Category: Con Culture


The showrunner and cast of History’s Vikings, including showrunner and writer Michael Hirst and actors Travis Fimmel, Katheryn Winnick, and Clive Standen, who we saw at their first Comic-Con back in 2013, invaded Comic-Con this weekend with a new preview for the last time.  That’s a virtual invasion, because of course this year it’s San Diego Comic-Con@Home, but as panels go this was just as you’d see at any ordinary SDCC, but without the lines and squinting from the back of Hall H.  Hirst and actors Fimmel, Winnick, and Standen were joined this year by actors Alex Ludwig and Jordan Patrick Smith, to discuss the fates of Fimmel and Winnick’s characters on past episodes, the six seasons of the series, and what’s next.

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Who lives and who dies?

In July we discussed a great summer panel from virtual San Diego Comic-Con discussing the final ten episodes of History Channel’s Vikings series, following the first ten episodes released a year ago (check out our coverage of the panel here at borg if you missed it).  The showrunner and cast of History’s Vikings, including showrunner and writer Michael Hirst and actors Travis Fimmel, Katheryn Winnick, and Clive Standen, who we saw at their first Comic-Con back in 2013, provided a brief preview of the final 10 of the season’s 20 episodes.  Now those final episodes will hop networks to Amazon Prime, where they will all be available for binge-watching on December 30, followed later on their original network, History.  Along with the news of the change in networks and streaming date is a new trailer–check it out below.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Deceit, betrayal, glory, destiny.  

At one level the back half of the 89 hours of History Channel’s Vikings series had two key components that kept viewers coming back week after week: the next scene always was completely and terrifically unpredictable, and each increase in stakes for your favorite character was just plain nail-biting.  Like walking a tightrope, at any point every character–no matter how great or small–might get wiped away.  Creator and writer Michael Hirst plucked cultural bits of Norse history and intertwined them with the written histories and mythology of historical figures to make something riveting, compelling, and permanent–the spirit of a historical saga that Viking descendants can be proud of, while also meeting the needs of fantasy viewers for the next swordplay action-adventure.  Primarily a denouement for the long six season run, the final ten episodes have arrived on Amazon Prime, with History Channel to air them at a later date.

The reach of the Norse influence, the survival of the Lothbrok line, the direction of early England and Russia.  It all intersects here.  Does the end measure up to the rest of the series?

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Milla Jovovich’s badass superheroine Alice in the Resident Evil franchise, from 2002’s first film through five sequels–Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004), Resident Evil: Extinction (2007), Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010), Resident Evil: Retribution (2012), and Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2016)–has given us the 21st century version of Ellen Ripley and Sarah Conner.  And speaking of Connor, the trailers for the next chapter of Resident Evil, a prequel called Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City, looks a lot like Terminator 3–plus lots of zombies.

Check out the first trailer and a profile on Hannah John-Kamen’s character Jill Valentine, below:

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In-person cancellations have not kept every event this summer from canceling entirely.  One of those is typically one of the summer’s biggest events, San Diego Comic-Con.  Events for SDCC 2020 are proceeding ahead beginning Wednesday, but this time providing an opportunity for fans of all things pop culture a chance to sit through the kinds of panels you might see were you to attend in person in any regular year–without standing overnight in lines.  You can even grab a lanyard off the rack, print your own badge (for you and your pets), cosplay with your family, and load the panels up on as big of a screen as you have.  It’s 350 panels over five days, beginning Wednesday, July 22, and wrapping up Sunday, July 26.  Check out all our suggestions for building your own fun convention week experience below.

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luke cage

Ten years!  That’s ten years reviewing TV series in the decade that streaming services began to dominate TV viewing– and binge-watching was born as Netflix began releasing entire seasons at once in 2013.  How do you pick the best series?  As with yesterday’s list of movie recommendations, our theory from the very first day of publishing borg has been reviewing only those things we like, things we think are fun, imaginative, or just plain cool—because if we think they’re cool, maybe you will, too.  What makes a great TV series?  Great writing—great storytelling.  Also we looked to difficulty level and technology innovation—TV productions tend to get a fraction of the budget of big-screen features, so what they do with their time and money is critical, and some television series in the past decade were all-out feats.  The third factor we looked to is re-watchability—we’ll be watching the best series for years to come.  The big difference between ranking movies and TV is the change between seasons, that force that inevitably causes most shows to decline with each season.  So consistency is a factor.  Finally, as with movies the most important factor is the fun—why would you devote so many hours of your valuable time if you’re not going to have a great time?

Manda

One more thing: Ten years is a long time so we narrowed the series we’re including to those recommendations that fall primarily within the ten-year window.  We covered several fantastic, re-watchable series that cemented their status in reruns or syndication, many beginning before borg began publishing and finishing in the years after, including Burn Notice, White Collar, Warehouse 13, Leverage, House, MD, In Plain Sight, and three landmarks among the best pop culture-packed series of all time, Chuck, Psych, and Community.  We were disappointed that some of the best series were canceled and left to only a single season, otherwise they may have gone on to fare better against our top recommendations, shows like Jason Isaacs’ psychological police procedural Awake, Sarah Shahi’s all-for-fun Fairly Legal, Lauren Cohan’s action/spy series Whiskey Cavalier, the Doctor Who spin-off Class, the adaptation of Max Allan Collins’ popular noir novel series Quarry, the slick animated series Tron: Uprising, and the cyborg future-world Almost Human starring Karl Urban, to name a few.

Grimm

So here are the Top 40 series we recommend, spanning 2011 to 2021.  These are our favorites.  How should you use lists like this?  If you like what we talk about at borg, you’re probably going to like these shows.  If you’ve missed any, odds are you have some new series to take a look at.  Let’s start at #40 and move our way to #1.  As with everything borg, we’re stressing genre series.  Title links are to one of our previous borg reviews.

Let’s get started!

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So many continuing genre TV shows!  CW’s iZombie, Arrow, The Flash, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl, and Riverdale.  Then we have all the fantasy genre shows like Vikings, Outlander, and Game of Thrones.  There’s The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead, and The 100.  HBO’s sci-fi series Westworld.  And new superhero shows–Black Lightning, The Defenders, and Gifted.

What do they all have in common?

All 16 were featured in panels this weekend at San Diego Comic-Con.  And each has a new trailer or special Comic-Con video recap leading into the next season.  The winner?  Check out yesterday’s exciting trailer for Stranger Things, season 2, (shown here at borg.com) which seems to eclipse them all.  But from today’s list make sure you watch Netflix’s The Defenders–if you liked any of the other Netflix Marvel series, this will be a must-see.  And the four minutes of iZombie is a great recap of fun TV.

So let’s get on with it.  Watch your favorites or check out all of them, straight from Comic-Con 2017:

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Fans of pop culture and comics have one more day to attend the fourth annual Wizard World Comic Con in Des Moines this weekend.   Held at the Iowa Events Center in downtown Des Moines, thousands of attendees from Iowa and neighboring states toured the halls and giant celebrity autograph and photo-op room, many in cosplay garb Friday and Saturday.  Even more people are expected to turn out for the show Sunday as Wizard World rolls out a “bring a friend free” promotion.  The show continues today 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  Check out the event website here for more information.  Wizard World continues its national presentation of comic book and pop culture conventions next week as the show moves on to Columbus, Ohio.  After the success of the first two days of this year’s event in Des Moines, the fifth Wizard World Des Moines show is already being planned by show organizers for next year, to be held May 10-12, 2019.

Doctor Who’s David Tennant and Black Panther’s Winston Duke, and many other celebrities talked with fans in the show’s celebrity row signing area.  Comic book creators talked about books, and autographed books and art for fans.  We loved this new Green Arrow print from guest comic book creators Phil Hester and Ande Parks (with color by Mouse Baumann):

Even more than 20 years after the last episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, James Marsters (Spike) maintained a steady stream of fans waiting in line to meet him all day Saturday:

Star Trek icon Nichelle Nichols returned to the Midwest.  Here she is being interviewed at the event for a local radio station:

Genre actor Jim Beaver (Supernatural, The X-Files, Deadwood, Enterprise) met and signed autographs for crowds of fans:

Nationally-known comic book creators were well-represented at this show.  Artist Phil Hester returned to Wizard World–here he is featured on the creator stage demonstrating illustration techniques:

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Once a year at borg we ask: What makes a great screen heroine? It’s time for borg′s annual look at the Best Kick-Ass Genre Heroines in film and television.  We’re highlighting the very best from a slate of fantastic heroines, with characteristics to learn from and root for.  Determined, decisive, loyal, brave, smart, fierce, strong, you’ll find no one here timid or weepy, but all rely on their individual skills to beat the odds and overcome any obstacle that comes their way.  Over the years we have expanded the list to include any tough, savvy, gritty character played by a woman, so villains are welcome here, too.  (Want to see previous years’ kickass genre heroines to see how 2021 compares?  Here are 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, and 2015). Some may be frazzled, put-upon, war-weary, or human, but all have fought, some against difficult circumstances, others against personal demons (literally, figuratively, or both), and some against gun and laser fire.  And they all showed what a tough, kick-ass, and often badass, character is about.

This year we add three superheroines, an amnesiac bounty hunter, four police detectives, a thief, a grifter, a hacker, 13 martial arts experts, three soldiers, a god, a duchess, two college students, three Russian assassins, a spy, an actress, a cyborg, a bartender, a forensics expert, a hitman, and a helicopter pilot, with eight characters we’ve seen in past years and 13 all-new characters we’ve never seen in any medium before–all in a roster split between 21 television and 13 movie characters. Credit goes to both the writers, costumers, and other creators of the characters and the actors and performers that brought them all to life.

These are the Best Kick-Ass Genre Heroines of 2021:

Antonia Dreykov aka Taskmaster (Black Widow).  Was there a more intriguing, surprising, gut-wrenching character this year than Olga Kurylenko’s super-powered cyborg?  She was one of the best costumed villains this year and certainly the most sympathetic, leaving the question: Where does she go from here? (Disney)

Faye Valentine (Cowboy Bebop).  Daniella Pineda’s spin on this classic sci-fi character couldn’t have been better.  Always eager, always excitable, always refreshing, as she pursued the dramatic journey to discover who she really is. (Netflix)

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We just want to take a break today to shout out a Happy 16th Birthday to our amazing support crew of rov(er)ing reporters, our four-legged support team of Jade and Jasmine.

You’ve probably seen them pop up from time to time–Jasmine cosplaying as Supergirl or Jade at RenFest as a Viking–or everything in between.  But if you haven’t, know they have been nearby tail-wagging away as we feverishly scan the entertainment sphere coming up with your next daily entertainment fix.

We couldn’t be prouder of our furry crew with 224 dog years between them.

As always, thanks for your support, and thanks for reading!

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

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