TNT Series Legends Premiere Review

Category : Entertain Me, Featured, Reviews, Television

Sean Bean (Game of Thrones, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy) returns to the small screen in the latest television series, Legends. Based on the Robert Littell novel, Legends: A Novel of Dissimulation, TNT is looking to bring the spy game to their network. The series follows Martin Odum (Sean Bean), a deep cover FBI operative who embeds himself in situations which threaten national security. With each assignment, he takes on the identity of another person and he is good at his job. In fact, Odum is the best there is. When a mysterious stranger approaches him, Odum is forced to question his own identity.

*Warning: This review may contain spoilers

The pilot episode opens with Martin Odum undercover, as Lincoln Dittmann, within a group of domestic terrorists in Virginia. When the ATF executes a raid on the compound where Odum is embedded with his confidential informant, Odum’s identity as a FBI agent is disclosed. At home, Odum is estranged from his wife, though they have a child together. At the FBI office, we learn Odum has a history of going silent in the field. Steve Harris (Friday Night Lights, The Practice) is Yates, Director of the Task Force, while Ali Larter (Resident Evil: Afterlife, Heroes, Obsessed), plays Crystal, the agent in charge of field operatives and the head of Odum’s support team. The support team includes another operative, Utkarsh Ambudkar (Pitch Perfect) as Bobby the IT genius and Tina Majorino as Maggie (Big Love, Veronica Mars), the newest member of the team.

During a briefing with the team, as Odum is describing the back-story, known as as the legend, he has created for Lincoln Dittman, he unknowingly slips into character before the team. At this point, everyone writes off this instance to exhaustion. However, as Odum is leaving the the office, he confronts a stranger who seems to be following Odum. The man explains that Odum is not who he thinks he is; Martin Odum is a legend as well. Confused and looking for answers, Odum turns to Bobby for help in locating the mysterious man.

In the course of another undercover operation as Lincoln Dittmann, his cover is compromised and the team must show off their skills to ensure his safety. Crystal goes uses her assets undercover to get a message to Odum who has to spin a medical history on the fly, while Bobby and Maggie whip up the necessary medical records to back up his story. Zeljko Ivanek (True Blood, Revolution) is revealed as the “Founding Father,” the man calling the shots behind the terrorist organization, just as the undercover operation is blown. Nonetheless, Odum saves the day, showing no fear as he stares down the Founding Father.

Meanwhile, the mysterious man only offers more questions. Odum rushes to meet the mysterious man in hopes of getting some answers. He arrives too late but not before he can obtain a book which offers clues to the conspiracy. Thus ends the premiere episode.

Sean Bean goes undercover in the new TNT series, Legends.

Photo Credit: TNT

The writers find balance between introducing characters, relationships, the conspiracy behind Odum’s true identity and the undercover operation of the week, even if the episode did lack the amount of action I would have liked to see. Bean’s filmography is littered with action roles, after all. Ali Larter gets a few humorous moments in character with Bean and the two work surprisingly well together. Tina Majorino’s character is clearly being set up to play a major role in the story, though we have yet to see where that will lead. The standout, without a doubt, is Sean Bean. His character work is stellar, particularly in the scene where he slips into character before the team. Given the setup of the pilot episode, it seems we will be treated to Bean transforming into a new cover character every week while the greater conspiracy theory unravels. If that is the case, I, for one will be watching.

Sean Bean goes undercover in the new TNT series, Legends.

Photo Credit: TNT

Did you watch Legends? Who do you think Martin Odum is? Share your thoughts on the premiere episode in the comments below.

Outlander Starz Series Premiere Review

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Category : Entertain Me, Featured, Reviews, Television

Tonight, Starz premiered their latest television series, Outlander, with the episode titled “Sassenach.” The television series is based on the popular novel series penned by Diana Gabaldon.

** Warning: This review contains spoilers.

The Outlander series based on the novels by Diana Gabaldon premieres August 9th on Starz.

Graphic courtesy of Starz

Heading the television adaptation is acclaimed Executive Producer Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica, Helix, Star Trek: The Next Generation). Caitriona Balfe (Escape Plan, Now You See Me, H+) plays Claire, the curious and headstrong lead, whom the audience follows as she “falls through time.” Also among the cast are Sam Heughan (Young Alexander the Great) as Jamie Fraser and Tobias Menzies (The Honorable Woman, Game of Thrones, Rome), doing double duty as Frank Randall/”Black Jack” Randall. Familiar faces James Fleet (The Vicar of Dibley, Sense and Sensibility, Four Weddings and a Funeral) and Graham McTavish (The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, 24) also make appearances in the first episode.

The series begins with Claire nursing wounded soldiers at the end of the World War II and continues as she is reunited with her husband. After years apart, the couple takes a holiday to the Scottish highlands in order to learn about one another again and to satisfy Frank Randall’s curiosity in his family’s past in the area. As the couple explore the local area, we see a loving couple and Starz proves it is not afraid of sex. As Claire expands on the sexuality of her relationship with Frank, she states: “Sex was our bridge back to one another.”

The introduction of the local innkeeper provides some background on the area and the local folklore. While interactions with the local Reverend and his housekeeper give insight to the term “outlander,” the character of “Black Jack” Randall, Frank’s genealogy and the mysteries surrounding Claire. These scenes communicate the necessary information, even if the writing is a tad heavy handed. What is intended to be foreshadowing is in danger of becoming spoilers for audiences who are not familiar with Gabaldon’s novels.

Outlander, Starz, series, tv, television

Photo courtesy of Starz

Claire and Frank sneak up to Craigh na Dun, a collection of stone megaliths where Druids conducted rituals, to watch modern day Druids carry on the practice. When Claire returns the next day to seek out flowers she noticed on her first visit, she is intrigued by the stones and finds herself waking in another time. At first, Claire believes she has wandered onto a film set as she discovers British Redcoats and Scottish rebels fighting in the surrounding woods. She happens upon “Black Jack” Randall, an ancestor to her husband, Frank, whom she mistakes for Frank at their meeting. It quickly becomes clear this man is not her husband when he attempts to rape her.

Before things can go too far, a Scottish rebel jumps in to save the day and promptly kidnaps Claire, bringing her to a nearby cottage where the rest of his group have gathered. Enter Jamie Fraser, a rebel who allows Claire to treat his wounds. The group agrees to take Claire with them as they flee the area, knowing “Black Jack” will soon be on their trail. Claire proves herself to be an asset as she provides information about a potential Redcoat ambush and treats Jamie for a gunshot wound. While Claire keeps an eye out for an opportunity to escape her captors, she opts to travel with them for the time being. I am sure the flirting between her and Jamie had no influence on her decision.

Starz, Outlander, Sam Heughan

Photo courtesy of Starz

Though there is an obvious romantic story developing, it does not take away from Claire as a strong female character. A novelty when it comes to time-traveling fantasy. Claire is written as an intelligent, no-nonsense, speak her mind, passionate woman who has no problem standing up to men, even under threat of violence. That said, there is a certain romantic sensibility to her free-spirited nature which allows her to easily adapt to the ground shifting beneath her. Despite the trials she faces, Claire is almost hopeful about what the future may hold at the end of the episode, “So far I’d been assaulted, threatened, kidnapped and nearly raped and, somehow, I knew that my journey had only just begun.” I hope the writing will use this aspect to its benefit in assisting the audience to suspend their disbelief and enjoy the story as it unfolds.

On the topic of writing, I have yet to develop an opinion on the series’ writing. I will concede the writers utilize a number of different techniques which makes for interesting storytelling. Exposition in some scenes was overdone. One the other hand, the narration was done extremely well. For example, Claire’s thoughts on the simplicity and import of one’s owning a vase or Claire’s description of a past car accident as compared to the sensation of falling through time. This narration is a lovely reminder to the series literary origins.

Finally, let us discuss music. Bear McCreary has made a name for himself for excellence in music composition with work on Black Sails, The Walking Dead, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Da Vinci’s Demon’s, Battlestar Galactica and many other projects. Outlander is another feather in his cap. The opening theme, The Skye Boat Song, sung by Raya Yarbrough, is a lovely song with Scottish folk influence and a clear example of McCreary’s passion for the period in musical history. I have already seen some debate about whether this song is a right fit for the series. In my opinion, it is. While it does not have the bold assertiveness some may expect, the theme elicits images of the fertile land and quaint villages of Scotland many of us have yet to visit, while imparting a sense of  wonder and excitement. Besides, adding fantastic bagpipes makes a theme epic. Again, just my opinion.

 

Did you watch the series premiere? If you are you a fan of Diana Gabaldon’s novels, how do you think the material was handled in the first episode?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Outlander Starz Series Premiere Summary

Category : Entertain Me, Featured, Television

I admit I have never read the books but after seeing the first episode I now definitely will.

Outlander is the newest series on Starz. It is based on the Outlander book series by Diana Gabaldon, of which there are eight novels in the series to date. The television series is produced and written by Ronald D Moore of Battlestar Galactica fame.

The Outlander series based on the novels by Diana Gabaldon premieres August 9th on Starz.

Graphic courtesy of Starz

We open up with our heroine Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe), a World War II nurse showing her excellent skills healing the soldiers directly off the battlefield. The war ends and she goes back to her normal life with her husband Frank (Tobias Menzies). They are a struggling couple at this point, not really knowing each other anymore. They go on vacation to Scotland to rekindle their marriage and stay at a quaint inn run by, what appears to be, a Druid Priestess. Claire and Frank sneak out and watch one of the Druid late night rituals, which I would like to say was beautifully done. Somehow, shortly after that Claire gets thrown back to the year 1743. She is abducted by a clan of Scotsmen and almost raped. Then, she meets an extremely hunky warrior named Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan). He is severely injured and Claire helps him out with that. She is now traveling with the Clan and riding with Jamie, wrapped in his shawl the whole time. Some lucky woman she is.

I cannot wait to see what happens. Claire seems to definitely feel a connection between her and Jamie. I will definitely recommend watching this series: the writing is wonderful and the scenery is beautiful in more ways than one!

Storm of Words, A Game of Thrones Podcast – Season 4, Episode 3 “Breaker of Chains”

Category : Entertain Me, Featured, Storm of Words, Television

The HBO television series, Game of Thrones, has returned with Season 4. Also returning is Storm of Words, a Game of Thrones podcast! We’re back every week to discuss the latest episodes of the series and delve into the world George R.R. Martin created through his novels.

Jessa Phillips & Alexander McGrath, joined by Gary Mitchel of RevolutionSF.com, return to the Seven Kingdoms to discuss the episode, “Breaker of Chains.” This episode is mostly spoiler-free; however, there is some discussion about how the series deviates from the novels.

The primary focus of the show is the tv series, so if you haven’t read the books you can still enjoy the podcast. If you have read the novels, just think of it as bonus content :-)

Click here for Direct Download.
CONTACT

Questions? Comments? We want to hear from you! Feel free to post a comment on the podcast entry at http://www.goodtobeageek.com, or email us at podcasts@goodtobeageek.com.

You can find Gary Mitchel at http://www.revolutionsf.com.

Special thanks to Walid Feghali for the use of his music in the podcast. Be sure to check out his Sound Cloud profile page at http://soundcloud.com/walidfeghali to learn more about him and discover more of his music.

All audio clips for Game of Thrones are provided courtesy of HBO, http://www.hbo.com

Storm of Words is sponsored by Good To Be A Geek – let your geek run wild! Storm of Words is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

Storm of Words, A Game of Thrones Podcast – Season 4, Episode 2 “The Lion and the Rose”

Category : Entertain Me, Featured, Storm of Words, Television

The HBO television series, Game of Thrones, has returned with Season 4. Also returning is Storm of Words, a Game of Thrones podcast! We’re back every week to discuss the latest episodes of the series and delve into the world George R.R. Martin created through his novels.

Jessa Phillips & Alexander McGrath, joined by Gary Mitchel of RevolutionSF.com, return to the Seven Kingdoms to discuss the episode, “The Lion and the Rose.” This episode is mostly spoiler-free; however, there is some discussion about how the series deviates from the novels.

The primary focus of the show is the tv series, so if you haven’t read the books you can still enjoy the podcast. If you have read the novels, just think of it as bonus content :-)

Click here for Direct Download.

 

CONTACT

Questions? Comments? We want to hear from you! Feel free to post a comment on the podcast entry at http://www.goodtobeageek.com, or email us at podcasts@goodtobeageek.com.

You can find Gary Mitchel at http://www.revolutionsf.com.

Special thanks to Walid Feghali for the use of his music in the podcast. Be sure to check out his Sound Cloud profile page at http://soundcloud.com/walidfeghali to learn more about him and discover more of his music.

All audio clips for Game of Thrones are provided courtesy of HBO, http://www.hbo.com

Storm of Words is sponsored by Good To Be A Geek – let your geek run wild! Storm of Words is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

Storm of Words, A Game of Thrones Podcast – Season 4, Episode 1 “Two Swords”

Category : Entertain Me, Featured, Reviews, Storm of Words, Television

The HBO television series, Game of Thrones, has returned with Season 4. Also returning is Storm of Words, a Game of Thrones podcast! We’re back every week to discuss the latest episodes of the series and delve into the world George R.R. Martin created through his novels.

 

StormOfWords

 

Jessa Phillips & Alexander McGrath, joined by Kellen Harkins return to the Seven Kingdoms to discuss the episode, “Two Swords.” This episode is mostly spoiler-free; however, there is some discussion about how the series deviates from the novels.

*** Warning: There is a huge story spoiler at the 2 hour mark. Please skip ahead 30 seconds if you don’t want to be spoiled.

The primary focus of the show is the tv series, so if you haven’t read the books you can still enjoy the podcast. If you have read the novels, just think of it as bonus content :-)

 

 

CONTACT

Questions? Comments? We want to hear from you! Feel free to post a comment on the podcast entry at http://www.goodtobeageek.com, or email us at podcasts@goodtobeageek.com.

You can find Kellen Harkins in the DragonCon American Science Fiction & Fantasy Media Track Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/AmSFFMedia/.

Special thanks to Walid Feghali for the use of his music in the podcast. Be sure to check out his Sound Cloud profile page at http://soundcloud.com/walidfeghali to learn more about him and discover more of his music.

All audio clips for Game of Thrones are provided courtesy of HBO, http://www.hbo.com

Storm of Words is sponsored by Good To Be A Geek – let your geek run wild! Storm of Words is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

Conversation with the Cast of Lost Girl of Syfy

Category : Entertain Me, Featured, Television

For those genre fans living under a rock for the past three years, you might not have a clue of what Lost Girl is. Here is a quick synopsis. Created by Michelle Lovretta and produced by Jay Firestone and Prodigy Pictures. It is one of the show that is created, shot and produced in Canada that shows currently on Syfy.

 

Courtesy of NBC Universal

 

It’s lead is Bo, played by Anna Silk who has transitioned by not even knowing she was a Fae to a person of consequence and a rebel against the status quo of Fae society. In this realm, all creatures that are paranormal are Fae of some sort. She does this with the help of Kenzi, who has to be one of the best sidekicks ever created, and her friends: Dyson, a werewolf; Hale, a male siren; Trick, who we find out is her grandfather; Tamsin, a valkyrie and Lauren, a human doctor who specializes in Fae biology. An odd lot to be sure but a very solid ensemble cast with lots of wonderful recurring characters that pop in and out to make the team’s life interesting.

One of the unique qualities of the show is that Bo, being a succubus is bisexual. While that is notable, what makes it moreso is it is not treated as odd or unique, it’s just who she is. It is one element that makes this show one of the best written shows out there, in my humble opinion.

With that, I was given the privilege to be a part of a press call/Q&A hosted by Syfy which included several of the main cast. Joining several intrepid podcast and website reporters were cast members, Anna Silk, Ksenia Solo, Kris Holden – Reid, and Zoie Palmer. They handled all the questions thrown at them with laughter and thoughtful answers.

The questions themselves ran the gamut from ratings to plot twists to favorite moments.

Most of the characters in the show are Fae, so the question was put forward if Lauren or Kenzi would want to be Fae if they could. As was pointed out, Kenzi has dabbled in it herself. Zoie Palmer offered her thoughts that Lauren is essentially a character who experiments and would absolutely take that step if she thought it was possible. We have definitely been seeing Lauren stepping more and more out of her comfort zone in the past seasons and with some of her choices this season, I only see that progressing further. This was emphasized as she responded to questions about her scenes with Emmanuel Vaugier who plays the Morrigan, the leader of the Dark Fae. Lauren shifted sides this season and was able to act with Emmanuel for the first time. There was some nervousness she reported, since you never quite know if you’re going to ‘click’ with a fellow performer or not, but she was very happy with the work they did together and hopes for more scenes.

One of the more revealing and interesting points in the call came up when the cast was asked about the major plot twist in the “End of a Line” episode which recently aired in the US. Stop reading here if you haven’t seen this as we’re going to talk about a major spoiler!

In that episode, KC Collins’ character, Hale, is killed by the druid Mossimo. While I won’t get into my feelings on the death, other than saying it was painful, I do think it was a necessary and reasonable choice on the part of the writers. The cast discussed how they were affected and all of them praised KC and spoke about how busy he is as an actor and joked how they wanted to work on some of the shows he’s been on. For us geeks, he is also seen in Saving Hope, as Dr. Tom Reycraft. They insisted Lost Girl wouldn’t be as ‘cool’ without him around. Kris mentioned he thought it was bittersweet for him since he could still so clearly remember shooting the opening shots with KC from the first episode of the series.

This lead to the question about surprises, and if, as we have seen in other shows, the cast was caught by surprise as they read their scripts. Kris Holden-Reid fielded this one and brought forward the unusual nature of some smaller Canadian shows. They are pretty tight working units, with the writers and producers right there with the production end, so many of the changes and concepts that come up are bounced around between all of the creative staff. The actors get to toss in their thoughts about character development and it’s just as welcome. This was really a gem that I relished discovering, as it does not seem to be the case in many US led productions.

Tying into that concept is the question I asked about the maturing rivalry between Dyson and Lauren for Bo’s affections. Both Kris and Zoie offered they did not want to keep up the usual freshman-like attitude of one-upmanship that often occurs in these situations. That is not to say they wouldn’t now and then but they pointed out both of them have come to respect one other and see the value in the other person. That is not to say, they were quick to admit, that there wouldn’t be little jibs now and then between them over Bo.

A recent episode which gathered lots of attention was the “La Fae Époque.” In this episode, Bo went into Dyson’s memories, trying to find out what dark crime he was being held for, and was ‘him’ for that time. Most of the actors took up roles that were different for them – Lauren was a Fae lounge singer, Kenzi, a Fae mistress of ceremonies. They each commented on how their costumes were a lot tougher to wear, though Zoie Palmer seemed to have the easiest time since she has a lot of theatrical training and was able to utilize that knowledge. Although, Zoie admitted that even fake singing to her playback was a little tricky in the corset she wore. Ksenia commented she had to apologize to so many extras that day as the wings she wore stretched out far enough to practically poke peoples eyes’ out. Anna got a few insights in that episode. First, the itchy wool pants were hard to put up with but Ksenia came right back at her and said that no one else could make them look that good! Anna also gave a shout out to all the men in the world as she joked that taking the ‘man’s role’ in sex was a lot more work than she had realized! In the episode Dyson and the Fae Flora, (Zoie Palmer) have quite the history and Zoie joked about the unique experience of having to act out sex with Dyson; something she hasn’t had to do in her role of Lauren. They all really emphasized the pleasure they took in watching each other stretch their limits in that episode.

Now that they are in the pre-planning stages of Season 5 and about to begin shooting, the entire cast emphasized how hard it is to not spoil when they are on these calls or at conventions. The US schedule for the episodes is considerably off from the Canadian schedule so, in particular, Kris Holden-Reid felt that it really affected the show’s ratings. He urged fans to contact Syfy and see if there was something they could do to show the episodes closer to the Canadian air dates. Since so many of their fans are pretty tech savvy, it was really common for them to get the show through ‘alternative means’. I know personally speaking, I still made a point of watching the Syfy episode to demonstrate to the channel that the show has a lot of loyal viewers.

Those who know me, know I really enjoyed the series, Blood Ties, and seeing Kyle Schmid appear as Raynor aka the Wanderer, really made my day. I got one of the promotional Wanderer cards last year at DragonCon and once it was revealed who the Wanderer was, I thought that they might have planned for it to be Kyle Schmid. Sadly, that was just wish fulfillment on my part but they all offered him glowing reviews on what a pleasure he was to work with. Ksenia mentioned that she had worked with Kyle in something previous about 10 years ago and how it was fantastic to see how much he had really matured as an actor and really was a professional.

Asked about their favorite scenes to shoot this season, we got a wide range of answers. Zoie Palmer brought up her role in the “La Fae Époque” again, citing that as her favorite. Kris Holden-Reid mentioned his favorite scene we haven’t even seen yet, since it is in the finale and he couldn’t say anything about it. Though, Ksenia mentioned she really enjoyed the tango sequence in which she got to dance with both KC Collins and Kris Holden-Reid. She joked that it really gave them a chance to shine and show their twinkle toes. Kris backed her up on how much fun that was to shoot.

The cast clearly gets along great and has a wonderful sense of humor! They spoke about how much fun the recent (at least for the US) “Krampus” episode was to do and when they were asked about guest stars they wished to see on the show, they couldn’t pick out anyone specifically but spun it off to the Avengers making an appearance and suddenly they’d all have super powers and get to design their own costumes! They all got into the spirit of that and it was a real pleasure to listen to their interaction with the members of the press and each other.

If you haven’t watched this show, clearly I’m going to encourage to do so, as I think you’ll be in for a real treat!

Warehouse 13 – it’s back….but not for long

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Category : Entertain Me, Featured, Television

I am a pretty big fan of Warehouse 13, and so glad it is coming back for Season 5 on April 14th on SyFy, but it is the end of the series. I am pretty bummed about this but it really looks good. I have a sneak peak here.

Last season left us at a cliffhanger where I wanted to throw things at my TV…actually I did end up doing that. But it looks like it gives us more of an insight to the new big bad, Paracelsus played wonderfully by Tony Head. We also seem to find out more about Claudia’s role at the Warehouse. Plus we will have all of the fun silly moments that make the show inventive and a joy to watch.

My predictions for this last season, just whatever happens, please please please do not put Pete and Mika together! Sorry shippers, it just happens too much. I think Claudia will grow more into her own, and fulfill her job at the Warehouse before it closes down. Also I really don’t think Professor Sutton played by James Marsters is really gone.

I hope I am right, cannot wait for April 14th!

Inside Marvel Studios: Assembling a Universe

Category : Comics, Entertain Me, Featured, Movies, Television

Tonight Marvel Studios is taking fans inside the studio for a closer look at their cinematic universe which has attained box office success and has pop culture icons back on the big screen.

 

Courtesy of ABC

Courtesy of ABC

Marvel has seen unprecedented success, reminding comic fans why we hold characters such as Iron Man and Captain America in such high regard, as well as introducing a whole new wave of fans to these larger than life icons. Of course, Iron Man has played a big part in the success of Marvel Studios with three films to his credit and The Avengers brought their universe together and provided a spectacle on screen for audiences. Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been proving they can also make it work on the small screen. Marvel Studios is looking to keep up their streak with Captain America: The Winter Soldier in theaters next month.

 

It is difficult to pinpoint the recipe for the overwhelming success Marvel Studios has achieved; whether due to complex character development, well-developed story-lines, or good old fashioned action. In the documentary, Marvel Studios: Assembling A Universe, the studio gives the audience a look at the story behind the studio, exclusive interviews and behind the scenes footage from the Marvel films with contributions from celebrity fans and pop culture icons.

 

Delve into the Marvel Universe tonight, March 18th at 8/7pm C on ABC. Catch a sneak peek with the video below, courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Syfy Returning to Space with the New Series Ascension

Category : Entertain Me, Featured, Television

Syfy President Dave Howe announced development of a new drama series. In an effort to capture the success of other original dramas, Syfy has greenlit the six hour mini-series, Ascension. Created and written by Philip Levens (Smallville), the series is putting a wonder team in place to head the production. Jason Blum (Paranormal Activity, The Purge) and Mark Stern are taking the reigns as Executive Producers in addition to Ivan Fecan, Tim Gamble and Brett Burlock for Sea To Sky Studios. Levens will remain on board as Executive Producer and Showrunner. The series will be a joint venture with Universal Cable Productions and Lionsgate Television co-financing and distributing.

Courtesy of NBC Universal

Ascension is a return to space travel for the cable network as they attempt to regain a position in the “must see tv” category, such as Syfy experience with Battlestar Galactica. Howe expanded,

 

“Syfy is more committed than ever to bringing life epic event television. We have a rich history in this arena, from Steven Spielberg’s ‘Taken’ to the highly acclaimed mini that launched the ‘Battlestar Galactica’ series, to reimagined take on classic tales such as ‘Alice’ and ‘Tin Man.’ In keeping with that grand tradition, we are delighted to bring this thrilling, provocative and intelligent event to our fans later this year.”

The series takes place in a present day timeline to follow a crew of hundreds which departed earth in 1963 as part of a covert mission into space with hopes of populating a new world. Fifty years into their mission, a murder has the passengers wondering what the real mission is. Ascension is scheduled to premier in November 2014 and air through December.

Are Today’s Cartoons Loony and Cynical or Are We Just Square?

Category : Entertain Me, Featured, Geek Out, Geek Rants, Television

Could you imagine being a kid and meeting SpongeBob, if he were real? My mother and father would most likely warn you to stay away from that “strange kid.”

What does that say about today’s cartoon television shows? What has changed over the past 30-some years? Could it just be that we, as adults, are just out of touch with today’s cartoons, or has our society — and cartoons — grown a little more cynical and off the beaten path?

loonycartoons

According to KidsHealth, young children, ages 6 and younger, spend an average of two hours in front of a television screen, watching either daily cartoons or movies. That time doubles among kids ages 8 to 18. Consider the number of children using mobile devices every day has more than doubled in the past two years, and it would be easy to ascertain the influence of cartoons is much greater than it was when we were young. Personally, I did not have any mobile devices as a kid, much because none existed.

Now, comparing the likes of Spongebob Squarepants, Chowder and The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack to 1980s and ’90s cartoons like Garfield and Friends, Thundercats and Care Bears may not be as bad of an experience as grandma would have with a Daft Punk concert; however, the takeaway from each experience could arguably be the same — not much.

 

Cartoons of Yesteryear Had More of a Moral Compass

Cartoons have traditionally aimed to not only entertain children, but to try and teach them something, be it a moral lesson or to encourage them to be more creative and active.

The Care Bears cartoon (1985-1988), for example, focused on being good to others and being honest. It helped children learn how to resolve differences and express their feelings. There were no off-the-wall antics, no farting noises or loud, destructive scenes. These elements are common in cartoons like Spongebob Squarepants and Chowder, which actually has an episode called “Famous Farts.” It would stand to argue that parents would like their children to learn more than the art of flatulence when watching cartoons. It is safe to say the 1980s and ’90s cartoons were, for the most part, fart-free.

Action cartoons 30 years ago, like G.I. Joe, Transformers, He-Man and Thundercats, also had a definitive line between good and evil and applied several lessons of what is right and wrong, along with the importance of teamwork to overcome adversity. These cartoons contained the essence of what we have come to know as heroes.

There’s no comparing the visual effects of cartoons 30 years ago to today’s cartoons. The advancement in animation and graphics have revolutionized how the common household television functions today. Perhaps that’s where our old cartoons stayed true; they weren’t saturated with noisy, action-saturated graphics. It’s like comparing an orchestra to a garage band.

For example, Ben10 (aired 2005-2008) centered around a typical boy who came upon an alien device which transformed him into various unearthly creatures with otherworldly powers, as the cartoon’s selling point. It’s comparable to Pokemon–the Rubix Cube of cartoons for adults today–in that numerous characters and high action compete for a child’s attention.

With 1980s and ’90s cartoons, the stories themselves captivated the minds of children, not the graphics and action. They were like an orchestra with simple, constructive tunes rather than the “garage band” type of cartoons you see today, where the louder and more obnoxious they are, seemingly, the more popular they get.

 

Beacons of Hope

Technology used in family life, on the other hand, is only moving forward. It is not uncommon for a family household to be equipped with a bundled service of technology, similar to what www.bundle.tv provides: feeding cable and high-speed Internet to the household. This, of course, provides access to an infinite plethora of games, shows and movies to every television, computer and mobile device under one roof. Thanks to technology like this, monitoring what children watch is something our parents can do with ease, compared to the past. There are ways of steering our children, especially our younger ones, toward more quality educational entertainment.

Not all cartoon shows today are bad. There are beacons of hope out there in the cartoon world. Two examples of cartoons with a moral compass are Nickelodeon’s Dora the Explorer and Disney’s Phineas and Ferb. Shows like Dora help younger children learn the basic knowledge of society, but go a step further, teaching viewers a new language (Spanish) while also entertaining them.

Paste Magazine considers Phineas and Ferb to be the best kids show on television, citing its relative plots to everyday life, its intrigue to viewers young and old, and its cleverness in humor. The show doesn’t oversell its characters; it keeps them honest and playful, yet mindful of each other and their parents. Its graphics are simple, yet colorful and never overbearing. It is because of shows like Dora the Explorer and Phineas and Ferb, there is a Care Bear still smiling somewhere.

 

About the Author

Ryan Harrison works for a pop culture magazine where he writes gossip about celebrities… shamelessly.

Batman Roundup: The Evolution of Villain Costuming

Category : Featured, Geek Out

There have been four “eras” of Batman in film. The first was the Adam West classic from the 1960′s TV show, directed by Leslie H. Martinson. Then came the quick succession of four films by Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher. Most recently, we’ve seen Christopher Nolan’s gritty reboots. You can chart the progress of Batman movies in many ways, but my favorite is to look at how each director costumed the villains the Dark Knight faced. Here are four of our favorite Batman bad guys and the attire they created havoc in.

 

Bane

Photo Credit: Dave Mathis

Photo Credit: Dave Mathis

The most drastic difference in presentation has to go to Bane. Bane was presented in Batman & Robin as a muscle-bound lackey to Poison Ivy and Mr. Freeze without any lines and with a serious luchador mask. He was seen again in The Dark Knight Rises as a pedantic mastermind, still muscly, but with only a small mask around his mouth and a sheepskin coat over military fatigues.

 

Photo Credit: Chrysler Group

Photo Credit: Chrysler Group

What’s interesting about Bane in these movies is that he’s actually represented quite well in both: his costume is spot-on in the first and his character is very close to correct in the second. Essentially, if you combine the cartoon-ish looks of Schumacher’s Bane and the devious intellect of Nolan’s, you should get something close to what Bane is like in the comics. He dresses like a wrestler and is an 8 foot tall monster, but he’s also an extraordinary genius.

 

 

Catwoman

Photo Credit: DC Nerd

Photo Credit: DC Nerd

While not technically a villain in most adaptations, Catwoman was certainly wicked in the 1966 movie. Lee Meriwether was cast to replace Julie Newmar, the first actress from the series, and donned the classic sparkly ensemble, complete with low belt, clawed gloves, and the iconic eared headband. Over thirty years later, the Catwoman of Tim Burton’s Batman Returns, played by Michelle Pfeiffer, is one of the best creepy/crazy/sexy villains in movie history. With her patchwork pleather body suit and starkly pale skin, she is Burton-esque to the max.

 

Photo Credit: Jordi Motlló

Photo Credit: Jordi Motlló

I wish I could skim right over Halle Barry’s version in the truly horrendous movie, Catwoman, but I cannot. Wait, you know what, yes, I can. I justify this with three reasons: 1) the character and story had nothing to do with DC comics; 2) her stripper-riffic costume is too much to bear; and 3) you can’t make me. Moving along to Nolan-verse…

 

 

Photo Credit: Horustr4n

Photo Credit: Horustr4n

When we heard that Disney darling Anne Hathaway had been cast in the newest Batman movie, some of us were a little worried. She’s just so smiley. I, myself, was rather pleased with her slick and approachable performance. Her monochromatic black jumpsuit is a little safe in terms of costuming, but it fit well with Nolan’s utilitarian approach to the Batman universe. With her high-tech thievin’ goggles that pivot into cat ears atop her head, she’s a stylish rendition of a favorite Batman anti-hero.

 

Two-Face

Graphic Credit: JD Hancock

Graphic Credit: JD Hancock

When making his Batman movies, Schumacher reportedly encouraged his actors to think of the movies as though they were cartoons. This is bizarrely evident in Batman Forever, wherein Jim Carrey’s Riddler prances about in a spandex jumpsuit and red hair. Where Burton embraced the Noir-like aspect of Gotham, Schumacher embraced the slap-stick of the cartoons.

 

The suit and makeup of Tommy Lee Jones’ Two-Face in Batman Forever is straight out of the cartoon, down to the split-personality fabrication change right down the middle. Ostentatious and wild and leopard print on one side and business on the other, you have to give them credit for going all-out.

Nolan chose to go another route, focusing on Dent before he became a madman. His Two-Face is half burned a fire and, as such, bears the scorched flesh and exposed muscle and bone of third degree burns. This is the most compelling re-vamp, in my opinion, because we see the event happen in the movie and his wounds remain symbolically open once he is transformed into a villain.

 

Joker

I definitely saved the kicker for last.

Cesar Romero played The Joker in the series and in the 1966 Batman. His kooky demeanor was matched by a truly kooky look: the clown makeup and bright colors were straight out of the comics. When Jack Nicholson played The Joker in the 1989 Batman, his costume was similar to Romero’s, except that his manic smile was a permanent scar instead of a facial expression. He also traded the green shirt beneath the purple suit for an orange and teal, eye-burning combo (and some of his kookiness for leering menace).

Flash forward forty years: Heath Ledger’s downplayed, shabby purple suit and green vest blended into the background as we were captivated by the terrifying magic happening on his face. Ledger’s expressions of insane glee were bolstered by the genius makeup that accompanied them. The scars, attributed to a botched surgical fix for acid burns in the 80′s movie, are left mysterious in their origin and accentuated by intentionally sloppy makeup, as though the Clown Prince of Crime had slapped it on in a fit.

 

In the progression of these beloved villains, their costumes communicate not only what decade they’re portrayed in, but also the ways that their characters have been reinterpreted. From the depictions of Catwoman’s slinkiness to Joker’s madness, the costumes tell a story that we can see (and cosplay).

 

Marie Sumner is a writer and general nerd. She loves cosplay, comics, cartoons, sci-fi, and a host of other fun stuff. She writes for Wholesale Halloween Costumes, resource for costume goodies from fake blood to Santa suits.

RevCast – Stargate: 10,000 Episodes Can’t Be Wrong

1

Category : Entertain Me, Featured, Guest Appearances, Movies, Television

stargate_engaged

Who would think one sci-fi movie would be responsible for so much entertainment? When Stargate hit theaters in 1994, few could have anticipated the success that would lead to 3 television series (Stargate: SG-1, Stargate: Atlantis, Stargate: Universe), 2 Direct-to-DVD films (The Ark of Truth, Continuum), an animated series (Stargate: Infinity), comics, trading cards, as well as a number of board and video games.

What made this franchise so successful? I joined the RevolutionSF RevCast with Deanna Toxopeus and Gary Mitchel, along with Michael Falkner (The Chronic Rift Network) to see if we could answer that question.

revlogo2

 

Stargate, the long running series that most of us have watched at least once, in one of its incarnations, is the topic for discussion this week.  Our co-hosts, Deanna Toxopeus and Gary Mitchel sit down with Jessa Phillips and Michael Falkner to look at all the characters, mythos, plot twists and British-Comlumbia-like-planets that inhabited this series.  And given that there were movies, three TV series, games and one horrible animated series, this one had to be split up into two, count-em, two episodes.  It’s the two-parter you dreamed of.  So dial the stargate to home and settle in for a talk.

-RevolutionSF RevCast

 

With so much to cover, this show had to be posted in two parts! Visit the links below to tune in to the RevolutionSF RevCast!

RevCast: Stargate – Part 1

RevCast: Stargate – Part 2

 

Shauncastic – Episode 127: Turtle Power!

Category : Comics, Entertain Me, Featured, Geek Out, Guest Appearances, Movies, Television

I am a lucky woman with fantastic friends who share my geeky loves. One such friend is Shaun Rosado of Shauncastic. When he put out the call for people to talk about 4 turtles and a rat with ninja skills, you know I had to be there to reminisce about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. What transpired was a wonderful conversation that allowed myself, Shaun, Jay Scardina and Samantha Cross (Word of the Nerd) to wax nostalgic about these “Heroes in the Half Shell.” We discuss the comics, classic cartoons, live action films, current animated series and even rumors about the new movie.

Also, Christina and Shaun review Oz: The Great and Powerful in her segment, “Intro to Geek” and later, Shaun is joined by Bree Brouwer to talk video games in her segment “Behind Schedule.”

Click the link below to listen on Shauncastic!
Episode 127: Turtle Power!