Category: TV


Review by C.J. Bunce

We’re always on the lookout for the next great British/Irish/Scottish/UK police procedural or mystery, and the new Hugh Laurie four-part star vehicle Roadkill may not be the Life on Mars or Ashes to Ashes, Hinterland or Shetland, Marchlands or Lightfields, Derry Girls, The Woman in White, Mr. Selfridge, Zen, Quirke, or Sherlock, but it’s better than most of the UK series that have made it to the small screen in the past few years.  Airing in the UK on BBC One this past Fall and first in the U.S. as part of PBS’s Masterpiece series, it is now available on Amazon and DVD (still the PBS choice platform for British productions).  A lucky show that finished production before the pandemic kicked into full force, Roadkill will be a must-see for Laurie fans, and its angle on politics and telling a politician’s personal story should be enough to keep other anglophiles interested.

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Professor T

Review by C.J. Bunce

PBS is now airing a six-episode mystery series starring Ben Miller, best known for playing the first detective of many on the series Death in Paradise, an actor whose television work goes back to the early 1990s, including even a small role on The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.  Miller plays Professor Jasper Tempest, the title character of Professor T, a British adaptation of a Belgian series about a quirky, obsessive, compulsive detective in the style of Adrian Monk, Prodigal Son’s Malcolm Bright, and Sherlock Holmes himself.  The series airs weekly Sundays on PBS, also available to stream in its entirety with a PBS Passport subscription.  Will this be another short-lived British police procedural, or can it survive in the ocean of similar series to find a second season?

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Review by C.J. Bunce

It’s always a big surprise when the holiday episode of Doctor Who is a critical not-to-be-missed episode.  When we last saw the Doctor, she was trapped millions of light years away in an alien prison.  The New Year’s Day 2021 special Revolution of the Daleks is not a filler, out-of-continuity holiday showpiece, instead continuing after ten months have lapsed for the Doctor’s companions back on Earth, and after the Doctor has been imprisoned for years in that same relative time span.  If you missed this episode you missed: the return of John Barrowman’s universal fan-favorite character Captain Jack Harkness, another Law & Order/Law & Order UK crossover/reunion, the last we’ll see of some major characters, a new Prime Minister, a preview of a new companion, and one of the best Dalek episodes in the 57 years of the series.  As the studio releases word that Jodie Whittaker will be soon leaving the series, Revolution of the Daleks reflects that both her performance as the 13th Doctor and Chris Chibnall’s running of the series has finally arrived.  It’s a timeless story full of important, lovely emotional beats, fantastic new sci-fi special and visual effects, and a return to the classic framework and themes of the show’s past.

Let’s take a look at why this episode was superb and offer up some candidates for the 14th Doctor…

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It’s that time of year again, time to take a look forward at what movies should be on your radar for 2022.  We’re changing up this year’s preview by adding several trailers.  Unlike in previous years, we have trailers for most of these movies.  These are the genre films we think borg readers will want to know about to make their own checklists for the coming year.  In all we pulled 60 movies from the hundreds of films that have been finalized or are in varying stages of final production and slated for next year’s movie calendar.  Many of these will be more than familiar to you, as we’ve previewed some going back to 2019.

The biggest surprise is there aren’t a lot of surprises on the horizon, at least for big movies, like Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, Thor: Love and Thunder, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, Black Adam, Lightyear, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-verse, Halloween Ends, Top Gun: Maverick, Jurassic World: Dominion, a new Predator movie called Prey, and The Batman.  Compare the below list to our 2021 list, 2020 list, 2019 list and even the 2018 list, 2017 list, 2016 list, 2015 list, or 2014 list, and you’ll see the studios continue moving genre content from the big screen to the small screen via streaming services.  Hollywood hasn’t made its way back to full production mode yet since the pandemic risks aren’t over yet, and it’s beginning to look like TV will be the location most people watch their movies for the foreseeable future, if not permanently.  What do the big movies have in common?  They’re all sequels–and more remakes of movies, books, and TV shows are on the way.

First up, the top 15 movies expected in 2022 that don’t have an announced release date yet, followed by our annual month-by-month rundown of trailers.  Grab your calendar and start making your plans–here are the movies you’ll want to see in 2022 (and some you might not!):

  • Havoc –Tom Hardy stars as a detective in a crime drama directed by Gareth Evans (Netflix)
  • Enola Holmes 2 – sequel, starring Millie Bobby Brown and Henry Cavill (Netflix)
  • Prey – the fifth movie in the Predator franchise will be a prequel, starring Amber Midthunder as a Comanche who must protect her tribe from the alien threat (Hulu)
  • Pinocchio – live-action version of the fairy tale stars Tom Hanks as Geppetto and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Jiminy Cricket (Disney+)
  • The Amazing Maurice – animated young adult fantasy about a sentient cat, based on the 2001 book The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett, starring Emilia Clarke, Hugh Laurie, David Thewlis (theatrical release)
  • Blonde a biopic about Marilyn Monroe starring Ana de Armas, with Adrien Brody and Bobby Cannavale (Netflix)
  • Wendell and Wild – comedy duo Key and Peele create a stop-motion dark horror comedy (Netflix)
  • The Gray Man –the Russo brothers direct a film about a an ex-CIA agent, starring Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans, and Ana de Armas (Netflix)
  • The Adam Project – sci-fi movie stars Ryan Reynolds as a man who goes back in time to get his younger self for help (Netflix)
  • Spaceman – sci-fi movie stars Adam Sandler and Carey Mulligan (Netflix)
  • The School for Good and Evil – long-delayed young adult fantasy with Charlize Theron (Netflix)
  • Slumberland – kids fantasy adventure starring Jason Momoa and Kyle Chandler (Netflix)
  • All Quiet on the Western Front remake of novel adaptation, this time starring Daniel Bruhl (Netflix)
  • Blade of the 47 Ronin sequel to 47 Ronin, starring Mark Dacascos (Netflix)
  • Deep Water – another Ben Affleck bad marriage “erotic psychological thriller,” with Ana de Armas (Hulu).

January

The 355  Spy/thriller, starring Jessica Chastain, Lupita Nyong’o, Bingbing Fan, Diane Kruger, Penelope Cruz, Sebastian Stan – January 7.

The Tender Bar – Coming of age story starring Ben Affleck and Christopher Lloyd (Amazon) – January 7.

Hotel Transylvania: Transformania – Latest entry in the animated franchise (Amazon) – January 14.

Scream – Horror, the big reboot/sequel stars Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, and David Arquette – January 17.

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Merry Christmas!

It’s that time of year again, time to take a look forward at what movies should be on your radar for 2020.  Are you going to see them all?  Heck no.  These are the genre films we think borg readers will want to know about to make their own checklists for the coming year–and they are only the films we know about so far.  We pulled 85 of the hundreds of films that have been finalized or are in varying stages of final production, slated for next year’s movie calendar.

What looks to top the list for most fanboys and fangirls?  Ghostbusters: Afterlife Scarlett Johannson solo in Black WidowA new James Bond movie, No Time to DieVin Diesel in Bloodshot and a new Fast & FuriousThe original Tom Clancy novel series is finally continuing with an adaptation of Without Remorse Comic book adaptations are in less supply in 2020, but look for Venom 2, Wonder Woman 1984, Eternals, The New Mutants, Morbius, Birds of Prey, The Old Guard, and did we mention Black WidowCompare the below list to our 2019 list and even the 2018 list, 2017 list, 2016 list, 2015 list, or 2014 list, and your takeaway may be seeing the studios moving genre content from the big screen to the small screen via streaming services.

Do you like sequels?  There are far less coming to theaters in 2020 than in 2019, but many more remakes of movies, books, and TV shows are on the way.  In fact, with all the blockbusters in 2019, 2020 looks pretty tame as the cinema marquee is concerned.  Some films don’t have locked in release dates yet: Amazon Studios and Netflix haven’t revealed dates for the following 2020 releases (those we know you’ll find on the calendar below):

  • 7500, a film about a highjacked airplane, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Amazon Studios)
  • The Dig, a film about a woman finding archaeological treasures on her land, starring Ralph Fiennes, Lily James, and Carey Mulligan (Netflix)
  • Horse Girl, Alison Brie stars and directs this story about an awkward girl who fuses her dreams with reality (Netflix)
  • Jingle Jangle, an animated Christmas story with the voices of Forest Whitaker, Keegan-Michael Key, and Hugh Bonneville (Netflix)
  • Louis Wain, biopic of the 19th century artist starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Claire Foy, and Andrea Riseborough (Amazon Studios)
  • The Old Guard, adaptation of comic book story, starring Charlize Theron and Chiwetel Ejiofor (Netflix)
  • Radioactive, a film about Marie Curie, starring Rosamund Pike and Anya Taylor-Joy (Amazon)
  • Rebecca, adaptation and remake of the Daphne Du Maurier classic novel, starring Lily James, Keely Hawes, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Armie Hammer (Netflix)
  • Welcome to Sudden Death, sequel to Jean-Claude van Damme 1995 movie starring Michael Jai White (Netflix)
  • The Willoughbys, animated adaptation of the Lois Lowry book, with voices of Maya Rudolph, Martin Short, and Jane Krakowski (Netflix)
  • Wonderland, murder conspiracy mystery starring Mark Wahlberg, Allan Arkin, and Colleen Camp (Netflix)

Some of these films will have revised release dates, or get pushed to 2021.

So grab your calendar and start making your plans–here are the movies you’ll want to see in 2020 (and some you might not!):

January

The Informer – Thriller, starring Joel Kinnaman, Rosamund Pike, Ana de Armas, Common, and Clive Owen – January 10.

Underwater – Thriller, stars Kristin Stewart in underwater horror story – January 10.

Dolittle – Family/Comedy, stars Robert Downey, Jr. in remake of the classic, with voices of Tom Holland, Rami Malek, Octavia Spencer, Emma Thompson, Antonio Banderas, Ralph Fiennes, and Michael Sheen – January 17.

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Happy holidays!

It’s that time of year again, time to take a look forward at what movies should be on your radar for 2021!  But wait!  Next year’s list sure looks a lot like the the films we previewed last December.  The covid pandemic has delayed hundreds of film projects, but some made it through.  When you walk back through last year’s list and compare it to movies released after theater lockdowns, you get some insight into how Hollywood thinks.  Big movies and movies predicted to be successes were universally held back, while less popular films were released to low box office returns from theaters that remained open, and yet other films went directly to home streaming or related media platforms.

Last year we pulled 85 of the hundreds of films then slated for the 2020 movie calendar.  The first two dozen made it to theaters (films like Underwater, Dolittle, and Birds of Prey) before the national shift began on March 11 with news of the NBA reacting to the pandemic by suspending pro basketball–the first national awareness of the scope of the problem.  Suddenly we saw Vudu and other home platforms coming to the rescue for our entertainment fix, adding a new Theater at Home option, which captured movies like Anya Taylor-Joy’s Emma, Vin Diesel’s Bloodshot, and the animated Scoob!  Disney began an interesting tiered release of Mulan, which for half the year showed a studio doing its best to maximize returns on what would have been a key release in any other year.  After another delay The New Mutants made it briefly to theaters followed by home release after three years of getting kicked aside as the last vestiges of the Disney-Fox merger were shaken out.  Other films, like Vast of Night, Extraction, The Old Guard, Rebecca, Radioactive, and Fantasy Island safely premiered on Netflix and Amazon Prime, with Chris Hemsworth’s Extraction standing out as the clear popular winner–the entire world needed some new entertainment and after what would only be the first of several months of shelter-at-home, it tentatively filled the void.

So our predictions for the year’s big genre films were flat wrong, every single one except Mulan was delayed to 2021, including Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Black Widow, No Time to Die, a new Fast & Furious, Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse, and superhero flicks Venom 2, Eternals, and MorbiusWonder Woman 1984 is expected to have a theatrical release by year end.  Altogether 35 of last year’s 85 movies previewed on our annual list are back again below, plus we found more than 35 new genre films we think will appeal to borg readers.

So what’s left and what’s new?

Grab your calendar and start making your plans–here are the movies you’ll want to see in 2021.  Then compare the below list to our 2020 list, and look back to the 2019 list, 2018 list, 2017 list, 2016 list, 2015 list, or 2014 list.  Last year we noticed studios moving genre content from the big screen to the small screen via streaming services, and the pandemic only stepped up that migration.  Note:  Warner Bros. has reported it will issue its 2021 releases simultaneously on HBO Max.  Netflix has mostly dramas slated for 2021, but a few genre films are in pre-production, so expect a few surprises throughout the year.  Amazon Studios has fewer, most partnerships with Blumhouse Productions.

As we learned well this year, many of these films will have revised release dates, and even get pushed to 2022.

January

Mortal Kombat Based on the video game.  New!  Tentative release date: January 15, 2021.  HBO Max.

Wrath of Man Next Jason Statham action flick.  New!  Tentative release date: January 15, 2021.

The French Dispatch.  Wes Anderson and his familiar actors in new quirky film about journalists.  New!  January 28, 2021.

The DigA film about a woman finding archaeological treasures on her land, starring Ralph Fiennes, Lily James, and Carey Mulligan.  January 29, 2021.  Netflix.

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chrome T1000 ReAction Funko Terminator 2 Entertainment Earth exclusive   exclusive T1000 chrome bullets T1000 Entertainment Earth Terminator 2

Back in February we revealed here at borg.com the latest in Funko’s more than 20 licensed films and TV series in its 2015 ReAction action figure line first discussed at borg.com here and here, and now we have images of the carded figures and sculpts for many more new figures.  We also have links to allow readers to be among the first to pre-order them all from online collectibles store Entertainment Earth.  We’re still waiting for final images for Jaws, Gremlins, Scarface, and Fight Club, but we have pre-order information plus images and links to pre-order the new ReAction line for CW’s The Flash, The Karate Kid, Disney’s Tomorrowland, and the second wave of original series Star Trek figures We shared links for the first figures in the new Star Trek original series line last month here.

Better yet, you can now pre-order two new exclusive Funko ReAction figures, available only from Entertainment Earth.  Order the two exclusive liquid chrome “metallic” T1000 Terminator 2 figures (above, top) by clicking on the above images.

Word from Funko’s blog is that Phoebe Cates is not authorizing a likeness for the Gremlins line.  Here’s the prototype from Toy Fair 2015:

Gremlins prototypes Funko ReAction

This may mean both the Gremlins and Fast Times at Ridgemont High lines will be hindered by missing her key characters from these films.  Even though her figure looked nothing like the actress (as with most figures in the retro line) she apparently has some control of over not only her image but reproductions based on her characters.

Click on the images below to see full-sized images of figures and cards and to pre-order each from Entertainment Earth.

Flash Funko ReAction  Mr Miyagi Karate Kid Funko ReAction

Still yet to be revealed are figures from The Dark Crystal, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, The Big Lebowski, Scarface (although Al Pacino’s figure was previewed at Toy Fair 2015), V for Vendetta, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial, The A-Team, The Munsters, and Aliens.

Second Wave of Star Trek, the original series

Captain Kirk Funko ReAction Scotty Funko ReAction Star Trek Gorn Star Trek ReAction Funko Vina Star Trek ReAction Funko

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Simpsons characters

It’s time to take your vacation, to call in sick, or do whatever you have to do.  It’s Matt Groening’s The Simpsons.  And it’s all 26 seasons, including the movie, in order.  Oh my.  It all begins today.

Take a trip back in time to 1989.  And re-live every pop culture reference, every celebrity satire, and every angst-ridden moment since.  Donut-eating Homer, big blue haired Marge, skateboard wielding Bart, unappreciated Lisa, and never-aging baby Maggie.

Re-live the first time you met Mr. Burns, Sideshow Bob, and Ralph Wiggum.

Simpsons couch

Experience again the Simpsons world voices of those now passed, like Phil Hartman, George Carlin, Paul Winfield, Johnny Cash, Gary Coleman, Dick Clark, Marcia Wallace, Rodney Dangerfield, Joey Ramone, Ernest Borgnine, Johnny Carson, Werner Klemperer, Larry Hagman, Audrey Meadows, Michael Jackson, Harry Morgan, and George Harrison.

Where else could you find all these celebrities in one place?  Liam Neeson, Mark Hamill, Andy Serkis, Mr. T, Paul Newman, Ben Stiller, Drew Barrymore, Michael Keaton, Bette Midler, Brian Setzer, Richard Gere, Tim Conway, Martin Mull, Helen Hunt, Robert Wagner, Lenny Kravitz, Isabella Rossellini, Paul McCartney, Darryl Strawberry, Bob Newhart, Meg Ryan, Dustin Hoffman, Steve Martin, John Ratzenberger, Tom Petty, Kirk Douglas, Steven Wright, Rachel Weisz, Hugh Laurie, Eddie Izzard, Mel Gibson, Willem Dafoe, Robert Forster, Martha Stewart, the Dixie Chicks, Linda Ronstadt, Max Von Sydow, Donald Sutherland, Mandy Patinkin, Tony Blair, Little Richard, Gary Busey, Henry Winkler, Emily Blunt, Colm Meaney, Benedict Cumberbatch, Lady Gaga, Brent Spiner, Marisa Tomei, Kurt Loder, Gillian Anderson, Treat Williams, J.K. Rowling, Cloris Leachman, Sir Mix a Lot, Tom Arnold, Topher Grace, and Sting.  Ruin anyone’s chance to compete with you at “Seven Degrees of Kevin Bacon” with this series, people.

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Downton Abbey

For you genre TV and film fans that got sucked into the BBC/PBS series Downton Abbey, now that the series is on hiatus are you ready to entirely re-immerse yourself back into sci-fi and fantasy?  Or do you still need a bit of the British manor fix now and then?  A great feature of British manor series and movies is the overlap of actors back and forth into the best of sci-fi and fantasy.  So if 12 inches of snowfall has stranded you inside and you want to further investigate your favorite performers on Netflix or other streaming media as they stretch their acting chops, here’s an excuse to dive into some films and TV series you may not have otherwise tried, featuring the best of the world of sci-fi and fantasy.

Remains of the Day Dyrham Hall

Christopher Reeve plays an American who buys this estate in Remains of the Day.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

If you have yet to recover from Mardi Gras, you’ve a yen for more jambalaya and gumbo, and you didn’t find the baby in your king cake, there may be hope for you yet.  Consider it another strand of purple, green and gold beads, if you will.

In case you missed it, 2011 was a banner year for Hugh Laurie.  Depending on where you’re from and what medium you lean on the most, you may know Hugh Laurie as the brooding genius doctor who entered his eighth season on House, M.D.  If you’re an Anglophile you may know him as part of a classic comic duo on the British series A Bit of Frye and Laurie, who then performed piano and sang as part of a vaudeville revival in Peter’s Friends, and performed various characters in various Blackadder series.  Costume drama types may know him as Mr. Palmer, one of the best performances in Emma Thompson’s Sense & Sensibility.  Or if you’ve really been following Mr. Laurie you might have read his 1998 spy novel The Gun Seller, Laurie’s first foray into fiction writing.

But what connects all this to February in Louisiana is Laurie’s debut album of soulful jazz, New Orleans blues singing and old-time piano playing.  Let Them Talk is an album you wouldn’t expect from a British actor, who speaks in real-life with an accent as English as they come.  Of course, some would be surprised from his perfectly done American accent on House, M.D., that Laurie is even British at all.  Adding certified blues musician to his bag of tricks as actor, comedian, and author, Laurie proved himself from all angles to be a true renaissance man.

Actors excel at “faking it.”  They get to pose as anyone else, and just as Laurie can play 19th century gentleman and modern new England doctor-turned-ex con, it may be no surprise that Laurie could fake it as a musician.  Yet, faking it is no where close to what is going on with Laurie and Let Them Talk.  Not only is Laurie a spirited pianist and guitar player who knows his stuff, he also knows what good blues is all about and you just can’t fake soulful sounds like Laurie was able to record onto this album.

As New Orleans blues is concerned, Laurie will fully admit he doesn’t have the street cred to begin with.  As he states in the liner notes to the album, “I am a white, middle-class Englishman, openly trespassing on the music and myth of the American south…. If you care about pedigree then you should try elsewhere, because I have nothing in your size.”

Yet Laurie proves that a life-long love of a genre plus skill can equal if not the real thing, then something pretty darned close.  Laurie can quote numerous influences and idols from classic jazz and blues, but his singing favorites he narrows to Ray Charles and Bessie Smith.  At times, you can hear Laurie and his soul-sister/vocalists conjure up the sounds of both on this album.

His choice of music is a mix of gritty and street gospel.

With St. James Infirmary is a familiar tune played here with a classical twist that moves into a down-and-out anthem of despair straight out of the Great Depression.  Laurie then sweeps into a honky tonk romp with a Cab Calloway-vibed back-up band.

You Don’t Know My Mind is a party of pure zydeco rhythms.  Laurie’s vocalizations are as strong and powerful as any singer then or now, and his sound and feel echo a bit of Tom Petty when Petty has dabbled off the beaten track from Southern rock.  A pretty cool duet those two would make.

Not surprisingly Six Cold Feet is Laurie at smooth traditional blues with a nice sultry saxophone beckoning the listener to some ill fate at the crossroads ahead.

Buddy Bolden’s Blues is as classic blues as it gets, and Laurie hilariously shows he can play a great Leon Redbone (or maybe it’s just Laurie and Redbone both reaching back for inspiration from the same old singers?

In the next song on the playlist Laurie may have created a contender for best-ever version of Battle of Jericho thanks in part to Jean McClain and Gennine Jackson’s soulful background echoes.  The ever-building spiritual is sure to stick with you long after your first encounter and beckon you back for more.

Laurie’s meandering piano takes backseat on After You’ve Gone to Mac Rebennack’s rousing sounds, accompanied nicely by Robby Marshall on clarinet.

Laurie takes Stephen Foster’s Old Folks at Home and mixes honky tonk piano with early vestiges of Chuck Berry in his version he calls Swanee River, sneaking in from outta nowhere an Italian virtuoso violin sound that twists itself into a “devil down in Georgia” wrap-up at the end.

In John Henry Laurie sings back-up vocals to Irma Thomas.  In a lot of albums you can get annoyed when the featured performer steps away and other performers take over.  Not so on this album.  Laurie’s deference of sorts is well placed and well timed and his selection of performers is well made.  If Laurie’s album is credible, it’s in part to the sharing of roles between the singers and instrumentalists on each song.

If Police Dog Blues, Winin’ Boy Blues and the Whale Has Swallowed Me show off Laurie’s voice as the featured musical element, Tipitina is Laurie showing off his best piano playing.  It’s that master playing you see Laurie performing in Peter’s Friends and at the tail end of select episodes of House, M.D.

That's one bad hat, Laurie

They’re Red Hot is Laurie performing a quick-paced (and short) Robert Johnson tune, which is bound to be fun to hear in-person in concert.  (Check out his website for a list of concert dates stretching up the West Coast beginning in May).  Baby, Please Make a Change features Sir Tom Jones in a solid Louisiana blues tune.

Finally, the title song Let Them Talk features Laurie almost quietly poking fun at himself and the audience that may be skeptical of an Englishman delving into the taboo classic sounds of The Blues (how dare he!).  It’s a nice finale and reminds this listener of the piano playing and singing of Billy Joel on Scenes from an Italian Restaurant.

Maybe best of all, Laurie’s reverence for this genre of music brings together honest and modern interpretations of traditional folk songs, spirituals and blues, all with deep American roots, and manages to offer a fresh and entertaining collection to accompany you as you while away the weekend on your porch with a cold glass of lemonade or sweet tea.  If Laurie is a faker, he’s a faker of the best kind.

Let Them Talk is available everywhere records are sold, online and at certain Starbucks coffee houses.

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