Category Archives: Television

Television: Supernatural 4.10 Heaven and Hell Teaser Clips

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‘Sweeps Weeks’ is upon us in ‘television land’ and that means that TV series are pulling out heavy hitting first run episodes for audiences to delve into and to entice advertisers to spend their money on buying ad spots during the shows.  This past week’s episode of the hit CW Network series Supernatural titled I Know What You Did Last Summer swept into the fray with a powerful storyline about how Sam Winchester (Jared Padalecki) dealt with his grief over losing older brother Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) to death as Dean made good on his deal with a crossroads demon that came due at the end of season 3. The episode also introduced us to Anna Milton, a woman who hears ‘angelic conversations’, which makes her target of interest for angel and demon alike.  We also got to meet up with the newest demon ‘big bad, Alastair (Mark Rolston) who seems to know Dean from the older Winchester’s time spent in hell.

Despite being pre-empted in many areas by CW Affiliates choosing to air Football instead, I Know What You Did Last Summer still garnered an impressive 3.91 overnight rating which means that Supernatural continues to hit its stride and continues to gain audience approval and viewer-ship in what is considered a very ‘killer’ Thursday night time slot. Just goes to show that those Winchester brothers are kick ass tough and they have what it takes to ‘go the distance’ (cue Eye of the Tiger Music’).

Supernatural continues on into ‘Sweeps Week’ with an episode titled “Heaven and Hell,” which will air on Thursday the 20th at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT on The CW and will be the last original episode of 2008! Additional new episodes of “Supernatural” will resume airing on Thursday January 15, 2009 (The day before Jensen Ackles’ big screen horror movie My Bloody Valentine: 3D opens nation wide in select theaters).

Continue reading Television: Supernatural 4.10 Heaven and Hell Teaser Clips

TELEVISION: Ghost Whisperer: The Rumors Were True, So, Now What?

In last week’s episode of Ghost Whisperer [CBS, Fridays, 8/7C], the unthinkable happened: Jim Clancy [David Conrad] was killed, accidentally, when a police detective shot him thinking he was someone else. The episode concluded with Jim’s ghost appearing to his widow in his hospital room.

Ghost Whisperer - Threshold

Tonight’s episode, Threshold, finds Melinda [Jennifer Love Hewitt] unable to see Jim’s ghost because her grief is so strong that it’s interfering with her ability. When the ghost of a teenage girl begins to haunt her – breaking and throwing things – she thinks it’s Jim. Only Jim knows that it isn’t, so he approaches Eli [Jamie Kennedy] to help him figure out why the girl is haunting his widow. Things are complicated by Jim’s brother, who has been waiting for him so that the two of them can crossover together and rejoin their father.

Written and directed by John Gray, Threshold walks a fine line between genuine sentiment and being maudlin. For the most part – and largely due to the cast’s performances – it succeeds. Especially good is Conrad’s work as the increasingly frustrated Jim, though Hewitt gives one of her best performances here. I also have to give full marks to Camryn Manheim, whose work on Whisperer hasn’t really worked for me. Delia finally works as Melinda’s supportive friend and employee.

Naturally, with the complications that arise in Threshold, there are loose ends that will be left for next week’s ep, Heart & Soul – in which Melinda has to deal with a step-in, a man with amnesia and a very angry ghost who seems connected to her life in a genuinely unexpected way. I can’t say anything more than that – except to say that this ep concludes a storyline for Melinda and Jim even as it signals the beginning of an intriguing new direction for her.

Heart & Soul has a bit more trouble avoiding being maudlin, but long time fans of the series will find it to be both and unsettling [in a good way] and satisfying conclusion to the three-episode arc.

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TELEVISION: Sanctuary Renewed; Series Keeps Getting Better!

With the announcement that Sanctuary [Sci-Fi, Fridays, 10/9C] has been renewed for a second season, perhaps those who those who don’t like to commit to a new series for fear it’ll be cancelled will now give TV’s first green screen series a chance. Two upcoming episodes are good examples of the kind of quirky quality that series is developing.

Sanctuary

Quick refresher courser: Dr. Helen Magnus [Amanda Tapping], a one hundred fifty-seven-year old scientist has established Sanctuary – a home for “abnormals” [creatures benign and otherwise that are not of the perceived normalcy – mermaids, a missing link, children with unusual fear reflexes]. She provides homes – or cages if necessary – for these beings. She is aided by her daughter, Ashley [Emilie Ullerup], forensic psychiatrist, Dr. Will Zimmerman [Robin Dunne] and tech wizard, Henry Foss [Ryan Robins] .

In this week’s ep, The Five, Magnus’ lecture to an underground group in Rome, on abnormals, leads to a meeting with Nikola Tesla [Jonathon Young] who warns her of an impending assassination attempt. Tesla has a few secrets, himself – the only one I can telegraph is that he sleeps during the day.

The episode is fast paced and smart, but has its moments of emotional truth that support the action. We get to see Magnus’ ability to improvise – and the rest of her team show initiative in the way they aid her from their home base. The CG sets and effects are improving and now have much more weight than early on. Even Tapping’s wobbly English accent is much more consistent.

On December 5th, Drs. Magnus and Zimmerman take a mini-sub to investigate the slaughter of a clan of mer-people and find an abnormal unlike any they’ve ever seen. Requiem is a bottle show – a one-set episode – and as such, relies on tour de force acting by Tapping and Zimmerman. Both actors are called on to run through a gamut of emotions in a situation where an unseen menace seems to be influencing their behavior.

Based on these two episodes, Sanctuary is deserving of its renewal and an even larger audience.

Final Grade: B+

TELEVISION: Batman: The Brave and the Bold – ‘50s-Style Batman Teams Up Nicely!

When Batman: The Brave and the Bold premieres [Fridays, 8/7C], long time Bat-fans may be surprised to see a Caped Crusader who bears more than a slight resemblance to Dick Sprang’s version of the character which ran in the comics from the mid-‘40s to the mid-‘50s. The stories will also remind of this period as they combine mystery with science-fiction, which leads to episodes like the series premiere, Rise of the Blue Beetle, where we are treated to two team-ups – Batman [Diedrich Bader] and Green Arrow [James Arnold Taylor] take down the Clock King [Dee Bradley Baker] as a warm-up to a galaxy-spanning adventure in which Batman teams up with the newest incarnation of the Blue Beetle [Will Friedle].

Brave & the Bold

In each instance we see a difference side of Batman – the friendly squabbles with Green Arrow, an equal to the Dark Knight, and a more mentorly approach with the Beetle. Each is appropriate to the partner involved, and each leads to unexpected action – especially in the Batman/Beetle clash with dreaded Justice League of America villain, Kanjar Ro [from all the way back in the original JLA #5].

Considering the amount of action and characterization contained in this episode, it’s amazing that it doesn’t feel overcrowded – but it doesn’t. Instead the quips fly fast and free; the action involved in taking down a rather mundane [for Batman] villain generates laughs, while the Kanjar Ro beef is considerably more serious [he’s found using a sentient lifeform to fuel his ships].

The writing on Batman: The Brave and the Bold is sharp and concise. It mixes a bigger dose of humor into the adventures, while knowing when to get serious. The animation is as series specific – and right for the series – as that of each of the previous Bat-shows. Plus, the series will find Batman working with a lot of interesting characters, such as: Red Tornado [Corey Burton], Aquaman [John DiMaggio], and Plastic Man [Tom Kenny]. Scriptwriter Michael Jelenic and director Bon Jones may have used Rise of the Blue Beetle to introduce the series to make it clear that it’s a different Batman series – if so, they’ve certainly succeeded!

Final Grade: A-

Television: R2-D2’s Inner Workings Revealed in STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS

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R2-D2 and R3-S6 (AKA Goldie)

Have you ever wondered what is R2-D2 made of? Well audiences and Star Wars fans will find out, both literally and figuratively, as Duel of the Droids, an all-new episode of the hit animated series STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS premiers at 9 PM EST on Friday, November 14th on Cartoon Network.

Duel of the Droids which was written by Kevin Campbell (“Disney’s House of Mouse,” “Jackie Chan Adventures”) completes a two-episode story arc. Anakin, Ahsoka and replacement droid R3-S6 (aka “Goldie”) must embark on a dual rescue/sabotage mission when they discover R2-D2 is being held at General Grievous’s secret enemy listening post. In writing this script, Campbell created a little extra work for the Lucasfilm Animation crew when he used the unusually vivid word “splayed” to describe how R2-D2’s internal mechanisms would be removed and exhibited across an examining table. That gave the production team ample opportunity to delve into Artoos’s inner workings and have a little fun with director Rob Campbell to boot.

According to director Rob Coleman, R2-D2 is the ultimate Swiss Army knife. “We all love the myriad things that come out of him, but having to build and animate all of that is another story”, He say of the challenge of animating the ‘splayed out’ scenes for R2-D2.

To achieve the effect and have it stay true to the films and the history of this particular droid, they turned to Lucasfilm Animation’s Gary Scheppke, who got a box full of ‘Artoo bits’ and to the modelers who began basing all of their work off the actual hardware that has historically been shown as being part of R2-D2.

“We crammed it into the model inside the computer. There are definitely some recognizable pieces on that table from the films, as well as all the things that show up for the first time in this episode – a cutter wheel, suction cups, etc.,” Coleman says of the process. “Then they animated in a few things like a pea shooter and a boxing glove just to get my attention. They’re funny guys.”

As for getting the opportunity to write this episode, Campbell says he took pride in the chance to add some history for Artoo and his capabilities, showing some aspects of the droid that audiences haven’t seen before. “I love that we’re adding back story to the back story,” Campbell explains with enthusiasm. “We discover that when Princess Leia hid the Death Star plans inside Artoo in Episode IV, it’s not the first time he’s been entrusted with important information.”

Campbell says he also enjoyed that he and the production team get to play with Anakin’s emotional side. “The other Jedi are saying he gets too attached, that he’s willing to risk everything to get Artoo back. He’s a Jedi, and yet he assigns sentimental value to an inanimate object. I can relate to that, because that’s real loyalty.”


TELEVISION: Estate of Panic: Just a Bit Too Late For Hallowe’en!

By now, you, my loyal readers, will know that I tend to despise/loathe/abominate reality TV – which is why I am surprised when I find myself liking a reality series like Cha$e, where the format is more game show than anything else, and relies on contestants being capable of utilizing their intelligence [and some spiffy effects work]. Then there are the shows that stress endurance of the loathsome in the service of greed – like Fear Factor. Estate of Panic [Sci-Fi, Wednesdays, 10/9C] is such a show; a mix of Fear Factor and a haunted house.

Estate of Panic

Seven contestants are gathered in a spooky mansion where host Steve Valentine [Jordan’s Crossing] explains the rules as a Karloff-wannabe butler looks on. The rules are these: the contestants will enter three rooms/areas of the estate where they will find lots of money; these rooms/areas will be booby-trapped in some way and thus present a challenge to the contestants; the person with the least money and the last person in the room/area will be eliminated.

In the premiere, the tests/challenges/tortures are: snakes and flooding; walls and ceilings that close in on the contestants, while crabs and worms are freed from their aquaria by the ceiling dropping, and a garden area looped with wires that give the contestants varying degrees of electrical shocks. But wait! There’s more!

Following each challenge, two contests are dropped from the game [for the reasons described above] and the last person standing gets all the money collected – if they can overcome one last test – a vault with two hundred safety deposit boxes. There’s a timer that will lock the vault in a specified time, so the finalist must work quickly. As an added incentive to hurry, the finalist is shackled to the floor of the vault and must also look for keys or implements that help free them. There are also some less friendly contents in some of the boxes.

The challenges will, naturally, vary from episode to episode.

Estate of Panic might have worked as a one-off for Hallowe’en, but as a series, it would seem to be the logical successor to Fear Factor. If you like watching real people willingly being scared and/or tortured, this show will appeal to you. In spite of Johnson’s suitably creepy presence as the host – and Rupert, the butler – Estate of Panic revolted me. Not as much as Fear Factor, but close.

Final Grade: D

TELEVISION: Cha$e – The Sci-Fi Channel Brings Video Games to Life!

With Cha$e [Tuesdays, 10/9C], The Sci Fi Channel adapts a highly successful Japanese game show format for American audiences. The rules are simple enough: ten runners must avoid capture by five hunters on a specified game zone for one hour – while finding devices to help avoid, misdirect or otherwise thwart the runners. Even the map of the zone is acquired through a test. Host Trey Farley explains the rules and gives the runners updates on various challenges – and the surprising nature of the fifth hunter – before eventually revealing the mystery exit point. Although runners must work together at times, only one can win – the prize is twenty-five thousand dollars.

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There will be CG effects touches to make the show more closely emulate the feel of a video game. There are graphics that show the locations of the runners and the hunters; the hunters will be CG-enhanced figures [instead of just the already creepy men in black with designer sunglasses that appear on the screener]. Runners are shown in electronic “cards” each of which flashes their basic stats, and the equivalent of power gauging bars appear on the bottom third of the screen to show what devices the various runners have/have used/have failed to obtain. The actual gameplay is not especially exciting, though I expect that when all the CG effects are laid in, that will be an improvement.

What is interesting, though, is the way the runners think before, during and after gameplay. One losing runner says, “I thought I wouldn’t care, but I do” – another is quite expressly angry about having failed. Others are more philosophical.

In fairness, I should probably point out that – while Cha$e is based on the aforementioned successful Japanese game show format – the game should really carry an “inspired by” credit for the late Robert Sheckley, whose short story, The Seventh Victim, was adapted into the hit movie, The 10th Victim. With the exception that Sheckley’s hunters and hunted were a stand-in for large scale war – and the principles of his much more violent game [including being televised] are pretty much present here. Sheckley was right, too. The game makes for intriguing – if not brilliant – television.

Final Grade: B-

Television: SUPERNATURAL "I Know What You Did Last Summer" Teaser Clips

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The hit CW Network/Warner Bros. series Supernatural, which stars Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles as Sam and Dean Winchester: two monster hunting, demon fighting brothers – seems to be really hitting its stride in it’s fourth season with this week’s episode, Wishful Thinking, getting 3.73 overnight rating.

Next week, Supernatural heads into ‘Sweeps Weeks’ with one of two highly anticipated episodes of the fourth season. In this first episode, a tip from Ruby (guest star Genevieve Cortese) sends Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) on the trail of Anna (guest star Julie McNiven – “Mad Men”), a mysterious young woman who is being hunted by both demons and angels.  Fans will also learn the long-awaited answer to the question of what happened to Sam (Jared Padalecki) during the four long months following his brother Dean’s (Jensen Ackles) death.  Additional guest stars include Misha Collins as ‘Castiel,’ Robert Wisdom as ‘Uriel’ and Mark Rolston as ‘Alastair.”  “I Know What You Did Last Summer” was written by Sera Gamble and directed by Charles Beeson.

Check out the two teaser clips provided for us by Warner Bros/The CW Network and then check out Supernatural next week on the CW at 9PM EST.

Television:R2-D2 Takes Center Stage in All-New Episode of STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS

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In “Downfall of a Droid,” an all-new episode of the hit animated series STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS, premiering at 9 p.m. ET/PT Friday, Nov. 7, on Cartoon Network, R2-D2 is lost during a fierce space battle and Anakin must find him before the Separatists discover the Jedi military secrets locked in the droid’s memory banks.

Directed by Rob Coleman and written by George Krstic, “Downfall of a Droid” is the first episode to feature the beloved astromech droid who has been with the Star Wars Franchise since the very beginning, first appearing the 1977 release of Star Wars: A New Hope. Krstic, the creator of Cartoon Network’s “Megas XLR,” says that R2-D2 is his favorite STAR WARS character.

“Artoo is very childlike and inquisitive, there’s no subterfuge to Artoo,” Krstic says. “He’s got loyalty and bravery and, while he doesn’t speak English, I think everyone understands what he’s saying. The wonderful sound design work and the incredible characterizations for Artoo have made it so that it doesn’t matter what language you speak, or where you’re from — you can relate to Artoo and what he’s about.”

A native of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, and current resident of Los Angeles, George Krstic has written three episodes for STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS and says his ultimate “nerd moment” came when he discovered there would be merchandising on some of the characters he’s worked on for the series.

“A few of the characters I wrote for on the series are being made into action figures and, as a fan, that’s pretty much the pinnacle of my career,” Krstic said with a laugh. “I can die happy now because it’s not going to get better.”

Dave Filoni is the supervising director of STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS. George Lucas is executive producer and creator of the series, and Catherine Winder is producer.

Trademark information for Star Wars: The Clone Wars images:
TM & © 2008 Lucasfilm Ltd. All rights reserved.

Television: Supernatural Behind the Scenes- Todd Stashwick Talks Episode 4.05 Monster Movie

On Thursday October 30th at 9PM EST the hit Warner Bros/CW Network series Supernatural will air it’s Halloween episode, titled ‘It’s the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester’. As the Winchester’s say, every day is Halloween for them when it comes to dealing with all manner of beasties, demons, ghouls and witches. Plus this season there is even an angel or two thrown in for good measure. Those Winchester boys sure have their work cut out for them! 

In this spooktacular frightfest, which was written by Julie Siege and directed by Charles Beeson, Sam and Dean Winchester (Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles): the two monster hunting, demon fighting brothers will be facing off against every type of horrific creature they have every encountered as they investigate some strange Halloween-related deaths that are taking place in a town during the days leading up to the holiday itself. As they begin to solve the mystery, they also learn the real origins of Halloween and find themselves trying to save the entire town itself from a surprising pair of would-be assassins. The episode also guest stars Misha Collins (“24”) as ‘Castiel’ and introduces Robert Wisdom (“The Wire”) as ‘Uriel.’

Continue reading Television: Supernatural Behind the Scenes- Todd Stashwick Talks Episode 4.05 Monster Movie

TELEVISION: The Ghost Hunters do it Live, this Halloween!

As Bill O’Reilly would say, “We’ll do it live, we’ll do it live!” My boys Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson, Sci-Fi’s The Ghost Hunters, will actually be in my neck of the woods this weekend doing a live 7 Hour Halloween Hunt at the historical Fort Delaware. This special event will be hosted by Destination Truth’s Josh Gates & Steve Valentine with special guest hunter Amanda Tapping. I’m not quite sure what’s going on with this, Sci-Fi is promoting this as a live event, but I’m pretty sure it’s being taped Wed night (tonight). Because they aren’t letting press attend – not even little ol me.  I was invited to lunch, unfortunately my day job keeps me from going. Either way, I love the Ghost Hunters, the show and the guys, after going on a hunt with them and Amanda a few weeks ago, I’m a believer in all ghostly things. Even ghost farts.

Who knew that I lived an hour and half away from one of the most haunted places in the country  Fort Delaware, commonly referred to as the “Black Hole,” Fort Delaware was used during the Civil War as a POW camp that housed over 33,000 Confederate soldiers. Ravaged by epidemics and torture nearly 2,400 failed to escape and died on the island. The restless spirits have never left.  Join the exclusive seven-hour hunt from home with access to thermal imaging camera feeds and live Q&A with TAPS team members and host Josh Gates. Watch carefully for anything out of the ordinary — you’ll be able to send instant alerts of any sightings you make straight to the Ghost Hunters!  Brace yourself this Halloween when TAPS takes you on the ultimate ghost hunt. The team returns to the Fort Delaware scene of this season’s most jolting and revealing episode.