Category: TV

New Speedy Willa Hollans on Arrow

Time flies when you’re having fun.  Seems like yesterday we were up all night on the street in San Diego waiting to see the world premiere of the pilot for CW’s Arrow.  It’s hard to believe Season 4 begins tonight.  Arrow has done something pretty amazing–taking a 70-year-old character and upending his backstory and surrounding characters in a way that stays true to the spirit of the original.  This season the story of Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) is getting even closer to his roots.

Tonight Oliver’s sister, Thea (Willa Holland), will take over the Speedy mantle, donning the above slick new supersuit.  Some credit is due to my pal and fellow Iowa boy Phil Hester and Kevin Smith, co-creators as writer and artist, respectively of Mia Dearden, the first woman Speedy in the pages of DC Comics’ second long-running Green Arrow monthly.  This new look borrows much from their original.  It’s not the first time CW’s Arrow has dipped back into the archives to bring out good ideas from the past, and that is what helps make the series so well-received by fans of the superhero genre.

What can we expect from Season 4?


For one, Starling City will be renamed Star City, one of the comic book homes of Oliver Queen throughout the years.

John Barrowman will return but now as the new Ra’s Al Ghul.  The power will undoubtedly go to his head, but how far, and will he take Thea down into the darkness with him?

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Star Trek Costumes Block and Erdmann final cover 2015

Review by C.J. Bunce

The best non-fiction look at Star Trek in years is now available at book stores and online retailers.  Star Trek Costumes: Five Decades of Fashion from the Final Frontier, by Paula M. Block and Terry J. Erdmann will serve as a companion book to The Art of Star Trek, The Continuing Mission, and Star Trek: The Art of the Film, all previously reviewed here and here at  Together these four books represent the best visual looks at the history of Star Trek.  This new volume includes beautiful, clear, full-color photographs in a colorful hardcover, coffee table edition.

General fans of Hollywood costumes will learn plenty about the variety of major costumes used in the Star Trek universe throughout the past 50 years, and Star Trek diehards will find many interesting tidbits, too.  Highlights include recollections of costume designer Robert Fletcher about his creations for the movies and photos of several of his original costume designs, including his sketches for William Shatner’s Captain Kirk Class B uniform, Scotty’s engineering radiological suit used in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and the maroon, naval-style officer and crewman uniforms first appearing in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.


William Ware Theiss’s era-defining costumes from the original series receive plenty of coverage, including images of some of Theiss’s often quickly rendered costume designs.  The original hand-drawn artwork from past and present is worth its weight in gold press latinum, including original costume designs for Star Trek: The Next Generation by Durinda Rice Wood (like Counselor Troi’s beautiful, form-fitting, burgundy jumpsuit), costume designs for Star Trek: First Contact by Deborah Everton (like Lily’s 2063 civilian garb worn by Alfre Woodard), Robert Blackman’s original concept art for Star Trek Generations (like the British Naval uniforms), and Sanja Milkovich Hays’ original concept sketches for Star Trek: Insurrection (like the female Tarlac nurse bodysuits) many including photos of corresponding fabric swatches.  While Star Trek Costumes provides only a brief look at the costumes of Deep Space Nine, Star Trek Voyager, and Enterprise, it provides a nice overview of the revisited designs and variants of Star Trek 2009 and Star Trek Into Darkness, including a focus on the Klingon costumes.

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Rebel Blockade Runner

The most expensive Star Wars prop and the most iconic single Star Trek costume sold at auction this past week.  A new record was set for the highest sale price for a television costume, the market proved yet again that even the slightest Star Wars item takes top dollar, and sci-fi again rules the private collectors’ market for screen-used costumes, props and other entertainment memorabilia.  It all happened at auction house Profiles in History’s latest Hollywood memorabilia auction, held in Calabasas, California over three days September 30 through October 2, 2015.

Profiles in History reported that it tolled $7.3 million in sales in the auction.  The biggest news came from a production model of the Rebel Blockade Runner, the first ship seen at the beginning of the original Star Wars, which set the record for the sale of any Star Wars production piece.  It sold for double the catalog estimate at $450,000.  The prior record for a Star Wars item was $402,500, TIE Fighter filming miniature from Star Wars that sold at Profiles in 2008.

George Reeves’ The Adventures of Superman television series earned its rightful place in the history of television, with his supersuit selling for $216,000, the most for any known sale of a television costume.

Superman George Reeves

Star Trek fans saw the most iconic Star Trek costume with the best provenance recorded sell for $84,000.  That was one of Leonard Nimoy’s blue tunics from the original series, accompanied by the documentation whereby a fan won the costume from a studio promotion back in the 1960s.  No other original series piece has sold with better provenance back to the studio.  Other Star Trek items sold included an original series third season McCoy standard blue uniform for $57,000, and an incomplete Class A Spock uniform for $14,000.

Everyone wants to get their hands on original Star Wars items–the most difficult of the major franchises to collect since most items remain with Lucas or Lucasfilm.  A small section of the Death Star barely seen in Return of the Jedi sold for a whopping $39,000.  And even though it wasn’t screen-used, a lot consisting of prototype pieces of the most cosplayed sci-fi outfit ever, Carrie Fisher’s “Slave Leia” outfit from Return of the Jedi, sold for $96,000.  Finally, in the top echelon of sales at the auction, a special effects camera used to film Star Wars sold for $72,000.

Then there’s Indiana Jones.  One of Harrison Ford’s screen-used bullwhips sold for $204,000, a fedora went for $90,000, and one of his shirts and leather jackets each sold for $72,000.

Jurassic Park cane

Other notable, classic, genre pieces sold, including:

From Forbidden Planet, a light-up laser rifle ($66,000), a light-up laser pistol ($27,500), and a Walter Pidgeon Dr. Morbius costume ($24,000).

From Jaws, a Robert Shaw Quint harpoon rifle ($84,000) and machete ($27,000).

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The X-files trailer 2016

We were getting along fine, reading our issues of one of the best tie-in series around, The X-Files Season 10 and The X-Files Season 11 from IDW Publishing.  For the record, these series are considered canon, and the truth is they’ve earned it.  The writers and artists know the characters and the story.  Following right after the events in the second big screen follow-up to the TV series, The X-Files: I Want to Believe, the comic books are as good as the original series and even better than the movies.  But wait, The X-Files is coming back to TV?  What’s next?  A Firefly series?

The first full trailer from Fox (the network, not Mulder) has all the best feel from the original.  It’s David Duchovny’s same craggy Fox Mulder, Gillian Anderson’s same inquisitive Dana Scully, and the cool, calm, and collected Mitch Pileggi as Skinner.  Finally, something to be excited about that is not Star Wars Episode VII!

X-Files series 2016

Plus, the series, which is slated for only six episodes, draws in genre favorites Robbie Amell (The Flash) and Lauren Ambrose (Coma) as new agents.  And even Joel McHale (The Soup, Community) has a main role in the series.

Enough waiting!  Check out the trailer:

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Jessica Jones Krysten Ritter

The first teaser has been released for the new Netflix series, Marvel’s Jessica Jones, based on one of the more obscure Marvel Comics characters.  That’s right, in the Renaissance of superhero shows, Jessica Jones beat Wonder Woman to get her own television series.  Veronica Mars’s Krysten Ritter has the title role.  Alone, that makes it worth giving the series a try, but several other genre actors in supporting cast roles will give us even more to look forward to.  This includes Doctor Who’s David Tennant (Kilgrave), The Matrix’s Carrie-Anne Moss (Harper), Men in Black 3’s Mike Colter (Luke Cage), Transformers’ Rachael Taylor (Trish Walker), and True Detective’s Erin Moriarty (Hope).

The Netflix original series is the second of four Marvel series, Marvel’s Daredevil launched earlier this year, plus Marvel’s Luke Cage and Marvel’s Iron Fist are on the way, leading up to Marvel’s The Defenders, all to be released only on Netflix.  Behind Marvel’s Jessica Jones are creators of the Twilight movies, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Elementary.

David Tennant in Jessica Jones

Here are two teaser trailers for Marvel’s Jessica Jones, one a mood piece and the other a brief hint at the nature of humor in the series:

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Audrey haven

We’ve been fans of Haven, Syfy’s adaptation of Stephen King’s The Colorado Kid, from episode one and seeing Emily Rose (Audrey/Sarah/Mara/Lucy), Eric Balfour (Duke), and Lucas Bryant (Nathan) at San Diego Comic-Con back in 2012.  The three series stars are returning, joined by Dwight (Adam Copeland) and the brothers Teagues (Richard Donat and John Dunsworth), as they have one season to make a final stand against The Troubles.

Unlike so many series that have a good run and are cancelled dead in their tracks, leaving fans hanging forever, Haven will be able to complete its story, with 13 episodes that have already aired in Season 5 and 13 more in the can, including a series finale promising to tie up any loose ends.

haven finale

When we next catch up with the citizens of Haven, Dwight makes an important announcement: Haven PD is no more, The Guard has taken over and everyone is trapped inside town.

Here is a promo for the end of the series:

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Big Bird in The Muppet Movie

If you can’t get enough of Sesame Street and The Muppets like this big kid who grew up with these shows and characters, then a 2014 documentary now available on Amazon is just for you.  I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story is a feature-length documentary about the original, and only, Muppets puppeteer who has performed Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch in the 45-year history of Sesame Street.

I Am Big Bird is a love letter of sorts, set to a bittersweet soundtrack.  Filmmakers created an emotional look at a performing artist, his wife, and his relationship with Jim Henson and the cast and performers of Sesame Street from the beginning to the present incarnation of the show.  Spinney comes through as every bit the kindhearted soul of his feathery yellow alter ego.  Highlights of the film include the impact of Big Bird on the world, from teaching little kids from 1969 onward, to being credited in part with the demise of a candidate’s presidential bid.  And nothing is more nostalgic than catching up with original Muppeteer Frank Oz and the original human cast of Sesame Street as they recount working with Caroll, including Bob McGrath (Bob), Sonia Manzano (Maria), Emilio Delgado (Luis), and Roscoe Orman (Gordon).

I am Big Bird poster

Expect to hold back (or not) some tears during the documentary.  Plenty of down moments provide benchmarks in the life and times of Big Bird: the Sesame Street episode featuring Big Bird about the death of Mr. Hooper, an incredibly poised Caroll performing Big Bird singing “It Ain’t Easy Bein’ Green” at the funeral of Jim Henson, and the segment discussing Caroll’s space travel preparation with NASA when he was asked to be among the Challenger space shuttle crew, only to be rejected when they realized the Big Bird suit was too big (and then teacher Christa McAuliffe took his place), a group of ROTC students nearly destroy his Big Bird costume, and even the replacement by Elmo as most popular character on the show serves as a downbeat event.

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Heroes Reborn banner

The original Heroes provided a stellar cast and a great start to a fantasy world discovering it has superheroes emerging, scattered everywhere, with strange and interesting powers.  It lasted four seasons, the last two only a glimmer of the first two seasons.  Tonight many of our favorite Heroes return in the limited 13-part series Heroes Reborn.

A huge cast of newcomers awaits in the continuation of Tim Kring’s fun series But Heroes Reborn will also briefly bring back many fan favorites, notably Jack Coleman as Noah Bennet, Masi Oka as Hiro Nakamura, Greg Grunberg as Matt Parkman, Sendhil Ramamurthy as Mohinder Suresh, and Jimmy Jean-Louis as The Haitian.

New Heroes Reborn

The not-so-surprising news is that all the actors who have since taken off in their celebrity status don’t look like they are coming back, at least as regulars, like Ali Larter (Niki Sanders), Zachary Quinto (Sylar), Hayden Panettiere (Claire Bennet), Milo Ventimiglia (Peter Petrelli), Adrian Pasdar (Nathan Petrelli), or even Kristen Bell (Elle Bishop).

Will the new series hold viewers’ interest without much of the key members of the original cast–even with the addition of a new character played by Zachary Levi?

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Is it because the Muppets don’t age?  Because the writers know their characters so well?  You wouldn’t think the Muppets have been off the air for 17 years after watching last night’s premiere of their new sitcom, The Muppets, on ABC.  Sure, the format is fresh and new, but the core of the show–the rich characterizations of not only the main cast of Kermit, Miss Piggy, and Fozzie, but subordinate cast members like Electric Mayhem band members, too–is every bit the same as it was when the acting troupe first appeared nearly 40 years ago in 1976 on The Muppet Show.

The Muppets are back, and as laugh-out-loud funny as ever.

Credit great, punchy dialogue and situational humor appropriate for kids of all ages to the writing staff, who don’t let down fans of the original show or any of its brilliant movie incarnations.  The only travesty of The Muppets?  That the show is in a 30-minute time slot and only airs once each week.  Sigh.

This time the Muppets are seen as they are, behind the scenes in the “real world” of actors and production studio antics in Hollywood.  Kermit is still in charge of the show, but this time the show-in-a-show is not a variety show but in the late night format, with Miss Piggy as host.  Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem band sit in where you’d see The Roots on The Tonight Show, with Fozzy in Steve Higgins’ role.  The first guest star is Elizabeth Banks, who gets taken for a ride by assistant showrunner Scooter, with a comical appearance by Dancing With the Stars’ host Tom Bergeron and musical guest Imagine Dragons (we featured their Muppet tie-in video years ago here at  The success of the humans in the show is judged as in the past–the ability to seamlessly interact with the Muppet cast, and both Banks and Bergeron have no problem blending right in.

Fozzy and Becky & family

The show is peppered with one-liners and innuendo, exactly in the style as the original 1970s series.  But in truth, the laughs are probably funnier–the kind of humor you might find in a Tina Fey show or The Office.  You know you have good comedy when guitarist Janice makes a comically timed Imagine Dragons joke and Zoot gets cut off in the middle of an A.A. meeting reference.  As humor goes, The Muppets is the real deal.

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Bastard Executioner setting

Review by C.J. Bunce

Despite its gratuitous gore and overall squalid setting and circumstances, the new television series Bastard Executioner pulled off a good opener last week.  Bastard Executioner, in its two-hour pilot, pulls together every historical action drama archetype and bits of myths and legends to create a compelling drama in the midst of a struggle between the English and Welsh in not-so jolly old medieval England.

Fans of History Channel’s Vikings and Showtime’s Outlander as well as costume dramas like Braveheart, Rob Roy, and First Knight will all find something here of interest.  Not yet as exciting as Vikings but likely to be better than Outlander, it may just be another twist on Robin Hood, but episode one gave us hope this new series will keep our interest for a while.

It would seem an entire season’s worth of activity transpired in the first two-hour episode with an entire story arc begun and ended already.  A village is decimated and the avengers have sought–and gained–revenge on those that caused it.  The man we first believe to be the “bastard executioner” of the title in fact isn’t, sending the viewer’s notions of what this series will be about into a tailspin.  Instead, a mysterious Man With No Name type hero is thrust into the service of those that destroyed his wife, unborn child, and their village.  The producers’ grasp of time and place, quick plotting, and surprising twists mean we will be back for more next week.

Katey Segal Bastard Executioner

The brutality is every bit real even if it is a bit in-your-face.  Yet as bloody and violent as you could imagine, graphic and at times gory, some sense of purpose comes through for the stories’ heroes.  Loyalty, bravery, injustice, the faithful and the faithless, noble heroes and loathsome villains all can be found here.  Look for Katey Sagal (Lost, Married With Children) as the elder, mystical, witch-healer Annora, in what could prove to be an Emmy-worthy role.

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