Tag Archive: Sean Astin


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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.

Angie Tribeca clip

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

 

Walken Poe The Raven

The Witching Hour of All Hallow’s Eve has just passed.  It is time to pick your poison, so to speak.

It is time to listen to the many readings by celebrities of Edgar Allan Poe’s classic poem, “The Raven.”  The poem actually takes place in December, so there’s no wrong time to listen to the poem again and again.  Thanks to a new audio version uploaded this weekend by Sean Astin, we were prompted to search for other famous voices, and we found many interesting celebrities to choose from, many from long ago.  Oddly, we found no famous actresses voicing the creepy story–if you know of any please add them to the comments above.

So which do you want to hear first?  Why not give an ear to all?  As you listen try thinking of the actor, or of that actor’s many roles, from Samwise Gamgee to Gomez Addams, from Saruman to Dracula or Sherlock Holmes, the Headless Horseman or Johnny Smith, Max Schreck or Lucius Fox, and from Darth Vader to Captain Kirk or the alien known simply as Q…

The Raven

Have a listen to one or all.  Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

 

Sean Astin

 

John Astin

 

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LOTR Astin 1

So what is the point of cosplay anyway?  For some it’s costume contests, for others it’s the challenge of creating the closest look possible to the real thing, for others it’s making a new mash-up or creation no one has thought of.  For others, it’s getting garb together to meet up with the actors or creators that made the character famous in the first place.  Whatever your motivation, you know you put it all together just right when the result is all-out fun for you and everyone you encounter, whether you’re attending a local or large convention or visiting your local Renaissance Faire or other gathering.

This year at the Kansas City Comic Con, with the announcement of The Lord of the Rings’ own Samwise, actor Sean Astin as guest, it meant it was time to bring Middle-earth to Kansas City.  It’s a surprising rarity at pop culture and comic book conventions–fantasy characters.  Sure, you see plenty of superheroes, sci-fi movie and animated characters, but fantasy, via films, TV, or books, seems to just be gaining steam.

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Your fearless editor brought out the Radagast and Gimli fatigues (see here and here for some photos) and joined up with Mimosa Bunce aka Rosie aka borg.com writer and author Elizabeth C. Bunce and her newly minted Hobbit feet and garb, and we met up with the Springfield Fellowship of The Lord of the Rings for some fun.  Astin called the Middle-earth contingent together at day’s end and Elizabeth broke away from Artists Alley to join the Fellowship for a fun photo shoot thanks to Froggy’s Photos.

Want to know what in-depth preparation, research, knowledge and sewing skills go into the creation of garb for cosplay?

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3D Photobooth Gimli Jo Kamm KCCC 2015 Kansas City Comic Con

The first Kansas City Comic Con comic book and pop culture convention wrapped Sunday at the Kansas City Convention Center at Bartle Hall.  We bid farewell as Doctor Who’s Colin Baker headed to the airport to return home to England and other guests set out across the country after a long and exciting weekend in the Midwest, leaving behind some happy and (exhausted) fans.  But first, crowds again lined the aisles Sunday, grabbing last-minute selections of prints from artists, books from writers, and comic books and collectibles from the several dealers on site.

Sunday saw more panels, more autographs and photo ops, and more conversations with creators.

Royals Iron Man

Our vote for the best cosplay of the show?  This Kansas City Royals-inspired Iron Man.  What better cosplay ambassador to the first Kansas City Comic Con than this superhero?

But it was hard to beat this great costume of a Gnoll from Dungeons & Dragons:

Gnoll from D&D

Excellent work!

Our vote for the best new addition to conventions anywhere this year was Jo Kamm’s 3D Photobooth.  Unlike the 3D photobooth featured at last year’s World Series, the 3D Photobooth at KCCC printed highly detailed, large figurines.  And unlike other 3D printing booths we’ve seen before, Kamm’s software and technology recreated recognizable faces.   We’ll feature the process used at the booth in a later article, but our response and those of various passersby watching the imaging in process was simply “Wow!”

Here Kamm renders examples of a digital 3D, 360-degree image of both our Radagast ensemble from Saturday…

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Sean Astin CJ Bunce Elizabeth C Mimosa Bunce KCCC 2015 Kansas City Comic Con

We could stop after just the above photo with actor Sean Astin, but we won’t.  Kansas City Comic Con broke the mold this weekend, setting up a fun environment for thousands of attendees to get a major league dose of pop culture fun.  You could meet icons of classic movies, like Pam Grier (1970s action film star), classic TV, like Butch Patrick (Eddie, from The Munsters), from current hits like Game of Thrones (Kristian Nairn), and classic 1980s video games (Billy Mitchell of King of Kong fame), to kids’ favorites (Power Rangers’ August St. John), classic British TV (Doctor Who’s Colin Baker), and megahits like The Lord of the Rings (Sean Astin) and Star Wars (Nalini Krishan and Orli Shoshan).

Creators from the Star Wars universe could be found everywhere, from current Marvel Star Wars writer Jason Aaron, to artist icon Michael Golden, to Disney-era Star Wars artists Bryan Fyffe and Joe Corroney.  Creators from several major licensed characters could be found with Phil Hester, Ande Parks, Jai Nitz, Greg Smallwood, and Tony Moore.  And then there is Jim Shooter and Mike Zeck from the superhero sphere of classic comics.  Phew!  That’s a busy weekend.

Rick Howland KCCC 2015 Kansas City Comic Con

We had a great time with Rick Howland, star of Syfy Channel’s Lost Girl, which only recently wrapped its final episode.

Here’s writer CW Cooke talking with attendees at his booth…

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Sean Astin KCCC 2015

This Friday, Saturday, and Sunday thousands of sci-fi, fantasy, and superhero fans will attend the inaugural Kansas City Comic Con, a new comic book and pop culture convention to be held at the Kansas City Convention Center at Bartle Hall.  The show has booked the very best comic book and fiction writers and artists in the U.S. as well as some great movie and TV guests.

Jackie Brown KCCC exclusive print

Headlining the show will be none other than Jackie Brown herself, actress Pam Grier. Not only is Ms. Grier known for her leading role in Quentin Tarentino’s hit film, but she has also starred in the classic 1970s films Coffy and Foxy Brown, as well as Fort Apache The Bronx, Something Wicked This Way Comes, John Carpenter’s Escape from L.A. and Ghosts of Mars, and TV series including Night Court, Crime Story, Knots Landing, Miami Vice, Bones, The L Word, and Smallville.

Fantasy fans can meet Sean Astin, who played Frodo’s pal Samwise in The Lord of The Rings series, also scheduled as a show headliner.

Colin Baker Doctor Who TARDIS

Many Doctor Who fans will get their first chance to meet Colin Baker, who played the fan-favorite Sixth Doctor on BBC’s original series from 1984 to 1986. Known for his bright patchwork jacket, you may have seen him most recently in the funny film The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot, discussed earlier at borg.com here.

Todd Aaron Smith KCCC 2015 print A     Todd Aaron Smith KCCC 2015 print B

In this big year of Star Wars, Kansas City Comic Con attendees will get an opportunity to meet two actresses known for their roles as Jedi Knights in the Star Wars prequels. Nalini Krishan played Barriss Offee, a Jedi Knight and General in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones.  Also scheduled to appear is Orli Shoshan, who played Jedi Knight Shaak Ti, also in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones (as well as deleted scenes in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith).  And check out the great prints above that will be available for animation artist Todd Aaron Smith.

corroney print

Creator guests scheduled to attend the Con include Jason Aaron, Neal Adams, C.W. Cooke, Nicholas Forristal, Bryan Fyffe, Michael Golden, Phil Hester, Damont Jordan, Jim Mehsling, Jai Nitz, Ande Parks, Chris Sebela, Greg Smallwood, Rick Stasi, Bryan Timmins, Darryl Woods, Mike Zeck, and our own borg.com writer, fantasy author Elizabeth C. Bunce.  Joe Corroney will be onsite signing the above print for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and check out this great KCCC print available from Bryan Fyffe:

KCCC print Bryan Fyffe 2015

The show expects to have hundreds of vendors, plus displays, cosplay, autograph and photo opportunities.

Kansas City Comic Con will be held August 7-9, 2015, at the Kansas City Convention Center in downtown Kansas City at Bartle Hall, the venue for the region’s biggest events.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

Most reality TV and competition shows aren’t worth watching when compared to all the great TV writing available these days.  Two weeks ago in our Spring TV Wrap-up, we discussed the best of this past season, and you’ll notice there are no reality shows listed there.  Why?  The reality TV formula got old fast as the past decade moved along, as did competition shows generally.  Sure, American Idol and Top Chef still get big viewership numbers, and we drift back for an episode of Iron Chef once in a while, but at some point even their fans will dwindle.  Let’s face it, there’s something for everyone and we won’t knock it (it’s why having several hundred channels to choose from seems to be a very “American” thing) and fans of reality shows probably aren’t also watching our sci-fi, fantasy, and other genre programming.

That said, one of the more fun reality-esque shows because if its unique subject matter is starting its second season this week: the Syfy Channel’s Hollywood Treasure, which airs on Tuesday nights.  I was impressed that they changed up the show a bit for the season two premiere, and offered a lot of content anyone can enjoy.  Three key things make the series work.  First, although Hollywood Treasure has the obligatory formula for reality shows, including the repeated scenes that straddle each commercial break and make you race for the fast forward on the remote, the plain coolness of the subject matter of the show outweighs any reality show annoyance factor.  Second, the show focuses on the guys who run Profiles in History, consistently the entertainment memorabilia auction house that pulls in the highest sales of any auction house in the world, and items they sold at auction in the past year.  These guys run into all sorts of neat props and costumes from Hollywood and occasionally an actor or show creator.  Third, the guys who run the auctions and are featured in the show, Joe Maddalena, Jon Mankuta, Brian Chanes, and Fong Sam, are actually fans of genre films and comic books as much as they are businessmen.  I’d dealt with these guys in the past and they are always great to work with.  Some of the scenes are formulaic and more than a bit contrived, but their passion and excitement for memorabilia always shines through.

The highlight of episode one of this new season, and what will certainly keep watchers coming back for more if they can keep bringing in similar guests, is a segment where actor Sean Astin discussed movie props he owns (and used to own) from Rudy, Goonies and The Lord of the Rings.  Astin always has such an aura of authenticity that you can ignore all the theatrics and just enjoy seeing this guy simply talk about making movies.  The personal items he retained from playing Samwise Gamgee are certainly treasures any LOTR fan would love to get his hands on.

Astin kept his screenused backpack and pans, his Elvin pin, his bread pouch, and leather wineskin from The Lord of the Rings films.

Other sequences in this episode were an attempt to auction one of the four original sets of ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz for $2 million, which Profiles was only able to sell after the fact by direct sale, still attaining the $2 million the owner wanted as a minimum reserve price.  In this sequence Profiles also revealed that they actively solicit buyers after sales for items that don’t meet the minimum reserve price–buyers that kick themselves later for not bidding, thinking the sell price will be out of their range.  In reviewing the slippers they got to visit what seemed like a private collector’s own Fort Knox lockdown facility.  Another segment featured Joe Maddalena buying a Jim Carrey hat and cane from Batman Forever, then trying to flip them at auction for profit.  And Maddalena also visited the Dreier collection of costumes and props, which is being auctioned off over a few years.

Profiles in History is the same auction house we discussed here last year that made all sorts of records selling off the Debbie Reynolds movie costume and prop collection, including the famed Marilyn Monroe Seven Year Itch subway vent scene dress and an Audrey Hepburn My Fair Lady dress, among millions of dollars in other sales, and the Captain America auction last month.  And these are the guys we caught up with last year at Comic-Con showing the Back to the Future III DeLorean.  Their auction website is www.profilesinhistory.com.  We hope they can keep up the momentum started in their first episode of season two all season long.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

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