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: STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE – SEASON 1-4

Image result for STAR TREK ENTERPRISE LOGO

MAIN CAST

Scott Bakula (Chuck)
Jolene Blalock (Starship Troopers 3)
Connor Trinneer (Stargate: Atlantis)
Dominic Keating (Heroes)
Linda Park (Jurassic Park 3)
Anthony Montgomery (Leprechaun In The Hood)
John Billingsley (Cold Case)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Tommy Lister (The Dark Knight)
Vaughn Armstrong (Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue)
Jim Beaver (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Gary Graham (Alien Nation)
Thomas Kopache (Catch me If You Can)
Melinda Clarke (Spawn)
James Cromwell (Species II)
Henri Lubatti (Angel)
Erick Avari (Stargate)
Jeffrey Combs (The Frighteners)
Jane Carr (Treasure Planet)
Paula Malcomson (The Hunger Games)
Gregory Itzin (Firefly)
Jeff Kober (New Girl)
Eric Pierpoint (Alien Nation)
Keith Szarabjka (Angel)
Conor O’Farrell (Lie To Me)
Clint Howard (Apollo 13)
Ethan Phillips (Bad Santa)
Annie Wersching (The Vampire Diaries)
Rene Auberjonois (Boston Legal)
Dennis Christopher (Angel)
John Rubinstein (Legends of Tomorrow)
Fionnula Flanagan (Yes Man)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Rudolf Martin (buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Keone Young (Alias)
Brad Greenquist (Heroes)
Holmes Osborne (Donnie Darko)
Sean Whalen (Twister)
J.G. Herztler (Roswell)
Larissa Laskin (Earth: Final Conflict)
Bonita Friedericy (Chuck)
Brigid Brannagh (Angel)
Keith Carradine (The Big Bang Theory)
Robert O’Reilly (The Mask)
Stephen McHattie (300)
Rick Worthy (The Vampire Diaries)
Daniel Dae Kim (Lost)
Stephen Culp (Scream Queens)
Tucker Smallwood (Traffic)
Maury Sterling (The A-Team)
Sam Witwer (Smallville)
James Parks (Kill Bill)
Emily Bergl (Carrie 2)
Leland Orser (Seven)
Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Walking Dead)
Erin Cummings (Spartacus)
Casey Biggs (Broken Arrow)
Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy)
Bruce Thomas (Army of Darkness)
Joanna Cassidy (Blade Runner)
Alec Newman (Dune)
Richard Riehle (Texas Chainsaw 3D)
Brent Spiner (Dude, Where’s My Car?)
Robert Foxworth (Beneath Loch Ness)
Todd Stashwick (The Originals)
Lee Arenberg (Once Upon A Time)
Brian Thompson (Hired To Hill)
James Avery (That 70s Show)
Harry Groener (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Peter Mensah (Sleepy Hollow)
Marina Sirtis (The Grudge 3)
Jonathan Frakes (Roswell)

Out of all the Star Trek series and films, Enterprise is easily the most overlooked, and was the only one since the original to be canceled. This isn’t because it wasn’t as good as the rest, but simply the way it was marketed. The show is in fact a prequel to Kirk’s Enterprise, and does take place before the Federation, but what the show lacks in technology, is more than made up for with realism and some of the best character development in the Star Trek franchise.

100 years after Zefren Cochrane’s warp flight, the human race has had enough of Vulcans holding them back, and have created the first warp five star ship in human history. Over the Vulcan’s objections, Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula), the son of the engines designer, has been selected to Captain the ship and explore a galaxy that humans know very little about.
This show is extremely important to the franchise and all Trekkies, as it not only shows humanities first trip out of our solar system and first contact with all the races we’ve come to know over the years, but the show fills in a lot of the gaps from all the other series and films! Enterprise explores the origins of Data’s creator, the Eugenic Wars (which created Khan), the development of many protocols and much of the tech we see on future ships, but most important of all the series shows how the foundation for the Federation and the creation of star fleet all came together.
Enterprise was also unique for it’s character development and realism, in that it takes place in the not to distant future. We get to know the crew intimately, from their fears to their families, and we see them doing and discussing things never before seen in Star Trek. The Enterprise crew has a classic movie night, watches sports on TV, has pets, and they even talk about sex. The cast is lead by Scott Bakula, which was another great move by producers. Casting a veteran science fiction actor, whose been in long running series, automatically gives him that air of experience and authority that Picard had. He’s also a younger man, so with no federation policies in place yet, Archer can be just as much of a risk taker as Kirk was, even more so.
Star Trek Enterprise was extremely enjoyable, and a series people could relate to more than any other in the Star Trek franchise. The show isn’t simply about the future and the Federation, it’s about what it means to be human and how that compares to other species. It shows what we need to do in order to get along with and understand other cultures, but most of all it fills in so many holes from previous films and episodes, that it truly was the missing link.

Unfortunately for Star Trek fans, the show barely made a hundred episodes, because it was on a dying network, that folded shortly after the show was canceled, screwing us Trekkie’s out of three more seasons. As with all the previous series, the story has been continued in books, but in this case, the books were written by the main writers of the series, and do encompass everything that would have happened in seasons five, six, and seven.

REVIEW: GOTHAM – SEASON 2

CAST

Ben McKenzie (Batman: Year One)
Donal Logue (Ghost Rider)
David Mazouz (Mike & Molly)
Morena Baccarin (Firefly)
Zabryna Guevara (All Good Things)
Sean Pertwee (Dog Soldiers)
Robin Lord Taylor (Another Earth)
Erin Richards (The Quiet Ones)
Camren Bicondova (Girl House)
Corey Michael Smith (Carol)
James Frain (The Cape)
Jessica Lucas (Cult)
Chris Chalk (12 Years a Slave)
Nicholas D’Agasto (Final Destination 5)
Michael Chikilis (Fantastic Four)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Richard Kind (Stargate)
Clare Foley (Win Win)
Carol Kane (The Princess Bride)
Todd Stashwick (The Originals)
Peter Scolari (The Polar Express)
Anthony Carrigan (The Flash)
Cameron Monaghan (The Giver)
Dustin Ybarra (Hop)
Drew Powell (Straw Dogs)
Maria Thayer (Hitch)
Natalie Alyn Lind (The Goldbergs)
Michelle Veintimilla (Limitless TV)
Ron Rifkin (Alias)
Michelle Gomez (Highlander: The Raven)
Tommy Flanagan (Sin City)
Lori Petty (Tank Girl)
BD Wong (Jurassic World)
Tonya Pinkins (Enchanted)
Nathan Darrow (House of Cards)
Michael Bowen (Lost)
Melinda Clarke (Spawn)
Paul Reubens (Batman Returns)
Ned Bellamy (Termiantor: TSCC)
Jada Pinkett Smith (Collateral)

The origin story continues on Gotham and the stakes are higher than ever, as Super Villains more ambitious and depraved are introduced, and a shift of alliances shakes up the fight for power in Gotham City. In season two, Detective Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and the ethically questionable veteran Detective Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) remain at the forefront of the fight against crime in this dangerously corrupt city. While confronting Gotham’s most notorious criminals, however, Gordon’s moral compass begins to waver, but he is taken under the wing of Nathaniel Barnes (Michael Chiklis), a law-and-order zealot who is unafraid of making enemies. At the same time, Gordon continues his quest to gain the trust of the young Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz), who is on a clear path towards the man he is destined to become, after discovering his father’s deepest secrets, with the help of his trusted butler and mentor, Alfred Pennyworth (Sean Pertwee), and newfound ally at Wayne Enterprises, Lucius Fox (Chris Chalk).

In the epic turf war that occurred at the conclusion of season one, Oswald Cobblepot aka The Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) battled his way into power over Gotham’s underworld. Heading into season two, Gotham will continue to follow the evolving stories of the city’s most malevolent villains: Edward Nygma/The Riddler (Cory Michael Smith), whose transformation from Gotham PD’s forensic expert to psychologically unhinged villain continues; Selina Kyle/the future Catwoman (Camren Bicondova), whose hard-knock existence propels her into a life of crime; and the increasingly unstable Barbara Kean (Erin Richards), who is out for Gordon and his girlfriend, Dr. Leslie Thompkins (Morena Baccarin). Also hoping to leave his mark on the city is Theo Galavan (James Frain), the billionaire industrialist, who appears to be the savior for whom Gotham has been waiting. Theo, along with his sister and lead enforcer, Tabitha Galavan aka Tigress (Jessica Lucas), keep their centuries-old vendetta hidden, as they manipulate their way to power.

Here in Season Two, there is far less dependence on self-contained episodes and more emphasis on the development of long running and serialised story arcs. In my opinion, this is better than Season One.
This remains a highly entertaining show.

REVIEW: ALONG CAME POLLY

CAST

Ben Stiller (Dodgeball)
Jennifer Aniston (Rumor Has It..)
Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Ides of March)
Debra Messing (The Wedding Date)
Alec Baldwin (Mission Impossible 5)
Hank Azaria (The SImpsons)
Bryan Brown (Australia)
Jsu Garcia (A Nightmare On Elm Street0
Michele Lee (Knots Landing)
Masi Oka (Heroes)
Missi Pyle (Big Fish)
Kevin  Hart (Ride Along)
Cheryl Hines (Waitress)
Todd Stashwick (The Originals)

Reuben Feffer (Ben Stiller), an insurance actuary, is celebrating his honeymoon with newlywed wife, Lisa Kramer (Debra Messing), on the island of St. Barts, but catches her having sex with Claude (Hank Azaria), a French scuba instructor. Returning home to New York alone, he attempts to piece his life back together. Reuben goes to an art gallery with his friend, Sandy Lyle (Philip Seymour Hoffman), where he runs into former junior high school classmate Polly Prince (Jennifer Aniston).

Reuben and Polly begin dating, with her introducing him to activities he once wrote off as “too risky”, such as eating at a Moroccan restaurant and salsa dancing, which culminates with the pair enthusiastically sleeping together, with Reuben shouting “50” as he orgasms. The contrast between their two personalities is a source of comedy throughout the film until Lisa returns and tells him she wants to reconcile their relationship. Meanwhile, Sandy, a self-centered, former teen idol, is trying to make a comeback by having a documentary filmed about his starring role as Judas in an amateur production of Jesus Christ Superstar. Reuben is torn between the free-spirited Polly and the safe and familiar Lisa. To solve this issue, he enters information about Polly and Lisa into a computer insurance program which measures risk. The computer tells him that, despite his numerous blunders with her, Polly is the best choice for him. Polly joins Reuben on a sailing trip he is going on, to inspect Leland Van Lew (Bryan Brown), a high-risk client, but gets offended when she sees his risk analysis of herself and rejects his proposal to move in together, telling him that he would be better off going back to Lisa.

Back home, Reuben tries talking to Polly, but to no avail. He eventually invites Lisa to Sandy’s opening show, where he learns that Polly is leaving New York for Cincinnati in a few hours. After a speech given by his father, Irving (Bob Dishy), to Sandy about not living in the past, Reuben realizes he wants to be with Polly and not Lisa, and he rushes to her apartment to stop her from leaving. Polly is not convinced she should stay with him, so Reuben eats food off the ground to prove he is capable of taking risks.  Reuben and Polly go on holiday to the same beach where Lisa and he had their honeymoon. Reuben again encounters Claude, but instead of being angry, he thanks Claude, and then heads into the water with Polly to join Van Lew on his new boat.

Along Came Polly was an entertaining film, but just wasn’t an amazing one. Ben Stiller has made some good films in the past. However I thought that the plot was a little weak. I think Ben Stiller’s character should have played out to a larger extent, the fact that he analysed every situation no matter how trivial. I really did not see much point in the ferret! And the romance which was the main feature of the film did not really bowl you over either. The film itself was actually very short aswell. Overall it is a film worth seeing but not one you will particulary want to see again or one you will particularly remember

 

REVIEW: HEROES: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION (BLU-RAY)

CAST
Milo Ventimiglia (Gotham)
Hayden Panettiere (Bring it on 3)
Jack Coleman (Kingdom Hospital)
Tawny Cypress (Supergirl)
Leonard Roberts (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Santiago Cabrera (Merlin)
Masi Oka (Get Smart)
Greg Grunberg (Alias)
Adrian Pasdar (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D)
Noah Gray-Cabey (My Wife and Kids)
Ali Larter (Final Destination 1 & 2)
Sendhil Ramamurthy (Beauty and the Beast)
NOTABLE / RECURRING GUEST CAST
James Kyson Lee (Hawaii Five-O)
Zachary Quinto (Hitman: Agent 47)
Ashley Crow (The Secret Circle)
Jimmy Jean-Louis (Arrow)
Cristine Rose (How I Met Your Mother)
Thomas Dekker (Terminator: TSCC)
Lisa Lackey (Bones)
Matthew John Armstrong (American Dreams)
Christopher Eccleston (Doctor Who)
Nora Zehetner (Brick)
Clea DuVall (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles)
Randall Bentley (Upside)
Missy Peregrym (Smallville)
Danielle Savre (Boogeyman 2)
Eric Roberts (The Dark Knight)
Adair Tishler (Dollhouse)
Rena Sofer (Traffic)
Malcolm McDowell (Halloween 1 & 2)
George Takei (Star Trek)
Jayma Mays (Ugly Betty)

Heroes Season 1 is an ensemble cast show that became a very large success based on how well it translated the comic book world to the small screen. Set on present day Earth, the show details how a growing number of people are developing special abilities outside of government control with a variety of consequences to them and the population at large. Unlike the truncated second season, the first had a full 23 episodes to explore the concept, resulting in a number of smaller, multi-episode arcs that all built toward a bigger picture as the season progressed. Unlike the old style of comic books though, the cast is made up of all sorts of regular people that start to notice they are”special, some of whom learn to increase their abilities with concentration or training, stumbling at times but honing said powers in numerous ways.

In overall terms, the story uses the Human Genome Project as something of a starting point, using scientist Mohinder Suresh (Sendhil Ramamurthy) as a focal point for identifying gifted people as he follows a trail set forth by his father, a formerly distinguished geneticist that chased what were considered crazy ideas about human evolution until he was killed. Mohinder discovers that certain trace markers in human DNA predict people with abilities and having observed firsthand exactly how gifted some of these people are, he ends up trying to warn them of a serial killer named Sylar (Zachary Quinto) and what appears to be secret agents out to capture them. Needless to say, his efforts are not universally appreciated and he himself is cast into the mix as a pawn, forced to face both powered and mundane humans out to stop him. The show also uses a dozen or so other main characters that either have powers or interact heavily with them, many seemingly patterned after specific comic book characters in terms of abilities, though not so much in terms of their personalities.

Take Hiro Nakamura (Masi Oka) for example, he can bend the space time continuum if he concentrates hard enough, the Japanese office worker slaving away at his father’s corporation while dreaming of his special destiny. The guy is a stereotypical science fiction/comic book nerd too, wanting more than anything to become a hero rather than follow the path laid out for him by his father Kaito (George Takei of Star Trek fame). His hit or miss attempts to control his powers provide some of the comic relief of the show but he also serves as someone genre fans can identify with as he tries to uncover his own future with the help of his best friend, the mundane Ando Masahashi (James Kyson Lee). Then there was Claire Bennet (hotty Hayden Panettiere), a gal with Wolverine-like healing powers who figures out she will regenerate no matter what happens to her, the gal finding out her adopted father Noah (Jack Coleman) is working for an agency with special plans for anyone with her kind of talents. The Texas high school cheerleader becomes an integral part of the main picture as she is stalked by Sylar, a man with the ability to take special powers by decapitating those he encounters, their showdown predicted long before by Isacc Mendez (Santiago Cabrera), a precognitive that draws the future while under the influence of heroin.

The cast also included internet stripper Niki Sanders (hotty Ali Larter) whose multiple personality disorder grants her alias Jessica super strength, Nathan Petrelli (Adrian Pasdar) a district attorney running for Congress that can fly, his brother Peter (Milo Ventimiglia) that finds out his ability is especially powerful as time moves forward, Matt Parkman (Greg Grunberg) a street cop that can read minds, and DL Hawkins (Leonard Roberts) who can become intangible at will. Some of them try to keep their secret, like Nathan since he is running for office, while others are on the run from the agency searching such folks out (their point man being Noah with the aid of a Haitian that can negate powers and erase minds played by Jimmy Jean Louis), the conspiracy something straight out of shows like The X-Files, Jericho, or Angel. The interactions of the cast make the show quite special too, capturing the spirit of modern comic books better than anything else I have seen to date.Particularly appealing is the manner in which most of the powers are not overly flashy, the dramatic elements allowed to keep the science fiction elements present but downplayed so that a larger audience won’t be alienated.

CAST
Milo Ventimiglia (Gotham)
Jack Coleman (Kingdom Hospital)
Masi Oka (Get Smart)
Greg Grunberg (Alias)
Adrian Pasdar (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D)
Hayden Panettiere (Bring it on 3)
Noah Gray-Cabey (My Wife and Kids)
Ali Larter (Final Destination 1 & 2)
Sendhil Ramamurthy (Beauty and the Beast)
David Anders (Izombie)
Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars)
Dania Ramirez (American Pie: Reunion)
Dana Davis (Prom Night)
James Kyson Lee (Hawaii Five-O)
Zachary Quinto (Hitman: Agent 47)
NOTABLE / RECURRING GUEST CAST
Jimmy Jean-Louis (Arrow)
Adair Tishler (Dollhouse)
Stephen Tobolowsky (Groundhog Day)
Shalim Ortiz (Silver Case)
Nicholas D’Agosto (Gotham)
Katie Carr (Dinotopia)
Eriko (Dragon Evolution)
Ashley Crow (The Secret Circle)
Randall Bentley (Upside)
Cristine Rose (How I Met Your Mother)
Dianna Agron (I Am Number Four)
Mark Christopher Lawrence (Chuck)

Heroes Season 2 picked up four months after the events of Season One with the characters having moved on from the explosive finish. The prophecy thwarted at great cost and Sylar stopped, the clock was reset in many ways for those that survived. Peter is missing, Nathan has become a recluse, Hiro is stuck in Medieval Japan, and the Bennett family is on the run from the Company. Some characters die off-screen or are greatly downplayed and new people are introduced, the major players added in being Maya and Alejandro from Central America. Maya has an uncontrollable ability to infect people with some form of fast acting disease and only her brother seems able to calm her down to reverse the effects. They are on the run for murder (the authorities are not really particular about “how” the deaths occurred so much as “who” was responsible) and head to New York City to meet Dr. Suresh in hopes of finding a cure, not knowing he was murdered. Along the way, they pick up a helpful hitchhiker named Gabriel (guess who) and trouble ensues but that is only one thread of many the show goes back to.Image result for heroes season 2Of much greater interest to me was the Bennett family, particularly Noah in his efforts to destroy the Company, and Claire, as she struggles with her powers, puberty, and origins. Hiro’s trip to Japan circa the Seventeenth century where he meets his childhood hero, Takezo Sensei, proves to be a disaster when he screws up the timeline and must repair it lest the fate of the world be irreparably altered. Sadly, the quirky journey he goes through was arguably the most impacted part of the WGA writer strike that shortened the season to a mere eleven episodes  Takezo finding out that he is special too, though no explanation given. How he deals with his father upon his return and his own shame at his betrayal of his hero provided some relief from the admittedly weak storyline but not nearly enough to compensate for some of the worst writing seen on the show that has just started season three.

Another new chapter in the saga revolved around a relative of Micah named Monica, the Katrina refugee with an uncanny ability to mimic anything she watches on television. This was a thread that had a bit of potential, largely because it contained Micah and Niki, but felt the sting of the shortened season as well, the gal trying to become a heroine and falling short of the mark out of stupidity. Parkman has lost his wife and identity only to start over again in New York, having learned to keep quiet about his abilities and use them serendipitously to advance himself to detective. He and Suresh take in Molly but soon have to face a powerful telepath that is hurting her, the piece of the puzzle unveiled to the bigger picture of a long time conspiracy by the founders of the Company that include the parents of most of the players currently focused on in the series. Suresh ends up working directly for the company too, racing to uncover the secrets of the genetic component that gives the cast their powers but also an engineered virus (the Shanti Virus) that threatens not only the metahumans but the rest of the populace as well.

Perhaps most curious in the season for me, aside from the arcs starring Peter and Sylar of course, are those leading to Bob (the current head of the organization) and his daughter Elle, a gal with electrifying powers that shows what Claire would have become had Noah truly been unattached to her as he was supposed to have been. A psychopathic killer on a short leash, Elle does the dirty work to seek her father’s approval, the contrast between her and Claire referred to time and again by those around them. The introduction of “Adam”, the first person with powers and a founding member of the Company with a huge grudge against humanity, was also kind of abrupt and his use of Peter to try and destroy the world (“resetting the clock on humanity”) had a lot of untapped potential too.

To me, the writers should have pared down the new characters and tied up things like the Hiro saga much sooner given the strike and shortened season. They should have also kept in mind the show has a devoted following so making the characters act outside of their established norms or contrary to what they would have done given the way they acted in the first season weakened it as well. That the major threads employed cheap plot devices used in the past certainly did not help either  but this was indicative of the major problem of the season for me, the pacing. Every book, television show, and movie has an internal rhythm and pace that fans get used to. The WGA strike forced the slowly escalating pace of the show to be accelerated well beyond normal and leave off all the suspense of Season One behind it.

CAST
Milo Ventimiglia (Gotham)
Adrian Pasdar (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D)
Jack Coleman (Kingdom Hospital)
Sendhil Ramamurthy (Beauty and the Beast)
Cristine Rose (How I Met Your Mother)
Zachary Quinto (Hitman: Agent 47)
Hayden Panettiere (Bring it on 3)
James Kyson Lee (Hawaii Five-O)
Masi Oka (Get Smart)
Greg Grunberg (Alias)
Ali Larter (Final Destination 1 & 2)
NOTABLE / RECURRING GUEST CAST
Brea Grant (Battle Planet)
Ashley Crow (The Secret Circle)
Zeljko Ivanek (The Bourne Legacy)
Jamie Hector (Lie To Me)
Ntare Mwine (Blood Diamond)
Blake Shields (Carnivale)
Robert Forster (Jackie Brown)
David H. Lawrence XVII (Lost)
Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars)
Randall Bentley (Upside)
Jessalyn Gilsig (Nip/Tuck)
Jimmy Jean-Louis (Arrow)
Malcolm McDowell (Halloween I & II)
David Anders (Children of the Corn)
Alan Blumenfeld (In Her Shoes)
George Takei (Star Trek)
Dan Byrd (Firestarter 2)
Francis Capra (Veronica Mars)
Noah Gray-Cabey (My Wife and Kids)
Lisa Lackey (Bones)
Eric Roberts (The Dark Knight)
Adair Tishler (Dollhouse)
Stephen Tobolowsky (Groundhog Day)

The first volume of the third season, Villains, brought back what made the show so good in its first season, with shadowy bad guys and intricate conspiracies, in a storyline that explored what the line is between a hero and a villain. The return of the Petrelli patriarch Arthur (played with quiet badass-ness by Robert Forster) created an us-or-them scenario where characters had to choose sides and decide how far they would go to get what they want

The other key storyline surrounds Mohinder (Sendhil Ramamurthy) and his efforts to understand where the Heroes’ powers come from. The race to discover how to give and take away powers, which involves a hidden formula and an element known as the catalyst, which is key to the granting of special powers. Mohinder grants himself powers, which creates what could be gently described as an homage to The Fly and the distribution of powers becomes sctattershot, as powers change and mutate with each episode, creating characters who suffered from the Superman syndrome, as they were simply too powerful to be defeated in a realistic way.

The newcomers from season 2 have mostly disappeared, with only Elle and Maya sticking around, with Maya in  a somewhat minor role. The additions this time around are much better, including the ultra-creepy Puppet Master; Daphne, the morally-ambivalent Flash of the Heroes universe, and Utusu, an African version of Isaac Mendez, capable of painting the future on big rocks. Though they are, in some ways, repetitions of other characters, they bring enough to the show to be interesting, especially Brea Grant’s speedster, who has a memorable conflict with Hiro (Masi Oka) and a starcrossed relationship with Matt (Greg Grunberg.) There are a handful of other newcomers, including some thuggish bad guys and yet another  role for Ali Larter.


The first arc ended with a bit of a thud, as is probably the only way a battle with a ruthless, all-powerful villain can end, but it was followed up with the Fugitives arc, which tried a bit too hard to have real-world relevance. Guided by a questionably-motivated Nathan (Adrian Pasdar), the government has begun to round-up super-powered people for Guantanamo Bay-style imprisonment, including all our favorite heroes. It puts all the big-names wither in shackles or on the run, a situation that could have been promising, but instead just peters out, as the motivation for each character’s actions is no wildly different from what we know of them that it makes sense. Nathan is all over the ballfield in how he conducts his hunt for his fellow kind, while Sylar has more personality changes than could be explained by the supposed psychotic break he’s experiencing.

The show consistently is one of the finest-looking series on TV, with gorgeous photography and special effects, and from time to time, there are bits of inspired creativity, like the origin story in “1961,” which makes a terrific call-back all the way to a small-bit of dialogue in the pilot, Larter’s character’s powerful outburst in “Cold Snap” and the realistic rage the otherwise moral Matt Parkman (Greg Grunberg) experiences in “Trust and Blood.” And maybe I’m a bit blind, but I didn’t see foresee the identity of the anonymous underground agent helping the heroes in Fugitive and found it a smart re-use of characters.

CAST
Hayden Panettiere (Bring it on 3)
Robert Knepper (Cult)
Jack Coleman (Kingdom Hospital)
Zachary Quinto (Hitman: Agent 47)
Milo Ventimiglia (Gotham)
Masi Oka (Get Smart)
Greg Grunberg (Alias)
Adrian Pasdar (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D)
James Kyson Lee (Hawaii Five-O)
Sendhil Ramamurthy (Beauty and the Beast)
Ali Larter (Final Destination 1 & 2)
NOTABLE / RECURRING GUEST CAST
Dawn Olivieri (The Vampire Diaries)
Madeline Zima (The Hand That Rocks The Cradle)
Ray Park (Star Wars – Episode I)
Deanne Bray (2 broke Girls)
Elisabeth Röhm (American Hustle)
Jimmy Jean-Louis (Arrow)
Lisa Lackey (Bones)
Todd Stashwick (The Originals)
David H. Lawrence XVII (Lost)
Ashley Crow (The Secret Circle)
Sasha Pieterse (X-Men: First Class)
Saemi Nakamura (Jury Duty)
Jayma Mays (Ugly Betty)
Tessa Thompson (Veronica Mars)
Rick Worthy (Collateral Damage)
Kate Vernon (Battlestar Galactica)
Louise Fletcher (Star Trek: DS9)
Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters)
Željko Ivanek (Hannibal)
Swoosie Kurtz (Mike & Molly)
Richard Roundtree (Shaft)
George Takei (Star Trek)
Tamlyn Tomita (Highlander: The Series)

The big storyline this time out centers around Samuel Sullivan and his family of superpowered carnies. Samuel is busy building the group, recruiting various super-powered individuals to join them, in an effort to form a homeland of their own  As is usually the case with any story on Heroes, thanks to the need to add twists and turns to pad out episodes, it’s not that simple, and, of course, all of the show’s main characters will be drawn into the tale. It seems that the Heroes have the best contact system known to man, as no one misses an e-mail or call to get together. At some point, coincidence and contrived are very similar. Either way, the show tries to have it both ways with Samuel, attempting to make him both pure evil and a sympathetic soul, like they did with Sylar. While the inexplicably coincidental familial concerns of the Petrelli clan keep going for yet another run of episodes, adding in a new super-powered love interest for Peter, the relationship between Claire and her father Noah is the show’s secondary focus, as Claire goes off to college in an attempt to live a normal life, and ends up in a lesbian couple, while displaying her trademark poor judgment and weakly-motivated rebelliousness. Meanwhile, Dad’s whole world is falling apart in a super-midlife crisis.

The rest of the old crew are still around as well, including erstwhile samurai Hiro, who’s battling a terminal illness and trying his hand at being a hero-for-hire, and Matt Parkman and Sylar, who get closer than they’d really like to be in the aftermath of Season Three. Though the conflict between them is one of the better tales told, and Sylar  remains one of the most interesting characters in recent TV history.

The worst part of the season though has to be the ending. After you’ve sat through 18 episodes, Claire outs herself to the world on camera demonstrating her powers for all the world to see, then the iconic words to be continued appear….. The show was cancelled.

Perhaps the upcoming Heroes Reborn mini series will qive answers to what the aftermath will be.

REVIEW: YOU, ME AND DUPREE

CAST

Owen Wilson (Wedding Crashers)
Kate Hudson (Gossip)
Matt Dillon (Crash)
Michael Douglas (Traffic)
Seth Rogen (Zack & Miri)
Amanda Detmer (Final Destination)
Todd Stashwick (The Originals)
Bill Hader (Superbad)
Billy Gardell (Mike & Molly)
Molly (Kate Hudson) and Carl (Matt Dillon) are preparing for their wedding day in Hawaii, until Carl’s friend Neil (Seth Rogen) interrupts to say that Randolph Dupree (Owen Wilson) got lost. They drive off together to pick up Dupree, who appeared to have hitched a ride with a light plane after landing on the wrong island. A day before the wedding, Molly’s father (Michael Douglas), who is also CEO of the company that Carl works for, makes a toast with humorous remarks at Carl’s expense, foreshadowing a conflict between the two. Later at a pre-celebration at a bar, Carl neglects Dupree to be with Molly. Carl and Dupree later make up on the beach, as Dupree apologizes for laughing at Molly’s father’s jokes. Carl and Molly get married. When Carl returns to work, at Molly’s father’s Thompson Land Development, he is surprised to find that Mr. Thompson has promoted him to be in charge of a design he proposed, though it had been altered somewhat.
Mr. Thompson makes absurd requests which proceed to get worse, starting with Thompson’s drastic reimagining of Carl’s new architecture project and that Carl get a vasectomy to prevent any future children with his daughter. Before returning home to celebrate his promotion with Molly, Carl stops by the bar, where he finds Neil and Dupree. After Neil leaves, Dupree reveals that he has financial problems, such as being evicted from his home and losing his job and car. Carl and Molly take Dupree into their home, though clearly they are frustrated as he is disruptive and messy. Molly sets up Dupree with a woman at her work, a primary school, who is a Mormon librarian. Dupree agrees, though Molly is shocked to find them having graphic sex when she comes home from dinner. Romantic candles burn down the front of the living room, and Dupree is kicked out.
Meanwhile, Carl is being continually stressed out from work, though he and Molly find time to go out for dinner. On the way back they find Dupree sitting on a bench in heavy rain with his belongings. Dupree reveals that the librarian had just dumped him. Feeling pity, Molly insists they take him back in. Dupree apologizes for being disruptive and agrees to mend his ways. The next day, Dupree makes amends, refurbishing the living room, and doing Carl’s thank-you letters, as well as making friends with kids from the block. Dupree cooks a large dinner for Molly and Carl, though Carl is late again, so Molly and Dupree start without him. When Carl finally shows up, he is a little jealous that they were having dinner together, and have a fight. Carl kicks Dupree out, suspecting an affair, which shocks Dupree. The following night, Mr. Thompson is over for dinner. Dupree attempts to sneak back in to their home, but fails and falls off the roof. He is found outside and is invited in for dinner.
After Mr. Thompson takes a liking to Dupree and asks him to go fishing with him, it enrages Carl because even though he doesn’t like fishing, it’s Mr. Thompson’s way of approving someone. Carl jumps across the table and attempts to strangle Dupree; Mr. Thompson hits Carl over the head with a candlestick shortly after. After returning from the hospital with a neck brace, Dupree and Molly confront Mr. Thompson about what he really thinks of his new son-in-law, while Carl had left. The next morning, Dupree gets all the local kids to search for Carl. Dupree eventually finds Carl in the bar, and convinces him to chase after Molly. Dupree helps Carl break in to Mr. Thompson’s office and confront him. The two finally reach an understanding and Thompson admits to his agenda of insulting Carl. Dupree and Carl return to the house, where Carl and Molly reunite, Carl apologizing, and agree to work it all out. All turns out well, with Dupree becoming a motivational speaker, Carl and Molly spending more time with each other, and Mr. Thompson accepting Carl as family. In a post-credits scene, then-famed bicyclist Lance Armstrong is seen reading Dupree’s motivation book.
This is an average romantic comedy, with some straightforward humor and a simple and predictable story. If you are looking for some mindless entertainment, then it is an option worth considering, but if you are looking for something more, you will have to look elsewhere.

REVIEW: DARK ANGEL – BOO

Image result for DARK ANGEL TV LOGO

BOO

MAIN CAST

Jessica Alba (Machete)
Michael Weatherly (NCIS)
Kevin Durad (X-Men Origins)
Richard Gunn (Hemlock Grove)
J.C. MacKenzie (The Aviator)
Valarie Rae Miller (La La Land)
Ashley Scott (Birds of Prey)

GUEST CAST

Sarah Carter (Smallville)
G. Michael Grady (The Tall Man)
Todd Stashwick (The Originals)
Kris Pope (Josie and The Pussycats)

It’s Halloween, and the employees of Jam Pony convince Normal to close early so that they can get busy partying. Honestly, I don’t think Halloween is such a big deal these days, but I can see how that kind of release would be much more important in more depressed times. Max and Original Cindy visit Joshua, who is living in Sandeman’s house (located in “Proof of Purchase”). Joshua thinks he would be able to go to the party at Crash with Max because everyone will believe he is in costume. Max is way too paranoid about what could happen, and convinces Joshua to stay in. Max drops by Logan’s apartment to ask him to go to the party, but he and Asha are trying to track a hitman that is supposedly going to be taking out a good guy sometime soon. Max heads home for a bath before the party. Max falls asleep in her bubble bath, and almost all of the rest of the episode is a dream.  Of course, we as the audience don’t know that it’s a dream, and we get to ride along as things get weirder and weirder.In the dream, Max’s possible-boyfriend Rafer shows up to pick her up for the party at Crash. His mother wants to meet her, so they go by his place. His mother turns out to be a psychic, and she weirds Max out by correctly “seeing” some of Max’s past and telling Max that she’s going to be chased until she’s dead. Joshua follows Max to Rafer’s place, and Max sneaks out to try to convince him to go home. However, Joshua has brought another transgenic that has a problem. This transgenic is superflexible and has somehow accidentally gotten his head turned around 180 degrees and can’t get it back straight. When Max and Joshua try to twist it around, the head snaps off and the body runs off. The head is OK and can speak and think.Max is in a panic to track down the headless body before the public starts to panic. Joshua helps the head call a couple other transgenics to help them. Then Max hides the head, and she and Joshua convince Rafer to drive them on an errand in his paramedic ambulance. (Rafer thinks Joshua is in costume.) They meet Dieter (a lizard guy) and Katarina (with lots of cat traits) in a diner, where it is haggis night. It’s a hoot when the three animal transgenics flip over the idea of haggis. Normal is at the diner, in traditional costume, for haggis night and stops by to harass Max. The head finally tells Max that he had planned to go to Jam Pony to find a package that was supposed to be delivered to him that day, but hadn’t been because the business closed early. The head supposes that that’s where his body has gone. Everyone piles into Rafer’s ambulance and head off, having told Rafer that they are participating in a German scavenger hunt.At Jam Pony, they hardly get started searching when they have to hide because Normal and some other employees show up. Normal tells his minions that he has confirmed that there are mutants around, and hands them all pictures of Max and the others from the diner. (This shows up in Max’s dreams because in real life Sketchy had been talking to Normal about mutants in the tabloids.) He has additional proof from his surveillance cameras at Jam Pony, because a headless mutant showed up and stole a package. Normal orders his minions to track down all the mutants – after they have cake and ice cream. After Normal and friends leave, Max consults the head about where his body might go next. Apparently he had planned to go to Crash, where the Halloween party is. They catch up with the body there and discover he has a sniper rifle, but the body manages to get away. Max breaks up a couple that she thinks is Logan and Asha making out, but it is look-alikes. Max realizes that the head (and his body) is the hitman Logan and Asha are looking for, so they go to Logan’s apartment to try to find his target since he refuses to reveal it.132bf-screenshot2013-07-23at9-43-50amThings had been strange up to this point, but now they get truly bizarre. While Max, the head, and Logan dig for information, the other transgenics and Asha play charades. Logan says that his informant told him the hitman’s target is “a priest, a minister, or a rabbi.”. Max gets fed up with the head’s refusal to help and begins dunking him in the toilet. Just as the head finally confesses the target, Rafer comes in and sees the head. He doesn’t believe Max’s explanation that it’s a “voice-activated fully articulated animatronic head”  and realizes that none of the transgenics are in costume, but they are actually mutants. Max knocks out Rafer and leaves him with Logan and Asha while she and the others go to save one Father McAllister, who is participating in the dress rehearsal of an award ceremony he will be in. Max and the others manage to foil the body and save the Father. As the Father is thanking them, Logan and Asha show up and announce their identities as Eyes Only and the “supreme commandant” of S1W and claim credit for the rescue. Then the police bust in and arrest all of the transgenics except Max. When questioned, Max denies that she is a transgenic.Image result for DARK ANGEL BOOThe episode seems to begin wrapping up with Max lamenting the sad turn of events for Joshua and the others while seated on the Space Needle. Then Original Cindy arrives and chides Max for denying who she is, which is probably really the only serious message in the entire episode. Then to emphasize that the events have been a dream, Max is suddenly naked.  We jump back to real life, with Cindy waking Max up in the bathtub. Max cancels on the party with Rafer, and instead takes Joshua trick-or-treating.This episode was truly bizarre and funny. The writers must have had a lot of fun with this episode. It felt like they took all their ideas that had been deemed just a little to weird for a “real” episode and dumped them into this. Someone must have had quite the imaginations to think of the transgenic losing his head, and setting up a situation with one normal human and a bunch of transgenics playing charades was near genius. It’s a great fun Halloween episode.