REVIEW: ARROW – SEASON 6

Arrow_season_5_poster_-_His_fight,_His_city,_His_legacy

Main Cast

Stephen Amell (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: OOTS)
David Ramsey (Blue Bloods)
Willa Holland (Legion)
Emily Bett Rickards (Brooklyn)
Echo Kellum (Girlfriend’s Day)
Rick Gonzalez (Reaper)
Juliana Harkavy (Last Shift)
Katie Cassidy (Black Christmas 2006)
Paul Blackthorne (The InBetween)

Stephen Amell in Arrow (2012)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Manu Bennett (Spartacus)
Anna Hopkins (The Expanse)
Kathleen Gati (THe House Bunny)
Adrian Holmes (V-Wars)
Jack Moore (Republic of Sarah)
Kacey Rohl (Hannibal)
David Nykl (Stargate Atlantis)
Venus Terzo (Beast Wars)
Sydelle Noel (GLOW)
Chastity Dotson (Veronica Mars)
Michael Emerson (Lost)
Kris Holden-Ried (Vikings)
Johann Urb (Resident Evil: Retribution)
Laara Sadiq (2012)
Celina Jade (The Man with The Iron Fists)
Audrey Marie Anderson (The Unit)
Kirk Acevedo (War For The POTA)
Liam Hall (The Fault Line)
Pej Vahdat (Bones)
Teryl Rothery (Stargate SG.1)
Grant Gustin (Glee)
Victor Garber (The Orville)
Caity Lotz (The Pact)
Tom Cavanagh (Yogi Bear)
Chyler Leigh (Not Another Teen Movie)
Dominic Purcell (A Fighting Man)
Candice Patton (The Guest)
Franz Drameh (See)
Danielle Panabaker (The Crazies)
Colin Donnell (Chicago MED)
Melissa Benoist (Whiplash)
Tom Amandes (Everwood)
Enid-Raye Adams (Good Boys)
Louis Ferreira (Stargate Universe)
Eliza Faria (American Conjuring)
Tina Huang (Drive)
Colton Haynes (Rough Night)
Kyra Zagorsky (Helix)
Josh Segarra (Trainwreck)
Wil Traval (Jessica Jones)
Catherien Dent (Terminator:TSCC)
Katrina Law (Spartacus)
Charlotte Ross (Drive Angry)

David Ramsey and Stephen Amell in Arrow (2012)It’s not always easy being a fan of Arrow, as the show’s sixth season frequently proved. The show was at its most uneven and frustrating this year. For a while it seemed as though Season 6 was doomed to go down in history as the show’s worst to date. And while it did finally turn things around in the last couple months, it may have been too little, too late for many viewers.Juliana Harkavy in Arrow (2012)The show’s sudden drop in quality is all the more surprising given the strong foundation Season 5 had put in place. Season 5 ended with the series best episode yet, wrapping up the conflict between Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) and Adrian Chase (Josh Segarra) and leaving viewers with a cliffhanger wherein the fate of nearly every member of Team Arrow was in doubt. That’s how you end a season. The Season 6 premiere, “Fallout,” is not how you begin one. That episode squandered most of the potential from “Lian Yu.” Rather than delivering a dramatic overhaul of the status quo and showcasing a Team Arrow left reeling from Chase’s final attack, it showed that annoyingly little had changed in Star City during those missing three months. The impact of that attack was minimal, with almost zero casualties and a handful of easily reversible changes to the norm.
Stephen Amell in Arrow (2012)The only truly compelling addition to the formula to arise in the premiere involved the increased focus on Oliver’s son William (Jack Moore), now mourning the loss of his mother and living with a father he barely knows. The resulting family drama often resulted in some of the strongest material in the first half of Season 6, with William both lashing out against and needing his father and Ollie struggling to figure out how to care for a boy whose existence he only discovered a couple years ago. That played into one of the larger themes of the season – Ollie’s struggle to figure out how to balance his job as mayor, his crusade as the Green Arrow and his responsibilities as a parent. That dovetailed with Felicity’s (Emily Bett Rickards) own struggles as she found herself being drawn deeper into the lives of both Queen men.Katie Cassidy in Arrow (2012)As a backbone for the season, that’s not bad. The problem is more the scattershot approach the writers took to crafting the story. It worked well early on as Ollie contemplated giving up his hood and focusing on being a better mayor and father. After five years of getting nowhere in his mission, that seemed to represent a positive step forward for the character. But it wasn’t long before that approach took a backseat to more traditional vigilante adventures. Only in the final third of the season did Ollie’s need to achieve balance in his life become paramount again.Manu Bennett in Arrow (2012)Season 6’s biggest problem, it quickly became clear, was one of focus. The series never seemed entirely sure of what direction to head or how to juggle the various members of Team Arrow. Each character had their respective struggles, whether it was Diggle (David Ramsey) dealing with the lingering fallout of Lian Yu, Curtis (Echo Kellum) becoming a small business owner or Rene (Rick Gonzalez) dealing with yet more problems surrounding custody of his daughter. Yet rarely did these subplots leave a particularly strong impression. Too often, the series begged the question of whether these supporting characters were truly necessary any longer.
Stephen Amell in Arrow (2012)Two long-running story threads proved especially disappointing this season. The first involved the dynamic between Dinah (Juliana Harkavy) and Vigilante (Johann Urb). The latter’s identity was finally revealed early in Season 6, though the answer to that long-running mystery proved thoroughly unsatisfying. Nor did the ensuing drama between the two characters redeem Vigilante as a character. Instead, he felt like just one more unnecessary addition to an overcrowded cast. The other involved the relationship between Quentin (Paul Blackthorne) and the Earth-2 version of Laurel (Katie Cassidy). After so many years of seeing Quentin grapple with the death of one daughter or the other, more Lance family drama is not what the series needed. It didn’t help that Laurel’s redemption arc proved so repetitive. You can only see a character make apparent progress, only to pivot and back-stab everyone around her, so many times before the formula gets old.Rick Gonzalez, Stephen Amell, Juliana Harkavy, and Echo Kellum in Arrow (2012)Perhaps nothing weighed down the season more than its uninspired choice of main villain, hacker extraordinaire Cayden James (Michael Emerson). Emerson is a talented actor, but he frequently felt wasted in the role. James proved to be a bland, redundant villain whose motivations failed to set him apart from the crowd. Even at the series lowest points in Seasons 3 and 4, villains like Ra’s al Ghul and Damien Darhk elevated their respective conflicts. James merely dragged the series further down. It’s telling that the most enjoyable episodes in the first half of the season were generally those which took a break from the overarching Cayden James thread. For example, the series took a welcome two-part detour as Slade Wilson (Manu Bennett) resurfaced and Ollie joined him on a very personal mission overseas. Bennett’s return late in Season 5 was a reminder of how much he brought to the series back in the early years, and those two episodes made great use of the ever-changing relationship between Ollie and Slade. The “Crisis on Earth-X” crossover also proved entertaining, with Team Arrow joining forces with their superhero comrades against some pesky, wedding-ruining Nazis.David Ramsey and Stephen Amell in Arrow (2012)The good news is that Season 6 did eventually find its footing, even if that didn’t happen until the final two months. March brought about a major status quo upheaval, one that finally began addressing the season’s problems in terms of poor pacing, lack of focus and underwhelming villain. Why that upheaval couldn’t have come sooner ) is a question worth asking, but better late than never, right?Stephen Amell in Arrow (2012)The season’s saving grace came with the sudden death of Cayden James and the elevation of formerly minor villain Ricardo Diaz (Kirk Acevedo) to the season’s primary antagonist. Diaz proved to be everything James wasn’t – a compelling villain whose motivations and actions set him apart from the shows previous big baddies. He cared little for the sort of theatrics preferred by Deathstroke or Damien Darhk. His goal was money and control, not making a grand statement or destroying the city. Acevedo’s performance helped further elevate the character, with various episodes highlighting Diaz’s dark past and the inferiority complex that fuels his present actions.Stephen Amell and Jack Moore in Arrow (2012)Diaz’s rise to power coincided with a breaking point in Team Arrow’s tenuous dynamic. After suffering through a destructive civil war and seeing his political career crumble, Ollie finally decided to abandon everything but the mission. That shift in gears helped the series find the focus it had been struggling to achieve for months. It suggested that maybe the best thing Arrow can do is to abandon the ensemble format and become centered around Oliver Queen once again. On the other hand, the season managed to maintain that sense of focus even as Team Arrow grudgingly reformed and built a united front against Diaz.Stephen Amell in Arrow (2012)It seems the problem is less the amount of characters than how the writers choose to balance them.Season 6 wasn’t entirely without problems in those final two months. “Docket No. 11-19-41-73” in particular proved a disappointing chapter with the melodramatic way it handled Ollie’s murder trial. The way the season ended, with Ollie winding up in prison anyway, makes that whole episode seem even more pointless in hindsight. But ultimately, Season 6 finished strong enough to restore much of the good will that had been lost early on. The feud between Diaz and Team Arrow ended on a satisfying note, while at the same time leaving plenty of room to grow in Season 7. And Ollie’s new status quo as an incarcerated felon promises a huge change in the fall. The only question is whether Season 7, with its new showrunner behind the scenes, can do a better job of utilizing the potential given to it.Stephen Amell and Jack Moore in Arrow (2012)Arrow’s sixth season may not qualify as the show’s worst, but only because it improved a great deal in its final two months. Prior to that, the season squandered most of the potential afforded by Season 5, failing to balance its many characters and languishing under a disappointingly bland villain. It’s good that the show eventually regained its footing, but there’s no reason things should have gone so far off the rails in the first place.

REVIEW: ARROW – SEASON 2

Main Cast

Stephen Amell (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: OOTS)
Katie Cassidy (Black Christmas 2006)
David Ramsey (Blue Bloods)
Willa Holland (Legion)
Emily Bett Rickards (Brooklyn)
Colton Haynes (Rough Night)
Manu Bennett (Spartacus)
Susanna Thompson (Timeless)
Paul Blackthorne (The InBetween)

Stephen Amell in Arrow (2012)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Celina Jade (The Man With The Iron Fists)
Colin Salmon (Mortal Engines)
Summer Glau (Firefly)
Roger Cross (First Wave)
Dylan Bruce (Orphan Black)
Derek Hamilton (When Calls The Heart)
Adrian Holmes (V-Wars)
Caity Lotz (The Pact)
Michael Jai White (The Dark Knight)
Kelly Hu (The Scorpion King)
Kevin Alejandro (Lucifer)
Bex Taylor-Klaus (13 Reasons Why)
Michael Eklund (Van Helsing)
Colin Donnell (Chicago Med)
Teryl Rothery (Stargate SG.1)
Audrey Marie Anderson (The Unit)
Jimmy Jean-Louis (Heroes)
Clé Bennett (Jigsaw)
Jesse Hutch (Dark Angel)
John Barrowman (Torchwood)
David Nykl (Stargate: Atlantis)
Navid Negahban (Homeland)
Cynthia Addai-Robinson (The Accountant)
Mark Gibbon (Man of Steel)
Michael Rowe (Tomorrowland)
Dylan Neal (Fifty Shades of Gey)
Grant Gustin (Affluenza)
Jennifer Cheon Garcia (Van Helsing)
Sean Maher (Firefly)
Annie Ilonzeh (Chicago Fire)
Nicholas Lea (The X-Files)
James Kidnie (Robocop: The Series)
Shekhar Paleja (Sanctuary)
Katrina Law (Spartacus)
Alex Kingston (Flashforward)
Robert Knepper (Prison Break)
Tara Strong (Batman: TAS)
Jessica De Gouw (The Hunting)
Jeffrey Nordling (Big Little Lies)
Lochlyn Munro (Scary Movie)
Sean Rogerson (Bitten)
Jorge Vargas (Power Rangers Ninja Steel)
Carlos Valdes (The Flash)
Danielle Panabaker (Piranha 3DD)
Michael Daingerfield (Smallville)
Anna Hopkins (Shadowhunters)
Roark Critchlow (V)
Michael Adamthwaite (War For The Planet of The Apes)
Chelah Horsdal (Rise of The POTA)

Michael Jai White and Stephen Amell in Arrow (2012)Right off the bat, “City of Heroes” set the tone and direction for Season 2. We saw a despondent Ollie still crushed by the death of his best friend, Tommy, and having retreated to the island in a self-imposed exile. Though Colin Donnell only briefly reprised his role as Tommy this season, his character was very much a lingering presence driving the actions of Ollie and Laurel throughout the year. And his death formed the crux of Ollie’s renewed mission. It was right there in the revised opening sequence – “To honor my friend’s memory, I can’t be the killer I once was.” And that, more than Ollie’s battles with Slade Wilson or Sebastian Blood or Isabel Rochev, was the core conflict of the season.Graham Shiels in Arrow (2012)It’s easy enough to fight criminals by shooting them dead. But could Ollie muster the strength and the courage not to kill, even if it meant putting himself, his family, and his city in greater danger? It was a struggle, but the most satisfying element of the finale was the way Ollie definitively answered that question and established himself as a better class of vigilante.Manu Bennett in Arrow (2012)Overall, Season 2 was a good showcase for Stephen Amell’s acting talents. Ollie was haunted by demons and shouldering heavy burdens throughout the year. He suffered more often than he succeeded, and Amell conveyed that pain well. Most impressive was the way Amell was so capable at portraying Ollie at different periods in his life. We saw plenty more of Ollie’s life on the island in the various flashback scenes.Manu Bennett in Arrow (2012)Having already spent a year fighting for his life against men like Edward Fyers and Billy Wintergreen, flashback Ollie was closer to the man he is in the present, but not all the way there. And we even caught glimpses of a pre-island Ollie, most significantly in “Seeing Red.” More than the changes in hairstyle or fashion, it was Amell’s purposeful shifts in vocal intonation and body language that differentiated the different versions of Ollie.Having established himself as one of the better supporting players in Season 1, it was very gratifying to see Manu Bennett step fully into the spotlight and become the big antagonist of Season 2.Stephen Amell in Arrow (2012)That’s despite him not even being revealed as the secret mastermind of Brother Blood’s uprising until the mid-season finale, “Three Ghosts.” But it was crucial that the show spend so much time, both this season and last, in building up the brotherly bond between Ollie and Slade and the island. We needed to feel the pain of seeing them broken apart and Slade become a vengeful villain hellbent on tearing his former friend’s life down. And it wasn’t until much later still that we saw how that rift occurred and Slade turn his wrath against Ollie. It’s a testament to both the writing and Bennett’s acting that the character never quite lost his aura of sympathy even as he murdered Ollie’s mother and tried to do the same to Felicity. This was a man driven half-mad by the loss of the woman he loved and an injection of a super-steroid. But conversely, I appreciated how the finale took pains to establish that it wasn’t just the Mirakuru fueling Slade’s anger.Caity Lotz in Arrow (2012)Even now, super-strength gone and exiled back to the island, Slade is a clear and present danger to Ollie’s world.Three GhostsThe show introduced Sebastian Blood and Isabel Rochev as Slade’s subordinates, with Blood serving as the most visible villain for much of the season. I really enjoyed Kevin Alejandro’s portrayal of Blood. Alejandro’s Blood was so disarmingly charming that it was often difficult to reconcile him with the masked man kidnapping drug addicts and turning street thugs into super-soldiers. Ultimately, Blood became the sort of villain who does the wrong things for the right reasons. He had an honest desire to make Starling City a better place. And when it became clear to him that Slade Wilson wouldn’t leave a city left for him to rule, Blood did the right thing and aided Team Arrow.Most of the increasingly large supporting cast were given their moments to shine in Season 2.Katrina Law and Caity Lotz in Arrow (2012)I was often disappointed that Diggle wasn’t given more to do, but at least he was able to take a starring role in “Suicide Squad.” Diggle’s backseat status was mainly the result of Sara Lance stepping into the limelight early on and eventually becoming the fourth member of Ollie’s vigilante crew. The Arrow had his Canary finally. Sara’s own struggles with the desire for lethal force and reuniting with her family often made for good drama. But among Team Arrow, it was often Felicity Smoak who often had the best material. Emily Bett Rickards had much better material to work with this year, whether it was her unrequited love for Ollie, her burgeoning relationship with Barry Allen, or her desire to pull her weight alongside her more physically capable allies. The final three episodes all featured some standout moments for Felicity as she established herself as a force to be reckoned with.Manu Bennett in Arrow (2012)Elsewhere, Roy Harper was often a focus as he transitioned from troubled street punk to superhero sidekick. Roy’s temporary super-strength powers were a welcome story swerve and a fitting physical manifestation of his inner rage. His character arc received a satisfying conclusion in the finale when he proved himself worthy and received his own red domino mask, but lost Thea as a result.As for the various women in Ollie’s life, Felicity and Sara aside, Season 2 was a little more uneven. Moira definitely had an interesting ride. She started out Season 2 fighting for her life while on trial for her role in the Undertaking. Then, in an unlikely turn of events, she was spurred to run for mayor. And finally, her life did end when she became a pawn in Slade’s cruel game. It was a terrific finish for Moira, proving once and for all that, whatever wrongs she committed, she was only ever trying to ensure her children’s survival. Thea was more up and down throughout the season. She was often underutilized, but received a boost late in the season when she learned the truth about her parentage.Stephen Amell in Arrow (2012)Laurel’s character had her own crucible this season, spiraling into into drug and alcohol addiction and losing her job before hitting bottom, rebounding, and playing her part in saving Starling City.The Mirakuru drug served as a plausible, pseudo-scientific way of introducing super-strength and allowing Slade to transform into Deathstroke. And even when it came time to introduce the Flash midway through the season, Barry Allen never felt too out of place alongside the more grounded characters. Season 2 really opened the floodgates as far as drawing in characters and elements from other DC properties. Barry Allen’s debut was the most high-profile, but we also saw plenty more of Amanda Waller and A.R.G.U.S. “Professor Ivo became a recurring villain, along with a very different take on Amazo. And in a welcome twist, it turned out that even the Batman franchise is fair game with this show. Early on we learned of Sara Lance and Malcolm Merlyn’s connection to the League of Assassins. Nyssa al Ghul appeared in a couple of episodes, and we know her father is out there in the world, leading his shadowy organization in the hidden city of Nanda Parbat. Even Harley Quinn had a brief cameo.And beyond the introduction of all these new elements, the scope of Arrow really opened up in Season 2. The action was bigger and better choreographed. The scale of the conflicts was bigger. The producers simply seemed to have more money to throw around. And whether that was actually the case or just the result of experience and planning, the end result was the same. Arrow became a bigger, more cinematic TV series this season.

25 DAYS CHRISTMAS REVIEW: DEAD LIKE ME – GHOST STORY

MAIN CAST
Ellen Muth (Hannibal)
Callum Blue (Smallville)
Jasmine Guy (The Vampire Diaries)
Cynthia Stevenson (Agent Cody Banks)
Mandy Patinkin (The Princess Bride)
Britt McKillip (Trick ‘r Treat)
Chtistine Willes (Kingdom Hospital)
Laura Harris (The Faculty)
GUEST CAST
Teryl Rothery (Stargate SG.1)
Lochlyn Munro (Scary Movie)

 

Feeling like she does not fit in, George decides to shirk her reaping duties and go on Happy Time’s annual camping retreat. However, even there she can’t escape from her duties as Rube follows with an assignment. Back on the job in Seattle, Daisy and Mason must scramble to find the Post-it note he lost before tragedy occurs because of his ineptitude. Joy does her best to sell her house, but Reggie scares the potential buyers away by saying that George, her late sister, still keeps in touch with her from beyond the grave.

Dead Like Me was always a fun series, this isn’t much of a Christmas episode as there’s only one scene set as Christmas, but it’s still a great episode and any excuse to watch a classic show like is a good excuse.

REVIEW: CAPRICA – PART 2

 

Starring

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

Caprica (2009)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

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

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

REVIEW: CAPRICA – PART 1

Starring

Eric Stoltz (The Butterfly Effect)
Esai Morales (Titans)
Paula Malcomson (The Hunger Games)
Alessandra Torresani (The Big Bang Theory)
Magda Apanowicz (You)
Sasha Roiz (Grimm)
Brian Markinson (Sanctuary)
Polly Walker (Pennyworth)Eric Stoltz and Paula Malcomson in Caprica (2009)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

William B. Davis (The X-FIles)
Sina Najafi (Stargate SG.1)
Hiro Kanagawa (Izombie)
Genevieve Buechner (The Final Cut)
Anna Galvin (Unspeakable)
Karen Elizabeth Austin (The Eye)
Scott Porter (Speed Racer)
Avan Jogia (Shaft)
Françoise Yip (The Predator)
Anita Torrance (Smallville)
James Pizzinato (Godzilla)
Michael Eklund (Bates Motel)
Patton Oswalt (Veronica Mars)
Kendall Cross (X-Men 2)
Peter Wingfield (Highlander: The Series)
Luciana Carro (Helix)
Teryl Rothery (Stargate SG.1)
Alex Arsenault (Tucker and Dale vs Evil)
Panou (Flash Gordon)
Eve Harlow (Bitten)
James Marsters (Buffy: TVS)
John Pyper-Ferguson (The Last Ship)
Leah Gibson (Jessica Jones)
Richard Harmon (The 100)
Patrick Sabongui (The Flash)
Jill Teed (Battlestar Galactica)
Zak Santiago (Shooter)
Ryan Robbins (Sanctuary)
Kacey Rohl (Hannibal)

 

Paula Malcomson in Caprica (2009)Creators Ronald Moore and David Eick relied on three key components for their hit SyFy series, Battlestar Galactica, to stay fresh and compelling for as long as it did: complex ideas behind evolved sentient lifeforms, religious parables, and the fondness for the characters’ home worlds — especially that of Caprica. The characters all look back at their previous lives almost as ghosts; Admiral Bill Adama painfully drudges up memories of his ex-wife and lawyer father, while Kara “Starbuck” Thrace carries memories of her small, ramshackle apartment and Samuel Anders yearns for the thrill of a sports stadium. Seems like such a rich mythos created just to be the ruminants of a past life, doesn’t it? The Moore-Eick team also sees this potential, now capitalizing on the gap left by Battlestar Galactica’s end to create the appropriately-titled Caprica. Though it moves slowly at first while constructing an involved narrative framework in its predecessor’s shadow, this mythos-rich offshoot eventually finds the footing needed to fall in-line with the original series’ current of storytelling.Patton Oswalt in Caprica (2009)The story revolves around the polytheistic, technologically-advanced colony of Caprica roughly sixty years before “the downfall”, focusing on the conflict between, and within, two families: The Graystones, and the Adamas 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.Hiro Kanagawa in Caprica (2009)Caprica’s central draw, however, is the Graystones. Daniel Graystone (Eric Stoltz) heads a tech development firm working on a mechanized super-soldier that’s just not cutting the mustard, all the while generating profit (60% of net, to be exact) with virtual reality headsets — holobands — that connect to a network of fully-interactive, realistic digital worlds. Graystone’s seemingly safe digital construct quickly broke down into a laissez-faire underground, filled with hacked sections that exploit sex, drug-use, and violence. Daniel’s daughter, a silver-tongued high-school student named Zoe (Alessandra Torresani) who battles with her mother Amanda (Paula Malcomson) over authority, frequents the holoband V-Club with boyfriend Ben (Avan Jogia) and timid best friend Lacy (Magda Apanowicz), yet they’re beyond the carnal satisfaction that the place has to offer. Instead, they’ve found purpose in monotheistic religious belief within an activist organization, the Soldiers of The One (STO), and, in the process, created an exact digital copy of Zoe who will somehow aid the resistance.Alessandra Torresani in Caprica (2009)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.Eric Stoltz and Esai Morales in Caprica (2009)Upon 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.Esai Morales and Sasha Roiz in Caprica (2009)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.Polly Walker and Magda Apanowicz in Caprica (2009)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.

 

REVIEW: STARGATE SG.1 – SEASON 9

Starring

Ben Browder (Farscape)
Amanda Tapping(Sanctuary)
Christopher Judge (The Dark Knight Rises)
Michael Shanks (Smallville)
Beau Bridges (My Name Is Earl)

Ben Browder in Stargate SG-1 (1997)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Claudia Black (Pitch Black)
Richard Dean Anderson (MacGyver)
Obi Ndefo (Star Trek: DS9)
Gary Jones (The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
Bill Dow (Izombie)
Matthew Walker (Alone In The Dark)
April Telek (Rogue)
Lexa Doig (Arrow)
Julian Sands (What/If)
Wallace Shawn (Young Sheldon)
Barclay Hope (Final Destination 3)
Maury Chaykin (My Cousin Vinny)
Louis Gossett Jr. (Enemy Mine)
Cliff Simon (Project Eden)
Kendall Cross (X-Men 2)
Peter Flemming (Staragte: Atlantis)
Sonya Salomaa (Watchmen)
Chilton Crane (The 4400)
Jason George (Fallen)
Jarvis W. George (Gamer)
William B. Davis (The X-Files)
Tony Todd (Candyman)
Neil Jackson (Blade: The Series)
Robert Picardo (The Orville)
Panou (Flash Gordon)
Ty Olsson (War For TPOTA)
Cameron Bright (Birth)
Garry Chalk (Arrow)
Don S. Davis (Twin Peaks)
Anna Galvin (Tin Man)
William Atherton (Ghostbusters)
JR Bourne (The 100)
Teryl Rothery (Arrow)
Reed Diamond (Agents of Shield)
Dakin Matthews (Child’s Play 3)
Veena Sood (Timecop)
Eric Breker (Scary Movie 3)
Matthew Bennett (Battlestar Galactica)
John Aylward (Alias)
Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters)
Chelah Horsdal (You Me Her)
Peter Shinkoda (Daredevil)
Matthew Glave (Argo)
Eric Steinberg (Supergirl)
Tamlyn Tomita (The Eye)
Tim Guinee (Iron Man)
Daniella Evangelista (Ripper)
Michael Ironside (Total Recall)
John Noble (Sleepy HOllow)
Katharine Isabelle (Ginger Snaps)
Noah Danby (Bitten)

Claudia Black and Ben Browder in Stargate SG-1 (1997)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.Ben Browder and Michael Shanks in Stargate SG-1 (1997)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.Mark Houghton in Stargate SG-1 (1997)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.Larry Cedar in Stargate SG-1 (1997)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

REVIEW: STARGATE SG.1 – SEASON 6

Starring

Richard Dean Anderson (MacGyver)
Amanda Tapping(Sanctuary)
Christopher Judge (The Dark Knight Rises)
Don S. Davis (Twin Peaks)
Corin Nemec (Parker Lewis Can’t Lews)

Corin Nemec in Stargate SG-1 (1997)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Tony Amendola (Annabelle)
David Hewlett (Rise of TPOTA)
Garry Chalk (Arrow)
Aaron Douglas (Battlestar Galactica)
Gary Jones (The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
Tobias Mehler (Sabrina: TTW)
David Palffy (Blade: The Series)
Aleks Paunovic (Van Helsing)
Carmen Argenziano (House)
Peter Deluise (21 Jump Street)
Venus Terzo (Beast Wars)
Dorian Harewood (Termiantor: TSCC)
Ona Grauer (V)
Teryl Rothery (Arrow)
Blu Mankuma (Robocop: THe Series)
Vincent Gale (Bates Motel)
Michael Eklund (The Call)
Adrian Holmes (Smallville)
Cliff Simon (Project Eden)
Michael Shanks (Smallville)
Patrick Gallagher (Glee)
Joel Swetow (The ORville0
Dean Stockwell (Quantum Leap)
Michael Adamthwaite (Supergirl)
Patrick McKenna (Robocop: The Series)
John Billingsley (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Adam Harrington (The Secret Circle)
Michael Daingerfield (Smallville)
Obi Ndefo (Star Trek: DS9)
Peter Stebbings (Never cry Werewolf)
Malcolm Stewart (Jumanji)
Gwynyth Walsh (Black Summer)
Allison Hossack (Condor)
Ian Tracey (Sanctuary)
George Wyner (Spaceballs)
Kendall Cross (X-Men 2)
Colin Cunningham (Elektra)
Enid-Raye Adams (Final Destinatiomn 2)
John de Lancie (Star Trek: TNG)
Bill Marchant (Strange Empire)
Kyle Cassie (Andromeda)
Ian Buchanan (Panic Room)
G. Patrick Currie (Dark Water)
Tahmoh Penikett (Dollhouse)
Peter Flemming (The X-Files)
Ronny Cox (Robocop)
Peter Kelamis (The Cabin In The Woods)
John Mann (Dark Angel)
Tom McBeath (Van Helsing)
Bill Dow (Izombie)
Jacqueline Samuda (When Sparks Fly)
Alex Zahara (Horns)
Dion Johnstone (The Core)
François Chau (The Tick)
Martin Cummins (Dark Angel)
Sarah Deakins (Androemda)
David Paetkau (Flashpoint)
Musetta Vander (Wild Wild West)
Peter Williams (Catwoman)
Robert Foxworth (Transformers)
John Novak (Wishmaster 3 & 4)
Ingrid Kavelaars (Dreamcatcher)
Alex Diakun (Andromeda)
Thomas Kopache (Catch Me If You Can)
Alexis Cruz (Drag Me To Hell)

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