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Tag Archive: Under the Dome


Whats he looking at The Whispers

Review by C.J. Bunce

The tropes of Steven Spielberg run rampant in the new TV series The Whispers.  Its pilot episode premiered Monday night on ABC and it teases enough of those things we love about Spielberg movies–it’s practically an homage to the producer of the series–to prompt us to return for more next week.  Network science fiction as a whole tends to be full of more shock and awe than the sci-fi of cable TV (compare Lost and Heroes to shows that delved deeper into the human condition like Battlestar Galactica, Doctor Who, or The Dead Zone), so the story will need to do more than just tease what’s really going on for us to not get bored and simply move along.

To begin with, The Whispers has that “creepy little girl” thing going that we’ve discussed plenty here at borg.com.  It’s hard to miss the throwbacks to the original Poltergeist (Spielberg wrote the screenplay).  Only this time we have more than one little girl talking to something no one else can see.  We don’t really know yet whether this is a purely sci-fi show or entirely horror–or a bit of both.

The show follows Claire Bennigan, played by Lily Rabe, a federal agent whose husband died three months prior to the events in the show’s first episode.  He’s also the pilot missing from a jet presumed lost in the Arctic, a jet just discovered far away in the African desert.  Will the relationship between Claire and her lost husband (Milo Ventimiglia) form the foundation of a relationship as in Spielberg’s supernatural romance Always?

The Whispers

An imaginary friend named Drill is speaking to little kids in a way only children can hear–and Drill’s voice always come from the lights (even we don’t hear this voice so we don’t know whether it’s real or not).  But these lights are up to something, like the energy from the Lost Ark from Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark.  It’s not just the idea that harkens back to Raiders–as the power of the light swishes about it can’t be long before it starts zapping those who stand by who fail top keep their eyes closed.

We can see E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial imagery, like the feds in hazard gear closing in on Elliott’s house.  Here, government workers close in on a giant structure that has somehow reached up and grabbed a jet from far away.  E.T.’s mom, played by Dee Wallace, even makes a brief appearance in the pilot for The Whispers.

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The Returned A&E India Ennenga

Review by C.J. Bunce

Fans of Twin Peaks, American remakes of European series, fans of Tim Seeley and Mike Norton’s Revival, the short-lived Under the Dome, Malcolm McDowell and David Warner’s Time After Time, and anyone after the next great, creepy mystery series take note: A&E’s The Returned has so much going for it you’ll want to watch it twice.  What would you do if someone close to you that died prematurely suddenly walked back into your life, alive and well, just as you remembered them?  Would you scream, cheer, cry, laugh, be afraid?  You’ll ask that question over and over as you watch the residents of a small Pacific Northwest town as they react to the formerly dead as they re-enter their lives.  It’s compelling stuff.

The Returned is an American remake of the French series Les Revenants (French for The Returned and the double meaning of a ghost returning from the dead), which itself is entering its second season on the Sundance Channel (with English subtitles) and was based on a 2004 French film of the same name.  Fans of any one of the many well-known character actors will have an easy excuse to give the American show a try.  The Returned features a top-notch cast, including Michelle Forbes (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Battlestar Galactica, Orphan Black, Homicide), Jeremy Sisto (Law & Order, Clueless, The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits), Carl Lumbly (Chuck, Battlestar Galactica, The X-Files), Mark Pellegrino (The Closer, Chuck, Castle, The X-Files, Lost, Supernatural), Aaron Douglas (Battlestar Galactica, iZombie), and Kevin Alejandro, who we most recently saw as Sebastian Blood on CW’s Arrow.  But the best on the series may be the perpetually young-looking Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Final Destination 3, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Sky High, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, The Thing, Live Free or Die Hard, Tru Calling) as the troubled former fiancée of one of the Returned, newcomer India Ennenga as Camille, the most interesting of the Returned, Tandi Wright (Jack the Giant Slayer) as her mother, and Sophie Lowe as her “older” twin sister.  But we’ve seen many a series with great actors but backed by a less than desired story.  Not so here.

Winstead in The Returned

Comparing the original to the remake can be a bit of a fun game to play in itself.  When the American actress mother encounters her dead daughter for the first time, she inspires a humorous viewer reaction, but with the French actress, the response is full of fear and shock.  Both series are billed as supernatural dramas, but Les Revenants’ photography and music appear as more on the horror end of the spectrum.  On paper these are zombie series, but from the first two episodes they seem far from other entries in that genre.  You’ll get the Twin Peaks vibe instantly, but without David Lynch’s trademark quirkiness.  The return of a serial killer from the past may have you recalling Jack the Ripper’s return in Time After Time, or the recent BBC America series Intruders.  But you won’t find any ghoulish shambling goons here.

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EUROPA-REPORT-Poster

We’ve previewed the first trailer for Matt Damon’s science fiction film, Elysium, earlier this year.  Writer/director Neill Blomkamp offers his next entry in the science fiction as social commentary vein following his very successful District 9, one of the few films ever nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture.  This second trailer for Elysium reveals a far more layered and interesting film than that shown in the first preview, however, it suffers from the problem on the other side of the spectrum:  It just reveals too much.  It’s possible the marketing folks think they need to show more to get people interested and into the theaters, but you wish there was a better, middle ground to be found.  Still, it looks great.

Check out the second trailer released for Elysium:

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