Category Archives: torchwood

Arrow: Vertigo

Back in the day, let’s say the 1950s, back when Green Arrow was literally Batman with a bow, he had a serious rogues gallery. There were a multitude of bizarre criminals who menaced Star City on a regular basis. True, most of them spun on the unoriginal twist of using some sort of bow and arrow motif, but Green Arrow and Speedy had lots of enemies.

The 1970s came along, Speedy got hooked on heroin and left his mentor, Green Arrow, who had changed his costume and facial hair to a more modern look, and turned his aim on social issues rather than super-villains. By the end of the decade however, things had come full circle, and costumed criminals came back in vogue. The powers that be decided Green Arrow needed a rogues gallery, albeit a more believable one, without the mandatory bow and arrow.

Enter Count Vertigo. With a name like Werner Vertigo, what else could he become but a super-villain, right? The Count part comes from being the last member of the royal family of Vlatava, so he has the resources of a small eastern European nation behind him. Afflicted with a balance problem he had a device implanted in his head that prevented vertigo. After years of tinkering with it he found he could affect the balance of others, causing dizziness, and yes, I’ll say it, vertigo. He can also fly. No idea how he does that though.

Merlyn the Magician may the king of super-villains who use bows and arrows, and Green Arrow’s natural opposite number, but when most folks think of the emerald archer’s archenemy on the scale of a Joker or a Luthor, they think Count Vertigo.

But that’s the comics, on the “Arrow” TV series, things are a bit different. Vertigo is a new drug, one that got Oliver’s little sister in a car accident, and arrested in but one of last week‘s cliffhangers. And the drug lord pushing vertigo onto the streets is called The Count.

The hot button comics reference this episode is Thea’s middle name – Dearden. Not only is her nickname Speedy, but in the comics, Mia Dearden is the young girl who was the second person to take on the Speedy identity as Green Arrow’s sidekick. Is this homage or foreshadowing?

The Count, as played by Seth Gabel of “Fringe,” is very manic, theatrical, and dangerous in that mad villain unpredictable way. Brilliant casting, and great costuming, I kinda got a Captain John Hart vibe as well.

Nice to see the writers haven’t forgotten Oliver’s Russian Bratva connection, I just hope that they don’t forget to explain it. It’s also good to see The Count has not lost his Eastern European origins as well. I also like the explanation of his name. Nice touch. And the color of the drug itself? It’s green, like Count Vertigo’s color scheme in the comics.

Detective Quentin Lance’s outrageous grudge against Oliver is getting old, and kind of silly too. I do however like the cast addition of Janina Gavankar from “True Blood” as Detective McKenna Hall. With Laurel tied up with Tommy, Oliver needs a good potential romantic interest. Please don’t bring back the Huntress.

The Count is taken down, of course, but with the possibility of a return, and possibly more like the comics version next time. We’ll see. He reminded me a bit of Mark Hamill’s turn as the Trickster on the old “Flash” series on CBS. Maybe we will get powers and costumes next time.

In this week’s island flashback, we learn more about Yao Fei, Ed Fyers, Deathstroke and the terrorists there. We also see a slick trick make folks look dead. Don’t try this at home, kids. We also see, much too briefly, Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak with some bad news for Oliver. But I’m sure we’ll get more of that next week, and hopefully more Felicity as well.

Totally in the Dark

I’m a comics guy, not a gaming guy, but this one completely eludes me. The Darkness, and The Darkness II were both hard games to get into. It’s based on a comic book by Top Cow, so you’d think I’d be into it, but the fact is I don’t know all that much about The Darkness. And that’s the comic, not the band. I like the band.

Here’s what I know about the Darkness: published by Top Cow, he wears a mask over the lower part of his face, and the guy who created him – his favorite band is Journey. That last bit stuck with me from a nearly all forgotten Wizard Magazine article about the creator. I can’t remember his name but I remember that little tidbit because The Bride is such a big Journey fan. That’s it.

Apparently he’s a mob guy who is possessed by evil dark stuff or beings. Not much else of it makes sense. For the real scoop, I consulted Wikipedia for this entry. Does that make any sense? Here’s what I got from that. Jackie Estacado is a mob hitman who is cursed on his twenty-first birthday to carry the curse of The Darkness, an entity that can access the otherworldly dimension of the Darklings. Thus he is granted a gamut of super powers, not the least of which is darkness manipulation, yet somehow, especially in the videogame, he depends mostly on guns. Got it?

The opening to The Darkness is disturbing and creepy, like 1990s Nine Inch Nails music video disturbing. By the way, if I haven’t mentioned it yet, this game (nor its sequel) is not for the kids. From all appearances it is a first person shooter crossed with Japanese tentacle porn. So, best of both worlds, I guess. There’s a sweet voice cast involved, including Mike Patton from Faith No More, and Lauren Ambrose from “Six Feet Under” and “Torchwood: Miracle Day.” Beyond that, and a lot of shooting, it doesn’t really make a lot of sense. At least not to me.

First there’s a crazy race through a tunnel, crashing and being shot at, then a shootout in an abandoned building. Once the controllers are gotten used to, and what they do memorized, it could be fun. The thing is, every single button, every single one, is used. I should have a diagram in front of me to play. This could be fun, maybe.

Darkness II still has a creepy opening, the protagonist, played in first person shooter style by you, is being crucified, and the makers of the game, Starbreeze Studios, take full advantage of the shaking rattling controller. It is unnerving. The actual game is kinda realistic with a Grand Theft Auto vibe. You enter an Italian, obviously mob-related, restaurant, sit down and somebody tries to whack you. You’re hurt and must make your way out, someone carrying you as you shoot anyone following, again with full on shaking controller. This was actually kinda fun.

So I vote maybe on the first one, and a hesitant yes on the second. All things considered, I think I will pass on the comic, and the video games… even if the creator (apparently Marc Silvestri, among others) does like Journey.

Misfits

Here in the States, the concept of the super powered drama has been tried, it just hasn’t really caught on. “Heroes” has come and gone, with a downward spiral from success to epic fail. Sure, we’ve had “Smallville,” and “No Ordinary Family” is trying, and “The Cape” is coming, but it just hasn’t really clicked yet. Across the pond in the UK it’s not only been done well, it’s been source material for more than a few successful series. They’ve had sitcoms like “My Hero” and “No Heroics” and more recently they’ve gone for young, hot and steamy with “Misfits.”

Channeling the sexuality of “Torchwood” into young probates is the twist here – add in some pseudo retro punk music and a super-power-empowering thunderstorm and you have “Misfits.” Lady Sovereign wannabe Kelly, when you can understand her cockney accent, becomes a telepath, athlete Curtis can turn back time, hot Alisha makes people crazed with sexual desire for her with a touch, shy outcast Simon turns invisible, and smartass Nathan – well, that would be telling – his power or lack of power is one of the big secrets of the first season.

The youths have depth, are realistic, and the cast is top rate. I’d enjoy them even if this wasn’t a genre show. Series one follows them as they uncover others affected by the storm and also end up killing their probation officer. Even though it sounds a bit like meteor-freak-of-the-week from “Smallville,” it never really gets that obvious. “Misfits” is fun, and thrilling, and not like anything we have here in the States. If you get a chance to see it, definitely check it out.

Bookmark and Share

Doctor Who: Cold Blood

“Cold Blood” is the second episode of this season’s two-part Silurians story, scripted by Chris Chibnall, who wrote for “Torchwood” and “Life on Mars” and season three’s “42.” This episode however is bad. Not bad quality-wise, but bad for the characters. Be prepared for spoilers.

Regarding the monsters, I am still struck the new visualization of the Sirulians, with their previous more fearsome visages being written off as masks. The ‘masks’ are much more frightening than their ‘real’ faces. I would have much rather had the stiff scary masks over the make-up with more human expressionistic faces.

Amy is a lot more active and a participatory companion here. She’s independent as opposed to being attached to the Doctor at the hip. And for that matter, Rory is as well. It remains one of the reasons I like him so much. The crew here – Amy, Rory and Nasreen to an extent remind me of the early Peter Davison days when the TARDIS actually did have a crew.

Most of the episode is about negotiation. The Doctor is excited about the dream of a better world and has brought both the humans and the Silurians to the bargaining table to make a new peace of co-existence. We know of course that some people –no matter the species- will always screw it up. Now normally I don’t mind a bit of a morality lesson with my “Doctor Who,” but this one was a bit heavy-handed. Oh yeah, there’s a shedload of preachiness in this one.

Now the bad news. There are more clues in this episode about the overarcing story this season – the crack in time and space. Yeah, the crack actually takes Rory, and erases him from time. When “Cold Blood” ends, Amy has no memory of Rory, although the Doctor does, and there is of course the engagement ring still in the TARDIS. This is just another example of the Doctor making promises that he can’t deliver on. I have to wonder if he will tell Amy what happened.

Rory will be missed, especially by me. I liked the character and Arthur Darvill, the actor who played him. I hope he’s not really gone. His return would certainly shatter the relationship between Amy and the Doctor. Time will tell, pun unintended.

So until next time… “Be extraordinary.”

Bookmark and Share

Doctor Who: Amy’s Choice

This is a very intriguing episode. In “Amy’s Choice,” the Doctor and his friends are trapped in two parallel dreams – one of now in a doomed TARDIS, and one five years from now with a pregnant Amy married to Rory in ‘the village that time forgot.’ The challenge – figure out which dream is real before they die.

The nemesis that places the Doctor in this trap is the mysterious and self-proclaimed Dream Lord, played by Toby Jones. He’s one of my favorite character actors. I loved him as Truman Capote in Infamous and he recently was verified to play the villainous freak Arnim Zola in the upcoming Captain America feature film. Here he plays a foe the Doctor apparently knows as the only person in the universe who hates him as much as he does.

Toby Jones gets all the good lines in the form of insults against the Doctor, similar to the Valeyard. He calls upon all of his names like the oncoming storm, etc., but while I prefer my ‘Kid Who’ for the ‘Junior Doctor,’ I certainly do have a fondness for ‘him in the bowtie’ as well. And it’s not just Jones, Matt Smith and Karen Gillan as well as Rory played by Arthur Darvill, all have excellent dialogue in this Simon Nye script.

Rory this time out kinda falls into Mickey territory a bit in this episode, but I still like him. He has presence, which puts him above Mickey’s comic relief in my book. He only has that whiny quality when confronted by the Doctor as a romantic rival. It’s refreshing as it sort of reminds me of how the Christopher Eccleston Doctor reacted when Captain Jack Harkness was hitting on Rose.

“Amy’s Choice” has terrific performances by all, a rough ending and then a soft ending, and of course more monsters worthy of making us all hide behind the couch. The same danger as usual but with a lighter touch than usual – I wouldn’t mind having Simon Nye return as a writer. His “Men Behaving Badly” vibe fits “Doctor Who” better than I thought it would.

We also get to see a bit more of the multi-level multi-color Soul Train set of the new TARDIS control room. Fun.

So until next time, “under the circumstances, I’d suggest… run!”

Bookmark and Share

Sherlock Holmes Destroy All Monsters

Sherlock Holmes ~ Yeah, this is the other film called “Sherlock Holmes” that came out in 2009. This one, from The Asylum, has been nicknamed in genre circles “Sherlock Holmes Destroy All Monsters” because of its plot involving giant monsters overrunning Victorian London. It’s also been alternately known as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, not that that helps much. For those not in the know, The Asylum specializes in making near-beer copies straight-to-DVD of blockbusters currently in theatres.

While it’s more Jurassic Park than Destroy All Monsters, it is an interesting entry, told from Watson’s point of view some forty to fifty years after the fact, and old Watson himself hypes it as Holmes’ “greatest and least known achievement.” Holmes is played by a relative unknown named Ben Syder, while young Watson is Gareth David-Lloyd of “Torchwood” fame. Villain of English legend, and the villain of this piece as well, Springheel Jack is brought to life by Domenic Keating, late of “Enterprise.” Both, while being quirky genre favorites disappoint here.

The movie moves painfully slow and neither lead has the charisma (at least here) to keep viewers interested. I seriously believe that Ben Syder may be the worst Sherlock Holmes ever, and must surely be related to someone involved in the production. Gareth Davod-Lloyd looks alternately bored and sedated, nowhere near as cool (or even uncool) as his “Torchwood” character Ianto – but at least he is more engaging than Syder.

When it does get exciting (it’s rare, but it happens) the action comes off like a flavorless episode of the old “Doctor Who.” There’s even a weird Cyberman-like episode that wants so badly to be Russel T. Davies-ish, it’s painful. And, now that I think of it, this flick probably owes more to the Who episode “The Next Doctor” than it does Sherlock Holmes. Don’t blink, or you’ll miss the badly CGI-ed dinosaurs, and the giant robots. Believe me, it’s nowhere near as cool as I just made that sound. Give this one a miss, and go see the other Sherlock Holmes movie again. You’ll thank me.

Bookmark and Share

K-9 Is Back, Sort Of…

First the Doctor returned, and then Torchwood spun off, followed by Sarah Jane… now it’s K-9’s turn…

…but as you can see from the trailer, this has nothing to do with The Doctor, or the other spin-offs. And that’s just wrong. It’s like the adventures of Alfred, without Batman or Robin.

Spoilsport and K-9 co-creator Bob Baker sued the BBC for the partial rights to the robot dog, notably not his appearance, and went to Jetix Europe to make this show. It’s a shame when folks take money over joy and entertainment for all.

Take note, Siegel heirs, this is what you’re doing to the Justice League…

Bookmark and Share

Torchwood: Children of Earth – Sneak Peak

One of the most anticipated panels of this year’s New York Comic Con was the Torchwood panel featuring special guests all the way from the UK, lead actress Eve Myles and director Euros Lyn.

For those not in the know, “Torchwood” is a BBC series that originally spun off from the wildly popular new incarnation of “Doctor Who.” Kind of like “The X-Files” meets Men in Black with a quirky, very sexy, sometimes scary, adult adventure vibe, Torchwood is an undercover operation that investigates aliens on Earth, and defending us from the ones that mean us harm – which is unfortunately, most of them.

The panel was hosted by the very cool Whitney Matheson of USA Today’s Pop Candy blog. MTV was also there, and BBC America was actively interviewing audience members before the guests showed up. Announcements were made that both the second season of “Primeval” and “Ashes to Ashes,” the sequel to “Life on Mars,” were coming to BBC America this year.

Then we saw a preview of “Torchwood: Children of Earth”

Yeah, baby. It was followed by a few soundbyte-short interviews with cast members, including the mysterious Mr. Frobisher who will be a major part of the upcoming mini-third season. Composed of five one-hour episodes that make up one whole story, the season has the team brought to the edge by an invasion they were created to stop – “a horrific force, a devil coming back to mess with Torchwood.” Then, to roaring applause and cheering, Whitney introduced director Euros Lyn and actress Eve Myles, better known as Gwen Cooper of Torchwood.

The camera flashes were mind-boggling and must have been doubly so for Ms. Myles. I don’t think she had any idea how popular the series had become in the United States. It is, in fact, BBC America’s most popular show. She was indeed the star here, more charismatic and happy to be on hand than other celebrities I have seen on past TV and movie panels. Eve seemed absolutely delighted to be here.

First up for discussion was the end of Season Two where two major characters and cast members were lost. Euros Lyn stressed that is a separation between the old Torchwood and the new Torchwood. They miss the characters/actors no longer with them but this is a new story, a new situation. Move forward, not back.

Questions roll in from the audience like wildfire, as do gifts and autograph requests for Eve. What is John Barrowman, who plays male lead and Torchwood boss Captain Jack Harkness and is considered by many to be the world’s sexiest gay man, really like? “John farts a lot” is Eve’s starting response. The audience hears nothing after that. She later says, “John is beautiful,” and “it’s a cheeky program” when asked who will be kissing who this season. Who will John kiss? “He goes from tables to chairs.” When asked to relate the first time she met John she coyly answered, “I can’t” to much laughter.

What will we see? Who will be back? Fan favorite PC Andy will be back, as will Gwen’s husband Rhys taking a bigger role this time out. The Weevil won’t be back this season, and although it was planned, neither Mickey nor Martha Jones from “Doctor Who” will be appearing because of scheduling difficulties. Both Eve and Euros assured us there are great new characters coming though.

A female fan asked what her favorite American genre series was, Eve confessed to being a huge “Buffy” fan, which is why she had such a geekgasm when James Marsters was on the show. The two women then drooled over the idea of a Captain John action figure coming out. Pun intended, we are talking about “Torchwood” after all.

Speaking of the adult aspect of the show, one ‘cheeky’ questioner asked the guests on the panel if they would be interested in going out and getting f***ed up tonight. We Americans… sigh… Finally a fan made Ms. Myles completely speechless by saying he’d go gay for Jack. See what these Brits are doing to us? 😉

“Torchwood: Children of Earth” premieres on BBC America in the coming year, hopefully sooner rather than later.