Category: TV


The Missing Starz

Review by C.J. Bunce

It’s difficult to pinpoint the fine line between a run-of-the-mill, contemporary real-life drama and a good thriller.  If it’s dry and boring, we give it the label of “drama” and are happy to skip over it.  But if it has a mystery or action component and something special, then we sometimes take a closer look.  Case in point: The Starz British-produced mini-series The Missing, which was just renewed for a second season.  The “something special” is a handful of actors we’ve seen in great genre film and TV.

If you can get past the dreary sounding plot–a real-life drama about the kidnapping of a British boy vacationing with his parents in France–you’re in for a compelling suspense-thriller on par with the best police procedurals, like the BBC’s Zen or the original Law and Order.

Hobbits dwarves Nesbitt and Stott in The Missing

Another British mini-series, Broadchurch, repackaged for U.S. audiences as Gracepoint, had much in common with The Missing, at least on paper.  Broadchurch starred Doctor Who’s David Tennant and Arthur Darvill, and Attack the Block and Marchlands’ Jodie Whitaker and also followed a crime about a little boy in a small community.  The Missing features two actors who starred as dwarves in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit series, James Nesbitt, who played Bofur, and Ken Stott, who played Balin.  Mr. Selfridge and Timeline’s versatile actress Frances O’Connor plays the mother of the missing son, wife to Nesbitt’s determined and grim father.  A similar crime and genre actors are where the similarities end.  Where Broadchurch settled in as a passable melodrama, The Missing becomes a rich, engrossing, addictive tour of a place no one would want to go in real life.

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John Carpenter Christine Plymouth Fury

Director John Carpenter announced this week that Hot Wheels will be issuing a die cast metal version of his famous car Christine, the 1959 Plymouth Fury from his horror film based on Stephen King’s novel.  It doesn’t have a sound chip for playing Little Richard’s “Keep a Knockin'” but it’s still going to be a cool mini-ride.  Other new releases include Richard Dreyfuss’s truck from Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and the Emergency! red rapid response truck from the 1970s TV series.  Not familiar with the retro entertainment line from Hot Wheels?  It gets better.

Stripes Urban Assault Vehicle    Electric Mayhem School Bus

So far the Hot Wheels plant has rolled out something for everyone, coming up with a pretty broad array of vehicles.  Remember the green GMC mobile home “Urban Assault Vehicle” from Stripes?  It’s coming in 2015.  Remember Mr. Miyagi’s yellow 1948 Ford–the one he gives as a gift to Daniel-san for finishing his karate training in The Karate Kid?  They’ve got that, too.

Dreyfuss Close Encounters of the Third Kind truck

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Westley The Princess Bride Cary Elwes

Oliver Queen, Supergirl, Firestorm, Captain Jack Harkness, Amy Pond, and Princess Buttercup’s Westley all set to appear

For more than a decade Planet Comicon has been one of the Midwest’s biggest comic book and pop culture conventions and that was no less so in 2014 when it became the largest attended event in the history of the Kansas City Convention Center.  Last year’s show featured William Shatner and the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and this year Planet Comicon is bringing in some of today’s biggest names from TV and movies featuring fan-favorite superheroes.

Stephen Amell Oliver Queen

The star of the CW’s Arrow, Stephen Amell will be attending the event along with cousin Robbie, who starred in Tomorrow People and is the new Firestorm on the CW’s The Flash.  Genre mega-star John Barrowman, Doctor Who and Torchwood’s Captain Jack Harkness, will also headline the Con this year.  Barrowman played Arrow’s key villain from seasons 1 and 2, the Dark Archer.

Amy Pond

Most famous for playing the Doctor Who companion Amelia Pond opposite Matt Smith, Karen Gillan will make a rare convention appearance this year in Kansas City.  Gillan starred most recently in 2014’s blockbuster hit Guardians of the Galaxy as Nebula. Also appearing from Guardians of the Galaxy is Michael Rooker, who played the blue-faced mentor to Star-Lord, Yondu, along with Sean Gunn, who was the physical on-set actor as Rocket.

Guardians Michael Rooker

Rooker appeared on The Walking Dead, and also appearing from that series will be Scott Wilson, known to fans for his role as Hershel Greene.  Wilson has starred in plenty of TV shows and movies, including The X-Files, CSI, The Last Samurai, The Twilight Zone, and the adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s Radio Free Albemuth.

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Cardassian-Galor-class-starship

The online toy and collectible superstore Entertainment Earth gave us a heads-up on a one-day only sale today on select starships from the official Star Trek starship display model collection.  The collection is a line of detailed ships from the various Star Trek series and movies produced by licensee Eaglemoss, with dozens of ships both famous and obscure set to be released in the series.

We’ve previewed three of the eight ships in the line that are on sale today:  the sphere ship used by The Borg in Star Trek: First Contact, the Ferengi Marauder, and the Cardassian Galor class vessel.  The Sphere was created by Star Trek concept artist John Eaves.  Designed by Star Trek senior illustrator Andrew Probert, the Marauder first appeared in Star Trek: The Next Generation.  The Cardassian ship was designed by Star Trek illustrator Rick Sternbach, and popular in episodes of Deep Space Nine.  We’ve seen detail of one of the real studio models of the Marauder and think this sturdy, die-cast metal and plastic hand-painted model is a great replica at an affordable price for Trek fans.

Star Trek NCC-1701 Enterprise 2009 SDCC Die-Cast Vehicle   Star Trek Starships Tholian Starship with Collector Magazine   Star Trek Starships Romulan Bird Prey Vehicle with Magazine

Star Trek Starships Ferengi Marauder Vehicle with Magazine   Star Trek Starships Jem'Hadar Bug with Collector Magazine   Star Trek Starships Krenim Temporal Weapon with Magazine

Star Trek Starships Borg Sphere with Collector Magazine   Star Trek Cardassian Galor Class Starship with Magazine   Star Trek Starships Maquis Raider Vehicle with Magazine

Each of the ships come with a display stand and a magazine with content similar to that found in issues of the popular and now out-of-print Star Trek: The Magazine issues from years past, including images from the episodes and films and design details of each ship.

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Agent Carter image

If you like modern noir or pulp throwback stories, as we did with last year’s The X-Files: Year Zero comic book series, ABC’s new Marvel Universe series Agent Carter is pretty much going to be a sure win.

Actors take note:  When you take on a supporting character role in your next film or TV series and do better-than-expected job at it, make sure you love the part as you may just end up living with the role for a while.  Along with a first film and franchise that also was taking off to parts unknown thanks to it success, Hayley Atwell’s tough 1940s British Secret Intelligence agent Peggy Carter pulled off that rare chance at a second life.  Tomorrow night she gets her own spotlight as her own weekly series beginsAside from the brief return of Dominic Cooper’s Howard Stark (father to Tony aka Iron Man), Atwell’s Carter will be forging ahead on her own.

Some of TV’s best characters were the results of a spin-off from one of those supporting characters who, because of great acting and great writing, popped with viewers beyond any expectation of the show’s creators.  Going back to the 1970s whether unintended surprises or gambled backdoor spin-offs, we wouldn’t have seen more Jeffersons or Maude, or J.J. Evans and his family from Good Times, but for their standout performances spun out of All in the Family.  We wouldn’t know Buddy Epsen’s seven years of sleuthing as Barnaby Jones without his guest role on Cannon, a decade of the kids in Facts of Life if not for Diff’rent Strokes, or spend primetime with the cops and firefighters on Adam-12 or Emergency! if not for some cool guest spots on Dragnet.

Agent Carter

What would our TV night fun have been like without years of Laverne & Shirley and Mork & Mindy resulting from guest star bits on Happy Days, or, let’s not forget, our fave Lindsay Wagner’s Bionic Woman took on her own series from the episodes of The Six Million Dollar Man?  Modern genre fans’ reactions helped propel John Barrowman’s Captain Jack Harkness from Doctor Who into multiple Torchwood series.  Other coming spin-offs are Breaking Bad’s Better Call Saul and Walking Dead’s in-the-works spin-off (with the working title Cobalt), and we’re still hoping for a Special Operations Bureau spin-off from The Closer’s own spinoff, Major Crimes.

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Weird Al Galavant

If you’re looking for your next fantasy fix, you’ll want to set your DVR for tomorrow night as the four-part musical comedy Galavant premieres on ABC.  From the barrage of previews released you can see several tropes from classic and modern fantasy films will be woven into the series.  From the quirky romance in A Princess Bride to the strange twist on medieval ways in Monty Python’s Holy Grail to the tomfoolery of Shrek, from the humor and debauchery of Tom Jones to the break-into-song of Ella Enchanted, the mini-series looks like it will be a blast.

First, it’s got a holy grail of guest stars with Ricky Gervais, Hugh Bonneville, Rutger Hauer, John Stamos, and even Weird Al Yankovic.

Second, it’s got a catchy theme and classic storybook-style animated credits, albeit with a seemingly raunchy twist on Beauty and the Beast:

It stars Psych’s Detective Lassiter, the very funny Timothy Omundson, as King Richard:

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Star Trek Apes cover

Scott and David Tipton have done it again.  They’re back with a new Star Trek series, but this time it’s a mash-up with Planet of the Apes.  And Issue #1 explains how it all comes together, and we’ve got a preview below.  Star Trek/Planet of the Apes: The Primate Directive, Issue #1, is now available at comic book stores everywhere from IDW Publishing.

Finally we get to see Sulu and Uhura on an away mission together, donning Klingon disguises.  It’s the classic Trek–images by Rachael Stott and Charlie Kirchoff of George Takei and Nichelle Nichols as opposed to the reboot actors John Cho and Zoe Saldana.  Yet the circumstances and action are updated and modern–storytelling like you’d see in the reboot series.  It works–great, in fact.

Trek Apes cover

So how does the starship Enterprise (the original, not the bloody A, B, C, or D) find its way into a universe where apes rule Earth’s future?  You’ll have to pick up Issue #1 to find out.  Meanwhile, check out this preview, courtesy of IDW Publishing, after the break.

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Gruffudd star of ABC Forever

We love good TV.  Nothing is better than looking forward each week to a show you can trust to have great writing and great acting.  We’ve made our way through several series again this year, trying out pilots for new shows and adding them into the DVR queue–if they made the cut.  Many didn’t.  We also re-try series that didn’t prompt us to watch in prior years.  Most lose out because they rely on shock over substance and storytelling.  Where we ended up was a list of what we love, and what we have recommended all year.  These series are our Best of the Best for 2014.

Our biggest disappointments?  The cancellations of the brilliant, futuristic Almost Human and the reboot of the TV classic Dallas–these shows were written by the best script writers around and will be sorely missed.  We hope you’ll give some of the following shows a try next year, or catch them on streaming media, if you’re not watching already.

Forever De la Garza and Gruffudd

ForeverBest TV Series, Best TV Fantasy Fix, Best Actor (Ioan Gruffudd), Best Actress (Alana de la Garza), Best Supporting Actor (Judd Hirsch), Best Villain (Burn Gorman).  Contenders for the year’s best series were easy to spot:  ABC’s Forever or NBC’s Gotham.  In years past at borg.com we have favored cable programming, yet this year the networks surged ahead with these two superb series.  Forever nudged out Gotham for top prize because of its straightforward storytelling, small talented cast, superb dialogue, and fun situations.  Ioan Gruffudd (Horatio Hornblower, Ringer, Fantastic Four) and Alana de la Garza (Law and Order) were perfect foils for each other in the lead roles, and each created compelling characters.  Judd Hirsch played son to younger Gruffudd’s unsinkable doctor and gave us the best father and son team on TV in years.  Burn Gorman’s chilling performances toward the end of this season were a great addition, setting us up for more fun next year.

Gotham clip

GothamBest TV Series Runner-up, Best Supporting Actress (Jada Pinkett Smith as Fish Mooney), Best Supporting Actor Runner-up (Donal Logue as Harvey Bullock).  NBC’s Gotham did many things we normally wouldn’t like, including taking source material and standing it on end and adding new characters to a classic story’s established cast.  Yet it all worked somehow with this intriguing re-imagining of Bruce Wayne’s backstory.  Catwoman and Batman were friends as kids?  The Penguin was a mole and stooge for key crime families?  Commissioner Gordon took Bruce Wayne under his wing as a child?  All of this worked, yet the best view into Gotham life was provided by Gordon’s partner, played by Donal Logue (Life, Vikings), and Jada Pinkett Smith’s sultry and ruthless gangster Fish Mooney.

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X-Files X-mas Special cover A

Review by C.J. Bunce

The X-Files Season 10 is one of IDW Publishing’s best series, following Mulder and Scully and friends in their ongoing exploits following the TV series and two films.  The spin-off mini-series The X-Files: Year Zero followed Mulder and Scully in the present day as they pursue a case first investigated by the original keepers of the FBI’s X-Files, Bing Ellinson and Minnie Ohio.  This year both of these series shared a combination of good storytelling, evocative imagery, and familiarity of the well-loved characters that made for required reading for genre fans.

This week IDW is releasing a rare, prestige format holiday one-shot: The X-Files X-mas Special.  It includes two unrelated stories, one about Mulder and Scully in the present day, and a second about the 1940s’ duo and their encounter with a creepy character that very well could be the vile holiday elf Krampus.

X-Files X-mas Special cover B

The first story, “Season 10 Greetings,” comes from the creative team of writer Joe Harris, artist Matthew Dow Smith, and colorist Jordie Bellaire.  The 1940s FBI team story “Merry Christmas, Comrade!” was written by Karl Kesel, with art by Matthew Southworth, and colors by Matheus Lopes.

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Funko Reaction logo

Last week we reported on Funko CEO Brian Mariotti’s “12 Days of Christmas” daily blog posts revealing the company’s new product offerings for 2015.  This included the increasingly successful Kenner-inspired, ReAction retro action figure line, which has spread like wildfire now that the various lines are hitting the masses thanks to Barnes & Nobles carrying the products in stores.  Mariotti revealed last week that 2015 will see new action figure series for the original Star Trek, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Jaws, Terminator 2, The Dark Crystal, Gremlins, Breaking Bad, and Boondock Saints.

Today Mariotti revealed the rest of the licensed properties that will be turned into carded 3 3/4 inch action figures by the end of next year.  As we had hoped, one of those properties is John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China.  But now we know of twelve others.

Big Trouble in Little China movie poster

So what are the rest?  Drumroll, please…

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