REVIEW: THE RETURN OF SWAMP THING

 

CAST

Louis Jourdan (Octopussy)
Dick Durock (Stand By Me)
Heather Locklear (Spin City)
Sarah Douglas (Superman 1 & 2)

The Return of Swamp Thing sees evil scientist Dr. Anton Arcane (Louis Jordan) trying to reverse the extreme ageing that he is undergoing as a result of his experiments. Meanwhile in Los Angeles his stepdaughter Abigail (Heather Locklear) decides to visit him to find out more about her late mother & the events surrounding her sudden death. It turns out that Abigail has the exact genetic make-up that Arcane needs to complete his experiments & give himself eternal life. Arcane also needs a sample of Swamp Thing’s (Dick Durock) DNA to complete the process but getting a sample isn’t going to be as easy as Arcane hoped for as Swamp Thing sets out to put an end to Arcane’s evil experiments…

I have to say that I really liked The Return of Swamp Thing & for my money just about the best thing Wynorski has ever done (which isn’t saying much in itself). A direct sequel to Wes Craven’s Swamp Thing (1982) it is never actually explained how Arcane survived the events during the climax of the original although it turns out he is suffering from the process that saved him which forms the basis of the plot as he sets out to find a cure & doesn’t care how many people he kills to do just that. Based on the dark Gothic DC comic book character the script by Neil Cuthbert & Grant Morris hasn’t got too much to it & is rather simplistic & underdeveloped but is good fun all the same & you suspect that what the production team were aiming for, a good solid entertaining light hearted fun comic book superhero flick which I think it succeeds at being but like most things in life it’s down to personal opinion. At a little over 90 minutes it’s relatively short, it moves along like a rocket & I was never bored with it which is always a good thing to be able to say. There are one or two half decent action set-pieces but considering the production team had a budget smaller than the Wes Craven original you could say they worked minor miracles. The character’s are fun although not particularly deep, the dialogue is often amusing & packed full of one-liners & doesn’t take itself too seriously either with Locklear’s character referring to the TV show T.J. Hooker (1982 – 1986) in which she starred. All in all much, much better than I expected & a film that I really liked. Keep watching after the end actor credits as the two kids get an extra little scene.

One very impressive aspect of The Return of Swamp Thing is the special make-up effects which are of a very high standard. The Leechman in particularly looks great although he disappears about halfway through, there’s a elaborate Cockroachman & an Elephantman. The Swamp Thing suit is also much better than seen in the original, it’s far more leafy & slimy & more representative of a what a half man half Georgia swamp creature may look like. The Dr. Rochelle mutation at the end also looks good but is dispatched too easily by Swamp Thing & doesn’t put up much of a fight. There are some good fight scenes as well along with a couple of impressive explosions.

If you’re a fan of B-movies, as I am, you’re likely to enjoy this. There are plenty of laughs, both intentional and unintentional. The acting is what you would expect, and the effects are really quite good for its day. It’s simply a good Comic Book Movie that will past the time.

Advertisements

REVIEW: CONAN THE DESTROYER

CAST

Arnold Schwarzenegger (The Terminator)
Grace Jones (Vamp)
Wilt Chamberlain (Any Given Sunday)
Mako (Memoirs ofa Geisha)
Tarcey Walter (Batman)
Sarah Douglas (Superman 1 & 2)
Olvia D’Abo (Point of No Return)
Pat Roach (Raiders of The Lost Ark)
Jeff Corey (True Grit)
Sven-Ole Thorsen (Mallrats)
Andre The Giant (The Princess Bride)

Conan (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and his companion, the thief Malak (Tracey Walter), are confronted by Queen Taramis (Sarah Douglas) of Shadizar. She tests their combat ability with several of her guards. Satisfied, she tells Conan that she has a quest for him. He refuses her, but when she promises to resurrect his lost love, Valeria, Conan agrees to the quest. He is to escort the Queen’s niece, Jehnna (Olivia d’Abo), an innocent who is destined to restore the jeweled horn of the dreaming god Dagoth; a magic gem must first be retrieved that will locate the horn. Conan and Malak are joined by Bombaata (Wilt Chamberlain), the eunuch captain of Taramis’s guard. Bombaata has secret orders to kill Conan once the gem is obtained.

Because the gem is secured in the fortress of a powerful wizard, Conan seeks the help of his friend, Akiro (Mako), the Wizard of the Mounds. Akiro has been captured by a tribe of cannibals, and must first be rescued. Afterward, the adventurers encounter Zula (Grace Jones), a powerful bandit warrior being tortured by vengeful villagers. Freeing Zula at Jehnna’s request, Conan accepts the indebted warrior’s offer to join their quest.274b0-conan-the-destroyer_1984-1-1920x1080_scrollerThe adventurers travel to the castle of Toth-Amon (Pat Roach) where the gem is located. As they camp for the night, the wizard takes the form of a giant bird and kidnaps Jehnna. The others wake in time to see the bird enter the castle. Sneaking in through a water gate, they search the castle, but Conan is separated from the group and the others are forced to watch him battle a fierce man-beast. Conan mortally wounds the creature, which is revealed as another form of Toth-Amon. With the wizard’s death, the castle begins to disintegrate, forcing the group’s hasty retreat. They are ambushed by Taramis’s guards, but drive them off. Bombaata feigns ignorance about the attack. The gem reveals the location of the jeweled horn. Jehnna expresses romantic interest in Conan, but he rebuffs her and declares his devotion to Valeria.
They reach an ancient temple where the horn is secured. Jehnna obtains it while Akiro deciphers engravings. He learns that Jehnna will be ritually sacrificed to awaken Dagoth. They are attacked by the priests who guard the horn. A secret exit is revealed, but Bombaata blocks the others’ escape and seizes Jehnna. Despite this treachery, Conan and his allies escape the priests and trek to Shadizar to rescue Jehnna. Malak shows them a secret route to the throne room. Conan confronts Bombaata and kills him in combat. Zula impales the Grand Vizier (Jeff Corey) before he can sacrifice Jehnna. Because Bombaata and the Vizier were “impure sacrifices”, the rising Dagoth (André the Giant) becomes distorted from a beautiful human form into a monstrous entity. Dagoth kills Taramis, then attacks Conan. Zula and Malak join the fight, but are effortlessly swept aside by the entity. Grappling with the monster, Conan tears out Dagoth’s horn, weakening the creature enough to kill him.
Afterward, the newly crowned Queen Jehnna offers each of her companions a place in her new court: Zula will be the new captain of the guard, Akiro the queen’s advisor, and Malak the court jester. Jehnna offers Conan marriage and the opportunity to rule the kingdom with her, but he declines and departs to find further adventures and his own place in the world.Excellent picture on blu ray very very good if your a fan of arnie then buy it anyway you wont be disappointed with this blu ray!

 

REVIEW: IRON MAN (1994)

CAST (VOICES)

Robert Hays (Airplane)
James Avery (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air)
Ed Gilbert (Transformers)
Robert Ito (Batman: TAS)
Dorian Harewood (Sparkle)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Sarah Douglas (Superman 1 & 2)
Matt Frewer (Taken)
Neal McDonough (Arrow)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. (Batman: TAS)
David Warner (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II)
Lisa Zane (Monkeybone)

Although only lasting two seasons, Iron Man was the subject of a major overhaul between seasons when its production studio was changed. The result was a massively changed premise, tone, and general approach, which left the disparate seasons scarcely recognizable as being two halves of the same series.

The first season of Iron Man featured little more than a Masters of the Universe-style battle of “good against evil”, as billionaire industrialist Tony Stark battled the evil forces of the world-conquering Mandarin as the armored superhero, Iron Man. In his evil endeavors to steal Stark’s technology and Iron Man’s armor, the Mandarin led a group of villains consisting of Dreadknight, Blizzard, Blacklash, Grey Gargoyle (when it comes to fighting Iron Man and his team, he has a tendency to accidentally turn his fellow villains to stone), Hypnotia (Dreadknight and Blacklash were rivals for the affections of Hypnotia), Whirlwind, Living Laser, MODOK, Fin Fang Foom and Justin Hammer. To combat these villains, Iron Man had the help of his own team (based on Force Works, a then-current comic book team which has since faded into obscurity), including Century, War Machine, Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye (replacing U.S. Agent from the comics) and Spider Woman.

The season consisted mostly of single-episode open-and-shut-case adventures, with two two-part stories late towards the end. Unlike many other Marvel animated series, despite featuring over-the-top titles that paid homage to the early Stan Lee written Marvel comics of the 1960s (for example, “The Grim Reaper Wears a Teflon Coat”, and “Rejoice, I am Ultimo, Thy Deliverer”), almost none of the episodes were adaptations of comic book stories, consisting instead of original stories penned by Ron Friedman, occasionally collaborated on by Stan Lee himself. The closest the season came to adapting a comic book tale was in the two-part “The Origin of Iron Man”, which recounted a (modified and modernized) version of the character’s comic book origin  just before the season concluded.

This late-run recounting of the title character’s origin is symptomatic of what is generally thought of as the season’s greatest weakness – despite (or perhaps because of) having such a large cast of characters, very few of the show’s heroes and villains were actually developed in any way, leaving viewers unaware of their personal stories and powers. The show is generally held to have been at its best when filling in these origin blanks (MODOK in “Enemy Without, Enemy Within,” Iron Man and the Mandarin in their self-titled “The Origin of…” episodes), but these were rare occasions, with virtually every other plot simply consisting of the Mandarin attempting to steal Stark’s newest invention and being bested, often through very strange and illogical means (with the nadir perhaps being Iron Man somehow using the energy of a small tape-player to restore his armor to full power in “Silence My Companion, Death My Destination”).

A small sub-plot in the first season revolves around Mandarin secretly spying on Force Works. It culminates in “The Wedding of Iron Man” when Stark realizes they have been spied on by reviewing events from previous episodes (and explaining how Mandarin’s forces always knew where they would be), realising that Mandarin has acquired enough information to potentially deduce the true identity of Iron Man. The entire episode’s plot is dedicated to resolving the problem, culminating in Iron Man and his team setting up an elaborate deception where Mandarin sees Iron Man and Tony Stark in the same place with the intention being to convince him that the two men are not the same person (The ‘Tony’ in the situation was an android).

In 1995, Marvel switched The Marvel Action Hour to a new animation studio (as previously mentioned, the animation in Season 1 was provided by the Rainbow Animation Group, while the animation in Season 2 was provided by Koko Enterprises), and with it came new writers (Ron Friedman was replaced by Tom Tataranowicz for Season 2) and new music for each sequence, coupled with a new direction for the series. The first season’s subtle keyboard theme music for Iron Man (composed by progressive rock artist Keith Emerson) was replaced by an intense electric guitar theme featuring the repeated refrain of “I am Iron Man!”, while showing Tony Stark beating red-hot iron plates into shape with a blacksmith’s hammer (possibly to mimic the Black Sabbath song “Iron Man”). Tony Stark’s longer hair style in the second season was based upon the artist Mark Bright’s depiction of Stark from the late 1980s, which is where most of the episodes from Season 2 were based upon.

The new story lines spanned multiple episodes and were no longer “open and shut” cases. They formed a linking narrative, featuring themes of duplicity, consequence, and phobias. Also, the stories were no longer centered on the Mandarin, whose rings had been scattered and whose power had been depleted. While the Mandarin did appear in these episodes, his appearances were reduced to cameos in the cliffhangers at the end of the story, as he tried to retrieve each ring.

Another change was that Force Works was mostly written out of the series, parting ways with Stark after he deceives them in order to work in secret with the Mandarin when Fin Fang Foom and his fellow Dragons were plotting to eliminate Earth. When Stark’s counter plan against Justin Hammer, which includes faking his death without the knowledge of his teammates, leads to a disbanding of Force Works, Julia Carpenter and James Rhodes are the only ones who continue to work with Stark. This split would be revisited with Stark’s ensuing conflicts with Hawkeye over the course of several episodes.

Also, War Machine develops a phobia of being trapped inside his armor (also based on a then-current comic storyline), but this is resolved before the final episode. While Rhodes was active as War Machine in Season 1, he remained out of armor for the majority of Season 2 due to reliving a tragic drowning experience while being trapped underwater in the War Machine armor in the Season 2 episode “Fire And Rain”. Rhodes eventually overcomes his fear and dons the War Machine armor once again in the episode “Distant Boundaries”.

Prior to finding his last two rings, the Mandarin claims his eighth ring from MODOK in the episode “Empowered”. “Empowered” was the clip show of the season, the purpose being that the Mandarin wanted to learn of Iron Man’s recent activities. In the finale,[9][10] the Mandarin, having regained all of his rings, unleashes a mist using the Heart of Darkness to render everything technological useless. Iron Man reunites with Force Works in order to stop him. The Mandarin unmasks Iron Man before their final showdown ends in his death. More specifically, Iron Man manages to reflect the power of Mandarin’s rings, destroying them, and ultimately leaving the Mandarin with amnesia and helpless before a band of desert bandits who likely killed him, or at least cut off his hand/fingers for the rings. After Mandarin was killed, MODOK and the rest of Mandarin’s henchmen were sent to jail. After disappointing ratings, the series was canceled.

After twenty six episodes, Iron Man the animated series remains a very mixed bag. Blame for this shows disappointing quality can be attributed to constrictions placed upon the writers to feature as many Iron Man suits as possible in each episode as free publicity for the toys. On the bright side, it got better, allowing the audience at least 13 episodes of decent animated entertainment.

REVIEW: SUPERMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES – VOLUME 1-3

Image result for SUPERMAN THE ANIMATED SERIES LOGO

MAIN CAST

Tim Daly (Wings)
Dana Delaney (Hand of God)
David Kaufman (Justice League: Doom)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Corey Burton (Critters)
Michael Ironside (Total Recall)
Joseph Bologna (The Nanny)
George Dzundza (Species II)
Lisa Edelstein (House)
Lauren Tom (Futurama)
Mike Farrell (MASH)
Shelley Fabares (Coach)
Joely Fisher (Til Death)
Victor Brandt (T.J. Hooker)
Joanna Cassidy (Blade Runner)

Image result for SUPERMAN THE ANIMATED SERIES LOGO

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Christopher McDonald (Fanboys)
Finola Hughes (General Hospital)
Tony Jay (Lois & Clark)
Malcolm McDowell (Heroes)
Tress MacNeille (Futurama)
Jason Marsden (Full House)
Dorian Harewood (Earth: Final ConflicT)
Brad Garrett (Finding Nemo)
Bruce Weitz (Hill Street Blues)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Robert Patrick (Terminator 2)
Brion James (Blade Runner)
Sherman Howard (Superboy)
Richard Moll (Scary Movie 2)
Frank Welker (The Simpsons)
Larry Drake (Firefly)
Michael York (Logans Run)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Ron Glass (Firefly)
Miguel Ferrer (Robocop)
Carl Lumbly (Alias)
Marion Ross (That 70s Show)
Cam Clarke (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 80s)
Robert Hays (Airplane)
Gilbert Gottfried (Aladdin)
Sandra Bernmhard (2 Broke Girls)
Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters)
Lori Petty (Tank Girl)
Mae Whitman (Boogeyman 2)
Michael Dorn (Star Trek: TNG)
Arleen Sorkin (Duet)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Bob Hastings (McHale’s Navy)
Robert Costanzo (Total Recall)
Kevin Conroy (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. (77 Sunset Strip)
Ted Levine (The Silence of The Lambs)
Jennifer Lien (Star Trek: Voyager)
Cree Summer (Batman Beyond)
Xander Berkeley (Kick-Ass)
Carolyn Seymour (Congo)
Edward Asner (Elf)
Dennis Haysbert (24)
Peter Gallagher (American Beauty)
Roddy McDowall (Planet of The Apes)
Paul Williams(The Muppet Movie)
John Glover (Smallville)
Henry Silva (Above The Law)
Melissa Joan Hart (Sabrina: TTW)
Jason Priestly (Tru Calling)
Chad Lowe (Unfaithful)
Sarah Douglas (Superman 2)
Billy West (Futurama)
Peri Gilpin (Frasier)
Miguel Sandoval (Medium)
Nicholle Tom (Gotham)
Olivia Hussey (IT)
David Warner (Tron)
Charles Napier (The Silence of The Lambs)

I think people can generally divided into two categories: Batman people or Superman people. Either you are into the dark, gloomy and atmospheric or the optimistic and all-American. I’ve always considered myself a Batman guy. As such, I was estatic when “Batman: The Animated Series” hit the airwaves. An excellent portrayal of the Caped Crusader, it set a new standard for cartoons, not on in terms of the look, but also the stories. Cartoons didn’t have to be made for children, but could aim higher.

So after the success of “Batman: TAS,” it was only natural for Superman to get a new chance at the small screen. The creative minds behind the Dark Knight’s cartoon renaissance took on Big Blue, and took him to heights not seen since the early Fleischer cartoons made him the original animated superhero standard bearer. By sticking to the character’s roots, but not allowing themselves to be restricted by a slavish attention to the comic books or movies, the creators created a cartoon Superman that fans could embrace, but those without a comic-book education would enjoy as well.

The majority of the episodes follow something of a pattern, as Supes faces a challenge from a villain, is overcome and figures out how to overcome that challenge just in time to get the bad guy before 22 minutes are over (unless it’s a multi-episode story arc.) When the show shakes free those format shackles is the moment when the series shines. Episodes like the series-opening three-show “The Last Son of Krypton,” “Speed Demons,” which co-stars The Flash and “My Girl,” which introduces the all-grown-up Lana Lang, are among some of the most enjoyable in this volume. That’s not to say that the straightforward adventures aren’t fun, as “Two’s a Crowd” and “Fun and Games” show.

Superman aficionados will enjoy appearances by Toyman, Bibbo, Metallo, Brainiac, Darkseid and a raucous two-episode appearance by the Main Man, Lobo. There’s also plenty of celebrity voices to listen for, including Lori Petty, Tim Daly, Dana Delaney, Ron Pearlman, Leslie Easterbrook, Lauren Tom, Brad Garrett, Mike Farrell, Shelley Fabares, Christopher McDonald, Malcolm McDowell, Bud Cort, Joe Bologna, Michael York and Joely Fisher. If you don’t know which characters they play, I won’t ruin it. It adds another layer of enjoyment to watching the show.

these shows are great, with great writing and animation in every episode. Highlights from this second volume include the episodes “Identitiy Crisis” which introduces Bizarro and “Heavy Metal” which introduces fellow superhero Steel, who teams up with Superman to battle Metallo.

“World’s Finest” is a three-part episode that teams Superman with Batman for the first time as they both take on their respective arch-nemesis, Lex Luthor and the Joker.

Other episodes feature appearances by a variety of villains and guest heroes – Dr. Fate shows up in “The Hand of Fate” – but the best episode of the collection has no guest appearance by a crime fighter or a super villain. “The Late Mr. Kent” is perhaps the most complex and best written of the 18 episodes in this volume – and perhaps the entire series. The story revolves around Clark Kent’s attempts to clear a man on death row before he is executed. For his troubles, someone tries to kill the intrepid reporter, and most people believe he is dead, leaving Superman alone, without his alter ego to rely upon. For a show that clocks in at less than thirty minutes, it offers some complex insights into the relationship between mild-mannered Clark Kent and his crime-fighting counterpart Superman.

The main arc of this season borrows from the comic book universe and brings Darkseid and his homeworld to the forefront. Hinted at earlier in the show, it’s in this third volume that the Lord of Apokolips finally gets his payoff – and his payback. In a trio of two-parters, Apokolips… Now!, Little Girl Lost, and Legacy, Superman fights one of his most ruthless foes in a series of episodes that offer some excellent action, drama, and science fiction fun.

While these episodes are very faithful to the mythos, we’ve also got a great selection of original stories that go to prove that with a character like Superman, there is no limit to the stories that you can tell. One of my favorites is Knight Time. When Batman goes missing, Superman pays a visit to Gotham City and tries to find out where his friend has gone. Supes inadvertently ends up masquerading as Batman – dressing up in the Dark Knight’s costume and everything! – and teams up with Robin to solve the mystery of the missing Bruce Wayne. Not only is the episode entertaining, but it’s also got a great sense of humor. Seeing Superman do his best impersonation of Batman is wonderful – Clark doesn’t know which utility pockets contain what, and his attempts at being grim (nodding his head instead of speaking) are great.

Watching these shows you get the feeling that it was during this final stretch of episodes that the show’s producers were finding new ways of playing with the formula that they had designed, and perfected, with both Batman: The Animated Series and Superman: The Animated Series. Not only do these Superman episodes have a lot of two-parters, but we’ve also got some great guest-stars; it seems that this show is the precursor to Justice League.

We’ve got heroes, Kyle Rayner from In Brightest Day, and villains, Ra’s Al Ghul in The Demon Reborn, and everyone in between – everyone’s favorite master of the sea, Aquaman in Fish Story. We also get an expansion of the Superman supporting cast when Supergirl makes a welcome appearance in the Little Girl Lost two-parter.

In one of the episodes found in this collection, Superman pays his final respects to a recently departed friend. In the graveyard, Superman comes to realize something very important: “In the end, the world didn’t really need a Super man. Just a brave one.” This show gives us a character who is both brave and super. It gives us a real hero. It gives us Superman… as good as he’s ever been.

REVIEW: STARGATE – SG.1 – SEASON 1-10

Image result for stargate sg.1 logo

MAIN CAST

Richard Dean Anderson (MacGyver)
Michael Shanks (Smallville)
Amanda Tapping (Sanctuary)
Christopher Judge (The Dark Knight Rises)
Don S. Davis (Andromeda)
Corin Nemec (Parker Lewis Can’t Loose)
Ben Browder (Farscape)
Beau Bridges (My Name Is Earl)
Claudia Black (The Originals)

Image result for stargate sg.1 logo

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Jay Avocone (Beauty and The Beast 1989)
Vaitiare Bandera (Out of The Blue)
Peter Williams (Catwoman)
Brent Stait (Blade: The Series)
Gary Jones (Highlander: The Series)
Alexis Cruz (Dark Wolf)
Rachel Hayward (Jingle All The Way 2)
Colin Lawrence (X-Men 2)
Adam Harrington (The Secret Circle)
Kevin McNulty (Elektra)
Alan Rachins (Batman: TAS)
Jorge Vargas (Power Rangers Ninja Storm)
Soon-Tek Oh (Death Wish 4)
Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Mortal Kombat Legacy)
Crystal Lowe (Poison Ivy 4)
Teryl Rothery (Arrow)
Steve Makaj (IT)
Roger Cross (First Wave)
William Russ (American History X)
Harley Jane Kozak (Santa Barbara)
Gabrielle Miller (Highlander: The Series)
Bobbie Phillips (Two Guys and a Girl)
Galyn Gorg (Robocop 2)
Tamsin Kelsey (Needful Things)
James Earl Jones (Star Wars)
Keene Curtis (Lois & Clark)
Elizabeth Hoffman (Sisters)
Paul McGillion (Stargate: Atlantis)
Tony Amendola (The Mask of Zorro)
Katie Stuart (She’s The Man)
Tobin Bell (Boogeyman 2)
Ronny Cox (Robocop)
Douglas Arthurs (Act of War)
Bonnie Bartlett (Firefly)
Dwight Schultz (The A-Team)
Tobias Mehler (Wishmaster 3)
Peter Bryant (Dark Angel)
Chris Owens (Red)
Erick Avari (Heroes)
Tom McBeath (Bates Motel)
Sarah Douglas (Superman 2)
JR Bourne (Arrow)
Christina Cox (Earth: Final Conflict)
Matthew Walker (Highlander: The Series)
Eric Breker (X-Men Origins)
Marshall R. Teague (Armageddon)
Colin Cunningham (Elektra)
Carmen Argenziano (Identity)
Amber Rothwell (Andromeda)
Tom Butler (Blade: The Series)
Samantha Ferris (Along Came a Spider)
Mitchell Kosterman (Smallville)
Andrew Airlie (Final Destination 2)
Britt Irvin (V)
Ty Olsson (Izombie)
Sam J. Jones (Flash Gordon)
Dion Johnstone (The Core)
Megan Leitch (IT)
Jason Gray-Stanford (Bones)
William deVry (Earth: Final Conflict)
David Palffy (Blade: The Series)
Garwin Sanford (The Fly 2)
Kevin Durand (Dark Angel)
Terry Chen (Bates Motel)
Steve Bacic (Andromeda)
Anne Marie DeLuise (Smallville)
Rene Auberjonois (Star Trek: DS9)
Musetta Vander (Buffy)
Vanessa Angel (Puppet Master vs Demonic Toys)
Marina Sirtis (Star Trek: TNG)
Alessandro Juliani (Smallville)
Brian Markinson (Arrow)
Peter Wingfield (Highlander: The Series)
Willie Garson (White Collar)
Matthew Bennett (Battlestar Galactica)
Steven Williams (Jason Goes To Hell)
Anna-Louise Plowman (Shanghai Knights)
Paul Koslo (The Flash 90s)
Dion Luther (The Net: The Series)
Christopher Cousins (The Vampire Diaries)
Michelle Harrison (The Flash)
Elisabeth Rosen (House of The Dead)
Hrothgar Mathews (Deception)
Bill Dow (Legends of The Fall)
Sean Patrick Flanery (Raging Angels)
John de Lancie (Star Trek: TNG)
John Prosky (The Devil Inside)
Colleen Rennison (The Story of Us)
Jacqueline Samuda (The L Word)
Larry Drake (Firefly)
Garry Chalk (Dark Angel)
Bill Marchant (Chappie)
Michael Deluise (Lost)
Jill Teed (Arrow)
Courtenay J. Stevens (Beach)
Grace Park (Battlestar Galactica)
David Kopp (Blade: The Series)
Cliff Simon (Days of Our Lives)
Jennifer Calvert (Earthsea)
Obi Ndefo (Angel)
Rick Worthy (The Vampire Diaries)
Danielle Nicolet (3rd Rock From The Sun)
David Hewlett (Splice)
Aleks Paunovic (Mortal Kombat Legacy)
Aaron Douglas (Battlestar Galactica)
Dorian Harewood (Termiantor: TSCC)
Ona Grauer (V)
Blu Mankuma (Tin Man)
Michael Eklund (Arrow)
Dean Stockell (Quantum Leap)
Patrick Mckenna (Robocop: The Series)
John Billingsley (Cold Case)
Michael Adamthwaite (Tru Calling)
Peter Stebbings (Bates Motel)
Gwynyth Walsh (Taken)
George Wyner (Spaceballs)
Kendall Cross (X-Men 2)
Ian Buchanan (Justice League Unlimited)
Tahmoh Penikett (Dollhouse)
G. Patrick Currie (Smallville)
Francois Chau (Lost)
Sarah Deakins (Andromeda)
David Paetkau (Flashpoint)
John Novak (Wishmaster 3 & 4)
Thomas Kopache (Catch Me If You Can)
Michael Welch (All The Boys Love Mandy Lane)
David Richmond-Peck (V)
Christopher Heyerdahl (Sanctuary)
James Parks (Kill Bill)
Michael Rooker (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Kavan Smith (Sanctuary)
Jolene Blalock (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Christine Adams (Agents of SHIELD)
Emily Holmes (Dark Angel)
David Deluise (Vampires Suck)
Sebastian Spence (First Wave)
Saul Rubinek (Memory Run)
Adam Baldwin (Chuck)
Peter Flemming (Love Sick)
James McDaniel (Sleepy Hollow)
Jessica Steen (Armageddon)
William Devane (The Dark Knight Rises)
Torri Higginson (Highlander: The Raven)
Kira Clavell (Ninja Turtles: Next Mutation)
Alisen Down (Smallville)
David Kaufman (Superman: TAS)
Amy Sloan (The Aviator)
James Kidnie (Arrow)
Erica Durance (Smallville)
Derek Hamilton (Out Cold)
Charles Shaughnessy (Sabrina: TTW)
Barclay Hope (Paycheck)
Dan Castellaneta (The Simpsons)
Isaac Hayes (South Park)
Mel Harris (Thirtysomething)
Clare Carey (Hercules: TLJ)
Lexa Doig (Andromeda)
April Telek (Supernatural)
Julian Sands (Gotham)
Louis Gossett Jr (The Punisher 80s)
Maury Chaykin (Andromeda)
Sonya Salomaa (Watchmen)
William B. Davis (The X-Files)
Robert Picardo (Star Trek: Voyager)
Cameron Bright (Running Scared)
Tony Todd (The Flash)
Anna Galvin (Caprica)
William Atherton (Die Hard)
Reed Diamond (Dollhouse)
Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters)
John Aylward (Alias)
Peter Shinkoda (Masked Rider)
Tamlyn Tomita (Highlander: The Series)
Tim Guinee (Iron Man)
Daniella Evangelista (Edgemont)
Michael Ironside (Total Recall)
John Noble (Sleepy Hollow)
Katharine Isabelle (Ginger Snaps)
Eric Steinberg (Terminator: TSCC)
Noah Danby (Bitten)
Jodelle Ferland (Kingdom Hospital)
Joe Flanigan (Thoughtcrimes)
Sarah Strange (Dark Angel)
David Nykl (Arrow)
Chuck Campbell (Jason X)
Keegan Connor Tracy (Bates Motel)
Corey Monteith (Glee)
Morena Baccarin (Gotham)
Rudolf Martin (Buffy)
Scott McNeil (Beast Wars)
Aisha Hinds (Cult)
Mike Dopud (X-Men: Days of Future Past)
Ron Canada (Wedding Crashers)
Craig Fairbrass (Termiantor: TSCC)
John Tench (Andromeda)
Fred Willard (Anchorman)
Jonathan Walker (Flash Gordon)

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.

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.
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. 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.

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.
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.
“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.

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.

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.

Many people believe that subsequent seasons of Stargate: SG1 get progressively better. So far, no arguement from me. Season 1 was good, 2 was better, and  season 3 is even better. Col. Jack O’Neill (Richard Dean Anderson), and his SG1 team of the now Maj. Samantha Carter (Amanda Tapping), Dr. Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks), and Teal’c (Christopher Judge) continued their adventures through the Stargate to various old and new planets. The team, as well as the SGC in general, were tested in many more ways than ever thought possible. The team went to “Hell” in order to save Sam’s dad, who is still a member of the Tok’Ra resistance, Daniel suffered a major loss, and O’Neill was blended, albeit briefly, with a Goa’uld. One of the reasons that I personally liked this year was that many of last year’s conflicts were resolved (Lenea, Destroyer of Worlds), which made room for new plotlines (the Replicators), as well as continuing old ones (the search for the Harsesis child).

This is also the season when SG1 truly realizes that they truly have allies in their fight against the Goa’uld; the Asgard helped form a treaty between Earth and the Goa’uld, the Tok’Ra continue to offer their assistance and wisdom, the Nox have begun to reestablish contact with the SGC, and the Tollan.


Other good episodes include “Into the Fire”, “Fair Game”, “Legacy”, “Learning Curve”, “Point of View”, “Past and Present”, “Jolinar’s Memories”, “The Devil You Know”, “Foothold”, “Urgo”, “Shades of Grey”, “New Ground”, and “Nemesis”. Judging by the increase in quality each season.

he Replicators. The Russians. The Aschen. These are only a few of the new enemies presented this year, in Stargate: SG-1 (okay, so technically, the Replicators were introduced last year). These new baddies made a lot of trouble this year for the SGC in what is definitely the best season yet. We learn more about the Replicators this year when Sam (Amanda Tapping) is brought to an Asgard-controlled planet to help defend the O’Neill, the Asgard’s newest and most advanced ship ever. Also, the Russians retrieve the Giza gate from the bottom of the ocean from when Thor’s ship, the Beliskner, crashed, while the SGC is now using the Antarctica gate. And, 10 years in the future, an advanced race, known as the Aschen, are quietly wiping out the human race by making humans infertile.


These are just a handful of the amazing new stories that occurred this year. It seems that Col. O’Neill (Richard Dean Anderson), Maj. Carter, Dr. Jackson (Michael Shanks), and Teal’c (Christopher Judge) can never catch a break. This year, not only have their alien enemies become more powerful than ever, especially Apophis (Peter Williams), their enemies on Earth have truly become a threat. Senator Kinsey (Ronny Cox), the man who tried to shut down the SGC in Season 1, has been linked to the rogue sector of the NID, the civillian organization responsible for the theft of numerous alien technologies over the last few years.


The stories this year are better than ever, especially with an increasing number of arcs occurring. Episodes like “Crossroads” and “The Serpent’s Venom” were expertly executed, and had immense emotional effects on our heroes. However, I have to praise the stand-alones this year, especially “Window of Opportunity” and “The Other Side”, which have never been better.

Some other great episodes are: “Small Victories”, “Upgrades”, “Watergate”, “Point of No Return”, “Tangent”, “The Curse”, “Chain Reaction”, “2010”, “Absolute Power”, “Double Jeopardy”, and “Exodus”.

The year began with a cool premiere, “Enemies”,  There were some amazing story developments this year, beginning with the final demise of Apophis (Peter Williams), the Goa’uld System Lord who has been making life difficult for the SGC ever since the first season. Next, the Tollan, an extremely advanced race of humans who are allied with Earth, begin acting suspiciously, the SGC begins recruiting new officers, the motives of the Aschen from last season are revealed, the Tok’Ra are nearly destroyed, and the Jaffa rebellion begins to truly become a problem for the System Lords.

And then, Daniel is brought to a System Lord summit where he has the chance to wipe out the Goa’uld threat forever, that is until he learns of the return of Anubis, an ancient System Lord who was banished for his horrific crimes. Also, we finally learn the origins of the Replicators. Finally, SG-1 must endure a change that they never thought would happen in the episode “Meridian”, and then, Anubis and Osirus (Anna-Louise Plowman) reveal plans to attack the Asgard.


This is a very important season, good episodes include: “Enemies”, “Threshold”, “Between Two Fires”, “2001”, “Wormhole X-Treme”, “Proving Ground”, “Summit”, “Last Stand”, “The Warrior”, “Menace”, “Meridian”, and “Revelations”.

The season begins with SG-1 still trying to find a fourth man. Ever since the death/ascension of Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks), they have been unable to find a suitable replacement. Refugee Jonas Quinn (Corinn Nemec) has expressed a desire to join, but Col. O’Neill (Richard Dean Anderson) never seemed to warm up to the idea. Also, Anubis (David Paffly) has found a machine created by the Ancients that uses one stargate to destroy another, and he used it to attempt to destroy Earth.

Using the new X-302, a craft capable of aerial combat and intersellar travel, O’Neill successfully avoids disaster, but the Antarctica gate is destroyed. After that, we don’t see Anubis for a while, but the threat of his powers is always hanging over the heads of the SGC.


With Jonas as the new member of SG-1, the team embarks on another year of amazing missions. This year, we see the end of the exiled System Lord Niirti, known for her attempts to create a superior human host through genetic experimentation, we are introduced to some technology of the Furlings, one of the members of the intergalactic UN group who rallied against the goa’uld, Earth’s first interstellar capital ship, Prometheus is unvailed, the Replicator threat is ended, and, in one of my favorite episodes, Gen. Hammond (Don S. Davis) discloses the existence of the SGC to representitives of the UK, France, and China.


Some great episodes include “Redemption Pts. 1 and 2”, “Descent”, “Nightwalkers”, “Abyss”, “Shadow Play”, “Allegiance”, “Prometheus”, “Unnatural Selection”, “Smoke and Mirrors”, “Disclosure”, “The Changeling”, and “Full Circle”, the best episode of the season.

That is the season when Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks) returns from being an ascended being, albeit on an alien world without his memory (“Fallen”). This required getting rid of Jonas Quinn (Corin Nemec) to get the old gang back together again, which happens when Anubis download Jonas’ memory and the Goa’uld attack Kelowna (“Homecoming”). Wisely, this is not the last appearance of Jonas for the season (“Fallout”) as he becomes another one of recurring guest characters that are a major strength of the series.

There are several Daniel Jackson stories that make a point of giving the actor interesting things to do, such as “Lifeboat,” where his mind becomes a resting place for a bunch of alien minds, “Enemy Mine,” which requires Jackson to show diplomatic skills, and big time flashbacks in “Chimera,” to before Daniel first saw the Stargate.

Overall, Season 7 is really Samantha Carter’s season and Amanda Tapping has several episodes where she pretty much goes it alone. “Space Race” has her joining an alien pilot for a little intergalactic competition, while “Death Knell” finds Carter being hunted by the supers soldiers of Anubis after an attack on Earth’s secret off-world base. In “Grace” Carter literally ends up alone when the Prometheus is attacked and she wakes up to find herself the only one on a ship drifting in deep space. The other characters show up as the angels of her better nature, which is the only way that Sam and Jack are ever going to have an honest conversation.

The whole Anubis/Lost City bit ends up being equal parts time to beat another bigger and badder system lord and find a fitting end point for the series that can also work as a transition to the spinoff.

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.

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!
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.

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.

Avalon, Part 1 is a great season opener, introduces  new kid on the block Ben Browder,  as the season progresses the character is definitely fleshed out more and he soon fits in nicely with the tightly-knit S.G.1 team.

However, the bottom line is that this is still a character who bares a striking similarity in disposition to Browder’s other well-known TV personality- Farscape’s John Crichton- with that same irreverent humor and easy-going attitude, but it’s a style that clearly works for Browder and it’s difficult not to find that likable. Beau Bridges’ introduction is made with equally good fanfare, his character is one who I found myself liking more readily- he approaches the role of the General of the base differently to Don S. Davis, with more of an every man approach, although he never hesitates to exert the full force of his office against unfriendly aliens, or humans when required.

Largely thanks to the development of this season’s main story-arc with the introduction of God-wannabes the Ori and their powerful minions known as Priors, this ninth season becomes surprisingly mesmerising in very short order. Beginning with the concluding part and then into episode 3- `Origin’, this season soon establishes itself as one of the best `Stargate: S.G.1′ offerings in years. The use of Arthurian legend in this season is spread pretty thickly in the beginning and had me worried that this fantasy element might not work in a predominantly science-fiction-oriented series, but very soon the parallels the writers draw between the Arthurian myth and the familiar Stargate set-up, become very inventive and come to work surprisingly well at contrasting against the new and growing force of evil spreading through the galaxy. In the first five episodes that other recognizable `Farscape’ regular Claudia Black and her seductively disobedient alter-ego Vala are another reason to be enchanted by this season. Vala brings such humor and life to the series that I was really disappointed when she parted company with S.G.1, despite the welcome return of Sam Carter following her brief career change. Thankfully Vala returns towards the end of the season and here’s hoping it’s not the last we see of her.

This season’s other major success is in its stand-alone stories that continue to present unique, punchy and creative sci-fi ideas to its audience. In particular episode 9- `Prototype’ and episode 13- `Ripple Effect’ are a couple of my favourites, the first of which concerns the discovery of a prodigy of Anubis frozen on a distant planet and the second has multiple S.G.1 teams pouring through the Stargate from diverse alternate realities , both of which had me glued to my seat.

Largely thanks to Vala (Claudia Black) who’s as charming as she is side-splittingly, ingeniously, flirtatiously funny and who now becomes a credited member of the main cast, season ten gets off to a brilliant start  as the action picks up right where the previous season left-off with episode 1- Flesh and Blood and doesn’t decrease in pace.

It explores the continued threat of the Ori and their ever-increasing capture and control of worlds unable to mount any effective resistance against such a seemingly omnipotent foe. Episode 3- The Pegasus Project  is also very gripping with a finale that’s both surprising and tantalizing.

episodes 10- The Quest, Part I and 11- The Quest, Part II both of which work well in continuing SG-1’s discovery & unravelling of Arthurian-inspired mysteries surrounding their search for a weapon capable of destroying their enemy. Episode 14- The Shroud  sees Daniel in a unique position to deal a crippling blow to the Ori, which is also solid.

while episode 20- Unending is a wonderful episode- with a story that’s not just dramatic, but explores sides to the main characters never seen before, it ends the season with so much unresolved that it’s difficult to appreciate this tenth season as it should be appreciated as the final outing of SG-1. Obviously a great deal has been withheld to be used in the TV movie The Ark of Truth.

REVIEW: BATMAN BEYOND – SEASON 1-3

 

 

CAST (VOICES)

Will Friedle (Boy Meets World)
Kevin Conroy (Batman: TAS)
Teri Garr (Young Frankenstein)
Ryan O’Donohue (A Bug’s Life)
Lauren Tom (Futurama)
Cree Summer (Inspector Gadget)
Seth Green (Family Guy)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Michael Gross (Tremors)
Sherman Howard (Superboy)
George Takei (Star Trek)
Sam McMurray (Drop Dead Gorgeous)
CCH Pounder (Avatar)
Clyde Kusatsu (The Interpreter)
Frank Welker (Transformers)
Marc Worden (Ultimate Avengers)
Rino Romano (The Batman)
Corey Burton (Transformers)
Shannon Kenny (7th Heaven)
Stockard Channing (Grease)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Clevland Show)
Melissa Dinsey (In A World..)
Scott McAfee (Midnight Run)
Bill Smitrovich (Ted)
Pauley Perrette (The Ring)
Linda Hamilton (Chuck)
Michael Ansara (Star Trek)
Tress Macneille (Futurama)
Chris Mulkey (Whiplash)
Olivia d’Abo (Conan The Destroyer)
Amanda Donahue (Liar Liar)
George Lazenby (Gettysburg)
Scott Cleverdon (The Prophecy 3)
Brian George (The Big Bang Theory)
Ian Ziering (Sharknado)
Larry Drake (Firefly)
Jon Cypher (Masters of The Universe)
Vernee Watson (The Big Bang Theory)
Dorian Harewood (Gothika)
William H. Macy (The Cooler)
Kimmy Robertson (Stuart Little)
Paul Winfield (The Termiantor)
Miguel Sandoval (Medium)
Ice-T (Tank Girl)
Lindsay Sloane (The Other Guys)
Stephen Collins (No Ordinary Family)
Ethan Embry (Eagle Eye)
Rider Strong (Cabin fever)
Stacy Keach (Two and a Half Men)
Carl Lumbly (Alias)
Daphne Zuniga (Spaceballs)
Sarah Douglas (Superman)
Jason Marsden (Full House)
Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville)
Henry Rollins (Wrong Turn 2)
Kate Jackson (Charlie’s Angels)
Shiri Appleby (Roswell)
Dan Castellaneta (The Simpsons)
Tim Curry (IT)
John Ritter (bride of Chucky)
Rachael Leigh Cook (Antitrust)
Adam Wylie (Superman Doomsday)
Michael McKean (This Is Spinal Tap)
Andy Dick (Dude, Where’s My Car?)
Gary Cole (Chuck)
Kerrigan Mahan (Power Rangers)
Johnny Galecki (The Big Bang Theory)
Chris Demetral (Lois & Clark)
Patton Oswalt (Caprica)
Mitch Pileggi (Stargate: Atlantis)
Curtis Armstrong (American Dad)
Bumper Robinson (Sabrina: TTW)
Eli Marienthal (American Pie)
Angie Harmon (Agent Cody Banks)
Robert Patrick (Terminator 2)
Olivia Hussey (Black Christmas)
David Warner (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Adrienne Barbeau (Swamp Thing)
Farrah Forke (Lois & Clarke)
Christopher McDonald (Fanboys)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Alexlis Denisof (Angel)
Diedrich Bader (Batman: TBATB)
Julie Nathanson (The Zeta Project)
Kurtwood Smith (That 70s Show)
Keone Young (Crank)
Keith Szarabajka (The Dark Knight)
Sean Marquette (13 Going on 30)


Fifty years after Batman: The Animated Series came to a close, Gotham City is without a protector. Failing health and a chilling act of desperation prompted Bruce Wayne to give up Batman’s cape and cowl, and the corporation that had stayed in his family for generations has been wrest from him by a corporate raider named Derek Powers. Never married and abandoned by his sidekicks, the elderly, embittered Wayne lurks inside a sprawling mansion that seems more like a mausoleum than the stately manor of old. Derek Powers is using the remnants of WayneCorp to illegally manufacture an endlessly destructive but extremely profitable nerve gas, a secret that Wayne/Powers employee Warren McGinnis stumbles upon and pays for with his life. His troubled son Terry blames himself for the murder, but a chance encounter with Bruce Wayne results in the theft of a Batman suit brimming with cutting-edge technology and the revelation of the man truly responsible for his father’s death. By the time the two-part episode “Rebirth” is over, Bruce Wayne has agreed to guide Terry as the new Batman, and an irradiated Derek Powers is a walking fusion reactor.batman-beyondBatman: The Animated Series, Superman, and Justice League all drew heavily from the established mythos, but Batman Beyond is a largely original creation. Sure, there are quite a few nods to the original series — it’s still set in Gotham City, Barbara Gordon has taken the mantle of police commissioner, and there are winks to fans like the Grey Ghost costume in the Batcave.
Terry McGinnis is a very different lead character than Bruce Wayne was in Batman: The Animated Series. In the previous series, it seemed more as if Batman was who this man really was and Bruce Wayne was just an occasionally convenient mask for him to wear. Terry is seen out of costume much more frequently than Bruce ever was and feels like more of a fleshed-out character. He has friends, he has family, and he has a life outside of the pointy-eared hood. Gotham City is still teeming with bad guys, but even though Batman has been transplanted to the future, he’s not squaring off against Joker II or The Riddler Redux. The rogue’s gallery of this futuristic Batman doesn’t lift much from the previous animated series or even from the comics. The only familiar faces are Mr. Freeze, The Royal Flush Gang, and, briefly and unrecognizably, Bane. The other villains are original creations with some striking character designs, such as the amorphous corporate saboteur Inque, sound-engineer-with-a-power-suit Shriek, and the hypnotic Spellbound. This season also doesn’t rehash the same villains over and over again, with Inque being the only badnik other than Derek Powers’ Blight to strike more than once.

 


Several of the supervillains aren’t costumed-threats-of-the-week, but ordinary people in extraordinary situations: Willie Watt in “Golem” is a nerdy high schooler who seizes control of a two-story-tall construction robot to exact revenge on the bullies who torment him, and “The Winning Edge” is about high school athletes using steroids yet deftly avoids playing like ‘a very special episode of Batman Beyond’. One thing Batman’s adversaries, costumed and plainclothes alike, have in common is their origins. Nearly all of the villains in Batman Beyond are born of tragedy or greed, and that gives these episodes more of a resonance than something like The Joker pumping Gotham City with laughing gas for no reason in particular.

Another stand-out is “Shriek”, pitting Batman against an enemy whose technology enables him to manipulate sound. One of the most inventive sequences in the entire run of the series is set in a car factory where Batman starts setting off every piece of equipment in arm’s reach as a distraction. Shriek uses his technology to block out the noise and isolate Batman’s movements, resulting in an almost entirely silent battle with no dialogue, few sound effects, and a sparse, subtle score.

This first season of Batman Beyond is remarkably consistent, offering perhaps the strongest debut of any DC animated series to date.

Batman Beyond—Season Two would be ambitious and further expand the adventures of Terry McGinnis, the new Dark Knight of the Gotham City’s future, but it would also be quite different from the first season in several ways. For one thing,  the creators had killed off Terry arch nemesis Derek Powers (a.k.a. Blight) at the end of season and despite having a cliffhanger ending, the character never returned for season two, or season three for that matter. In fact, the fundamental change between the two seasons was that the network requested more episodes be written around Terry and the kids he interacted with in his high school, instead of focusing on a corporate espionage subplot like in the previous season. The producers did not argue with this as it was more or less the direction they were interested in going too. The network also wanted the show to introduce a stronger female character that could assist Terry in his mission as Batman. The not led to the creation of new supporting character Maxine “Max” Gibson, a beautiful and intelligent girl at Terry’s high school who would discover his secret in her first episode and would become one of his allies for the rest of the series. She was always intended to be her own character and not a placeholder for Robin, Batgirl, Alfred or anyone from the classic Batman supporting cast. Most of Terry’s teenage peers like Dana Tan, Chelsea Cunningham, Blade Summer and Nelson Nash came back in this season and is some cases got slightly more prominent roles. But there was also at least one more friend of Terry’s introduced named Howard Groote, a nerdy comic relief who design was, amusingly, inspired by producer/writer Paul Dini.

As for villains this season, many characters like the Jokerz gang, Ten of the Royal Flush Gang, Spellbinder, Willie Watt, Shriek and Curare return for further episodes. But there were also several new villains introduced, though unfortunately many of them were only one-time threats and did not become members of terry’s recurring rogues gallery. The three major recurring villains introduced this season were the Stalker, a cybernetically-enhanced big-game hunter who sees Batman as his ultimate prey, the insanely liberal bomber Mad Stan, and the terrorist snake cult known as Kobra). Memorable one-shot villains include gene splicer Dr. Able Cuvier, the A.I. ‘ghost’ of a former corporate mogul who takes control of the Batsuit, a rat boy named Patrick that kidnaps Dana, the father of one of Terry’s friends who becomes a supervillain named Armory, a burly woman named Mom Mayhem and her two sons, a snobby gossip reporter using invisibility technology, and a vigilante named Payback who takes his revenge against tormentors of troubled teenagers too far.

Overall, Batman Beyond—Season Two is twice and big as the first season, and just as strong.

The episodes in this final release aren’t as dark as some of the great shows in the first box, but they’re still very exciting. The villains don’t have that tragic quality which translated so well from the regular Batman universe, but this lack of atmosphere is made up for with a great sense of adventure and fun.

“The Call”, for example, is a fantastic two-parter that sees Batman team-up with a future Justice League – it’s probably too much to assume that this “Justice League Unlimited” was a conscious forbearer to the actual series, but it’s certainly a great cartoon-geek moment. In the episode, Terry McGuiness uproots a villain who conspires to take over the JLU  in a suspenseful story that has a great connection to the original comic book origin of the League.

But the champion episode of the box – and perhaps the series – is “Out of The Past” (would it surprise you to learn that it’s penned by Paul Dini?). Not only does the episode bring back two excellent characters from Bruce Wayne’s past, Ra’s Al Ghul and Talia, and not only does it do it in a way that resonates with both Batman and Bruce, but it’s got, hands down, one of the best tongue-in-cheek moments in the entire DC Animated Universe. It is the stories, and their execution, where the true appeal of these episodes lies. Sure there’s a great setting and a great character, but each of these mini sci-fi/fantasy stories is a very fun and exciting peak into a great imaginary world. Sure, one that happens to borrow a lot from the Batman mythology, but it’s the show’s imaginative qualities that make it a unique world that translates perfectly to the cartoon form.

While the traditional episode structure does tend to bore, it also does its job. Furthermore, the imaginative fight scenes – whether they be with a villain who is physically untouchable, or a fight in a giant wind tunnel – will keep your attention long after more kinetic, but ultimately rote new series have lost their appeal.


A major sticking point to this set is the lack of a satisfactory conclusion. The series was rather abruptly put to a stop after its checkpoint 52-episode run in 2001. It wasn’t until Justice League Unlimited’s Season Four finale, “Epilogue”, that Batman Beyond was given a proper send-off. But what a send-off it was! After you finish this set it is highly recommended that you seek out the aforementioned episode. While this box’s closer, “Unmasked”, is a nice story, it’s not the series finale that, ironically – yet thankfully – another series would provide.  Batman Beyond was born out of a WB executive’s desire to cash in on a popular and recognizable franchise. Because of the fantastic people behind the show, what might have been a hollow concept was turned into something fresh, imaginative, and very worthwhile.

REVIEW: V – THE FINAL BATTLE

CAST

Marc Singer (Beastmaster)
Faye Grant (Drive Me Crazy)
Jane Badler (One Life To Live)
Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street)
Michael Durrell (Sister Act)
Peter Nelson (Die Hard 2)
Michael Ironside (Total Recall)
David Packer (Robocop)
Neva Patterson (An Affair To Remember)
Blair Tefkin (Greenburg)
Michael Wright (The Interpreter)
Denise Galik (Two For The Money)
Jason Bernard (Liar Liar)
Frank Ashmore (Airplane!)
Andrew Prine (The Road West)
Viveka Davis (Timecode)
Jenny O’Hara (Mystic River)
Sarah Douglas (Superman 1 &2)
Mickey Jones (Sling Blade)
Dick Miller (Gremlins)

Kenneth Johnson’s miniseries V was a huge May Sweeps success for NBC back in ’83. His story of alien invaders was a smartly veiled allegory for the unspeakable tyranny of the Nazi regime and the corrupting influence of power. But when the network clamoured for a longer sequel on a tighter budget and timetable, well, Johnson opted out and, sadly, it shows. V: The Final Battle (1984, 267 minutes) revels in constantly ripping off the lizards’ phony human faces and showing them tossing live critters down their gullets, while dramatically upping the gunplay, explosions and, in turn, the body count. Sure there’s some lip service paid to the not-so-niceness of fascism, the moral dilemma of abortion and especially relevant today, the sobering horrors of biological warfare.

When last we saw Julie and Donovan (Faye Grant and Marc Singer) they’d led their rag-tag resisters through a successful Visitor scale tanning, thus providing some measure of hope for an end to E.T. tyranny. Well, not so fast. There’s nearly five more hours to fill. This produces three cliffhanger’d together episodes of our plucky human heros cooking up and executing schemes to rain on the reptilian parade. First up, they decide to expose the alien conspiracy by yanking off Supreme Commander John’s doughy mug mid-press conference (Richard Herd). Later, they attack a pumping station that’s sucking the Earth’s oceans aboard the Visitor mothership. Then, as the title implies, there’s the final battle involving red talcum powder.

New comer Michael Ironside  stomps into the resistance group with the subtlety of a drunken Clydesdale and takes to telling everyone what clueless yahoos they are. And he’s RIGHT most of the time! As Ham Tyler, his checkered, mercenary past and gaggle of TNT-happy goons provide Julie’s neuvo-guerillas some much needed education in carnage creation.

There’s also the inevitable return of Robert Englund as Willie, everyone’s favorite cuddly value-sized iguana, who still can’t quite grasp the English language. Lizard Queen Diana (Jane Badler) now spends much of her time honing her bitchery by making humans wear unflattering white tights whilst subjecting them to her riotously absurd Brainwash-O-Tron. But the biggest jaw dropper of the miniseries is Robin (Blair Tefkin) offered herself up in the original as a one-woman welcoming party and got herself knocked up with a space-alien baby. When Ms. Horny Toad sprouts ghastly scales around her neck, it’s a pretty goldang strong indication the delivery ain’t gonna be anywhere near a Hallmark moment!