Category Archives: TV Reviews

Blu-Ray Review: Counterpart Season 1

Counterpart: Season 1 [Blu-ray]

Synopsis:
Howard Silk (JK Simmons) is a lowly cog in the bureaucratic machinery of a Berlin-based United Nations spy agency. When Howard discovers that his organization safeguards the secret of a crossing into a parallel dimension, he is thrust into a shadow world of intrigue, danger, and double cross… where the only man he can trust is his near-identical counterpart from this parallel world. The show explores themes of identity, fate, and lost love, posing the eternal question, “what if our lives could have been different?”

Review:
Howard Silk is in a dead-end job and lives a seemingly sad, dull existence. But when his double from an alternate world arrives, Howard’s life is turned upside down. The company he’s been working for has been hiding a huge secret since the Cold War. And Howard’s counterpart is nothing like him.

Counterpart is a STARZ original that I had never heard of until I received the promo. Blending science fiction and a spy thriller, this was a surprising series that I binge-watched in one weekend. I was completely hooked. It’s Fringe meets The Americans. Since it’s on a premium network, they (of course) had to throw in unnecessary nudity that otherwise would have made it a show I’d recommend to friends. It’s a pulse-pounding, suspenseful series with plenty of intrigue and drama.

JK Simmons does an amazing job of playing the same man as two distinctly different characters. They look exactly the same, but it’s obvious who’s who. It’s a slow build at times, but completely unpredictable. There are a lot of questions still lingering. And a bit of a cliffhanger ending, left me wanting more. I look forward to seeing the story unfold in future seasons.

TV Spotlight: Cloak and Dagger

Teenagers Tyrone and Tandy are awakened to newly acquired superpowers which are mysteriously linked to one another. New Marvel show premieres Thursday, June 7!

Cloak and Dagger

I was able to watch screeners of the first few episodes. The series takes a while to push these two central characters together. But as they slowly are introduced to their abilities, and each other – they also discover their unique connection. So far, there is plenty of drama and suspense. I’m not crazy about Tandy’s bad choices so far, but I look forward to seeing these teens explore their potential and hopefully grow for the better.

Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Mid Season Finale Thoughts and Fan Theories

So, the mid-season finale of Star Trek: Discovery (lovingly referred to as DISCO now, thanks to some awesome crew shirts) has aired. And fans have to wait almost 2 months for the next episode. Time to ponder, rehash, and theorize on possible plot twists. If you haven’t seen episode 9 yet, don’t read any further. And I highly recommend watching CBS All Access’ After Trek as well.

I have absolutely loved this season so far. The characters have depth and are completely unpredictable. They seem more human and fallible. The actors are incredible. The sets and special effects are summer blockbuster-worthy. It seems bigger and better than just a TV show. And the writing has been exceptional, as each episode seems to get better. Each episode begs to be discussed and dissected.

This isn’t Roddenberry’s bright utopia… yet. The crew of the Discovery NCC-1031 (hint to Section 31?) is led by Captain Lorca, a mysterious man with a past that begs to be told. And the ship holds an unique, new technology for travel.

There are so many shocking plot twists and mysteries, that fan theories are inevitable. And a whole lot of fun. One that sticks out the most to me is Lorca’s obsession with Michael and her safety. My guess is that he knew her parents or had something to do with what happened to them on that station decimated by Klingons.

I love reading other fan’s theories as well. I suspected Ash Tyler was more than just a Klingon prisoner with PTSD as soon as he was introduced. But the best and most talked about theory right now is best explained here and here. Tyler is most likely Voq in disguise. Voq’s absence from the show lines up when Tyler showed up. He’s most likely a sleeper spy with plans to steal the Discovery technology. And I can’t wait to see what happens with Lorca’s tribble when Tyler enter’s his ready room.

The last episode also left us with a major cliffhanger, as the Discovery arrives in an unknown destination after Lorca messes with the jump coordinates just as the spore drive initiates. Did you catch this detail? I didn’t, as so much was already going on. I plan on a re-watch of the season soon, to catch more details. After all, the series has been full of easter eggs, especially in the Captain’s “museum.”

Did the ship arrive in a different quadrant? A different time? A different (Mirror?) universe? January can’t come soon enough.

I love reading fan theories. Star Trek certainly has the most intelligent fan base. The comments in some of the articles I’ve read are better than the articles in reference to science, canon, and minute details.

Blu-Ray Review: Westworld Season One

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-Ray I reviewed in this post. The opinions I share are my own.

Westworld: The Complete First Season (4K Ultra HD/BD) [Blu-ray]

Synopsis:
Based on the film written by best-selling author Michael Crichton (ER, Jurassic Park films), Westworld is a dark odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and evolution of sin. Set at the intersection of the near future and a reimagined past, the series explores a world in which every human appetite, no matter how noble or depraved, can be indulged.

Review:
Westworld is a totally immersive world where humans are safe to live out fantasies set in the Wild West. This vacation destination is comprised of various scripts acted out by extremely life-like robot “Hosts.” Each time a Host is killed, their memory is reset and they’re sent back out to relive the same storyline over and over. But some of the Hosts are starting to remember.

I remember watching the original film from the 70s, and this has a similar storyline but has been revamped and expounded in impressive ways. The cast of characters are completely engaging and well-developed. Each has their own story that weaves together in an impressive tapestry that comes to a big revelation in the finale. Because it’s on HBO, they can get away with nudity and violence which is excessive, to say the least. The depravity often churned my stomach. But the intriguing mysteries kept me watching. There are many plot twists along the way that lead to shocking surprises. This first season “The Maze” has a definite theme and ending of sorts that will lead to a much different second season. I don’t know that I’ll watch a second season as I didn’t care for the shock-value nudity and violence, but the incredible stories of the first season were unforgettable.

TV Review: Star Trek: Discovery

About Star Trek Discovery:
Star Trek, one of the most iconic and influential global television franchises, returns 50 years after it first premiered, with Star Trek: Discovery. The series will feature a new ship, new characters and new missions, while embracing the same ideology and hope for the future that inspired a generation of dreamers and doers.

Star Trek: Discovery is available to watch on CBS All Access:
http://www.cbs.com/shows/star-trek-discovery/

Review:
CBS has kept details of the show secretive. After production and release delays, and the disappointment of the show only airing online via yet another paid service, I still remained optimistic. After all, the small glimpses, casting, and setting all looked great. And this is the first time that a Star Trek series will be serialized, rather than individual, one-hour storylines. Discovery is set 10 years prior to the Original series of Kirk, Spock, and Bones. It stars Sonequa Martin-Green as Michael Burnham – a human first officer who was raised on Vulcan by Spock’s father Sarek.

What stands out the most on first-watch is the amazing set designs and special effects. Especially with the Klingons, who have been revamped and look very different than the ones from the previous series. From costumes and prosthetics to the set details – it’s stunning and impressive. In fact, as I watched the first episode it felt like I was watching a big budget blockbuster, not a television show. The bridge design and uniforms are not unlike the recent JJ Abrams Star Trek films, yet they have their own spin. I especially liked the spacesuit design.

My biggest complaint has to do with the Klingons – and it’s the subtitles. I can’t stand reading subtitles for long periods of time, and it’s really not necessary unless it’s a foreign film. We know they’re speaking another language, so phasing to English should’ve happened at some point.

The casting and characters are fantastic as well. Michael Burnham is a tremendously complex young woman, brilliantly cast, and an intriguing main character. Doug Jones as Lt. Saru, of a new alien race, is already a fan favorite as he has a great rivalry with Burnham. And Michelle Yeoh as Captain Georgiou of the Shenzhou is flawless as Burnham’s mentor and boss. Unfortunately, episodes 1 and 2 only show the Shenzhou, so we haven’t even met the crew of the Discovery yet. But with Jason Isaacs as the captain, I’m already excited.

Episode 1 ended in a major cliffhanger, making fans like me scramble to sign up for CBS All Access to watch the next episode. And I enjoyed the second installment even more. In fact, as I watched it I realized I immediately wanted to rewatch as soon as possible. The heart of what Star Trek about is here – optimism for the future. Though we do get to see the grittiness of having Klingons as definitive adversaries for the first time. There is plenty of suspense, adventure, drama, hi-tech gadgets, techno babble, and questions of morality. “The Vulcan Hello” itself is a wonderful example of a scenario that will make viewers think and question. It has been a long time since I found myself so giddy and geeked out about a new show. And I can’t wait for the next episode.

Will vs. The Future on Amazon

Writer and Producer Tim McKeon gave me a heads up about his latest pilot, now available on Amazon (no Prime needed!), called Will vs. The Future! He and Kevin Seccia created this fun and exciting middle-school, science fiction adventure that the whole family can enjoy.

You can watch it for free here: http://a.co/g2R8wRR

I’m hoping the pilot gets picked up by Amazon. The first episode is promising, with clever characters, an unpredictable plot, and plenty of humor. It’s reminiscent of Terminator – but for all ages. Go check it out, especially if you have a young scifi fan in your life.

Blu-Ray Review: The Shannara Chronicles Season 1

The Shannara Chronicles: Season 1 Blu-Ray

Synopsis:
Based on the 26-volume book series by Terry Brooks, The Shannara Chronicles tells the epic story of an Elvin princess, a bandit, and a half-Elf tasked with stopping the end of the world. Created and executive produced by Alfred Gough & Miles Millar (‘Smallville’) and executive produced by Jon Favreau (Iron Man), the series is shot against the epic landscapes of New Zealand.

Review:
The Shannara Chronicles is loosely based on novel The Elfstones of Shannara by Terry Brooks. And I do mean “loosely.” While the first episode does feel very reminiscent of the book, it doesn’t take long before the story veers off with different characters and new story lines. And even some of the main characters meet different fates.

Hardcore fans of the novels may not be happy with the path this this series takes. But the story does still loosely follow, with many similar characters, stretching a book into 10 1-hour episodes. This series is on MTV, so not-surprisingly there is plenty of angst and it’s more sexualized compared to the book. To the point of ridiculousness at times. But overall, it’s an action-packed, dark, and dramatic series full of bold characters, grotesque creatures, and arcane magic. Some of the episodes drag a bit, but for the most part I did enjoy most this season. The end leaves off where the book did. So I’m guessing next season would be a fresh new story not found in the books, and that may be a good idea if they stray so far from the source material anyway.

The DVD set was released in June. And finally, the Blu-Ray set releases today! The quality is better and pretty noticeable. If fans have been holding out, this latest set is worth the wait. It even comes with a cooler cover design.

SPECIAL FEATURES INCLUDE:
– Behind-the-scenes
– Exploring New Zealand
– Terry Brooks interview
– Making of the Dagda Mor

Blu-Ray Review: The X-Files: The Event Series

The X-Files: The Event Series Blu-ray

About the Release:
Almost 14 years after the original series run, the next mind-bending chapter of “The X-Files”™ is a thrilling, six-episode event series from creator/executive producer Chris Carter, with stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson reinhabiting their roles as iconic FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. Mitch Pileggi also returns as FBI Assistant Director Walter Skinner, Mulder and Scully’s boss, who walks a fine line between loyalty to these investigators and accountability to his superiors. This marks the momentous return of the Emmy®- and Golden Globe® Award-winning pop culture phenomenon, which remains one of the longest-running sci-fi series in network television history.

“The X-Files” – The Event Series Blu-ray & DVD Special Features:
➢ Deleted & Extended Scenes
➢ Gag Reel
➢ The Makings of a Struggle
➢ Season X: An In-Depth Behind-the-Scenes Look at “The Event Series”
➢ Monsters of the Week: A Recap from the Wildest and Scariest from the Original Series
➢ “The X-Files” – Green Production PSA
➢ Short Film – Grace by Karen Nielsen
➢ Commentary on “Founder’s Mutation” with Chris Carter and James Wong
➢ Commentary on “Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-Monster” with David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Kumail Nanjiani and Darin Morgan
➢ Commentary on “My Struggle II” with Chris Carter and Gabe Rotter

Review:
Scully and Mulder are back and better than ever in this much-too-short season. From scary to funny, and everything in between – I thoroughly enjoyed this latest season with a bit of nostalgia but completely new stories. Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-Monster was by far my favorite episode. Guest starring Rhys Darby, this surprising story was suspenseful and hilarious.

My only complaint is that there were only 6 episodes that build to a climactic finale with a huge cliffhanger. I hope to see a new (longer) season soon. Watching this Event made me excited to re-watch the series from the beginning.