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Tag Archive: AMC


Review by C.J. Bunce

If the third season of AMC’s/UK Channel 4’s sci-fi series Humans had a single theme this year it was sacrifice and heroism.  After Lucy Carless’s Mattie set off the course of events to give sentience to the show’s thousands of cyborg servants, who knew what direction showrunners Sam Vincent and Jonathan Brackley would take us?  Mattie had the series’ greatest crisis of conscience–her actions resulted in the deaths of thousands of humans and synths–yet she brought freedom to her friends and so many others.  With the shocking events at season’s end, she became poised to have an even more significant role next season.  As the lawyer and sole voice for synth rights among the humans, her mother, Katherine Parkinson’s Laura Hawkins, became a symbol for the oppressed and a metaphor for civil rights struggles beyond the television screen.

The cyborg characters were no less powerful, coupling strong acting with a talented group of writers, to create what may be the most thought-provoking look at the “life” of borgs yet–showing a sympathetic and dramatic view through their eyes.  Gemma Chan’s Mia stepped forward to be the target of hatred among those trying to eliminate all the “damaged” green-eyed synths.  Defying all sense she became the figurehead for synth rights and brought on attack after personal attack.  From another approach, Ivanno Jeremiah’s Max stepped forward as leader of a gated community of synths, clinging to the vision that peaceful cooperation was the only solution to bridging the gap with humans.  This left Emily Berrington’s Niska in the role again as vengeance seeker, and more violent means to assist both synths and her human lover (Bella Dayne’s Astrid) harmed by ant-synth activity.  With these three characters the writers provided a mirror of society from different approaches, only to introduce other levels of modern reality: terrorism via new synth Holly Earl’s troubled Agnes and the covert acts of Laura’s newly assigned orange-eyed synth, Dino Fetscher’s Stanley.

But the writers didn’t leave out the impact on humans of a society divided, and that was most poignantly revealed through Laura’s flawed ex-husband, Tom Goodman-Hill’s Joe and his encounters with a familiar synth in hiding, Ruth Bradley’s Karen Voss.  Karen discovers a young boy synth (Billy Jenkins’ Sam), an experiment left behind by the synth inventor, and she chooses to live in the open as human with the boy as her son in the heart of the anti-synth area of town.  Her performance and her character’s choices result in the most powerful and gut-wrenching segments of the season.

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Reboot.  Recharge.  Rebel.

Next week the Synths return in AMC’s Humans, the series we pegged as last year’s best look at life living with and as a borg.  Humans is back for its third season with its season premiere Tuesday.  When we last left Humans, Lucy Carless’s Mattie Hawkins had uploaded the software to free the Synths–those very human-looking and acting cyborg servants.  Season 3 begins a year later–a year after all the Synths became fully conscious.  Since then life in British society has become strained as the oppressed Synth population fights to survive in a world that hates and fears them.

Similar to iZombie’s shift last season from a normal world to a world living side-by-side with zombies both at peace and at war, the Synths of Season 3 have their own community of outsiders split in two: The original green-eyed Synths are the rogues, not content with their second-tier status, and the new Series 11 “Orange Eyes” are the new, safe, properly configured and upgraded Synths.

The Synth family of Mia (Gemma Chan), Niska (Emily Berrington) and Max (Ivanno Jeremiah) return, continuing to battle for their right to survival,  The rest of the Hawkins family is back, too, with Mattie’s parents Laura (Katherine Parkinson) and Joe (Tom Goodman-Hill) separated because of their divergent views of the Synths, and Mattie’s siblings Toby (Theo Stevenson) and Sophie (Pixie Davies) dealing with the upheavals all around them.

Here is a preview for Season 3 of AMC’s Humans:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

James Cameron has plenty to say about science fiction and he pulls in some sci-fi directors and dozens of sci-fi actors and creators to lay it all out in his new AMC series James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction.  Many series have wrestled with the subject of defining science fiction, most recently Ridley Scott’s Prophets of Science Fiction, where the Alien and Blade Runner director honored George Lucas, Robert Heinlein, Jules Verne, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Philip K. Dick, H.G. Wells, and Mary Shelley. Not known for his interviewing, Cameron opted to record more informal chats with a small circle of his contemporaries, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Guillermo del Toro, Ridley Scott, Christopher Nolan, and Arnold Schwarzenegger (plus an interview by friend/science fiction writer Randall Frakes of Cameron himself), attempting to guide them down his framework of analysis, sometimes gaining agreement and other times sparking interesting tangent questions.  The interviews are divided up and sprinkled across six episodes of the AMC television series, and the blanks are filled in with sound bites from creators, professors, writers, and popular names from modern science fiction.  But the companion book, also titled James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction, is far more insightful, showing the broader unedited interview text for each of Cameron’s six key contributors, plus great color artwork to illustrate his history of the genre.  Ultimately the book is a more useful, informative, and interesting overview of science fiction than what the series provides, and recommended for fans wanting to dig deeper into the history of the genre.

For those that haven’t encountered a review of the genre, Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction, available now from Insight Editions, will provide the appropriate highlights.  The combined narrative is at its best when attempting to find the reasons for the importance of science fiction as literature and art, as influence to society, and as a reflection on mankind’s discovery of self, but it’s also fun for any diehard genre fan to follow along, agree or disagree, and ponder the myriad alternatives to the examples given to illustrate the topics covered.  The book is better than the TV series at analyzing and presenting the coverage, tying each key contributor to a sub-genre or major sci-fi concept: alien life, outer space, time travel, monsters, dark futures, and intelligent machines.  Cameron has done his homework and claims to have read nearly anything and everything since he was a kid on the subject.  His own significant science fiction contributions, namely Terminator, Terminator 2, and Aliens, and developing the two biggest women film roles of the genre–Sarah Connor in Terminator 2 and Ellen Ripley in Aliens–are only slightly overshadowed by more than required attention to his film Avatar  as frequent centerpiece topic. He also spends more time on modern science fiction films, sometimes leaving behind classic films that had done it all before.  So surprisingly great influences like Star Trek, Rod Serling, and John Carpenter get far less attention proportionately than you’d find in another science fiction overview, and the vast body of science fiction television series is barely tapped at all.

The most insight comes from George Lucas and Arnold Schwarzenegger.  Lucas provides rare reactions to fan criticism of Jar Jar Binks, his Star Wars prequels generally, and his concept of midichlorians manipulating the Force, which he states would have been key to the third trilogy had he kept control of the franchise.  Immersed in an interview about science fiction his responses seem to reflect regret in selling Star Wars to Disney, as if he had far more Star Wars stories to tell.  The rest of the book’s seriousness is counterbalanced nicely by Schwarzenegger, who Cameron repeatedly attempts to get introspective about playing science fiction’s greatest villain and hero cyborg as the Terminator.  Not a method actor, Schwarzenegger reveals himself as fanboy and entertainer when it comes to science fiction, drawn more to the spectacle and excitement of science fiction roles and how the characters appear on the screen more than any life-changing meaning from the stories that Cameron is searching for.

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Sometimes writers find the right obscure but fascinating event of the past to tap for the next fictionalized tale.  The Terror, a new series beginning tomorrow on AMC, has the potential of being the next clever idea in the historical horror category.  By all accounts it looks like a secret prequel to John Carpenter’s The Thing (just as the movie Split was a secret film in M. Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable saga).  That’s not really the case for this suspense-thriller, supernatural-horror series despite its similarly chilling, desolate, Arctic setting, blood and gore horrors, and lurking menace.  It’s a fictionalized account of actual events from 1845-1848, written by author Dan Simmons in his 2007 novel of the same name.  But it couldn’t look more like a John Carpenter creation.  It begins tomorrow night on AMC.

The novel is such prime fodder for a novel it’s incredible it hadn’t been adapted before in this way.  In the real world the British Captain John Franklin was leading an Arctic exploration for the Northwest Passage with two ships, the HMS Terror (The Terror!  Yes, really!), and the HMS Erebus (in Greek mythology Erebus was a primordial deity representing the personification of deep darkness, shadow, and chaos).  It is no secret that the expedition is noted in history books as a famous lost expedition.  The British character names sound like you’d expect in a fictional seafaring crew penned by the likes of C.S. Forester, Patrick O’Brian, or Robert Louis Stevenson: Commander James Fitzjames, Dr Harry D.S. Goodsir, Cornelius Hickey, Seaman Magnus Manson.  Playing Captain Franklin is Ciarán Hinds, the brilliant character actor we’ve loved in everything from Mary Reilly and Jane Eyre to The Sum of All Fears, Road to Perdition, The Phantom of the Opera, Munich, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, The Woman in Black, John Carter, and Shetland (and he was the voice of Steppenwolf in Justice League and starring now in Red Sparrow).  The captain of the Terror is played by Sherlock Holmes film star Jared Harris (Far and Away, Last of the Mohicans, Lady in the Water, The Riches, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Fringe, The Man from U.N.C.L.E.). Fitzjames is played by Tobias Menzies (Star Wars: Rebels, Outalnder, Casino Royale, Law & Order: UK, Black Mirror, Doctor Who, Game of Thrones).  Alistair Petrie (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Victor Frankenstein, Hellboy) plays Dr. Stanley.  And Greta Scacchi (Emma, The Player, Presumed Innocent) plays Lady Franklin.

The production for The Terror looks gorgeously historic, the ships and costumes as intricately crafted as those in the A&E Horatio Hornblower series and Master and Commander.  The show’s production design is by Jonathan McKinstry (known for the original Total Recall, Band of Brothers, Penny Dreadful, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, The Borgias, and Sphere), with supervising art director Matthew Hywel-Davies (Doctor Who, Torchwood), and set decorator Kevin Downey (Mary Shelley, King Arthur, Penny Dreadful, Little Women).  Costumes were created by Annie Symons, who designed the wardrobes for King Arthur, The Woman in Black 2, and TV shows The Hollow Crown, Doctor Zhivago, Sweeney Todd, Dracula, and Great Expectations.  Showrunners are David Kajganich (In the Clouds, A Bigger Splash) and Soo Hugh (The Killing, Under the Dome, The Whispers).  The fact that Ridley Scott (Alien, Blade Runner, Alien: Covenant, Coma) is executive producer has been heavily marketed.

Here is a preview for tomorrow’s first episode of The Terror:

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Of course the big highlight of October will not be a film at all, but the premiere of the entire second season of Stranger Things on Netflix, coming October 27.  But Netflix is also finally adding the time travel/horror/coming of age Donnie Darko to its streaming service, coming October 11.  Lifetime will premiere its remake of Disney’s The Watcher in the Woods, starring Anjelica Huston, on October 21.  Fans of the classic Universal Monsters will get their fix this month from Turner Classic Movies (TCM) throughout the month.  And Freeform (formerly ABC Family) has the modern classics and “family” viewing horror films including animated and mainstream films like Monsters, Inc., Frankenweenie, The Addams Family, and Sleepy Hollow.  You’ll find a run of Boris Karloff movies today on TCM, a Stephen King marathon on AMC on October 14, and a Tim Burton marathon on Freeform on October 23.

AMC does not post its television schedule more than two weeks in advance, so you’ll need to check your local listings for the annual AMC FearFest, but we do know it runs from October 23-31, and usually features a marathon each day, so you can probably expect a day each of films from Halloween, Freddy and Jason, Chucky, and Leprechaun films.  This year’s FearFest includes the following horror films: Halloween (1978), Halloween 4, Halloween 5, Halloween 6, Halloween H2O, Halloween II (2009), A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010), Freddy vs. Jason, Friday the 13th Part IX: Jason Goes to Hell, Jason X, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, Child’s Play, Curse of Chucky, Cult of Chucky, Annabelle, Thinner, Dreamcatcher, Dawn of the Dead (2004), Land of the Dead (2005), House of the Dead 1&2, House on Haunted Hill (1999), Return to House on Haunted Hill, House of Wax (2005), Hellbound: Hellraiser II, Army of Darkness, Van Helsing, Lake Placid, Slither, and the Leprechaun franchise (last year’s Fest included Leprechaun 1-4).  Syfy Channel and Spike listings are posted below through October 17–listings are not yet available beyond that.  Chiller–the year-round horror network, carries its standard slasher fare, plus some better modern horror classics this month.  Chiller’s listings are reported only about two weeks out, so listings below are through October 14.  Spike begins some good Halloween classics on October 13.  Syfy is hosting its 31 Days of Halloween event again this year.

Other Netflix films coming this month related to the horror genre include Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Ghost Patrol, 13 Demons, and Cult of Chucky, now available, Stephen King’s The Mist season one (October 24), and the bloody Quentin Tarentino Western The Hateful Eight (October 25).  TCM is highlighting horror on Tuesdays this month.  Freeform’s annual 13 Nights of Halloween kicks off October 19.  Starz Encore Suspense is another way to stream Halloween films this month.  Their inventory includes Pride & Prejudice and Zombies, Death Proof, Don’t Breathe, Rosemary’s Baby, The Funhouse, John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness, and entries from Final Destination, Friday the 13th, Halloween, Children of the Corn, Hellraiser, I Know What You Did Last Summer, and The Grudge franchises–and horror and suspense films are part of the channel’s daily schedule here.

Definitely cable channels and Netflix will have plenty for every taste and all ages this month, and this is before all the channels have published their end of month schedules.  So start with today, browse the selections and set your DVR now.  All times listed below are Central Time.

Tuesday, October 3
1:00A  Island of Lost Souls (1932) TCM – Charles Laughton, Bela Legosi
2:30  The Black Cat (1934) TCM – Boris Karloff, Bela Legosi (Edgar Allan Poe adaptation)
3:45  The Invisible Man (1933) TCM – Claude Rains
10:00  The Creature from the Black Lagoon – Starz Suspense
11:00  The Hollow – Syfy
12:00P  Pulp Fiction – AMC
1:00  Hollow Man 2 – Syfy
3:00  Hollow Man – Syfy
4:00  Old 37 – Chiller
5:30  Exorcism of Emily Rose – Syfy
6:00  All Cheerleaders Die – Chiller
7:00  Frankenstein (1931) TCM – Boris Karloff
8:00  Apartment 143 – Chiller
8:30  Bride of Frankenstein (1935) TCM – Boris Karloff, Elsa Lanchester
9:00  Drag Me to Hell – Syfy
10:00  The Mummy (1932) TCM – Boris Karloff
10:00  Old 37 – Chiller
11:00  The Mothman Prophesies – Syfy
11:30  The Wolfman (1941) TCM – Lon Chaney, Jr.

Wednesday, October 4
12:00A  All Cheerleaders Die – Chiller
1:30  Scream of the Banshee – Syfy
2:00  Apartment 143 – Chiller
5:30  Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein – Syfy
8:00  The Mothman Prophesies – Syfy
10:30  Dead Still – Syfy
12:30  The Exorcism of Emily Rose – Syfy
3:00P  Drag Me to Hell – Syfy
4:00  Fender Bender – Chiller
5:00  Resident Evil: Afterlife – Syfy
6:00  The Texas Chainsaw Massacre – El Rey
6:00  The Boy – Chiller
7:00  Insidious: Chapter 3 – Syfy
8:00  Wrath – Chiller
10:00  Fender Bender – Chiller
11:00  Dead Still – Syfy

Thursday, October 5
12:00A  The Boy – Chiller
1:00  Ghost Storm – Syfy
2:00  Wrath – Chiller
3:30  Silence of the Lambs – El Rey
6:00  Bram Stoker’s Dracula – Syfy
8:30  Holes – AMC
9:00  Ghost Storm – Syfy
11:00  Silent Hill – Syfy
11:30P  Total Recall – AMC
1:30  Resident Evil: Afterlife – Syfy
3:30  Insidious: Chapter 3 – Syfy
4:00  ATM – Chiller
5:30  Blade Runner – Syfy
6:00  Indigenous – Chiller
8:00  John Dies at the End – Chiller
10:00  Blade Runner – Syfy
10:00 ATM – Chiller

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Arnold Terminator Genisys

Well it’s been one long year, with plenty to do and see, plenty of good and not-so-good to read and watch, and as with last year we’re certain we reviewed more content this year than ever before.  This year was a big year for borgs in TV and film, so we had some difficult decisions to make.  All year long we sifted through all that Hollywood had to offer and honed in on the genre TV, films, comics, and other books we thought were worth examining.  We went back and looked at it all and pulled together our picks for our annual Best of the Best list.

Today we reveal the entire list–the best genre content of 2015–with our top categories Best Sci-Fi Fix, Best Fantasy Fix, Best Superhero FixBest Animated Fix,  and Best Borg selected regardless of medium.  A dozen properties garnered multiple mentions.

We hope you agree with many of these great creations of the entertainment industries, and wish everyone a great 2016!

Killjoys

Best Sci-Fi Fix – Killjoys (Syfy).  Surprised?  Killjoys pulled together great worldbuilding, characters and actors in a year of a dozen new sci-fi shows to provide us the closest thing to the next Firefly we’ve seen in a long time.

Galavant

Best Fantasy Fix – Galavant (ABC); Runner-up The Librarians (TNT).  It aired early in 2015 but nothing surpassed Galavant’s medieval high adventure and all-out Princess Bride-style fun.

the-cw-arrow-flash-crossover

Best Superhero Fix – The Flash (CW).  Of all the Marvel movies and TV series from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to Agent Carter and from Arrow to Supergirl, nothing had us coming back for more each week like the superhero world in The Flash.

Rebels season 2

Best Animated Fix – Star Wars Rebels (DisneyXD).  Compare it to Star Wars: The Force Awakens and see if you think this animated Star Wars galaxy had an even better story and characterization, along with the return of its own group of original trilogy actors, compelling visuals and rousing music.

Terminator Genisys image

Best Borg – Pops (Arnold Schwarzenegger) from Terminator Genisys (Paramount).  Schwarzenegger created yet another borg that could stand up against his prior successful characters from the series.  A cool, moving character in a big year for borgs on screen!

Ava from Ex Machina - borg

Best Borg Movie –  Ex Machina (DNA Films).  Incredible storytelling and a small cast of talented actors provided a classic science fiction story and Oscar-worthy film about our favorite subject.

Humans series

Best Borg TV SeriesHumans (AMC).  On television the most in-depth look at life as a borg and among borgs has never been portrayed more dramatically than on this year’s surprise sci-fi hit series from AMC.

Star-Wars-Force-Awakens-Rey-Finn-BB8-running

Best Kickass Genre Movie Heroine – Rey (Daisy Ridley), Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Disney); Honorable Mentions: Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke), Terminator Genisys (Paramount); Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), Mad Max: Fury Road (Village Roadshow)

Liv Moore

Best Kickass Genre TV Heroine – Liv Moore (Rose McIver), iZombie (CW); Honorable Mentions: Dutch (Hannah John-Kamen), Killjoys (Syfy); Helena (Tatiana Maslany), Orphan Black (BBC)

Want to know who we picked for best villain and best comic books of the year?  Take a look after the cut…

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Preacher

Developed by Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen, and Sam Catlin for AMC, Preacher is an adaptation of the comic book series created by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon, and published by DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint.  The full trailer premiered Sunday during The Walking Dead and we have it below in case you missed it. 

Preacher is a series of 81 comic books that wrapped in 2000, available since then in nine trade editions available at your local comic book stores or here from Amazon.com.  It’s a Western for the most part, and there’s plenty of John Ford influence in the comic book.  The books and TV series follows Jesse Custer, a conflicted preacher in a small Texas town who combines with a powerful supernatural creature that has escaped from heaven.  Along with his ex-girlfriend, Tulip (played by Ruth Negga), and an Irish vampire named Cassidy (played by Joe Gilgun), the three embark on a journey to find God.

Here’s the first trailer released for AMC’s Preacher:

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Walking Dead clip season 6

People are scared.

Five seasons in the can and AMC’s The Walking Dead shows no signs of letting up, if the four-minute sneak look at Season 6 previewed at San Diego Comic-Con this weekend is any indication.

As we recently saw with Star Wars Rebels, The Walking Dead will have an insert episode outside the regular season.  AMC announced in the Hall H Comic-Con panel that the series will return Sunday, Oct. 11 with a special 90-minute episode.  The second half will be aired in February 2016.

Walking Dead season 6

Here’s the preview from SDCC 2015:

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