Category Archives: Friday Night

On Television: Thundercats (2011 Series)

Thunder! Thunder! Thunder! Thundercats, Hooooo!

This evening, the new prequel series of ‘Thundercats’ premiered on Cartoon Network, and I cannot lie that I was super excited to watch (I am a sucker for nostalgia). Having been born in the ’80s, ‘Thundercats’ was a staple of my cartoon watching childhood, so I was beyond ecstatic to see this reboot. But I must say that having seen the old cartoon almost became a detriment while watching the new series’ pilot episode.

I knew when they announced the new series that they wanted to make it a bit more serious and currently, along the same veins of ‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ (Cartoon Network) or ‘The Last Airbender’ (Nickelodeon), but after watching the premiere, I was surprised at how different the reboot was tonally and contextually to the original series. Aside from the animation style and character appearance, the characterization/personality of some of the characters was very strange and numerous things seemed out of continuity with the old show. For instance, Tygra, who always seemed to beĀ  cerebral and level-headed in the old series, was somewhat of a cocky jerk in this new show, criticizing and chiding Lion-O constantly. Also, if I remember correctly, Wilycat and Wilykit were members of Thundera’s noble families in the original series, which I think was explained in the 1985 pilot episode, but in this, they are mischievous, thieving orphans. So by halfway through the first episode, I had no choice but to attempt to disregard my memories of the old series, and accept the new one for what it is: a action-packed, overtly political coming-of-age story.

But I will not lie, when the lizards attacked the Thundera capital, I was excited to see how things progressed. The Trojan Horse scheme, which seemed a bit obvious once you recognized the similarities between Thundera and ancient Western cultures, the mech-warriors, missile attacks, betrayals, deaths, the first yelling of “Thundercats, Ho!” and the emergence of Mumm-Ra with his quintessential line “Mumm-Ra, the ever-living” finally had me engaged in the story. Not to mention, getting a little giddy when I heard those old school lines. For the better, the show picked up and was nonst0p until the end of the hour.

As a final note on the premiere, I thought the voice-acting was a bit forced and awkward and that some of the plotting was a bit obvious. I called multiple major episode plot points before they ever happened, which I always find disappointing, but I am hopeful that in future episodes the characters will become more dynamic, the plot will thicken, and the rest series will be entertaining on its own merits, regardless of the way things were in the old series.

Right now I plan to give the show a few more episodes to see if it is worth it, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I am a bit skeptical.

Rating: B-

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On Television: Camelot (Starz)

Ep. “Homecoming”

On Friday, Starz showed the first hour of their upcoming historical-fantasy-drama, Camelot, as a sneak preview following the finale of ‘Spartacus: Gods of the Arena’. A week ago, I was very sad and upset that the Spartacus miniseries was ending after only six episodes, but having seen the Camelot pilot, I am excited that something is ready to take its place.

Even though Starz only broadcast the first hour, this new series looks to promise the same level of violence, sex, struggles for power and intrigue that have become a trademark of the hugely successful ‘Spartacus’ series.

And this rendition of the Arthurian legend looks to be nothing like what has previously been shown in mainstream media. Rather than some musical or a kiddish version of the story, Starz has sought to develop a more well-rounded cast with a much, much more adult vibe.

That being said, I am still a bit skeptical if young Jamie Campbell Bower has the acting prowess to hold his own against a juggernaut of a cast, but I am hopeful.

Scene-steeling vixen, Eva Green, however, was unbelievable as Arthur’s vengeful sorceress/half-sister, Morgan, who appears to be hellbent on ascending as queen. She provided a strong, emotional performance that embodied the character flawlessly and was by far the shining talent in the preview.

Joseph Fiennes as Merlin is one casting I cannot definitively decide on. The character of Merlin looks nothing like what is traditionally considered (no beard, not very old), but I am excited to see where the role goes. Judging from the first hour, Merlin appears to be more of a soldier-monk with a hidden agenda. He obviously is going to take his place as Arthur’s mentor/adviser, but I wonder if there will not be numerous instances where Merlin attempts to use his influence for his own personal gain. I like the perceived duality of his character and I’m interested to see Merlin’s magical abilities in upcoming episodes.

However, all this promise could be for not if Joseph Fiennes happens to over act the part like he did in Flash Forward. I know he is a talented actor, but I am leary that the costuming and setting might overwhelm him to a point where he becomes too much.

All in all, after watching ‘Homecoming’ I am excited to see the full pilot on April 1, 2011. And I cannot wait to see how they integrate the stories of Guinevere, Lancelot, the Knights of the Round Table, Excalibur and the Lady of the Lake. There is so much source material with T.H. White’s The Once and Future King (one of my favorite books of all time) and Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur that I don’t think the series will ever find themselves hunting for plot.

With HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones’ scheduled to premiere on April 14, 2011, it will be interesting to see if there is room for two fantasy-epic series to share the same space on premium cable.

Rating: A

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On Friday: Dollhouse

DollhouseEp. “Echoes”

This week a new memory drug gets dispersed into the college campus and a team of actives have to take over the campus, treat the aflicted students and find the stolen vile of the drug. However, Echo was assigned to another client during the outbreak but she begins to remember her past, prior to becoming an active, and ends up getting involved in the mess. She goes to the campus with flashes of her past as Caroline when she wanted to expose the research company for unethical testing on animals. It was very interesting watching all the “non-actives” get infected by the drug and act like absolute idiots. Topher in his underwear…priceless.

The one very important part of the episode, however, concerned the process of acquiring the actives. It was believed that these people were being kidnapped and trafficed to become these dolls, but it turns out that they are somewhat coerced to sign a five year contract. I am curious to find out if these contracts are upheld but that isn’t really known. Also, next week’s episode is titled, “The Awakening” and it seems like it will be a really good one. Watch and find out.

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On Friday: Dollhouse

DollhouseEp. “The Man On The Street”

So this is the first episode where the “active mission” was not the main focus. It circled around Agent Ballard making major headway on uncovering the Dollhouse and finding Caroline/Echo. I really liked how the episode worked around the lore of the Dollhouse rumor, it was interesting to see the people’s knowledge of the Dollhouse and what it implies both socially and scientifically.

In the episode, Agent Ballard comes in contact with Echo as she is portraying an Internet mogul’s wife, but he gets distracted by security and Echo is extracted before he can talk to her. Later on, however, after Agent Ballard attacked one of the Dollhouse’s clients, Echo is sent back in to eliminate him. What the agency doesn’t know though is that one of the people within the Dollhouse added a little bit to her imprint…it was a message to Agent Ballard about how he needed to go off grid and investigate the Dollhouse on his own. That the insider will help him along the way and how the Dollhouse organization is much larger than he ever thought.

“There are three flowers in a vase and the third one is blue.” Mellie is an ACTIVE?! What!?! And she kicks ass?! I was totally and completely surprised by this new twist, and it looks like she is going to be a big focus of next week’s episode. I can’t wait to see how she is used in the future. “There are three flowers in a vase and the third one is yellow.”

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On Friday: Dollhouse

DollhouseEp. “True Believer”

This week’s Dollhouse episode revolved around Echo infiltrating a creepy cult to rescue a woman being held against her will and to find out if there are any “unsavory” operations going on inside. To do this, Echo is imprinted with a blind, religious woman and was given an “upgrade.” Upgrade: a pair of cameras surgically placed in her eyes so that although she is blind, the agents outside the compound can see what is going on. Echo ends up finding an arsenal of weapons locked inside the complex.

Also, Agent Ballard gets closer to finding out about Dollhouse when Alpha sends him a DVD showing footage of Echo prior to her becoming an active. On top of that, Ballard sees Echo on the news when footage of the raid on the cult compound is broadcast. Of course, he arrives a few minutes too late and Echo is returned to the Dollhouse.

Now one of the funniest parts of the episode was when Topher and Dr. Saunders have to figure out what is going on with Victor’s apparent “man reaction” problem. The question is what are the implications of this “condition” for the actives? It seems that as the show progresses, Echo isn’t the only one malfunctioning.

What happens in the Attic?

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On Friday: Dollhouse

DollhouseEp. “Grey Hour”

There is an aspect about this show that I really find fascinating. Basically, just like real life experiments, the Dollhouse organization truly doesn’t know the long term effects of their process on their “actives” and that they are learning about their patterns and behaviors while we, the audience, are.

This episode was a pretty good one. In it Echo is turned into a master burglar in charge of an antiquities heist. The part that made the episode interesting, however, was when Echo is remotely wiped and enters her “tabula raza” state while locked inside the vault. I have to give Eliza Dusku props because she did a great job at shifting acting personas so easily. In the end, she obviously gets out of the vault (thanks to a smoke bomb) and returned to the Dollhouse wiped clean of her robbery exploits.

It turns out that Echo’s wipe is traced back to the rogue “active,” Alpha. The upper management of the Dollhouse told the other workers that Alpha was taken care of after he massacred a number of people and then broke out of the complex, but as an audience, we have know that it was a lie for a while. Topher realizes Alpha’s involvement in the incident and, as such, receives a higher security clearance. Only time will tell if we get to learn more.

I think as the show progresses, there is going to be one big problem. As of now, the only characters the audience care about are Echo and her handler, Boyd. Characters like Topher, Victor, Peter and Sierra are not seen enough to really make anyone care if something happened to them. Although after this week, I think they may start working on this.

Great episode. Great show. Great end to the long week.

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On Friday: Dollhouse

So Friday is kind of my break from TV. If you have been following me through the week, you would understand it’s a break that’s truly warranted. But even with it being my break night, I still have to watch something…

DollhouseEp. “Stage Fright”

So I like this show. I don’t love it, but I like it. I think the concept is pretty intriguing and I have historically been a Whedon fan. Buffy. Firefly. Stardust. He just seems to have a knack to write the fantastical story with a strange twist on normalcy. Dollhouse is no exception: a mysterious private company who’s contracted to provide a person to meet the clients every need; the imprinting of memories into “actives” to create the perfect product; a police investigator, Ballard, attempting to uncover the ethically-questionable organization; and an active, Echo, who might be malfunctioning slightly (which Dollhouse doesn’t like to see). It’s just strange enough.

This week, within the music industry introspective we witnessed, we were made aware that Lubov (Ballard’s informant) is actually an “active” being used by the company to throw his investigation off track. Apart from that insane plot twist, not much else happened. The “mission” of the episode, where Echo worked as a back-up singer with a bodyguard twist, was all a bit contrived and emotionally lackluster. The overarching story got a bit more complex (which I like), but apart from that, episode 3 was not the best.

The other thing I like about this show is that it is the second experimental subject of FOX’s revolutionary, “Remote-Free TV.” Its a commercial media strategy where FOX can charge companies premium prices for commercials during their more popular programming. FOX can do this because have reduced the number of spaces significantly (which also give us about 6 extra minutes of our show), but it’s just supply-and-demand bitches. Now the break is short enough that it isn’t worth the effort to reach for the remote and fast-forward through to the commercials. Genious.

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