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volos-guide-to-monsters

Available this month from Wizards of the Coast, the second non-adventure supplement for the 5th Edition, Volo’s Guide to Monsters, adds new lore, art, and maps for more than 120 monsters–some new and some familiar–to flesh out your Dungeons & Dragons gaming.  Different from the D&D Monster Manual, reviewed previously here at borg.com, Volo’s Guide to Monsters will appeal to players wanting to read expanded narratives about their favorite monsters and spark their imaginations for future gameplay.

Stranger Things fans, if you’re looking for stats on the Demogorgon, you’ll need to look back to the Out of the Abyss adventure volume released last year.  But you’ll learn more about the culture, characteristics and lairs of Beholders, Giants, Gnolls, Goblinoids, Hags, Kobolds, Mind Flayers, Orcs, and Yuan-ti, guidelines for the heroic races Aasimar, Firbolg, Goliath, Kenku, Lizardfolk, Tabaxi, and Tritons, and the monstrous races Bugbear, Goblin, Hobgolbin, Kobold, Orc, and Yuan-ti.

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You’ll also find plenty of great artwork and maps accompanying all-new entries for Demons, Beholders, Dinosaurs, Giants, Kobolds, and Mindflayers.  An appendix includes descriptions of beast characters and another appendix includes nonplayer characters including Archdruid, Archer, Bard, Blackguard, Martial Arts Adept, Master Thief, and War Priest, Wizards and Warlocks, and a third appendix includes lists of monster stats by type, environment, and challenge rating.  View full article »

archie-series-riverdale

In the first trailer for CW’s Riverdale, the live-action series looks more like an updated Twin Peaks than the classic comic book.  But what a way to make an update!  How will we know if Riverdale is a success?  CW’s television adaptation of the nearly 80-year-old Archie Comics universe is only weeks away.  Yet if you look back on your favorite teen television shows you may find writers and casting agents have been pulling from the Archie playbook before.  Just take a look back at Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  Who was a better Jughead than Xander?  And did you ever see the original best frenemies Betty and Veronica in the love-hate relationship of Buffy and Faith?  What about the dynamic of the leads in CW’s previous successful teen-driven, comic book series Smallville?  Will Archie Comics’ own tried and tested formula prove to make Riverdale a keeper?

However CW’s Riverdale turns out, our fingers are crossed that we’ll see the infamous Sabrina drop in as a guest star or that the writers will find a way to incorporate at least a good Halloween episode banking on the success of the publisher’s recent Afterlife With Archie series.  What sure-fire way to please a current audience than delivering a zombie episode?

Riverdale -- "Pilot" -- Image Number: RVD101g_0002.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): KJ Apa as Archie and Lili Reinhart as Betty -- Photo: Katie Yu/The CW -- © 2016 The CW Network. All Rights Reserved.

The first teaser for Riverdale dropped this week.  Although it doesn’t give us much, we get a look at the characters and a glimpse of the creepy tone of the show–a very CW teen-focused looking series.  These kinds of shows have proven to be CW’s niche realm, along with its recent success with superheroes in its five DC Comics series: Arrow, The Flash, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, iZombie, and Supergirl. 

Check out this first teaser for Riverdale:

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fantastic-beasts

There’s no such thing as a “sure thing.”  If there was, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them–the big screen adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s spin-off novel from the Harry Potter series–would have been an easy success.  Released in the same month, a trailer  for Beauty and the Beast starring Emma Watson set YouTube viewer records.  Why?  Fans of Potter can’t get enough, they’ll never get enough, and that means anything related to Hogwarts is prime territory to exploit, including its actors.

So why should Fantastic Beasts work?  It’s a story written by Rowling.  It’s in the same universe as her past successes (or is it?).  It’s about fantasy beasts (or is it?).  Fantastic Beasts follows a Dr. Doolittle-inspired wizard named Newt Scamander (played by Eddie Redmayne), who is in 1920s New York City hunting a new beast to protect for his unique version of a magical zoo.  He keeps these beasts in a suitcase, which is either bigger on the inside (sounds familiar?) or it somehow serves as a portal to a wider world where Scamander can protect the beasts from those that don’t fancy beastie types.  If the  beasts remained the focus of the story, a journey where we met several of these creatures and explored the awe and majesty of these brilliant creations from the visual effects artists, liked the klepto duck-billed platypus or the Groot-like Bowtruckle–or maybe actually explore where in the world to find them as the title says–Fantastic Beasts could have been what fans are looking for.  Unfortunately the story doesn’t know what it wants to be and instead gets bogged down in a dark and gloomy drama about a troubled, victimized orphan of the Anakin Skywalker variety.

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A glimmer of heart can be found in a hapless wannabe baker named Kowalski, played by Dan Fogler, and a woman from the magical world named Queenie, played by Alison Sudol.  You could edit out every scene these two characters are not in and be left with a compelling story.  Their acting, the characterization, and chemistry is the stuff of a good romance movie.  Their performances are also the only strong ties in the film to a believable 1920s setting–both, with their accents and mannerisms, seem to fall out of a film from the Golden Age of Hollywood, despite art direction that never quite gives the feel we’re in the Roaring ’20s.

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fighters

We’ve said it before so we’ll repeat it:  If you aren’t someone who wants to know what the next Star Wars movie is about, walk away now.  Lucasfilm has proven with Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens and this year with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story that they figure fans won’t mind seeing a fair chunk of key scenes and plot developments via the movie trailers.  Would the “Chewie, we’re home,” line uttered by Harrison Ford carried greater weight had it not been previewed ad nauseam in months of previews?  Should we assume plenty of surprises have been left for the movie?

We can’t get enough of these glimpses of more Star Wars.  The latest preview for Rogue One released this Thanksgiving weekend give up several humorous scenes from the film.  Did the marketing folks think fans needed something lighthearted since the overall story of Rogue One is reportedly the darkest story yet, excepting possibly Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith?  This final trailer also shows some beautiful action sequences we have not yet seen.  This movie is going to be the biggest entertainment event of the year.  Just look at the detail in this village set below–every single thing about it tells you this is in the Star Wars universe.

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Since Thanksgiving we’ve also seen both new international and IMAX posters (all below after the break) plus Alamo Drafthouse glassware available at select screenings.

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And the studio announced ticket sales will begin tomorrow!  Check your local theater for listings.

But first, here is the final trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story:

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dc-invasion-crossover

Is a Crisis on Infinite Earths adaptation on its way at last?  Never before have all the pieces been laid out so well to adapt such a major comic book storyline.  We have key player Barry Allen from The Flash, which spun-out of the Arrow series, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow have enough timey-wimey time travel to be able to see, view, and undo anything, and then the CW pulled over Supergirl from ABC this year and brought Superman with her.  So the building blocks are ready.  Is CW and DC Entertainment willing and able?  Next week we’re going to see a step in the right direction with a mega-superhero week.

Monday, the CW begins a four-night crossover event with its four DC Comics-inspired series–and nothing screams comic books louder than a good crossover and major league team-up.  The villains are a bit obscure–the Dominators–aliens Supergirl will encounter Monday night.  The Dominators first appeared in the 1960s in Adventure Comics with a brief reprise in a mini-series called Invasion in 1989, and that’s the take-off point for the villains in next week’s event.

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So it’s “Heroes vs. Aliens,” comic books coming to life in perhaps the biggest character showdown ever, actors donning Academy Award-winning costumer Colleen Atwood’s pantheon of more than 17 hero supersuits (Green Arrow, The Flash, Diggle/Green Arrow 2, Supergirl, Superman, Black Canary, Vixen, The Atom, White Canary, Steel, Wally West, two Firestorms, Speedy, Death Stroke, Martian Manhunter, Heat Wave, and more).  We haven’t seen this many superheroes on TV since the animated Super Friends.

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In the middle of the week, Arrow will see its landmark 100th episode Wednesday night.  Who would have thought any superhero series would survive this long?  Take a look at these previews for crossover week:

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It has been a Christmas tradition in the UK on and off again for more than fifty years.  The Doctor Who Christmas Special returns for another episode this Christmas Day, available in the states on BBC America.  This year Fathom Events has teamed up with BBC to bring the show to movie theaters, for two days only.  So you can watch it in television in traditional style and/or see it a few days later on the big screen.  One of several Doctor Who screenings held by Fathom Events over the past three years, it’s as close as Doctor Who fans can get to experiencing a full-fledged Doctor Who movie.

Superheroes is the theme of this year’s entry, as revealed in the trailer below.  “The Return of Doctor Mysterio” features the 12th Doctor played by Peter Capaldi, but without his normal companion Jenna-Louise Coleman.  The good Doctor teams up instead with a journalist played by Charity Wakefield (Wolf Hall, Sense & Sensibility, Jane Eyre), and the duo teams up with a new superhero to defend Earth from another alien threat.  The show co-stars Justin Chatwin (Orphan Black, War of the Worlds), Matt Lucas (Alice in Wonderland, Doctor Who, Galavant, Community), Adetomiwa Edun (The Hour, Bates Motel, Law & Order UK), and Aleksandar Jovanovic.

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The theater screenings will take place at 7 p.m. local time December 27 and 29, 2016.  Check out the Fathom Events website here for theater locations and to purchase tickets.

Here is a preview of “The Return of Doctor Mysterio:”

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WKRP Nessman reporting Thanksgiving stunt

Pull the TV dinner out of the oven.  Throw some butter on those peas.  It’s time again for your annual tryptophan coma.  And another annual tradition.

Yes, it is time again for your annual viewing of one of the two best Thanksgiving episodes that ever graced the small screen.  Finish this phrase: “As God is my witness, I thought…”  You don’t know how it ends?  Then watch and enjoy our traditional viewing of the greatest Thanksgiving episode of TV ever:

And in between your seconds and thirds on tofurkey, mashed potatoes, corn casserole, bean casserole, pea casserole–and don’t forget the gravy–then check out other Thanksgiving blasts from the past here

And don’t forget the cranberries.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The borg.com Staff

Orphan Black Season 4 Four

So are you a big fan of the BBC America’s sci-fi series Orphan Black?  Do you consider yourself a card-carrying member of the Clone Club?  Have you ever wanted to see how they film Tatiana Maslany playing several characters in the same scene?  Now BBC America is giving Orphan Black fans a chance to win a walk-on role in next year’s Season 5–the final season of the series.

All you need to do is film yourself conveying how much you love the series in 30 seconds or less.  The Grand Prize winner will be randomly chosen–so don’t worry too much about the video quality.  The winner will receive a four day-three night trip for two to the set of Orphan Black in Toronto, Canada, including airfare, hotel, ground transportation, and $500 spending money.

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But you must act quickly to be considered–you must submit your video by November 29, 2016, at 11:59:59 a.m. Eastern.

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Dynamite Comics is releasing three compilation editions of previously published work tomorrow, and we have previews of all three below for borg.com readers.

Sherlock Holmes Omnibus Volume 1 collects three stories:  The Trail of Sherlock Holmes, Liverpool Demon, and Year One, written by Leah Moore, John Reppion, and Scott Beaty, with artwork by Aaron Campbell, Daniel Indro, and Matt Triano, and a cover by John Cassaday.  At 400 pages this will keep Holmes fans busy.

Xena: Warrior Princess – All Roads includes the first six issues of Dynamite’s monthly series.  Written by Genevieve Valentine, with artwork by Ariel Medel and cover by Greg Land, this is a great series Xena and Gabrielle fans will love.

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And finally, Art of Red Sonja Volume 2 collects more of various artist interpretations of Red Sonja published by Dynamite over the years.  The 336-page volume includes an introduction by the great Roy Thomas, and you’ll find plenty to love with works by artists including Alex Ross, Arthur Adams, Nicola Scott, Ed Benes, Jay Anacleto, Jenny Frison, Lucio Parrillo, Paul Renaud, Joseph Michael Linsner, plus several others.  Cover art is by Jenny Frison.

Check out previews of all three books after the break:

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the-lego-batman-movie-trailer-4-ride

Somewhere along the way, our review of The LEGO Movie got gobbled up by trolls.  But here’s what you need to know if you haven’t seen it yet: Everything is awesome in The LEGO Movie.  If you’re a fan of all the previous video games, animated direct-to-video and TV iterations of animated LEGO characters then you will be pleased with the big-screen version of the film, which hit theaters back in 2014 and is streaming nearly everywhere you look these days.  Great world-building (literally), characters, laugh-out-loud humor, and songs make for great fun for all ages.

Phil Lord and Christopher Miller directed The LEGO Movie.  They are the duo behind 21 Jump Street, 22 Jump Street, the coming Men in Black/Jump Street crossover movie, and–wait for it–the 2019 Star Wars movie featuring Han Solo.  So if you figure guys with that much humor and someone good enough to take the reins on Star Wars created it, maybe you’ll see why checking out The LEGO Movie is worth your time.  Oh, and it stars fan favorites Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, and Alison Brie, Anthony Daniels, Elizabeth Banks, Morgan Freeman, Jonah Hill, Will Arnett, Cobie Smulders, Keegan-Michael Key, Billy Dee Williams, Liam Neeson, and Channing Tatum.

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Which brings us to The LEGO Batman Movie.  If everything was awesome for the little blocky people of LEGOLAND in the first film, everything is not awesome in Gotham for Batman in The LEGO Batman Movie.  The trailers for the follow-on film that was hinted at in The LEGO Movie looks to be very different with more piled-on humor.  If you’re one of the Batman or comic book movie fans wanting Batman to get less dark and gritty and more fun, the trailers released so far seem to be targeting you.

Just check out this superb volley of four trailers for The LEGO Batman Movie:

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