REVIEW: THE ORVILLE – SEASON 2

Starring

Seth MacFarlane (Sing)

Adrianne Palicki (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)

Penny Johsnon Jerald (Star Trek: DS9)

Scott Grimes (American Dad)

Peter Macon (Shameless)

Halston Sage (Goosebumps)

J. Lee (Family Guy)

Mark Jackson (The Royal Today)
Jessica Szohr (Piranha 3D)

Seth MacFarlane and Adrianne Palicki in The Orville (2017)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Will Sasso (Mom)
Mike Henry (The Cleveland Show)
Chris Johnson (The Vampire Diaries)
Jason Alexander (Shallow Hal)
Rachael MacFarlane (American Dad)
Chad L. Coleman (Arrow)
Lesley Fera (Pretty Little Liars)
Candice King (The Vampire Diaries)
Robert Picardo (Star Trek: Voyager)
John Billingsley (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Kerry O’Malley (Annabelle: Creation)
Patrick Warburton (Ted)
Molly Hagan (No Good Nick)
Norm MacDonald (Dr. Dolittle)
Michaela McManus (SEAL Team)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)
Ted Danson (The Good Place)
John Rubinstein (Angel)
Kevin Daniels (Atypical)
Wren T. Brown (Whoopi)
Bruce Willis (Glass)
Nick Chinlund (Training Day)
Mackenzie Astin (The Magicians)
Leighton Meester (The Roommate)
Tim Russ (Star Trek: Voyager)
Sarah Scott (The Artist)
F. Murray Abraham (Amadeus)
Rena Owen (Siren)
Kelly Hu (Arrow)
Tony Todd (Candyman)
Marina Sirtis (Star Trek: TNG)

Penny Johnson Jerald and Mark Jackson in The Orville (2017)It would be profoundly unfair at this point to keep comparing The Orville to Star Trek: The Next Generation. But the parallels are pretty obvious. The titular Orville has the same ‘Giant Conference Hotel’ in space look that the old Star Trek show did; the Union has a similar aesthetic as The Federation, and so on. But all of this is shorthand; we know Star Trek, so all the visual clues are really just there to quickly get the viewer up to speed.Seth MacFarlane in The Orville (2017)Season 1 of The Orville worked pretty hard to establish its own world. This was an optimistic yet militaristic future in which people still behaved like people. They got drunk, they made dirty jokes, they had affairs, they got divorced. The central relationship of the show is that the First Officer is the Captain’s ex-wife, after all. Season 1 had a lot of missteps and frequently fell flat. Season 2 addresses these issues by simply being more straight forward and blunt.Halston Sage in The Orville (2017)For a start, it’s more obvious that the various prominent alien races in the show represent various social issues. Stories that feature the ‘All-Male’ Moclus tend to focus on sex, identity, and gender. It helps a lot that Peter Macon plays the role of Bortus brilliantly. He can switch from sombre and serious to physical comedy extremely well and is perhaps one of the most under-rated characters in the show. The war-like Krill allow the show to reflect on religious intolerance and the mechanical Kaylon serve a general cypher for the human experience. None of these ‘issue’ stories are subtle, but they are fun and filled with humour.Seth MacFarlane in The Orville (2017)The show’s twists and turns are also pretty significant, and from the outset there are plenty of them. The Orville isn’t afraid to use story arcs, and the ‘reset’ button is rarely used here. Mistakes and tragedies are permanent. Certainly the last few episodes of the series feel like a promise. The past is another country and that even the slightest thing can have ruinous consequences.Penny Johnson Jerald and Seth MacFarlane in The Orville (2017)The special effects budget has also gotten a significant bump. Though there are plenty of ‘people standing around talking’-type scenes, when the action gets underway it really does go for it, reminding the viewer that this show is versatile enough to do both action and drama very well.Penny Johnson Jerald and Mark Jackson in The Orville (2017)Despite the short second season, it seems that Fox is very fond of its very marketable sci-fi show. Season 2 is occasionally a bumpy ride for its changes in story and pacing, but it’s well worth the journey.

REVIEW: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (1987) – SEASON 2

MAIN CAST

Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Linda Hamilton (The Terminator)
Roy Dotrice (Game of Thrones)
Jay Acovone (Stargate SG.1)

26aefdfe75e396171a91adf55d86b177

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

David Greenlee (Fame)
Armin Shimerman (Buffy: TVS)
Tony Jay (Lois & Clark)
Joseph Campanella (Hangar 18)
Adrian Paul (Highlander: The Series)
Katy Boyer (The Island)
Tim Russ (Star Trek: Voyager)
Bill Calvert (Spider-Man)
Cyd Strittmatter (Gone Girl)
Bruce Abbott (The Net)
Remy Ryan (Robocop 3)
Don Stark (That 70s Show)
Piper Laurie (Carrie)
John McMartin (No Reservations)
Elyssa Davalos (MacGyver)
Kelli Williams (Lie To Me)
Rosemary Dunsmore (Orphan Black)
Edward Albert (Power Rangers Time Force)
Dean Norris (Breaking Bad)
Gary Hudson (Road House)
Richard Roundtree (Shaft)

26aefdfe75e396171a91adf55d86b177Though set in the late-1980s, Beauty and the Beast plays like something from another era. There’s no irony, cynicism, or hip quips to break the spell of the fantasy (though a little humor would’ve been nice). Catherine (Linda Hamilton) loves the beastly, if beneficent Vincent (Ron Perlman) with all her heart–and vice versa. Together, they’re TV’s most soft-hearted crime fighters. To the show’s credit, however, they aren’t infallible, and there are a few problems they’re unable to solve, whether the issue is drug addiction (“Chamber Music”), infectious disease (“Ashes, Ashes” with Highlander‘s Adrian Paul), or murder (“The Hollow Men”).

2In retrospect, it’s clear that Beauty and the Beast was a reaction to the “greed is good” era. Vincent and his cave-dwelling compatriots represent a more compassionate alternative to “topsider” corruption. Yet all is not harmonious below either. Seriously injured the previous year, Paracelsus (Tony Jay) becomes a Phantom of the Opera-type figure, who aims to destroy Vincent’s candle-lit utopia. In addition, a less civilized group of outcasts arrives in “The Outsiders.” Fortunately, Vincent has Father (Roy Dotrice), Mary (Ellen Geer), Mouse (David Greenlee), and Pascal (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine‘s Armin Shimerman) on his side.maxresdefaultUnfortunately, they won’t be able to prevent the tragedy that occurs in “The Rest Is Silence.” Suffice to say, the season finale sets the scene for a new direction (more is revealed in the third-season opener). Consequently, Beauty and the Beast was canceled the following year, but still managed to rack up 18 Emmy nominations (winning six), spawning a soundtrack, and even inspiring some Saturday Night Live spoofing–a sure sign it had struck a chord. While the first season was devoid of extras, Perlman and Hamilton introduce six key episodes on this set..2Being a big B&B fan, I can find no wrong with this Season 2. Loved every episode. This entire series has so much soul, that you will dwell on each episode long after they are over. Can’t go wrong with this one.

 

REVIEW: SWAMP THING (2019)

Derek Mears and Crystal Reed in Swamp Thing (2019)

Starring

Crystal Reed (Gotham)
Virginia Madsen (Better Watch Out)
Andy Bean (Transformers: The Last Knight)
Henderson Wade (Riverdale)
Maria Sten (Channel Zero)
Jeryl Prescott (The Skeleton Key)
Jennifer Beals (Lie To Me)
Will Patton (Silkwood)
Kevin Durand (Resident Evil: Retribution)
Derek Mears (Sleepy Hollow)

Kevin Durand and Derek Mears in Swamp Thing (2019)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Leonardo Nam (Westworld)
Ian Ziering (Sharknado)
Michael Beach (Aquaman)
RJ Cyler (Power Rangers)
Macon Blair (Logan Lucky)
Elle Graham (Mile 22)
Given Sharp (The Gifted)
Tim Russ (Star Trek: Voyager)
Selena Anduze (Venom)
Adrienne Barbeau (The Fog)
Justice Leak (Supergirl)
Jake Busey (Starship Troopers)

Swamp Thing (2019)Say what you will about DC Universe, but original series-wise the still-young streaming service is on the same trajectory as Superman himself: Up, up, and a-way better than Titans. That first series had its fans and certainly improved as it went along,  Then came Doom Patrol, which started out solid as Brendan Fraser‘s bare backside and gradually became one of the most wonderfully absurd delights on all of television.Crystal Reed in Swamp Thing (2019)That put a lot of pressure on the big mossy shoulders of original series #3, Swamp Thing, to keep up the quality, especially in the wake of the backstage wonkiness that cut its originally-ordered 13 episodes to 10. Well, I’m here to report that Swamp Thing, at least in its first two episodes, not only ups the ante, it’s also a triumph on pretty much every level, a nasty, gleefully disturbing bit of body horror on the Louisiana bayou that evokes everything from John Carpenter‘s The Thing to executive-producer James Wan‘s work with the Trench in Aquaman. It’s 2019, man, and it looks like it’s officially time to go green.Derek Mears and Crystal Reed in Swamp Thing (2019)Len Wiseman—the director behind the pilots for Sleepy Hollow and Lucifer—also helmed the pilot here, an extremely on-brand choice considering Swamp Thing follows a similar formula: Straight-laced professional woman partners up with a quirky man who has a supernatural twist. In Sleepy Hollow, it was a sheriff’s lieutenant and the actual Ichabod Crane. In Lucifer, it was a detective and the literal Christian Devil. Here, it’s a member of the CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service named Abby Arcane (Crystal Reed) and biologist Alec Holland (Andy Bean), the latter who—spoilers—eventually morphs with a sentient swamp to become a giant moss-monster played under heavy prosthetics by former Jason Voorhees Derek Mears. Again, it’s a formula, but the formula really does work to charming effect.Swamp Thing (2019)Arcane has been called back to her hometown of Marais, Louisiana to investigate a strange disease that’s seemingly emanating from the nearby swamp, causing locals to collapse, cough up gooey leaves into their hospital beds, and—in much more extreme cases—devolve into mossy, decaying statues straight out of a biologist’s worst fever dreams. (Think the gory artwork of Hannibal meets, like, a fucked-up Ent.) Butting into her investigation is disgraced scientist Holland, who discovered abnormal mutagens in the swamp that may just be the key to finding a cure. But the deeper Arcane and Holland dig, the more it smells like a rotten conspiracy, a conspiracy the swamp itself seems intent on violently stopping.Derek Mears in Swamp Thing (2019)It’s in that violence and rot that this show truly shines as a no-joke horror story, not a surprise given Wan’s involvement and a pilot script co-written by Gary Dauberman (IT, The Nun) and Mark Verheiden (Ash vs. Evil Dead). Wiseman, who also directed episode 2, shoots Marais’ swamp like a dark fairy tale, all twisted trees and moonlit ponds. The effect makes it that much more jarring in the moments that almost primordial darkness invades Abby Arcane’s world of science. There’s a scene set in a morgue that floored me in its creepiness; the swamp disease brings a corpse back to profane “life”, the body standing up off the operating table even as it’s ripped apart by twisting vines and probing branches. It’s gross, it really does have serious The Thing vibes, and most importantly, it appears to be mostly practical.

Derek Mears in Swamp Thing (2019)Those practical set-pieces throughout elevate Swamp Thing a good deal. Maybe it’s the Jaws fanatic in me, but I love seeing a boat actually lifted out of the water by some unseen monstrosity. But Fractured FX—the minds behind the Lipstick-Face Demon in Insidious and every ghoul in The Conjuring franchise, among many other abominations—worked overtime to make sure the monstrosities we do see are equally impressive. I don’t think Swampy fans could ask for a more pitch-perfect live-action take than the one we get here. The suit plastered on Mears oozes and shines in all the right, rotten ways; there’s a moment where he pulls off a piece of his own head and you can see the strands of goo between his fingers. It’s disgusting. It’s great. (And yes, Swamp Thing is ripped af, and I expect certain corners of the internet to react accordingly, as is their right.)Derek Mears in Swamp Thing (2019)But the real miracle here is that Swamp Thing still manages to feel like a human show. Abby Arcane is an effective entry point into the madness; she brings back to her hometown a dark secret from her past that Reed manages to tease out through haunted looks and sentences cut just short. She has an easy chemistry with a pre-monster Bean, whose oddball charisma makes you sad that he has to turn into Swamp Thing on a show literally called Swamp Thing. But of course, it’s Mears pulling the real magic trick here. He doesn’t speak a single word over the first two episodes because he doesn’t need to. Mears injects a potent dose of rage, confusion, and sadness into Swamp Thing with his face, the way he stands, the way he stumbles against a tree.Sadly Swamp Thing got cancelled due to a high budget, so one season is all we get, but it sure as hell is one hell of a season

25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: STAR TREK: GENERATIONS

CAST

Patrick Stewart (X-Men)
William Shatner (TJ Hooker)
Jonathan Frakes (Roswell)
Brent Spiner (Dude, Where’s My Car?)
LeVar Burton (Roots: The GIft)
Michael Dorn (Ted 2)
Gates McFadden (Crowned and Dangerous)
Marina Sirtis (The Grudge 3)
Alan Ruck (Speed)
Malcolm McDowell (Halloween)
Jacqueline Kim (Xena)
Barbara March (L.A. Law)
Gwynyth Walsh (Taken)
Patti Yasutake (Gung Ho)
Whoopi Goldberg (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
James Doohan (Some Things Never Die)
Walter Koenig (Babylon 5)
Thomas Kopache (Stigmata)
Tim Russ (Samantha Who?)
Majel Barrett (Earth: Final Conflict)
Brian Thompson (The Terminator)
Thomas Dekker (Terminator: TSCC)
Glenn Morshower (Supergirl)

In the year 2293, retired Captain James T. Kirk, Montgomery Scott, and Pavel Chekov attend the maiden voyage of the Federation starship USS Enterprise-B, under the command of the unseasoned Capt. John Harriman. During the voyage, Enterprise is pressed into a rescue mission to save two El-Aurian ships from a strange energy ribbon. Enterprise is able to save some of the refugees before their ships are destroyed, but the starship becomes trapped in the ribbon. Kirk goes to deflector control to alter the deflector dish, allowing Enterprise to escape, but the trailing end of the ribbon rakes across Enterprise’s hull, exposing the section Kirk is in to space; he is presumed dead.

In 2371, the crew of the USS Enterprise-D celebrate the promotion of Worf to Lieutenant Commander. Captain Jean-Luc Picard receives a message that his brother and nephew were killed in a fire, meaning the storied Picard family line will end with him. Enterprise receives a distress call from an observatory in orbit of the star Amargosa, where they rescue the El-Aurian Dr. Tolian Soran. The android Data and engineer Geordi La Forge discover a compound called trilithium in a hidden room of the observatory. Soran appears, knocks La Forge unconscious, and launches a trilithium solar probe at Amargosa. The probe causes the star to implode, sending a shock wave toward the observatory. Soran and La Forge are transported away by a Klingon Bird of Prey belonging to the treacherous Duras sisters, who had stolen the trilithium for Soran in exchange for the designs for a trilithium weapon. Data is rescued just before the station is destroyed by the shock wave.

Guinan (Whoopi Goldberg), Enterprise’s bartender, tells Captain Jean-Luc Picard more about Soran; they were among the El-Aurians rescued by the Enterprise-B in 2293. Guinan explains that Soran is obsessed with reentering the “Nexus”, an extra-dimensional realm where time has no meaning and anyone can experience whatever they desire. Picard and Data determine that Soran, unable to fly a ship into the ribbon due to the uncertainty that the ship will survive long enough to ensure his success, is instead altering the path of the ribbon by destroying stars, and that he will attempt to re-enter the Nexus on Veridian III by destroying its sun—and, by extension, a heavily populated planet in the system.

Upon entering the Veridian system, Enterprise makes contact with the Duras Bird of Prey. Picard offers himself to the sisters in exchange for La Forge, but insists that he be transported to Soran’s location first. La Forge is returned to Enterprise, but he inadvertently reveals Enterprise’s shield frequency, allowing the Duras sisters to inflict crippling damage on Enterprise. Enterprise destroys the Bird of Prey, but has sustained irreversible damage to its warp core. Commander William Riker orders an evacuation to the forward saucer section of the ship which separates from the star drive. The shock wave from the star drive’s destruction sends the saucer crashing to the surface of Veridian III.

Picard fails to talk Soran out of his plan and is too late to stop him from launching his missile. The collapse of the Veridian star alters the course of the Nexus ribbon as predicted, and it sweeps Picard and Soran away while the shock wave from the star obliterates everything in the system. In the Nexus, Picard finds himself surrounded by the family he never had, including a wife and children, but realizes it is an illusion. He is confronted by an “echo” of Guinan. After being told that he may leave whenever he chooses and go wherever and whenever he wishes, Guinan sends him to meet Kirk, also safe in the Nexus. Though Kirk is at first reluctant to leave, Picard convinces Kirk to return to Picard’s present and stop Soran by assuring him that it will fulfill his desire to make a difference.

Leaving the Nexus, the two arrive on Veridian III minutes before Soran launches the missile. Kirk distracts Soran long enough for Picard to lock the missile in place, causing it to explode on the launchpad and kill Soran. Kirk is fatally injured by a fall during the encounter; as he dies, Picard assures him that he made a difference. Picard buries Kirk before a shuttle arrives to transport him to the wreckage of the Enterprise saucer. Three Federation starships enter orbit to retrieve Enterprise’s survivors.Well in my opinion this is one of the best one of all the next gen films, it offers alot for everyone, not just trek fans, as it has the old and the new in it, and everyone loved Kirk for one reason or another. Patrick Stewart has about the biggest emotional range he has ever had in this film. A great beginning for the Next Generation on the big screen.