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Tag Archive: Tricia Helfer


Burn Notice finale

When USA Network announced last year that its hit spy series Burn Notice would see its last season this year, it really seemed like the right decision.  The ramifications of Jeffrey Donovan’s Michael Westen getting a burn notice, blacklisting him and leaving him with nothing: no cash, no credit, no job history, stuck in Miami doing whatever came his way for six years with his trigger happy girlfriend/ex-girlfriend/girlfriend again (Gabrielle Anwar), his old friend that used to inform on him to the FBI (Bruce Campbell), his mom (Sharon Gless) and another spy who he burnt along the way (Coby Bell)–it all seemed like there was not much left for the series to show us that hadn’t been done.

But as happens with writers and creators of many TV series who know they are working on their swan song, it’s like someone gave them some java juice, and they delivered the best of their past three seasons.

Jack Coleman in Burn Notice

Much credit goes to some superb casting this year.  Heroes’ Jack Coleman, featured throughout the year as Michael’s CIA handler Andrew Strong, was the best featured character to come along since Coby Bell signed on as Jesse Porter in Season 4.  Coleman was believable and likeable, in contrast with the misery the series put us through with Jere Burns’ black hat villain Anson Fullerton last season.  Veronica Mars and CW’s Cult lead actress Alona Tal was also a welcome and interesting addition this year as Russian spy Sonya.

Thursday night’s series finale even featured a small role for genre favorite Alan Ruck as a scientist working for this season’s villain James Kendrick, played by John Pyper-Ferguson.  If there was one storyline this season that almost turned us off it was leaving viewers to figure out what were the motivations of Kendrick, although Pyper-Ferguson managed to give us the best layered villain of the past several seasons.  Was Kendrick ultimately “doing good” or was he a villain?  Would Michael be justified in a continued support of Kendrick’s causes, or would the other villains–the CIA–win out in the end?  Who would Michael eventually side with?  With the penultimate episode and the finale last night, all of the questions posed over the past year, and even over the entire series, were laid to rest.

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Disney Television Animation has announced a mega-panel at Comic-Con for Friday, July 13, 2012, featuring the creators and voice actors from the new Disney XD series Tron: Uprising.

Bruce Boxleitner, the voice of Tron, headlines the panel along with series star, Elijah Wood, who plays the young Grid cycle repair technician turned rebel named Beck.   Former Battlestar Galactica star Tricia Helfer, the voice of The Grid, is also scheduled to appear, along with Emmanuelle Chriqui (Paige), and creative staff Charlie Bean (executive producer/director), Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz (consulting producers), Alberto Mielgo (art director), and Robert Valley (lead character designer).

Disney also released the rest of its animation panel schedule:

Saturday, 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. —  Phineas and Ferb Q&A Panel (Room 6A) featuring a clip from a coming two-part cliffhanger episode “Where’s Perry?”  Panelists include Dan Povenmire (creator/executive producer & Dr. Doofenshmirtz), Swampy Marsh, creator/executive producer & (Major Monogram), Vincent Martella (Phineas), Alyson Stoner (Isabella), and Dee Bradley Baker (Perry).

Saturday, 3:30 – 4:30 p.m. — Disney Channel Television Animation Q&A Panel: (Room: 5AB), featuring footage and clips from upcoming Disney Channel’s Fish Hooks and Gravity Falls series, plus a first look at the upcoming series Wander Over Yonder.  Scheduled panelists include: Noah Z. Jones (Fish Hooks creator/executive producer), Maxwell Atoms (Fish Hooks executive producer), Justin Roiland (Oscar on Fish Hooks), Kari Wahlgren (Shellsea on Fish Hooks), Alex Hirsch (Gravity Falls creator/executive producer), Michael Rianda (Gravity Falls creative director), Jason Morgan Ritter (Dipper on Gravity Falls), Craig McCracken (Wander Over Yonder creator), and Lauren Faust (Wander Over Yonder co-producer).

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

Review by C.J. Bunce

Tron is one of those franchises that has barely been tapped for its universe of potential stories about the Grid.  The original movie Tron followed Jeff Bridges’ character Flynn as he became sucked into the computer sphere, into the video game, Tron.  The graphic novel Tron: Betrayal smartly covered the events after the original film, to provide a segue into the new Grid universe in Tron: Legacy, a strange, cool, new world of the Grid on the big screen.  Tron: Legacy met Flynn again, this time an aged hermit-slash-guru, trapped for years as an outcast rebel leader, and his son, who enters the computer world to find him.  We got a brief glimpse of Tron’s real-world equivalent (Bruce Boxleitner, Chuck, Scarecrow & Mrs. King), but didn’t see much of Tron himself.  The excellent updated role play video game Tron: Evolution features even more of the new world, but not until now do we get what we’ve wanted all along, more Tron, and specifically more Boxleitner as Tron.  Unfortunately Tron isn’t the lead of the new animated weekly half-hour TV series on Disney XD, Tron: Uprising, but he gets an important key role as Jedi-like mentor to Elijah Wood’s young Padawan-esque character, Beck, years after the events of Tron: Legacy.  The story is one of persecution and revolution, and the whispered message across the Grid is “Tron lives.”

You’ll find plenty of parallels to Star Wars and other good science fantasy and science fiction, even cool references back to the original Tron movie itself, like the little floating diamond that repeated the word “yes” with nice comic timing.  And you’ll be hard pressed not to try to compare it to the Clone Wars animated series.  I think the art, sound, story, music, color, depth, movement and vibe leaves not only Clone Wars behind, but any other animated series that comes to mind, after watching the first three episodes broadcast yesterday and last Tuesday.  If there is any drawback it may be characters and producers still getting comfortable with the dialogue and techno-babble, but this may just get ironed out over the course of the series.  The other drawback is getting used to the string-bean thin and tall hero characters of this universe.  But those items are easily dismissed for all that is very cool in this series.

The best part may very well be the band Daft Punk’s soulful, hopeful, sometime dark, sometimes bright techno music that is borrowed from their unique and stunning score for the film Tron: Legacy and carefully and expertly edited into this series.  The thumping base line and synthesized strings at the right movements take you into this new world to the point you find the art direction and sound together creating a complete universe–and you will question whether this is a movie or a video game or an animated series.  Imagery of a classic Encom light cycle has glass-like mirror reflections of animated characters that looks like it could exist in the real world.  Water flows like real water, yet nicely done with a computerized edge to it as in the original Tron film.

And then you have Bruce Boxleitner as not an elder Tron so much as a mature Tron, leader and icon of this new uprising.  His character looks a bit like Boxleitner without the need for motion capture technology.  Elijah Wood’s Beck is young and impulsive.  Emmanuelle Chriqui’s Paige and Kate Mara’s Perl are cool, tough villains.  Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica, Burn Notice) provides the perfect voice for the voiceover introductions as well as the voice of the Grid.  Lance Henriksen’s (Alien) Tesler is a slicker villain than Jeff Bridges’ motion capture computer-generated character Clu from Tron: Legacy.  And Paul Reubens’ voice is perfect for Tesler’s henchman.

You can’t forget the animation itself, and Disney has outdone itself here.  it looks like it must have taken years to developed this type of imagery.  Some scenes look they come from the best of Pixar’s achievements, including some that just establish setting, with little or no action, although the light cycle chase scenes are seemless and exciting as you’d hope for.

A great start for a great franchise!

Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

NBC’s new John Grisham-inspired series The Firm premiered this week with a two-hour special (it moves to its regular night and time this Thursday at 8 pm).  To some, the original film adaptation starring Tom Cruise and Holly Hunter (et al) might still feel startlingly recent, certainly not a candidate for a remake already–but surprisingly, it’s been 20 years, so the timing actually seems right for a TV version.  Evidently the show’s producers had that same sense, however, for they make it clear this is a “New Chapter” of the story, occurring ten years after the events of the novel/film.

Starring Josh Lucas (A Beautiful Mind, Poseidon, Hulk), Molly Parker (Dexter, Deadwood), Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica, Burn Notice), Juliet Lewis (Natural Born Killers, Cape Fear), and Callum Keith Rennie (Battlestar Galactica, 24), the first episode starts with a bang, dropping hero Mitch McDeere–and us–into a frantic foot chase across the Washington, D.C. Mall.  The chase is intriguing, if a pale shadow of Tom Cruise’s flight through a Memphis cotton-processing district, and it’s unclear whether McDeere is being pursued by criminals or cops, which adds a nice element of suspense.  He eludes his captors–so he believes–to confront a paranoid witness in a hotel room, who insists he can’t help McDeere, and to stress that point, flings himself off his hotel balcony.

Flash back six weeks, to learn McDeere and wife Abby have recently left the aegis of the Witness Protection Program they entered after the brilliantly-executed Get Out of Jail Free plan at the end of the original apparently failed spectacularly (i.e. the mob is after them).  It’s a little bit of a misstep, I think, as there was such cleverness and confidence in the climax to The Firm, that to immediately be told, “Oh, well, it didn’t work,” is fairly disappointing.  We’d like to see more of that slyness and charm, which Cruise pulled off so well, replicated here.

Which brings me to my thoughts on the pilot as a whole.  Instead of the intrigue-driven legal thriller of the novel and original film, the TV series appears to be shaping up as a fairly ho-hum courtroom drama.  The bulk of the two hours are spent on McDeere’s pro bono legal defense of a young boy charged with murdering a classmate.  It’s all very heartrending (so they hope), but ultimately not what this viewer, at least, tuned in for.  Balancing that is the subplot of McDeere being wooed by a local law firm, headed up by Tricia Helfer, looking to add a criminal defense division to their company.  It’s immediately obvious that McDeere will accept (witness the show’s title and entire premise), although the terms he demands are sort of interesting.

Performances are… OK.  I enjoyed watching Lucas, but although I’ve never been a particular fan of Tom Cruise, there is something missing from the performance here (or the script; it remains to be seen).  Abby McDeere, played here by Molly Parker, is cast in the role of smart, involved partner–she’s still a schoolteacher, but she is completely abreast of her husband’s work issues… all of which makes total sense, given the backstory presented us, and which is a refreshing addition to the story.  It’s nice to see the female lead with a head on her shoulders and a firm grasp of the full picture. (Their daughter, on the other hand, was an annoying distraction.)

Adding to the cast are Juliette Lewis, in the role Holly Hunter played in the original film, and Callum Keith Rennie, playing McDeere’s ex-con brother-slash-private-investigator.  This was a clever move on the part of the TV series, I think–they’ve combined two characters from the original (the ex-con brother and the hard-drinking P.I.) into one here, which works out very well, and was probably the part of the show I personally found most interesting.

Still, despite decent scriptwriting and casting, the verdict is still out on this new series.  I’m not sure I really care about a straightforward courtroom drama, and they’ll need to up the stakes and genre intrigue to keep me tuning in.  Likewise, it is really difficult to foresee how they’ll manage to build an entire season–let alone a whole series–from the events of six weeks.  What is the future here?  I’ll give it a few more episodes, but I’m not promising to stick it out.