In the second installment of SmallFish, we deliver a look at a trilogy of the haunted, that is, The Vampire Diaries, The Originals, and Supernatural, with the Texas Rising miniseries and Starz’ Powers thrown in to boot.
Sure, it’s a week early, but this series is the best of the supernatural bunch. To be brutally honest, Supernatural is one of few shows that creeps me out, as in, right out of sleeping. [I can still replay for you the scene from the first episode where Jeffrey Dean Morgan battles for the soul of his wife in his kids’ room, complete with crib.] To deal with the levels of hell, evil, and backstabbing psychotics who have littered the Winchesters’ path in the last ten (ten years! seriously!) is to recognize the depths of the writers’ imaginations and the amount of serious CGI that Warner Bros. has poured into development of this horror/fantasy (try writing a review of the show without using the word supernatural…)
Here, in the latest season on Blu-ray from The CW, we get five additional hours of material that tell us even more about the battle that Sam (Jared Padalecki) is forced to fight for the soul of his brother Dean (Jensen Ackles). Thankfully, he’s not alone: Castiel (Misha Collins), who represents God in the show on some occasions, ends up helping Dean. But Castiel is also chasing his own Grace (a real, out-of-body thing in the context of these angels and such), while he’s trying to help get the Mark of Cain’s damage off of Dean. Let’s stop and take a breath for a moment. Do you have any idea what I’m talking about? Right. This is one you want to check out from the beginning and then move forward through. But it’s a great example of what it means to see the forces of evil and wickedness in the world and recognize that the battle is not merely against flesh and blood.
Special features take us on some wild rides: at 2014 Comic-Con, setting up the 200th episode, a look at the mythology behind the show, the way the fans feel about the show, and an opportunity to hear from the cast and crew about what their favorite segments are.
Boasting a stellar cast, HISTORY’s depiction of the defeat of U.S. soldiers at The Alamo is just the beginning. Directed by Roland Joffe (The Mission, The Killing Fields) and produced by the folks who brought us Hatfields & McCoys, the show is a gritty, dramatic look at a tumultuous time in U.S. history. Told in five parts, the miniseries has several main characters to represent the ensemble of powerful players in the fight for freedom from Santa Anna’s army that lead to the formation of the Texas Rangers.
While the show sometimes moves like a documentary (slowly, in an abundance of talking and detail), it’s also pretty stellar to consider that this could be the way that all of this played out. Bill Paxton leads the way as Sam Houston, while Kris Kristofferson plays President Andrew Jackson and Jeffrey Dean Morgan plays Deaf Smith; in the Rangers’ crew, Brendan Fraser as Billy Anderson and Jeremy Davies as Ephraim Knowles probably headline most famously; Ray Liotta plays Tom Mitchell. Those names may draw in the casual viewer but this one probably still carries the most weight with those series history buffs. I’m personally not wise enough to argue with them over whether or not they got it right or wrong!
Special features include thirty additional minutes like the extra look at Sam Houston (“A Man of the Revolution”) and Santa Anna (“Leading Mexico”).
Starring Sharlto Copley, the ever adapting amoeba, as Christian Walker, Powers is all about what it means to have power, to lose power, and to want power. Walker, a creation of graphic novelist Brian Michael Bendis, is an ex-Power, having lost the gifts that made him Diamond. Now, he’s a ‘normal’ cop investigating Powers-related crimes, fending off old friend and crime boss, Johnny Royale (Noah Taylor), and his former mentor, Wolfe (Eddie Izzard). But things are complicated further by Walker’s feelings for another Power, Calista (Olesya Rulin), and his partnership with a normal human cop, Deena Pilgrim (Susan Heyward).
Harley Cohen AKA Triphammer (Andrew Sensenig) is a ‘normal’ hero who has use of technology but no Powers and now serves as the warden of the prison for Powers criminals. His efforts to drain Powers and control them is ethically questionable (on the side of the ‘good’ guys), and creates a greater opportunity to discuss the morals of what we do with our opportunities and gifts. On the other side, Zora (Logan Browning) is an up-and-coming Power who wants to gain attention but doesn’t necessarily grasp the weight of her responsibilities. Ironically, this show asks some of the same questions that the original Spiderman did, but with more violence and profanity. It’s major addition to the conversation may actually be less about having Power and more about what we do when we realize that a moment has passed us by.
Another series that may be too complex to explain in one post, this one has a mythos all its own based on L.J. Smith’s series. Oh, Mystic Falls, what a spectacularly dramatic vampire town! Two brothers, Stefan and Damon Salvatore (Paul Wesley and Ian Somerhalder) have different ways of going about love, loss, and power. While the brothers do their thing, caught in the middle of everyone’s power play is Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev), and just about everyone else. What is probably most notable is that this is Dobrev’s last, wrapping a six-year run on a soap that capitalized on the Twilight/True Blood fanaticism and made for some interesting discussions about what it means to be human, to be in love, and to exercise one’s power and responsibility.
Special features include two featurettes, “Good Bite and Good Luck” and “Best. Reactions. Ever,” as well as the Comic-Con Panel (2014), audio commentaries, and the gag reel.
A spinoff of The Vampire Diaries, this one was introduced in the spring of 2013 as a ‘backdoor’ pilot in the aforementioned show. In the first season, Klaus (Joseph Morgan), Elijah (Daniel Gillies), and Rebekah (Claire Holt) Mikaelson returned to New Orleans to re-establish their hold as the first vampires. Now, they’re continuing their struggle with the ongoing problems surrounding the werewolf clan, but their predecessors (who are witches, too) have arrived to mess around with the dynamics and power of the clan.
The difference between the original (no pun intended) Vampire Diaries and this series is the way that various groups, races, genus, or species (I was never very good at that particular brand of science) interact and judge each other. While the show is ultimately a serious blend of nighttime soaps, it’s also a reminder that no matter what we think of each other, we can’t really seem to get over ourselves. Do you think that you know what it’s like to be a werewolf, a vampire, or a witch? Okay, maybe those are bad examples, but maybe the world would be a better place if we could actually learn to understand what it was like to be whatever we consider ‘other.’
Special features include the standard WB Comic-Con Panel, gag reel, and unaired scenes, but they also show an original web series, a ‘Come Visit Georgia PSA’ [Clever, no?], and ‘Always and Forever.’