REVIEW: THE FINDER

Starring

Geoff Stults (Wedding Crashers)
Michael Clarke Duncan (The Scorpion King)
Mercedes Masohn (Fear The Walking Dead)
Maddie Hasson (Impulse)
Toby Hemingway (The Covenant)

Geoff Stults in An Orphan Walks Into a Bar (2012)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Jaime Murray (Gotham)
Amy Aquino (Moonstruck)
Roy Werner (Power Rangers Time Force)
Mitch Pileggi (Stargate: Atlantis)
Ryan Cutrona (Bones)
Blake Shields (Heores)
Mario Van Peebles (Highlander 3)
Katie Garfield (Legacies)
Jodi Lyn O’Keefe (The Vampire DIaries)
Ian Reed Kesler (2 Broke Girls)
Wilson Cruz (Star Trek: Discovery)
Lance Gross (Sleepy Hollow_
Jake Busey (The Predator)
Chris Johnson (The Orville)
Jonathan Slavin (Santa Clarita Diet)
Joshua Leonard (Bates Motel)
Eric Roberts (Heores)
Jason Beghe (Home Alone 4)
Peta Wilson (La Femme Nikita)
Sumalee Montano (10 Cloverfield Lane)
T.J. Thyne (Ghost World)
Juliette Goglia (Mike & Molly)
M.C. Gainey (Lost)
Laura Wiggins (Rings)
Salli Richardson-Whitfield (I Am Legend)
50 Cent (Spy)
Charlene Amoia (How I Met Your Mother)
Shane Edelman (Flightplan)
David H. Lawrence XVII (Lost)
Alex Fernandez (Devious Maids)
Mercedes Colon (JAG)
John Francis Daley (Game Night)
Yara Shahidi (Salt)
Kelly Carlson (Nip/Tuck)
Patrick Fabian (Better Call Saul)
Michael Irby (Barry)
Mageina Tovah (Spider-Man 2)
Chris Browning (Agent Carter)
William Stanford Davis (A Lot Like Love)
Mike Starr (Ed Wood)
Jose Pablo Cantillo (Crank)
Lorraine Toussaint (Selma)
Michael Des Barres (Posion Ivy 3)
Nestor Serrano (Bad Boys)
George Stults (Necrosis)
Annette O’Toole (Smallville)
Patrick Fischler (Birds of Prey)
Anne Ramsay (Mad About You)
Karina Logue (Scream: The Series)

Geoff Stults in An Orphan Walks Into a Bar (2012)I honestly didn’t expect to like The Finder. I wanted to like the show, of course. It has an intriguing concept — a former military man, now suffering from brain damage, is capable of finding absolutely anything — and comes from Hart Hanson, the man who made the weirdness of Bones possible. But I was not convinced. Fortunately, I was wrong. The Finder has flaws, but they are not enough to take away the show’s fun.The Finder (2012)Viewers got their first peek at The Finder, when the show and its characters were introduced during an episode of Bones. That back-door pilot wasn’t a complete fiasco or anything, but it did indicate that The Finder might just be a clunky, non-murder version of Bones, only without the romantic chemistry.In its series debut, the central characters and setting of The Finder remain the same — Walter Sherman (Geoff Stults) hangs out in a Florida Keys bar with his mammoth-sized sidekick, Leo (Michael Clarke Duncan), when not actively looking for a bizarre assortment of people and possessions.Michael Clarke Duncan, John Sanderford, and Geoff Stults in The Finder (2012)But there are changes. The character of Ike, a bartender and pilot played by Saffron Burrows, is gone. In her place, we get two new characters — Isabel (Mercedes Masohn), a US marshal with a casually semi-romantic interest in Walter, and Willa (Maddie Hasson), a felonious teen dropped at Walter and Leo’s bar by the juvenile justice system. The crux and plot-generating device of The Finder is Walter’s almost-supernatural (and possibly brain damage-caused) ability to locate things. In the premiere episode, “An Orphan Walks into a Bar,” Walter manages to locate: a) John Fogerty’s guitar b) A bank robber attending a cock fight c) The father of an orphaned teen who had crashed his plane and disappeared.Geoff Stults in The Finder (2012)Walter’s method and madness are both a lot of fun to watch. The central mystery is just twisted enough to provide solid entertainment throughout the hour. Geoff Stults and Michael Clarke Duncan are obviously having a great time with their characters, and that joy translates well on the screen. Mercedes Masohn’s Isabel is also a useful addition — not only does she have believable chemistry with Stults’ Walter, but she provides a much-needed connection to actual law enforcement.Geoff Stults and T.J. Thyne in The Finder (2012)Like its main character, The Finder is pleasant but a little bit awkward. The show is easy to watch, has an interesting mystery at the center and is well acted. It’s just going to take awhile before everything feels smooth. But a few bumps are not enough to derail the fun of The Finder. The show does crossover twice Bones, first Lance Sweet appears on the show then, Hodgens shows up for an episode.Geoff Stults and T.J. Thyne in The Finder (2012)As the show continued, it became a nice companion to Bones and a highly enjoyable show, sadly it was another show cancelled all too soon, with a cliffhanger leaving things unanswered. With the death of Michael Clarke Duncan it is unlikely we will ever see a conclusion of the story.

REVIEW: STAR TREK: DISCOVERY – SEASON 2

Michelle Yeoh, Doug Jones, Anson Mount, Ethan Peck, Anthony Rapp, Sonequa Martin-Green, and Mary Wiseman in Star Trek: Discovery (2017)

Starring

Sonequa Martin-Green (Rivers Wash Over Me)
Doug Jones (The Watch)
Anthony Rapp (Rent)
Mary Wiseman (Longmire)
Shazad Latif (Penny Dreadful)
Wilson Cruz (He’s Just Not That into You)
Anson Mount (Inhumans)

Star Trek: Discovery (2017)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Mia Kirshner (The Vampire Diaries)
Tig Notaro (In a World…)
Michelle Yeoh (The Lady)
Alan van Sprang (Reign)
Rachael Ancheril (Heroes Reborn)
Jayne Brook (Gattaca)
Ethan Peck (In Time)
Sonja Sohn (The Originals)
James Frain (Gotham)
Mary Chieffo (Miss Dial)
Kenneth Mitchell (Captain Marvel)
Rebecca Romijn (X-Men)
Melissa George (Triangle)
Hannah Cheesman (Defiance)
Emily Coutts (Crimson Peak)
Patrick Kwok-Choon (Wyatt Earp)
Oyin Oladejo (Pond)
Ronnie Rowe (A Simple Favor)
Arista Arhin (Odd Squad)
Raven Dauda (Gossip)
Julianne Grossman (Superman/Batman: Apocalypse)
Sara Mitich (The Expanse)
Bahia Watson (The Handmaid’s Tale)
Hannah Spear (Versus Valerie)
Alisen Down (Smallville)
Tara Nicodemo (Every Day)
Chris Violette (Power Rangers SPD)
Kenric Green (The Walking Dead)
Yadira Guevara-Prip (Supernatural)

Doug Jones, Anson Mount, David Benjamin Tomlinson, Rachael Ancheril, Sonequa Martin-Green, and Sean Connolly Affleck in Star Trek: Discovery (2017)Star Trek: Discovery’s inaugural season was faced with a seemingly impossible feat. The CBS All Access series was tasked with delivering a fresh new take that appeased a hardcore fan base and remained true to the franchise’s 50-year history, while also appealing to a Trek noob who wouldn’t know Voyager from Deep Space Nine. Although Season 1 stumbled in its efforts to remain tightly within canon while also telling an exciting and cohesive story, the show managed to pull off a commendable first run thanks to a charming bridge crew, a delectably villainous leader in Captain Lorca (Jason Isaacs) and that unapologetic love of science and adventure which has come to define the franchise as a whole.Anson Mount, Rachael Ancheril, and Sonequa Martin-Green in Star Trek: Discovery (2017)Building on that, Discovery really hits its stride in Season 2. With the Klingon War on the backburner, the series is finally able to breathe, and as a result, delivers a refreshing sophomore run that just feels like the weight of the world has been lifted off its shoulders. After receiving a distress call from the USS Enterprise, the Discovery crew ditches its plan to pick up a new captain on Vulcan in order to help out fellow Federation officers in need. Starfleet’s most prized ship is offline after suffering a catastrophic meltdown while tracking one of seven red signals that have suddenly appeared in space. With his ship on the sidelines, Captain Pike (Anson Mount) takes the helm of the Discovery for an important rescue mission that was only meant to be temporary. But those ominous signals pose a serious threat to the universe so of course, he’s needed to stay on and uncover that mystery, thus kicking off a thrilling adventure in deep space.Bringing in an iconic character like Pike could have been disastrous but Discovery somehow makes it work. He’s seamlessly woven into the narrative, bringing exhilarating new energy that never overpowers the series’ core cast. Mount’s Pike is dashing, charismatic and genuinely likable, but not without his faults. He’s very much the man Gene Roddenberry envisioned so many decades ago but never feels like a relic of the past. He’s exactly what Discovery, both the crew and series as a whole, needs right now. But he’s also just a fraction of what makes Season 2 such an enjoyable experience.With Discovery learning to let loose and have fun, Season 2 utilizes its arsenal of delightful characters in a way that it never could before. Owing to that is the adorkably wonderful Tilly (Mary Wiseman), last season’s Miss Congeniality whose expanded role is like a much-needed serotonin boost. Brilliant, funny and bursting with nerdy optimism, the new season finds her finally coming into her own as a confident leader, and that transformation is a pure joy to watch unfold. Equally amusing is newcomer Tig Notaro’s Denise Reno, the USS Hiawatha’s brilliant chief engineer whose deadpan humor easily makes her this season’s low-key gem.Anson Mount in Star Trek: Discovery (2017)But among a diverse group of amiable personalities, Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) remains the true heart and soul of the series. It’s mostly through her eyes that we learn about the world that Discovery has created, and in Season 2, her story again takes center stage. With the exploration of Burnham’s past comes the inevitable arrival of her adoptive brother Spock (Ethan Peck), and their family drama sets the groundwork for an engrossing journey in the new season.Linked through the same visions of a mysterious red angel, their broken dynamic breathes new life into Spock, a character who’s been explored inside and out, having been around for five decades. But Discovery presents a different Spock, someone on the losing side of an internal battle between reason and logic. He’s not the Vulcan you know from Star Trek: The Original Series, nor does he need to be. With this latest iteration set years before the events of TOS, the show found the loophole it needed to introduce this bearded, disheveled version into official canon — and it’s handled with great care.Ethan Peck in Star Trek: Discovery (2017)By all means, Discovery isn’t perfect. It’s still working to find that natural balance between nostalgia and modernity. But Season 2 takes a carefully bold, gripping, and undeniably fun stab at it and in turn, is a much better show.

REVIEW: 13 REASONS WHY – SEASON 2

Dylan Minnette in 13 Reasons Why (2017)

MAIN CAST

Dylan Minnette (Don’t Breathe)
Katherine Langford (The Misguided)
Christian Navarro (Bushwick)
Alisha Boe (Paranormal Activity 4)
Brandon Flynn (BrainDead)
Justin Prentice (Izombie)
Miles Heizer (Rails & Ties)
Ross Butler (Riverdale)
Devin Druid (Louder Than Bombs)
Amy Hargreaves (Wonderstruck)
Derek Luke (Biker Boyz)
Kate Walsh (After The Sunset)
Michele Selene Ang (Elementary)

2

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Brian d’Arcy James (Smash)
Steven Weber (Izombie)
Wilson Cruz (Star Trek Discovery)
Sosie Bacon (Scream: The Series)
Tommy Dorfman (Fludity)
Allison Miller (17 Again)
Tom Everett Scott (Race To Witch Mountain)
Ben Lawson (No Strings Attached)
Robert Gant (Supergirl)
Chelsea Alden (Facd 2 Face)
Bryce Cass (Battle Los Angeles)
Brandon Butler (Ring of Silence)
Anne Winters (Mom and Dad)
Jackie Geary (NCIS)
Brenda Strong (Supergirl)
Anthony Raoo (Star Trek: Discovery)
Tommy Dorfman (Insatiable)
Meredith Monroe (Hart of Dixie)
Mark Pellegrino (Lost)
Jake Weber (Homeland)
Brandon Butler (Trinkets)
Ajiona Alexus (Runaways)
Josh Hamilton (Alive)
Sosie Bacon (Scream: The Series)
Andrea Roth (Cloak & Dagger)
Sean Blakemore (Bones)
Brandon Larracuente (Bright)
Steven Silver (Council of Dads)
Keiko Agena (Gilmore Girls
Parminder Nagra (God Friended Me)

“I know some people don’t want us to talk about what happened,” Tyler (Devin Druid) says in voiceover at the start of “13 Reasons Why’s” second season. “But if we don’t talk about it, it’s never going to change. So it’s important for everyone to understand how it all happened. The whole story.”  This is the very first thing viewers of the new season will hear — well, second, if you include the new trigger warning video featuring members of the cast that plays ahead of the premiere. But the warning and monologue are intertwined, because they’re ultimately about the same thing. The warning acknowledges that, while Netflix’s mega-hit series was well-received in its first season, it also drew plenty of controversy over how it treated its sensitive subject material: suicide, sexual assault, drug abuse, and so on.MV5BMThiMjMyMmUtMjcwMC00NjAxLWI0MDMtMmEwN2UzYTExNjIzXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMzUwMTgwMw@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,733,1000_AL_But Tyler’s monologue, which we soon learn is delivered from the witness stand, is a defense of season two’s very existence. Yes, the creators (including showrunners Brian Yorkey and Diana son) know of the criticisms. Yes, they know there are questions as to why a season two even needed to happen. But their argument is that the season is necessary — “important,” even. And considering how successful the show has been, the story we see in season two may not even be the end. The trial in question, which has compelled troubled gun aficionado Tyler’s testimony, is a lawsuit against Liberty High School by the parents of late student Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford). Hannah’s tapes explaining why she committed suicide provided the narrative arc of season one, with each tape focused on a different person in Hannah’s life. The trial serves the same function this season, with each episode centering on a particular witness’ testimony.13-reasons-why-season2The result is something of an inverse of the first season: instead of Hannah’s voice on the tapes, we hear the other students, teachers, and her parents. They open up parts of the story we didn’t hear in season one, though we’re left to to decide on our own if we trust them as our narrators. Reversing the narrative doesn’t do much to change the core of the series. Clay is the rock of “13 Reasons Why,” the anchor who keeps us chained to Hannah’s story. No matter whether we disagree with Hannah’s actions, get frustrated with the treatment of rapist baseball player Bryce Walker (Justin Prentice), or would perhaps rather follow the complex, challenging story of survivor Jessica Davis (Alisha Boe), Clay keeps us on track. This is about Hannah, the girl he loved but never got up the guts to tell. This is about his journey to make sure her suicide is avenged — whatever that personally means to him. And this is about his relationship to her and her memory, no matter how many forces of doubt come to challenge that.https _blueprint-api-production.s3.amazonaws.com_uploads_card_image_771242_269f95fd-56f8-4925-86ec-20d889c7690dMinnette is a marvel, turning in one of the most committed, insular, intense performances you’ll see anywhere on television. The 21-year-old actor reads as a blank slate when he’s still — maybe a hint of a perpetual grimace on his face, but ultimately inoffensive. As a result, Clay is often seen looking pensive, quiet, and expressionless. When he breaks, however, Minnette shines. Clay screams, cries, and generally loses his cool this season, and Minnette captures it all without missing a beat. Every bit of pain seems to leave an extra wrinkle or crag on Clay’s face. Minnette himself makes Clay feel heavier as the season goes on, like having to do any small thing would cause the young man to explode. Minnette plays Clay as a teen on the verge of a nervous breakdown, and you can’t take your eyes off him. A good deal of the cast is good this season — particularly Kate Walsh as Hannah’s grieving-but-furious mother Olivia — but Minnette stands above the pack. His is a tour-de-force performance that goes a long way to making “13 Reasons Why’s” second season feel worth the drama.

REVIEW: 13 REASONS WHY – SEASON 1

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MAIN CAST

Dylan Minnette (Don’t Breathe)
Katherine Langford (The Misguided)
Christian Navarro (Bushwick)
Alisha Boe (Paranormal Activity 4)
Brandon Flynn (BrainDead)
Justin Prentice (Izombie)
Miles Heizer (Rails & Ties)
Ross Butler (Riverdale)
Devin Druid (Louder Than Bombs)
Amy Hargreaves (Wonderstruck)
Derek Luke (Biker Boyz)
Kate Walsh (After The Sunset)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Brian d’Arcy James (Smash)
Steven Weber (Izombie)
Keiko Agena (Labor Pains)
Josh Hamilton (J. Edgar)
Tom Everett Scott (Scream: The Series)
Giorgia Whigham (The Punisher)
Robert Gant (Supergirl)
Ajiona Alexus (Runaways)
Michele Selene Ang (Elementary)
Tommy Dorfman (Insatiable)
Mark Pellegrino (Lost)
Sosie Bacon (Scream: The Series)
Tom Maden (All Night)
Andrea Roth (Cloak & Dagger)
Steven Silver (Council of Dads)
Brandon Larracuente (Bright)
Henry Zaga (Trinkets)
Wilson Cruz (The Finder)

High school is a crappy, messy experience for the vast majority of people. That fact has never really changed, even with all the talk of Millennials being more sensitive and open-minded than any generation that preceded them. If anything, high school bullying has only become a more serious problem in recent years with the advent of social media and smartphones. Kids have always had a knack for being horrible to one another, but give them the anonymity of the Internet and a screen to shield themselves from the consequences of their actions, and suddenly you have teenagers driven to suicide thanks to revenge porn or targeted online harassment. 13 Reasons Why is perfectly positioned to explore bullying and high school culture in the post-Facebook era. It’s an often depressing and even uncomfortable show to watch, but that only makes it all the more powerful.Based on the best-selling YA novel from Jay Asher and adapted for television by Brian Yorkey, 13 Reasons Why opens several weeks after the tragic suicide of high school junior Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford). Despite her death, Hannah remains a very active participant in the show’s narrative thanks to copious flashbacks and a narrative device involving a series of cassette tapes she recorded shortly before her suicide. Those tapes fall into the hands of Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette), a socially awkward classmate still struggling to come to terms with Hannah’s death. Each of the series’ 13 episodes revolve around one of these tapes, with Hannah explaining in minute detail how her peers (including Clay himself) drove her to take her own life.It’s a pretty grim premise for a high school drama, even by the standards of death-obsessed YA stories like The Fault in Our Stars and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. And apart from the occasional friendly banter between Clay and Hannah or the recurring joke about Clay and his fellow students being utterly mystified by the concept of cassette tapes, there’s little room for humor here. That can make 13 Reasons Why a pretty emotionally draining experience, particularly towards the end as the pieces really start to fall into place. The final episode in particular features one of the most uncomfortable scenes on TV.Not really a show that encourages binge-watching, in other words. But 13 Reasons Why definitely succeeds in its goal of exploring how countless small and large acts of malice, as well as simple indifference or inattention, can fuel a terrible tragedy. Hannah herself references Chaos Theory in one episode, and it applies to this situation as well as it does an amusement park full of hungry dinosaurs. Hannah encounters just about every form of humiliation high school life can possibly throw at someone – from social isolation and petty gossip to sexual harassment and worse. The outcome is a foregone conclusion, so it’s really more a story about how and why so many of those close to Hannah failed to save her in time.Though a newcomer, Langford shines in the lead role. There’s a bright spark to Hannah that slowly fades over the course of the series as she becomes progressively more worn down by life’s disappointments. Langford embodies that optimism and that profound sadness well. Minnette’s Clay is, by design, a much more stoic and reserved character. In the present, Clay is practically a walking zombie stricken equal helpings of grief, confusion and fear about what he’ll learn when he eventually reaches his tape. Even in the past, Clay is someone who struggles to express his emotions and open up to those around him. Minnette does a fine job in what’s often a difficult role, though the show does rely a little too much on shots of Clay gazing wistfully into the distance as he reminisces about his interactions Hannah.Langford and Minnette are often at their best together, channeling just the right sort of warm but awkward chemistry you’d expect from two teens who can’t quite admit to their feelings for one another. Each new bit of progress in their relationship feels like a major victory, one rendered all the more poignant by the knowledge that their friendship/nascent romance is inherently doomed. There’s a nice sense of mystery and unease to their relationship as well. For a long time, it’s very unclear just how close the two characters were prior to Hannah’s death or what exactly Clay might have done to earn himself a spot among the dreaded thirteen .In general, 13 Reasons Why boasts a strong cast that tends to make the most of the material. Initially, Clay and Hannah’s classmates seem to fit into the usual high school stereotypes – your jocks, your cheerleaders, your preppy overachievers, your slackers, etc. But as each member of the thirteen is fleshed out in turn, they show a real depth and angst that reminds viewers that Hannah was hardly the only one who suffered from loneliness and a deep malaise. Standouts include Alisha Boe as psychologically troubled cheerleader Jessica Davis and Brandon Flynn as her equally tortured boyfriend, Justin Foley. The show places a greater emphasis on adult characters than the novel, with memorable, emotionally charged performances from Kate Walsh as Hannah’s grieving mother and Derek Luke as the school’s embattled counselor.13 Reasons Why is far from the most pleasant viewing experience Netflix has to offer, but it is a very powerful and hard-hitting series. The show explores the build-up to and aftermath of a teen’s tragic suicide with great care, painting a compelling portrait of one teen broken by life and another determined to find answers. The show easily ranks among the best high school dramas of the 21st Century.