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Archive for March, 2013


Orphan Black - Sarah at train station

Review by C.J. Bunce

From the first scene of Orphan Black you can’t help getting reeled in.  Although the pilot opens with a woman walking in front of a passenger train, the world of a street urchin instantly is propelled like a freight train into strange, new territory for fans of action and sci-fi.  Not since last year’s pilot for NBC’s short-lived series Awake were we so quickly certain a series had to be added to the must-watch list.  That’s saying something since there have been so many new series to try on this year, series like The Following, Cult, and even the more recent Bates Motel that have already started to stack up in the viewing backlog.  With series like Lost Girl, Psych, Arrow, Continuum, Grimm, Dallas, New Girl, and now Doctor Who back from hiatus locked-in the must-see TV realm, Orphan Black is pretty much a late but welcome entry, especially to the sparse Saturday night line-up.

Orphan Black changing appearances

Orphan Black has a completely cool look–big city, edgy, dark places, with an equally cool lead in Canadian actress Tatiana Maslany.  Maslany, who has a bit of the look of actress Summer Glau, plays a Brit who encounters what could be her twin at a train stop in New York City, but it’s all filmed in the not-quite-the-same looking streets of Ontario.  The women look each other in the eye and this is so well filmed you don’t question that these are two separate people despite Maslany playing both roles.  The pilot manages to take some extraordinary circumstances and render them believable, a rewarding feat successfully handled, due to good acting and a story that answers every question the audience could ask, and each question real people in these situations would ask.

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Detective Comics 19 cover

By C.J. Bunce

Sometimes you want to just sit down and view a single TV episode where you walk away at the end of the hour having been energized with a complete end to end story.  I remember countless episodes of the X-Files with the monster of the week and these stand out to me from the episodes that followed the long-term plot of Fox Mulder’s lost sister or uncovering the mysterious smoking man’s real story.  I have the same thoughts about standalone issues of comic books.  Most series today have multi-issue story arcs and they are usually relevant and continue the intrinsic and historic serialized nature of monthly comic series dating back to the origin of comic books.  But when I was a little kid I’d flip through the short supply of comics at my local Kwik Shop and sometimes you’d be lucky and get an issue with a single beginning to end story and sometimes you’d start reading and have no idea what is going on.  I still get excited about a book when I get a great end-to-end story.  Detective Comics #19–the 900th issue of Detective Comics is one of those reads.

When the old DC Universe ended in August 2011, Detective Comics was at issue #881.  Detective Comics was set to become the second DC Comics series to reach Issue #900 after Action Comics.  Then the New 52 renumbered everything.  No matter.  DC Comics knows when it has something to celebrate, so to mark the occasion it is publishing a good ol’ 80-page giant issue.  As part of its across-the-line gatefold cover series, it cleverly manages to include the number 900 as part of its cover, as well as integrate the number into its storyline in a meaningful way.

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Marchlands cast - can you find Alice

With a television series featuring Doctor Who and Arrow’s Alex Kingston, Life on Mars’s Dean Andrews, Luke Skywalker’s pal Wedge Antilles, and the lead actress from Attack the Block, you just can’t go wrong.  And it’s really hard to beat an old British cottage near the woods as the setting when you’re creating a ghost story.  Add to it one of borg.com’s most discussed subjects: a movie about a creepy little girl, and you’re in for a good show.  That could not be more true than with the UK mini-series Marchlands.  UK production company ITV and 20th Century Fox created an expertly constructed five-part, supernatural drama mini-series that traverses three families living in different eras in the same British house.

Marchlands title card

Marchlands first aired in the UK in 2010, but it hasn’t been released in the States yet. In fact the only way to view it is to buy it from a British online retailer along with a DVD player that will play DVDs from Europe.   Along with watching all the other series from the UK long before they cross the lake to America, going the extra mile to get access to these series is well worth the effort.

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Riddick

The 2000 sci-fi movie Pitch Black alone was a solid thriller, considering it was starring a relatively unknown new action star, Vin Diesel.  A dark battle for survival with marooned space travelers on a desert planet, Diesel’s equally dry voice and cool demeanor boosted him into lead roles in The Fast and the Furious series and the XXX series.  Pitch Black featured Diesel as a silver eyed mercenary who has the rare ability in this new sci-fi world to see clearly in the dark, along with Red Widow star Radha Mitchell and They Live co-star Keith David.

Dragon and Riddick

Four years later Diesel brought Riddick back in an animated film, Dark Fury, and to the big screen again in The Chronicles of Riddick, an amped up and bigger budget film co-starring Judi Dench (Skyfall, As Time Goes By) and Karl Urban (Lord of the Rings, Star Trek, Judge Dredd).  Like Road Warrior took the original 1979 movie Mad Max into new territory, so went The Chronicles of Riddick, with epic Flash Gordon-inspired sets and Lord of the Rings-quality costumes.  So will the September release of Vin Diesel’s fourth film entry in the Riddick franchise be a Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome blockbuster?

Diesel released the first teaser from the new movie this week on his Facebook page.  It’s definitely a teaser–pretty brief–but you definitely get a vibe this will have a lot of action and suspense.  Check out the first preview of Riddick:

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Iron Man 3 poster

The movie studios are releasing multiple trailers for coming attractions these days and this week we’re featuring four new previews from movies that already released previews that we’ve featured here at borg.com.

First up is for our pick as the most awaited movie this year.  We’ve seen a few trailers already but beginning this week–finally–is the sequel to 2009’s G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, G.I. Joe: Retaliation with Bruce Willis as Joe Colton, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and Ray Park.  We could watch this newest preview featuring Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes over and over.  Is this some new kind of parkour?

G.I. Joe: Retaliation begins this Thursday, March 28, 2013.

Next up is a flick we’ve seen previewed over and over–Iron Man 3.  It has a fun new movie poster, too (above).  The international preview is pretty long as previews go and reveals more footage of Ben Kingsley’s villain Mandarin than previously released.  Compared to the first Iron Man film and Robert Downey, Jr.’s role as Tony Stark in The Avengers, Iron Man 2 was a pretty weak entry in the Marvel superhero universe.  So our expectations are in check.   But this sequel is expected to unveil nearly every version of the Iron Man armor from the Marvel Comics archive, so this could be a lot of fun.  Here’s one of two new previews:

Iron Men drones?  Where can we get one?  Here’s the shorter TV ad also just released:

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Hive cover art - IDW Publishing

If you haven’t read the four-issue limited series Star Trek: The Next GenerationHive,” tomorrow IDW Publishing releases a trade edition at comic book stores everywhere.  “Hive” reads every bit like the next television episode of Star Trek featuring The Borg–the fearsome race of half machines/half organic lifeforms that assimilate species across the galaxy.  With the best of their stories found in the Next Generation two-parter “The Best of Both Worlds” and the Jonathan Frakes-directed big screen blockbuster Star Trek: First Contact, long-time series writer Brannon Braga returns to tell his untold epic story of Locutus, Seven of Nine, and the return of Data, with scripts by Travis Fickett and Terry Matalas.  Below we are previewing the trade edition courtesy of IDW Publishing.

After the events in Star Trek: Nemesis, Will Riker now captains the Titan. Lieutenant Commander Data is dead, sacrificing himself to save Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the crew of the Enterprise-E.  “Hive” occurs after Star Trek: Nemesis and explains events that led to the absence of Seven of Nine in the Star Trek Voyager finale, “Endgame.”

StarTrek-TheNextGeneration-Hive-02-CvrA

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Psych 100th episode

We’re beginning Hour 31 of the “99 Psychs on the Wall” Marathon on the cable channel Cloo here at midnight Monday morning.  Have you seen all 99 Psych episodes?  We have.  Many times each for some, like the Halloween episode “Tuesday the 17th,” or when Henry goes undercover in “The Old and the Restless,” and Juliet dons roller skates in “Talk Derby to Me.”  And we have found a pineapple (or something that looks pretty darned close) hidden or not-so-hidden in almost every episode.  The funniest ever detective-crime-drama-comedy beat the odds to get renewed for yet another season with next year’s Season 8, and hits the rare benchmark of 100 hours on television.  We’re eager to watch the 100th episode premiere Wednesday, March 27, 2013, on the USA Network.

If you haven’t watched Psych before, tune in any time to the Cloo cable channel before Wednesday night and pick any episode.  Psych stars James Roday as Shawn Spencer, a guy who was raised by cop father Henry (Corbin Bernsen) to pay incredibly close attention to details, and he uses this to fake psychic abilities with a detective agency of sorts called “Psych” with lifelong best friend Gus (Dulé Hill), who at any time may be randomly renamed on a case by Shawn as anything from Ghee Buttersnaps to Lavender Gooms to Lemongrass Gogulope.  Shawn and Gus create a perfect buddy team-up and once you get on their wavelength you’re in for a lot of fun keeping up with pop culture references dropped sometimes wrong and sometimes right.

Psych banner

Early episodes began with a flashback of Shawn and dad Henry, leading to some kind of parallel experience later in the episode.  Young Shawn and Gus were as funny as old Shawn and Gus.  Corbin Bernsen’s Henry is a great codger who knows about his son’s fake business and disapproves but never lets on to anyone else.

Shawn and Gus are often hired on by a likable and trusting police chief, Karen Vick, played by Kirsten Nelson.  The change-up compared to other detective shows is Chief Vick knows Shawn’s tactics are a little off kilter but he gets results time and again so she ignores his eccentricities and keeps bringing him back to help with Santa Barbara Police Department cases.  The SBPD actually is filmed in Vancouver, BC, which can add its own humor as actors can be in a scene wearing shorts on a typical California afternoon yet you see their breath when they speak.  The SBPD includes two other key characters, Shawn’s late season love interest Detective Juliet O’Hara (Maggie Lawson), and her partner, Detective Carlton (“Lassie”) Lassiter, played like Sergeant Joe Friday by Timothy Omundson.  Lassiter never approves of Shawn’s methods, yet Juliet believes in Shawn’s “powers” no matter how strange–a bit like Lois Lane not recognizing Superman is Clark Kent.

Shawn and Gus

Other great recurring characters are Officer McNabb (Sage Brocklebank), the hilarious coroner Woody (Kurt Fuller), Shawn’s sweet and equally quirky high school crush Abigail (Rachael Leigh Cook), Shawn’s mom Madeleine (Cybill Shepherd), the really, really strange Mary Lightly (Jimmi Simpson), the psychotic Mr. Yang (Ally Sheedy), Juliet’s love interest Declan Rand (Nestor Carbonell), and Lassiter’s criminal girlfriend Marlowe (Kristy Swanson).

Countless episodes should be included in the annals of classic television, and many bring in some of the best big actor guest stars as well as many blasts from the past.  If you miss the Cloo “99 Psychs on the Wall” marathon this week, nearly all the episodes but only the latest from this season can be found on streaming Netflix.

Here are twelve episodes that are not to be missed:

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Oliver Queen and trick arrow to save the day

More than 25 years after Frank Miller and Klaus Janson’s four-part prestige format comic book series/graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns changed the landscape for comic books thereafter, DC Animation produced a quality animated adaptation.  Released in two parts, we reviewed The Dark Knight Returns Part 1 here last year.   Part 1 was a faithful adaptation of roughly the first half of the original graphic novel.  It proved first and foremost that Christopher Nolan really pulled his key story elements in his Dark Knight trilogy of films from Frank Miller’s work.  Part 1 really keyed in on Nolan’s Bane character.  Both Part 1 and the Dark Knight trilogy failed to provide an exciting narrative, however, when compared to  The Dark Knight Returns Part 2, now on video.

Part 2 is every bit as faithful to the original as Part 1.  Commissioner Gordon has already stepped down and was replaced by a new commissioner whose first act is issuing a warrant for Batman.  The vacuous Doctor Wolper brings his patient The Joker to appear on Miller’s take on The David Letterman Show, only for The Joker to release a gas bombing that kills the entire audience as well as the host, leaving The Joker’s trademark grin on all their faces.  From the first sentences of Part 2, you know this is not a kid’s Batman film.  The Joker escapes and proceeds to bloodily murder everyone in his path until he confronts Batman in the bowels of Gotham City.  Here the classic confrontation between the long-time foes plays out exactly as it should.

Christopher Reeve poster

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Game of Thrones - Season 3 Ygritte Rose Leslie

Game of Thrones returns to HBO for its third season a week from tomorrow.  And HBO has released several previews to give fans something to get psyched for.  If you’re not caught up on the series, Season 1 is available in a five-disc DVD version for $39.99 and a seven-disc Blu-Ray version for $47.99 and Season 2 is available in a five-disc version for $37.99 and a seven-disc Blu-Ray version for $47.99, both from Amazon.com.  You can also stream each episode of Season 1 and Season 2 also at Amazon.com to get caught up on the series at $2.99 per episode.

On Sunday, March 31, 2013, HBO airs the Season 3 opener “Valar Dohaeris.”  “Valar Dohaeris” is an expression in the Game of Thrones language High Valyrian, meaning “all men must serve”. It is a saying in the continent of Essos, and is the answer to the expression “Valar Morghulis” – “all men must die”. Sort of reminds us of the Ancient Roman Latin soldier sayings “Nos morituri te salutamus” meaning “We are about to die salute you” or “Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori” meaning “It is sweet and honorable to die for the fatherland.”

HBO is certainly on top of things when it comes to previews.  It seems like no other series has put out so many.  Here are several that should either catch you up on the series or give you a look at what is coming soon.

Here is an official ten-minute Season 1 and 2 recap:

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David Warner as Merlin in The Wizard

Thanks to Simon Guerrier, writer/producer and one-half of the filmmaking team the Guerrier Brothers, borg.com today presents a short film starring the brilliant genre actor David Warner, who we’ve previously discussed as one of our all-time favorite actors.  Versatile, dynamic, and compelling, Warner has created some of the most memorable characters of all time across media spanning film, television, audio dramas, animation and video games.  Able to create classic, iconic performances as both heroes and villains, his catalog of performances across genres and franchises puts him on a small list with the likes of fellow British thespians Christopher Lee and Ian McKellen for his dramatic, sci-fi, and fantasy roles that have stood the test of time.

Highlights from his roster of film credits only touch on the breadth of Warner’s acting career:  Lysander from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Keith Jennings in The Omen, Jack the Ripper in Time After Time, Ed Dillinger/Sark/Master Control in Tron,  Bob Cratchit in A Christmas Carol, St. John Talbot in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, the Abraham Lincoln-inspired Klingon Chancellor Gorkon in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Professor Summerlee in The Lost World, Doctor Wrenn in Stephen King’s In the Mouth of Madness, Spicer Lovejoy in James Cameron’s Titanic, chimpanzee Senator Sandar in The Planet of the Apes, and Joseph Lau in James Cameron’s Avatar.  On television he’s performed as a Cardassian on Star Trek: The Next Generation, as well as Jor-El in Lois and Clark, and he had key roles in Babylon 5, Twin Peaks, Horatio Hornblower, Wallander, The Secret of Crickley Hall, and a guest star role in this season’s Doctor Who.  He’s voiced the DC Comics villain Ra’s Al Ghul and the Marvel Comics villain Red Skull in animated series, an alternate Third Doctor and Isaac Newton in Doctor Who audio plays, and voiced Star Trek and Star Wars characters in video games.

David Warner in Wizard by the Guerrier Brothers

David Warner on set of The Wizard with a certain furry co-star.

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