Category Archives: Primetime Series

Star Wars: From Rebelion to Resistance

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Now that the Force has awoken, meet the Resistance…from its beginning: Join the Rebellion!

From where the story picks up in Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens the evil Empire was obviously not defeated at the conclusion of the Battle of Endor. The destruction of the second Death Star, a weapon of such dangerous potential, the Rebel forces have gone to great length to learn the secrets of the battle station at great cost to their cost. That particular story is going to be further explored in the upcoming spin-off feature film Star Wars: Rogue Squadron which will reveal the sacrifice made by a small band of pilots.

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One of the many designs that influenced the look of the evil First Order enforcers in Episode VII — an influence that has made its way into the Disney X D series Star Wars Rebels.

The Rebellion’s cause is still much in effect when we reconnect with what is now dubbed The Resistance and leading the march is General Leia Organa. The Empire may have been dealt a killing blow (more than once during the course of its regime) but even once Darth Vader and the Emperor have fallen, splinter groups have been brought together to form the latest threat to freedom and democracy in the galaxy: The First Order. Forged under the dominance of a single mind — a Supreme Leader — who rules as a tyrant and is preparing to crush the New Republic.

The set up for the next trilogy is of course in full swing as the Resistance must work to find the missing Jedi Master Luke Skywalker and find a way to restore balance to the Force. Star Wars Creator George Lucas put great emphases on the Force and what it represents in his universe — The Force is a mysterious energy source that binds us all together; it penetrates us and has a command to a certain extent on our destinies. When the Force is thrown into flux, and the evil Sith take control of power, it leads to the rise of the Empire and the path to the Dark Side.

A small band of freedom fighter begin to push back against the oppression of the Empire and soon the Rebellion is born! Star Wars Rebels follows those freedom fighter as they forge alliances across the galaxy and resist the evil of the Empire. Their story continues and is further explored by the  time that we join our established heroes in Episode IV – A New Hope but in the meantime, not that Season 2 of Star Wars Rebels is fully in play and the threat of Darth Vader is being felt all across space, we’ll take a look at the series and how it impacts the mythology certainly playing into the expanded universe.

Stay tuned. The Force is with us.

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“The Flash” Goes Rogue for Mid-Season

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Talk about a holiday send-off! “The Flash” faces his most dangerous adversaries in Season 2 mid-season cliffhanger introducing yet another long-anticipated member of the Flash Family!

There are still many of us catching our breath from this year’s 2-part crossover event that (dare we say) was legendary! Some in the popular lexicon of network television production may be under the illusion that the “superhero” genre is on the inevitable “outs”, but if anyone needs a reminder about what makes for good serialized drama and adventure in primetime, you don’t have to look any further than at The CW’s hit series The Flash.

Going now into its mid-season slumber, no one can argue that CSI investigator Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) hasn’t earned a little r&r. In his super-heroic secret identity that Allen is trying very hard to maintain, the Flash has faced a cadre of new enemies including a threat from the parallel world of Earth-2 named “Zoom” that nearly crippled the Scarlet Speedster. If it wasn’t for the timely arrival of his father Henry Allen (John Wesley Shipp) the Flash may not have gotten up to speed!

Along with his friends at S.T.A.R. Labs he helped send the intelligent ape named Grodd through a breach and into a “gorilla city”. The Flash also teamed up with his Star City allies including the Green Arrow (Stephen Amell) to challenge the merciless immortal Vandal Savage (Casper Crump) whom we are pretty sure we haven’t seen the last of yet…certainly not after Dark Archer (John Barrowman) helped himself to remnants left from the 2-part class of titans.

So if Barry chooses that he needs some time to use his speed force to get some holiday shopping done, we’re not going to judge him. Unfortunately some of his most dangerous adversaries have a different idea all-together…and these rogues mean to rub-out the Flash! In Episode #9 of Season 2, “Running to Stand Still” a prison break at Iron Heights has the Weather Wizard (Liam McIntyre) and Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller) unlikely allies alongside a wildcard named Trickster (Mark Hamill).

Now that Mark Mardon is back in Central City, Det. Patty Spivot (Shantel VanSanten) is looking to exact her revenge on the man she blames for her father’s murder. While the Wizard and Trickster plan their attack on the Flash, Cold drops in on Barry and Iris (Candice Patton) to let him know that he’s in danger. Flash asks Cold to help him take on the rogues, but Snart declines — he’s not into playing heroics (at least for the meantime). Cold sets for parts unknown.

Meanwhile Iris has revealed to Barry that she has a brother named Wally, and that it’s about time she told her father Joe (Jesse L. Martin) the truth about him. Joe doesn’t take the news very well, but before anyone has the time to cope with it all, the rogues attack unleashing a plot against the Flash that has everyone rallying to save the day! The highlight of the episode one would suspect was the return of the Trickster, the role reprised by Mark Hamill from the “original” The Flash 1990 series.

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Mark Hamill returns to The Flash and takes over as the villainous Trickster bringing a whole new bag of tricks with him.

Though the Trickster’s maniacal gambit pays off in true comic-book style, the villain single-handedly distributes hundreds of bombs into the unsuspecting hands of innocent (though greedy) children throughout Central City! The Weather Wizard prefers to take a more direct approach and attacks the Flash with an arsenal of bad weather, including blizzards and lightning. Barry attempts to stop him using the “weather wand” Cisco (Carlos Valdes) had developed in an “alternate” timeline.

All the episode’s action plays out beautifully and is well integrated into further realizing this “comic book” world that our heroes, but the strength in the arc this week is provided by the revelation from Iris to Joe that they have an additional family member. Candice Patton hasn’t been given moments like this often to play, and her Iris is at her most vulnerable when tell her father (and Barry) about Wally West. It’s both tender and engaging to see the show return to its emotional base.

The relationship between Barry and Patty is beginning to grow and take on a whole new depth that is really coming together. It’s nice to see how comfortable Grant and Shantel are at playing intimate…it’s really endearing the character with fans. As the show takes its well earned winter break, fans are again left to ponder as the cast comes together to celebrate the holiday season and the West family welcomes home Wally, where in all this was Henry Allen? Fishing again?

“Fear” Begins Here

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The zombie apocalypse moves to the West Coast in the AMC prequel series “Fear the Walking Dead” now available on Blu-ray.

When Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) woke up from his coma six years ago, his world was turned upside down. While he lay incapacitated recovering from a bullet wound, The Walking Dead had claimed the planet. As the police officer made his way out of his hospital confinement, Grimes couldn’t have anticipated what was waiting for him — and neither could television audiences.

What ensued has been one of the most unpredictable fights for survival ever televised, and one of primetime’s most watched events. Rick and his makeshift family have faced insurmountable odds while dodging growing hordes of the undead with an insatiable hunger for destruction. So when AMC announced that it would introduce a spin-off series, fans waited with great anticipation to see what the show’s creators would come up with.

Fear the Walking Dead isn’t essentially a prequel, but it does fill in the blanks. Where the original series flung audiences into the thick of the horror, the new show — situated on the opposite coast — sets the gears in motion. Through the lives of a small family in East Los Angeles, we learn how it all began — though not necessarily who (or what) is responsible.

Similarly to how The Walking Dead launches with Rick Grimes waking up from a long sleep, Fear the Walking Dead similarly stirs into existence. Nick Clark (Frank Dillane) finds himself phasing into reality after experiencing a drug binge. When he can’t find his girlfriend he starts to weave his way through the mostly abandoned crack den he’s spent the night in; when he stumbles into the main atrium, he finds several dead bodies.

One body though is feasting on the remains of another, and as it comes for Nick he stumbles his way into the daylight and gets struck by a car on an East Los Angeles street. Nick is our introduction to this show’s nuclear family. Which includes Travis Manawa (Cliff Curtis) and his live-in girlfriend Madison Clark (Kim Dickens). Nick is Madison’s drug addicted son.

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Their world begins to fall apart around them as Travis (Cliff Curtis) and Madison (Kim Dickens) attempt to navigate the impending threat and  Fear the Walking Dead.

Not completely sure that what he’s seen is in fact reality, Nick tries to pursued his family, but it isn’t long before the world around them starts to systematically fall apart. After a riot moves across the streets, the military moves in and quarantines the safe neighborhoods, but it isn’t long before everyone begins to take matters into there own hands.

Where TWD has set-up the rules of surviving against walkers, in Fear there are no rules because no one knows what’s going to happen yet. Audiences are in the unique situation to actually no more about what’s happening — or going to happen — than the show’s characters. It’s made for a very slow leap into the action, but at least it’s helped to really flesh out (no pun intended) the family at the center of it all.

The six premiere season episodes of Fear the Walking Dead are now available on Blu-ray and are suitable for binge watching especially before the return of the full Second Season returning in 2016.

DC’s Legends…In Print and Before Primetime.

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DC gets ready for its “Legends” coming to primetime, while we take a look at the print series that (re)established the legacy.

While the world gets ready for the DC Comics TV Universe (yes…we’re going to make that a “thing”) to unleash it’s latest effort in primetime, we’ll look back at a moment in DC’s comics history, when legends lived only in print. Where as now we live in a reality that has our heroes inhabiting almost every facet of multimedia. They come to life every fall on television, and the summer season is earmarked for all of the biggest blockbusters on the big screen. Where else can gods on earth face off against mortals in capes and cowls.

The success of The CW hit series Arrow and its spin-off The Flash, have literally opened the floodgates and unleashed the possibilities. Television executive producers Greg BerlantiAndrew Kreisberg and Marc Guggenheim have made it their mission to not only adapt the world of superheroes into a action-packed, one-hour format that is engaging and entertaining, these producers along with their core team of show-runners and writers have dedicated themselves to honoring the source material. An idea that many entertainment executives have often tried to steer away from when adapting comics for life-action.

The fact that the television series Arrow has cultivated elements of the Green Arrow’s comic adventures to the small screen, and its sister series The Flash has also followed suit — it’s what has made these series ratings hits and brought them legion of fans. Berlanti and Kreisberg along with Allison Adler have also added to the palette the daring adventures of the Maid of Might — Supergirl premiered in the fall of 2015 on the major television network CBS. And the creative team hasn’t stopped there…while their premiere CW series may be going on hiatus for mid-season, this opens the schedule for the introduction of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.

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They’re ready for primetime! The new series – the third spin-off – in the line of DC Comics series on The CW premieres in 2016 and will feature an all-star line-up of heroes and villains from across the DC Comics Universe.

 

This will be the first “team show” to continue elaborating on the DC TV Universe continuity that began with Arrow and will feature an assemble cast of heroes (and villains) some already been introduced within the scope of the other CW shows.

A side note — though there has been some speculation that eventually the CW shows may overlap with Supergirl on CBS, it’s still now confirmed, so Legends may be the closest that fans will come to having the DC Universe continuing to unravel in primetime, bringing the total of hours of television to feature superheroes in a connective story arc to about 59! That’s incredible!

But Once Upon A Time…

The only way that audiences could digest their favorite superhero’s adventures were in the monthly publications of DC Comics. Big screen adventures were few and far between, and it wasn’t until the 1989 with the success of Tim Burton’s Batman starring Michael Keaton in the lead role, that the adapted media would be taken serious by Hollywood, though it would be a slow crawl until hits like Marvel’s Spider-Man and X-Men came along and opened up the market.

Nope. You could only get comics at your local newsstand or specialty store, and they were usually under a dollar! During the summer of 1985 DC Comics was taking a great risk. The long-running imprint was revitalizing their brand and that meant a publishing wide initiative to revamp all DC Comics. For the first time in its then 50 year history, DC Comics and its heroes would all belong to one seamless continuity establishing a legacy.

The first big move was felt during the earth-shattering events of the classic Crisis on Infinite Earths which revised most of DC Comic’s history and gave the world a new, more contemporary Superman, a darker and meaner Batman, and brought Wonder Woman up to her rightful place as one of the imprint’s “Big 3”, establishing the trinity. After the dust had settled with Crisis, the next step was to start to place the heroes into a more appropriate and modern context.

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The cover to the first issue of Legends the comic series introduced most of the characters into the contemporary DC Comics continuity after the events of the first “Crisis” which revamped history.

The series that would help make that happen was released the following year after Crisis ended and was called Legends. As told by comic legends John Ostrander and Len Wein (both wrote and scripted the story) and drawn by John Byrne and Karl Kesel (the two creatives were behind the revamping of the Superman title and mythology) the 6 part mini-series would help to reestablish the Justice League and reintroduce characters that were in a state of flux after the events depicted in Crisis.

In the story the menacing evil of Darkseid once again threatens the planet as he attempts to prove to the world at large that their belief in heroes, their faith in these “legends” is misbegotten at best. The heroic Captain Marvel — now more appropriately known as Shazam! is tricked into thinking he’s killed an innocent man, while the younger heroes in the pantheon including Firestorm and The Flash confront the responsibility that comes with being a hero.

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The Flash fitted prominently into the story, though the “Flash” that appeared in Legends would actually be Wally West, the successor to Barry Allen who went missing after the events in Crisis on Infinite Earths.

In the end, the heroes eventually succeed at stopping Darkseid’s plan, and many are introduced to each other for the first time. Helping to reestablish the Justice League, the “Golden Age” mystic Dr. Fate becomes a core member (if only for a short time) of the new team consisting of founding members BatmanMartian Manhunter and Black Canary (taking the place in the new continuity of original founding member Wonder Woman). Joining them in the relaunch is Blue Beetle.

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Another familiar face that took part of the action was a still relatively unknown and inexperienced Firestorm who faced the larger than life menace of Brimstone!

The series also depicts the contemporary introduction of Wonder Woman properly into “Man’s World”. The amazing amazon was one of the prominent casualties of the Crisis but was reintroduced into continuity with new powers, a new origin and mission in her new series, before moving into her place in the spotlight alongside the other big guns. It’s worth diving into this bit of nostalgia, although this 6-issue run will not necessarily be the story to springboard the TV Legends.

It’s still exciting to experience some of the story from its early conception, understand why these characters have come to mean so much to generations since and especially become a part of the first “reboot” in contemporary DC Comics history.

 

iReview: Arrow – “Legends of Yesterday”

Arrow S4 BannerLetting the light in, “Arrow” crossover event does more than just set-up the “Legends” it establishes the legacy of Oliver Queen.

Now that Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) is no longer the only game in town, it’s not uncommon for Arrow to become a television event worthy of “must see TV” especially when it entails The Flash crossing over into the otherwise dismally dark world of the Green Arrow’s Star City, or Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) welcoming the Emerald Archer into Central City.

With the DC TV Universe expanding, it’s going to take Green Arrow, the Flash and their respective teammates, along with the newly introduced Hawkgirl (Ciara Renée) and Hawkman (Falk Hentschel) to take on one of the most sinister villains in DC Comics. Vandal Savage (Casper Crump) is gunning for the reincarnated souls of the Hawks and will stop at nothing to destroy Central City and Star City if he doesn’t get what he wants.

In “Legends of Yesterday” the second part of this season’s first Arrow/The Flash crossover event, Kendra and Carter return to Central City in an attempt to out live Vandal Savage’s attack, but when the Staff of Horus proves more powerful than anyone could have imagined, Savage success in not only killing Hawkgirl and Hawkman and insuring his immortality, he also destroys Central City and everyone in it.

The Flash is able to escape the blast, and “flashes” back in time returning to the instant that he and Green Arrow first plot with Dark Archer (John Barrowman) to stop Savage. Now knowing the outcome of that confrontation, Barry suggests that both he and Oliver come up with another plan to keep the Hawks alive and save Central City from total annihilation.

Barry also reveals to Oliver that he is indeed the father of Samantha’s young son William, and that perhaps keeping this a secret from Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) may not be a very good idea. (In the comics, Oliver has a son named Conner that inherits the mantle of Green Arrow and even ends up a member of the Justice League.) Now that Oliver knows the truth, he decides to tread more carefully and keeps the secret that he’s a father.

The episode also establishes more backstory about Kendra Saunders and Carter Hall, including how Savage is intertwined with them throughout history. Now that Barry has altered the outcome of their unsuccessful melee with their immortal foe, Kendra is able to help devise a new plan to stop Savage and it includes the discovery of “Nth Metal” — an alien element that will help them against the power released from the Staff of Horus.

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Kendra (Ciara Renée) shows off her wings as she embraces her new role as Hawkgirl soon to become a part of the DC’s Legends of Tomorrow cast.

The combined might of Green Arrow, The Flash, Hawkgirl and Hawkman, along with “Teams Arrow and Flash” are able to (this time) stop Vandal Savage — exactly just like Dark Archer hoped they would. Certainly now that the foundation has been laid out, it looks like next month’s premiere of DC’s Legend of Tomorrow is shaping up to be one of the more exciting events of the mid-season.

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These heroes are ready for their close-up! The Green Arrow (Stephen Amell) and The Flash (Grant Gustin) are flanked by a league of legends.

Crossover stunts are usually reserved for television shows that are in ratings peril, but we’re talking about a series of television series taking place in the DC Universe. If these universes didn’t interact as organically as Arrow and The Flash have, comic book fans wouldn’t be as interested in the upcoming Legends which will be a proper “team show” that promises to traverse the DC Multiverse.

With an ensemble cast that is rivaling that of HBO’s epic Game of Thrones so long as The CW doesn’t lose sight of continuing to develop that individual world of its main shows, and doesn’t take too many trips to the well, this could prove exactly what DC Comics fans have known along — superheroes in primetime are very cool!

Flash and Arrow…Take Flight!

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In this season’s first crossover event the DC TV Universe spreads its wings and gives flight to more DC Comic’s legends!

Although by now televisions fans of The CW hit series Arrow and its sister series The Flash have been prepared for the upcoming third spin-off – and no… I’m  not talking about that Maid of Might minding over National City on CBS – the assembled DC’s Legends of Tomorrow have started coming together in the premiere crossover episodes of the season…and it’s a pretty brilliant take-off.

In the DC Comics mythology there are few more formidable opponents than Vandal Savage (played by Casper Crump) the immortal menace was a thorn in the side of the “Golden Age” heroes before plotting to destroy their “Modern Age” counterparts…and because Savage is a dastardly long-lived kind of baddie, he’s proven really hard to kill. Savage is the ideal candidate for the premise introduced to set-up Legends.

But most beautifully, the writing team with includes some of DC Comics most devoted fanboys, and I do mean show runners Andrew Kreisberg and Marc Guggenheim — both writers have placed at the center of the controversy a character the although once once a “sidekick” of sorts, when Hawkgirl took a pivotal role as a founding member on the Justice League cartoon series, her wingspan peaked!

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Hawkman (Falk Henschel) and Hawkgirl (Ciare Renée) join The Flash and Arrow as they prepare to become Legends in the next spin-off set to premiere in early 2016.

Now the reincarnated form of Kendra Saunders has evolved again, and has been brought to life by the dashingly exciting and relatively new talent on the television spectrum Ciara Renée — the veteran of stage has given rise to the latest hero to come to life and borrow the spotlight from the boys, before taking her rightful place on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.

 

When the cast was introduced at San Diego Comic-Con in 2015, the young woman was already showing a ferocious eagerness to jump right into the suit and show everyone what she’s got. With Tuesday night’s first-part crossover on The Flash entitled “Legends of Today” Renée proves she’s no disappointment!

With the growing number of characters become part of a larger mythology — and rumors already circulating that Barry Allen may be popping over to pay Superman’s famous cousin a visit on Supergirl (more on that soon). fans can expect some very exciting stuff to take shape in the time-traveling adventures of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. In the meantime, I think it’s safe to say that Ciara Renée has earned her wings! Take flight! We’ll be watching you soar the friendly skies!

I’ll have my review of this season’s “Legends of Today” after Wednesday’s continuing arc on Arrow. Stay tuned!