IF I STAY is the latest best selling fiction to hit the big screen, and it stars 17 years old Chloe Moretz who talks to us about why she chooses roles like this, CARRIE and even Hit Girl. Plus IDIOTEST is a new competition show on the Game Show Network and host Ben Gleib proves to me that it isn’t all that easy to win there.
The marketing campaign said “DON’T KILL SEAN BEAN” but producer Howard Gordon (24, HOMELAND) assured us there was little chance of that happening on LEGENDS. Howard, and series star Ali Larter, fill us in on the new TNT drama, plus meet the REDWOOD KINGS who are cutting up every week on their new Animal Planet show.
Let there be little doubt that we here are ComicMix loved the Leverage television series. Heck, we still miss it. Our friends at 2oth Century Home Entertainment want to spread the love by letting us give away two sets of the fifth and final season of the TNT series.
Leverage focuses on a team led by former insurance investigator turned thief, Nate Ford (Timothy Hutton). Together, they try to level the playing field for people whose lives have been destroyed by the rich and powerful. In the final season, the team will be forced to face changing personal dynamics as the relationship between Parker (Beth Riesgraf) and Hardison
(Aldis Hodge) heats up, and Nate continues to struggle with inner demons. Among their upcoming jobs, they will target a conniving shipping executive (guest star Cary Elwes); wealthy scientist; an ex-hockey-player-turned-team-owner (guest star Treat Williams); a corrupt restaurateur; and a corrupt businessman (guest star Matthew Lillard). In addition, the team will once again face their nemesis, insurance-investigator-turned Interpol-agent Jim Sterling (guest star Mark Sheppard).
To score your own copy of the DVD, answer this question:
What did Nate Ford do for a living prior to resorting to thievery?
All submissions are due no later than 11:59 p.m., Wednesday, September 18. The decision of the ComicMix judges is final and the contest is open to United States and Canadian fans only.
Be sure to follow Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment on Twitter @FoxHomeEnt for the latest Blu-ray & DVD releases.
The eponymous hero, from The Land Of Light in the mysterious Nebula M-78, visits Earth and is fascinated by its creatures, especially humans. Taking the visage of a man he saved from a climbing accident, he pledges himself to protecting the world from various aliens and monsters that plague it. Taking the name “Dan Moroboshi”, he works with the human military force the Ultra Garrison, and unbeknownst to them, fights the monsters hand-to-hand in his giant form.
The series, the first of many sequels to Ultraman, was first broadcast in Japan in 1967. Ted Turner’s syndication company originally planned to dub the series into English back in 1985, the project was not completed and broadcast until 1994 on their cable channel TNT. Not all episodes were completed, and while the adaptation was fairly well done and not “camped up” in any way, there were some edits to some episodes for tone and violence. One episode, “Crystallized Corpuscles” was banned entirely, and never broadcast.
At this date, it’s not been specified if the episodes will be the uncut Japanese originals, or if they will feature English subtitles or the TNT dubbed soundtrack. Watch this proverbial space for more detail.
Amazon has already listed the set (ahead of Shout’s official announcement) as being released December 11th, with a price of $34.98, already nicely discounted from its list price of $49.97.
Most television series hit the fourth season mark with the characters firmly established allowing the creators and performers a chance to stretch a bit, certain they won’t lose their audience. The better shows know just how far to stretch, how far to push the formula, and when to pull back. Thankfully, TNT’s Leverage toed the line carefully by varying the stories told in the two half season comprising the 15 episode fourth season. The series has never been anything less than a delight as the con men turned good guys find corruption everywhere they turn and can’t help themselves, coming to the rescue.
The series features a strong, tight ensemble that is allowed to grow and develop, making us love the characters just a little bit more. The fourth season came out on a four disc set last week, just in time for the fifth season’s debut. One of the performers, Christian Kane, tweeted this was a vital season debut and wanted as many to tune in as possible. The reason rests on the ratings which, despite a solid creative run, saw the total viewers drop a dangerous 13% from the previous season. Another drop like that and the fifth may be the end.
But for now, we can revisit the highlights of what made the fourth season so much fun. It starts with the ever-changing locales for stories, starting with the season opener set on a hazardous mountain climb. Set just weeks after the end of the previous season, Nate (Timothy Hutton) and Sophie (Gina Bellman) have to explore what it means to them and the team now that they’ve (finally) slept together. The other romantic entanglement, Parker (Beth Riesgraf) and Hardison (Aldis Hodge), finally started to move after dancing around the matter the previous season.
The meta story reveals that Jack Latimer (Leon Rippy) has been bugging their HQ and profiting from their exploits by investing against the marks. When he comes clean and asks for their help, Nate has to find a way out, setting up a finale that resolves many issues haunting the character from the first season. Along the way, though, there’s plenty of fun.
The story with the biggest wink to the fans is “The Ten Li’l Grifters Job” where Hutton got to dress as his father’s version of Ellery queen and the costume mystery is filled with literary and television detectives. One of the most interesting bits of storytelling can be found in the parallel stories in “The Girls’ Night Out Job” and “The Boys’ Night Out Job”. Old friends and foes surface, especially the fun return of Sterling (Mark Sheppard) in “The Queen’s Gambit Job” that adds to his character.
But it becomes clear towards the end that someone knows the quintet too well. Events lead to the death of Nate’s father, Jimmy (Tom Skerritt) with the architect of the murder revealed to be Victor Dubenich (Saul Rubenik), the first man taken down by the team in the pilot. Nate is forced to find a way of changing the odds. He does so by having the team recruit strongman Quinn (Clayne Crawford), Parker’s mentor Archie Leech (Richard Chamberlain), hacker Colin (Chaos) Mason (Wil Wheaton), and Nate’s ex-wife Maggie Collins (Kari Matchett). The final two episodes of the season tie things up from the past as the team looks towards the future. It’s dramatic and fun and extremely satisfying.
The show never lets it take itself too seriously and just when you think it’ll get maudlin, something quirky happens. The formula and cast is elastic enough to allow a wide variety of stories from the typical “The Boiler Room Job” to the somewhat strained “The Cross my Heart Job”, set in an airport. Creatively, the most interesting episode may have been “The Van Gogh Job” with the cast filling roles in a flashback story set during World War II.
There is a smattering of extras spread across the four discs but all are on the short side. You get a featurette on the season opener along with some deleted scenes. There’s a six minute glimpse into the writers’ room, deleted scenes from four other episodes and finally the usual assortment of outtakes. Funnier may be the parody, “The Office Job” Every episode though, comes with commentary and if they are all as interesting as the few I sampled, their worth a listen.
I adore the series and find Parker one of the freshest characters on the air today. Revisiting these characters every summer and winter is a distinct delight so the new DVD set comes well recommended.
Fellow ComicMixer Bob Greenberger recently talked about To Kill A Mockingbirda couple days ago as he prepares to teach his class. To Kill A Mockingbird is, as I expect all of you to know, a masterpiece of American literature concerning the racial tensions and bigotries of a small town in Alabama during the Depression – but more important, it is a study of the nature of good and evil, of both the morality and immorality inherent in all of us.
Starring Gregory Peck as the lawyer Atticus Finch who defends the black man accused of raping a white woman, the movie is a landmark picture, and – in my opinion – a touchstone for how to adapt a brilliant novel to the screen. Also my opinion: Peck’s greatest role.
But don’t just watch the movie. Read the book itself. One of the things that just driiivvvess meeee crrrrrazzzzy is when I ask someone, “did you read….” and what I get back in response is, “I saw the movie.”
Here’re some books that have been turned into movies. Some good, some bad, some just “eh.” But do yourself a favor – read the book. You might learn something.
Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind: Yes, it’s one of the greatest movies ever made. Yes, adjusted for inflation it’s made more than any other movie. Yes, Vivien Leigh, Olivia DeHavilland, Hattie MacDonald Clark Gable, Leslie Howard, are the living embodiments of Mitchell’s characters. In fact, it’s about the most perfect casting ever, in my opinion. But Scarlett is not just the selfish bitch that the movie portrays.
In fact, as you read Gone With The Wind, you realize that Scarlett Katie O’Hara embodies both the Old and New South, the gentry who will not dirty their hands and the hard-scrabbling immigrant who will. Even her mother and father represent this coming battle, with Ellen O’Hara a symbol of the old landed gentry who live by rituals and rules, and Gerald O’Hara the hard-scrabbling immigrant who will do anything to succeed. And her men are symbols, too, as she clings to Ashley as a representation of an idealized world of chivalry and manners, and of the pampered childhood she has lost, while simultaneously being drawn to Rhett, the realist, the adult, the symbol of the “New South” and the future. Every main character in Gone With The Wind are the embodiments of the Civil War, of the battle between yesterday and today, of what was and what can be. Melanie is not just the selfless and perfect Lady of the antebellum South. Rhett is more than a lusting hedonist who marries Scarlett because he can’t have any other way. Ashley is more than just a beaten Confederate. Mitchell’s characters within the book come alive because they are all, well, alive.
The Mists of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley. Okay, technically this wasn’t a movie; it was a mini-series on TNT starring Julianne Margulies and Angelica Huston. It was promoted as the story of Camelot from the “women’s side.” The mini-series was a disaster. I could understand if no one’s curiosity was piqued enough to read the book. But do it anyway. But it’s so much more.
It’s the story of the introduction of Christianity into Celtic Britain, of how one great religion was usurped and demonized by another. It’s a story, again, of the fall of one civilization and the rise of another. Of choices, of the roles between women and men, of what is good and what is evil and what is in-between. Of what is magic and what is faith, of what is real and what is not. All, as I said, set against the backdrop of one of the most romantic and glorious legend of all, King Arthur, Lancelot, Guinevere, Morgan Le Fay, Mordred, Merlin, and the Round Table.
Giant, by Edna Ferber. Ferber was a brilliant novelist whose historical fictions also criticized the social mores and woes of America. Giant deals with the struggle for power between the great cattle barons and the growing oil industry in Texas from the 1920s to the 1950s. It’s the story of cultures at struggle against themselves and each other: Leslie Lynton Benedict, from the East, against her husband, Jordan “Bick” Benedict, born and bred in the Southwest. It’s about of racism and bigotry, of how both the cattle barons and the oil tycoons built their empires on the back of Mexican-Americans… sadly, still an incredibly relevant story today, as illegal immigration continues to be at the forefront of our politics. (Hello, Arizona!) It’s even about the role of women in a society, as Leslie, raised to think for herself, fights to retain her individuality in a society where women are sidelined and controlled by men. Most of all, it’s a story of generational war, as the old must give way to the young.
Okay, Kelly Clarkson just sang the Star Spangled Banner. I gotta go.
But just in case you think I’m a total book snob, there is one movie that totally exceeds its origins. That’s The Godfather, parts I and II. Read the book. It’s good…but the movies are better.
Kelly’s done. The game is on. Go Big Blue!
TUESDAY: Michael Davis… or Gold writes about hockey. One or the other.
Who didn’t love HUMAN TARGET? Well, we at least are getting Chi McBride back in an extended run on TNT‘s HAWTHORNE. Chi tells us how it all happened and why speaking his mind has worked so well for him. Plus a “new/old” Hitchcock film is found?
I have to admit to not being sure how much I like TNT’s [[[Dark Blue]]]. The series about an undercover unit operating in Los Angeles debuted last summer and for ten weeks my wife and I kept watching and wondering if it would get better. Slowly, and slyly, we found ourselves getting interested in some of the characters and kept watching.
The series opened with 3.5 million people watching the pilot episode but by the tenth episode, it shed just over half the viewers. Still, TNT had enough faith in the premise and Jerry Bruckheimer’s production savvy to bring it back for a second season starting August 4. Of note to ComicMix readers is the addition of Tricia Helfer to the cast as Special Agent Alex Rice.
Warner Home Video is showing a tad less faith by making the first season available tomorrow as an exclusive only at the WBShop.com and TNT.tv. Additionally, the ten episodes, on four discs for $24.95, comes without any additional features or commentary. We get just a short preview, without any substance, of the forthcoming season.
The show is built around Dylan McDermott’s Carter Shaw, who runs his operation away from police headquarters and does whatever it takes to complete his assignment. As a result, he pisses of his commanders and his team and raises the question how damaged a cop is he? McDermott broods exceedingly well, but without much of a character to portray, the harsh manner feels one-dimensional. Even his big story, the season finale “A Shot in the Dark”, doesn’t do enough to round him out.
We wound up far more interested in Ty Curtis (Omari Hardwick), a married cop trying to juggle how deep his undercover role can go and his commitment to his newlywed spouse. Dean Bendis (Logan Marshall-Green) is the one who goes too deep undercover and is only now beginning to willingly come up for air and sees how empty his own life has become. Then there’s juvenile delinquent Jamie Allen (Nicki Aycox) who escaped her criminal life in Detroit and faked a new identity to restart, becoming a cop who winds up recruited into the unit. She’s forced to use her real name and background in “Betsy”, a revelation that probably should have been saved for later, after we really got to know Jamie.
The stories have been the weak link as you care less about the cases and more about how the leads handle the tension. Each episode is self-contained and you’re told they’ve spent weeks building up a new role, infiltrating the criminal organization du jour, but you never saw those moments. We’re usually brought in when something goes wrong or the case is about to be closed.
The writing is solid if uninspired throughout and it lacks the high octane action of Bruckheimer’s CBS crime series. Still, you find yourself rooting for these cops to do the right thing, avoid temptation, avoid getting their cover blown, and avoid the interpersonal complications that can cloud their judgment.
With Helfer arriving next month, we can hope she stirs things up a bit and inspire stronger character-based tales.
From CHASING AMY to The Chipmunks to MY NAME IS EARL, no one does “quirky” better than Jason Lee and now he has a new series to add to the list, coming this month to TNT. Jason talks about what brought him back to TV plus his feelings on EARL‘s demise. Plus DC gets behind GREEN LANTERN in a big way and more cast added to X-MEN FIRST CLASS.
Enjoy the long weekend! We’re taking Monday off, too but we will be
right back here on Friday June 4th.
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We here at ComicMix adore Leverage and have been eagerly awaiting tie-ins to the TNT dramatic series co-created by John Rogers. The first such product was announced this week with Margaret Weis Productions scheduled to release Leverage: The Role-Playing Game in June. The RPG will allow players to assume the roles of series regulars Nate, Elliot, Parker, Hardison, and Sophie while attempting to scheme and outwit their targets. The Quickstart Job, a 16-page full color single scenario adventure, has been designed for June release to act as an introductory game.
The Leverage RPG will use the Cortex system as its foundation, and the 192-page, full color core rulebook will give players all the basics. The sourcebook Leverage: Grifters and Masterminds is due in September. The 112-page full color trade paperback will include expanded rules for staging heists, planning capers, and working cons.
The second season ended over the winter and will be released on DVD May 25 while the 15-episode third season is scheduled to begin running in June.