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Tag Archive: Leverage


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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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After watching nearly five complete seasons of a TV series you’re fond of you sometimes take it for granted.  For me Leverage is one of those series I watch and enjoy and don’t think a lot about.  Then you focus on two hours of mid-season finale episodes that really blow you away and you want to watch the season all over again.  Just one year ago I raved here at borg.com about the fourth season’s mid-season finale for Leverage, highlighting director Jonathan Frakes’s role in directing some key episodes.  I re-watched that episode, “The Queen’s Gambit Job,” and I’d say the same things on re-viewing the episode as I said last year.  The chemistry of the Mastermind, Grifter, Hacker, Hitter and Thief was completely stirring a potion of fun TV, and Mark Shepard’s on and off again villain Jim Sterling was cemented as possibly the ubiquitous actor’s best recurring role.

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Rod Roddenberry’s website (where the son of Gene Roddenberry sells and promotes a lot of Star Trek replica merchandise, among other things) put me onto a new Internet series on gaming.  It’s not about video games.  It’s about good old-fashioned “game night” games, board games with dice and cards and tokens, and it’s called TableTop.

If you’re a fan of Wil Wheaton, it’s the show for you.  Wheaton is best known for his role as Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation and as the young star of the Rob Reiner/Steven King film Stand By Me, but he has been quickly branching out as a stellar guest star on series like Leverage (as a superb IT villain) and Big Bang Theory (where he often plays himself), showing he’s gone beyond the kid actor thing.  And even if you’re not a Wheaton fan–like you thought Wesley Crusher should have been left on Rubicun III–give this series a try anyway.

Tsuro game in play on Tabletop.

My favorite thing about Wil Wheaton is he seems to thrive at all things geek and nerd.  He’s not apologetic in the least, and in chatting up his love for games and TV and books, he is bringing everyone along for a fun ride.  He’s a regular at San Diego Comic-Con, and I saw him at a Star Trek writers panel with Star Trek authors where he showed a great rapport with fans, and seemed to love talking about what he liked (and didn’t like) about Trek.

Wil Wheaton with authors Kevin Dilmore and Dayton Ward on a panel at Comic-Con in 2008.

TableTop is an online half-hour, biweekly series just beginning and in its first five episodes, which is a bit like Comic Book Men and Celebrity Poker, but far, far better than both of those shows.  In fact, the introduction, production values, and content should get some network exec to take notice.  This is the first online-only series we’ve taken note of here at borg.com that we think is worthy of another look and we think a wider audience is out there for this show.

TableTop has host Wheaton playing a few board or dice games with some friends, including explaining quickly and clearly the game’s rules, and just chatting it up around the table with people like Rod Roddenberry, Felicia Day (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Monk, House, M.D., Eureka), Colin Ferguson (Eureka),  Grant Imahara (Mythbusters), James Kyson (Heroes, Hawaii 5-0), and Neil Grayston (Eureka).  I think it would be an interesting twist to add in other celebrities, maybe genre actors or legends Wheaton himself is a fan of, but may not previously know personally.  I’d love to see someone like Billy Mumy do an episode and see what these guys would talk about while playing Apples to Apples, or pull some obscure old games out of the game closet that are long forgotten but still fun, like Bionic Crisis or the Star Wars board game.

Which brings us to the episode with Rod Roddenberry, where they covered a few games including TsuroThe episode intrigued me enough that I wandered past a game shop this weekend while hanging out with family and I bought it.  We were able to pull out the board and playing pieces and start playing at a local coffee shop in minutes.  Just as I had discovered watching the players in the episode of TableTopTsuro is a blast.  In a nutshell, you have 35 cardboard tiles that players lay out one by one, in turn, and each tile has a different set of paths, some straight, some crisscrossed, some coming back at you.  The goal is to create a path for yourself and maybe even knock others off the board and be last player on the board.  Even the barista stopped by and commented how awesome the game looks (it has the beautiful Chinese red dragon board, parchment divider page, and cool rune playing tokens) and I passed along Wheaton’s show and the game shop across the street that had one more copy in stock.

We’ve played it three times so far and I can’t wait to play Tsuro again.  Thanks, Wil Wheaton!

Update: I met Wil and his lovely wife Anne and a few friends outside the Starbucks at Comic-Con 2013. His wife graciously snapped this shot of us.

wheaton-and-bunce

(and for the record I look like this after staying up without sleep in Ballroom 20 lines at SDCC for 40 hours straight) I relayed the above and how much we enjoyed his online show.  A very nice accidental run-in and fun to be able to give him feedback on his show directly.

If you happened to watch this week’s episode of TNT’s hit TV series Leverage, you’ll have seen one of the best constructed episodes of the series so far.  The “Brains” Nathan Ford, played by Timothy Hutton, brings his team to track down his father, who broke into the federal patent and trademark office.  Soon we learn everyone has been set up, and a small town’s worth of SWAT and local law enforcement surround the building.  In strategizing the Leverage team’s way out, “Hitter” Eliot, played by Christian Kane, poses as a police officer to communicate with a cop outside the building–a cop played by Michael Paré (The Philadelphia Experiment, Greatest American Hero, Eddie and the Cruisers) already getting brow beaten by the local head of Homeland Security who has taken over the investigation of the break-in.  As with most episodes of Leverage we get an ample dose of great pop culture references (“Hacker” Alec Hardison (Aldis Hodge) sports a tie and mimics Doctor Who saying “bow ties are cool”).  Here Eliot maintains all his dialogue in the voice and drawl of Die Hard’s John McClane, just as Bruce Willis did, in order to get through his walk of the gauntlet in the original Die Hard movie.  Die Hard interest is alive and well, after four movies in the franchise since 1988.

This winter Twentieth Century Fox announced that Bruce Willis will be returning as John McClane in 2013 with the fifth film in the franchise, A Good Day to Die Hard.  Fox indicated Patrick Stewart (Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Captain Picard) as a possible villain, to play a disgraced Russian general plotting to assassinate the visiting president.  John Moore is scheduled to direct a script by Skip Woods (X-Men Legends: Wolverine, The A-Team).  Bruce Willis has stated he wants to bring back Bonnie Bedelia as his wife from the first two films.  Shooting is scheduled to begin this month in Budapest, Hungary.

A Good Day to Die Hard is to follow John McClane as he goes to Moscow to convince the government of Russia to let his son John McClane, Jr. out of prison.  Somehow his son gets caught up in a global terrorist plot, and the inevitable McClane getting-in-over-his-head story will emerge.  It sounds like the story is in initial stages, but since the first and third movies were pretty good, maybe the curse of the even-numbered movie sequels here will get us back to the Willis we love to watch.  Casting for McClane Junior has included auditions by D.J. Cotrona, who will play Flint opposite Willis in G.I. Joe: Retaliation, and Liam Hemsworth (Hunger Games).

But while we’re waiting until the scheduled release date of Valentine’s Day 2013, you can get a good dose of John McClane in comic legend Howard Chaykin’s graphic novel Die Hard: Year One.  Here was BOOM! Comics’s blurb for the comic series spanning eight issues through April 2010:

BOOM! Studios is proud to present America’s greatest action hero translated into the sequential art form for the first time! Every great action hero got started somewhere: Batman Began. Bond had his Casino Royale. And for John McClane, more than a decade before the first DIE HARD movie, he’s just another rookie cop, an East Coast guy working on earning his badge in New York City during 1976′s Bicentennial celebration. Too bad for John McClane, nothing’s ever that easy. Join legendary industry creator Howard Chaykin on a thrill ride that’s rung up over $1 billion in box office worldwide and become the gold standard for classic action! Yippee Ki Yay!

 

Hype aside, as with nearly everything Howard Chaykin touches, Die Hard: Year One is pure gold.  Twelve years before the Nakatomi building siege in Die Hard, Willis is a beat cop in Manhattan.  He is working with a loud-mouthed training officer that might as well be played by Dennis Franz.  The art by Stephen Thompson is well done, and McClane is drawn to resemble a young Bruce Willis, enough that you never doubt it with McClane’s trademark dialogue style.

The first four issues of Die Hard: Year One were compiled into volume 1 of a hardcover editionDie Hard: Year One, Volume 2 comprises Issues #4-8.

In Volume 1, it is the Fourth of July, 1976.  Writer Chaykin describes New York of 1976 almost as if he is there right now.  But he does not sugar coat NYC of 1976.  He describes an ugly place with ugly people, locals trying to rip off every tourist–locals trying to one up each other every chance they get.  Here, a new immigrant to the Big Apple from Indiana witnesses two cops killing another man, they spot her and chase her down.  McClane happens to get a detail as security on one of the tall boats in the bay, readying for the fireworks celebration, babysitting the wife of the third richest man in the world.  All hell breaks loose as an odd jumble of locals, including the two bad cops, led by a local hippy terrorist, try to blow up the rich man’s yacht and escape in a mini-sub with all the money onboard.  Plain clothes McClane hides below decks with the girl from Indiana, and McClane’s first big problem as police officer is underway.

Chaykin clearly knows the people of the 1970s and the streets of New York.  His descriptions feel real and his storytelling is superb.  We quickly get to know McClane, someone we already think we know, and the setting helps illustrate the put-upon cop we will later see on the big screen.  I remember the look and feel of July 4, 1976, vividly, and Thompson here captures the sites, fashions, and images incredibly well.

Die Hard: Year One, Volume 2 follows the exploits of McClane in the black-out of 1977.

Both volumes are available for sale online.

Look for special covers by current popular cover illustrator Jock in the back of the hardcover edition.

C.J.  Bunce

Editor

borg.com

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