Tag Archive: NBC


Review by C.J. Bunce

After a twelve-year break, the best, award-winning police procedural and crime drama is back.  For twenty seasons Law & Order delivered the best “ripped from the headlines” twists and turns, featuring the best shifting casts, long-term regulars, and returning characters.  Its split episode format with two detectives and assistant district attorneys blended the best of all the cop shows before or since with the #1 series ever created about lawyering (it helped get me through criminal procedure in law school two decades ago, and I’ve seen each of its 456 original episodes at least four times).  Well, now the best is back, with a mix of familiar faces and some promising new ones, beginning with this week’s first episode of its 21st season, a twist on the infamous Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein cases.  It’s the return of the best two assistant district attorneys in the history of the show.  And it hasn’t changed a bit–a good thing–like the series kept going after we last watched it way back in 2010.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

It’s a rare thing.  For more than 50 years TV series have fought back after cancellation to snatch a TV movie or several (see The Incredible Hulk and Veronica Mars) or holiday special (see Columbo, Kojak, The Brady Bunch, and a lot of classic TV) or moved to another network (see Medium and Community) or extra seasons years later (see Twin Peaks and The X-Files) or even a big screen movie (see Serenity) but rarely capture the spark of the original.  Let Psych join Longmire and Leverage as the rare exception.  The second “sequel to a sequel,” Psych 3: This is Gus, arriving this weekend on Peacock, is a marked improvement on the first two movies, showing that James Roday (now reclaiming his real name as James Roday Rodriguez) and Dulé Hill′s hilarious crime fighting duo “still got it.”  Better yet, the entire gameplay of the storytelling is back, thanks to creator, writer, and showrunner Steve Franks giving fans a lighthearted mystery just as witty and silly and fun as an original episode from Psych′s eight-season run.

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This is Gus

Welcome news for fans of Psych is a new trailer (below) for the second sequel to a sequel, Psych 3: This is Gus It looks even more like the series than last year’s fun drama we first discussed here at borg, Psych 2: Lassie Come Home (the first new original movie to premiere on NBC’s Peacock streaming service), and Psych 3 will also premiere on Peacock–in a few weeks.  The movie, the third of six sequels that creator/showrunner Steve Franks said he plans to make, switches focus from Timothy Omundson′s character Lassiter aka Lassie to Dulé Hill′s Burton Guster, aka Ovaltine Jenkins aka Hollabackatcha aka Domo Arigato, etc., whose new wife has some secrets for Team Psych to uncover.  Best of all, the movie is less than a month away.  Who doesn’t need a good laugh?  Everyone is back: James Roday, Dulé Hill, Maggie Lawson, Kirsten Nelson, Kurt Fuller, and Corbin Bernsen, and, of course, Tears for Fears′ own Curt Smith.

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The streaming channel Peacock arrived in a free, ad-supported edition this summer, and it’s pretty much like having a full cable TV line-up for only the one-time price of an Amazon Fire Stick.  The Fire Stick is typically available here at Amazon for between $30 and $50, depending on the options you want, and it’s a great portal to a variety of streaming platforms, from Netflix to YouTube and Disney Plus to HBO Max, as well as all the series and movies on Amazon Prime and the streaming platforms already available via that service.  Named for NBC’s classic trademark logo, the Peacock channel is bigger than it sounds, incorporating the giant NBC network of historic programming, content from channels like Bravo, USA, Syfy, History, Nickelodeon, Fox, The CW, MSNBC, and more.  Even better, right now Peacock has a “Peacocktober” hub that has a stunning number of classic and recent horror TV series and movies, all easily searchable, highlighting Halloween episodes of your favorite TV shows, recommended double feature movies, and a slate of programs you won’t find anywhere else.

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Binge your favorite horror movie series, like A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, Chucky, Predator, Gremlins, Psycho (including the remake movie with Vince Vaughn, the originals, and the Bates Motel TV series), Phantasm, The Fly, Men in Black, Sharknado, Hostel, Cabin Fever, The Stepfather, Hellboy, Freddy vs Jason, Jason X, and more.  There are certified classics and odd films you may have forgotten, like American Werewolf in London, John Carpenter’s They Live, Village of the Damned, and Prince of Darkness, M. Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense, George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, The Exorcist, The Omen, Let Me In, Godzilla, Van Helsing, Alien vs. Predator and Prometheus, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, 1981’s The Fun House (starring Elizabeth Berridge before she starred in Amadeus), Videodrome, 1997’s I Know What You Did Last Summer, Steven Spielberg’s beloved E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial, It Came from Outer Space, Darkman, Nanny McPhee, A Series of Unfortunate Events, the original Munsters TV series, Day of the Dead, The Skeleton Key, Ouija, Rings, Prom Night, and a huge slate of dozens of vintage Universal Monster classics like Dracula with Bela Legosi.

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The streaming channel Peacock arrived in a free, ad-supported edition this summer, and it’s pretty much like having a full cable TV line-up for only the one-time price of an Amazon Fire Stick.  The Fire Stick is typically available here at Amazon for between $30 and $50, depending on the options you want, and it’s a great portal to a variety of streaming platforms, from Netflix to YouTube and Disney Plus to HBO Max, as well as all the series and movies on Amazon Prime and the streaming platforms already available via that service, like BritBox.  Named for NBC’s classic trademark logo, the Peacock channel is bigger than it sounds, incorporating the giant NBC network of historic programming, content from channels like Bravo, USA, Syfy, History, Nickelodeon, Fox, The CW, MSNBC, lots of XXXII Olympiad 2020 sports coverage, and more.  On Peacock you get a variety of movies and series, much more than is supported on other TV network-based streaming providers.  Like 46 seasons of Saturday Night Live, plus great fan-favorites like Psych, Monk, Parks and Recreation, six seasons of Vikings, Heroes, Eureka, Charmed, Sliders, and Battlestar Galactica, several seasons of the different flavors of Law and Order, classics like The Carol Burnett Show and Good Times, Cheers, and Columbo.  But what should you watch first?

We suggest bingeing the first season of Stephen J. Cannell’s 1970s detective series, The Rockford Files

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Welcome news for fans of Psych is a new trailer (below) for the second movie sequel in what is expected to be a series of movies we first discussed here at borg a whole strange month ago.  The movie has the quite apt and humorous title, Psych 2: Lassie Come Home, and it’s expected to arrive with the general release of the free Peacock streaming service app coming your way on or shortly after July 15 (Peacock will also have a pay “premium content” version).  The movie, the second of six sequels that creator/showrunner Steve Franks said he plans to make, will focus on Timothy Omundson′s character Lassiter aka Lassie.  Omundson suffered a stroke in 2017 (watch a great interview with him below) and the story will in part mirror his real-life comeback.

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pudi

Not every new television series needs to be the next five-time Emmy winner.  NBC’s new comedy series Powerless doesn’t take itself seriously at all, and the content is as lighthearted as you’ll find anywhere today.  And unless you’re a Scrooge, prepare for a fun half hour every week of positive, clean, silly humor.  The kind we all could use more of.

Lead actress Vanessa Hudgens (Sucker Punch, High School Musical) plays Emily, and in the week’s season opener she was energetic and expressive.  You believe she’s trying to bring together a group of R&D workers in her new job for Wayne Security, because Hudgens looks like she believes in what she’s doing.  Alan Tudyk, star of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Firefly–plays the office boss for all it’s worth.  Fan favorite Community’s beloved Danny Pudi is one of Emily’s new employees and he and the rest of the cast (Christina Kirk, Ron Funches, and Jenny Pierson) are like a sketch comedy troupe ready to dish out the next laugh.  It’s not a riot, but it’s all good-natured fun–a show with a little bit of heart, and something appropriate and accessible to all ages.

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The DC Comics tie-ins are sprinkled across the half hour of humor, and the clever bits produced some out-loud laughs, especially the last line of the first episode.  And the opening credits clue viewers in upfront that this is not a show featuring the superheroes, but those civilians in the background of key superhero scenes across time.

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No doubt loads of fans from different areas of interest will be all over a new NBC series coming in February.  First and foremost, each of the lead actors of the new superhero series Powerless have their own following.  One of Hollywood’s highest paid young actresses, Vanessa Hudgens (Sucker Punch, High School Musical) has the lead role of Emily, who works in Research and Development for Wayne Enterprises as the Bruce Wayne company develops products to protect regular citizens from the kind of havoc wreaked by Superman in Man of Steel. 

Then there’s Alan Tudyk, star of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Firefly–two of the most outspoken and loyal fanbases of any franchises in any genre–who plays the office boss.  Fan favorite Community’s beloved Danny Pudi is a co-worker on the show.  And securing yet another fanbase, Powerless is a DC Comics tie-in, featuring plenty of references to the pantheon of superheroes.

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If it can only deliver some good humor and have some solid writing that is up to the quality of the cast, the series should be a hit.  But don’t confuse this Powerless with the Marvel Comics mini-series from more than a decade ago.  Also, don’t confuse this series with the Powerless previewed this past summer.  Same actors, similar roles, but the storyline has obviously been significantly reworked.  Check out a preview for Powerless followed by the preview for the series before it was reworked:

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Our borg.com Best of 2016 list continues today with the best in television.  If you missed it, check out our review of the Top Picks and Best Movies of 2016 here and the Kick-Ass Heroines of 2016 yesterday here.

Without further ado, this year’s Best in Television:

Best Borg TV Series, Best TV Borg — Ash vs Evil Dead (Starz), Bruce Campbell.  We searched high and low for the year’s best TV series featuring one or more borg characters, but didn’t really need to go that far.  The brilliantly funny pop culture ace actor Bruce Campbell’s reboot of the borg.com Hall of Famer Ash could have gotten overlooked had it been just another horror series.  Yet underneath this over-the-top, blood and gore-filled demon hunt is a whole lot of silly fun.  And the actors could have been better, with the likes of Lee Majors (pictured above), Lucy Lawless, and Ted Raimi all making appearances.  We couldn’t ask for a better actor than Campbell to take our borg.com TV title this year.

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Best TV Series, Best TV Horror Series – Grimm (NBC).  The fifth season of Grimm was simply fantastic, full of gripping writing and a change-up of character roles in a way we’ve never seen before.  This season we saw the best action, twists and turns, and flat-out excitement, above every other series on television.  Pulling bits and pieces of folklore from Western and Eastern mythologies and everything in between, the writers delivered all season long.  The writing team’s best work was what they have done all along, taking the story in a direction no one could have predicted.

Stranger Things cast

Best TV Retro Series – Stranger Things (Netflix).  It’s nearly impossible to list all the influences that came together to form our pick for this year’s Best Retro Fix.  Stand By Me, Firestarter, Silver BulletStranger Things could be another coming of age Stephen King tale, but with nicely creepy John Carpenter undertones and the wonder and sci-fi of a Steven Spielberg movie.  Think Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial, and Super 8.  Whatever it is, great performances by a lead group of kid actors, teen actors, and a few adults from filmdom’s past made for a fun season one.

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Best New TV Series, Best Re-Imagining on TV  – Wynonna Earp (Syfy).  We knew Syfy had a winner in the first episode of this year’s best new TV series, Wynonna Earp.  A great mash-up of Western, paranormal, and horror, Wynonna Earp took an American legend and made it interesting for today’s viewers.  Melanie Scrofano’s Wynonna is a classic heroine in a supernatural setting.  And her interactions with Tim Rozon’s Doc Holliday include some of the best humor on TV.  Did we mention the villains are basically zombies?  Wynonna’s got a gun–a Peacemaker–and she knows how to use it, giving us a fun, over-the-top shoot ’em up each week to look forward to.

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Best Sci-Fi SeriesThe Man in the High Castle (Amazon).  With the slow start of the first season of the series we had doubts where the show would take us for the second season this year.  But the last half of the season cinched it.  A rare look at science fiction on television that showed what could all be attained with an alternate history story, and a great adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s novel to boot.

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Best Animated TV Series – Star Wars Rebels (DisneyXD).  For the second year in a row, Star Wars Rebels proves that animated shows are just as compelling as big budget theatrical blockbusters.  This season we met the great villain Grand Admiral Thrawn, finally introduced to Star Wars canon.  Every episode gave fans something to be excited about, as in the episode “The Antilles Extraction,” where Sabine goes undercover as a cadet in the Empire’s elite flight academy to bring Imperial pilots over to fight for the Rebellion.  Darth Maul and Captain Rex are also standout characters.  Original trilogy voice actors, compelling visuals, and rousing music, make this one of the best series on TV.

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Best TV Superhero SeriesLuke Cage (Netflix).  Although Marvel Studios adaptations have done well at the movies, its television shows haven’t measured up so well.  Until now.  The Netflix series Marvel’s Luke Cage is full of so many elements that make it a quality series you can expect it to be a contender at next year’s Emmy Awards.  Luke Cage is completely loyal to its 1970s origin.  Carl Lucas, played by Mike Colter (reprising the role he began in Marvel’s Jessica Jones), is a man from Harlem, imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit.  The writers successfully updated the story to today, for today’s viewers, and to make the story timely.  Set in a New York City neighborhood with a gritty tale like Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing (with Harlem swapped for Bedford Stuyvesant), the rough-and-tumble Harlem of the series encounters the same class warfare, the same friction between police and minorities, and the same political corruption that is, as once professed by the original Law and Order series, “ripped from the headlines.”  It is at once a mix of the M. Night Shyamalan hooded superhero played by Bruce Willis in Unbreakable, and an updated mobster town story.

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Best TV Fantasy SeriesThe Librarians (TNT).  The Librarians continued its great mix of fantasy and comedy this year with its excellent ensemble cast.  The chemistry of the show’s characters continue to gel, resulting in a fully realized series in the vein of past hits Warehouse 13 and Leverage.  We were excited to see great guest appearances with Sean Astin, Noah Wyle and Jane Curtin.  And we can’t get enough of Rebecca Romijn, John Larroquette, and the rest of the crew.

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Best TV Comedy – Angie Tribeca(TBS).  Angie Tribeca has the perfect setting and ensemble cast for a gritty police procedural.  But it was actually the comedy we all need.  Nothing was written for the screen in any genre this year that made us laugh like this new series.  Every now and then we need someone to try to remake Police Squad! and the sight gags here rivaled that classic.  We just hope the writers can keep the great comedic scripts coming.

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Best TV Writing Baskets (FX).  At first you might not know what to make of Zach Galifianakis, Louis C.K., and Jonathan Krisel’s surreal, black comedy drama Baskets.  How down in the dumps can a rodeo clown possibly get?  And was that really comedian Louie Anderson playing his mother?  Galifianakis was able to play two competing roles as the twin brothers, and Martha Kelly added yet another odd wanderer into the mix to somehow result in a crazy, funny, and strangely poignant series we couldn’t help getting addicted to.

Grimm crew

Best TV Episode – Grimm Season 5 finale “Beginning of the End” (NBC).  Season 5’s finale of Grimm barreled ahead as if the producers believed the show wasn’t going to get renewed, prompting many story threads to be tied-up and a satisfying wrap-up that leaves viewers excited for Season 6.  It’s Black Claw, who caused Sean Renard to rise to become mayor of the city, against Nick and his friends as they work with Eve, Trubel, and Hadrian’s Wall to try to prevent the coming evil that risks the destruction of the barrier between the supernatural and the rest of the world.  Incredibly after all the back and forth over five seasons the original villains are villains again and the good guys back together again.  The season finale left us wondering how this will all play out as the series ends next season.

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Best TV Soundtrack Stranger Things, Michael Stein and Kyle Dixon.  Using 1980s analog synthesizers, the musicians created the perfect sound for a B-movie horror flick that would have fit right in back in the 1980s.  Half the credit for the series success with retro aficionados probably should go to the duo, who helped to fully immerse viewers in this familiar, but strange, look into our own childhoods.

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Best TV Actress – Tatiana Maslany in multiple roles, Orphan Black (BBC America).  In any other year Rose McIver’s weekly new character update on iZombie would have given her the win, but Orphan Black’s Tatiana Maslany came back this year after last season’s so-so stories to prove she has the best dramatic role on television and is well up to the task, further separating and redefining the differences between the ever-increasing number of clone sisters she portrays.  Runner-up Rose McIver as Liv Moore, iZombie (CW).

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Best TV Supporting Actress – Simone Missick as Misty Knight in Luke Cage (Netflix).  With big name actresses like Alfre Woodard and Rosario Dawson co-starring in this year’s new superhero series Luke Cage, it was Simone Missick who broke through to create one of the more interesting characters this year with police officer Misty Knight.  She believes in the justice system and is assigned to go after Luke Cage–too bad she has a past with him.  Missick plays Misty as a modern version of a Pam Grier character–she’s flawed but she’s tough and smart and we know she’ll cut through all the mess and come up on top.  Runner-up: Leanna Lapp as Gilda (iZombie).

Marvel's Luke Cage

Best TV Actor (TIE) – Mike Colter as Carl Lucas/Luke Cage in Luke Cage (Netflix).  Luke Cage is as mild-mannered as they come.  We first met him in season one of Marvel’s Jessica Jones, but in his own series Mike Colter showed how great this comic book character from the 1970s could be, and how relevant he is today.  The problem with networks dropping an entire series on us at once is that with a day long binge session we don’t get the sense of the work that goes into building a character like Cage over a full season like we’re accustomed to.  Hopefully the studio will realize how great the series is and how its lead actor can provide us with a real, gritty hero that the world needs.  We just can’t wait to see more of what Colter has in store for us next season.

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Best TV Actor (TIE) – Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa as Ambassador Tagomi in The Man in the High Castle (Amazon).  Tagawa has played in countless TV series and films but his role as a trade ambassador of an alternate world where Japan controls the western United States may be the most stunning work of his career.  His expressions are understated and yet the audience can read so much in his simple looks.  His character’s surprise as he maneuvered a parallel world to his own–our real world–was some of the best acting of the genre and among the best performances of the year.

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Best TV Supporting Actor (TIE) – Louie Anderson as Mrs. Baskets in Baskets(FX).  Louie Anderson has been priming us for this role for decades now.  His impersonations of relatives helped make him one of the greatest stand-up comedians of all time.  Bringing him in to play to mom to Zack Galifianakis’s Chip Baskets was one of those inspired moves that doesn’t happen very often.  And the result was TV gold.

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Best TV Supporting Actor (TIE) – Tim Rozon as Doc Holliday in Wynonna Earp (Syfy).  Rozon brilliantly played the ghost of Doc Holliday this year in the new series Wynonna Earp, sporting a lazy drawl and unclear motives that make him absolutely captivating.  He was mysterious as Wynonna’s questionable love interest, an intermediary between Wynonna and the vile Revenants.  He’s a man out of his time, an anti-hero we hope to see more of next season.

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Best TV Villain – Vaughn Du Clark (Steven Weber, iZombie (CW)).  What kind of sick bastard throws his daughter to the wolves to become a zombie, and then laughs about it?  That’s Vaughn Du Clark, whose barbs with daughter Gilda (Leanne Lapp) provided some of the best quick-witted writing we’ve seen since Veronica Mars and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  Du Clark was the ultimate corporate villain, and we watched his rise with great interest all season long.  Runners-up: Mariah Dillard (Alfre Woodard, Luke Cage), The Demogorgon (Stranger Things), Grand Admiral Thrawn (Lars Mikkelsen, Star Wars Rebels). 

Best YouTube Video – “Seagulls (Stop it Now),” A Bad Lip Reading of The Empire Strikes Back.  You know you haven’t seen this Fall’s funniest Star Wars fan video enough, with that catchy, goofy tune.  Go ahead, watch it one more time.

Come back tomorrow as we reveal more of the borg.com Best of 2016!

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

 

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The fifth season of Grimm was simply fantastic, full of gripping writing and a change-up of character roles in a way we’ve not seen on television.  Who knew a horror series full of fantasy, magic, and monsters could fare so well?  Grimm is still going strong after so many competing shows dropped by the wayside: Constantine, Hannibal, Dracula, and more.  In just two weeks a bittersweet sixth season begins, but based on the fifth season finale we’re thinking this show will barrel through to the final episode like the action-filled freight train of fun we’ve come to love.

Grimm’s completely new universe of storytelling surprised us year after year.  In season five we saw the best action, twists and turns, and flat-out excitement of any series in 2016.  So many factors make this a standout series that will stand the test of time.  It’s not another New York or Los Angeles or even a Vancouver-based series.  It is another “save the city” series like The Flash and Arrow, but it uses the lavishly dark, forest-trimmed Portland, Oregon as its background for an all-out war over the supernatural world.  No matter how the series wraps, there will always be room for a reboot.

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Everything about Grimm has been unique.  Local supporting acting roles were filled with the local theater community, providing a look of realism and familiarity for the show.  The main cast proved their range and revealed that each individual–from David Giuntoli to Claire Coffee to Russell Hornsby, Bitsie Tulloch, Silas Weir Mitchell, Reggie Lee, Bree Turner and Sasha Roiz–will likely go on to even bigger roles in 2017.  CGI and make-up monsters provided us that “monster of the week” series we’ve missed since classic episodes of The X-Files.  But Grimm proved to be even better than that classic series.

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