REVIEW: TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES – SEASON 1 & 2

SarahConnorChronicles

MAIN CAST

Lena Headey (Game of Thrones)
Thomas Dekker (Heroes)
Summer Glau (Arrow)
Richard T. Jones (Godzilla)
Brian Austin Green (Anger Management)
Leven Rambin (The Hunger Games)
Garret Dillahunt (Winter’s Bone)
Shirley Manson (Knife Fight)
RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Owain Yeoman (Supergirl)
Sonya Walger (Flashforward)
Nick Wechsler (Roswell)
Dean Winters (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)
Charlayne Woodard (The Crucible)
Tony Amendola (Annabelle)
Sasha Roiz (Caprica)
Jonathan Sadowski (Friday the 13th)
Brendan Hines (Lie To Me)
Catherine Dent (Taken)
Alessandra Torresani (The Big Bang Theory)
Tiya Sircar (The Vampire Diaries)
Andy Umberger (Angel)
Lee Thompson Young (Smallville)
Neil Hopkins (Lost)
Peter Mensah (Spartacus)
Bruce Davison (High Crimes)
Karina Logue (Scream: The Series)
Craig Fairbrass (Cliffhanger)
Dean Norris (Breaking Bad)
Zack Ward (Transformers)
Busy Philipps (The Smokers)
Leah Pipes (The Originals)
Jon Huertas (Sabrina: TTW)
Mackenzie Brooke Smith (Supergirl)
Dorian Harewood (Earth: Final Concflict)
Stephanie Jacobsen (Alex Cross)
Adam Busch (Buffy)
Richard Schiff (The Cape)
Eric Steinberg (Stargate SG.1)
Todd Stashwick (The Originals)
Rebecca Creskoff (Bates Motel)
Carlos Jacott (Firefly)
Samantha Krutzfeldt (A Mann’s World)
Connor Trinneer (Stargate: Atlantis)
Chad Lindberg (The Fast and The Furious)
Chad L. Coleman (Arrow)

When we first heard that FOX was making a Terminator series, we mostly groaned and rolled our eyes. It just sounded like a bad idea and a cynical ploy to capitalize on a flagging movie property. What’s more, when you think of Terminator, you think of big movies with huge effects and action sequences that set new standards. You don’t think of “Terminators of the Week” battling on smaller screens with tighter budgets.

 It was the first regular episode after the pilot that I feel the show really came into its own. That’s when the tone of the series was established, the more deliberate and introspective pace. Summer Glau’s performance as Cameron changed a bit.
 It’s the mark of a good show when, one by one, all of your issues are accounted for. In the episode Heavy Metal John does what he has to do despite Sarah’s overprotection. He’s becoming the leader he needs to become, and when Sarah says it’s too soon, Cameron says something to the effect of “Is it? The world ends in 4 years…” At the same time, Sarah came to value Cameron’s strategic value. She might not trust her (and should she?), but she no longer denies her the tactical advantage they have when using her.
As for the missing Terminator parts, the show picked up the ball there and ran with it. Agent Ellison finds the missing hand, and destroying the Terminator Cameron disabled becomes a great scene and establishes the use of thermite. When a show proves to you that it’s got the bases covered, and that it isn’t being sloppy with its storytelling – it gains your confidence and makes tuning in each week that much more satisfying. Terminator pulled this off in just nine episodes – which is remarkable considering they had only so much time and never planned on having such a short season because of the writers strike. There were a number of stylistic flourishes throughout the show that demonstrated how the series was different from the movies, and that this wasn’t going to be a show that was afraid to strike out on its own. Sarah’s dream where she assassinates the creators of the atomic bomb was particularly inspired. Bruce Davison (as Dr. Silberman) describing in awed rapture the events from T2 was a terrific bridge between this series and one of the most famous sequences of the entire franchise. The series ended on a high note, with Johnny Cash’s “The Man Comes Around” playing while a Terminator does what Terminators do. Only this time it’s done in a stylistically original way. It’s another scene that serves as an example of how the show stepped out on its own. It shows a level of creative maturity not usually found in franchised properties.
Then there’s the introduction of Brian Austin Green as Derek Reese. This was a decision that had us – and other fans – concerned that the show was making a big mistake. Why Green? It seems there could have been dozens, if not hundreds of other actors to take on this role. Actors who didn’t play the keyboard wielding dweeb on Beverly Hills 90210. Yet, again, the show proved worthy of our confidence and trust. Green did an excellent job, and played Reese not as your standard badass, but instead a man of emotional depth who had been turned into a soldier because the world around him fell apart.
Green’s best moments came in the finale. First, he uses a little girl to creatively settle a hostage situation. Then, he takes John to the park to celebrate his birthday. Without getting specific, there’s a touching moment, playing on the time travel device. “Happy Birthday,” Derek says, and leaves it at that. It’s an emotional note that was never quite achieved in the movies – and proof that the episodic format allows for greater complexity and character development than we’ve seen in the franchise. It’s also encouraging that the characters had become so resonant in these early episodes – and bodes well for the future.
No one likes to see a good show go under, especially just as it’s approaching new heights, and the recent cancellation of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008-2009) proved almost equally disheartening. At least the latter had a fighting chance, though: the mid-season replacement pulled down great numbers at first, but its popularity rapidly declined during the initial nine-episode run. Higher production costs didn’t help matters, either…yet Chronicles was renewed for a full-sized second season, where it expanded the series’ mythology and tossed in a few stand-alone episodes. Featuring plenty of terrific characters, tense action and special effects on par with Hollywood blockbusters, there was plenty to like…but roughly a month after the season finale aired, it was confirmed that the series wouldn’t return.
Nonetheless, this second and final season stands as one of the better stretches of television in recent memory. In an accompanying behind-the-scenes featurette, creator Josh Friedman admits that the cast and crew had no idea that Season 1 would end where it did—but you’d never know from watching, since the series stops and re-starts so seamlessly. Opening adventure “Samson and Delilah” kicks things off in a major way, punctuated by a gripping slow-motion sequence set to a musical cover by Shirley Manson of Garbage fame. Speaking of Manson, she’s front and center this season as Catherine Weaver, the mysterious leader of ZeiraCorp, a growing corporation with an interest in advanced technology. She’s eventually joined by former FBI agent James Ellison (Richard T. Jones); Ellison acts as her head of security and a mentor to ZeiraCorp’s experimental computer, who’s known as “John Henry”. Though more intelligent and efficient than the world’s greatest minds put together, this powerful entity is still a child learning about the the world and the humans in it.
Naturally, such a vague company—especially one with its hands in high-tech gadgetry—soon ends up on the radar of Sarah Connor (Lena Headey), who continues to forge onward with her son John (Thomas Dekkar), John’s uncle Derek Reese (Brian Austin Green) and Cameron, a Terminator sent from the future to aid them. New to the crowd are Jesse Flores (Stephanie Jacobsen) and Riley Dawson (Leven Rambin); both serve as love interests to Derek and John respectively…but like Catherine Weaver, they seem to have somewhat questionable pasts. Far more than the typical good-versus-evil formula that typically dominates modern sci-fi, The Sarah Connor Chronicles takes a decidedly different approach: it focuses on human existence and emotion as much as firefights and chase sequences. The formula works amazingly well during this season of 22 episodes.
 After the blistering “Samson and Delilah”, things don’t let up for a while. “Automatic for the People” introduces Riley and takes our heroes inside a nuclear power plant—but a major clue is unearthed, as Sarah discovers a list of events, places and other clues about Skynet, the company that Sarah believes will bring about Judgment Day. “Mousetrap” is a standout episode for a number of reasons: not only does it push the story further onward, but it’s one of the more suspenseful and exciting episodes in the bunch. “Allison from Palmdale” stands tall as a solid origin story for Cameron, while the extended “Goodbye to All That” sends John and Derek on a field trip with a Terminator model 888 in hot pursuit. These episodes—and several others, of course—show how much Season 2 has expanded the story’s scope. Well over half the episodes are shot on location in various parts of California and beyond—and with the vague threat of ZeiraCorp looming overhead, tension remains high throughout the first half of the season.
As the season’s second half approaches, things start to get a little cloudy…both for the narrative itself and the show’s ratings, which gradually slid as the season progressed. “Self-Made Man” and “Alpine Fields” are two stand-alone episodes designed to draw in new fans, as the creative team felt that a continuous thrust forward would hurt the series’ chances of survival. Unfortunately, these two episodes are some of the least impressive: while decent enough on their own terms, they feel completely out of context and arrive at the wrong time. These may have added a few viewers, but I imagine they probably confused and frustrated those expecting the series to continue its steady pace forward. Nonetheless, “Earthlings Welcome Here” gets things back on track…but within the context of the series’ original broadcast dates, it may have come too late. This would be the last episode before the holiday break, with Chronicles returning two months later in the dreaded Friday night timeslot…which television fans refer to as “the kiss of death”.
It’s sad, really, because The Sarah Connor Chronicles really got back on its feet from that point onward. “The Good Wound” was much better suited to draw in new fans than a stand-alone episode: taking several cues from Terminator 2, this Sarah-centered adventure re-acquaints us with an important figure from her past. The next several episodes flesh out story elements introduced earlier in the season, as Sarah, John, Derek and Cameron set out to solve a mysterious factory explosion in the desert. After “Some Must Watch While Some Must Sleep”, Chronicles sprints to the finish line: Jesse and Riley’s pasts begin to unravel, John Henry and ZeiraCorp’s true intentions are revealed, Sarah and company head off into unfamiliar territory and several major characters meet their doom. It all culminates with “Born to Run”, which ends the series on a high note, tying up several loose ends but leaving others to the imagination. Poignant, clever and almost hopeful, it’s a fitting farewell to a series that was killed off too early.

Regardless, Warner Bros. has given The Sarah Connor Chronicles a strong send-off on DVD, as this second season arrives in a fully-loaded six-disc collection. The series’ crisp cinematography and ambitious sound mix—both of which feel more like big-screen efforts than typical TV fare—are supported by a solid technical presentation, while fans can also look forward to a collection of entertaining and informative bonus features. Though Friedman’s excellent series now joins the gone-too-early ranks

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REVIEW: THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW

 

 

CAST

Dennis Quaid (G.I. Joe)
Jake Gyllenhaal (Donnie Darko)
Emmy Rossum (Mystic River)
Dash Mihok (Gotham)
Jay O. Sanders (JFK)
Sela Ward (Independence Day: Resurgence0
Austin Nichols (One Tree Hill)
Arjay smith (Perception)
Tamlyn Tomita (Heroes)
Sasha Roiz (Caprica)
Ian Holm (the Hobbit)
Kenneth Welsh (The Aviator)
Amy Sloan (Gothika)

Paleoclimatologist Jack Hall and his colleagues, Frank and Jason, are drilling for ice-core samples on the Larsen Ice Shelf for NOAA when the shelf breaks apart. When Jack later presents his findings on global warming at a United Nations conference in New Delhi, he fails to convince diplomats or U.S. Vice President Raymond Becker. However, Professor Terry Rapson of the Hedland Climate Research Centre in Scotland believes in Jack’s theories. Several buoys in the North Atlantic simultaneously register a sharp drop in ocean temperature, and Rapson concludes that melting polar ice has begun to disrupt the North Atlantic Current. He contacts Jack, whose paleoclimatologic weather model demonstrates how climate changes caused the first ice age. His team, including NASA meteorologist Janet Tokada, builds a forecast model based on Jack’s findings.Around the world, violent weather causes widespread destruction; U.S. President Blake authorizes the FAA to halt air traffic due to severe turbulence. On the International Space Station, three astronauts see a storm system spanning the Northern Hemisphere which soon develops into three hurricane-like superstorms. The temperature of the eyes of the storms is −150 °F (−101 °C), instantly freezing anything in their paths. The cells, located over Canada, Scotland, and Siberia, will affect all of their respective continents within days. During this time, tornadoes destroy Los Angeles.In Manhattan, Jack’s son Sam learns about the worsening weather when he participates in an academic decathlon. Although Sam promises to be on the next train home, flooding quickly closes the subway and Grand Central Terminal as a storm surge strikes New York City. Sam and a large group of people seek shelter in the New York Public Library and his teammate, Laura Chapman, accidentally cuts her leg. In Scotland, Rapson and his colleagues at the Hedland Centre die in the European superstorm.As suggested by Jack, President Blake orders the evacuation of the southern United States (with most refugees heading for Mexico) and warns the northern half of the country to seek shelter. Jack and his team set out for Manhattan to find Sam; when their truck crashes a vehicle north of Philadelphia, the group continues on snowshoes. En route, Frank falls through the glass roof of a snow-covered shopping mall. As Jason and Jack try to pull him up, the glass under them continues cracking; Frank sacrifices himself by cutting the rope. Most of the group sheltered in the library leave (despite Sam’s warning) when the water outside freezes, leaving Sam, his friends, and a few others who trust him. They burn books to stay warm, and break into a vending machine for food. Sam admits his feelings for Laura (who has apparently caught a cold), and she reciprocates. At the U.S. refugee camp in Mexico, Becker learns that Blake died when his motorcade was enveloped by the superstorm and he is now the president.The next morning, Sam’s group determines that Laura has blood poisoning from the cut on her leg. Sam and two others search for penicillin in a derelict Russian cargo ship which drifted inland. Although they find food and supplies, they also encounter a pack of escaped wolves from a city zoo. The eye of the North American superstorm passes over the city, freezing it solid, and the three barely return to the library in time. Jack, also in the eye with an unconscious Jason, narrowly escapes the freeze himself in an abandoned restaurant.Days later, as the superstorms dissipate, Jack and Jason reach New York City and find Sam’s group alive. They radio the news to the U.S. government in exile in Mexico, and Becker orders rescue teams to search for other survivors in the northern states in his first address as president. On the ISS, astronauts look down in amazement at an Earth whose northern hemisphere is mostly covered by ice and snow.The special effects are excellent, and keep you entertained. While the script is below average and the acting is just OK. Overall its enjoyable but there just isn’t much here except good effects.

 

REVIEW: POMPEII

CAST
Kit Harrington (Game of Thrones)
Emily Browning (Sucker Punch)
Kiefer Sutherland (Phone Booth)
Carrie-Anne Moss (Jessica Jones)
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Lost)
Jessica Lucas (Gotham)
Jared Harris (Lincoln)
Currie Graham (Agent Carter)
Sasha Roiz (Caprica)
In Britannia, 62 AD, a tribe of Celtic horsemen are brutally wiped out by Romans led by Corvus (Kiefer Sutherland). The only survivor is a boy named Milo, whose mother Corvus killed personally. The boy is captured by slave traders. Seventeen years later, a slave owner named Graecus (Joe Pingue) watches a class of gladiators battle. He is unimpressed until he sees the grown Milo (Kit Harington), a talented gladiator the crowds call “the Celt”. Milo is soon brought to Pompeii with his fellow slaves. On the road, they see a horse fall while leading a carriage carrying Cassia (Emily Browning), returning after a year in Rome, and her servant Ariadne (Jessica Lucas). Milo kills the horse to end its suffering and Cassia is drawn to him. Cassia is the daughter of the city ruler Severus (Jared Harris) and his wife Aurelia (Carrie-Anne Moss). Severus is hoping to have the new Emperor Titus invest in plans to rebuild Pompeii but Cassia warns him of Rome becoming more corrupt. A servant named Felix (Dalmar Abuzeid) takes Cassia’s horse for a ride only to be swallowed up when a quake from Mount Vesuvius opens up the ground under him.
In Pompeii, Milo soon develops a rivalry with Atticus (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), a champion gladiator who, by Roman law, will be given his freedom after he earns one more victory. The gladiators are shown off at a party where Corvus, now a Senator, tells Severus the Emperor will not invest in his plans but he himself will. It is revealed Cassia left Rome to escape Corvus’s advances. When an earthquake causes some horses to become anxious, Milo helps calm one down. He then takes Cassia on a ride, telling her that they cannot be together. Returning to the villa, Corvus is ready to kill Milo (not recognizing him from the village massacre) but Cassia pleads for his life. Milo is lashed for his actions and Atticus admits respect for his rival as they prepare to face each other at the upcoming festival.
In the Amphitheatre of Pompeii, to punish Milo, Corvus orders him killed in the first battle and wicked trainer Bellator (Currie Graham) convinces Graecus to sacrifice Atticus as well. The two men, and other gladiators, are chained to rocks as other gladiators come out as Roman soldiers, to recreate Corvus’s victory over the Celts. Working together, Milo and Atticus survive the battle; Atticus realizes the Romans will never honor his freedom. During the battle, Corvus forces Cassia to agree to marry him by threatening to have her family killed for supposed treason against the Emperor. When Milo and Atticus win, Cassia defies Corvus by holding a “thumbs-up” for them to live and he has her taken to the villa to be locked up. Claiming an earthquake is a sign from Vulcan, Corvus has his officer Proculus (Sasha Roiz) fight Milo one-on-one. Their battle is interrupted when Mount Vesuvius erupts, creating massive tremors that causes the arena to collapse, sending Milo and Proculus crashing to the jail levels. Milo opens up the gates to allow his fellow gladiators a chance to attack; Proculus escapes while the gladiators kill Bellator. Seeing Corvus fallen under a collapsed beam, Severus tries to kill him, but Corvus stabs him and escapes.
The eruption causes flaming debris to rain down upon the city as the populace tries to flee to the harbor. One fireball destroys a ship, killing the escaping Graecus. Aurelia tells Milo that Cassia is at the villa before dying. Milo races to the villa and manages to save Cassia, but Ariadne is killed when the villa collapses into the sea. Corvus and Proculus kill civilians blocking their path to safety. Atticus tries to reach the harbor, but a tsunami created by the volcano smashes into the city, destroying the outer walls and smashing several ships. In the ensuing chaos, Atticus saves a mother and her young daughter, the trio running safely into the inner city as a ship brought in by the tsunami blocks the water from flooding the inner walls. Reuniting with Atticus, Milo suggests searching the arena for horses to escape. As the gladiators face Roman soldiers at the arena, Cassia sees to the bodies of her parents, only to be abducted by Corvus. Atticus has Milo chase after the chariot carrying the two while he faces off against Proculus. In the following duel, Atticus is mortally wounded, but he manages to break the blade and uses it to kill Proculus.
Milo chases Corvus across the city, both barely avoiding fireballs and collapsing roads and buildings. Cassia manages to free herself before the chariot crashes into the Temple of Apollo. Milo and Corvus duel as a fireball destroys the temple. Cassia chains Corvus to a building as Milo declares that his gods are coming to punish the Senator. Milo and Cassia ride off as a pyroclastic surge races down the volcano’s slopes and into the city, incinerating Corvus. At the arena, Atticus, seeing the flow approaching, proudly meets his fate, proclaiming that he dies a free man. At the city outskirts, the horse throws off Milo and Cassia. Milo tells Cassia to leave alone, as the horse isn’t fast enough to carry them both. Instead, she sends the horse off, not wanting to spend her last moments running as she knows that they will not survive. Milo kisses Cassia as the pyroclastic surge engulfs them. The last shot is of the duo’s petrified bodies, locked in an eternal embrace.
The acting was very good and I’m very pleased with the casting choice. I also like the opening scene set in Britannia, showing the origins of the main male protagonist Milo. The story line was a bit predictable, but over all still enjoyable.

REVIEW: 16 BLOCKS

CAST
Bruce Willis (Armageddon)
Mos Def (The Italian Job)
David Morse (Proof of Life)
Jenna Stern (Hitch)
Casey Sander (The Big Bang Theory)
Cylk Cozart (Eagle Eye)
David Zayas (Gotham)
Sasha Roiz (Caprica)
Jack Mosley (Bruce Willis) is an alcoholic, burned-out N.Y.P.D. detective. Despite a late shift the night before, his lieutenant orders him to escort a witness, Eddie Bunker (Mos Def), from local custody to the courthouse 16 blocks away to testify on a police corruption case before a grand jury at 10 a.m. Bunker tries to be friendly with Mosley, telling him of his aspirations to move to Seattle to become a cake baker with his sister whom he has never met, but Mosley is uninterested, and stops at a liquor store. They are suddenly ambushed by a gunman, and Mosley drags Bunker to a local bar to take shelter and call for backup. Mosley’s former partner, Frank Nugent (David Morse), and several other officers arrive. Nugent and his men have ulterior motives, telling Mosley that Bunker is not worth defending as his testimony will likely out several officers, including Nugent, who are involved in the corruption scheme, and they try to frame Bunker for firing at an officer before they kill him. Mosley intervenes, rescuing Bunker and fleeing.
Mosley briefly stops at his sister Diane’s (Jenna Stern) apartment to retrieve guns and ammo, and learns the police have already approached her about his activities today. He and Bunker take steps to further elude the police, and Mosley is wounded in the process. They become cornered in a run-down apartment building as Nugent and his men search floor by floor. Mosley calls the district attorney to arrange for help, but purposely gives the wrong apartment number, suspecting there is a mole involved. Mosley and Bunker are able to escape onto a passenger bus, and as the police follow them, Mosley is forced to treat the passengers as hostages. The bus crashes into a construction site and is soon surrounded by the ESU. Aware that Nugent will likely order the ESU to raid the bus, risking the safety of the passengers, Mosley allows the passengers to go free, using their cover to allow Bunker to sneak off the bus in the confusion. Mosley finds a tape recorder in the discarded possessions on the bus, and prepares a farewell message to Diane.
To his surprise, Bunker returns to the bus; while Nugent is ready to fire on him, Nugent is made to stand down by a superior officer. Bunker has come to see Mosley as his friend and wants to be there for him to see this through. Bunker’s tenacity convinces Mosley to get to the courthouse, and he manages to drive the bus into an alley, temporarily blocking the police from following them. He finds that Bunker has been wounded, and calls Diane, a Paramedic, to bring an ambulance around to help, despite knowing she will be followed. Diane cares for Mosley and Bunker’s wounds, though Bunker still needs further treatment at a hospital. As Diane’s ambulance drives away, the police stop her but discover the ambulance is empty; she had a second ambulance pick up Mosley and Bunker that would not be under similar surveillance. Meanwhile, Mosley reveals to Bunker that should he testify, not only will Nugent be convicted but so would Mosley as one of the corrupt cops. Mosley gets off a block from the courthouse and wishes Bunker luck with his bakery. Bunker promises to send him a cake on his birthday.
Mosley continues to the courthouse, where the police and ESU are waiting for him, as well as the district attorney. Mosley enters the courthouse building through the underground garage, encountering Nugent alone, who tries unsuccessfully to dissuade him from testifying in Bunker’s place. Mosley enters the courthouse proper, where one of Nugent’s men (David Zayas) tries to shoot Mosley but is killed by one of the ESU snipers. Mosley informs the district attorney that he will testify in exchange for Bunker having his record expunged, also revealing that he had recorded the conversation with Nugent in the garage on the tape recorder, which he submits as evidence. Two years later, Mosley is freed from prison from his reduced sentence, while Nugent and others wait out longer sentences. He celebrates his birthday with Diane and other friends, and is surprised to find that the cake had indeed come from Bunker, who has been successful in starting “Eddie & Jack’s Good Sign Bakery” in Seattle.
From Lethal Weapon and The Omen director, Richard Donner, a tough and bitter crime plot with an excellent Bruce Willis playing a tired cop who fights despite everything, in a cinical and merciless world. Quite dark and enjoyable

REVIEW: MUTANT X – SEASON 1-3

MAIN CAST
Forbes March (As The World Turns)
Victoria Pratt (Cleopatea 2525)
Lauren Lee Smith (Lie With Me)
Victor Webster (Wishmaster 4)
John Shea (Lois & Clark)
Karen Cliche (Flash Gordon 2007)
RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST
Tom McCamus (Ginger Snaps Back)
Douglas o’ Keeffe (Dark Angel)
Cedric Smith (X-men: The Animated Series)
Andrew Gillies (Odyssey 5)
Michael Easton (Coldfire)
George Buza (X-men: The Animated Series)
Dylan Bierk (Andromeda)
Laura Vandervoort (Bitten)
Yannick Bisson (Beauty and the Beast 2012)
Monique Ganderton (Smallville)
Anthony Lemke (Robocop: Prime Directives)
Mark Lutz (Angel)
Greg Bryk (Reign)
Anne Openshaw (Izombie)
Guylaine St-Onge (Highwayman)
Sarah Gadon (Dracula untold)
Larissa Laskin (John Q)
Callum Keith Rennie (Memento)
Louis Ferreira (Stargate Universe)
Krista Allen (The Final Destination)
Lindy Booth (Cry Booth)
Noah Danby (Painkiller Jane)
Sandrine Holt (Underworld Awakening)
Philip Akin (Highlander: The Series)
Melinda Deines (Earth: Final Conflict)
Frank Moore (Rabid)
David Sutcliffe (Lie To Me)
Jenya Lano (Xena)
Alan C. Petersen (Stargate SG.1)
Rachel Hayward (Jingle All The Way 2)
Steve Bacic (Blade: The Series)
Gary Hudson (Cold Case)
Sebastian Spence (First Wave)
Alan Van Sprang (Reign)
Lauren Collins (Degrassi: The Next Generation)
Euegne Robert Glazer (La Femme Nikita)
Peter Stebbings (Bates Motel)
John Ralston (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles)
Sasha Roiz (Caprica)
 Mutant X was a brilliant, and totally original, syndicated series that had have genre fans tuning in faithfully week after week. Drawing from the timely topic of genetic research and engineering and experimentation on human DNA, Mutant X tells the completely original story of a group of outcasts with genetically engineered super-human powers and abilities and their attempts to evade capture or destruction by the ultra-secret, evil government agency which created them.
Mutant X  created by comics veteran Howard Chaykin (writer for Earth: Final Conflict and Viper) and Avi Arad (executive producer of X-Men, X-Men 2, and every other Marvel comic to movie adaptation in the pipeline from Daredevil  to The Fantastic Four). With a totally straight face, they insist that this new show has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the X-Men. Both of these guys know the comic industry and Arad obviously is familiar with  X-Men, and yet they expect us to believe that cashing in on the popularity of the X-Men wasn’t in their minds at all while developing this series. They can’t even seem to recognize the similarity.

The main difference in plot line deals with the fact that the powers that the Mutant X mutants possess were a result of human intervention through science rather than a naturally-occurring genetic mutation, as in the X-Men. Apart from this very minor difference, the sky is the limit when it comes to Mutant X – X-Men similarities.
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The leader of the Mutants is Adam, a wealthy scientist who headed up the government project that created the Children of Genomex (a.k.a. the Mutants). He has seen the error of his ways and now is engaged in a crusade to locate, protect, and train the Mutants. He doesn’t actually own a school or have mutant powers himself, but this is the Professor X of the group.371266752_640The leader of the evil, covert government agency is Mason Eckhart, played by Andy Warhol as himself. This guy, complete with white hair and chunky glasses, wants to either use the Mutants for evil purposes or see them all destroyed. He’s sort of the Magneto of Mutant X without the overwhelming desire to see the Mutants rule the earth. Eckhart doesn’t have any super powers, unless you count just plain being evil, but his right hand man has telekinetic abilities.
a great series that lasted 3 seasons and only ended because the tribune company came to and end

REVIEW: LIE TO ME – SEASON 1-3

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MAIN CAST

Tim Roth (The Incredible Hulk)
Kelli Williams (Army Wives)
Brendan Hines (Terminator: TSCC)
Monica Raymond (Chicago Fire)
Hayley McFarland (The Conjuring)
Mekhi Phifer (Divergent)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Jake Thoams (A.I.)
Tim Guinee (Iron Man)
Nolan Gerard Funk (Arrow)
David Anders (Izombie)
Rance Howard (A Beautiful Mind)
Anthony Ruivivar (Scream: The Series)
Isabella Hoffman (Legends of Tomorrow)
Sasha Roiz (Caprica)
Kristen Ariza (Startup)
Mekenna Melvin (ChucK)
Sean Patrick Thomas (Save The Last Dance)
Deidre Lovejpy (Bones)
Carlos Lacamara (Heroes Reborn)
Megan Follows (Reign)
Christine Adams (Agents of SHIELD)
Ajay Mehta (Anger Management)
Shea Whigham (Agent Carter)
Cheryl White (Major Crimes)
Virginia Williams (Fairly Legal)
Pej Vahdat (Bones)
Jennifer Beals (Flashdance)
Kevin Tighe (Lost)
Currie Graham (Stargate: The Ark of Truth)
D.B. Woodside (Buffy)
Jason Beghe (Californication)
Clea DuVall (The Faculty)
Mageina Tovah (Spider-Man 2 & 3)
Melissa Tang (Mom)
Jonathan Banks (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles)
Erika Christensen (Flightplan)
John Pyper-Ferguson (Caprica)
James Marsters (Buffy)
Gretchen Egolf (Roswell)
Marc Blucas (Red State)
David Kaufman (Superman: TAS)
Karina Logue (Bates Motel)
Sean O’Bryan (The Princess Diaries)
Garret Dillahunt (Terminator: TSCC)
Lennie James (The Walking Dead)
Alicia Coppola (Another World)
Roy Werner (Weeds)
Jason Gedrick (Beauty and The Beast)
April Grace (Lost)
Todd Stashwick (The Originals)
Ricky Jay (Flashforward)
Miguel Ferrer (Robocop)
Felicia Day (Dr. Horrible)
Jason Dohring (Veronica Mars)
Ashley Johsnon (Dollhouse)
Howard Hesseman (That 70s Show)
Mark Harelik (The Big Bang Theory)
Melissa George (Triangle)
Max Greenfield (Veronica Mars)
Bruce Weitz (General Hospital)
Enver Gjokaj (Agent Carter)
Alona Tal (Cult)
Khary Payton (Teen Titans)
Michael Beach (The Abyss)
Yara Shahidi (Ugly Betty)
Alyssa Diaz (The Vampire Diaries)
Kenneth Mitchell (Odyssey 5)
Richard Burgi (Chuck)
Conor O’Farrell (Stir of Echoes)
Catherine Dent (Termiantor: TSCC)
Kenny Johnson (Cold Case)
Erick Avari (Stargate)
Carmen Argenziano (Stargate SG.1)
Natalie Dreyfuss (The Originals)
Tiffany Hines (Bones)
Haley Ramm (X-Men 3)
Monique Gabriela Curnen (The Dark Knight)
Jennifer Marsala (Hart of Dixie)
Shawn Doyle (Reign)
Jamie Hector (Heroes)
Audrey Marie Anderson (Arrow)
Brent Sexton (Birds of Prey)
Katherine LaNasa (The Campaign)
Daniela Bobadilla (Anger Management)
Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica)
Kathleen Gati (Arrow)
Noel Fisher (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Maury Sterling (The A-Team)
Jessica Parker Kennedy (The Secret Circle)
Brandon Jones (Pretty Little Liars)
Jim Beaver (Mike & Molly)
Barry Shabaka Henley (Heroes)
John Diehl (Stargate)
Keith Robinson (Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue)
Michael B. Jordan (Fantastic four)
Frankie Faison (The Silence of The Lambs)
Paula Malcomson (The Hunger Games)
Victoria Pratt (Mutant X)
Adam Godley (Powers)
Dylan Minnette (Goosebumps)
Annabeth Gish (Flashforward)
Alexandra Lydon (Mockingbird)
Ashton Holmes (A History of Violence)

We have all told a lie at one point in our lives. While our the lies we have told may be small, one needs to look no further than his or her local news to see that not all lies are harmless. Sometimes though lies seem like a last resort and getting the truth isn’t as simple as a lie detector. Dr. Cal Lightman (Tim Roth) would be the first to tell you a lie detector is garbage and he illustrates this point in an early episode in the series.  A lie detector establishes a baseline for truthful statements and then measures body factors like pulse rate, skin conductivity and temperature; any changes from the baseline readings indicates a lie. The problem is as Dr. Lightman shows in his trademark sardonic fashion, do something as simple as introduce an attractive woman in the room and the most honest man will instantly be a liar to the machine. His solution? Himself.


Lie to Me throws viewers into the world of human lie detector, Cal Lightman. His lie detecting skills rely on universal facial expressions and how a well-trained individual can detect a liar from reading “micro expressions.” Lightman heads up the private deception detection firm The Lightman Group and throughout the course of Lie to Me’s thirteen freshman episodes, Lightman and his associates Dr. Gillian Foster, Eli Loker, and new protégé Ria Torres will put their finely trained skills to the test as their group is hired from clients ranging from billionaires worried about potential gold diggers to law enforcement in stopping a copycat serial rapist. As absurd as the notion of Lightman being able to read facial expressions to determine whether a person is lying is, prepare to be blown away, as it’s all based on the very real and groundbreaking research of Dr. Paul Ekman.


Dr. Ekman pioneered the study of micro expressions and universal emotion and serves as a creative inspiration for Roth’s character. The creators have kept Ekman in the loop throughout the creative process and Fox allows Ekman to blog about what is factual and what is exaggerated on the show’s website, which earns this new series bonus points for giving viewers something to think about once the episode ends.

Once Roth is able to establish himself in the role of Lightman and we get bits and pieces of his human side (his relationship with Dr. Foster as well as his teenage daughter). Fortunately, the formula of the show does allow for Lightman’s other colleagues to hold their own as there is almost always a secondary case assigned to the pair not working with Lightman on the primary case. This allows for character bonds to be formed, in some cases from scratch as Monica Raymund’s character, Ria Torres, is a new addition to the team and provides some great dramatic tension from time to time as her ability is natural, which often draws the ire and jealousy of her brilliant boss.


Finally, the most unique positive aspect of Lie to Me comes from viewers being able to play along at home. As we learn little explanations of micro expressions from Lightman, in later episodes it’s fun to try and spot character motivations before they are revealed to us by one of the team.

Back for a second longer season, this show is every bit the show that I so enjoyed in the first season and even a little bit more. As with all shows, the first season suffers from a few growing pains. Actors need to settle into their roles, writers need to discover their characters’ true personalities and basically the show needs to settle. Thats why the second season is often a bit better than the first and Lie to me is no exception to that. The show was smoother, the acting more comfortable and the character relationships had chance to really blossom in a believable manner.

In this second season Cal seems to be much more lively, a great deal more fun to watch. HIs mock nervous energy, dry sense of humour and heart of gold is a more likeable. The other key element I liked in this series was the advancement of the relationships. There’s not any major romantic steps forward in this season, but Cal’s relationship with his daughter is a real high point of the show, as are his relationships with Foster and the rest of the gang. Every character seems to enjoy real chemistry with the others and that’s rare in any show, yet alone a procedural drama.

Overall this is another strong season. The show is funny when it needs to be, fast paced and action packed when thats called for, and finally it is interesting enough to more than keep your attention with every episode. Quite frankly, by the end of this season I would normally be hooked for the long hall. Shame then that there’s only one season left to watch

I was aware going in that this was going to be the final season of the show however it quickly becomes apparent that show runners weren’t similarly informed . The series really didn’t have the feel of a final season and indeed the show seemed to be picking up pace as it approached its final episode with new characters getting screen time and relationships moving forward with the usual pace of a procedural show finding its feet.

Because of this not only did the season not feel like a final season, the finale lacked any kind of closure whatsoever. It’s a shame as this show deserved more than just to fizzle out in what felt like a mid-season break rather than a complete end.

All I can say to finish is that once again a good show has been cancelled early while so many bad shows remain, which is a real shame. However, don’t let the poor ending to this show put you off.

REVIEW: CAPRICA

MAIN CAST

Eric Stoltz (The Butterfly Effect)
Esai Morales (Fast Food Nation)
Paula Malcolmson (The Hunger Games)
Alessandra Torresani (The Big Bang Theory)
Magda Apanowicz (The Bionic Woman)
Sasha Roiz (Grimm)
Brian Markinson (Izombie)
Polly Walker (Clask of The Titans)

RECURRING /NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Sina Najafi (Stargate – SG.1)
Genevieve Buechner (Jennifer’s Body)
Hiro Kanagawa (Heroes Reborn)
Patton Oswalt (Two and a Half Men)
John Pyper-Ferguson (Bones)
Peter Wingfield (Highlander: The Series)
Luciana Carro (Battlestar Galactica)
Panou (Flash gordon)
Scott Porter (Speed Racer)
Karen Elizabeth Austin (When A Stranger Calls)
Richard Harmon (Painkiller Jane)
James Marsters (Buffy)
Avan Jogia (The Outskirts)
Teryl Rothery (Stargate SG.1)
Christian Tessier (Goosebumps)
Anna Galvin (Smallville)
Francoise Yip (Arrow)
Anita Torrance (Shortland Street)
Kendall Cross (Andromeda)
Eve Harlow (Bitten)
Patrick Sabongui (The Flash)
Ryan Robbins (Sanctuary)
Kacey Rohl (Hannibal)
Ryan Kennedy (Smallville)
Christopher Heyerdahl (Gotham)
Tom McBeath (Stargate SG.1)

The story revolves around the polytheistic, technologically-advanced colony of Caprica roughly sixty years before “the downfall”, focusing on the conflict between, and within, two families: The Graystones, and the Adamas Adams. Lawyer Joseph Adams (Esai Morales) lives a somewhat normal life with his wife and two children, Tamara and Billy, attempting to juggle his high-profile stature in the legal realm with his domestic life. He fights a bit with keeping himself as distanced as he can from his unsavory lineage, the Tauron mob Ha’la’tha, though it’s hard since the organization funded his education and requires his services regularly — usually by messages delivered through his brother, Sam (Sasha Roiz). BSG devotees with get a jolt in seeing the blossoming of young “Billy” in this environment early on, watching the growth of the semi-troubled youth that’d transform into the disquieting, powerful Galactica commander Bill Adama.

Caprica’s central draw, however, is the Graystones. Daniel Graystone (Eric Stoltz) heads a tech development firm working on a mechanized super-soldier that’s just not cutting the mustard, all the while generating profit (60% of net, to be exact) with virtual reality headsets — holobands — that connect to a network of fully-interactive, realistic digital worlds. Graystone’s seemingly safe digital construct quickly broke down into a laissez-faire underground, filled with hacked sections that exploit sex, drug-use, and violence. Daniel’s daughter, a silver-tongued high-school student named Zoe (Alessandra Torresani) who battles with her mother Amanda (Paula Malcomson) over authority, frequents the holoband V-Club with boyfriend Ben (Avan Jogia) and timid best friend Lacy (Magda Apanowicz), yet they’re beyond the carnal satisfaction that the place has to offer. Instead, they’ve found purpose in monotheistic religious belief within an activist organization, the Soldiers of The One (STO), and, in the process, created an exact digital copy of Zoe who will somehow aid the resistance.

Observant fans will see where Caprica’s going with the duplicate Zoe, coming together in an introductory pilot that realizes the germ of an idea behind the genesis of the Cylon race, but it certainly doesn’t leave newcomers in the cold. Moore and Eick, with this freshness in mind, go in a startling direction with the content surrounding the Cylon conception; a murderous STO-related terrorist attack on a train rattles the city of Caprica, leaving the Graystones without their daughter and Joseph with only his son, Billy. The grief they endure becomes a convincing dramatic catalyst for what’s to come, breaking a floodgate for aggressive decision-making regarding family memories and Daniel’s technological advancement — with the idea of an exact digital replication of both mind and memory, such as the avatar of Zoe that lingers after her death, propelling it forward. It’s a thought-provoking launch that tackles some rather challenging concepts, including that of the human psyche as raw data and the extent that open-minded intellectuals might go to preserve those they’ve lost. And, of course, the narcissistic power behind potential immortality.imagesUpon the second episode, “Rebirth”, one fact becomes very clear: Caprica isn’t cut from the same cloth as its inspiration, instead existing as a compelling new creation with its own hurdles to cross. In retrospect, the reimagined Battlestar Galactica painlessly continued the momentum from its original two-part miniseries, thrusting forward with space warfare and political components into the dazzling episode “33”. With Caprica, a shrewd character-driven thriller with complexity surrounding terrorism and family grief, the carry-over isn’t as easy. Thankfully, the Moore-Eick team never shies away, hitting the gas with some rather incisive writing as they drive deeper into Caprica’s unraveling and the Graystone company’s waning success in the wake of the terrorist attack. Along the way, they also grapple with themes of Tauron racism (“dirt eaters”) and religious extremism through the STO and one of its leaders, Zoe’s teacher Sister Clarice (Polly Walker), that correlate to actual issues, while also cleverly using the concept of a digital underground — especially in the anarchistic “New Cap City” game simulation, a mix of World of Warcraft and Grand Theft Auto — as a way of escape and purpose-finding.

Yet as Caprica focuses on these modern analogous ideas while its characters develop into a mixture of morally desolate entities, the first batch of six or so episodes move at a deliberate, slow-burning tempo that shifts between intrigue and sluggishness. The harsh chemistry between Daniel and Joseph as scorned parents electrifies, driven by Eric Stoltz and Esai Morales in two stark, authentic performances, and the pacing focuses on the causal events that unfold around their family-affecting decisions. But focusing on this calculated slow-burn can, at times, temper the series’ manner and cause the multiple plot threads to stray from the course, weaving intuitive dramatic performances around a lot of existential meditation and shots of neo-religious content without the right energy to propel it forward. I still find it compelling; the depth of Daniel’s egotism reaches a genuine depth that’s unexpected, while offering a cluster of explosive moments — such as the board meeting in “There is Another Sky” that actually starts the Cylon race — spliced within the persistent, astute drama.

 


Then, as Caprica approaches “Ghosts in the Machine” and the mid-season finale “End of Line”, the gradual tension sees a much-needed outburst. These prior episodes extend into what’s essentially a rather lengthy fuse leading to this batch of dynamite, using brewing family turmoil and growing suspicions into an emotionally-taxing, brilliantly-realized culmination point. “Ghosts in the Machine” plays with the intensity of psychological torment in a staggering rush of emotion, while “End of Life” finds the first episode of the series to use the familiar “__ Hours Before” time mechanic frequently used in Battlestar Galactica. Quite simply, the build-up becomes worth the time at this point, igniting the series with the narrative outbreak it desperately lacked to become fully involving. Whether Caprica can maintain this momentum still remains to be seen, but the succession of these explosive developments that derive from subtly-evolving plot points — Amanda’s weakening sanity, Daniel’s obsession with meeting the development deadline, and the presence of the STO as violent radicals — satisfies with evocative, edge-of-your-seat chills at this midpoint, finally achieving that addictive science-fiction adrenaline that hallmarked its predecessor.

The Second half of season 1 Caprica would be the end as Syfy decided to cancel it. Caprica utilized a cliffhanger episode at the end of the first half of the season, one that leaves the mortality of several characters up in the air. It’s uncertain whether the depression-driven grief that Amanda’s been going through truly led her to suicide; similarly, we’re unsure if the full-throttle abrasiveness that Zoe was enacting inside the U-87 Cylon body destroyed her at the end. Then, Syfy opted to go on a very lengthy mid-season break, leaving curious minds in the dark for roughly seven months and, effectively, knocking the wind out of Caprica. It establishes a fine world that explores the emotions coursing through decisions to either reject or embrace digital memories of loved ones, while also giving some deep-rooted glimpses into the underpinnings of Moore and Eick’s Emmy-winning Battlestar Galactica.


None of Caprica’s issues root in the performances, however, or the production design. From the ground up, Moore and Eick continue the shrewdly-cast and stylish thrust of science-fiction with a fine vein of suspense, capturing the city’s expanses with a unique blend of metropolitan polish, futuristic gris-gris, and slick ’50s-esque allure. Locations like the Graystone mansion sport angular windows and a glaring pour of cold light, while the Adama household encapsulates a warm yet dark demeanor. These fitting aesthetic touches cradle some exceptional dramatic performances, including Eric Stoltz and Esai Morales whom have come into their own as tried-and-true denizens of Caprica. The same can be said for Magda Apanowicz as Lacy, who takes the complications surrounding a semi-innocent girl lost in the world of terrorism and runs with them with stalwart momentum. Lacy’s role, which gets sloshed around in the first half of the season, begins to grow more focused as she embeds further into the STO (and learns of her affinity with post-Zoe Cylons). Really, the issues hinge on a general question: “What’s the driving force behind Caprica?” At first, the series closed in on the machinations of the Cylon origins, as well as exploring monotheism vs. polytheism, the benefits and hindrances of an abandon-free V-World, and the reluctance for people to let go of those whom have died. Upon the second half of Caprica, all that’s somewhat switched out for direct drama involving the robots’ “creator”, as well as concentration on the gangster Adama network and the blossoming of the terrorist organization as idealists.


Starting with “False Labor”, Caprica begins to see an awakening, In this episode, Daniel attempts to recreate Zoe’s “resurrection” software, while in the process using an avatar of Amanda as a basis for comparison. Since he knows all the mannerisms and minutiae of his wife, he’s able to determine exactly how human or inhuman she’s acting, and the content that unfolds as he dissects this digital Amanda can be both penetrating and emotionally stirring. On top of that, Lacy gets her first hearty taste of the STO’s domineering, contentious presence, while meeting other “recruits” similar to her. Moreover, it rediscovers its tonality; difficult drama remains, but the way it’s handled regains the excitement of its inspiration.


With Syfy cancelling the show and five episodes still left to run, the big question likely will be: “Does it get a proper, strong conclusion?” Piggybacking off the regained proficiency that it rediscovers in “Blowback”, Caprica sprints through the remaining episodes as if it knows that the end’s coming. With a Coda at the end of the season you do get a conclusion that answers the questions of where the show would of gone had it been around for 5 years.