOTM2MjE@._V1_Since I was just a young lad, Paul Dini and Bruce Timm have been showing me exactly what a superhero should be. They were some of the people behind the sublime Batman: The Animated Series, which is the definitive version of Batman in my eyes. They helped bring a certain Kryptonian to television screens in the late ’90s, taking an extra step into forming a coherent version of the DC universe to life. Hell, they even went so far as to help create a true successor to the Dark Knight. After doing all this, they managed to bring a clean, faithful and truly amazing assortment of champions of the DC Universe to life, showing us all exactly what a superhero should be.MV5BMTQxMjk3MTgxN15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDAwOTM2MjE@._V1_JLU – Season Two  remains faithful to its source material, which isn’t something you’ll find too often when translating a comic to a TV show or movie; whether it’s Green Arrow humming his own theme music while he’s fighting villains to Batman always being the baddest man in the room, the show conveys everything perfectly. A huge strength of the show lies within its voice talent, which is an assortment of voice-over veterans that have had some time to perfect their takes on characters: Kevin Conroy expertly delivers every line as Batman; Michael Rosenbaum has a wonderful, playful performance as Flash; and Clancy Brown is nothing short of brilliant as the ever-scheming, truly egotistic Lex Luthor. Though some of these actors have had over a decade to perfect their take on their respective characters, the guest stars who have little to no VO experience, much less know their characters, manage to be spot-on with their takes, making their characters memorable and charismatic.MV5BMTk4NTY4ODY4NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDYwOTM2MjE@._V1_Not only that, some of the guest stars who appear are more than enough to cause a nerdgasm to any self-respecting comic geek. Names like Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Amy Acker, Morena Baccarin, Juliet Landau, Michael Ironside, James Remar, and Daniel Dae Kim all bring their characters to life in the best way possible, creating a lasting impact on the series. As the series progressed from the seven core heroes, requiring the talent of so many guest stars, some viewers may be inclined to think, “Wow, DC has a lot of lame heroes in its roster.” Almost at the exact point in the series that the thought occurred to me, the show comes out swinging with the episode “Patriot Act,” hitting the nail on the head. This episode has an Incredible Hulk type character wanting to face off against the JLU varsity squad (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, etc&#Array;), but what he gets is a slew of D and E-list heroes, like Stargirl, S.T.R.I.P.E., Shining Knight, Vigilante, Green Arrow and Speedy.MV5BMzcyNjI0Nzc5MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODI5ODM2MjE@._V1_Though you may be thinking “who?” at this roster of leaguers, and though they get thoroughly trounced, the episode manages to make the point of despite who they’re fighting, these champions won’t ever quit, and it’s a theme that’s brought up more than once during the series without beating you over the head with it nor becoming cheesy, and that’s fine by me. The writing of the series is easily its greatest strength as it has fun with its storylines and it’s very obvious that everyone involved knows their craft. They don’t bother setting up any more characters – they already had four seasons to do so. Rather than exploring the universe further, they jump into tales that can be enjoyed by newcomers and longtime fans alike. The main story-arc of the season is a huge nod to an older crowd as it deals with the Legion of Doom – well, maybe not in name, but without a doubt in spirit: A gaggle of villains led by Lex Luthor who use a giant Darth Vader helmet as a base of operations.MV5BOTE5NTA5MTc1MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTIwOTM2MjE@._V1_If that isn’t the Legion of Doom, I don’t know what is. The storyline revolves around Luthor’s quest to reunite with Braniac and become a god. Unfortunately, he unleashes one of the most dangerous and powerful foes in the DC universe and the events that follow make for one satisfying bookend to one of the most prolific takes on a comic universe.

REVIEW: JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED – SEASON 1

Main Cast

Kevin Conroy (Justice League Doom)
George Newbern (Law & Order: SVU)
Susan Eisenberg (Lego aquaman)
Phil LaMarr (Futurama)
Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville)
Carl Lumbly (Alias)
Maria Canals (Batman: The Dark Knight Returns)

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Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Kin Shriner (Manhunter)
George Eads (CSI)
Eric Robert (The Finder)
Dana Delany (Tombstone)
Mike Farrell (Patch Adams)
Shelley Fabares (Coach)
Josh Hutcherson (The Hunger Games)
Christopher McDonald (Happy Gilmore)
Dakota Fanning (War of The Worlds)
Olivia d’Abo (Conan The Destroyer)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
Sheryl Lee Ralph (Fam)
Fred Savage (The Princess Diaries)
Jason Hervey (Back To The Future)
Edward Asner (Elf)
Michael York (Logan’s Run)
Patrick Bauchau (Panic Room)
Rachel York (One Fine Day)
Jack Carter (McCloud)
Jeffrey Combs (Re-Annimator)
Robert Foxworth (Transformers)
Charles Napier (The Silence of The Lambs)
Sam McMurray (Raising Arizona)
Cree Summer (Voltron)
Tom Everett Scott (Because I Said So)
Billy West (Futurama)
Lori Loughlin (Full House)
Jeremy Piven (Old School)
Robert Picardo (Star Trek: Voyager)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Will Friedle (Batman Beyond)
John C. McGinley (Scrubs)
Oded Fehr (V)
Scott Rummell (Six)
Tim Matheson (The West Wing)
Grey Griffin (The Book of Life)
CCH Pounder (Avatar)
J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
Michael Beach (Aquaman)
Gina Torres (Firefly)
Peter MacNicol (Veep)
Adam Baldwin (Chuck)
Nestor Carbonell (Bates Motel)
Mindy Sterling (Austin Powers)
Melissa Joan Hart (Sabrina: TTW)
Dennis Farina (Get Shorty)
Morena Baccarin (Gotham)
Virginia Madsen (Better Watch Out)
Ioan Gruffudd (Ringer)
Farrah Forke (Lois & Clark)
Michael Dorn (Star Trek: TNG)
Dick Miller (Gremlins)
Michael Jai White (Arrow)
Armin Shimerman (Buffy: TVS)
Juliet Landau (Ed Wood)
Alan Rachins (Showgirls)
Robert Englund (2001 Maniacs)
Wayne Knight (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Jason Bateman (Office Christmas Party)
Susan Sullivan (Castle)
Michael T. Weiss (The Pretender)
Amy Acker (Angel)
Glenn Shadix (Beetlejuice)
Steve Schirripa (Must Love Dogs)
Jerry O’Connell (Sliders)
Lisa Edelstein (House)
Nathan Fillion (Serenity)
Elizabeth Peña (The Incredibles)
Hector Elizondo (The Princess Diaries)
Robert Forster (Jackie Brown)
Corey Burton (Critters)
Hynden Walch (The Batman)
Lauren Tom (Bad Santa)

MV5BMTk4NTc5Mzg3Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTc5ODM2MjE@._V1_Fantasy now runs your life? Comic books become your vice? And your best friends still have their virginities? Then look no farther, friends, because this collection of episodes is so good you don’t need friends, significant others, or a single reason to emerge from your Geekdrome. But you know what the best part is? It’s not just for geeks – Justice League Unlimited stands tall as the best collection of American action/adventure animation you’re likely to find. While there is, of course, a certain geek charge some may get out of seeing characters like Powergirl and Green Arrow in action (not to mention an episode featuring Nathan Fillion voicing Vigilante and Gina Torres voicing Vixen – come on, how cool is that?), these episodes will entertain because of good characters, good humor, and good storytelling, even if you don’t know your Booster Golds from your Blue Beetles.MV5BMTA3OTAzMDYwMjdeQTJeQWpwZ15BbWU4MDMzMDkzNjIx._V1_While the first two seasons of Justice League nicely expanded upon the world first established in the early ’90s with Batman: The Animated Series, it wasn’t until this, the show’s third season (or first, depending on how you look at it) that the format and structure was perfected for the genre. It was an interesting experiment having the previous seasons’ episodes run for one-hour, but with JLU the format is scaled back to stand-alone half-hour stories and, ironically, it fits like a bat-glove. It’s strange, but these shorter episodes actually manage to pack in more than the double-length ones. A lot more. And what a roster of characters to fill a show with! You’ll see everyone from The Atom to Elongated Man. Because this is a full-blown, all-star take on these characters, each character can shine their brightest. When you get Superman, you get the best of Superman. Wonder Woman? The best of Wonder Woman. B’wana Beast? Uh… well, I guess this is the best he’s ever been.MV5BMjIwOTMxMzk2MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTU5ODM2MjE@._V1_The surplus of great characters is fun, but what really sells the show are the stories. Or, more specifically, story. No doubt borrowing a page from the work of Joss Whedon – showrunner Bruce Timm admits in a commentary that Whedon was a big influence – these episodes highlight a large and complex season-spanning plot that actually has meaning in today’s world. This is certainly the most mature and thoughtful storytelling you’re likely to get from a cartoon of this type. What elevates the show from great to brilliant is its ability to tell stories that are exciting and also manage to propel the larger narrative forward. For example, Dark Heart – penned by famous comic book scribe Warren Ellis – manages to mix a great science fiction plot (a self-replicating AI) with humor (Wonder Woman, needing both hands to fight, rests The Atom in a very interesting holding place) and its plot still manages to play a part later on down the road in the season’s climax.MV5BMjAwMTU4NDI0NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzIwOTM2MjE@._V1_The writing is the best the show has ever seen, no doubt a result of staff writer Dwayne McDuffie coming into his own; his versatility with the characters is fantastic. Comic book writers Warren Ellis and J.M. DeMatteis join in on the fun, and new series director Joaquim Dos Santos infuses the episodes with a dynamic energy that allows the show to compete with the best of today’s cutting-edge, anime-inspired programming. It’s like the entire DC animated universe has been supercharged in the best way possible.MV5BMTk3NjM3NzI3Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjQwOTM2MjE@._V1_This collection contains two seasons, and both season finales are just fantastic. The Once and Future Thing is an exciting time romp (with a great Western segment) and Divided We Fall is a showstopper of epic proportions. Either finale would make for a better DVD movie than any of what has been released thus far. Then there’s Epilogue – just brilliant. It manages to tie in the entire DC animated universe – including films Mask of the Phantasm and Return of the Joker! – and still say something meaningful about a very important character. The episode isn’t just great animation, it’s great television.MV5BMTk1MDgzMTYzN15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTUwOTM2MjE@._V1_There really is nothing bad to say about these episodes. The new rock-inspired opening credits do ring a bit too much of cheesy ’80s electronica, but you get used to it, and, after a while, it fits. Of course, the fact remains that if you aren’t into cartoons in the first place you probably won’t be willing to hop on the bandwagon no matter how cool a series is. But if you consider animation to be a legitimate and respectable medium, then this is the pinnacle of the form.  While there are bigger and more influential cartoon shows out there – namely, comedies like The Simpsons – Justice League Unlimited is still one of the best American animated programs you’ll find. With this show the genre has been perfected – it’s fun, exciting, and thoughtful. In other words, this is exactly what superheroes should be.

REVIEW: SANTA CLARITA DIET – SEASON 2

Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant in Santa Clarita Diet (2017)

MAIN CAST

Drew Barrymore (Charlies Angels)
Timothy Olyphant (Hitman)
Liv Hewson (Inhumans)
Skyler Gisondo (The Amazing Spider-Man)

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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Jee Young Han (Why Him?)
Zachary Knighton (Flashforward)
Maggie Lawson (The Ranch)
Ramona Young (Z Nation)
Nathan Fillion (Firefly)
Joel McHale (Spider-Man 2)
Andy Richter (Elf)
Natalie Morales (The Grinder)
Richard T. Jones (Terminator: TSCC)
Adam Rose (Veronica Mars)
Mary Elizabeth Ellis (Masterminds)
Thomas Lennon (17 Again)
Sarah Baker (The Campaign)
Jonathan Slavin (My Name Is Earl)

santa-clarita-diet-season-2-joel-mchale-castSeconds are seldom as good as the initial meal. You’ve already eaten. Your stomach is beginning to fill. The mystery of the menu is gone. And because a food analogy isn’t strong enough to encompass a television show, the same thing about seconds can also be said with zombie films. There are rare occasions where the sequel is stronger than the original movie, but there’s usually a diminishing return the more you see zombies. These are areas where the “second course” is inevitably disappointing in comparison to the first, however Santa Clarita Diet season 2 rises above these expectations. If anything this new season will leave the audience hungry for more rather than feeling full from these undead antics. When the last season of Santa Clarita Diet ended, the series started to finally find a fitting groove and the tone. Santa Clarita Diet’s second season overpowers season one in practically every way possible.t5sbiwdabipjop4ures7The biggest strengths from the first season of Santa Clarita Diet came from Victor Fresco’s (Better Off Ted, Andy Richter Controls the Universe) irreverent, fearless comedy that was allowed to inject itself into an outrageous premise. All of that is still present and some of the rougher patches from the series’ freshman year like Barrymore’s broad performance or the show’s inconsistent tone during its beginning are now smoothed out. The series also benefits from everyone going into “rescue mode” over Sheila and her condition rather than the whole “let’s hide the central story” aspect that dominates so much of the first season. The training wheels are now off and this show really starts to get creative and have fun with its premise.6ccb292a-6ab9-4760-8a4d-dbdcec443b43Much of Santa Clarita Diet season 2 focuses on the Hammond family’s attempts to normalize their situation. For instance, if Sheila is chained up in the basement, then why not dress up the basement and slap a fresh coat of paint on the ugly situation? Right from the jump of the season there may be people who are anxious that Sheila should just be murdered, but clearly the family is in for the long haul. Joel, Abby, and even Eric are all blissfully hopeful towards their unique situation. Curiously enough, in spite of all the high stakes life and death undead material, Joel and Sheila still worry about their real estate job and it occupies a reasonable part of the season. That might seem like a considerably less important aspect of the series, but it’s encouraging to see the show try to embrace this normalcy, for better or worse. Meanwhile, Joel and Sheila’s murder-happy misadventures still go down under the nose of Deputy Ann, who’s only a few doors away. The ways in which they both squirm out of conversations with Ann and proceed to make matters worse for themselves is always the best kind of awkward mess. Sheila and Joel also find themselves in the weird situation where murder seems to be the best way to handle their problems, but they don’t just want to resort to murder whenever they’re caught in a bind, regardless of how good they may have gotten at it.Skyler Gisondo and Liv Hewson in Santa Clarita Diet (2017)At the same time, these middle-aged parents also realize that without these adrenaline-pumping murders in their lives they’re pretty boring people who don’t have much game. At one point Joel laments, “We’re realtors, so killing people and stuffing them in our fridge doesn’t come naturally.” That’s basically this show in a nutshell. Sheila’s “condition” is an obvious problem, but this season is just as interested in the fact that that Joel and his wife haven’t been able to have a date night, build a bookshelf, or write a yelp review since all of this undead business started. Santa Clarita Diet season 2 also starts to expand the show’s world in bigger ways. There are more undead individuals that are out there in addition to organizations that are on the hunt for a cure or a means to exterminate this epidemic. These secret factions begin to come out of the woodwork this season and it’s a good creative move on the show’s part. Joel and Sheila’s secret life continues to intersect with their job and social lives in interesting ways, all of which make the two of them continue to ponder whether they’re good people or not. It’s great to see Joel and Sheila use death and horror as a prop for comedy. You really don’t see that perspective anywhere else in this context—it’s almost like a suburban Dexter or The Walking Dead. Sure there are programs like Ash Vs the Evil Dead or Stan Against Evil, but this is so deeply entrenched in its family dynamic and is a comedy first and horrorsecond.santa-clarita-diet-season-2-netflix-feature

This season also digs into the bigger questions, like how Sheila became infected in the first place. Joel and company assume that if they figure this out then they can reverse engineer the rest of this mystery. The show’s mythology explodes in a big way here and the story turns into something that’s so much more interesting than simply a comedic take on zombies, which the show could be guilty of during its first season. The show’s lore goes to some fascinating places that touch on territory like the Knights of the Templar and all sorts of things that you wouldn’t expect. One of the best things about Santa Clarita Diet is its phenomenal cast and in the show’s second season everyone’s only more comfortable in these roles. There’s seriously such chemistry between the reluctantly murderous Hammond family. Their dynamic really clicks this year and they all feel more natural in a way that was absent last season. Timothy Olyphant’s Joel continues to play unhinged and flustered in the best way possible. The wide-eyed, beleaguered way in which he does comedy is perfect for this universe.santa-clarita-diet-season-2-trailerDrew Barrymore does an even better job as Sheila this season now that she’s acclimated to the role a little better. She plays the role with the glee of a puppy who’s just found a new toy. The show also really explores the beauty in how becoming undead can allow people to finally become the people that they wanted to be in life. It just happens to be something that comes with the awful side effect of needing to consume human flesh. Some of the best work from this season comes from the younger half of the show’s cast. Skyler Gisondo really gets to step up his game as the hapless Eric Bemis and he finds himself overwhelmed in a whole new way this year. His burgeoning relationship with Abby continues to make for believable tension between the two of them as well. On that note, this season is also a real showpiece for Abby’s Liv Hewson. The character goes through a metamorphosis that is a lot of fun to watch. Abby redefines who she is in both school and real life and it’s a fascinating arc for her character. Sometimes your mom turning into a zombie can be just as life changing as turning into the zombie yourself.20190221-PAGEONE-SANTA-CLARITASanta Clarita Diet’s second season features strong storytelling and performances, but it also doesn’t disappoint when it comes to the extreme visuals and gore. This season features gruesome sights like broken thumbs, the lesson of what microwave settings to apply to frozen body parts, spider balls, and explosions of blood that make it seem like humans are carbonated soda that are just waiting to burst. In this sense, the show’s humor is still particularly on point and many conversations should make audiences laugh out loud, such as the prospect of sprucing up a kill room so it doesn’t so obviously look like a kill room or the debate of whether it’s discriminatory to kill a Nazi who’s in a wheelchair and the moral relativism of such a murder. Santa Clarita Diet proves that it has a sustainable vision and that this show is more than just some one-season fad. If anything the show is only getting better and it doesn’t suffer from the usual problems that can afflict Netflix shows, such as the season’s pacing. Admittedly, some of the show’s fight scenes play out a little awkwardly and look low budget, but it’s hardly a big deal. This isn’t Daredevil. The show’s second season snowballs and culminates in an impressive way where the year ends on a huge note that once more questions the status quo of the series. The bottom line here is that it’s consistently compelling and enjoyable to see if Joel and Sheila can continue to keep all of their blood-soaked balls in the air.

 

REVIEW: SANTA CLARITA DIET – SEASON 1

MAIN CAST

Drew Barrymore (Charlies Angels)
Timothy Olyphant (Hitman)
Liv Hewson (Before I Fall)
Skyler Gisondo (The Amazing Spider-Man)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Ricardo Chavira (Desperate Housewives)
Mary Elizabeth Ellis (Masterminds)
Richard T. Jones (Terminator: TSCC)
Joy Osmanski (Samantha Who?)
Natalie Morales  (Wall Street 2)
Thomas Lennon (Balls of Fury)
Grace Zabriskie (Drop Zone)
DeObia Oparei (Moulin Rouge!)
Portia de Rossi (Scream 2)
Nathan Fillion (Firefly)
Andy Richter (Elf)
Kaylee Bryant (Legacies)
Patton Oswalt (Agents of S.h.i.e.l.d.)
Ryan Hansen (2 Broke Girls)
Derek Waters (Hall Pass)
Ravi Patel (Grandfathered)
Patricia Belcher (Bones)
Ramona Young (Z Nation)

Santa Clarita Diet on Netflix is an odd and yet oddly simple series. Its creator, Victor Fresco, made his name with Better Off Ted, which played fast and loose with the conventions of the office comedy. In Santa Clarita, he attacks the family sitcom with the same stylized absurdity and mock naïveté. And zombies. Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant star as Sheila and Joel, married real estate agents with a teenage daughter, Abby (Liv Hewson). That changes when Sheila dies after an epic fit of vomiting and comes back to life full of energy, sexually supercharged and very, very hungry for human flesh.
drew-barrymore-timothy-olyphant-santa-clarita-dietIt’s a clever idea — zombification as the route to midlife rejuvenation. Rather than grow bitter and have affairs, Sheila sips human smoothies and gets happier. Her new joie de mourir even recharges her marriage with Joel, a former jock who has receded into a suburban ineffectualness symbolized by the flip-flops he wears around the cul-de-sac.
santa-clarita-diet-staffel-1-01-rcm992x0The first few episodes of “Santa Clarita Diet” do have a good amount of gore and the last third of the season fills out as the mystery and thriller. But there’s a stretch in the middle where Mr. Fresco and his writers have a lot of fun subverting the formulas of the suburban comedy. Family dinners require finesse (because Mom eats people). Abby is angry that her parents keep secrets (because Mom eats people). When told that a pedophile has moved in down the street, Sheila perks up, because she’s on the lookout for undesirable people she won’t feel guilty about eating.screen-shot-2017-01-24-at-10-05-38-amA funny premise and appealing performances take Santa Clarita Diet far. There are enough laughs to make this show bingeable.

REVIEW : WONDER WOMAN (2009)

CAST (VOICES)

Keri Russell (Mission Impossible 3)
Nathan Fillion (Firefly)
Alfred Molina (Spider-man 2)
Rosario Dawson (Sin City)
Marg Helgenberger (Species)
Oliver Platt (Year One)
Virginia Madsen (Blue Tiger)
John DiMaggio (Futurama)

Centuries ago, the Amazons, a proud and fierce race of warrior women, led by their Queen, Hippolyta (voiced by Virginia Madsen), battled Ares (voiced by Alfred Molina), the god of war, and his army. During the battle, Hippolyta beheaded her son, Thrax (voiced by Jason Miller), whom Ares forcibly conceived with her, who is fighting for his father. Hippolyta then defeated Ares, but Zeus (voiced by David McCallum) stopped her from delivering the death strike. Instead, Hera (voiced by Marg Helgenberger) bound his powers with magic bracers so that he was deprived of his ability to draw power from the aura of violence and death he could instigate, effectively rendering him mortal, and only another god could release him. In compensation, the Amazons were granted the island of Themyscira, where they would remain eternally youthful and isolated from Man in the course of their duty of holding Ares prisoner for all eternity. Later, Hippolyta was granted a daughter, Princess Diana (voiced by Keri Russell), whom she shaped from the sand of the Themyscirian seashore and gave life with her own blood.

Over a millennium later, an American fighter pilot, USAF Colonel Steve Trevor (voiced by Nathan Fillion), is shot down in a dogfight and crash-lands on the island, where he soon runs afoul of the Amazon population, including the warlike, aggressive Artemis (voiced by Rosario Dawson). Steve and Diana meet and fight, and she defeats him, taking him to the Amazons. After interrogating him with the use of the Amazons’ golden lasso, Hippolyta decides he is not an enemy of the Amazons and as such, tradition dictates that an emissary be tasked to ensure his safe return to his own country. Diana volunteers, but is assigned to guard Ares’s cell instead since her mother argues that she has not enough experience in dealing with the dangers of the outside world. Diana defies her mother and, her face hidden by a helmet and her guard duty covered by her bookish but kind-hearted Amazon sister Alexa (voiced by Tara Strong), participates in contests of strength and wins the right to take Trevor back to his home.

In the meantime, the Amazon Persephone (voiced by Vicki Lewis), who has been gradually seduced by Ares, kills Alexa and releases him. With the additional task of capturing Ares, Diana brings Trevor to New York City, where he volunteers to help Diana on her quest. An investigation uncovers a pattern of violence created by Ares’ presence that will lead to him given time, and the pair goes out to a bar while they wait. After some heavy drinking, Trevor makes a pass at Diana. They argue outside, but are attacked first by thugs and then the demigod Deimos (voiced by John DiMaggio). Deimos kills himself to prevent being interrogated, but Diana and Steve find a clue on his body that leads them to a concealed gateway to the underworld guarded by members of a still-extant ancient cult of Ares.

Once there, Diana attempts to subdue Ares, but he summons harpies that knock her unconscious, prompting Trevor to save her instead of stopping Ares. Meanwhile, Ares performs a sacrifice to open a gate to the Underworld where he persuades his uncle Hades (voiced by Oliver Platt) to remove the bracers, though Hades does not tell Ares that the ultimate cost of removing the bracers would be Ares’ own death in combat. Later, Diana regains consciousness in a hospital and is furious that Trevor saved her rather than stop Ares. Trevor argues against her abuse with his own criticism of the Amazons’ self-imposed isolation and their generalizations about men, and reveals how much he cares about her. Ares and his army attack Washington, DC. Trevor and Diana arrive to battle Ares and are soon joined by the Amazons. While Ares manages even to summon the Amazons long dead from the Underworld to fight their own sisters, his scheme is stopped by Alexa, a member of the undead host, who reveals to Artemis a chant which nullifies Ares’s control over them. The undead then turn on Ares but are destroyed by his powers. Hippolyta faces Persephone in combat and kills her, but in her dying breath, Persephone makes the queen realize that in shutting the Amazons away from the world of men, she has denied them the chance to live their lives as women.

Meanwhile, the unnamed President of the United States (voiced by Rick Overton) is influenced by Ares’s power and orders a nuclear missile against Themyscira, presuming the island nation to be the source of the attack on Washington. This act of supreme aggression increases Ares’s power, but Trevor takes the invisible jet and shoots down the missile just before it hits the island. Finally, after a brutal beating at Ares’s hands, Diana finally outwits and kills him. As Trevor arrives back at the scene, Diana finally accepts him, as the two share a kiss, and the crowd of Amazons begin cheering. Subsequently, Ares is condemned to the underworld to attend Hades as a slave alongside his son. Later on Themyscira, in memory of Alexa, Artemis takes up the hobby of reading (with severe difficulty). Hippolyta realizes that Diana misses both the outside world and Trevor, and to make her happy again, she gives her daughter the task of being a channel for ‘communication between men and women’. Diana accepts and returns to New York, where she enjoys the company of Trevor. Their relationship comes with the understanding of her larger duties, such as when Diana sees Cheetah robbing a museum and she excuses herself to stop the supervillainess as the newly christened Wonder Woman.

This comes from the same team of animators who produced the 1990’s batman cartoon and subsequent series featuring superman and the super hero team the justice league, and they are the best people for things like this because they do justice to the characters and provide quality animation with it. there’s also a strong voice cast who provide a lot of character for the roles. standout has to be nathan fillion as cocky pilot steve trevor. his laidback and deadpan acting style suits the part perfectly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

REVIEW: THE BIG BANG THEORY – SEASON 1-8

CAST

Johnny Galecki (Hancock)
Jim Parsons (Garden State)
Kaley Cuoco (Killer Movie)
Simon Helberg (Dr. Horrible)
Kunal Nayyar (Trolls)
Sara Gilbert (Poison Ivy)
Kevin Sussman (Ugly Betty)
Melissa Rauch (I Love You, Man)
Mayim Bialik (Blossom)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Vernee Watson (Mike & Molly)
Brian Patrick Wade (Agents of Shield)
Laurie Metcalf (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Mark Harelik (Election)
Rachel Cannon (Fresh off the Boat)
Brooke D’Orsay (Two and a Half Men)
James Hong (Blade Runner)
Carol Ann Susi (Cats & Dogs)
Brian George (Ghost World)
Alice Amter (The Good Girl)
Sarayu Blue (Monday Mornings)
DJ Qualls (Road Trip)
Charlie Sheen (Hot Shots)
Octavia Spencer (Insurgent)
Riki Lindhome (The Muppets)
Sara Rue (Mom)
Michael Trucco (Battlestar Galactica)
John Ross Bowie (The Heat)
Christine Baranski (Into The Woods)
Summer Glau (Terminator: TSCC)
Valerie Azlynn (Julia X)
Jodi Lyn O’Keefe (The Vampire Diaries)
Will Wheaton (Powers)
Katee Sackhoff (Riddick)
Danica McKellar (The Wonder Years)
Yeardley Smith (The Simpsons)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Judy Greer (Ant-Man)
Ally Maki (Wrecked)
Brian Smith (The Flip Side)
George Takei (Heroes)
Aarti Mann (The Monogamy Experiement)
Eliza Dushku (Dollhouse)
Eric Andre (2 Broke Girls)
Jesse Heiman (Chuck)
Keith Carradine (Dexter)
Rick Fox (Holes)
Jessica Walter (Dinosaurs)
Joshua Malina (Scandal)
LeVar Burton (Star Trek: TNG)
Katie Leclerc (Switched at Birth)
Brent Spiner (Star Trek: TNG)
Courtney Ford (Revenge)
Lance Barber (Gangster Squad)
Becky O’Donohue (Fast & Furious)
Peter Onorati (Goodfellas)
Leonard Nimoy (Star Trek)
Stephen Hawkings (Futurama)
Margo Harshman (Sorotiy Row)
Ken Lerner (The Running Man)
Howie Mandel (Gremlins)
Ryan Cartwright (Bones)
Casey Sander (16 Blocks)
Meagen Fay (Barton Fink)
Regina King (Ray)
Kate Micucci (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2012)
Bob Newhart (Elf)
Brian Posehn (New Girl)
James Earl Jones (Conan The Barbarian)
Carrie Fisher (Family Guy)
Tania Raymonde (Texas Chainsaw)
Laura Spencer (Bones)
Billy Bob Thornton (Bad Santa)
Stephen Root (King of the Hill)
Nathan Fillion (Firefly)
Kevin Smith (Daredevil)

As the series opens, into this world in walks Penny (Kaley Cuoco). She’s literally the beautiful girl next door since she moves into the apartment across the hall from Leonard and Sheldon. She’s an aspiring actress, which naturally means she’s making a living as a waitress. Most of the guys immediately develop crushes on her, but it’s Leonard who is the most serious about her.And despite how little they have in common, the five main characters form a friendship. But first, Penny has to deal with Sheldon and Leonard cleaning up her place for her while she slept. Sheldon gets fired for telling his new boss exactly what he thinks of him. Leonard and Sheldon stop speaking to each other after Leonard decides to present a paper they both authored. Sheldon tries to tell a sufficiently complex lie to Penny. And Penny must take care of a sick Sheldon. If there is any standout character that makes this show hilarious, it’s Sheldon. The guy may be brilliant when it comes to his job, but he is a complete idiot when it comes to interacting with anyone. His reaction to things, or lack of reaction, makes for some of the best jokes in the show.
The acting on the show is universally great. The main actors are great as breathing life into their characters and really rounding them out. Yes, even Simon Helberg is good as Howard. Special praise must go to Kunal Nayyar whose Raj is too terrified to talk to women. His facial expressions alone are priceless. But the undisputable star of the show is Jim Parsons. He makes anti-social Sheldon completely believable and funny without resorting to too many stereotypes. He was born for this role pure and simple.
Due to the writer’s strike of the fall of 2007, there were only 17 episode in the first season. All of them are here on three discs in widescreen and stereo sound. They look and sound great. There is one 17 minute behind the scenes type featurette that talks about the creation of the show and the characters.

In season two, the laughs continue as the goofy cast gets into many hilarious situations, as the combined brain power of The Big Bang Theory is no match for normal life. This season continues to build upon the romance between Leonard and Penny, which has its ups and downs. Leonard also dates a couple girls and Howard has his eye on both. Sheldon’s neurotic and weird portrayal of life continues to be the butt of almost every joke, as he is far from normal. Raj has his fifteen minutes of fame, which go to his head. Overall, it is a strong season.
The season premiere episode is “The Bad Fish Paradigm”. Leonard and Penny have their first date. Unfortunately, it is their only date. At first, Leonard thinks the date went well. However, his odd friends convince him that things did not go as he thought. Penny confides in Sheldon. She does not feel smart enough for Leonard and fears he will get bored with her. She forces him to keep it a secret, which causes Sheldon to move out of the apartment, staying with Raj and Howard. Eventually Leonard learns about Penny’s fear and only makes it worse. The episode is fun way to start the season with Sheldon’s neurotic behavior stealing the spotlight.In the next episode “The Codpiece Topology”, Leonard is jealous of Penny who is dating again. He considers his options, which are slim. Oddly enough, Leslie Winkle (Sara Gilbert) has her eyes on him. They had a brief romance in the past, but Leslie was only looking for short-term fun. Now, she wants to settle down and thinks Leonard might be Mr. Right. The new relationship causes complications for Sheldon and Penny. The episode is really fun. Gilbert and Galecki have great chemistry together, which is a rehash from their time together on Roseanne. Gilbert shows up in additional episodes this season and has a romance with Howard.“The Griffin Equivalency” is a fun episode where Raj gets put in the spotlight. He is listed by People magazine on their ’30 Under 30 to Watch’ for his contributions to science. When Raj tells his friends about it, they do not give supportive reactions. Sheldon attacks him for getting lucky. Leonard and Howard decide to take him out to dinner to celebrate his accomplishment. However, the tables turn when Raj is given special treatment by the university, which causes jealous amongst his friends. He invites them to a party and they refuse. Penny agrees to go with him and it turns out to be a little more than she bargained for… Penny meets Raj’s parents and it does not go well for anyone.
In “The Barbarian Sublimation”, Penny is feeling down about not accomplishing any substantial with her life and turns to Sheldon for comfort. He gets her hooked on online gaming, which is a real fun sight to see. Penny takes on an odd persona and even scares Leonard. It is a classic and geeky episode. In “The Euclid Alternative”, everyone is tired of Sheldon leeching off of them for rides and force him to get his driver’s license, which he is apparently incapable of. Sheldon, again, steals the spotlight with his neurotic physical comedy and turns this very common situation into a bunch of laughs.
“The Lizard-Spock Expansion” introduces a multi-episode story arc and Stephanie Barnett (Sara Rue), a new love interest for Leonard and Howard. Howard uses his access to the Mars Rover to pick up Stephanie, but when he crashes it, he calls on his friends for help. Leonard and Stephanie hit it off and start dating, behind Sheldon’s back. Oddly enough, Howard thinks they’re together. The Leonard-Stephanie-Howard threesome produces a lot of laughs. Stephanie also appears in “The White Asparagus Triangulation”, Sheldon tries to help Leonard’s relationship, but only dampens his style, and “The Vartabedian Conundrum”, Leonard realizes Stephanie is living with him.As for the rest of the season, there are many more fun episodes, such as “The Cooper-Nowitzki Theorem”, Sheldon gets a girlfriend (sort of) and no one understands what is happening, “The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis”, Penny dates Dr. David Underhill (Michael Trucco), Leonard’s better looking counterpart, “The Friendship Algorithm”, Sheldon befriends someone at work to everyone’s amazement, “The Maternal Capacitance”, Leonard’s mother visits and her personality is identical to Sheldon, ” The Terminator Decoupling”, the guys run into Summer Glau (Firefly, Serenity, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) on a train, and “The Hofstadter Isotope”, Penny goes with the guys to the comic book store and exchanges phone numbers with someone, and it eats away at Leonard.Overall, The Big Bang Theory’s second season continues to be very strong. The cast has a great dynamic together. The leading males’ geeky views of life provide neurotic and hilarious situations. Cuoco is a good balance to them, and also provides her own silliness. However, Parsons repeatedly steals the spotlight with physical comedy and excellent delivery of dialogue. He manages to turn many common situations, as he interacts with the other cast members, into a riot. The show’s writing is also topnotch. It provides witty dialogue that leaves you laughing. The plotlines can be simplistic, but they work and never fail to draw in your attention. In the end, The Big Bang Theory is a major success with its second season.

At the end of season 2, Leonard, Sheldon, Raj and Howard were leaving for a three month expedition to the North Pole to test one of Sheldon’s theories. Leonard was sad to be leaving Penny behind, though they weren’t dating and surprisingly, Penny was upset to be away from Leonard too. As this season opens the group has just gotten back from the far north and when Leonard knocks on Penny’s door to inform her of their return she leaps into his arms and kisses him passionately.  Turns out Penny really missed Leonard, and they go into her apartment and close the door.
The Big Bang Theory continues to remain one of the funniest sitcoms on network television today. eason 3 showed us exactly why this is the case bringing us some of the funniest BBT episodes yet to date. This show is at its very best when its five main characters, rather than being shoehorned into conventional sitcom devices like hook-ups and infighting, are simply allowed to be their smart, socially awkward, idiosyncratic selves. And for the most part, they were.

One of the pleasures of this show is that you can throw together practically any two characters and have a unique, unpredictable and funny dynamic. Forget Leonard and Penny — perhaps the best odd-couple pairing we got all season was Sheldon and Penny, who despite all odds, have figured out that they enjoy each other’s company. Something about his smug childishness gels perfectly with her unsinkable good humor and ability to deliver a zinging comeback. “The Adhesive Duck Deficiency” showcased Sheldon and Penny’s unique chemistry to great effect on multiple levels — not only did Sheldon have to tolerate hours alone with Penny, but he was forced to adopt the role of caretaker while the other guys were off getting stoned in the desert. The episode culminated in a newfound trust between the two, who by the end of the season grew to think of each other as friends.

Speaking of Sheldon, he continues to be an amazing comic force. Jim Parsons shone this season, and the writers wisely showcased him at every possible opportunity. It’s hard to imagine this actor ever playing any other role. We followed Sheldon from the North Pole to his home state of Texas (where Laurie Metcalf did a very funny turn as his uber-conservative mother), learned the back story of his friendship with Leonard, and best of all, saw him face off against his sixth most hated rival, Wil Wheaton. Wheaton’s guest appearance in “The Creepy Candy Coating Corollary” was so well received that the show brought him back a second time, in “The Wheaton Recurrence.” Sometimes you can tell when actors are really enjoying themselves onscreen and this always seemed to be the case when Wheaton showed up, so hopefully he’ll continue to play himself on a semi-regular basis. Season 3 also introudced us in the finale to  Amy Farrah Fowler, (played by Mayim Bialik) who would become a regular in season 4.

The writers introduced two female characters to the regular cast this year, although both did show up in season three. Melissa Rauch returns as Howard’s girlfriend Bernadette. And Mayim Bialik, who appeared in the final few moments of season three, is back as Amy Farrah Fowler, Sheldon’s not girlfriend but friend who is a girl. Since both either have doctorates or are going for doctorates, that still leaves Penny as the only non-super smart person of the cast. However, everyone has trouble relating to us mere mortals, and that’s where Penny really shines. Her heart comes through in every moment she is on screen..
Over the course of the season, Sheldon breaks up with Amy Farrah Fowler over scientific differences and buys a bunch of cats to ease his loneliness. Howard’s past mistake comes out when the FBI investigate him for a security clearance. The guys enter a New Year’s Eve costume contest with some surprising additions to their group. Leonard’s idea for a smartphone app gets out of hand when Sheldon gets involved. Raj begins to have feelings for Bernadette while Leonard starts seeing Raj’s sister Priya (guest star Aartia Mann). Everyone winds up at an out of town science convention where friendships get tested. And in one of my favorites, Amy Farrah Fowler and Sheldon decide to experiment with gossip by starting rumors and seeing how long it takes the entire group to find out.

Of course, with this show, some of the sub-plots can be just as great as the main plot. I’m especially fond of one involving Howard performing a magic trick that Sheldon can’t figure out. Another memorable one involves Sheldon and his new three person chess game.
The new additions haven’t dampened the acting at all. The original cast knows their characters and invests everything they have in bringing them to life every week. Melissa Rauch and Mayim Bialik slip into the cast seamlessly and feel like they’ve been playing these characters just as long. Jim Parsons went into this season having just won a well-deserved Emmy for Lead Actor in a Comedy, and his work is just as impressive here.

Season 5 picks up exactly where season 4 left off. Penny (Kaley Cuoco) has just spent a drunken night with Raj (Kunal Nayyar). While it wasn’t quite what it appeared, they quickly go back to normal, which isn’t hard when Raj will only talk to women when he’s drunk.
Meanwhile, Leonard (Johnny Galecki) tries to maintain a long distance relationship before putting his relationship with Penny back in a beta test. Sheldon (Jim Parsons) is forced to take his relationship with Amy (Mayim Bialik) to the next level – and he insists they both sign a relationship agreement. Leonard finds a loophole in his relationship with Sheldon when he voids the friendship clause. And Howard (Simon Helberg) gets ready for a trip into space and his marriage to Bernadette (Melissa Rauch).
That’s just a few of the bigger storylines of the season. Each episode is filled with laughs. Some people complain the show isn’t as funny as it used to be, but I find it hysterical just about every week. Yes, they have one or two weeks that fall flat, but they are by far the exception rather than the rule. And even then, there are some great lines and classic moments. Howard and Bernadette have the biggest story arcs of the season, and I must say I love watching the two of them interact. Usually, they are so sweet together, although when they fight it can be pretty funny as well. Howard used to annoy me like crazy, but now I actually find I like him.As far as guest stars we’ve got Wil Wheaton, Brent Spiner, and Dr. Stephen Hawkins appear as themselves, and Leonard Nimoy voices a Spock doll. The show pasted the 100 episode mark this season, and that means the cast is very familiar with their characters. It shows, too, in the acting. Everyone is believable and comfortable with their parts, and it’s easy to just sit back and laugh as the show plays.
Season 6 starts off with 5 overarching plot episodes based around Howard’s trip to space and return to Earth with a less than warm welcome. These are some very good episodes, the premiere has some nice moments during Amy and Sheldon’s anniversary. Another highlight in the first 5 is when Game night turns into Men vs Women. These episodes put quite a bit of spotlight onto Howard and his accomplishment that no one else acknowledges, and I enjoyed them immensely, some character developing episodes for him.The season has some great highlight episodes. We get a very good dramatic episode (rare for TBBT) called “The Closet Reconfiguration” where Sheldon being Sheldon, he cleans out Howard’s closet and comes across an unopened letter sent to Howard from his father who abandoned him. They all get to show off their acting chops in this episode (especially Helberg). We get another appearance from Wil Wheaton in “The Habitation Configuration” (Which Jim Parsons just won an Emmy for his work in) that turns into another fantastic episode when Sheldon has to choose between his friend or his girlfriend. “The Closure Alternative” involves one of Sheldon’s favorite shows being cancelled, and lastly “The Proton Resurgence”, which features Bob Newhart in an Emmy award winning guest appearance as Sheldon’s childhood hero, Professor Proton.

As for the relationships, this season was a huge one. Leonard and Penny finally take the next step in their relationship. Sheldon and Amy continue to move forward at a Snails pace, with Sheldon finally considering more. Raj gets some much needed character development when he finally finds a girlfriend, who is essentially A reflection of himself, named Lucy. The cast is as great as ever, with their chemistry remaining tip top…Parsons again steals the show with his excellent physical comedy and strong delivery of his dialogue. Galecki plays off perfectly against Jim. Simon Helberg gets some meat to chew on this season and he kills it, especially the episode where he finds the letter from his father that was sent years earlier. The writing remains witty and top notch, that is conveyed perfectly on screen through the excellent performers. The writers need to continue with this great writing, The Big Bang Theory proves here why it’s still one of the funniest shows on TV.

This season picks up exactly where the last one left off. Leonard (Johnny Galecki) is on a ship in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean on a research trip. Back at home, the gang must learn to deal with his absence, especially his roommate Sheldon (Jim Parsons) and his girlfriend Penny (Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting). However, when he comes back, his desire to spend some time with Penny over Sheldon shows the beginnings of the first changes in the group, a theme that actually echoed through the season.

Following up on the sixth season finale, Raj (Kunal Nayyar) is now able to talk to girls even when he’s sober. What didn’t change there is that he still isn’t a lady’s man, although it does open up a few new relationship possibilities for him. Speaking of relationships, Sheldon and Amy (Mayim Bialk) wind up taking what for them is a huge step forward in their relationship on a romantic train ride up to the Napa Valley. Penny makes a huge change to forward her career as an actress and finds herself in a less than desirable roll opposite a surprising co-star. I would argue that the only main characters not to have major changes this season are Howard (Simon Helberg) and Bernadette (Melissa Rauch), but since they adjusted to married life last season, maybe that’s for the best. They still get some great stories, like Howard’s drastic change after trying to help out his mother and how they deal with having Raj has a house guest for a week.

And the geekiness continues. Stuart (Kevin Sussman) and his comic book store regularly appear in the series. When the guys don’t get into Comic Con, Sheldon decides to start his own, leading to a day with James Earl Jones. Speaking of which, the show finally celebrates Star Wars day in what is a touching and funny episode featuring the third appearance of comedy legend Bob Newhart.

Relationships are a key element of the season, which starts with the socially-awkward Sheldon stuck in an Arizona railroad station without any pants, the victim of poorly-received changes in his life. What exactly is going on between him and Amy, as well as what is happening with Penny and Leonard and their extended engagement, are the engine of this run of episodes, as Sheldon faces the need to overcome his off-putting personality, and Leonard has to overcome Penny’s new-found success. After seven seasons, the show hasn’t felt the need to artificially change its main characters and their lives, instead going in a more organic direction, choosing to highlight change that happens naturally in a relationship. That evolution also powers an impactful cliffhanger of a season finale.

The series did have a sudden change to cope with though, when Carol Ann Susi, the actress who gave voice to Howard’s unseen harpy of a mother, died, and her passing was written into the series, creating more change for Howard and giving a bit of a goose to the other characters, who took from her death in different ways.

Season 8 once again had excellent guest stars such as  Laurie Metcalf, Christine Baranski, Billy Bob Thornton, Nathan Fillion, Wil Wheaton and Stephen Hawking. The Shocking Cliffhanger leaves fans wondering where certain relationships will end up.