Category: TV


emerald-city

The Wizard of Oz–whether or not you may be a fan of L. Frank Baum’s classic book or one of the best fantasy films of all time, you may want to tune in for a new NBC series airing Friday nights this winter.  Featuring well-known actors Joely Richardson and Vincent D’Onofrio, Emerald City stars Adria Arjona as twenty-year-old Dorothy Gale, who is sucked into a tornado and transported to the otherworldly Land of Oz.  D’Onofrio plays the famous Man Behind the Curtain who runs Oz.

But don’t expect the bright and cheery world of the 1939 production or something like you’d see from Disney.  Look for a dark world in this modern-day retelling.  It’s gritty and somewhat dystopian as seen in the first trailer for the series, below.

Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Ana Ularu, Mido Hamada, Gerran Howell and Jordan Loughran co-star in the series.  Series writers and executive producers include Shaun Cassidy, David Schulner, Tarsem Singh Dhandwar, Matthew Arnold, and Josh Friedman.  Dhandwar directs the series.

emerald-city-banner

Star Wars fans take note: Trisha Biggar, costume designer for the prequels and featured in the landmark book Dressing a Galaxy: The Costumes of Star Wars, has created the costumes for the series.  Keep Padme Amidala in mind when watching the wardrobes of the various featured witches.

Check out this preview for Emerald City followed by several character posters released by Universal to promote the series:

Continue reading

Vikings banner season 4

Ragnar.  Lagertha.  Floki.  Rollo.  Helga.  Bjorn.

If you’ve ever dreamed of what the Viking world had been like, if you could spend a week in the world of any of your favorite television shows, MGM and History Channel’s Vikings series should be at the top of your list.  Nobody knows what it was like to live in any period of the past.  We rely on histories passed orally and in writing.  But it’s hard to imagine anyone getting so much more right than what the writers and art directors on Vikings have done.  The fourth season opener, which premieres in two weeks, is a relentless volley of action, excitement, and gritty drama.  After building conflicts, and the bloodiest most realistic battles on TV, it all comes together this season.  We’ve previewed the first four episodes of the season and Vikings could be on its way to be the year’s best drama.

This season History Channel has also added four episodes to its initial 16 episode order.  Beginning February 18, a new episode will air every Thursday for ten weeks with the remaining episodes to air later in the year.  Season three culminated with the battle in Paris, where Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) was victorious but returned to Kattegat nearly dead, leaving the legendary scheming of those around him–his wife Queen Aslaug (Alyssa Sutherland) and his oldest son, Bjorn (Alexander Ludwig).  Meanwhile the driven Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) develops a new relationship with her former lieutenant Kalf (Ben Robson), Rollo (Clive Standen) betrays all by remaining in France and the incredible character Floki (Gustaf Skarsgård) must answer for the death of the Christian priest Athelstan.  And King Ecbert (Linus Roache) strategizes to defend Wessex from Ragnar.

Lagertha

New to the cast this year is Peter Franzén (The Gunman) as King Harold Finehair, a man who seeks to be King of Norway and a potential threat to Ragnar, Jasper Pääkkönen (Jet Trash) as Halfdan The Black, King Harold’s younger brother; and Dianne Doan (Descendants) as Yidu, a true newcomer to the world of the Vikings who fascinates both Ragnar and Aslaug.

Continue reading

Ragnar Lothbrok

Last year I interviewed two stars of Vikings here at borg.com just before the premiere of Season Two of the landmark series.  It’s hard to believe a show this good, and as historically and culturally focused as Vikings has managed to survive this long when so many other good series get cut from the network and cable line-up.  Season Four has been filmed and will premiere next year, but we have a first look at what’s to come.

Three new major players will enter the scene in Season Four: Peter Franzen (The Gunman), Jasper Paakkonen (Frozen Land, Secret Lives), and Dianne Doan (Once Upon a Time).  Franzen plays Scandinavian King Harald Finehair, a threat to series lead Ragnar (Travis Fimmel).  Paakkonen will play Halfdan the Black, Finehair’s younger brother.  Doan will portray Yidu, a new Chinese character who, along with Ragnar’s growing sons, will have a big role in the next season, which skips ahead a few years after the events in last season’s stunning finale.

Vikings season 4

Historians also know the role Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) is destined to have in the series.  How the series writers reveal her role, the fate of Ragnar, and the subplot with Alyssa Sutherland’s Aslaug, is plenty reason to watch this coming season.

Continue reading

orphan-black

Even more so than the annual Academy Awards for achievements in film, the Primetime Emmy Awards seem to either award the same thing every year or never get around to awarding series, actors, and creative voices that really push the bounds of the ordinary.  Is that a generalization ripe for argument?  Of course.  But when you watch as much television as we do here at borg.com, at some point years ago we just turned off the TV award shows and never looked back.

So what changed this year?  Tatiana Maslany won best actress in a drama for Orphan Black.  Rami Malek won best actor in a drama for Mr. Robot.  Louie Anderson won best supporting actor for Baskets.  And the special Sherlock–The Abominable Bride won for best TV movie.  So what poles shifted?  What constellations re-aligned?  What does that mean if our own best picks align with Emmy voters?  Are we finally “in-touch”?

louie-anderson-baskets

Take Tatiana Maslany, a top borg.com pick three years in a row for best actress in television (or any other medium).  Not to slight her wonderful supporting cast, but she’s practically a one-woman show, playing a half a dozen characters each season–and seven this year in her fourth season playing clone sestra–meaning every scene is critical and must reflect Maslany’s work–and viewer believability–as a completely different person.  She never gets the luxury of “phoning in” a performance.  The result is top-notch television, and the best acting and toughest role we’ve ever seen, executed with mastery.  Go Clone Club!

Continue reading

Meeting Lee Majors

Hey, looks like we made it!

Five years ago today, Elizabeth C. Bunce, Art Schmidt, Jason McClain, and I had already spent a few months talking through the technical details for the launch of borg.com.  What should it look like?  What should we write about?  How do we get to there from here?  Then it all came together on June 10, 2011, and I sat down and just started writing.  Should this be a weekly thing?  Once I started I just couldn’t stop and we cemented borg.com as a daily webzine.  And readers started showing up every day.  Soon we had hundreds of followers, and hundreds of thousands of visits per year.

The best part?  Working with friends and meeting new ones each year.

We’ve had plenty of high points.  Cosplay took off in a big way in the past five years.   Elizabeth and I hit the ground running at San Diego Comic-Con in July 2011 with our Alien Nation/Chuck mash-up and you can find us all over the Web in photos taken by others at the show.  Our years were dotted with the random brush with coolness.  A retweet by actress Alana de la Garza, coverage of Joss Whedon visiting the Hall H line at 3 a.m. outside SDCC in 2012, Zachary Levi calling out Elizabeth for her cosplay at Nerd HQ, interviewing the stars of History Channel’s Vikings series, our praise for the Miss Fury series appearing on the back of every Dynamite Comics issue one month, tweets from Hollywood make-up artist family the Westmores commenting on our discussion of Syfy’s Face Off series, our Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (negative!) review featured on the movie’s website, that crazy promotion for the Coma remake mini-series, planning the first Planet Comicon at Bartle Hall and the Star Trek cast reunion, attending the first Kansas City Comic Con and the first Wizard World Des Moines Con, hanging with comic book legend Howard Chaykin, Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Famer Darryl McDaniels, cast members from Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and Star Trek, bionic duo Lee Majors and Lindsay Wagner.  And borg.com gained some well-known followers (you know who you are) along the way.

sdcc-whedon-c shot

We’re grateful for some great Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and other feedback over the years from Felipe Melo, Mickey Lam, Michael Prestage, The Mithril Guardian, Francesco Francavilla, Adam Hughes, Judy Bunce, Mike Norton, Jack Herbert, Mike Mayhew, Rain Beredo, David Petersen, Rob Williams, and Matt Miner, and for creators we interviewed including Mikel Janin, Penny Juday, Tim Lebbon, Kim Newman, James P. Blaylock, Freddie Williams II, Jai Nitz, and Sharon Shinn.

Bunce Alien Nation cosplay x

What did readers like the most?

We amassed an extensive archive of hundreds of book reviews, movie reviews, reviews of TV shows, and convention coverage, thanks in part to the good folks at Titan Books, Abrams Books, Lucasfilm Press, Weta New Zealand, Entertainment Earth, Dynamite Comics, IDW Publishing, Dark Horse Comics, Image Comics, BOOM! Studios, and several TV and movie studios and distributors.

McClain and EC Bunce

My own favorites?  Sitting down to come up with my own five all-time favorite characters with the borg.com writing staff.

Schmidt and Bunce at PC 2015

Thanks to my family, my friends, especially my partner in crime Elizabeth C. Bunce, Art Schmidt and Jason McClain, my support team, and William Binderup and the Elite Flight Crew.

Onward and upward!

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

Bastard Executioner setting

Review by C.J. Bunce

Despite its gratuitous gore and overall squalid setting and circumstances, the new television series Bastard Executioner pulled off a good opener last week.  Bastard Executioner, in its two-hour pilot, pulls together every historical action drama archetype and bits of myths and legends to create a compelling drama in the midst of a struggle between the English and Welsh in not-so jolly old medieval England.

Fans of History Channel’s Vikings and Showtime’s Outlander as well as costume dramas like Braveheart, Rob Roy, and First Knight will all find something here of interest.  Not yet as exciting as Vikings but likely to be better than Outlander, it may just be another twist on Robin Hood, but episode one gave us hope this new series will keep our interest for a while.

It would seem an entire season’s worth of activity transpired in the first two-hour episode with an entire story arc begun and ended already.  A village is decimated and the avengers have sought–and gained–revenge on those that caused it.  The man we first believe to be the “bastard executioner” of the title in fact isn’t, sending the viewer’s notions of what this series will be about into a tailspin.  Instead, a mysterious Man With No Name type hero is thrust into the service of those that destroyed his wife, unborn child, and their village.  The producers’ grasp of time and place, quick plotting, and surprising twists mean we will be back for more next week.

Katey Segal Bastard Executioner

The brutality is every bit real even if it is a bit in-your-face.  Yet as bloody and violent as you could imagine, graphic and at times gory, some sense of purpose comes through for the stories’ heroes.  Loyalty, bravery, injustice, the faithful and the faithless, noble heroes and loathsome villains all can be found here.  Look for Katey Sagal (Lost, Married With Children) as the elder, mystical, witch-healer Annora, in what could prove to be an Emmy-worthy role.

Continue reading

Shannara series

MTV clearly has ambitions to become the next CW Network, and its choice for the latest young adult focused series is sure to bring in viewers of shows like The Vampire Diaries, Stitchers, Smallville, and The Flash.  It’s The Shannara Chronicles, a classic fantasy world series based on the Terry Brooks series of novels and specifically The Elfstones of Shannara.  The two-hour premiere aired Tuesday night and revealed an incredibly rich set of film locations and environments to create a world ruled by Elves in a future Earth in the area of what was once the Pacific Northwest (the show opening reveals an ancient ruin that was once the Seattle Space Needle).  Humans, dwarves, gnomes, and trolls–all the fantasy races you’d expect in a good fantasy series can be found here.

A single tree guarded by the Elves is said to keep the Demons from re-entering the world.  Some say this is just a myth.  But the tree has now become sick, and a young Elf woman, her grandfather the Elfking, a Druid, and his apprentice must convince everyone the story is not just a myth as they attempt to save the tree, or allow the unspeakable evil to be unleashed.  It’s Terry Brooks, not George R.R. Martin, so expect quick-paced action (the story races forward so you’ve no time to get bored), less melodrama and long dialogue, and a more youthful cast.

John Rhys-Davies Shannara

With a production led in part by popular executive producer Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Elf), the cast is also quite impressive.  Bringing gravitas and legitimacy to the series is John Rhys-Davies (Lord of the Rings, Raiders of the Lost Ark) as the Elfking, Manu Bennett (The Hobbit, Arrow) as a Druid human, and James Remar (The X-Files, Battlestar Galactica, The Legend of Korra, Django Unchained) as head of the Rovers

The young members of the cast show some promise, too, beginning with Pan’s Labyrinth star Ivana Baquero as the second female lead Eretria, Austin Butler (Arrow) as Wil, the naïve padawan of the Druid who possesses three rare Elfstones, and Poppy Drayton (Downton Abbey, Father Brown) as the show’s burgeoning warrior, a “Chosen” heroine named Amberle.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Travis Fimmel as Ragnar and Alyssa Sutherland as Aslaug in Vikings

Expect more Viking intrigue and action, more Viking drama, and a realistic historical look at Viking life in Season Two of Vikings, premiering tonight at 9 p.m. Central/10 p.m. Eastern on the History Channel.  The series introduces new characters and shakes up the very fabric of the universe centered on the legendary Ragnar Lodbrok.  Based on Viking sagas and characters from Norse mythology, Vikings is a series filled with both political posturing, hand to hand combat, giant sailing vessels, and a realistic look at the Viking world.

Last week I interviewed series lead Travis Fimmel, who plays Ragnar, and series newcomer Alyssa Sutherland, who has a key role in Season Two as Aslaug, a princess who drives a wedge between Ragnar and his family.

Vikings Season 2

Fimmel sees his role as the Viking warrior as the best project he has yet taken on.  “It’s definitely my favorite.  It has a lot to do with Michael Hurst, who created [Vikings].”  He credits his positive experiences on Vikings to the crew for the show.  “The Irish people do a tremendous job.  They’re very talented and very efficient and really make the best of the budget we have.”

The series is filmed an hour south of Dublin, Ireland.  During filming Fimmel lived in the country on a lake near one of the Vikings sets.  Although he plays the leader of the Viking tribe, he sees himself as just one of the crew off the set.  “I don’t let them treat me any differently–We all make fun of each other… We all get on very well.”

As you’d expect, filming the epic Viking longboat scenes is as much fun as it appears.  “We had a lot of tremendous fun on the boats.  This year we go out on the ocean–and it’s just beautiful.  Beautiful landscape.  The boat stuff’s really enjoyable.”

Ragnar and Floki season 2 episode one

Fimmel confirmed that full-scale longboats are used for the series, created based on historical research, and not just filming models or CGI creations.  “They’re made to scale.  They definitely float and definitely work and definitely sail.”

Alyssa Sutherland, who was introduced in the last episode of Season One as a temptress of sorts for Ragnar, portrays a princess from Norse mythology who played a pivotal role in the legend of Ragnar.  Sutherland also gets some scenes on the Viking longboats in Season Two.  “This season I got a bit of boat time, she said.  “We were really lucky.  It was this gorgeous day.  The perfect day to be out in the boat in the islands.  You really do feel a part of it.”

Alyssa Sutherland in Vikings

As the daughter of Sigurd and the shield-maiden Brynhildr, Sutherland’s character Aslaug is decked-out in beautiful, historically drawn ninth century costumes.

Sutherland said it was a treat to be able to work with the talented Vikings costume designer, Emmy Award winner Joan Bergin.  “Right at the beginning of the season when I went in for my first fitting, before I went in to see her I knew [the costumes] were going to be stunning…  She just knocked my expectations right out of the park.  It was fabulous.”

The authentic costumes help inform Sutherland’s character and performance.  “Working in these costumes–it’s so much easier to get into character when you have something on you that makes you feel so much a part of it…  Costumes are a really important part of your character and feeling you really are that person…  They really are gorgeous.”

Aslaug and friend in Vikings

Working on the set of Vikings brought some authenticity to the experience for Sutherland, and that authenticity helped her to portray the character of Aslaug. “Everything–every detail, from the sets, the costumes, the hair and the make up, the props… Absolutely everything has so much detail in it.  I’ve been on other sets and it feels a little bit like a set.”

She says with the Vikings series, it’s a different experience.  “Everything is so realistic.  It’s really hard to describe unless someone sees it.  It just makes being in character and being a part of the story so much easier for an actor.”

Catch the Season Two premiere of Vikings tonight at 9 p.m. Central/10 p.m. Eastern on the History Channel.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg

Constantine playing with fire

He is a key character in DC Comics Justice League Dark for a reason.  Stress on the word “dark”.  He’s Constantine–John Constantine–possibly the least likely character to emerge from the pages of the DCU and make it to the small screen.  Yet NBC has pulled out all the stops lately with promotions to get new viewers to check out this new series following Grimm on Friday nights beginning tomorrow.

We’ve collected all the promotional videos here for Constantine so you can judge for yourself whether this new series is one for you.  He’s been summed up as “A man struggling with his faith is haunted by the sins of his past but is suddenly thrust into the role of defending humanity from the gathering forces of darkness.”  And there’s plenty of horror and gore, as revealed in the recent previews released.  Will the suspense grab and retain viewers in this onslaught of DC Comics-based TV shows?

Constantine screencap

Unlike CW’s successful DCU spin-off TV series Arrow and the new series Flash and Gotham, don’t expect to see lots of familiar genre actors in this series, but plenty of new faces.  Star Matt Ryan has shown up before in Criminal Minds-Suspect Behavior as well as stints on Vikings, Torchwood, The Tudors, and one of our faves, the Brit film Layer Cake.  And you might recognize Angelica Celaya from her role on the (recently prematurely cancelled!) Dallas.  Lost fans will recognize Harold Perrineau here who played Michael on that series.

After the break, check out all the promotional trailers and previews for Constantine:

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: