The Following – Season 3 Episode 1 – New Blood – Review

Kevin Williamson created show The Following is back for its third season, and there are a collection of interesting new characters as well as familiar faces to join the mix in what seems will be an action packed season.

Episode Synopsis: We begin a year after the events of last season, and Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) is on death row – a month from execution.

Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) has a new girlfriend named Gwen (Zuleikha Robinson), but he is still mentally recovering from previous events. After being blamed for the death of one of Joe’s followers in the opening scene from her apparent father, Ryan is clearly shaken. The trail of destruction left from the first two seasons has definitely left its mark.

Mark (Sam Underwood) is back with the absence of his twin brother Luke and mother Lily Gray. He is more psychotic than ever as a direct result of the deaths of his family members. With a new set of followers helping Mark, things begin to take a familiar turn, affecting Ryan Hardy in particular.

This is an interesting start to the season, with the main themes focusing significantly on the consequences of the characters’ actions. Ryan seems to show genuine remorse for all of the victims in the hunt for Joe, and is not the only character who has been affected by past events.

Ryan’s niece, Max Hardy (Jessica Stroup) is back for this season, and has been impacted by F.B.I agent Mike Weston’s (Shawn Ashmore) previous departure and reappearance. Due to their romance last season, this will make for interesting viewing as the season progresses.

The new followers, Kyle (Hunter Parrish), Daisy (Ruth Kearney) and Andrew (Michael Irby) carry the sensibilities of previous followers, and spare none of the gory murders reminiscent of the first seasons. Therefore, I would not recommend watching if you are squeamish.

This episode was without Joe Carroll; however, it is shaping up to be another good season which I recommend tuning in for. Joe will most definitely play a significant part in this season with his looming execution providing an effective ticking clock to proceedings.

By Robert Spence

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The Missing Review

The Missing is a British television series drama written by Harry and Jack Williams and directed by Tom Shankland.

Starring: James Nesbitt, Frances O’Connor, Saïd Taghmaoui, Tcheky Karyo, Ken Stott and Jason Flemyng.

Synopsis: Tony and Emily Hughes (James Nesbitt and Frances O’Connor) are holidaying in France when their son Oliver (Oliver Hunt) goes missing. The story focuses on the impact this has on a series of characters, and the fight to determine what happened to their son. Along the way, the narrative shifts between time frames in an attempt to piece together the mystery. With the help of retired detective Julien Baptiste (Tchéky Karyo), they begin to slowly discover the disturbing truth about what happened eight years before.

This is shaping up to be a very good television series. With real life cases of missing children (most notably the Madeline McCann disappearance), public interest in these topics is very high. It is every parent’s nightmare to lose their children, and this story evokes this perfectly.

The acting is very good, and the viewer truly connects with James Nesbitt’s character Tony. This is heightened when dealing with the harsh truth of being the one who lost his son. Nesbitt has always been an actor I have admired, and this performance does nothing but strengthen this perception. Co-star Emily Hughes is also very impressive in her role as well as the other cast.

What I like about this show is that we are shown certain events from different vantage points – including suspects in the disappearance of Oliver. These add another dimension to the show.

At the time of writing this, only three episodes have aired so far of this eight part series but I highly recommend watching this.

By Robert Spence

Gotham – Pilot – Season 1 Episode 1 – Review

Gotham (2014) is an American television series and is an origins story to the DC comics character Batman as well as some other characters in that universe. The series was created by Bruno Heller, and focuses on Commissioner Jim Gordon as the main protagonist.

Starring: Ben McKenzie, Donal Logue, Sean Pertwee, David Mazouz and Jada Pinkett Smith.

This episode was directed by Danny Cannon and written by Bruno Heller.

Episode Synopsis: The story begins with Bruce Wayne’s (David Mazouz) parents being shot and killed in cold blood by a masked gunman. Sparing Bruce, he flees leaving him with his parent’s bodies.

We are then introduced to rookie cop Detective Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and his partner Detective Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue). Gordon promises Bruce that he will find the man who killed his parents.

As the story progresses, Gordon becomes immersed in the corruption governing Gotham, and the many villains who inhabit it.

This is a very good opening episode, and captures the characteristics of Gotham very well. Fans of the Batman universe will not be disappointed, as this latest outing looks at it with a fresh pair of eyes.

The death of Bruce Wayne’s parents has been done endlessly, but this series harnesses these events from the perspective of Jim Gordon; thus allowing something fresh.

bruce wayne parents dead

Characteristically, there is a lot of potential. Jim Gordon is likeable and morally good despite the corruption surrounding him. Ben McKenzie is perfect for this role, and plays Gordon very well.

The supporting cast are also impressive. The young Bruce Wayne is exactly as I imagined as well as his loyal butler Alfred (Sean Pertwee).

The main antagonists such as Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith) effectively embody the collective corruption in Gotham. This is the first role I have seen her portray a villain, and she does it very well. She is sexy as she is scheming – very much a femme fatale.

There are various seeds planted in this episode which will undoubtedly grow as the series progresses. Fans of Batman are in for a treat as well-known characters begin to reveal themselves.

By Robert Spence

Outlander – Season 1 Episode 1 – Sassenach – Review

Outlander (2014) is a historical multi genre television series based on the best-selling novels written by Diana Gabaldon. This was developed by Ronald D. Moore, and the opening episode was directed by John Dahl.

Starring John Heffernan, Nell Hudson, Caitriona Balfe, Tobias Menzies and Sam Heughan.

Synopsis: The story begins in 1945 with combat nurse Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe) 6 months after the conclusion of World War II. She peers into a shop window and receives a flashback of her time there. We witness her nursing a dying soldier, and the harsh realities of war. After hearing the war has finally come to an end, there is much celebration.

Back to reality, and Claire travels with her husband Frank (Tobias Menzies) to Inverness in Scotland to bridge the time they have spent apart since the war. He has accepted a teaching position at Oxford University which he is due to start two weeks from then. It is apparent their time apart has made an impact, and this is somewhat of a second honeymoon for them. They explore the sights, and become better acquainted.

After exploring the forest on her own for plants, Claire begins hearing strange buzzing noises. After inspecting further, they seems to be descending from a large standing stone. She edges closer and touches it.

Darkness, and Claire wakes up on the ground in what appears to be the same place; however, she has travelled back in time to 1743. After exploring, she sees red coat soldiers engaging in gunfire. They shoot in her direction causing her to run away. She stumbles across the double of her husband dressed as a red coat, and his name is Jonathan Randal (also played by Tobias Menzies). This is clearly an ancestor of Frank’s. He tries to rape her when suddenly she is rescued by a Highlander. After she screams for help, he knocks her out. She awakens and is taken to a safe house with other Highlanders. She gives a fake last name for safety, and meets a handsome injured Highlander named Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan). After helping him, she gradually begins to realise that she is no longer in the 20th century, and must find a way to return home.

After hearing rumours of these novels being adapted for years, it is good to finally see this story onscreen. As there is currently eight novels in this series, it is clear to see why this has been adapted for television.

I was impressed with the initial episode of this show. The majority of this episode establishes the protagonist Claire and her current life as well as some backstory. We see the trauma she has gone through during the war, but her resilience at getting on with her life.

It does seem like the target demographic of this show is aimed towards women due to the romantic elements along with a female protagonist; however, this would not deter me from watching the rest of the show and enjoying this story.

Caitriona Balfe is relatively new on the acting scene, and has recently come to prominence in movies such as Now You See me (2013) and Escape Plan (2013). She is very likeable, and there will not be a problem with an audience connecting with her. Her chemistry with Sam Heughan who plays Jamie Fraser (the main love interest in this story) is good, and this initial spark in the opening episode paves way nicely for the rest of the show.

Male or female, if you like a good love story, then I would recommend this show. It will not be the next Game of Thrones but seems to be shaping up as a nice adaptation to the popular novels.

By Robert Spence

Under the Dome – Season 2 Episode 1 – Heads Will Roll – Review

Under the Dome (2013) is a science fiction American television show adapted from Stephen King’s popular novel of the same name. The series was developed by Brian K. Vaughan, and Steven Spielberg serves as an executive producer on the show.

This episode was directed by Jack Bender and written by Brian K. Vaughan.

Starring: Mike Vogel, Rachelle Lefevre, Natalie Martinez, Britt Robertson, Alexander Koch and Dean Norris.

Show Premise: A mysterious invisible dome appears in the town of Chester’s Mill without explanation. This cuts the town off from the outside world and forces the town’s inhabitants to seek answers. The dome brings with it strange supernatural side effects which tests the town in a number of ways. This is a fight for survival to rid the town of the dome, and to ultimately re-connect with the outside world.

Episode Synopsis: This season begins just where the last one left off. Dale ‘Barbie’ Barbara (Mike Vogel) is about to be hanged by James ‘Big Jim’ Rennie (Dean Norris) and Junior Rennie (Alexander Koch) when a white light descends upon the town. Suddenly, the majority of the town’s imhabitants faint and are unable to wake up.

As the episode progresses, the dome begins displaying new symptoms – for instance becoming magnetic. This causes everything nearby to flock to the dome and stick, causing mayhem in the process.

As a result, high school science teacher Rebecca Pine (Karla Crome) has an idea to try and combat this. She hypothesises that the dome can manipulate electromagnetic fields which affects some of the people’s brainwave; therefore, she hatches a plan along with others to try and build a magnet to stop this happening.

We are also introduced to a character who perished last season; for instance Dodee Weaver (Jolene Purdy). She visits Big Jim in the form of a ghostly figure to give him some home truths. Jim murdered her last season in cold blood.

There is a new addition to the town in the form of Sam Verdreaux (Eddie Cahill) who along with Julia Shumway (Rachelle Lefevre) finds a girl drowning in a lake but manages to revive her. As the episode progresses, there are some interesting consequences to the character’s actions.

There is a lot going on in this episode which is reminiscent of the way the first season panned out. There are many characters in this show with their respective motivations and goals; however, they are all interesting enough to warrant further viewing.

Due to the way the first season ended (on a cliff-hanger with Barbie about to be hanged), I remember being initially quite annoyed. I was frustrated at the fact the season ended in this way, and said to myself I would not bother if it was renewed for a second season. Having said that, curiosity got the better of me and I tuned in. I was glad I did because ultimately this is a very interesting concept for a show, and is equally interestingly executed.  However, the fact this is adapted from a Stephen King novel is no surprise.

There is some clear character development in this episode – mainly from Big Jim and Junior. They seem somewhat reformed despite being the main antagonistic forces last season. Throughout the first season, they were blinded by the dome and began controlling the town by any means possible. As the second season begins, clear repentance is conveyed with an overall theme of sacrifice being prevalent.

This was a good opening episode for the second season and I advise you to check this out – even if you were frustrated by the way the first season ended.

By Robert Spence

Extant – Season 1 Episode 1 – Re-Entry – Review

Extant (2014) is an American science fiction television show created by Mickey Fisher and executively produced by Steven Spielberg. The show stars: Halle Berry, Goran Visjinic, Pierce Gagnon, Camryn Manheim, Hiroyuki Sanada, Grace Gummer and Michael O’Neill.

This episode was directed by Allen Coulter and written by Mickey Fisher.

Episode Synopsis: Molly Woods (Halle Berry) is struggling to adapt to life after 13 months on a solo mission aboard a space station. She is still receiving flashbacks from her time there, and concern is raised from her son Ethan (Pierce Gagnon). She lives with him and her husband John (Goran Visnjic) who is a robotics engineer heading the Humanichs Project (a project specialising in Artificial Intelligence).

Early on in the story it is established that their son Ethan is a robot who the couple have been raising as their son due to problems conceiving a child of their own.

Due to Molly’s time in space, increasing concern is raised from Hideki Yasumoto (Hiroyuki Sanada), Molly’s employer. He heads the Yasumoto Corporation, and John’s Humanichs Project is desperately seeking funding from this. Yasumoto’s concern stems from the fact that some footage from Molly’s mission has been deleted, with Molly claiming she did this accidentally.

During the episode, Molly finds out that she is pregnant. She claims this is impossible because she is unable to have children. We then gain insight into an incident that occurred on her mission in which she encounters an apparently deceased astronaut who she used to be romantically involved with named Marcus Dawkins (Sergio Harford). After appearing unable to talk much and touching her face, she blacks out with Marcus standing before her. Later, when inspecting the camera footage she notices that he does not appear whatsoever and it looks like she is touching thin air. In a panic, she deletes it.

As a result, Molly is clearly hiding something, and Yasumoto has funded the Humanichs Project in an attempt to get closer to the family.

Due to this being the first episode of the series, there is a lot of world building occurring. Not only are we being introduced to new characters with their respective stories, but we are also being introduced to a new world; a world where technology is much more advanced than now.

This episode is nicely written and directed. There is enough twists and turns to keep the viewer interested, as well as questions raised to entice the audience for the rest of the series. It is also clear that Steven Spielberg’s touch is all over this show.

Halle Berry does not disappoint as Molly, and neither do the other actors in the cast.

There is some strong themes running through this episode; for instance the difference between humans and robots. This is mainly manifested in the Wood’s son Ethan, and whether he truly can experience human emotions such as love. Morality is another prevalent theme. Is creating robots in this manner morally right, and what are the repercussions of playing God as such?

To conclude, this is a show in which I would recommend. I was taken in by the world that has been created and the characters in it. The fact this also features Oscar winning actress Halle Berry and the legendary Steven Spielberg is enough to warrant further interest.

By Robert Spence

Hannibal – Season 2 Episode 13 – Mizumono – Finale – Review

This episode was directed by David Slade.

Synopsis: This episode begins with Jack telling Will that Hannibal has requested his company for dinner. Jack states that he will be wearing a wire.

Hannibal visits Jack’s wife Bella’s (Gina Torres) bedside. She asks him to save Jack for her when she is gone.

Freddie Lounds discusses her resurrection with Will; however, this may be short lived as Hannibal’s keen sense of smell may be a foil in her plan. Meanwhile, Dr Alana Bloom unmasks the truth about Hannibal.

Kade Prurnell, an investigator for the Office of the Inspector General (Cynthia Nixon) places Jack onto forced compassionate leave as she feels his plan to snare Hannibal is entrapment. However, will this put a stop to his plans?

This episode begins high in tempo as the season draws to its climactic conclusion. With Jack’s invitation to dine with Hannibal, we are now full circle; this point in the narrative was conveyed at the beginning of the season.

We also finally see Hannibal revealing his true murderous self, which is a mere sample of what is yet to come. As previously mentioned, the show is now reaching territory depicted in the Hannibal movie series and books.

This episode is not without twists, and some past faces make an appearance here. Ultimately, this is a very good episode and this has perfectly prepared the viewer for season 3 of the show. From the way this has been built up, season 3 will be the true unmasking of Hannibal. He is not hiding in the shadows anymore.

By Robert Spence