REVIEW: BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: BLOOD & CHROME

CAST

Luke Pasqalino (The Musketeers)
Ben Cotton (Slither)
Lili Bordan (The Martian)
Jill Teed (X-Men 2)
John Pyper-Ferguson (Caprica)
Brian Markinson (Izombie)
Karen Leblanc (Cracked)
Sebastian Spence (First Wave)
Ty Olsson (The 100)
Zak Santiago (Shooter)
Mike Dopud (Stargate: Atlantis)
Adrian Holmes (Arrow)
Carmen Moore (Andromeda)
Terry Chen (Bates Motel)
Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica)

Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome’ tells story of Adama’s first mission. Battlestar Galactica” is the franchise that will not die. The original television series in the 1970s was cancelled because of the cost of production. It was then revived for a short-lived budget-crunched version named “Galactica 80,” which brought the rag-tag fleet of star voyagers to the Earth and less special effects. The franchise was kept alive throughout the 1980s and 1990s by way of comic books and novels.

2003 saw the launch of the rebooted version of “Battlestar Galactica.” After a mini-series, the television show went on for four seasons. It also spawned two TV movies and several web series. “Caprica” premiered in 2009, proving once again audiences just couldn’t get enough of this sci-fi phenomenon. Unfortunately, the show ended abruptly after two seasons.

“Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome” once again proves you can’t keep a good show down. Originally filmed to be the pilot for a new SyFy Channel series, it was decided to split it up into 10 parts and aired on Machinima.com as a web series. The entire pilot has now been reassembled and made available on Blu-ray and DVD in an “Unrated Edition.”

Young William Adama graduates from the Academy in the tenth year of the First Cylon War. He’s appointed to serve aboard the Colonial Fleet’s newest battlestar, the Galactica. His first assignment is as a pilot for a Raptor transport ship. Adama, his co-pilot Coker, and former Graystone Industries employee Dr. Beka Kelly are sent on a secret mission that will take them deep into Cylon territory.

Blood and Chrome takes place between “Caprica” and the 2003 series. Director Jonas Pate takes series creators Michael Taylor and David Eick’s script and successfully drops us back into the world of Battlestar Galactica.Pate has a history working within the universe, having helmed episodes of both Battlestar Galactica and Caprica. This helps give Blood and Chrome a familiar look that matches that of the earlier shows. Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome is another essential piece to the franchise puzzle for fans. It will satisfy their taste for more of this intriguing and complex universe and its characters.

REVIEW: CAPRICA – PART 2

 

Starring

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

Caprica (2009)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

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

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

REVIEW: CAPRICA – PART 1

Starring

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

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

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

 

Paula Malcomson in Caprica (2009)Creators Ronald Moore and David Eick relied on three key components for their hit SyFy series, Battlestar Galactica, to stay fresh and compelling for as long as it did: complex ideas behind evolved sentient lifeforms, religious parables, and the fondness for the characters’ home worlds — especially that of Caprica. The characters all look back at their previous lives almost as ghosts; Admiral Bill Adama painfully drudges up memories of his ex-wife and lawyer father, while Kara “Starbuck” Thrace carries memories of her small, ramshackle apartment and Samuel Anders yearns for the thrill of a sports stadium. Seems like such a rich mythos created just to be the ruminants of a past life, doesn’t it? The Moore-Eick team also sees this potential, now capitalizing on the gap left by Battlestar Galactica’s end to create the appropriately-titled Caprica. Though it moves slowly at first while constructing an involved narrative framework in its predecessor’s shadow, this mythos-rich offshoot eventually finds the footing needed to fall in-line with the original series’ current of storytelling.Patton Oswalt in Caprica (2009)The story revolves around the polytheistic, technologically-advanced colony of Caprica roughly sixty years before “the downfall”, focusing on the conflict between, and within, two families: The Graystones, and the Adamas Adams. Lawyer Joseph Adams (Esai Morales) lives a somewhat normal life with his wife and two children, Tamara and Billy, attempting to juggle his high-profile stature in the legal realm with his domestic life. He fights a bit with keeping himself as distanced as he can from his unsavory lineage, the Tauron mob Ha’la’tha, though it’s hard since the organization funded his education and requires his services regularly — usually by messages delivered through his brother, Sam (Sasha Roiz). BSG devotees with get a jolt in seeing the blossoming of young “Billy” in this environment early on, watching the growth of the semi-troubled youth that’d transform into the disquieting, powerful Galactica commander Bill Adama.Hiro Kanagawa in Caprica (2009)Caprica’s central draw, however, is the Graystones. Daniel Graystone (Eric Stoltz) heads a tech development firm working on a mechanized super-soldier that’s just not cutting the mustard, all the while generating profit (60% of net, to be exact) with virtual reality headsets — holobands — that connect to a network of fully-interactive, realistic digital worlds. Graystone’s seemingly safe digital construct quickly broke down into a laissez-faire underground, filled with hacked sections that exploit sex, drug-use, and violence. Daniel’s daughter, a silver-tongued high-school student named Zoe (Alessandra Torresani) who battles with her mother Amanda (Paula Malcomson) over authority, frequents the holoband V-Club with boyfriend Ben (Avan Jogia) and timid best friend Lacy (Magda Apanowicz), yet they’re beyond the carnal satisfaction that the place has to offer. Instead, they’ve found purpose in monotheistic religious belief within an activist organization, the Soldiers of The One (STO), and, in the process, created an exact digital copy of Zoe who will somehow aid the resistance.Alessandra Torresani in Caprica (2009)Observant fans will see where Caprica’s going with the duplicate Zoe, coming together in an introductory pilot that realizes the germ of an idea behind the genesis of the Cylon race, but it certainly doesn’t leave newcomers in the cold. Moore and Eick, with this freshness in mind, go in a startling direction with the content surrounding the Cylon conception; a murderous STO-related terrorist attack on a train rattles the city of Caprica, leaving the Graystones without their daughter and Joseph with only his son, Billy. The grief they endure becomes a convincing dramatic catalyst for what’s to come, breaking a floodgate for aggressive decision-making regarding family memories and Daniel’s technological advancement — with the idea of an exact digital replication of both mind and memory, such as the avatar of Zoe that lingers after her death, propelling it forward. It’s a thought-provoking launch that tackles some rather challenging concepts, including that of the human psyche as raw data and the extent that open-minded intellectuals might go to preserve those they’ve lost. And, of course, the narcissistic power behind potential immortality.Eric Stoltz and Esai Morales in Caprica (2009)Upon the second episode, “Rebirth”, one fact becomes very clear: Caprica isn’t cut from the same cloth as its inspiration, instead existing as a compelling new creation with its own hurdles to cross. In retrospect, the reimagined Battlestar Galactica painlessly continued the momentum from its original two-part miniseries, thrusting forward with space warfare and political components into the dazzling episode “33”. With Caprica, a shrewd character-driven thriller with complexity surrounding terrorism and family grief, the carry-over isn’t as easy. Thankfully, the Moore-Eick team never shies away, hitting the gas with some rather incisive writing as they drive deeper into Caprica’s unraveling and the Graystone company’s waning success in the wake of the terrorist attack. Along the way, they also grapple with themes of Tauron racism (“dirt eaters”) and religious extremism through the STO and one of its leaders, Zoe’s teacher Sister Clarice (Polly Walker), that correlate to actual issues, while also cleverly using the concept of a digital underground — especially in the anarchistic “New Cap City” game simulation, a mix of World of Warcraft and Grand Theft Auto — as a way of escape and purpose-finding.Esai Morales and Sasha Roiz in Caprica (2009)Yet as Caprica focuses on these modern analogous ideas while its characters develop into a mixture of morally desolate entities, the first batch of six or so episodes move at a deliberate, slow-burning tempo that shifts between intrigue and sluggishness. The harsh chemistry between Daniel and Joseph as scorned parents electrifies, driven by Eric Stoltz and Esai Morales in two stark, authentic performances, and the pacing focuses on the causal events that unfold around their family-affecting decisions. But focusing on this calculated slow-burn can, at times, temper the series’ manner and cause the multiple plot threads to stray from the course, weaving intuitive dramatic performances around a lot of existential meditation and shots of neo-religious content without the right energy to propel it forward. I still find it compelling; the depth of Daniel’s egotism reaches a genuine depth that’s unexpected, while offering a cluster of explosive moments — such as the board meeting in “There is Another Sky” that actually starts the Cylon race — spliced within the persistent, astute drama.Polly Walker and Magda Apanowicz in Caprica (2009)Then, as Caprica approaches “Ghosts in the Machine” and the mid-season finale “End of Line”, the gradual tension sees a much-needed outburst. These prior episodes extend into what’s essentially a rather lengthy fuse leading to this batch of dynamite, using brewing family turmoil and growing suspicions into an emotionally-taxing, brilliantly-realized culmination point. “Ghosts in the Machine” plays with the intensity of psychological torment in a staggering rush of emotion, while “End of Life” finds the first episode of the series to use the familiar “__ Hours Before” time mechanic frequently used in Battlestar Galactica. Quite simply, the build-up becomes worth the time at this point, igniting the series with the narrative outbreak it desperately lacked to become fully involving. Whether Caprica can maintain this momentum still remains to be seen, but the succession of these explosive developments that derive from subtly-evolving plot points — Amanda’s weakening sanity, Daniel’s obsession with meeting the development deadline, and the presence of the STO as violent radicals — satisfies with evocative, edge-of-your-seat chills at this midpoint, finally achieving that addictive science-fiction adrenaline that hallmarked its predecessor.

 

REVIEW: SANCTUARY – SEASON 4

Starring

Amanda Tapping (Stargate SG.1)
Robin Dunne (Space Milkshake)
Ryan Robbins (Arrow)
Christopher Heyerdahl (Van Helsing)

Amanda Tapping in Sanctuary (2008)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Peter Wingfield (Highlander: The Series)
Ian Tracey (Bates Motel)
Pascale Hutton (Fantastic Four)
Agam Darshi (You Me Her)
Jody Thompson (The 4400)
Françoise Yip (The Predator)
Tom McBeath (Stargate SG.1)
Robert Lawrenson (Underworld: The Awakening)
David Milchard (Big Eyes)
Greyston Holt (Bitten)
Adam Copeland (Highlander: Endgame)
Pauline Egan (Home BEfore Dark)
Brian Markinson (Caprica)
Mig Macario (The Final Cut)
Lara Gilchrist (Battlestar Galactica)
Sandrine Holt (House of Cards)
Carlo Rota (Saw V)
John Novak (War)
Martin Cummins (Dar kAngel)
Charlie Carrick (Reign)
Kurt Evans (Izombie)
Jonathon Young (Antitrust)
Zak Santiago (Caprica)
Adam Greydon Reid (Izombie)
Caroline Cave (Van Helsing)
Brent Stait (Blade: The Series)
Jim Byrnes (Highlander: The Series)
Anjali Jay (Supergirl)
Gil Bellows (Jett)

At the end of the last season things were getting pretty hairy on a couple of different fronts. The subterranean abnormals who live inside the Earth have decided that they want their chance in the sun and three armies march out of caves in different parts of the planet. If that wasn’t bad enough, Magnus is battling an old companion, Adam Worth, who manages to open up a hole in time and slip back to the 1800’s with the aim of curing his terminally ill daughter. This will change the time stream irrevocably, so Magnus follows him on his one-way journey into the past in order to stop him.Christopher Heyerdahl in Sanctuary (2008)This season opens with Magnus in 19th Century London, following Worth. He manages to wound her and escape, so she turns to one person she knows she can trust, he husband at the time, James Watson Together they have to stop Worth, but even if they do, how will Magnus manage to return to the 21stCentury? She does manage it, but it takes a very long time. Meanwhile Will has been put in charge of the New York Sanctuary by the Sanctuary Network, that mysterious body that runs the various abnormal shelters around the world. He’s having a rough time, as the US military wants to actually attack the invading army, especially after there’s a revolt in the refugee compound that’s housing several Hollow Earth abnormals in which the subterranean creatures take hostages and threaten to kill them. No one in authority will take Will’s calls, and withMagnus MIA he’s clearly out of his depth.Robin Dunne and Pascale Hutton in Sanctuary (2008)After that crisis, and Magnus’ return, things are different. The government is very leery of abnormals and they create a department, SCUI, to hunt down the Hollow Earth creatures that are still on the surface. Either imprisoning the abnormals that they capture or using them for experiments it’s a race between the bad military and the saintly Sanctuary to see who can locate and capture the renegade abnormals first.There are some very good episodes in this season. Monsoon, where Magnus is held hostage by some abnormal crooks while in an airport in Africa was a high point. Seeing the unarmed Magnus take out a group of ex-military super-humans was delightful.Amanda Tapping and Pascale Hutton in Sanctuary (2008)The series does wrap up (though there is room for more adventures) It was nice that the show did get a coda. All in al lSanctuary was an excellent show that lasted four seasons and left room for more stories to be told shold Syfy every decide to bring it back.

REVIEW: STARGATE UNIVERSE – SEASON 1

Starring

Robert Carlyle (One Upon A Time)
Louis Ferreira (Saw IV)
Brian J. Smith (Sense8)
Elyse Levesque (The Originals)
David Blue (Ugly Betty)
Alaina Huffman (Samllville)
Jamil Walker Smith (General Hospital)
Ming-Na Wen (Agents of Sheild)

SGU Stargate Universe (2009)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Richard Dean Anderson (MacGyver)
Michael Shanks (Smallvilel)
Amanda Tapping (Sanctuary)
Ona Grauer (V)
Peter Kelamis (50/50)
Gary Jones (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
Bill Dow (Izombie)
Christopher McDonald (Fanboys)
Lou Diamond Phillips (Young GUns)
Jennifer Spence (You Me Her)
Julia Benson (The Order)
Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman (UnREAL)
Agam Darshi (Sanctuary)
Bradley Stryker (The Lizzie Bordern Chronicles)
Anna Galvin (Tin Man)
Peter DeLuise (21 Jump Street)
Dominic Zamprogna (Odyssey 5)
Carlo Rota (Saw V)
Ryan Kennedy (Smallville)
Reiko Aylesworth (24)
Sarah Smyth (Supergirl)
Zak Santiago (Caprica)
Rukiya Bernard (Van Helsing)
Alisen Down (Smallville)
Vincent Gale (BatesMotel)
Louise Lombard (CSI)
Sean Blakemore (Bones)
William MacDonald (Riverdale)
Rhona Mitra (Doomsday)
Mike Dopud (Arrow)
Kirby Morrow (Ninja Turtles: Next Mutation)

David Blue in SGU Stargate Universe (2009)The stargate itself–an artificially created wormhole through which one can instantly travel to different worlds light-years away–is still around, but much else has changed. Gone, for the most part, are the rough-and-tumble adventures that were the specialty of SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis, SGU‘s popular predecessors. Gone, too, are insouciant but charismatic and intrepid leaders like SG-1‘s Col. Jack O’Neill (Richard Dean Anderson does make several cameo appearances in that role in the course of these 20 episodes, offered here on six discs) and Atlantis‘s Col. John Sheppard.In their places, in addition to a new ongoing story line, is a rather less conventional approach, featuring a more minimalist vibe and an entirely fresh cast of earnest, intense, mostly youthful characters battling personal demons and complex interpersonal relationships, along with a myriad of technical issues more typical of sci-fi shows. If this all sounds very serious, well, these folks have a lot to be serious about.Robert Carlyle in SGU Stargate Universe (2009)Very early on, the “Icarus Base” is under alien attack, forcing military and civilian personnel alike to escape through the stargate. They end up aboard Destiny, a massive ship that’s millions of years old and was once the property of the omniscient master race known as the Ancients. Not only do our characters barely know how to operate the ship, they also have no idea where they are, except that it’s billions of light-years from Earth. It’s the responsibility of the two main men, Col. Everett Young (Justin Louis) and scientist Dr. Nicholas Rush (Robert Carlyle), to figure out how to get everyone home safely, a task that dominates the series’ overall arc.Elyse Levesque and Brian J. Smith in SGU Stargate Universe (2009)That dicey proposition is complicated considerably by ceaseless internecine conflict on the ship, much of it between soldiers and civilians (typified by Young and Rush, both of whom are self-righteous, utterly humorless, and not especially likable).Much of the action takes place on Destiny, but there are occasional excursions to various planets in search of water and other supplies; there are also trips to Earth made possible by magical “communication stones” that allow users to exchange bodies with folks on the other end. As is the case with many new programs, SGU takes a while to hit its stride, but when that happens about a third of the way into the season, the results are often quite exciting; SGU may not be as much fun as the earlier shows, but it’s still well written and entertaining, with excellent production values, good special effects.

REVIEW: STARGATE SG.1 – SEASON 7

Starring

Richard Dean Anderson (MacGyver)
Amanda Tapping(Sanctuary)
Christopher Judge (The Dark Knight Rises)
Don S. Davis (Twin Peaks)
Michael Shanks (Smallville)

Michael Shanks in Stargate SG-1 (1997)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Corin Nemec (Parker Lewis Can’t Loose)
George Touliatos (This Means War)
Kevan Ohtsji (Elektra)
David Palffy (Blade: The Series)
Michael Adamthwaite (Supergirl)
Eric Breker (Scary Movie 3)
Cliff Simon (Project Eden)
Adrian Hough (the Fog)
Michael Welch (All The Boys Love Mandy Lane)
Tony Amendola (Annabelle)
Odi Ndefo (Angel)
David Richmond-Peck (V)
Christopher Heyerdahl (Sanctuary)
Peter LaCroix (Atomic TTrain)
Tiffany Lyndall-Knight (I, Robot)
James Parks (Kill BIll)
Michael Rooker (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Steven Williams (Jason Goes To Hell)
Alex Zahara (Horns)
Kavan Smith (Mission To Mars)
G. Patrick Currie (Dark Water)
Scott MacDonald (Jack Frost)
Peter Kelamis (Stargate Universe)
Benjamin Ayres (Saving Hope)
Patrick McKenna (Robocop: The Series)
Christine Adams (Black Lightning)
Jolene Blalock (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Kirsten Zien (Elektra)
Carmen Argenziano (House)
Bill Dow (Izombie)
Teryl Rothery (Arrow)
Zak Santiago (Caprica)
Enrico Colantoni (Veronica Mars)
Ingrid Kavelaars (Dreamcatcher)
John Novak (War)
Sasha Pieterse (Pretty Little Liars)
Craig Veroni (Dark Angel)
Emily Holmes (Paycheck)
Anna-Louise Plowman (Black Sails)
David DeLuise (Wizards of Waverly Place)
Sebastian Spence (First Wave)
Nels Lennarson (The Cabin In The Woods)
Saul Rubinek (True Romance)
Mitchell Kosterman (Smallville)
David Lewis (Man of Steel)
Adam Baldwin (Chuck)
Ronny Cox (Robocop)
Jim Byrnes (Highlander: The Series)
Kristen Dalton (Jack Reacher)
Brad Greenquist (Ali)
William Devane (Interstellar)
James McDaniel (Sleepy Hollow)
Robert Picardo (Star Trek: Voyager)
Jerry Wasserman (Alive)
Jessica Steen (Chaos)

Richard Dean Anderson in Stargate SG-1 (1997)That is the season when Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks) returns from being an ascended being, albeit on an alien world without his memory (“Fallen”). This required getting rid of Jonas Quinn (Corin Nemec) to get the old gang back together again, which happens when Anubis download Jonas’ memory and the Goa’uld attack Kelowna (“Homecoming”). Wisely, this is not the last appearance of Jonas for the season (“Fallout”) as he becomes another one of recurring guest characters that are a major strength of the series.Don S. Davis, Amanda Tapping, and Michael Welch in Stargate SG-1 (1997)There are several Daniel Jackson stories that make a point of giving the actor interesting things to do, such as “Lifeboat,” where his mind becomes a resting place for a bunch of alien minds, “Enemy Mine,” which requires Jackson to show diplomatic skills, and big time flashbacks in “Chimera,” to before Daniel first saw the Stargate.Amanda Tapping in Stargate SG-1 (1997)Overall, Season 7 is really Samantha Carter’s season and Amanda Tapping has several episodes where she pretty much goes it alone. “Space Race” has her joining an alien pilot for a little intergalactic competition, while “Death Knell” finds Carter being hunted by the supers soldiers of Anubis after an attack on Earth’s secret off-world base. In “Grace” Carter literally ends up alone when the Prometheus is attacked and she wakes up to find herself the only one on a ship drifting in deep space. The other characters show up as the angels of her better nature, which is the only way that Sam and Jack are ever going to have an honest conversation.Richard Dean Anderson, Christopher Judge, Michael Shanks, and Amanda Tapping in Stargate SG-1 (1997)The whole Anubis/Lost City bit ends up being equal parts time to beat another bigger and badder system lord and find a fitting end point for the series that can also work as a transition to the spinoff.

REVIEW: HUMAN TARGET – SEASON 1

Starring

Mark Valley (Zero Dark Thirty)
Chi McBride (Hawaii Five-O)
Jackie Earle Haley (Watchmen)

Jackie Earle Haley, Chi McBride, and Mark Valley in Human Target (2010)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica)
Donnelly Rhodes (Tron: Legacy)
Adrian Hough (The Fog)
Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon)
Adrian Holmes (smallville)
Hiro Kanagawa (Heores reborn)
Peter Kent (Total Recall)
Alvin Sanders (Riverdale)
Courtney Ford (Legends of Tomorrow)
Ali Liebert (Wonder)
Alessandro Juliani (Man of Steel)
David Nykl (Arrow)
Sean Maher (Firefly)
Emmanuelle Vaugier (Two and a Half Men)
Aleks Paunovic (Van Helsing)
Alex Fernandez (Devious Maids)
Christie Laing (Izombie)
Sam Huntington (Superman Returns)
William Mapother (Lost)
Peter Bryant (Legends of Tomorrow)
Sarah Smyth (Supergirl)
Kristin Lehman (The Loft)
William B. Davis (The X-Files)
Chris Mulkey (Cloverfield)
Dylan Neal (Arrow)
Brandon Jay McLaren (Power Rangers SPD)
Ted Whittall (Suicide Squad)
Kevin Weisman (Runaways)
Autumn Reeser (Sully)
Zak Santiago (Caprica)
Mitch Pileggi (Stargate: Atlantis)
Leonor Varela (Blade II)
Kris Marshall (Love Actually)
Kim Coates (Goon)
Samantha Ferris (The Tall Man)
Lennie James (The Walking Dead)
Eric Breker (X-Men Origins)
Dash Mihok (Gotham)
Kenneth Welsh (Miracle)
Grace Park (Hawaii Five-0)
Peter Wingfield (Highlander: The Series)
Ken Kirzinger (Freddy vs Jason)
Moon Bloodgood (Termiantor: Salvation)
Ty Olsson (Battlestar Galactica)
Vincent Gale (Bates Motel)
Daniel Bacon (Stargate SG.1)
Steve Makaj (Arrow)
Craig Veroni (Dark Angel)
Christina Cole (JHex)
Erick Avari (Stargate)
Kavan Smith (When Calls The HEart)
Christopher Heyerdahl (Sanctuary)
Mackenzie Gray (man of Steel)
Lee Majors (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Amy Acker (The Gifted)
Timothy Omundson (Xena)
Armand Assante (Judge Dredd)
Fiona Vroom (Power Rangers)

Mark Valley and Emmanuelle Vaugier in Human Target (2010)Human Target was definitely one of the most surprising new series this season. Comic book stories don’t often translate well to the small screen, but this one bucked all the trends and exceeded expectations by consistently producing hot action, fascinating characters, and a good number of laughs too.Mark Valley in Human Target (2010)It started out with a pilot episode that wasted no time getting into the action. Fast paced events on a runaway train got things started with a bang. Right away, the series showed the kind of amazing action scenes that would make it an exciting watch every week. The second episode, “Rewind”, kept the pedal to the metal in an episode that had high-flying action on a plane, although things did get a little ridiculous with the plane flying upside down for an extended time.Peter Bryant and Mark Valley in Human Target (2010)The main characters quickly became fan favorites, thanks to witty dialogue and excellent acting work by the great trio of Mark Valley, Chi McBride, and Jackie Earle Haley. While Chance takes the lead in these episodes, his buddies (with shady pasts of their own) do a lot in their supportive roles. Winston and Guerrero have unique skills that are always employed in clever ways in the series, and they have a special kind of friendly-yet-combative relationship that provided most of the comedy relief in the show. The series also featured a number of intriguing guest stars, including many familiar faces from the sci-fi world. We saw Battlestar Galactica stars Tricia Helfer, Alessandro Juliani, Grace Park, and Donnelly Rhodes, along with two stars from The X-Files – Mitch Pillegi and a surprising appearance from William B. Davis (the infamous Cigarette Smoking Man).Mark Valley in Human Target (2010)At first, Human Target focused on a string of unrelated stories that followed the same effective formula—show the client, show the bad guys, have Chance and his pals save the day. But, although the standalone stories were entertaining, the “rescue of the week” routine quickly started to get tired, and the show often made heavy use of TV tropes and cliches (hot babes of the week, one dimensional antagonists, and slow motion explosions just to name a few). Fortunately, the show’s producers were aware of the limits of their plot devices and developed an overarching mythology that started to be revealed a few episodes into the season.Mark Valley in Human Target (2010)The story slowly started to turn into a tale of redemption, friendship, and life choices as the show gradually revealed bits and pieces of the backgrounds of the characters. In the beginning, there were just casual mentions of what the cast of main characters used to do. Then, in “Sanctuary”, the series mythology kicked into full gear with a side-story featuring Guerrero spying around in Chance and Winston’s files for a mysterious employer. This plot accomplished two things: it revealed a serious threat to Chance, and displayed Guerrero as ruthless when it comes to his job and his friends. Guerrero in general is a very different take on the “geeky computer spy” role, and his moment in the spotlight at the end of that episode really helped define the character. It’s a standout role that Jackie Earle Haley nailed every time.Further character development came in the form of a “bromance” between Winston and Chance that was detailed in “Corner Man”, and a personal vendetta with a former friend, coworker, and assassin named Baptiste that gave us our deepest look yet into what personally drives Chance.All of this buildup led us perfectly into the season finale, which exposed the history of the Christopher Chance name, and revealed all the players behind Chance’s past work and his change of heart. This was a well-crafted story that ended with a great cliffhanger. It’s a great setup for a second season, and let there be no doubt that this series does indeed deserve to be renewed. It’s interesting, exciting, and if it continues to improve, it could become a prime candidate to replace 24 as Fox’s top action show.