Category: TV


Lando in Star Wars Rebels

We initially had some trepidation when it came to the new Disney animated TV series, Star Wars Rebels, set five years before the original Star Wars movie (A New Hope) and 14 years after Episode III.  We reviewed the first movie length pilot episode here, now available on DVD at Amazon.com here.  Focus on the younger character Ezra and the more cartoony silliness initially pointed to kids as the target audience for the show.  But as the series gained its stride, it became not only a good tie-in for diehard Star Wars fans, but something real, honest to goodness, Star Wars canon fans can be excited about, with its inclusion of original trilogy cast members as voice actors.  And its primary and supporting cast work will have you wanting to watch it again and eagerly anticipate Season Two when it returns to Disney XD at your next binge session.

The high point surprised us: The return of Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian in an adventure before The Empire Strikes Back.  If you hate the fact that his primary role in the original trilogy was as a betrayer of Han Solo, you can finally see why Han previously was friends with him.  Sure, he was an opportunist even back then, but he was also skillful and suave, and, believe it or not, much cooler than he was portrayed in the movies.  That’s something worth seeing.

Star Wars Rebels C-3PO

But it didn’t stop with Billy Dee Williams.  The first episode, “Droids in Distress,” featured the return of Anthony Daniels as the voice of C-3P0.  In the ninth episode the great and powerful Frank Oz returned to voice the part of Yoda, in “Path of the Jedi.”  And how about James Earl Jones as Darth Vader again?  You can’t really get more canon than that.  Well, at least until we see Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Peter Mayhew, Anthony Daniels, and Kenny Baker (and not only just hear them) return in Episode VII later his year.

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Wayward Pines

“We gotta get out of this place, if it’s the last thing we ever do.” —The Animals

Claustrophobic?  Then maybe the new Fox series Wayward Pines is not for you.  But the previews for the new series make us think you might be miss out on something good.

Wrong place, wrong time.  We’ve all encountered circumstances we wish we could reverse, but most of us haven’t stumbled into an entire town we wished we could escape from, but couldn’t.  In comedy we’ve seen this on television with shows like Northern Exposure and Green Acres.  In classic cinema we’ve seen it with George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life.  But that’s not the kind of town we’ll be visiting soon in Wayward Pines.  The obvious comparison is to that quirky Pacific Northwest town of Twin Peaks–like that cult favorite series, the protagonist is an FBI agent following up on a case in a forested town.  The characters in Wayward Pines don’t appear to be as odd as the Log Lady, but we’ll learn this town is much, much darker.  In fact it might have more in common with the Midwest town in Children of the Corn, the British village in Wicker Man, or Stephen King’s seaside town of Haven.

Wayward Pines Matt Dillon

Somehow the townspeople of Wayward Pines are trapped.  Like a plot pulled from an episode of sci-fi television–think The Twilight Zone’s “Nick of Time” (1960) with William Shatner, The X-Files’s episode “Arcadia” (1999), or the reboot The Twilight Zone episode “Evergreen” (2002) with Amber Tamblyn.  In movies no director knows “trapped” like M. Night Shyamalan, as seen in his moody Signs (2002), The Village (2004), and The Happening (2008).  So it’s no wonder his next director/executive producer project is Wayward Pines. 

After the break, check out the trailer for Wayward Pines:

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The Returned A&E India Ennenga

Review by C.J. Bunce

Fans of Twin Peaks, American remakes of European series, fans of Tim Seeley and Mike Norton’s Revival, the short-lived Under the Dome, Malcolm McDowell and David Warner’s Time After Time, and anyone after the next great, creepy mystery series take note: A&E’s The Returned has so much going for it you’ll want to watch it twice.  What would you do if someone close to you that died prematurely suddenly walked back into your life, alive and well, just as you remembered them?  Would you scream, cheer, cry, laugh, be afraid?  You’ll ask that question over and over as you watch the residents of a small Pacific Northwest town as they react to the formerly dead as they re-enter their lives.  It’s compelling stuff.

The Returned is an American remake of the French series Les Revenants (French for The Returned and the double meaning of a ghost returning from the dead), which itself is entering its second season on the Sundance Channel (with English subtitles) and was based on a 2004 French film of the same name.  Fans of any one of the many well-known character actors will have an easy excuse to give the American show a try.  The Returned features a top-notch cast, including Michelle Forbes (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Battlestar Galactica, Orphan Black, Homicide), Jeremy Sisto (Law & Order, Clueless, The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits), Carl Lumbly (Chuck, Battlestar Galactica, The X-Files), Mark Pellegrino (The Closer, Chuck, Castle, The X-Files, Lost, Supernatural), Aaron Douglas (Battlestar Galactica, iZombie), and Kevin Alejandro, who we most recently saw as Sebastian Blood on CW’s Arrow.  But the best on the series may be the perpetually young-looking Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Final Destination 3, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Sky High, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, The Thing, Live Free or Die Hard, Tru Calling) as the troubled former fiancée of one of the Returned, newcomer India Ennenga as Camille, the most interesting of the Returned, Tandi Wright (Jack the Giant Slayer) as her mother, and Sophie Lowe as her “older” twin sister.  But we’ve seen many a series with great actors but backed by a less than desired story.  Not so here.

Winstead in The Returned

Comparing the original to the remake can be a bit of a fun game to play in itself.  When the American actress mother encounters her dead daughter for the first time, she inspires a humorous viewer reaction, but with the French actress, the response is full of fear and shock.  Both series are billed as supernatural dramas, but Les Revenants’ photography and music appear as more on the horror end of the spectrum.  On paper these are zombie series, but from the first two episodes they seem far from other entries in that genre.  You’ll get the Twin Peaks vibe instantly, but without David Lynch’s trademark quirkiness.  The return of a serial killer from the past may have you recalling Jack the Ripper’s return in Time After Time, or the recent BBC America series Intruders.  But you won’t find any ghoulish shambling goons here.

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Rose McIver iZombie

Review by C.J. Bunce

Raise your hand if you wish you could watch more adventures of Buffy Summers, Veronica Mars, Claire Bennet, or Tru Davies.  Fortunately you can get your fix here and there–you can find Buffy in comic books in Dark Horse Comics’ Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10, Veronica continues in a series of novels by Rob Thomas, Heroes is coming back to NBC, and, well, it doesn’t look like we’ll ever see Tru again.  But thanks to Veronica Mars’ creators Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero, a new strong woman-led series might make you think they are all back.

iZombie premiered Tuesday night adding another winner to the pantheon of solid hit shows the CW Network has been churning out of late, alongside Arrow, The Flash, Reign, Supernatural, and the Vampire Diaries.  iZombie follows Olivia “Liv” Moore, a cardiac medical student resident who ends up at a party on a boat where all the guests break out into an infection and become zombies.  Liv thinks fast and jumps off the boat, but not fast enough.  She’s scratched and dies, only to return as the undead.  Her so-called life crumbles from there and she ends up working for the medical examiner’s office where she can get easy access to unwanted brains, which she needs to eat to avoid getting mean and stupid.

Zombie brains

And the execution of that off-the-wall premise is simply brilliant.  There’s no hiding the fact that the voice of Rob Thomas’s Veronica Mars is echoed in Liv–many scenes aren’t just banter between characters, but chock full of Liv’s inner-thought narration.  It was that storytelling device that was a big part of what made Veronica so accessible and endearing.  And it even works for a zombie.

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Star Wars cosplay

We’ve already shown some photos of a great set of little green army men as well as the best Arrow cosplay from Planet Comicon 2015, but we have a few more images to share.  Not surprisingly, with a new Star Wars film due out by year end, Star Wars cosplay could be seen everywhere this past weekend.  One couple, shown above, expertly recreated the Clone Wars villain Asajj Ventris and Jedi Shaak Ti.

Biker scout PC 2015

It’s hard to beat all the great Imperial armored soldiers that appear at Cons these days.  This speeder bike trooper was no exception.  If you’re not willing to create your own outfit, ANOVOS and other companies now make it possible for anyone to wear screen-accurate Star Wars costumes.

astromech droid PC 2015

Several homemade remote-controlled astromech droids could be found skimming across the convention floor.  Who wouldn’t want one of these at home?  I remember when I first saw an R2 unit at a Con more than a decade ago and it was the highlight of the show.  Now we take these awesome robots for granted.

steampunk Boba Fett

Boba Fetts were everywhere, too, but we really liked this steampunk riveted helmet take on the mysterious bounty hunter.

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Ant Lucia

In addition to great creators from outside the Midwest, like Black Widow artist Phil Noto (as we mentioned here at borg.com yesterday), the great thing about returning to a Con year after year is running into all our friends who write, sketch, or paint incredible works for a living.  Planet Comicon 2015 was no different.

Take for instance Des Moines artist Ant Lucia (pictured above).  Three years ago Ant was just beginning to put together great genre characters like DC superheroes and Star Wars characters in a unique retro style of poster art.  Flash forward to 2014 and an entire month of cover art at DC Comics was devoted to his creations, and statues based on his DC Bombshell designs are selling off the shelves in every town across the country.  Ant’s beautiful designs are second to none, and there’s not a more deserving guy to achieve such success from his ideas.

Other creators at Planet Comicon this weekend with national success included Jason Aaron, who had his own rock star sized line of fans getting his new Star Wars series autographed, as well as artist Freddie Williams II, drawing sketches for fans and signing copies of his Legendary Starlord series, among other works.

Jordan and Fyffe

Pictured above are artists Damont Jordan and Bryan Fyffe.  Damont had a new “spirit fox” print available that blew us away, and he churned out sketches for fans all weekend long.  And we noticed other artists at the Con were coming to Bryan’s booth to buy his framed art for their own homes.  Bryan has the best eye for design of anyone we know, and creates a variety of inspired multi-media works.  His most recent commercial illustration was for some major franchise properties, as well as the cover of John Renehan’s new novel The Valley.  Check out some of his work at his website here.

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Amell at PC 2015

The three-day Planet Comicon comic book and pop culture convention wrapped yesterday in Kansas City.  The highlight of the day for thousands of attendees was the one-day visit to the show by Stephen Amell, star of the CW Network’s Arrow TV series.  If you’ve been reading borg.com for very long, you’ll know I’ve been tracking the show as the world’s biggest Green Arrow fan, including spending the night with 7,000 other fans in San Diego for the show premiere with Amell and his co-stars back in 2012.

After hanging with his cousin (and CW star of The Flash) Robbie Amell last night at the Elite Comics after party at the Alamo Drafthouse, we got to meet Stephen today.  As you’d expect, fans were happy to meet him, and he kept a cheery disposition throughout a whirlwind day of signing autographs and being featured on a panel at the convention.

Amell and Hyatt shot

Because he was only at the show for one day, that meant plenty of lines to get to see him–lines that barely even looked like lines.

Arrow lines

But as typical with attendees at comic book conventions, everyone handled it all with great attitudes.

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Little Green Army Men PC 2015

Plenty of fun was in store for everyone attending Planet Comicon 2015 this weekend.  With the Big 12 Championship basketball tourney between the Iowa State Cyclones and the Kansas Jayhawks, downtown Kansas City was booming Saturday.  At the third annual Planet Comicon at the Kansas City Convention Center at Bartle Hall, actors, writers, artists, cosplayers, vendors, and tens of thousands of fans of everything from comic books to toys and from Doctor Who to Walking Dead continued the convention tradition of sharing their common interests in a positive and exciting environment.

Elizabeth C. Bunce and your humble editor from borg.com were back again meeting up with creators and friends from past years (this year as Daniel Craig’s Jake Lonergan from Cowboys and Aliens and Kate Beckinsale’s Anna Valerius from Van Helsing).  Check out the great little green toy army men cosplayers at the show above.

Kent McCord PC 2015

Kent McCord, known best for his role on the classic TV series Adam-12, shared some great stories about working with Martin Milner, Jack Webb, Harry Morgan, and Stephen J. Cannell.  What better than to spend the day chatting with someone who has starred in shows like Dragnet and Unsub?

Pileggi PC 2015

We also had a great time with Mitch Pileggi, co-star of one of the all-time best genre TV series, The X-Files.  He talked about the possible renewal of his role of Director Skinner on a rebooted X-Files series and working with Judith Light on TNT’s reboot of Dallas as Harris Ryland.

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iZombie brains

It began as a successful comic book series by Masks writer Chris Roberson and artist Michael Allred for DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint about a gravedigger zombie gal who eats brains to survive.  This week Allred’s own adaptation of his iZombie world comes to television on the CW Network, but with some changes, like swapping Eugene, Oregon for Seattle, Washington.

Rose McIver plays Olivia “Liv” Moore (“live more”– get it?), a medical student turned zombie who gets a job at the coroner’s office in order to gain access to the brains she must eat so that she can maintain her humanity.  And there will be plenty of brain eating going on in the series.  But each brain she eats brings with it the final memories of the dead, so she shares her visions to solve their deaths with help from the medical examiner and a police detective.  If they can grab some of the spark of Tru Calling, another show about a young woman who gets visions that allow her to solve crimes in a morgue, there could be an interesting series coming our way.  That is, if you’re not yet tired of zombies.

But this series has the one thing that should get you to at least give it a try.  It’s produced by Rob Thomas, the creator of Veronica Mars, who has proven he knows how to make great stories.  Check out several previews for the series, after the break.

iZombie poster

McIver has been on plenty of TV series, including appearances on both Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess in the 1990s.  Also starring will be Heroes’ Adam Monroe, David Anders (also Arrow’s Cyrus Vanch), a good performer who is always a scene stealer.

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Planet Comicon banner 2015

The biggest pop culture and comic book convention ever in the region begins today.  It’s the third annual Planet Comicon to be held in its new venue–the Kansas City Convention Center at Bartle Hall.  This year is even bigger than last year’s show, with more vendor space and more creators in Artists Alley.  Set-up began yesterday morning and continued until late last night.

We discussed some of the media guests previously here at borg.com.  You can get a current line-up at the Con’s website here.

Don’t know where to begin?  Start here, with this short list creators and attractions to check out:

  • Amanda Lynn Chainmaille Creations, Booth 812
  • Elite Comics, Booth 2214 at the Pillar
  • Kansas City Costume Company, Booth 928
  • Wildman Drinking Horns, Booth 1017
  • Writer Jason Aaron, Booth 153
  • Artist Rob Davis, Booth 1036
  • Author Kevin Dilmore, Booth 323
  • Artist Bryan Fyffe, Booth 2740
  • Artist Greg Horn, Booth 2730
  • Writer/Artist Phil Hester, Booth 536
  • Artist Damont Jordan, Booth 2739
  • Artist Ant Lucia, Booth 2745
  • Writer Jai Nitz, Booth 540
  • Artist Phil Noto, on the wall past Booth 2745
  • Writer/Artist Ande Parks, Booth 538
  • Writer Seth Peck, Booth 139
  • Artists Nathen and Keven Reinke, Booth 1436
  • Artist Greg Smallwood, Booth 542
  • Author Dayton Ward, Booth 323
  • Artist Freddie Williams II, Booth 2776
  • Artist Darryl Woods, Cosplay Showcase

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