Advertisements

Tag Archive: Leverage


Review by C.J. Bunce

After the 2019 Academy Awards recognized genre films Black Panther, Bohemian Rhapsody, and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and gave top awards to Green Book and Roma, ABC aired the pilot for a new series.  Whiskey Cavalier begins with a solid pilot episode, and you can find it in its weekly timeslot beginning Wednesday evening on ABC.  It borrows from two familiar sources for network TV: the spy genre, like Mission: Impossible, iSpy, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Avengers, and Chuck, and the “will they or won’t they” investigation shows like Moonlighting, The X-Files, Bones, Castle, and Private Eyes.  Whiskey Cavalier–the military/NATO spy call sign for FBI agent Will Chase (yes, that’s his name), stars Scott Foley opposite CIA Agent Francesca “Frankie” Trowbridge, played by Lauren Cohan.  It’s more action and fun than drama–a good thing that works for this offbeat new series.

The first episode finds Agent Chase as a sad sack agent, recently dumped by his French girlfriend, crying as he listens to songs from his break-up mix tape, assembled from recommendations from other FBI agents.  Those familiar with Michael Dorman’s lead character in Amazon Studio’s series Patriot will see much in common between the leads.  Chase doesn’t have his heart in his job until he’s in action, and then he becomes full-on Jack Ryan (actor Scott Foley has a vibe crossing Jack Ryan series star John Krasinski and White Collar co-star Tim DeKay, and the pilot includes a humorous reference to his Chris Evans’ Captain America appearance).

As Chase tries to intercept an alleged hacker/thief/traitor, CIA Agent Trowbridge steps in, and that’s when the chemistry begins.  You can almost hear the 1970s movie trailer voice-over: “What can happen when we combine this sensitive FBI agent and this tough-as-nails CIA spy?  Can they work together to save the world without killing each other?”  And yet, the pilot was edited into a fast-paced drama, not at all bogged down in origin story, and it supplies a supporting cast of characters that seem to gel from the start, played by Ana Ortiz, Vir Das, and Tyler James Williams.  In brief, it’s fun and it works.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Where in the world has Carmen Sandiego been lately?

She’s been the subject of an ongoing series of video games since 1985.  She was featured in two game shows, one a Peabody Award winner and the second an Emmy Award winner, featuring Rockapella and late actress Lynne Thigpen (Homicide, Law & Order, Tootsie, Shaft) as The Chief, from 1991-97.  And she had an Emmy Award-winning animated series that ran for five years, with the last episode airing 20 years ago this week.  The animated series starred Oscar-winning actress Rita Moreno (West Side Story, The Electric Company, Jane the Virgin) as the voice of Carmen, and a host of bad guys, including a recurring villain voiced by Tim Curry.  The games and shows have had changing names: Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?  Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego?  Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego?  But the constant has always been Carmen.

A new animated series is coming to Netflix later this month, bringing back the character with some updates.  Netflix’s Carmen Sandiego will deliver two ten-episode seasons starring Gina Rodriguez as the voice of Carmen.  Rodriguez’s most recent voice work can be heard in Ferdinand and Smallfoot, and she’s appeared in front of the camera in genre series from Law & Order to Longmire, and her best known role in Jane the Virgin.  The updated Carmen is first seen younger than her past personas.  Law enforcement agencies see her as a master criminal.  She becomes a modern-day Robin Hood traveling the globe and stealing from the crime organization V.I.L.E., giving stolen goods back to its victims.  The series will follow her escapades, and viewers will learn not only where she is but… Who in the world is Carmen Sandiego?

The series will feature the voice talents of Finn Wolfhard (Stranger Things, It, Supernatural, The Addams Family) and Sabrina Carpenter (Horns, The Hate U Give).  The first trailer has Carmen updated from all-out criminal to something like a member of the team in the television series Leverage (“The rich and powerful take what they want.  We steal it back for you.  Sometimes bad guys make the best good guys”).

Take a look at the English and Spanish trailers for the new series Carmen Sandiego:

Continue reading

Still aren’t in the Christmas spirit yet?  With no Christmas day episode of Doctor Who this year, Netflix is filling in the gap with an episode of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina called “A Midwinter’s Tale,” another solid episode of the series taking the story forward where the first season left off, and delving into some classic tropes of American and Victorian Christmas lore.  It’s all with the twist of the darker, horror-infused world of the show, but as Miranda Otto’s character Aunt Zelda says, “Christmas is the best time for ghost stories.”  See A Christmas Carol, as an example.

Plenty of Christmas episodes of past genre television series are available right now, most via services you may already subscribe to, others for a few dollars (and some you may find free to watch on YouTube).  How about starting with the unofficial sequel to Die Hard and Die Hard 2 starring Reginald VelJohnson (Ghostbusters, Tron: Uprising) in his third appearance as Sgt. Al Powell?  He’s one of several actors guest starring in a trilogy of Christmas episodes of Chuck, available on Amazon Prime.  First is “Chuck vs. the Crown Vic,” then VelJohnson and Michael Rooker (Guardians of the Galaxy, The Walking Dead) in “Chuck vs. Santa Claus,” rounded out with Brandon Routh (Superman Returns, Arrow) and Stan Lee in an early cameo as himself in “Chuck vs. the Santa Suit.”  But be careful, you may end up getting sucked into the rest of the series, starring Zachary Levi (Shazam!, Psych the Movie, Thor: Ragnarok), Yvonne Strahovski (The Predator, The Handmaid’s Tale), and Adam Baldwin (Firefly, Leverage, Castle).

In the same vein as Sabrina, check out Grimm with Christmas episodes “Twelve Days of Krampus” and “The Grimm Who Stole Christmas,” both available on Amazon Prime.  “Twelve Days of Krampus” provides one of the best illustrations of Krampus, the folkloric character who has been a subject of this time of year for more than 2,000 years.  Ever get coal in your stocking?  Learn more here.  And you’ll find some familiarity with the critters in “The Grimm Who Stole Christmas” as the new Sabrina episode.  Each of these Grimm episodes is among the best of Christmas episodes, and overall great episodes of the series.  And if paranormal shows are your thing, don’t forget the Supernatural episode, “A Very Supernatural Christmas.”  Catch it on Netflix.  The Winchester Brothers pursue some pagan gods at Christmastime, revisit their own Christmas past, and try to share a Christmas together as only they could.

That brings us to six classic Christmas episodes.  How about six more?

Continue reading

Librarians cast

Do you miss Leverage and King & Maxwell?  Back in August we first announced that TNT is bringing back the world of The Librarian franchise with a new series from executive producers Dean Devlin, John Rogers and Marc Roskin.  Rebecca Romijn (X-Men), Christian Kane (Leverage, Angel), Lindy Booth (Dawn of the Dead, The Philanthropist) and John Kim (Neighbors, The Pacific) will star in the series as protectors of rare and supernatural treasures, with genre favorite John Larroquette (Night Court, Stripes, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock) as their caretaker.

Noah Wyle (Falling Skies) serves as executive producer and returns as Flynn Carsen, the role he played in TNT’s movie trilogy.  Also reprising their roles from the movies will be comedy greats Bob Newhart (The Bob Newhart Show, Newhart, Bob) and Jane Curtin (Saturday Night Live, 3rd Rock from the Sun).   Today TNT released a humorous new trailer for the series, previewed below after the break.  And we’re pretty sure we see Bruce Campbell (Burn Notice, Army of Darkness) in the preview.

Bruce Campbell Librarians TNT

From the TNT press materials:

The Librarians centers on an ancient organization hidden beneath the Metropolitan Public Library dedicated to protecting an unknowing world from the secret, magical reality hidden all around. This group solves impossible mysteries, fights supernatural threats and recovers powerful artifacts from around the world. Among the artifacts housed in the Library are the Ark of the Covenant, the Spear of Destiny, the Judas Chalice and Excalibur, to name a few. Only a person with special skills could be responsible for collecting and protecting these artifacts, and more importantly, for preventing them from falling into the wrong hands.

Continue reading

The Librarians band of misfits

The TNT Network announced it has ordered 10 episodes of The Librarians, a new television series spinning off from The Librarian movies.  Christian Kane (Leverage, Angel) and Rebecca Romijn (X-Men, King & Maxwell) are returning to TNT and will lead the cast of the new series along with Lindy Booth (Kick-ass 2, Nero Wolfe, Warehouse 13, Dawn of the Dead, Supernatural) and John Kim (Neighbors, The Pacific).  Stars of the previous stories in The Librarian universe, Noah Wyle (Falling Skies, ER), and comedy icons Bob Newhart (The Bob Newhart Show, Newhart, Bob), and Jane Curtin (Saturday Night Live, Kate & Allie, 3rd Rock from the Sun) will reprise their roles in the new series.  Wyle will also continue in his role on TNT’s Falling Skies.

Fans of the Syfy Channel’s now defunct Warehouse 13 may find some familiarity in the world of The Librarians, as the show centers on an ancient organization hidden beneath the Metropolitan Public Library dedicated to protecting an unknowing world from a hidden world of magic.  The team solves mysteries, fights supernatural threats, and recovers powerful artifacts from around the world.  Among the artifacts housed in the Library are the Ark of the Covenant, the Spear of Destiny, the Judas Chalice and Excalibur.  As with Myka and Pete from Warehouse 13, only a person with special skills can protect these artifacts, and prevent them from falling into the wrong hands.

The new Librarians TNT

Along with comedy icons Newhart and Curtin, fan favorite comedic actors John Larroquette (Star Trek III, Stripes, Night Court, Deception) and Matt Frewer (Max Headroom, Orphan Black, Star Trek: TNG) will be regulars on the show.  Larroquette will play Jenkins, overseer of the Librarians, with Frewer an immortal, ancient cult leader named Dulaque.

Continue reading

How I Married Your Mother finale

It always pays to be wary of grandiose statements and definitive pronouncements.  When I first watched Forrest Gump in the theater, one-third of the way through the movie it occurred to me I might be watching the greatest production of all time, and walking out of the theater I carried that thought with me.  But time changes things.  Now I see it as a fun film, but it’s not at the top of any of my “best of” lists.  Professor Schofield advised that you can’t really objectively analyze something, an art movement, a political figure, a fad–anything worth analyzing–unless several years had transpired and you could have the value of time and distance, contemplation and reflection, to look back with.

So it is with a bit of reservation that I am asserting that the series finale to How I Met Your Mother that aired Monday night should top any list of great finales.  The writers, producers, and actors simply got it just right.  Exactly right.  Airing the first episode of season one just before the finale aired really showcased how this ending was exactly what viewers deserved after nine seasons of sticking with the show.  Consider all the series finales that were promoted over the years, and despite the biggest of viewing audiences, you might find that most last hoorahs miss the mark, try too hard, or just do something that didn’t reflect the best of the series.

Trek TNG All Good Things

The granddaddy of all finales was the 1983 M*A*S*H extended episode “Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen.”  Although some elements were right, like a bounty of typical and appropriate sad goodbyes, Captain Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce, (one of the best characters of all time) after more than a decade of using laughter to beat the odds and help his unit survive the Korean War, cracks at the very end.  NBC’s comedy spy series Chuck made a similar mistake, wiping the memory of Chuck’s hard-earned love interest Sarah after we cheered him on all those years, requiring the story to basically start over from scratch in some far off place after the series wrapped.  Another less than satisfying but at least appropriate-to-the-series finale was the end of the monumental 20th year of the original Law & Order.  We basically got to see a fairly typical episode of the series, which certainly fit the seriousness of the show’s drama.  But we also got a goodbye scene and were left on a positive note with “Lieut’s” good news about her hard-fought illness.

Before that, you might have seen the last episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show on Nick at Nite or other classic rerun network if you weren’t old enough to catch it in its initial run.  The TV network that was the subject of the series fires everyone including Mary at the end, except Ted Knight’s character Ted Baxter.  The annoying guy that we loved for being annoying gets to stay.  A funny series with a funny end, as well as the requisite bittersweet goodbye scene.  A similarly funny sitcom, Psych, wrapped its eighth and final season last month, tying up all its remaining loose ends.  Psych took a different path, taking its angst-inducing character, Detective-then-Chief Lassiter, and with a redemption of sorts, switched up his role in the last two seasons to become a guy viewers could cheer on.

Newhart finale

Another comedy, Newhart, gave us a completely bizarre ending for an otherwise enjoyable comedy series.  Yet it was saved literally in the last two minutes by a brilliantly concocted stunt–bring back Bob’s wife from his original series, The Bob Newhart Show, the lovely Suzanne Pleshette, revealing the whole series was just a dream.  It’s a gimmick that didn’t work for a series like the original Dallas (recall Bobby Ewing died then came back to life with a “poof”), but for a comedy wrap-up, it couldn’t have been better timed.

Continue reading

Black Widow 2 cover Noto

If you’re still waiting to see who is going to pick up the reins and turn Gentle Giant’s Honey Trap Army into a comic book series, the next best thing may be at your local comic book store right now.  It’s Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto’s new Black Widow biweekly series from Marvel Comics.  What does it have to do with the Honey Trap Army?  Nothing really, except that Natasha Romanoff as realized by the 1960s style art of Phil Noto would fit right in with the mod-inspired team of high-end assassin action figures.

You’ll get the feeling you’re reading something with plenty of potential, storytelling on par with Jason Aaron’s Thor, God of Thunder.  In a similar way as Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye created a story of a second-level Avenger apart from the world of the Avengers, Edmondson’s Black Widow is on her own and carving out her own life in this new series.  She’s still working with the Avengers, but this story is about how she spends the rest of her time.  And like Hawkeye has his pal Lucky Dog, Natasha almost has her own pet cat.  Almost.

Black Widow Honey Trap Army look

She’s an assassin turned paid killer, a distinction that has real meaning for Natasha, who is taking on her own mercenary projects for good pay but not for personal gain.  It’s all part of her atonement for past sins, a process she is both forging ahead and wrestling with.  She has an able if not seemingly foppish aide in this endeavor, a buttoned-shirt lawyer named Mr. Ross, who selects assignments to take any subjective influences away from what projects are selected for Natasha to pursue.  At her request.  And we learn even he is full of surprises.

Continue reading

Jaime Ray Newman

You may have first seen Jaime Ray Newman in The Drew Carey Show episode “The Warsaw Closes.”  She had a small part opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in the hit Steven Spielberg film Catch Me If You Can.  Soap fans may know her from her 68 episodes  as Kristina Cassadine on General Hospital. 

Versatile, endearing, and attractive, sometimes tough, sometimes sensitive, often devious and other times just plain fun, you just can’t help running across actress Jaime Ray Newman when getting caught up on TV series from the past several years.  Since her role on General Hospital, Newman has turned up everywhere you look, and we’ve seen her in so many genre roles since 2005 that we think she is someone everyone should keep an eye out for, and an actress we can’t get enough of.

Newman as Amanda Walker in Supernatural

Newman played Amanda Walker in the episode “Phantom Traveler” in Supernatural in 2005.  In the same year she played Lieutenant Laura Cadman in two episodes of Stargate: Atlantis.

Newman as Laura Cadman on Stargate Atlantis

Continue reading

Leverage the last con

One reason you shouldn’t write a “best of the year” list before December 31 is someone might slip in something better in the last few days of the year.  Something like the series finale for Leverage.

When Leverage executive producer Dean Devlin was planning this year’s season five finale for the TNT network series Leverage, there was already the possibility the series would not be renewed for a sixth season.  Devlin went forward with the series finale concept that he and series creator John Rogers had planned from the first episode.  Lucky for fans, because the series did not renew.  And instead of a typical season-ending cliffhanger, the story of five loner criminals that formed a team had an honest to goodness finale to tie up every loose end.  In fact, of all the series finales this year, including The Closer, Chuck, House, M.D., and In Plain Sight, Devlin & Co. slipped in a finale by year end that was probably the best of all.

Continue reading

Review by C.J. Bunce

A few days ago we reviewed the new comic book series Great Pacific and its writer fearlessly taking on real-world topics of protecting the environment from pollution.  In a similar theme TNT Network’s hit series Leverage, in its final episodes of its fifth season, has been known for having a small, crack squad of criminals turned do-gooders–a Robin Hood meets the A-Team, with Academy Award winning actor Timothy Hutton as the mastermind Nate Ford, Christian Kane as tough guy Eliot Spencer, Beth Riesgraf as ace thief Parker, Aldis Hodge as hacker/tech guru Alec Hardison, and Gina Bellman as grifter Sophie Devereaux.  The Leverage crew takes on the real-world bad guys in every episode, from greedy sports managers, to evil scientists, Wall Street, insurance companies, to corporate agriculture and defense contractors, to embezzlers and corrupt government officials, Leverage has conquered them all, so its about time they take on big box stores in the fall return episode, setting the mindset for shoppers just in time for the holidays.

Continue reading