REVIEW: HIGHLANDER: THE SERIES – SEASON 5

Starring

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

 Cassandra

 Witch of Donen Woods

 The Highlander

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

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

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

REVIEW: HIGHLANDER: THE SERIES -SEASON 2

Starring

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

Joe_Dawson_1

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

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

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

REVIEW: WATCHMEN

 

CAST

Malin Ackerman (The Heartbreak Kid)
Billy Crudup (Almost Famous)
Matthew Goode (Match Point)
Jackie Earle Haley (Human Target)
Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Losers)
Patrick Wilson (The Conjuring)
Carla Gugino (Sin City)
Matt Frewer (Jailbait)
Stephen McHattie (300)
Rob Labelle (Jack Frost)
Garry Chalk (Dark angel)
Chris Gauthier (Smallville)
Patrick Sabongui (The Flash)
Kurt Evans (Izombie)
Agam Darshi (Sanctuary)
Danny Woodburn (Mirror Mirror)
Laura Mennell (Van Helsing)
Robert Wisden (Highlander: The Series)
Jerry Wasserman (I, Robot)
Don Thompson (Slither)
Michael Kopsa (Fantastic Four)
Fulvio Cecere (Valentine)
Mark Acheson (Elf)
Jay Brazeau (Bates Motel)
Niall Matter (The Predator)
Apollonia Vanova (Man of Steel)
Carrie Genzel (Jennifer’s Body)
Frank Cassini (Timecop)
Sonya Salomaa (The Collector)
Michael Eklund (Arrow)
John Tench (Andromeda)
Jason Schombing (Sanctuary)
Colin Lawrence (Virgin River)
Alessandro Juliani (Smallville)
Sahar Biniaz (Blade: The Series)
Tom McBeath (Stargate SG.1)
Kevin McNulty (Snakes on a Plane)
Michael Adamthwaite (Supergirl)

66262-ycoiuhbnkq-1503295178Watchmen was easily the most hotly awaited picture of the first half of 2009, and I’ll readily admit that the dynamic yellow-and-red poster billboards around town generated a charge of anticipation that Savant hasn’t felt in years. That the film was not considered a runaway success doesn’t surprise me. A movie about superheroes that is neither consistently feel-good nor entertainingly funny is a hard sell. Other writers have noted that the Watchmen are relative unknowns in comparison to icons like Spiderman and Superman; there’s less of a built-in audience for them. Describing the Watchmen movie also suggests expressions like “intellectual puzzle” and “non-linear”. Large segments of the audience have little use for narrative complexities and historical irony.

What movie audiences do care about is action, and to compensate Watchmen ratchets up the graphic novel’s considerable violence. Bloody content limited to a single comic panel or two, looks like gore porn when turned into a film sequence.  Even with a few subplots deleted, Watchmen is so complicated that it bears comparison with David Lynch’s noble 1984 attempt to film Dune. Lynch got lost in wall-to-wall exposition and characters reduced to walk-ons. Watchmen avoids the same fate by closely following the original’s highly cinematic structure. Moore and Gibbons’ comic book panels made heavy use of devices familiar to moviegoers — parallel cutting, associative transitions.Watchmen is a multi-generational story of costumed superhero crime fighters. They got their start in the 1940s as “The Minutemen”, later formed another association called “The Watchmen” and then were outlawed in the early 1980s. Most have kept their anonymity in retirement. Nite Owl (Patrick Wilson), Silk Spectre (Malin Ackerman), Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley), Ozymandias (Matthew Goode) and The Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) have no super-powers. The one Watchman who does is Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup), an “atomic man” who glows a soft blue color. A research scientist transformed into a near demigod by an experiment gone wrong, Dr. Manhattan wins the Vietnam War for Richard Nixon, allowing the President to run for a third term by popular demand. Most of Watchmen plays out as a science fiction alternate history tale, although the film drops a major Sci-Fi element from the final act.In 1985 an unknown assailant murders The Comedian. Defying the ban on costumed vigilantes, Rorschach warns the other Watchmen and puts pressure on the underworld to find out who is responsible. Dr. Manhattan breaks up with Laurie Jupiter (secretly the Silk Spectre) and abandons humanity to meditate on Mars. The Cold War goes into panic mode, as the U.S. and the Soviets are already at the brink of nuclear war, and Dr. Manhattan was America’s defense insurance policy. Laurie and Dan Dreiburg (secretly the Nite Owl) become an item. Frustrated by all the bad news, they ignore the ban and reassume their roles as crime fighters. Laurie and Dan spring Rorschach from prison and begin an investigation that leads to the activities of the millionaire technocrat Adrian Veidt, formerly Ozymandias.That synopsis doesn’t begin to touch the intricacies of Watchmen or its pleasing assortment of superheroes, that collectively flesh out a pantheon of comic book traditions. The Nite Owl is a kinder Batman type, a quiet millionaire who has engineered a flying vehicle and other crime-fighting gadgets. He’s actually following in the footsteps of the original Nite Owl, a two-fisted hero from the 1940s. The Silk Spectre is a Wonder Woman- like beauty with identity issues. She was pushed into her role by her flamboyant mother, the Silk Spectre of the Minuteman years. The corrupt Comedian lost sight of his crimefighting ethics and became a murderer, war criminal, rapist and dirty ops agent for Dick Nixon. The highly intelligent Ozymandias is also a fabulously wealthy international businessman under the name Adrian Veidt; he’s put his crime-fighting past on the public record and even sells Ozymandias toy action figures. Veidt considers himself a modern Alexander the Great.The most interesting Watchman is Rorschach, a seedy misanthrope who wears a strange mask that forms mysterious symmetrical patterns identical to a psychologist’s inkblot test. Now considered an outlaw vigilante, Rorschach keeps a bitter Travis Bickle-like diary and refuses to compromise on his mission to slay criminals. Between them the Watchmen cover numerous approaches to the concept of “masked crusaders” trying to function in a complex world. Director Zack Snyder  epitomizes the modern director who prepares computerized pre-visualization sequences, directs the live action, and waits for his technician-artisans to deliver test composites to critique. Elements that the director once had to make “come together” before a real camera on a real set can now be added, subtracted or altered almost indefinitely; the director of an effects-heavy film now functions as a creative manager. Snyder openly admits that his goal is to faithfully replicate the visions of other artists, which has prompted some to question exactly what he contributes artistically to the show. To the extent that Snyder still casts and directs the actors and decides when and when not to follow the graphic novel, he is actually much more “involved” than were many old-school studio directors. Even the biggest Hollywood names sometimes worked from locked scripts and often had little contact with projects before or after the actual filming. Considering how little opportunity for personal expression the Watchmen assignment afford, Snyder’s done a fine job.In this case, closely following the original was Snyder’s only choice. CGI allows the presentation of almost any visual, and the leagues of Watchmen fans wouldn’t have tolerated detours from their story. Most of Snyder’s adjustments are good ones. The strange sidebar tangent involving a “Black Freighter” horror comic has wisely been spun off into a separate direct-to-video production. To get out from under a mountain of plot complications, Snyder drops Adrian Veidt’s elaborate hoax on humanity that involves murdering an army of technicians that mock up the corpse of a gigantic space alien.Watchmen was somewhat overpowering in the movie theater, precisely because it is so close to the original. Instead of being taken in a new direction, I felt like Snyder was holding the book in front of my eyes and turning the pages for me. But movies of this kind are no longer made to be seen only once, and on a second viewing it was easier to simply watch what was happening, admire the classy designs and marvel at the excellent casting.

REVIEW: BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (2004) – SEASON 1

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)
Paul Campbell (Knight Rider)
Alessandro Juliani (Smallville)
Samuel Witwer (Smallville)

Mary McDonnell, Edward James Olmos, Jamie Bamber, James Callis, Aaron Douglas, Michael Hogan, Grace Park, Katee Sackhoff, and Tricia Helfer in Battlestar Galactica (2004)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Nicki Clyne (Saved!)
Donnelly Rhodes (Legends of Tomorrow)
Callum Keith Rennie (Impulse)
Matthew Bennett (Stargate SG.1)
Richard Hatch (InAlienable)
Kate Vernon (Heores)
Lorena Gale (The Exorcism of Emily Rose)
Leah Cairns (Interstellar)
Bodie Olmos (Walkout)
Luciana Carro (Helix)
Alonso Oyarzun (Reindeer Games)
Connor Widdows (X-Men 2)
Brent Stait (Blade: The Series)
Jill Teed (Godzilla)
Tobias Mehler (Disturbing Behavior)
Terry Chen (Jessica Jones)
Dominic Zamprogna (Stargate Universe)
Eric Breker (Stargate SG.1)
Camille Sullivan (Unspeakable)
Robert Wisden (Highlander: The Series)
David Kaye (Beast Wars)
Alex Zahara (Horns)
Patrick Gallagher (Glee)
Malcolm Stewart (Jumanji)
Jen Halley (Red Riding Hood)

Edward James Olmos and Michael Hogan in Battlestar Galactica (2004)When you try to reinvent a popular TV icon one of two things can happen. It will fly, or crash and burn. Back in 2003 the SciFi Channel took a huge gamble and aired a mini-series that took the original Battlestar Galactica concept and turned it on its head. It was a risky undertaking considering how revered the 1978 version is by science fiction fans. Would they accept it? Would this new show find a following? The answer was yes.Jamie Bamber and Richard Hatch in Battlestar Galactica (2004)SciFi’s gamble paid off big time and the new Battlestar Galactica has provided the best ratings numbers that the network has ever seen. It has become an icon for science fiction yet again and the new series stands shoulder to shoulder with other giants in the genre. When it originally aired cult followers of the franchise were critical about the differences between the two (of which there are many), but to the untrained eye there was little to gripe about. The basic concept of the original show, Cylons and Humans fighting against each other in a never ending war, is still intact. You still have the same 12 colonies, same major characters, same Battlestar. Everything else has been overhauled to the nth degree.Edward James Olmos and Jamie Bamber in Battlestar Galactica (2004)In a far distant quadrant of space, the war between Cylons and humans has been over for forty years. Every year, humans send an ambassador to a remote space station to meet with the Cylons and sign a peace treaty, but nobody ever shows up. Then one year they finally appear and begin the eradication of the human species. The twelve colonial home worlds are nuked into oblivion and all that is left of mankind are those that were lucky enough to be somewhere else on a ship. All together, less than 50,000 people.Grace Park and Tahmoh Penikett in Battlestar Galactica (2004)Fortunately for those remaining, the Battlestar Galactica is still functioning and even though it’s archaic, it is up to the task of protecting those who escaped. Led by Commander William Adama (Edward James Olmos) the military takes control of the fleet and begins the necessary steps to ensure the survival of our race. He can’t lead the people alone though so he reluctantly teams up with the new President, Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell). The two characters are at odds almost immediately and while Adama wants to storm into battle with guns blazing, Roslin, who before her battlefield promotion was the Secretary of Education, would prefer to make a run for it and start having babies.Katee Sackhoff in Battlestar Galactica (2004)The future of mankind is also put in the hands of Galactica’s officers such as the alcoholic Colonel Saul Tigh (Michael Hogan), the tomboyish Lt. Kara Thrace “Starbuck” (Katee Sackhoff) and Commander Adama’s son Lee (Jamie Bamber) who goes by the call sign Apollo. Every character adds something to this show even the treacherous Dr. Gaius Baltar (James Callis) who sees visions of a human/Cylon model Number 6. Fans of the original will also be pleased to know that Richard Hatch (the original Apollo) makes an appearance on the show as a political terrorist known as Tom Zarek.Edward James Olmos and Jamie Bamber in Battlestar Galactica (2004)This ragtag group of survivors teeters on the brink of annihilation throughout the entire season. As if dangers like running out of fuel, death by dehydration, or suicide bombers aren’t enough, the Cylons are never far behind. But throughout the course of this season we do see characters grow closer together and we learn more about their previous lives. There are so many personal conflicts that put everything on the line and you can almost cut the tension with a knife at times. The biggest change in the new Galactica is that the Cylons have “evolved” themselves and now appear completely human. The old “toaster” models are still kicking around (with a slick CGI upgrade) but the human models are the ones pulling all of the strings and carrying out the orders of God. This little change adds huge elements of distrust and paranoia to a show that is already weighed down by overwhelming obstacles.James Callis in Battlestar Galactica (2004)Several minor details in the show have also been tweaked including the forty years of peace to updated weaponry and vehicles. Several character changes have come about as well in SciFi’s new creation. The character of Adama is more militaristic and his relationship with his son Apollo is more than a little rocky. Starbuck and Boomer have gone through sex changes and are now female characters in this new version. Overall many personality traits are true to the original characters but there are quite a few disparities.After undergoing such radical changes, it’s understandable how fans of the original may have been skeptical when the show first started airing. However, it is quite clear this show was careful constructed to appeal to both die hard fans of the original and those looking for a new spin on an old concept. It is important to keep in mind that this version is a reinvention of the classic instead of a continuation. That means that a new audience can get into it without being lost in the mythology. In fact, the only way you will get lost in this new Battlestar Galactica is if you miss an episode or the introductory miniseries. Those of you who have already purchased the miniseries when it was released (like I did) may be a little irritated with the double-dip here, but it’s essential in order to understand what’s going on in the show.James Callis and Tricia Helfer in Battlestar Galactica (2004)It’s very rare in a show that every actor clicks with the material but that is defiantly the case here. The team that was responsible for casting deserves a big pat on the back because they nailed every character perfectly. Of course the real heart and soul of a show comes from the script. That’s another area that Battlestar Galactica has covered thanks to a team of veteran writers. The developer of the show, Ronald Moore (of Trek fame), was responsible for penning the mini-series as well as some of the tenser episodes of the first season. His scripting talent sets up the beginning of the season and closes it on such a high note that it will leave you dying for more.Grace Park and Tahmoh Penikett in Battlestar Galactica (2004)In the case of this show, the visual aspect has a big impact on the overall mood. Everything is cast with stark contrast between light and shadow which keeps the dark tone front and center. Another interesting look comes from the filming technique since the camera is constantly in motion. Angles are slightly skewed and there is a sense of urgency to the picture even during the simplest of conversations. This is undoubtedly one of the more unique looking sci-fi shows around and trust me when I say that’s a good thing.Everything about Battlestar Galactica proves that it is the anti-Star Trek. There is no exploration, first contact or light hearted comedy episodes. Daily problems on board Galactica include finding food, finding power sources, and constantly running from an enemy that outnumbers and out guns them at every turn. Even on Star Trek’s worst day they never had it as bad as the team on Galactica. This is easily one of the darkest science fiction tales I have encountered as nothing seems to go right for our heroes. They are dogged at every turn by the Cylons, are forced to make difficult decisions for the good of their race and treachery threatens to tear the fabric of their very existence. But make no mistake, this is quality television that fans of the original or science fiction in general should definitely not miss out on.

 

REVIEW: STARGATE SG.1 – SEASON 8

Starring

Richard Dean Anderson (MacGyver)
Amanda Tapping (Sanctuary)
Christopher Judge (The Dark Knight Rises)
Michael Shanks (Smallville)

Torri Higginson and Michael Shanks in Stargate SG-1 (1997)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Torri Higginson (Dark Matter)
G. Patrick Currie (Battlestar Galactica)
Kira Clavell (Ninja Turtles: Next Mutation)
Steve Bacic (Andromeda)
Gary Jones (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
Kevan Ohtsji (elektra)
David DeLuise (Wizards of Waverly Place)
Barclay Hope (Final Destination 5)
Chelah Horsdal (Hell on Wheels)
Gavin Hood (Eye In The Sky)
Alisen Down (Smallville)
Aaron Pearl (Man of Steel)
Cliff Simon (Project Eden)
Bill Dow (Izombie)
David Kaufman (Prom Night)
Colin Cunningham (The 6th Day)
Amy Sloan (Timeline)
Timothy Webber (War For TPOTA)
Matthew Bennett (BAttlestar Galactica)
Andrew Airlie (Fifty Shades of Grey)
Erica Durance (Smallvile)
Derek Hamilton (Arrow)
Charles Shaughnessy (Mad Men)
Tom O’Brien (The Accused)
Kendall Cross (X-Men 2)
Jolene Blalock (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Tony Amendola (Annabelle)
Mercedes de la Zerda (War For TPOTA)
Noah Dalton Danby (Bitten)
Brandy Ledford (Andromeda)
Mark Gibbon (Warpath)
Peter Bryant (Legends of Tomorrow)
Claudia Black (Pitch Black)
Don S. Davis (Twin Peaks)
Ellie Harvie (The New Addmas Family)
Eric Breker (Scary Movie 3)
Tom McBeath (Bates Motel)
Garry Chalk (Arrow)
Mike Dopud (The Predator)
Hiro Kanagawa (Izombie)
Dan Castellaneta (The Simpsons)
Deborah Theaker (A Mighty Wind)
Mel Harris (Raising Cain)
Isaac Hayes (South Park)
George Dzundza (Crimson Tide)
Clare Carey (Jericho)
David Hewlett (Rise of TPOTA)
Robert Wisden (Watchmen)
Alessandro Juliani (Smallville)
Georgia Craig (Good Luck Chuck)
Jay Acovone (Beauty and The beast)
Peter Williams (Catwoman)

Stargate has retained a massive level of consistency over the years, staying at the same level of quality, if not getting even a little bit better: it has always retained the humor, the characterization and the excitement and the action that has made it so loved.Richard Dean Anderson in Stargate SG-1 (1997)Since season seven, there has been more of a focus on characterization and a tad bit more humor: and i for one welcome this, as the characters have always been the best aspect of the show: season eight continues this trend, and also the trend of even better quality than ever before!Holly Ferguson and Amanda Tapping in Stargate SG-1 (1997)Highlights include the opening two parter: New order Parts one and Two which is very exciting with plenty of plot twists. Affinity is another highlight for me as it is an episode with very little action, it is a mystery with a huge focus on characterization and intrigue, and manages to be very intriguing, with, again, some brilliant little character moments. Prometheus unbound is a highlight.Richard Dean Anderson in Stargate SG-1 (1997)Reckoning parts one and two are possibly the best episodes of stargate ever made; they wrap up most of the major storylines, bringing the end to both the main enemies in the show, and are impossibly epic: there is so much going on, so much peril and a sense of doom, that you are kept on the edge of your seat the whole time, with some humour thrown in for good measure.

REVIEW: STARGATE SG.1 – SEASON 2

Starring

Richard Dean Anderson (MacGyver)
Michael Shanks (Smallville)
Amanda Tapping(Sanctuary)
Christopher Judge (The Dark Knight Rises)
Don S. Davis (Twin Peaks)

Don S. Davis in Stargate SG-1 (1997)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Tony Amendola (Annabelle)
Robert Wisden (Watchmen)
Peter Williams (Catwoman)
Gary Jones (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
Alexis Cruz (Drag Me To Hell)
Laara Sadiq (Arrow)
Douglas Arthurs (Chronicles of Riddick)
Peter LaCroix (Disturbing Behavior)
Katie Stuart (Inconceivable)
Bonnie Bartlett (V)
Colin Lawrence (The 6th Day)
Dwight Schultz (The A-Team)
Teryl Rothery (Arrow)
Colleen Winton (Van Helsing)
Jay Acovone (Beauty and The Beast)
Heather Hanson (Really Me)
George Touliatos (This Means War)
Tamsin Kelsey (Needful Things)
Mark Gibbon (Man of Steel)
Andrew Kavadas (THe Accused)
Tobias Mehler (Young Blades)
Peter Bryant (Legends of Tomorrow)
Brook Susan Parker (The Last Patrol)
Vaitiare Hirshon (Far Away Places)
Carmen Argenziano (House)
Chris Owens (Red)
Erick Avari (The Mummy)
Tom McBeath (Riverdale)
Scott Hylands (Night Heat)
Sarah Douglas (Superman II)
JR Bourne (THe 100)
Winston Rekert (Neon Rider)
Steve Makaj (The X-Files)
Alex Zahara (2012)
Kevin McNulty (Fantastic Four)
Christina Cox (The Chronicles of Riddick)
Roger Cross (First Wave)
Matthew Walker (Alone In The Dark)
Jerry Wasserman (watchmen)
Tiffany Lyndall-Knight (Fido)
Eric Breker (X-Men Origins: wolverine)
Marshall R. Teague (Armageddon)
Colin Cunningham (Elektra)
Alvin Sanders (Riverdale)
Daniel Bacon (Brain of Fire)
Aaron Pearl (Bates Motel)
Amber Rothwell (White Noise)
Suanne Braun (THe Princess Switch)
Tom Butler (Freddy vs Jason)
Samantha Ferris (The 4400)

Peter LaCroix and Amanda Tapping in Stargate SG-1 (1997)

When we last left Our Heroes, they were on Apophis’ ship, facing the impending destruction and/or enslavement of everyone on Earth. So unsurprisingly, the second season of “Stargate SG-1” can only get better from there on. In fact, this is when the clever, innovative sci-fi series really started to gel together, with more intriguing storylines, character arcs, and some new alien allies — basically, it all blooms. Intending to blow up Apophis’ ship, our heroes get captured by the Jaffa and thrown in a cell — only to be unexpectedly rescued by Bra’tac (Tony Amendola), Teal’c’s old teacher. As Earth mounts a pitiful defense against the Goa’uld, SG-1 joins with a small band of rebel Jaffa to stop Apophis’ invasion — but they may have to leave one of their number behind.Richard Dean Anderson and Christopher Judge in Stargate SG-1 (1997)Obviously the Goa’uld make things awkward throughout the season, with the second episode featuring Sam (Amanda Tapping) being possessed by a Goa’uld during a rescue mission — but it seems that it’s part of a rebel Goa’uld faction called the Tok’ra. Teal’c’s (Christopher Judge) son is kidnapped and brainwashed, and Daniel (Michael Shanks) finds that his beloved wife is pregnant with Apophis’ child. And of course, SG-1 has to deal with lots of other stuff — insectile transformations, black holes, prison planets, Native American “spirits,” invisible bugs, hostile alien orbs, reliving their most traumatic memories in a VR world, and time traveling to 1969. And O’Neill (Richard Dean Anderson) gets an ancient repository of knowledge downloaded into his head — and he’ll die if they can’t reverse it.Michael Shanks in Stargate SG-1 (1997)“Stargate SG-1” really got into its stride in the second season — the basic Air-Force-versus-evil-headsnakes story gets expanded out into a bunch of arcs. We get new villains, some surprising new allies, hints about the true origins of the Stargates and the human race, and corrupt factions on Earth who use the spare Stargate for evil ends.Richard Dean Anderson in Stargate SG-1 (1997)The writing gets even steadier and the alien worlds more interesting — even stuff that sounds goofy, like the planet of singing mushroom-people, somehow works. The drama is stronger, and the sci-fi usage of the Stargate ever more creative, such as when a black hole’s gravity well keeps the gate open, and is slowly sucking Earth through the wormhole. Of course, all the action and sci-fi is heavily tempered with comedy. Even in grim situations, there’s usually at least a few funny moments, such as Daniel’s tour of the custodial closet. And of course, the dialogue is priceless — most of the good stuff comes from O’Neill, but Teal’c and the others usually get some good ones as well. Of the main cast, Amanda Tapping gets the juiciest role in this season — Sam deals with the impending death of her father, becoming a Goa’uld host, and trying to deal with the feelings it left behind. Including a Tok’ra boyfriend. Yet when we see Sam’s vulnerable sides, Tapping never lets her character be anything but a strong, capable military woman.Carmen Argenziano and Amanda Tapping in Stargate SG-1 (1997)But the other actors aren’t neglected — Shanks’ Daniel grapples with the news that his wife is pregnant with Apophis’ baby, while Teal’c faces losing his entire family. Anderson is brilliant as the quirky, capable O’Neill, but he really gets brilliant when Jack’s brain is being overwritten — he has to emote and communicate without a comprehensible word. The second season of “Stargate SG-1” is where the story began to really get great, building up a series of strong story arcs, funny dialogue, and strong characters.

REVIEW: STARGATE SG.1 – SEASON 1

Starring

Richard Dean Anderson (MacGyver)
Michael Shanks (Smallville)
Amanda Tapping (Sanctuary)
Christopher Judge (The Dark Knight Rises)
Don S. Davis (Twin Peaks)

Richard Dean Anderson, Jay Acovone, Michael Shanks, and Amanda Tapping in Stargate SG-1 (1997)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Jay Acovone (Beauty and The Beast)
Vaitiare Hirshon (Far Away Places)
Robert Wisden (Watchmen)
Peter Williams (Catwoman)
Brent Stait (Blade: The Series)
Gary Jones (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
Alexis Cruz (Drag Me To hell)
Rachel Hayward (Wonder)
Adam Harrington (The Secret Circle)
Colin Lawrence (The 6th Day)
Kevin McNulty (Timecop)
Alan Rachins (Showgirls)
Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Mortal Kombat)
Jorge Vargas (POwer Rangers Ninja Storm)
Soon-Tek Oh (Mulan)
Crystal Lowe (Final Destination 3)
Teryl Rothery (Arrow)
Steve Makaj (The X-Files)
Gerard Plunkett (Sucker Punch)
Danny Wattley (Bird ona Wire)
William Russ (The Right Stuff)
Roger Cross (First Wave)
Harley Jane Kozak (Arachnophobia)
Carmen Moore (Arrow)
Armin Shimerman (Star Trek: DS9)
Ray Xifo (Ocean’s Thirteen)
Frida Betrani (The Deal)
Bobbie Phillips (Murder One)
Gabrielle Miller (Robson Arms)
Tamsin Kelsey (Needful Things)
James Earl Jones (Star Wars)
Mark Gibbon (Man of Steel)
Elizabeth Hoffman (Dante’s Peak)
Keene Curtis (Sliver)
Paul McGillion (The Flash)
Tony Amendola (Annabelle)
Salli Richardson-Whitfield (Eureka)
Suanne Braun (Summer of Rockets)
Katie Stuart (Inconceivable)
Tobin Bell (Saw)
Garwin Sanford (Get Carter)
Tom McBeath (Riverdale)
Jay Brazeau (Bates Motel)
Michael Kopsa (Dark Angel)
Laara Sadiq (Arrow)
Ronny Cox (Robocop)

Most TV shows spun off from movies are uninvolving and uninteresting, and hopefully die and are forgotten. That wasn’t the case with the spinoff of the 1995 movie “Stargate,” a science fiction movie that spawned an excellent television series, “Stargate SG-1.” The first season is not nearly as brilliant as the ones that followed it, but it’s a welcome change from distant space operas — excellent writing, acting, and a sense of humor about itself and its characters.Christopher Judge in Stargate SG-1 (1997)The Stargate has been inactive for a year — until it is activated, and a bunch of Egyptian-styled warriors come through and kidnap a young officer. General Hammond (Don S. Davis) pulls Jack O’Neill (Richard Dean Anderson) out of retirement to learn what really happened on the planet of Abydos, and where these mysterious aliens have come from. O’Neill and a small team go to Abydos and find Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks) who has been learning about a vast network of Stargates over the past year. But when Daniel’s wife Sha’re and brother-in-law Skaara are abducted by the same warriors, O’Neill, Jackson and Air Force scientist Sam Carter (Amanda Tapping) use the Stargate to venture to where they’re being kept. What they find is an alien race who inhabits human hosts, the Goa’uld, and their ruthless slave warriors, the Jaffa. Carter, O’Neill and Jackson are captured by the powerful Apophis — but to escape, they must have the help of an unlikely ally: Teal’c (Christopher Judge), Apophis’ First Prime. Since Earth has now annoyed the Goa’uld, several exploration teams are formed to go through the Stargate and find weapons and allies.Richard Dean Anderson in Stargate SG-1 (1997)And SG-1 — Carter, O’Neill, Jackson and Teal’c — encounters some very strange problems: a plague that turns people into savages, a people who live only a hundred days, a Viking planet, a Stargate explorer stranded since 1945, a little girl turned into a bomb, the seductive Goa’uld queen Hathor, and coming back as robots. And when the military shuts down the SG program, Daniel reveals that the Earth is about to be destroyed by Apophis’ armies.Christopher Judge in Stargate SG-1 (1997)The first season of “Stargate SG-1” isn’t the most impressive, though the last three episodes hint at the series’ future greatness. And thankfully, it drops the usual space opera stuff — instead we get Stargates, real military, and a very plausible reason why everybody in the galaxy (more or less) looks just like us. It’s graced with kitschy Egyptian-styled sets, lots of shoot-em-up action from Marines and Air Force, and plenty of planets influenced by Earth cultures, like the Minoans and the Vikings. Best of all is the snappy dialogue, mostly from the tart-tongued O’Neill.

 

REVIEW: SMALLVILLE – SEASON 4

Starring

Tom Welling (Lucifer)
Kristin Kreuk (Beauty and The Beast)
Michael Rosenbaum (Impastor)
Allison Mack (Wilfred)
Jensen Ackles (Supernatural)
Annette O’Toole (The Punisher)
John Schneider (The Haves and the Have Nots)
John Glover (Shazam)

Tom Welling and Erica Durance in Smallville (2001)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Erica Durance (Supergirl)
Margot Kidder (Superman)
Ona Grauer (V)
Rekha Sharma (Dark Angel)
Michael Ironside (Scanners)
Robert Wisden (Highlander: The Series)
Brianna Brown ((Hollywood Homicide)
Eric Johnson (Flash Gordon)
Julianne Christie (Encino Man)
Amanda Walsh (Disturbia)
Lisa Marie Caruk (Final Destination)
Moneca Delain (Trick r Treat)
Chelan Simmons (Good Luck Chuck)
Kyle Gallner (American Sniper)
Benjamin Ratner (Wonder)
J.P. Manoux (Veep)
Terence Stamp (Superman II)
Trent Ford (The Island)
Jane Seymour (Wedding Crashers)
Claudette Mink (Children of The Corn 7)
Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother)
Malcolm Stewart (Jumanji)
Heather Doerksen (Van Hesling)
John Novak (Dr. Dolittle 3)
Jerry Wasserman (Watchmen)
Samantha Ferris (The Tall Man)
Sarah Carter (The Flash)
John Pyper-Ferguson (Caprica)
Derek Hamilton (Arrow)
Camille Mitchell (Izombie)
Chris Carmack (Shark Night
Nolan Gerard Funk (Arrow)
Diego Klattenhoff (Mean Girls)
Alvin Sanders (Tin Man)
Byron Mann (Dark Angel)
Peyton List (Gotham)
Peter Wingfield (Highlander: The Series)
Erica Cerra (Power Rangers)
Jesse Hutch (Arrow)
Kandyse McClure (Battlestar Galactica)
Beatrice Rosen (2012)
Jonathan Bennett (Mean Giels)
Tom Butler (Blade: The Series)
Pascale Hutton (Sanctuary)
David Orth (The Lost World)
Craig Veroni (The Net)
Colin Ford (Daybreak)

Kristin Kreuk, Tom Welling, and Erica Durance in Smallville (2001)

All my dreams are on the ground
Crawling’ round and round and round
Somebody saaaaaaaaaave me
Let your waters break right through
Somebody saaaaaaaaaave me
I don’t care how you do it
Just saaaave me, saaaave me
I’ve made this whole world shine for you
Just save, save
Come on, I’m still waiting for you

Anyone with even a passing affection for WB’s Smallville knows that song inside and out, upside and down … and they probably hear it while they’re trying to fall asleep, too.Jensen Ackles, Kristin Kreuk, and Tom Welling in Smallville (2001)When I hear that tune (recorded by Remy Zero, btw) I know I’m in for some good, goofy, Superman-sized fun. Yes, TV geeks, it’s true: The cold-hearted and perpetually cynical Scott Weinberg harbors a deep and devoted affection for the goofball X-Files / comic book amalgam known as Smallville. For all its pedantic plot twists, overbaked dialogue, and “aw-shucks” corn-pone-osity — I’m actually a big fan of the show. To me, Smallville is like a big bowl of Cool Whip; you’ll eat it because it’s really tasty, even though you should probably be spending your time on something a little more substantial or nutritious.Kristin Kreuk in Smallville (2001)But hey, I’m a sucker for the Superman mythology, plus there’s something quaintly endearing about the young Supes stories and the way they’ve been wedged into a fairly convention teen-centric soap-opera story. Plus, Smallville is one of those “comfort” shows, the kind in which you always know that things will turn out OK and that the few dangling character threads will always be tabled for another day. The story’s simplicity itself: Teenager Clark Kent is forever trying to juggle “normal” adolescence while discovering his own amazing powers. Needless to say, our hero must deal with snooping pals, protective parents, and a whole host of dangerous doings in one of TVdom’s most villain-producing burgs. (Second only to Buffy’s hometown, of course.) It’s all very broad and corny and cartoony … and all of it works exceedingly well in the context of “Superman.” Whenever the show gets too outlandish or sappy or (yes, even) silly, the Superfans can always sit back and think “Yeah, it’s cheesy, but it’d still fit well within the pages of a comic book.”Allison Mack, Tom Welling, and Erica Durance in Smallville (2001)Clark’s gang consists of the lovely Lana Lang, the ever-inquisitive Chloe Sullivan, Chloe’s sassy cousin Lois (yes, Lois Lane!), and the devilishly duplicitous Lex Luthor. Toss in a few doting parents, Lex’s perpetually scheming papa, Lana’s bland ol’ boyfriend, a few recurring characters, and an ever-fresh supply of colorful villains … and there’s your cast of players. Hardcore fans will find plenty to enjoy in Smallville’s fourth season, but I say there was way too much time devoted to Lana’s boyfriend, Jason, a lumbering subplot involving witchcraft got way too much screen time, and that the already well-established crush-triangles between Clark, Lana, and Chloe have, by now, been run effectively into the ground. But while I’d absolutely contend that Smallville’s fourth season is its “weakest” one yet, it’s still just comfy enough to keep the fans satisfied. The relatively weakest and somewhat repetitive fourth season of a series that I consider a goofily enjoyable good time, this collection exists mainly for those who already own Seasons 1, 2, and 3. There’s four or five episodes here that have real revisit value; the rest are perfectly watchable, but nothing more than that.

REVIEW: SMALLVILLE – SEASON 2

Starring

Tom Welling (Lucifer)
Kristin Kreuk (Beauty and The Beast)
Michael Rosenbaum (Impastor)
Sam Jones III (Glory Road)
Allison Mack (Wilfred)
Annette O’Toole (The Punisher)
John Schneider (The Haves and the Have Nots)
John Glover (Shazam)

Kristin Kreuk and Tom Welling in Smallville (2001)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Tom O’Brien (The Accused)
Rekha Sharma (Star Trek: Discovery)
Julian Christopher (Elysium)
Jerry Wasserman (Watchmen)
Krista Allen (Feast)
Mitchell Kosterman (Stargate SG.1)
Sarah-Jane Redmond (Disturbing Behaviour)
Joe Morton (God Friended Me)
Andrew Jackson (Earth: Final Conflict)
Michael Kopsa (Fantastic Four)
Sara Downing (Roswell)
Garwin Sanford (Arrow)
Sean Faris (Never Back Down)
Gwynyth Walsh (Star Trek: Generations)
Richard Moll (Batman: TAS)
Maggie Lawson (Santa Clarita Diet)
George Coe (The Stepford Wives)
Jesse Hutch (Arrow)
Fulvio Cecere (Valentine)
Neil Grayston (Wonderfalls)
Patrick Cassidy (Lois & Clark)
Blair Brown (Space Cowboys)
Ryan Kelley (Teen Wolf)
Martin Cummins (Dark Angel)
William B. Davis (The X-Files)
Mark Gibbon (The 6th Day)
Jonathan Taylor Thomas (Home Improvement)
Emmanuelle Vaugier (Two and a Half Men)
Robert Wisden (Highlander: The Series)
David Richmond-Peck (V)
Amara Zaragoza (Perfect Stranger)
Gordon Tootoosis (Lone Star)
Eric Johnson (Flash Gordon)
Lizzy Caplan (Cloverfield)
Byron Mann (Arrow)
Colin Cunningham (Elektra)
Jill Teed (Godzilla)
Eileen Pedde (Juno)
Jason Connery (Wishmaster 3)
Eric Keenleyside (Dreamcatcher)
Barclay Hope (Paycheck)
Rob LaBelle (Jack Frost)
Shaun Sipos (Texas Chainsaw)
Haig Sutherland (The Flash)
Luciana Carro (White Chicks)
Paul Wesley (The Vampire Diaries)
Craig Veroni (Dark Angel)
Christopher Reeve (Superman)
Anson Mount (Inhumans)
Michael Adamthwaite (Horns)
Camille Mitchell (Izombie)
Zachery Ty Bryan (Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift)
Neil Flynn (Scrubs)
Jodelle Ferland (Case 39)
Ingrid Torrance (Scooby Doo 2)
David Lewis (Man of Steel)
Terence Stamp (Superman II)

 

Sam Jones III and Tom Welling in Smallville (2001)The first season of Smallville got off to a bit of a rocky start, as the program didn’t really find its footing until midway through the season. The show suffered from what fans called “Freak of the Week” syndrome, in which a new Kryptonite-mutated supervillain would emerge in every episode with some pretty weak storylines. The “Bug Boy” and “Coach Firestarter” episodes come to mind pretty quickly, and it makes me shudder just thinking about them. However, the show gradually shifted into telling more stories that advanced Clark Kent’s overall storyline, with multipart episodes that focused on slowly revealing Clark’s origin as Kal-El and his “immigration” to Earth, as well as the ongoing storylines of the supporting cast. Not to say that the show still doesn’t have an occasional “Freak of the Week”, but when they do they are either (1) fewer in frequency or (2) somehow related to the overall show’s story arc.Sam Jones III and Tom Welling in Smallville (2001)With that out of the way, let’s talk about the cast. Tom Welling is pitch-perfect as the teenage Clark Kent. With his tall stature and ripped physique, he certainly looks the part, but he also captures the insecurity and awkwardness of youth while portraying an inner nobility and morality for which his character will eventually become renown. As Lana Lang, Clark’s childhood crush and current on-again, off-again love interest, Kristin Kreuk is about as superhumanly lovely as one could imagine. She’s the “girl next door” multiplied by about three million, not only because of her phenomenal physical beauty but also due to her bright-eyed, compassionate, down-to-earth demeanor. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see why Clark loves her, or why it rips him apart when he has to push her away in order to keep his powers a secret and keep her from being harmed (people who tend to learn about Clark’s powers generally end up dead or insane.)Kristin Kreuk and Tom Welling in Smallville (2001)Michael Rosenbaum brings young Lex Luthor to life in what has become my favorite character of the show. Making Lex Luthor and Clark Kent childhood friends is a novel (and daring) conceit by the show’s creators, and it pays off handsomely. Lex adds a darker, more cynical dynamic to Clark’s teenage development that was missing in previous iterations of the character. Rosenbaum, who rather ironically provides the voice for the DC superhero “The Flash” on the Justice League animated series, makes Luthor a dark, sympathetic, and conflicted figure. He’s charismatic enough to make one want to like him, Machiavellian enough to make one worry if they can trust him, and – since we know his eventual fate – an overall tragic figure. We know he’s going to “go bad”; his slow transition from Clark’s trusted friend to worst enemy makes for some truly compelling material.Annette O'Toole and John Schneider in Smallville (2001)The cast is rounded out by John Schneider as Jonathan Kent, Academy Award-nominated songwriter Annette O’Toole (and a former Lana Lang herself from Superman III) as Martha Kent, John Glover as Lionel Luthor, Sam Jones III as Clark’s childhood friend Pete Ross, and Allison Mack as Chloe Sullivan, whose unrequited love for Clark has emerged as a critical subplot in the development of the series. The group makes for an attractive ensemble, and there’s not a bad apple in the bunch. My only real complaint about the cast could be the little screen time Pete Ross gets (which gets worse in Season Three). As Clark’s best friend since childhood, his relationship with Clark gets laid by the wayside in favor of the Clark/Lex dynamic. Every now and then he turns up to provide some expository dialogue, and while he is featured prominently in a few episodes (especially “Duplicity”), his role in the show has slowly diminished over time.John Glover and John Schneider in Smallville (2001)Smallville: The Complete Second Season picks up from the cliffhanger ending that ended Season One, and slowly grows into a stronger and more self-assured show. Over the course of the season we get introduced to heat vision, red Kryptonite, a trip to Metropolis (with a cameo by The Daily Planet), and, in the episode “Rosetta”, an appearance by the former Man of Steel Christopher Reeve which stands out as one of the series’ best episodes. When I heard bits of John Williams’s amazing film orchestrations woven into the show’s score, I had goose bumps everywhere.Tom Welling and Amara Zaragoza in Smallville (2001)While still a little bumpy at times, Smallville’s second season is a huge step above the first, and remains one of the most entertaining shows on television.

 

REVIEW: SMALLVILLE – SEASON 1

Starring

Tom Welling (Lucifer)
Kristin Kreuk (Beauty and The Beast)
Michael Rosenbaum (Impastor)
Eric Johnson (Flash Gordon)
Sam Jones III (Glory Road)
Allison Mack (Wilfred)
Annette O’Toole (The Punisher)
John Schneider (The Haves and the Have Nots)

Sam Jones III, Allison Mack, and Tom Welling in Smallville (2001)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

John Glover (Shazam)
Sarah-Jane Redmond (Disturbing Behaviour)
Adrian Glynn McMorran (Arrow)
Alvin Sanders (Riverdale)
Steve Bacic (Andromeda)
Justin Chatwin (War of The Worlds)
Chad Donella (Final Destination)
Gabrielle Rose (If I Stay)
Jason Connery (Wishmaster 3)
Hiro Kanagawa (Heores Reborn)
David Paetkau (Flashpoint)
Lizzy Caplan (Cloverfield)
Tom O’Brien (The Accused)
Beverley Breuer (Rverdale)
Eric Christian Olsen (Tru Calling)
Jackie Burroughs (The Dead Zone)
George Murdock (Star Trek V)
Mitchell Kosterman (Stargate SG.1)
Amy Adams (Justice League)
Malcolm Stewart (Jumanji)
Joe Morton (God Friended Me)
Robert Wisden (Watchmen)
Tony Todd (The Flash)
Michael Eklund (Bates Motel)
Kelly Brook (Three)
Cameron Dye (Valley Girl)
Jesse Hutch (True Justice)
Azura Skye (28 Days)
Kett Turton (Saved)
Rick Peters (Dexter)
Ben Cotton (Stargate: Atlantis)
Kevin McNulty (Snakes on a Plane)
P. Lynn Johnson (The Invisible)
Shawn Ashmore (X-Men)
Kavan Smith (When Calls The Heart)
Evangeline Lilly (Ant-Man)
Eric Breker (Godzilla)
Jud Tylor (That 70s Show)
Corin Nemec (Stargate SG.1)
Mark Gibbon (Man of Steel)
Bill Mondy (Blade: The Series)
Nicki Clyne (Battlestar Galactica)
Julian Christopher (Elysium)
Ryan Kelley (Teen Wolf)
Jim Shield (Cold Pursuit)
Brandy Ledford (Andromeda)
Rekha Sharma (Star Trek: Discovery)
Tiffany Lyndall-Knight (Chloe)
Shonda Farr (Crossroads)
Chelan Simmons (Final Destination 3)
Marguerite Moreau (Wet Hot American Summer)
Adam Brody (Jennifer’s Body)
Kevan Ohtsji (Elektra)
Aaron Douglas (Battlestar Galactica)
Frank C. Turner (Alone In The Dark)

John Schneider and Tom Welling in Smallville (2001)Coming only a few years after the somewhat successful, but often corny, Lois & Clark, there were a lot of expectations and fears going into Smallville. Would the series appeal to die-hard Superman fans, or would it just be another WB drama geared toward teenagers?Michael Rosenbaum and Tom Welling in Smallville (2001)Fortunately, Smallville turns out to be super – easily the best on-screen depiction of the Superman character since the original Superman: The Movie. But it does take most of the season to get things rolling. Too many of the shows in Season One are simply “Villain of the Week” kind of deals, with Clark Kent going up against a villain who has one superpower or another (the explanation for why all these genetically altered people are showing up in Smallville is attributed to the meteor shower that hit the town – and brought Clark to Earth).Kristin Kreuk in Smallville (2001)It is obvious, however, in the early going that the relationships between the main characters would develop into something special. Clark is just beginning to discover his super powers (he does not yet have the ability to fly – following the concept that he will not gain all of his super powers until he reaches maturity), and Lex Luthor actually starts out as a good guy, who is slowly turning towards his evil ways. Also noteworthy is the developing relationship between Clark and Lana Lang, a girl whom he is infatuated with, but can’t get close to…not only because he is unsure of himself, but because Lana (whose parents were killed in the meteor shower) sports a necklace with a piece of the meteor as a way of remembering her mother and father. The meteor is, of course, Kryptonite, so Clark both literally and figuratively gets weak in the knees every time he gets close to the woman he loves!Tom Welling in Smallville (2001)But the relationship that is really worth tuning into Smallville for is the one between Clark and his adoptive parents (played by Dukes of Hazzard’s John Schneider and Superman III’s Annette O’Toole). I really like the father figure presented here for a young Clark – a man who both loves his son, yet is afraid about how his special abilities may affect his future. It’s really a relationship that has never been deeply developed in any previous incarnations of the Superman legend, so it’s nice to see a show that focuses on it so strongly.Kristin Kreuk and Tom Welling in Smallville (2001)By the time Season One wraps up, all the pieces are in place for Season Two – which really did a great job of exploring Clark’s Kryptonian heritage and had him start asking some real questions about his purpose in life. But until Season Two arrives on DVD (or you catch the reruns on the WB), Season One has enough to keep fans entertained. So keep in mind when viewing these shows that they do indeed get deeper and more meaningful as they go along.Annette O'Toole, John Schneider, and Tom Welling in Smallville (2001)The overall episodes are fairly strong, and for the most part, presented well on DVD format by Warners. It’s getting a “Highly Recommended” not so much for the overall package, but for the overall strength of the episodes. Sure to bring new fans to the series and appease those who are already big followers of the show, this box set may not leap tall buildings in a single bound, but it has got enough spring in it to make it a worthwhile purchase.