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Series Preview: THE SECRET CIRCLE

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Series title: THE SECRET CIRCLE (yeah, I have nothing against it, since the trailer was talking about it all the time)

Series airing: Thursdays at 9:00pm after THE VAMPIRE DIARIES

Series description: Cassie Blake (Brittany Robertson) was a happy, normal teenage girl – until her mother Amelia (Emily Holmes) dies in what appears to be a tragic accidental fire. Orphaned and deeply saddened, Cassie moves in with her warm and loving grandmother Jane (Ashley Crow) in the beautiful small town of Chance Harbor, Washington – the town her mother left so many years before – where the residents seem to know more about Cassie than she does about herself. As Cassie gets to know her high school classmates, including sweet-natured Diana (Shelley Hennig) and her handsome boyfriend Adam (Thomas Dekker), brooding loner Nick (Louis Hunter), mean-girl Faye (Phoebe Tonkin) and her sidekick Melissa (Jessica Parker Kennedy), strange and frightening things begin to happen. When her new friends explain that they are all descended from powerful witches, and they’ve been waiting for Cassie to join them and complete a new generation of the Secret Circle, Cassie refuses to believe them – until Adam shows her how to unlock her incredible magical powers. But it’s not until Cassie discovers a message from her mother in an old leather-bound book of spells hidden in her mother’s childhood bedroom, that she understands her true and dangerous destiny. What Cassie and the others don’t yet know is that darker powers are at play, powers that might be linked to the adults in the town, including Diana’s father and Faye’s mother – and that Cassie’s mother’s death might not have been an accident.

Series expectations: THE SECRET CIRCLE could be hit or miss. The fact that it’s a new high-profile mystery show makes it look good; the fact that Kevin Williamson is working on it makes it look good too, since he has proven with THE VAMPIRE DIARIES how to bring the mythology into a series without wasting time. But there is the question if THE SECRET CIRCLE really will be a series like THE VAMPIRE DIARIES, as long as it comes to the pace of the story. Even though the 6-minute trailer gives away the whole pilot, it really looks like the story has a fast pace and doesn’t stop for a little romance story. As long as this is going to continue throughout the first season, there’s no worries for future fans. Other than that I still don’t really know what to expect. It looks like a witch vs. witch series, but from what I’ve heard it can be young witches vs. adult witches as well, with all the mythology of the background story, and all the ideas Williamson might have with this show. I don’t know anything about the book series, except the history is connected with the witch hunt in Salem during the 1600s. But since THE SECRET CIRCLE is not set in Salem, I don’t know what Williamson has planned – and the first fans of the book series are already putting spells on the series, just because it’s not set in New Salem…

Series prediction: Williamson has success with THE VAMPIRE DIARIES, the cast has proven to be good TV players, the slot is good, the hype is good (not too much) – THE SECRET CIRCLE has all the chances to become a powerhouse on Thursday nights. In addition, the series fits to the “new brand” of The CW, trying to get an older audience and show their backs to the simple teenage romance shows. THE SECRET CIRCLE is basically the show in the middle, trying to get a bigger audience and rebranding The CW at the same time. Which is why I believe the premiere will be a hit – after that the writing has to show if the series is good enough to be watched on a regular basis. I predict a ratings opening of 1.9 with A18-49 (by the way: THE VAMPIRE DIARIES opened with 2.1).

Conclusion: The show is not on my schedule yet, but if the critics should be good, I will have fun watching THE VAMPIRE DIARIES and THE SECRET CIRCLE back to back in December/January. But for now I’m glad I don;t have to deal with another teen-related shows, because I seem to be getting tired of them. I haven’t even continued to finish 90210 and GOSSIP GIRL yet…

Written by Christian Wischofsky

June 26, 2011 at 9:00 AM

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles – Season 2

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Click here for Season 1.
After the sacrifices of Dr. Miles Dyson and T-800 Model 101 Terminator, John (Thomas Dekker) and Sarah Connor (Lena Headey) find themselves once again being stalked by Skynet’s agents from the future. Realizing their nightmare isn’t over, they decide to stop running and focus on preventing the birth of Skynet. With the aid of Cameron Phillips (Summer Glau), a beautiful girl who has a mysterious past also linked to the future; Derek Reese (Brian Austin Green), a Tech-Com soldier from the future whose past is linked with the Connors; Riley Dawson (Leven Rambin), a beautiful schoolfriend of John; and former FBI Agent James Ellison (Richard T. Jones), who was assigned to capture the Connors and joins the work of Catherine Weaver (Shirley Manson), who has a big interest in capturing one of the machines. They begin a quest to stop the United States military and a shadowy conspiracy from the future from creating the program that will stop at nothing to bring humanity to an end.

Episode 01: Samson & Delilah Cameron gone mad and bad, wants to kill John and didn’t kill Sarah for it (where is the logic in that?). Her begging to John to keep her alive was great and came a little bit by surprise (does she have feelings at all?) and it is great to see Cameron with a potential of a big storyline. But I don’t really understand why Cromartie (Garret Dillahunt) didn’t kill Ellison… He doesn’t need him to find the Connors, he can do it on his own way and he has enough time for that. Or does he have a deadline? Shirley Manson as T1000 is cool, but she didn’t have any profile in this episode, let’s see what she is doing next. So, she has the Turk now, starts a new project (Babylon), even begins to create Skynet. So the Turk storyline is finally over.
A very good season opener. 8/10

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Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles – Season 1

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On January 13th, 2008 the Terminator franchise arrived on FOX with this serial drama. The series picks up two years after the events of Terminator 2: Judgment Day with John (Thomas Dekker) and Sarah Connor (Lena Headey) hiding from the government. After two years in one place Sarah decides they need a change of scenery and in doing so they expose themselves to FBI Agent James Ellison (Richard T. Jones) and Skynet’s army of Terminators including Cameron Phillips (Summer Glau) a reprogrammed Terminator sent to protect John. She informs them that Judgment Day was not stopped and will take place in 2011. John convinces Sarah to stop hiding and fight so Cameron takes them to a time machine the resistance has set up to take them to the year Skynet was created 2007.

Episode 1: Pilot Is it a real pilot? Or isn’t it? That is the question. This official “pilot” strongly feels like a bridge between the second movie and the next episode of the series. And this is not quite good for those, who never watched the movies, because the viewers are thrown in the cold water and have to swim with the story, which doesn’t begin in this episode, because it began in the first movie.
I have a problem with the little Dyson storyline: Why did the authors put it in the story? It seems completely unnecessary, after it was just the plug for a likewise unnecessary action sequence. The acting abilities were a bit weak (especially Owain Yeoman) and some of the dialogs poorly written. But the time travel into the present sets a good plot, the action is respectable and Summer Glau rules the shit as Terminatrix. 8/10

Episode 2: Gnothi Seauton An episode under average, because nothing happens. I wished to see more about John and Sarah getting to know the new time a little bit more, they are in the future after all. And the authors picked the same problem as they picked it in the pilot episode: They took an element from the movie, put it in the episode and ended the string. This time it was Enrique (Tony Amendola), and it was a boring storyline. They need the whole episode to get new identities for our heroes??? Cameron is too weird for a Terminator and the story of Charlie seems to be unnecessary and a filler.
More importantly: What the hell did the authors with the antagonist? His head traveled with the three through time, even though metal can’t time travel? And nobody even found the exoskeleton from the Terminator the whole eight years? All the time it lied there in the scrapyard? So the franchise rules don’t exist anymore? BAAAAD! But I was laughing about the scene with Cameron, the ghetto girl and the cop and afterwards Sarah and the cop (“Is this car yours?” – “Why should I drive this piece of crap?”). 4,5/10

Episode 3: The Turk The episode itself was average, but the ending was terrible. It just looks bad, when an exoskeleton has some new skin on it. And the whole story with Cromartie is bad as hell… Why don’t they cast a new Terminator actor, send them back through time and spare me with this crappy story arc? Furthermore the authors spent a third of the episode with irrelevant school drama: the girl jumping off the gym?!??!? Yeah, that only showed us how John wants to help (like we didn’t know already) and Cameron is a Terminator (like we didn’t know that, too). So, what’s this story about? The story of the Turk feels like a filler and is a bit uninteresting, but Cameron’s funny oneliners and the “mystery guy” keep it going. 5,5/10

Episode 4: Heavy Metal Oh my god, another impossibilities in the story which make the episode bad. The whole cargo story is just stupid and so unimportant – it brings nothing to the big story. With Brian Bloom we have another Terminator – how many do we have walking around in the present? The cell phone falls down one feet and it is damaged? The Terminator can push back the truck? And the whole situation in the warehouse… one scene after another which lacks of logic. Fortunately the scene with John in front of the stand-by Terminator (creepy) was cool. And we see Garret Dillahunt for the first time. Oh yeah, his storyline is crap, too. How can Cromartie’s face heal that fast? How could the surgeon cut a face that good? That is impossible and another lack of logic. 4/10

Episode 5: Queen’s Gambit The series improves. A little bit. And this was by far the best episode so far. The Turk story was picked up again and gives us the feeling, that it wasn’t just a filler, and the whole “Andy must be killed” story was quite intriguing. And Derek Reese (Brian Austin Green) was revealed – Kyle’s brother and John’s uncle. This is a good connection to the past and a chance for another character to improve the series (because we will see Derek more often).
The action in this episode was great, we did see one of the old Terminators (the one from episode two) again and Ellison gets a new part to his case. Here and there were some illogical scenes (like the hand which was found near the truck, when it should be much more further away) and questionable reasonings (like the Terminator getting himself into prison to kill Derek). But it was a really good episode. 8/10

Episode 6: Dungeons & Dragons Okay, this episode was bad again. There was nothing really right about this. First Derek’s flashbacks, which are set in the future (2027): It looked like studio, nothing appealed real; then Derek’s abduction… Yeah, for what? First we see a Terminator who looks like he had a mask, stolen from Michael Myers on his face, then the authors didn’t gives us one answer, why Derek was abducted, why he was held in that particular house and why the Terminator leave the axe for the prisoners. And why the hell did the authors solve the mystery about Andy Goode (Brendan Hines)? It was okay enough how they did it in the last episode, and now he really build Skynet?
The story in the present was okay, Charley (Dean Winters) is back, still loving Sarah, gets to know the truth about the past and future. And the talk between him and Cameron was good. But the scenes in the future ruined this episode… 3,5/10

Episode 7: The Demon Hand A boring episode with no real arc in it. Great, Sarah and John trying to find the hand Ellison has – do they have to spend the whole episode with it? And what is more important: This episode had some information about the second movie, but they were wrong: Sarah didn’t break out, because she signed a paper and couldn’t live with it. She broke out, because she knew that a Terminator was behind John and she had to stop him. And I didn’t like the story about Dr. Silverman (Bruce Davison) – why is he in the mental institution. And that fast? Not believable enough for me.
Cameron at the beginning and at the end was great, Summer Glau can dance ballet again (she did it in her Angel episode and she is a professional ballet dancer – and it looked beautiful). 6/10

Episode 8: Vick’s Chip Days in the life of a Terminator named Vick (Matt McColm) – interesting plot, but what I saw there was boring. It is interesting to know what the characters would do with a chip from a Terminator’s head, but why just looking for a missing woman? This is not a crime show. And Vick’s plan involving Skynet into handling the traffic monitoring system… for what? It looks like Skynet has a grand plan to do things in the future, but the authors didn’t give anything to strengthen up this story, it is just lame.
But the episode had some great moments: The scene in which Vick reactivates was very creepy and it is shown that John has feelings for Cameron, his reactions when he pulled the chip out of Cameron speaks volumes. 6/10

Episode 9: What He Beheld To hell with the writer’s strike. This episode never looked like a real season finale. It has a good cliffhanger and a good setup for Cromartie, but the rest was boring. I never liked the whole Turk story, and now here is it again. And finally this is the last episode with that arc.
The scene in which John meets his father as a young 5-year-old boy was touching, the “Man Comes Around” sequence with Cromartie and the (dead) FBI guys was great and the cliffhanger is alright, but lacks of thrill. But I don’t know why the authors brought back Charley – it had no sense at all.
All in all it was just an episode a little bit over average. 7/10

Season average is 5,8, a little bit under average. I planned to watch the second season right afterwards and hope that I am finished in April, when FOX airs the season finale. I already saw the first half, but stopped when it went to hiatus.

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