Remembering a Princess at Star Wars Celebration

The Star Wars Celebration convention is often touted as creator/director George Lucas’s love letter to fans, and never more so than this year’s 40th anniversary event in Orlando. What began as a little “space opera” opening with ten simple words shining blue on a black screen: “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….” has grown into a powerful film franchise spanning decades, and has attracted an enormous global audience of fans both young and old.

Actress Carrie Fisher in 2013
Actress Carrie Fisher is remembered at Star Wars Celebration Orlando (photo courtesy Riccardo)

The joy surrounding this Celebration convention was expected to be somewhat subdued by the death in December 2016 of actress Carrie Fisher. Emotional tributes to Star Wars’ feisty and much-beloved Princess Leia certainly abounded during the 4-days, as cast and crew members from the film series appearing onstage shared many fond memories of working with the candid actress/writer, portraying Fisher as a no nonsense woman who wielded an acerbic and often outrageous wit.

“When I cast it, I said I want somebody young to play the part,” said director Lucas. “I want somebody very young. When Carrie came in, she was that character. She was very strong, very smart, very funny, very bold, very tough, and there really wasn’t much of a question. There are not very many people like her. They are one in a billion. For this particular part, it was absolutely perfect. … She wore a dress through the whole thing, but she was the toughest in the group.”

Lucas went on to say, “She will always be the princess who took command and never backed down, never was in jeopardy. She was always helping the other guys get out of the messes she created. We’ll all love her forever and ever.”

Mark Hamill Speaks About Fisher

Little fan as Princess Leia at Star Wars Celebration (Deborah J Bell)

In his moving talk, Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) began by saying, “Here’s a panel I hoped we wouldn’t have for another 30 years.” After pausing for a moment of obvious emotion, he then went on to share many of his favorite personal stories of Fisher. Hamill also played touching video tributes from both director Lucas and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy.

Onscreen, Kennedy described what would be the final time she saw Fisher, when she went to her house to show her the “young Leia” CGI-enhanced cameo from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

“I rolled this shot, and she didn’t say anything right away, she just sort of leaned back stunned. She…dropped the F bomb several times,” Kennedy added. “She said, ‘Oh my effing God!’ I said, ‘Yeah, it’s pretty amazing, isn’t it?!’ She said, ‘Yeah, I can’t believe it.'”

“We will see a lot of Carrie in [Episode] VIII (The Last Jedi), Kennedy assured fans.

Surprise Appearance by Fisher’s Daughter Billie Lourd

Fisher’s daughter Billie Lourd onstage at Star Wars Celebration (courtesy Lucasfilm)

Of all the moving tributes to the late Fisher, perhaps none was more poignant than the unannounced appearance of her daughter Billie Lourd, making her first public appearance since her mother’s death, wearing a custom-designed Princess Leia-inspired white dress. Lourd was introduced by Lucas during Celebration’s “Forty Years of Star Wars” opening panel, and spoke directly to fans about the mother she loved and the person she most admired.

“My mom used to say she never knew where Princess Leia ended and Carrie Fisher began,” Lourd said. “She was imperfect in many ways but her imperfections and willingness to speak about them are what made her more than perfect. My mom, like Leia, wasn’t ever afraid to speak her mind and say things that might have made most people uncomfortable.”

“She taught me by her own example, that the most evolved person is seemingly a contradiction – they are both the strongest and the most vulnerable person in the room. And that was her. That is Leia.”

Lourd finished her speech by introducing a special tribute video featuring the first footage of Fisher on the set of what would be her final film, Star Wars: The Last Jedi.


Steampunk Poised to Become ‘The Next Big Thing’

With hoards of sci-fi fans waiting to descend upon San Diego next week for Comic Con 2013, I thought it would be a good time to catch up with Fred Jeska, Steampunk craftsman extraordinaire and the proprietor of Kelly’s Heroes.

Fred Jeska aka Cmdr. "Whiskey Nick" Triton at the 2013 Nova Albion Steampunk Exhibition. Credit: Clara Blackheart
Fred Jeska, a.k.a. Cmdr. “Whiskey Nick” Triton, at the 2013 Nova Albion Steampunk Exhibition. Credit: Clara Blackheart

Jeska, otherwise known as Commander “Whiskey Nick” Triton of Her Majesty’s Royal Airship Service, spends his days deconstructing everyday items and magically transforming them into amazing one-of-a-kind custom steampunk creations which he sells exclusively at shows and conventions such as San Diego Comic Con and online at

I first encountered Jeska and his impressive array of handmade “gadgets, gizmos, goggles & gear” at SDCC two years ago when, amidst the cacophony of that ginormous pop-culture convention, I chanced across the Kelly’s Heroes booth, one of several at the convention offering steampunk-styled items.

Nautical goggles fit for Captain Nemo himself! Credit: Fred Jeska
Custom nautical goggles fit for Captain Nemo himself! Credit: Fred Jeska of Kelly’s Heroes

A member of the Sacramento Steampunk Society, Jeska takes particular pride in ensuring that each of his hand-painted and professionally crafted creations looks like it might have come straight out of the pages of a Jules Verne or H.G. Wells novel. Viewing his collection of authentic-looking “Turn of the Century” apparatus, elaborate timepieces and ingenious cosplay accoutrements, it was easy to see why his painstakingly intricate handmade creations were so popular with steampunk enthusiasts and cosplayers.

Next week the Kelly’s Heroes booth will again occupy its familiar spot (Booth D-07) on the San Diego Convention Center exhibit hall floor, and Jeska has been gearing up for SDCC with an even more fantastical selection of custom brass and leather contraptions and paraphernalia.

Batman Superhero Topper. Credit: Fred Jeska
Batman Superhero Topper. Credit: Fred Jeska of Kelly’s Heroes

In keeping with the current trend of cosplayers reimagining Marvel and DC superheroes in steampunk-style, Jeska will be offering a selection of neo-Victorian superhero-themed top hats, variously equipped with goggles and/or mechanical gadgetry perfectly suited to augment a retro superhero’s ensemble. Jeska is bringing a selection of his latest customized toppers to the San Diego convention in addition to all of the other inventive steampunk creations he fabricates.

The Captain America topper was the perfect addition to this cosplayer's outfit.
The Captain America topper was the perfect addition to this cosplayer’s outfit. Credit: Fred Jeska of Kelly’s Heroes

“With the Steampunk aesthetic expanding in every direction and superheroes being so prevalent at the pop-culture shows, marrying the two cultures was a logical transition for me,” says Jeska. “Steampunk superhero hats are the perfect topper for the many variations and interpretations of the characters who grace the cons. They also allow the con goer to proudly display their interest without the investment and encumbrance of the total costume ensemble.”

SDCC attendees who are fans of the neo-Victorian sci-fi aesthetic are encouraged to visit the convention exhibition floor as early as possible during the four-day event for the widest selection of these one-of-a-kind items.

Once considered just a science fiction sub-culture, steampunk seems poised to become the “next big thing” with mainstream consumers as well. During the National Retail Federation Convention held in New York this past January, IBM predicted that steampunk would be the next major trend to take hold of the retail industry. Big Blue’s prediction was based on its advanced supercomputer analytics, which measures trends across cultural domains, including billions of public posts on message boards, blogs, social media sites and news sources.

“From 2009 to 2012 the amount of social media chatter about Steampunk rose by an astonishing 11 times,” writes IBM consumer products expert Dr. Trevor Davison in the IBM-sponsored Smarter Planet Blog. “The aesthetics of steampunk are broad and diverse,” claims Davison, “Steampunk isn’t just about fiction any more, and it isn’t just for fans.”


REVOLUTION Episode 20 review: ‘The Dark Tower’

Billy Burke as Miles Matheson and David Lyons as Bass Monroe in REVOLUTION. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC
Billy Burke as Miles Matheson and David Lyons as Bass Monroe in REVOLUTION. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC

REVOLUTION “The Dark Tower”

Season 1 Episode 20 (Season Finale)
Executive Producer: J.J. Abrams
Creator: Eric Kripke
Teleplay: Eric Kripke & Paul Grellong
Story: Eric Kripke
Director: Charles Beeson

SPOILERS follow. Don’t read if you don’t want to know.

Miles (Billy Burke) and Monroe (David Lyons) temporarily join forces to escape the Tower guard and end up falling into a tunnel filled with rushing water. Nora (Daniella Alonso) manages to grab onto something and stays behind. The boys get washed out of the Tower onto a sandy beach and immediately resume fighting (because that’s what they do), only stopping when a Militia soldier appears and fires. Monroe identifies himself as the soldier’s commanding officer and is shocked when the man continues to shoot before running off. In the confusion Miles disappears.

Up (or down, as it were) in the Tower, Grace Beaumont (Maria Howell) is still whingeing on about not knowing what will happen if they turn the power back on, but Rachel insists that the chance that everyone would die is only one in a billion. Grace is not convinced and feels it is too dangerous to try. Dan warns Rachel (Elizabeth Mitchell) that any effort on her group’s part to gain access to Level 12 will result in their death. So, of course, doing just that becomes Rachel’s top priority.

Aaron (Zak Orth) goes snooping on a Tower computer and recognizes some of his own work from college. He confronts Grace and learns that they are using his code for the Tower’s operating system.

Randall Flynn (Colm Feore) finds the Tower’s bunker and smashes the framed photo of George Bush that Rachel was staring at so fixedly in the last episode to reveal a hidden key card. In the building’s medical unit, Rachel chloroforms an unsuspecting Grace so she can swipe her personal key card. Aaron and Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos) look on as co-conspirators in Rachel’s plan.

In the Militia camp, Neville (Giancarlo Esposito) kills the soldier Franklin (Ramon Fernandez), and lies to his son Jason (JD Pardo) that it was an act of self-defense.

Aaron remembers that he built a virtual backdoor in his code and says that he thinks the worldwide blackout was done intentionally (well, DUH.) Nora suddenly reappears and is welcomed by Charlie.

Billy Burke as Miles Matheson and David Lyons as Bass Monroe. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC
Billy Burke as Miles Matheson and David Lyons as Bass Monroe. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC

In a flashback to their Militia days, Miles and Monroe are together in a restaurant when it is bombed. While recuperating afterwards, Miles learns that Monroe has had the rebel bomber and his wife and three children killed in retaliation and as an example to other rebel forces. Monroe is pleased by his own actions, but Miles and Nora look on in dismay as the family’s coffins are being unloaded.

Back in the present, Monroe and Miles meet up and continue fighting and sniping at each other like two ex-lovers (because that’s what they do). Miles is still angry that Monroe changed for the worse once he came to power, and Monroe is still angry that Miles betrayed him, and whines that everything he did was for his friend. While they are bickering, a helicopter pops up and fires at them, causing them to run. A Militia soldier manages to knock out Monroe and then takes him back to camp under guard. There he is greeted by Neville, who snarls, “There’s been a change in management.”

Monroe threatens to kill Neville and his wife and son, but his former captain is unfazed. Neville believes that Monroe has become deranged and has a “borderline erotic fixation” on Miles (worst kept secret EVER). He plans not to kill Monroe, but to put the General on trial. “You frighten, I inspire.” (Someone has read too many management books.)

Old buddy Miles comes to the rescue, removing Monroe’s handcuffs and saying, “We’re still brothers…  and that’s never gonna change,” before telling Monroe to flee.

On the way to the Level 12 stairway, Nora admits that she knows that Rachel loves Miles, and tells Rachel that she thinks Miles loves her as well. “He’ll choose you every time.” Aaron, Rachel and Nora use explosives to take out the stairway guards, but Nora is hurt in the crossfire.

The Militia blows open the doors to the Tower (they didn’t need no stinkin’ 32-character access code, did they?), and Neville and the soldiers go inside and stumble across Grace. Miles slips inside again, too.

Tracy Spiridakos as Charlie Matheson, Daniella Alonso as Nora, and Billy Burke as Miles Matheson. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC
Tracy Spiridakos as Charlie Matheson, Daniella Alonso as Nora, and Billy Burke as Miles Matheson in “The Dark Tower.” Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC

While working on the injured Nora, Rachel hears the Militia approaching. Charlie wants to take Nora to the infirmary, but Rachel thinks their priority should be turning the lights back on. Charlie pleads with Rachel to stay and help Nora, reminding her that Danny is dead but that she still has a daughter who needs her help, but her mother refuses.

Rachel takes Aaron and leaves Charlie behind with Nora. A Militia scout hears them and breaks in. He is choking Charlie when Miles arrives to stab the guy in the throat and save the day (well, sort of). He tries to carry Nora to the infirmary, but she dies in his arms in the hallway. (Told you so! This was blatantly foreshadowed in “The Longest Day.”)

Neville and his men stop Rachel and Aaron on Level 12. Miles and Charlie appear and wipe out most of the red shirt soldiers, except for Neville and Jason (because they have season two contracts). Grace slips away. Rachel, Charlie, Aaron and Miles use the key card to get into the Level 12 Command Center and lock the doors behind them. While Tom searches for a way inside the room, Aaron runs the shutdown script hoping it can turn on the world’s power again. The screen goes black for several moments.

After a few silent seconds of doubt, we see power begin to return all across the globe. Apparently nobody bothered to flip any switches to “off” 15 years ago, because lights start flickering on en masse everywhere, and of course, people react with amazement at their electrical appliances suddenly working again.

Seeing the power return, Georgia Federation president Foster (Leslie Hope) makes immediate plans to attack Monroe Militia headquarters in Philadelphia. Monroe himself is now wandering out beyond of the Tower in the midst of a terrific electrical storm – something the world hasn’t seen in 15 years.

I guess this means no Dragon*Con this year?? Credit: NBC
I guess this means no Dragon*Con this year?? Credit: NBC

Flynn blasts his way into the Command Center, locks himself in the control booth and launches the Tower’s nuclear weapons towards Atlanta and Philadelphia. He tells Charlie and company that he wants to unite the nation, and declares himself “a patriot” right before shooting himself in the head. With no way into the control room and the clock ticking down, the group can only watch the screen as the ICBMs make their way to their targets.

The President of the United States Colony in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba marvels at the return of electricity. An aide arrives, announces that “Randall Flynn did it,” before adding “It’s time to go home, Mr. President.

Things that didn’t work in this episode:

  • How exactly did Miles and Monroe get washed down and out of the Tower when the Tower is completely underground?
  • I used to like the flashbacks because they were often better written than the modern storylines, but they have become too repetitive and don’t really advance the story any more. Just drop them.
  • They blow open the Tower’s blast doors with plastic explosives? Really? Surely the vice-presidential bunker would be better shielded than that. You should need nukes to get in, at the very least.
  • What exactly was the point of Randall’s suicide? There was just no need to kill himself whatsoever.
  • Most of the “science” in this episode was so nonsensical that it made my head hurt. Just how far away from Atlanta is the Tower? In range of the expected nuclear fallout, perhaps? Are remaining seasons (heaven help us) all going to take place entirely underground because everyone is avoiding the radiation? And don’t get me started on the implausibility of all of the world’s unmaintained electric power plants suddenly springing instantly to life and the power grid automatically restoring itself without any human intervention whatsoever. Ridiculous! I could go on and on, but why bother?

Things that did work in this episode:

  • Effective use of blacked screen and then cut to commercials after Aaron hits the enter key. Too bad this was the first (and only) truly suspenseful moment in the entire series to date.
  • Guantanamo Bay being the home of the exiled President was a nice touch.
  • There were no shoehorned-in pop culture references this episode, except for the title. (And, BTW, the continuing choice of episode titles with their often tissue-thin connection to the stories? Ugh.)
  • Nora got a decent-enough death, and Miles even cried.

My take: Daniella Alonso did a nice job trying to flesh out her sadly underwritten part for nearly 20 episodes, and it’s my opinion that her departure is for the best, especially for her, as this show is going nowhere fast.

Since the entire premise of Revolution was centered on the idea that the world was completely stripped of electricity, and now it’s not, it can be assumed that the producers intend to take the second season in a completely different direction. So what exactly was the point of the first 20 episodes, then? What a waste of a good premise! It seems that no one knew how to really make use of it except to smother it in tired tropes and then abandon it for lack of creativity. What a shame.

REVOLUTION Episode 19 review: ‘Children of Men’

Tracy Spiridakos as Charlie Matheson and Zak Orth as Aaron in Revolution. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC
Tracy Spiridakos as Charlie Matheson and Zak Orth as Aaron in Revolution. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC

REVOLUTION “Children of Men”
Season 1 Episode 19
Executive Producer: J.J. Abrams
Creator: Eric Kripke
Writers: David Rambo & Jim Barnes
Director: Frederick E.O. Toye

SPOILERS follow. Don’t read if you don’t want to know.

Monroe (David Lyons) and Rachel (Elizabeth Mitchell) are surprised when they gain access to the Tower. Credit: NBC

Rachel (Elizabeth Mitchell) gets tackled by one of Monroe’s bodyguards and the live grenade she brought to execute him with gets chucked outside, so that instead of the General only a few Militia soldiers get killed. Aaron (Zak Orth) fearfully watches the explosion from a distance and later sees Rachel being marched off to the Tower.

Monroe (David Lyons) demands that Rachel open the Tower’s electronic doors. She is just as surprised as he is that her handprint works as a key. Flynn (Colm Feore) assumes that Grace Beaumont (Maria Howell) reprogrammed the system to allow access.

Two Militia officers left outside by Monroe to guard the entrance discuss the General’s decisions, with one expressing a growing dissatisfaction with his leadership. They watch helplessly as the Tower’s doors automatically close behind Monroe’s group.

The residents of the Tower watch Monroe and his forces arrive. Credit: NBC
The residents of the Tower watch with trepidation as Monroe and his forces arrive. Credit: NBC

Watching on monitors from the safety of a control room, the mysterious Tower People grab some big guns and prepare to face down the intruders. Now inside, Flynn tells Monroe about the amazing resources available within the Tower, the “crown jewel” of the US Military,” and reveals that any person in the world can be spied upon or killed with just the push of a button. (Shades of the Tantalus Field weapon in the Star Trek TOS episode “Mirror, Mirror.”) But he adds that they have to get to Level 12 to access all of that good stuff.

They soon find that the elevators will only descend as far as Level 11, and when exiting Monroe and his group are attacked by the Tower People using powerful “coilgun” weaponry that uses electromagnets instead of gunpowder and can apparently fire grenades. (See and read about the real technology behind this type of gun here.) All of the non-credited bodyguards are immediately annihilated, but Rachel manages to flee to safety inside a shielded bunker and Monroe follows her. Flynn vanishes.

Arriving via helicopter about four miles from the Tower, Miles (Billy Burke), Nora (Daniella Alonso), Jason (JD Pardo), Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos) and Neville (Giancarlo Esposito) stumble across Aaron in the woods. He thinks they can get into the Tower using the Big Book of Secrets.

Hope you looked quickly, because this was your only chance. Credit: NBC
Hope you looked fast at that 32-character access code, because that was your only chance. Credit: NBC

As a diversion, Neville and Jason sneak into Monroe’s camp and blow up the power source, while the rest of the gang fights their way to the Tower entrance. Amidst the intense firefight, Aaron enters the override code gleaned from Warren’s Big Book of Secrets and opens the doors so that they can slip inside. However, during the fighting Neville and Jason get left outside and are surrounded by enemy troops.

Now held captive in the Militia camp, Neville tries to foment revolt by taunting the two soldiers holding him and pointing out the fact that Monroe is acting increasingly paranoid and erratic and must eventually turn on his own men as he has done so many times before. The dissatisfied soldier from earlier returns and releases the prisoners, saying that 12 of the men are now ready to take down Monroe and that the others will follow if they take out Franklin.

Rachel refuses to tell Monroe anything about the Tower or how to access the heavy-duty weaponry he discovers inside a gun locker within the bunker because she blames him for her son Danny’s murder. He reveals that he has a son, too.

Tim Guinee in his thankless role as Ben Matheson in Revolution. Credit: NBC
Tim Guinee in his thankless role as Ben Matheson in Revolution. Credit: NBC

In a flashback to four months after the blackout, we see Ben (Tim Guinee) using a power amulet and a computer to try to contact others. Grace Beaumont is the person who replies. Rachel is whining about the downfall of civilization being all their fault (well, it is) and how she wants to just give up, but Ben tells her that they must survive for Charlie and Danny’s sake.

Back in the Tower, Aaron, Miles and Charlie run from Tower People who pursue them and enter an abandoned lab, where Aaron way too conveniently discovers a scrap of blueprint with the location of an armory (it’s a trap, people!), but they find it is empty. In the ensuing fight with the Tower People Miles gains some of their fancy coilgun weaponry.

Monroe (David Lyons) gets to use the big guns at last. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC
Monroe (David Lyons) gets to use the big guns at last in Revolution. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC

Rachel catches a glimpse of Charlie on a security monitor and makes yet another bad decision by agreeing to give Monroe access to the gun locker. She and Monroe then rescue Charlie, Nora and Aaron, but Monroe slips off when more Tower People appear. They are taken to meet the group of survivors who have been living underground guarding the Tower and preventing anyone from getting to level 12 and its secrets. Grace is there and steps forward to welcome Aaron as a still-unexplained “big deal” to the Tower dwellers.

Fearing what might happen if they turn the power back on, a former associate of Rachel and Ben’s named Dan wants to burn Dr. Warren’s Big Book of Secrets. Aaron argues that a return to civilized life would be the best thing for everyone, but Grace warns that flipping the switch might do more than turn the lights back on, it might also set the world on fire.

Things that didn’t work in this episode:

  • Just like all of the bad guys in previous episodes, Monroe’s handpicked security personnel appear to have attended Stormtrooper School, where being able to hit the broad side of a barn is not considered an essential skill.
  • Why does it take an entire book to hold the secret of getting into the Tower, when all they needed was one 32-character override code? Dr. Warren couldn’t have scribbled this on the back of an envelope or something? And why hadn’t the Tower People just changed it during the last 15 years?
  • How do the satellites work without any power existing on most of the earth to send them guidance signals?
  • Why is it that only the dead female soldier has an open uniform top that reveals an abundance of sexy tank top cleavage as she is turned over? Were the powerful coil weapons set on “unbutton jackets” as well?

Things that did work in this episode:

  • Less banal dialogue, more ‘splosions. (It might help if they didn’t talk at all, really.)
  • The sets and cinematography, most especially the lighting and use of color inside the Tower, were again outstanding. I certainly hope they are paying Production Designer Doug Meerdink and Director of Photography David Stockton the big bucks, because their hard work is what is keeping Revolution watchable.

My take:  Getting into the Tower at last is hopefully a good thing.  With the season finale next week, there exists the possibility of new characters, new stories and new challenges emerging in season two. (And more former 24 cast members will undoubtedly show up only to be killed off after only one or two episodes, so at least somebody is getting some part time work out of this.)

REVOLUTION Episode 18 review: ‘Clue’

Nora (Daniella Alonso) breaks under torture at the hands of Monroe's henchmen in Revolution. Credit: NBC
Nora (Daniella Alonso) breaks under torture at the hands of Monroe’s henchmen in Revolution. Credit: NBC

Season 1 Episode 18
Executive Producer: J.J. Abrams
Creator: Eric Kripke
Writers: Paul Grellong & Oanh Ly
Director: Helen Shaver

SPOILERS follow. Don’t read if you don’t want to know.

In the tradition of insane megalomaniacs everywhere, Monroe (David Lyons) inexplicably gives the captive Nora (Daniella Alonso) something pretty to wear just before starting in on her heavy-duty torture. After 21 days of nonstop physical and chemical abuse at the hands of the Militia inquisitors, she reveals everything she knows: that Miles (Billy Burke) is in Atlanta, Neville (Giancarlo Esposito) is working with the Rebels, and Rachel is out looking for the Tower in Colorado.

Flynn (Colm Feore) bargains for his life with Monroe in Revolution. Credit: NBC
Flynn (Colm Feore) bargains for his life with Monroe in Revolution. Credit: NBC

Monroe is understandably miffed that his techie frenemy Randall Flynn (Colm Feore) has never told him anything whatsoever about this Tower of Power, and threatens to pump him full of lead. Flynn quickly bargains for his life by revealing that the Tower holds far greater possibilities for power than what Monroe currently controls. Apparently the Tower has “things that make choppers look like Model-Ts” and “things that the President never even knew about,” and soon Monroe is flitting off to grab all the goodies for himself.

While Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos) and Jason (JD Pardo) discuss leaving Atlanta, he spots an old Militia associate in the crowd and slips off to find out what this guy Billings is doing there. (Is this Monroe’s secret son? Only time will tell. He certainly has the crazy eyes resemblance in his favor.)

Nora is improbably rescued by John Sanborn (ER alum Leland Orser), the scientist/doctor who had been assisting with her torture. Sanborn transports her to the rebel camp, where Nora agonizes over having broken under torture and talked about the Tower. While Charlie and the gang prepare to fly off to find Rachel before Monroe does, Nora insists upon accompanying them, despite the fact that she is suffering from occasional drug-induced hallucinations. Neville also joins Miles, Hudson (Alphas alum Malik Yoba), Jason and Charlie on the mission.

Zak Orth as Aaron, Elizabeth Mitchell as Rachel Matheson in Revolution. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC
Zak Orth as Aaron and Elizabeth Mitchell as Rachel Matheson in Revolution. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC

Out in Colorado, Aaron (Zak Orth) and Rachel (Elizabeth Mitchell) spy upon a newly arrived Monroe and debate what to do next. Rachel gives Aaron the codebook and announces that she plans to kill Monroe, and hopes that Aaron can gain access to the Tower in the ensuing confusion.

Meanwhile, the rebel helicopter lands at an abandoned airfield for refueling, and later the group finds the engine has been disabled and their pilot has had his throat cut. Miles goes looking for what the killer whom he assumes is a local, but later when another red shirt in the party ends up dead, Charlie suspects that it is one of their own doing the killing.

Billy Burke as Miles Matheson, JD Pardo as Jason, and Tracy Spiridakos as Charlie Matheson. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC
Billy Burke as Miles Matheson, JD Pardo as Jason, and Tracy Spiridakos as Charlie Matheson. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC

Nora wonders if she has been doing the murders unawares in her drug-addled state, but when Miles finds a knife on Jason their suspicions turn to him. Charlie questions his earlier conversation with that mysterious stranger back in Atlanta, and Jason reveals that Billings made him an offer (that he refused): if he killed Miles he could have anything he wanted. Of course no one believes him, not even Charlie, so Jason flees in the face of Miles’ accusations and threats of harm.

The killer is later revealed to be Hudson, who had agreed to murder the entire rebel rescue party in exchange for the release of his wife now being held hostage by the Militia. (By the way, it really was Miles’ fault that Hudson’s wife was put in danger and became a pawn in all of this. If Miles hadn’t shown up and dragged Hudson off to assist the rebels, then he and his wife would most probably still be living happily ever after.) He and Miles fight, and it is the wrongly accused Jason who ends up shooting Hudson in the back and saving the day. Nora then repairs the helicopter so they can leave.

Now almost as insane as Monroe, Rachel strangles a Militia soldier for his uniform and walks into Monroe’s tent with a live grenade as the episode ends.

Things that didn’t work in this episode:

  • Good thing Nora brought her makeup artist, hairdresser and dry cleaner along for touchups between torture sessions, wasn’t it?
  • An abandoned airfield with plenty of gasoline just sitting around in tanks after 15 years? I think not.
  • Killing off Hudson was just another waste of an excellent actor’s talent. Of course, if they tried killing off the less interesting characters there would be precious few regulars left.

Things that did work in this episode:

  • Monroe is getting twitchier, which helps to make him look even crazier. And it distracts from his too-boyish appearance.
  • There are many mysterious new characters in the Tower watching Flynn’s failed efforts to gain access. All we see is the backs of their heads for about seven seconds, yet this is still far more interesting than what happens in the entire rest of the episode.

My take:  Sometimes I think that Aaron is the only sane one left on his show, because he is the only character who reacts with a normal sense of horror and disgust at Rachel’s increasingly cold-blooded behavior and her tendency to kill whoever stands in her way.

The way this show repeatedly goes off the rails both plot- and logic-wise is like watching a train wreck in slow motion, it’s both painful and fascinating for its unbelievability. I’m still hoping for some sort of epic confrontation once everyone gets to that blasted Tower, but I fear the chances of that are slim.

NBC has announced that Revolution will start airing on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. during its second season, to be followed by Law & Order: SVU and the new Ironside, a reboot of the 1960s detective show. Revolution is being booted off of Mondays by NBC’s latest favorite new pilot, The Blacklist, a crime drama starring James Spader.

REVOLUTION Episode 17 review: ‘The Longest Day

Giancarlo Esposito as former Captain Tom Neville and Billy Burke as Miles Matheson. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC
Giancarlo Esposito as former Captain Tom Neville and Billy Burke as Miles Matheson. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC

REVOLUTION “The Longest Day”
Season 1 Episode 17
Executive Producer:
J.J. Abrams
Creator: Eric Kripke
Writer: Anne Cofell Saunders
Director: Steve Boyum

SPOILERS follow. Don’t read if you don’t want to know.

Daniella Alonso as Nora, Billy Burke as Miles Matheson and Giancarlo Esposito as former Captain Tom Neville. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC
Daniella Alonso as Nora, Billy Burke as Miles Matheson and Giancarlo Esposito as former Captain Tom Neville in Revolution. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC

Nora wakes up in Miles’ bed and declares that spending the night together was a “mistake,” and probably foreshadows her own doom by remarking, “Odds are once this thing’s out, one of us is going to watch the other one die.” As Billy Burke is one of the major leads of Revolution, I’d guess that odds are now probably not on Daniella Alonso’s making it season’s end.

Now a member of the Rebel-Georgian Coalition, Neville (Giancarlo Esposito) gets his kicks by taunting his son, allowing Charlie to try her hand at some empathy with Jason (JD Pardo).

Aaron (Zak Orth) and Rachel (Elizabeth Mitchell) puzzle over Aaron’s inclusion in The Big Tower Secrets Book. Rachel concludes that the only way to fix her broken leg is to use nanotechnology.

Aaron successfully reprograms the magic nanobot capsule and inserts it into Rachel’s wound, where it proceeds to miraculously stitch together her broken bone and heal her skin. For a while it looks like a passing stranger who witnessed the “surgery” has convinced them to help heal his injured son, but Rachel disables the man and announces her intention of fleeing without doing anything.

“What makes you think I’m in it to help people? I want power so Monroe’s enemies can wipe him off the map. I want to kill the man who killed my son, and that’s it,” she cold-heartedly declares before threatening to leave a shocked Aaron behind.

Billy Burke as Miles Matheson and Daniella Alonso as Nora Clayton. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC
Billy Burke as Miles Matheson and Daniella Alonso as Nora Clayton in Revolution. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC

Two Monroe fighters attack the Rebel camp with missiles, destroying several buildings. After Miles pulls Nora from the resultant rubble, they reluctantly join forces with Neville and search for a missing Jason and Charlie.

Monroe (David Lyons) narrowly escapes an assassination attempt, and blames his second-in-command Jeremy (Mark Pellegrino), whom he immediately has executed, because that’s what Monroe does. Later he discovers to his surprise that Jeremy had nothing whatsoever to do with the attempt. No wonder he gets so few new applications for major domo.

Miles and Nora find Jason injured, and leave Neville to care for him. Neville is himself shot by approaching Militia soldiers, and in the ensuing fight, Nora draws the soldiers’ fire so that Miles can rescue Charlie. Jason is successfully evacuated to an Atlanta hospital where a now safe Charlie comforts him with a kiss, much to Neville’s dismay. Having been captured by Militia forces, Nora is taken to Monroe, and it is assumed she will be interrogated by the general with “extreme prejudice.”

Unable to counter Monroe’s superior military strength and technology, Georgia Federation President Foster (Leslie Hope) grimly considers surrender.

Things that didn’t work in this episode:

  • Enough already with the “Monroe is crazy” scenes. We get it. We got it a long time ago, in fact. Stop beating us over the head with it.
  • Maybe I missed it, but where did the working computers come from that enabled Aaron to reprogram the nanbots?
  • The flashbacks to Rachel and Miles seven years ago interspersed in this episode were totally unnecessary and did nothing to advance the plot. Can you say “filler”?

Things that did work in this episode:

  • There remains some question as to whether or not Neville was attempting to rescue the injured Jason, or finish him off instead. Evil Neville is far more interesting than Daddy Neville, isn’t he?
  • The crisp pacing and rapid editing was a nice change from last week’s sluggish steamboat episode. Director and stuntman Steve Boyum’s FX were a great bonus.

My take: If a paranoid Monroe keeps killing every single underling that he wrongly suspects of treason, he will soon have no Militia left! It’s disappointing that actor Mark Pellegrino did not get a longer multi-episode arc. Revolution’s continual use of such fine actors in one-shot guest roles is simply a terrible waste of talent.

'Revolution' Episode 16 review: ‘The Love Boat’

Zak Orth as Aaron and Elizabeth Mitchell as Rachel Matheson in Revolution. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC
Zak Orth as Aaron and Elizabeth Mitchell as Rachel Matheson in Revolution. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC

REVOLUTION “The Love Boat”
Season 1 Episode 16
Executive Producer:
J.J. Abrams
Creator: Eric Kripke
Writer: Melissa Glenn
Director: Charles Beeson

SPOILERS follow. Don’t read if you don’t want to know.

My momma taught me long ago that if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. If I followed her excellent advice, this week’s Revolution review would necessarily be an extremely short one. So, here I have to say I’m sorry, mom, please forgive what follows.

Giancarlo Esposito as Captain Tom Neville. Credit: NBC
Giancarlo Esposito as Captain Tom Neville. Credit: NBC

In a desperate attempt to start out on a positive note, I’ll begin with the one thing that I liked about this week’s episode – there was a lot less music.

Let me explain.

It’s one thing to use musical accompaniment to enhance a dramatic narrative or the emotional impact of a moment, but in order to be most effective music needs to be used sparingly, not slathered all over everything like molasses. Overuse of orchestration can soak a story in syrupy melodrama, and Revolution’s tendency to underline almost every single scene with Dramatic Musical Emphasis has become increasingly distracting.

This week there were actually one or two tense scenes with no musical accompaniment whatsoever, allowing the viewers decide for themselves how they felt about a plot development. What a relief! In fact, I’d venture to suggest that a lot less orchestration would be a very good thing for this show. Stop telling us how we should feel and let us think for ourselves.

To recap: Neville (Giancarlo Esposito) arrives to assist the Rebel-Georgia alliance and everyone is really unhappy to see him (no surprise there), most especially Miles (Billy Burke) and Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos), who would like nothing more than to instantly off the guy.

Capt/Major/Traitor Tom wastes no time in sneering at absolutely everybody he’s supposedly there to help, including son Jason (JD Pardo), whose defection to the Rebels is what forced his parents to flee the Monroe Republic in the first place. Dad is happy to remind him he is to blame.

Tracy Spiridakos as Charlie Matheson in Revolution. Credit: NBC
Tracy Spiridakos as Charlie in Revolution. Credit: NBC

Miles exhibits that unappealingly nasty side of his and executes a Militia prisoner in cold blood. He’s also snatched and secreted away the scientist (Timothy Busfield, the face-of-the-week that Revolution is content to woefully underuse) who Monroe had been forcing to create Anthrax, as well as holding the man’s family hostage. It’s up to Charlie to stand up to Miles and show him the error of his “this is war so I can do the same thing the bad guys do” behavior. She does, but does he learn? Who knows?

Practically everyone pulls a rifle/shotgun/handgun/machine gun to threatens somebody else at some point in the episode, making me wonder just where they are getting all of that ammunition if there are no more working factories. Oh, and did I mention that almost all of the above happens on a steamboat or two? Why, you ask? For no accountable reason that I can think of.

Meanwhile, Aaron (Zak Orth) and Rachel (Elizabeth Mitchell) must’ve forgotten to pack a lunch for that long, important trek to the Tower, because they are now starving and Rachel ends up shooting a man from whom they have stolen food. Why they don’t take his horse as well makes no sense, but making no sense is par for the course on Revolution. They are later harassed by two other men whom Rachel also manages to kill.

Newspaper clipping about Aaron and his surprisingly sophisticated AI software program. Credit: NBC
Newspaper clipping about Aaron and the sophisticated AI software program he developed as a student. Credit: NBC

There’s an old newspaper clipping of eventual plot-point-Aaron in the book Rachel has been translating. See, I told you he was vital to saving the day somehow later on! Why else would they be dragging this red shirt through 16 straight episodes for no discernible reason? (See my screen cap and read the article for yourself. You’re welcome.)

Grace looks worried in Revolution. Credit: NBC
Grace looks kind of worried in Revolution. Credit: NBC

We get one final glimpse of Grace (Maria Howell) in her captive working environment. You remember Grace, right? The scientist who helped to develop the technology that killed electricity? The woman with no backstory who gets one scene every three episodes? She seems to be afraid of whatever is loose and killing people in the building where she is being held. Gosh, I wonder if we must wait another 16 episodes to find out what it is?

Things that didn’t work in this episode:

  • Almost everything, but especially the cringingly awful scene with Nora (Daniella Alonso) seducing Miles at the end. It was obviously supposed to be sexy, but as Alonso and Burke (both attractive individuals in real life) have so little onscreen chemistry, the result was quite uncomfortable to watch.
  • Esposito, fine actor that he is, worked every moment to try to make something of the pathetically poor dialogue he was given. The man really earns his paycheck.
  • If Rachel goes around shooting just anyone who gets in her way on her journey to the Tower, doesn’t that make her just as bad as Miles? Or Monroe?
  • Where was all the crew needed to run that steamboat?

Things that did work in this episode:

  • Rachel breaks her leg. Is it bad of me that I was really hoping Aaron would then just shoot her and put us out of our misery? Now that would have been a good plot twist. Rachel is one of the most unlikeable characters in this show, but Miles is giving her a run for that title these days. And to think, I used to find Charlie the most annoying person in Revolution!

My take: For some unfathomable reason, NBC has renewed this show for a second season and 22 additional episodes. If they continue to make the characters so unlikable I doubt anyone will care if nanobots blast everyone from the inside out.

REVOLUTION Episode 15 review: ‘Home’

I'd drink, too, if I were on this show. Elizabeth Mitchell as Rachel Matheson, Zak Orth as Aaron. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC
I’d drink, too, if I were on this show. Elizabeth Mitchell as Rachel Matheson, Zak Orth as Aaron in Revolution.  Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC

Season 1 Episode 15

Executive Producer: J.J. Abrams
Creator: Eric Kripke
Writer: David Rambo
Director: John Cassar

SPOILERS follow. Don’t read if you don’t want to know.

In the aftermath of a recent battle with Monroe Republic forces, Miles (Billy Burke) and Hudson (Malik Yoba) ponder the high cost of victory, and agree in their dislike of Dixon (Joe Knezevich), the captain President Foster had sent to work with and spy on them.

David Lyons as Gen. Bass Monroe in "Revolution." Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC
He’s all pouty because he lost round two. David Lyons as Gen. Bass Monroe in Revolution. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC

On the losing side of the battle, General Monroe (David Lyons) becomes even more determined to kill Miles. He hatches a plan to lure his former friend to his death, which includes descending upon their boyhood town in attack helicopters, and taking the entire citizenry hostage. The sentimental boy also manages to slip in a visit to his parents’ gravesites as well.

Miles tries to talk with Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos) about the psychological toll of non-stop fighting, but is interrupted when a runner arrives from the enemy camp. Monroe wants Miles to meet him in their hometown at dawn or else he will kill everyone there, including Miles’ former girlfriend Emma.

Flashbacks reveal a youthful Miles and his girlfriend Emma saying a tearful goodbye before he must leave for military training. It turns out that young Monroe is also smitten with the same girl, who is clearly shown to return his affections. Looks like she’s a girl who just can’t make up her mind.

Hello, Emma. Goodbye, Emma. Credit NBC
Hello, Emma. Goodbye, Emma. Credit NBC

Still living in the old hometown, a modern-day Emma (Annie Wersching) confronts Monroe. She admits that she knows he is planning to lure Miles there, and says she loves them both, and asks him to let everyone go. All of her pleading eventually results in his locking everyone into the town hall and then setting it on fire, so perhaps she was not the best person for the job.

“Lock everyone in the basement. Burn it all down.”

Back at the rebel camp, the soldiers are mercilessly beating Monroe’s messenger into submission to get him to reveal the General’s plans, allowing Miles to slip away. He arrives at the town hall to find it in flames and a dozen soldiers waiting for him, but they somehow let him slip into the burning building. (It’s a trap, DUH.) The Militia opens fire on the townspeople trapped inside and (I am praying that) Miles and Emma face certain death, but rebel troops arrive and save the day.

Monroe ends up grabbing Emma to use as a human shield simply because he knows Miles won’t kill her of all people, but she distracts him when she cries out that she doesn’t want to die, because she wants to see her son again. Surprise, Bass, you’ve had a son all this time.

Miles and Charlie bicker over whether or not to shoot Monroe regardless, but the matter is solved when Capt. Dixon takes matters into his own hands and fires. Oops, his shot kills Emma and only wounds Monroe, whose forces drag him off to the safety of a retreating helicopter. And angry Miles then shoots Dixon for killing Emma.

This is the point where I wanted to turn off the television in disgust. It made perfect sense for the rebels to shoot at Monroe, despite the risk of killing innocent civilian Emma. Demented, sadistic, murdering leader of the enemy in my sights? I would have done it in a heartbeat. Dixon deserved a medal, not a bullet.

I don't care about your two degrees from MIT. Get me a sandwich. Elizabeth Mitchell as Rachel Matheson. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC
I don’t care about your two degrees from MIT. Get me a sandwich. Elizabeth Mitchell as Rachel Matheson. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC

In another equally implausible part of the forest, Rachel (Elizabeth Mitchell) and Aaron (Zak Orth) arrive in the Plains Nation, where Rachel continues to work at deciphering Dr. Warren’s diary and be disgustingly patronizing to the man who only came along to help. Dismayed at having his offers of assistance dismissed and then being sent off to shop for provisions, Aaron is shocked to catch a glimpse of his long-lost wife Priscilla (Maureen Sebastian) in a crowded market.

After hours of searching and being told by Rachel that he must have imagined what he saw, Aaron again spots Priscilla, this time sitting in a bar with another man. It’s easy to see that she looks terrified, that is, easy for everyone but Aaron and Rachel, apparently. She treats Aaron as a mere friend and waves him away, but then her companion is secretly holding a gun on her, so this makes a good deal of sense. In her capacity as frenemy, Rachel tries to convince Aaron that his wife doesn’t want him anymore and drags him off.

Zak Orth getting his ass kicked (again) as Aaron in "Revolution." Damn, I hope they're paying you the big bucks, son. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC
Zak Orth getting his ass kicked (again) as Aaron in Revolution. Damn, I hope they’re paying you the big bucks for this, son. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC

But for once Aaron decides to stand up for himself and goes back to Priscilla, whom he is sure needs help. In fact, her companion is a bounty hunter escorting her back to the Monroe Republic on murder charges. This fact doesn’t stop Aaron from attempting to free her, and he lunges at her captor. Unfortunately he ends up getting the worst of the fight until Priscilla slams the guy in the head with an iron bar.

Aaron finally gets to apologize for leaving her, and then has to listen as she admits  that she has a family now, including an 11-year-old daughter in Texas that she wants to go back to. She says she loves him and always will, but, you know, goodbye. Geez, aren’t you glad you wasted 15 years pining after her, Aaron?

Now that Dixon is dead, Georgia Federation President Foster decides to send a new man out to liason with Miles. And who better than his sworn enemy, former torturer and all around evil SOB Militia Captain Neville? After all, what could possibly go wrong with that?

Things that didn’t work in this episode:

  • The small spark provided by adding Emma to the Miles/Monroe mix died with her. These one-off guest-of-the-week roles really waste the talent of the guest stars. Or is everyone simply appearing as a favor to one of the endless list of producers?
  • Miles is being constantly pushed on the audience as some kind of love ‘em and leave ‘em ladies man, which is rather silly, honestly.
  • Why in the world didn’t the Militia just gun down Miles when he was in plain sight as he was entering the Town Hall?
  • Why in the world didn’t Charlie just shoot Monroe when she had the chance?

Things that did work in this episode:

  • Good to finally see a storyline centered on Aaron, even if it was an ultimately dissatisfying one.
  • Bringing back Baker, Monroe’s second-in-command, was an excellent choice. Mark Pellegrino takes very little and makes much of it, and so should be kept around as long as possible.

My take: The Miles/Monroe theme has gone way past old to cold. Their relationship has now descended to two little boys fighting over their toys. Presumably Monroe’s son will be the next push-pull item. Who will find him first? Whom will he choose for his daddy? Who really cares?

Revolution Revealed: Episode 15

REVOLUTION Episode 14 review: ‘The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia’

Tracy Spiridakos as Charlie Matheson, Billy Burke as Miles Matheson, Daniella Alonso as Nora in Revolution. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC
Tracy Spiridakos as Charlie Matheson, Billy Burke as Miles Matheson, Daniella Alonso as Nora in Revolution. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC

REVOLUTION “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia”
Season 1 Episode 14

Executive Producer: J.J. Abrams
Creator: Eric Kripke
Writers: Paul Grellong
Director: Nick Copus

SPOILERS follow. Don’t read if you don’t want to know.

With the knowledge that Monroe has sent a nuclear weapon to Atlanta, Miles (Billy Burke), Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos) and Nora (Daniella Alonso) head for Georgia, where steam power rules and its citizens live a fine life thanks to a far richer economy than what the Monroe Republic can offer.

Elizabeth Mitchell as Rachel Matheson. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC
Elizabeth Mitchell as Rachel Matheson in Revolution. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC

Meanwhile, Rachel (Elizabeth Mitchell) and Aaron (Zak Orth) are off to find an amulet-bearing woman named Jane Warren who can help them get into the Tower. The two slavering Militia soldiers who attack them meet an internally-combustible end courtesy of the very woman they were seeking.

Smart cookie Jane immediately realizes that Rachel wants to go to the Tower to short-circuit the nanites. We learn that these nanomachines can do more than absorb electricity (and fry you from the inside out); they can also be used to help repair bodies, and were essentially behind what was keeping Danny alive. Jane refuses to help, because if the nanites are turned off her girlfriend Beth, who has a cancer that is controlled by these devices, will most certainly die.

However, it is Beth herself who convinces her partner to part with the information that Rachel needs, even knowing that turning the nanites off means her death.

Alec holds a grudge against Miles in Revolution. Credit: NBC
Alec holds a grudge against Miles in Revolution. Credit: NBC

The nuclear weapon has been smuggled into Atlanta by Alec, one of Miles’ former protégés, and the fellow to whom he once upon a time gave his grandfather’s “lucky” knife. Once Miles locates the WMD, a close quarters swordfight ensues between its protector Alec and his former Militia mentor. Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos) intervenes with a shoulder-piercing arrow, wounding Alec, who manages to escape after shooting a cop and leaving Miles to take the blame from the arriving police force.

“Miles has the swagger and the sword tricks,” Alec warns Charlie before slipping away. “You don’t think he’d hurt you? Ask him what he did to your mom sometime.” Alec has good reason to offer such advice, being that Miles had betrayed him once before. (Miles later sidesteps Charlie’s question about what he once did to her mom.)

A military helicopter begins dropping Munroe’s flyers that demand

Credit: NBC
Monroe’s “Warning” flyers. Credit: NBC

the unconditional surrender of the Georgia Federation and warning of a nuclear attack if Atlanta does not comply. Panicked people begin evacuating the city.

Miles is taken to Georgia Federation President Kelly Foster (Leslie Hope), yet another person with a personal grudge against the former Munroe Militia commander. (It seems like everyone is always pulling knives on this guy.) He offers to stop Alec from detonating the bomb, so she lets him go.

Turns out that that Miles once betrayed Alec in order to avoid a war with Texas. “The job comes first.” In the mass confusion of the fleeing citizenry, Miles improbably immediately locates Nora and Charlie and then Alec’s hiding place in a nearby basement.

Monroe transmits the order to detonate the device and the two men fight for control of the weapon. Miles ends up killing Alec with his granddaddy’s knife, of course, and delivers the defused bomb to President Foster, albeit sans its nuclear material. Even so, Foster decides that war with the is inevitable, and offers Miles 200 soldiers and a thousand guns to open up a second rebel front against Monroe while her troops attack the Republic’s southern border.

Things that didn’t work in this episode:

  • Why use flashlights of all things to test for power? Wouldn’t it have been more inconspicuous to just use digital watches? But then, how could ANY of the batteries in these devices still work after 15 years? I’d certainly like the patent on that rechargeable technology.
  • Why did Frodo and Samwise Rachel and Aaron go alone on their trek to the Tower? Why not take some rebel support forces with them as a safeguard? Playing catch-and-release each week could get old very fast. In fact, it’s only happened once and it already feels overused.
  • You really need a nifty “suspension of disbelief” hat for this episode. Minutes after arriving in the city of Atlanta, Miles has located enemy Alec and the nuke. Moments after being released by Foster he stumbles over both Charlie and Nora and Alec’s secret hideout.
  • Ummm, what happened to the other two men on Alec’s three-man nuke delivery team?
  • I feel so sorry for actor Zak Orth. He gets to do nothing in these episodes but trail after people and get kicked. I can’t help feeling that he is just going to end up dead at the end of the series anyway.

Things that did work in this episode:

  • The fights were less of the past sword-and-fantasy variety and more one-on-one, making them much more believable. Too bad that the relationship between Miles and Alec was not more developed. Good though they may be, it’s difficult to care about what happens to these one-shot guest stars.

My take: I’ve been saying all along that it was ridiculous to think that all of the engineers and scientists and mechanics and teachers would simply forget how to create machines that work sans electricity. Proof that the technology is possible lies in the Georgia Republic’s obviously successful adaptation of steam power. So, are Monroe Republic scientists just plain stupid, or what?

REVOLUTION Episode 13 review: ‘The Song Remains the Same’

REVOLUTION “The Song Remains the Same”
Season 1 Episode 13

Executive Producer: J.J. Abrams
Creator: Eric Kripke
Writers: Monica Owusu-Breen & Matt Pitts
Director: John F. Showalter

SPOILERS follow. Don’t read if you don’t want to know.

Billy Burke as Miles Matheson and Giancarlo Esposito as Tom Neville in Revolution. Credit: NBC
Billy Burke as Miles Matheson and Giancarlo Esposito as Tom Neville in Revolution. Credit: NBC

Revolution finally gets it right with its strongest episode to date.

“The Song Remains the Same” is an acting tour de force for Giancarlo Esposito, who plays bad guy Tom Neville. It is obvious right from the start that the intensity this actor brings to his role inspired the rest of the cast to up their game, with the result being a far more intriguing episode than usual. Even though he is tied to a chair for most of the episode, it is truly amazing what Esposito accomplishes with just the barest grimace or sideways glance.

Whether Neville is trading insults with the maniacal Randall Flynn (Colm Feore), being pummeled by captor Miles Matheson (Billy Burke), or attempting to lay a guilt trip on rebellious son Jason (JD Pardo), you can’t help but admire the way the brutal Militia officer uses every trick in the book to advance his own agenda and finagle his way out of the tightest of spots.

Since Neville’s journey is one of the most interesting things about Revolution, another episode concentrating on his backstory and motivations was long overdue. Wife Julia (Kim Raver) makes an appearance as well, although by this time her usually cool and collected demeanor is showing more than a few troubling cracks. Having to pretend to the world that her runaway son is dead seems to have slightly unhinged our Lady MacBeth.

Kim Raver as Julia Neville. Credit: NBC
Kim Raver as Julia Neville. Credit: NBC

Over the course of the hour we see this elite Militia power couple’s world turned upside down. Due to Neville’s military failures and the inevitable discovery of their son’s rebellion, the two are forced to flee Gen. Monroe’s displeasure — and certain death. This is a far more interesting direction than where their storyline was previously headed, but one has to wonder if Mrs. Neville is equipped to handle life on the run as a fugitive. Might she take the same suicidal path as her Shakespearean role model?

JD Pardo as Jason/Nate in Revolution. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC
JD Pardo does the brooding rebel thing as Jason/Nate in Revolution. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC

If the darker mood and crisp cross-cutting of this episode of Revolution reminds anyone of the saga of those two demon-hunting Winchester boys, it’s not surprising. Director John Showalter has helmed several episodes of Supernatural, and his expert pacing and editing skills really shine here in “The Song Remains the Same.” Unlike almost all of the previous episodes, there’s plenty of plot driving the story and thankfully very little extraneous fluff slowing things down. I must also credit Showalter for the welcome return of the carefully designed and lit cinematography that enhances this episode.

Another highlight was JD Pardo’s performance as Jason. Most of his screen time involved a scene with Esposito as his father, and it was enjoyable to compare the two’s similarities and differences. The result of their interaction, although not surprising, seemed very natural due to the way the two actors were careful to underplay their emotions.

Elizabeth Mitchell as Rachel Matheson in Revolution. Credit: NBC
Someone forgot to take their meds. Elizabeth Mitchell as mom Rachel Matheson in Revolution. Credit: NBC

The weakest part of this episode is how Rachel (Elizabeth Mitchell) is all over the place emotionally. She starts out grim and determined to kill the captive Neville in revenge for Danny’s death, but daughter Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos) thinks their captive will be more useful alive, and talks her out of it. Later, she calmly explains to Aaron (Zak Orth) the big secret behind this power-less society. Seems she helped to invent and release virus-sized electricity-absorbing computer chips, but something went horribly wrong along the way, and the nano-technology malfunctioned and replicated beyond all expectations until it gobbled up all the sources of electricity on the planet. Oops.

Sadly, the long-sought after flash drive pendants and how they work to counter this effect are not even mentioned. Maybe they eat the power-munching nanites, or perhaps neutralize them. (Or maybe the writers simply haven’t decided yet.)

Be afraid, Aaron. Be very afraid. Zak Orth as Aaron in Revolution. Credit: NBC
Be afraid, Aaron. Be very afraid. Zak Orth as Aaron in Revolution. Credit: NBC

She goes on to explain that there are now a couple hundred quadrillion of these little buggers in the air and literally everywhere, but the good news is that she thinks they can be re-programmed to stop doing what they do (and hopefully not do worse things that haven’t been thought of yet). However the fix somehow involves a suicide mission to a mysterious “Tower.” Why Rachel feels this is a trip with no return is never explained, but it is apparently so dangerous a mission that she rejects daughter Charlie’s offers of help and decides to take poor Aaron along. As the character with the next least-elaborated backstory, we all know he’s expendable, but I like Aaron and am hoping he hasn’t packed his red shirt.

Prior to her departure, there’s another mood swing leading to some furtive groping action and a heated kiss between Rachel and her brother-in-law Miles, which suggests that a romantic relationship may have once existed between the two. Troubling questions about Charlie’s  parentage naturally arise, but whether or not the writers intend to go down that road remains to be seen. It may be said that opposites attract, but I didn’t find this pairing particularly appealing.

Things that didn’t work in this episode:

  • Charlie and her mom Rachel haven’t really had enough time to develop their relationship as adults, so their interactions lack the intensity I believe the writers are aiming for.

Things that did work in this episode:

  • Almost everything else. More of the same next time, please.

My take: I think that this episode is really where the series should have been plot-wise by episode six or seven. Too much time was wasted in the long, drawn-out build up in the first half of the season. It is to be hoped that the writers have learned from this and will continue to pick up the pace.

REVOLUTION Episode 12 review: ‘Ghosts'

Daniella Alonso as Nora in Revolution. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC
Daniella Alonso appears as freedom fighter Nora in Revolution. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC

Season 1 Episode 12

Executive Producer: J.J. Abrams
Creator: Eric Kripke
Writers: David Rambo & Melissa Glenn
Director: Miguel Sapochnik

SPOILERS follow for “Ghosts.” Don’t read if you don’t want to know.

Now that the hunt for Danny is over and that MacGuffin is dead and buried, Revolution’s new story arc appears to be shifting away from Charlie and centering on other members of the Matheson family.

Since we knew (and cared) so little about the sadly underdeveloped character of Danny, it’s difficult to see his loss as important other than as a point of contention for Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos) and her mother (Elizabeth Mitchell). They each grieve over Danny’s death in their own way, Charlie by throwing herself into even more dangerous rebel escapades, and Rachel by having emotional breakdowns as often as possible.

During one of these meltdowns, Rachel berates Charlie for her ongoing participation in rebel missions, screaming, “I’m not going to lose you, too!” and slapping her daughter hard across the face.

For much of the first ten episodes I’d rather wished somebody would slap the annoying Charlie, and yet here I found myself feeling pity for her. For a long time it looked as though this whiny, weepy, immature young woman was never going to grow up. Now that she has, it seems unreasonable for her to have to take harsh criticism and physical abuse from the mother who long ago abandoned her and knows next to nothing about her character or her experiences. So what if mom Rachel is carrying around a sackful of guilt over Danny’s death? I think she dang well deserves to tote that blame around by herself and not pour it out on what little is left of her family.

Miles (Billy Burke) decides that he needs the help of a former military cohort from his Militia days to turn the rebels into ruthless killers. He and Nora locate Jim Hudson (a stalwart Malik Yoba), one of Miles’ fellow Militia officers who once participated in the failed assassination attempt on General Monroe.

as Jim Hudson in Revolution. Credit: NBC
Malik Yoba as Jim Hudson in Revolution. Credit: NBC

Trying to put his violent past behind him, a now married Hudson is living under an assumed name in a quiet township. As Henry Bemis (nudge, nudge, Twilight Zone fans), he runs the town library, and seems to have cornered the market on Stephen King novels. As if the character of Randall Flynn’s near naming to King’s villain Randall Flagg wasn’t enough of a shout out, there’s a shelf of references shoved in the viewer’s face at every opportunity, too.

Subtle Revolution is not.

“You can’t wash that much blood off your hands,” insists Miles to the reformed Hudson, in an effort to bully him into joining up with the resistance fighters. Clichéd remarks like this are the closest Miles ever comes to addressing his own bloody past, and it is hoped that his own dirty deeds will not go forever unaddressed. Otherwise how is anyone supposed to care whether he reforms or not?

An advancing Militia kill squad having conveniently followed Miles and Nora to Hudson’s door does the persuading instead. They force this week’s showdown, which the rebels win. Patently ridiculous, of course. The rebels carry only swords and the Militia squad members who vastly outnumber them are all heavily armed with guns and rifles. Gen. Monroe must have sent all of his soldiers to the Stormtrooper School of Firearms Training because these idiots are unable to hit the side of a barn, much less a few guys standing a few feet in front of them.

One consequence of the rebel win is that Hudson’s pretty little wife dumps him upon seeing what violence he is capable of. This comes right after he saves her from certain death at the hands of a leering Militia officer, so her lack of gratitude is pretty galling. Because of this a rejected Hudson reluctantly decides to join Miles and the rebels after all.

Colm Feore as Randall Flynn in Revolution. Credit: NBC
Colm Feore as Randall Flynn in Revolution. Credit: NBC

Meanwhile, Randall Flynn (Colm Feore) parries with Gen. Monroe (David Lyons) over just who actually holds the power. We learn that Flynn’s anger over his son being killed in action fifteen years ago in Kabul, Afghanistan was what initially fueled his megalomaniacal desire to turn off the electricity and keep it off. He intends to keep all of the power in his own safe little hands. Yes, this is just what our planet needs, another maniacal visionary intent on world domination.

Flynn’s ability to track the power pendants lets him hunt for Rachel, whom he feels he needs to continue his diabolical energy research. She figures out that he is on her trail, and so destroys the two pendants in her possession. This seems a pretty stupid move as the rebels could have probably used those for defense, but as the creator of the pendants it is presumed that Rachel could build more — although how she can do that without the power they provide may be a bit of a problem. Initially, we were told of the existence of twelve pendants, so a few episodes undoubtedly will be wrapped around finding more of them.

Lastly, Aaron (remember Aaron, the new Danny?) finally demands that Rachel explain what the heck is going on with all of these blinky flash drives and who Randall is. Her insipid reply is, “You don’t want to know.”

This has got to be one of the most preposterous lines ever written in this show. It’s so bad that I’m surprised that Elizabeth Mitchell had the guts to say it. “There’s this place called “The Tower…” is how Rachel begins to explain things to Aaron before the fadeout.

Things that didn’t work in this episode:

  • Early in the episode, Flynn taunts Gen. Monroe with the idea that he could just as easily have taken his precious top-secret information to “Governor Affleck” in California. And Miles’ joke, “So, you’re what … Conan the librarian?” Please. Wouldn’t it be nice if less time was spent shoehorning pop culture references into the formulaic plots and more time was devoted to fleshing out the tissue-thin characters?
  • Most unbelievable moment of the episode was when Charlie apologized to her mother. This whole situation is pretty much all Rachel’s fault, so it’s odd that no one ever addresses that.
  • Elizabeth Mitchell plays Rachel with a disconcertingly vapid expression that does little to endear viewers. That she also gets some of the most ridiculous lines to say doesn’t help.

Things that did work in this episode:

  • Evil meets evil and the always-impressive Colm Feore wins the battle by oozing seniority all over David Lyons, who manages a few points for smiling with implied menace.
  • Charlie finally grows up! Tracy Spiridakos has a better handle on playing Charlie’s natural emotional detachment after Danny’s death than she ever did at playing her as a whiny twenty-something.

My take: Ramping up the action helps the episode over some of its weakest points, but when the cliché-riddled script takes over it falters more often than not. The biggest difficulty is that the characters are just too cardboard to care about.

REVOLUTION Episode 11 review: ‘The Stand’

Billy Burke as Miles Matheson in REVOLUTION. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC)
Billy Burke as Miles Matheson in Revolution. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC)

Season 1 Episode 11

Executive Producer: J.J. Abrams
Creator: Eric Kripke

SPOILERS follow. Don’t read if you don’t want to know.

Tracy Spiridakos returns as a far less tearful Charlie Matheson in Revolution. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC
Tracy Spiridakos returns as a far less tearful Charlie Matheson in Revolution. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC

After a lengthy and potentially amnesia-inducing four-month hiatus, NBC’s Revolution returned to television screens last night with “The Stand.” The long-awaited second half of the season started off with a real bang, and interestingly, contained far less whimpering than past episodes. But does it really deliver?

A longer than usual explanatory recap condensed the first 10 episodes into about three minutes. This introduction was a necessity for those first-time viewers the network is anxious to attract, and also a helpful refresher for returning fans that may have become a little fuzzy on the details since they last saw Charlie & Company walking off into the sunset back in November.

We return on the heels of the last episode, with Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos), uncle Miles (Billy Burke), newly rescued brother Danny (Graham Rogers) and mom Rachel (Elizabeth Mitchell), et al, fleeing from nasty General Monroe (David Lyons). Thanks to former captive Rachel’s technical expertise, Monroe is now finally able to power up his beloved black killer helicopters, which he immediately orders out to kill the escapees. But thanks to the limitless protective powers of an abandoned diner refrigerator (I kid you not) the gang manages to escape utterly unscathed.

Rachel conveniently remembers that she has a friend (guest star Leland Orser) living nearby who owns his own power amulet and whose hobby is building ground-to-air rocket launchers. (Suspension of disbelief is an essential requirement for watching this series.) They decide to borrow a few deadly weapons from him, but, unfortunately for them, he has gone over to the dark side. He attempts to betray them to former DOD agent Randall Flynn (the delightfully menacing Colm Feore), who has been the man behind the curtain for far too long in this series. There’s a brief glimpse of Randall’s captive Grace, the other tech being forced to code for evil, but little else.

Daniella Alonso as Nora in Revolution. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC
Daniella Alonso as the rebel fighter Nora in Revolution. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC

Now that he has some working air weaponry, Monroe decides to prove just how evil he is by decimating a few nearby rebel encampments. Hello, a couple of dropped bombs might be far more efficient destruction-wise than raining down thousands of bullets on concrete hideouts, but perhaps Monroe didn’t really stop to think about it. (Whereas the writers had four months, so there’s no excusing them.)

Neville and his son Jason/Nate have a falling out over the deadly attacks on these rebel bases, which, to Jason’s mind, include the needless destruction of innocent women and children. Here semantics gets in the way for the thoughtful viewer, since the rebels’ families are always described as “innocent women and children,” while the Militia’s family members, who presumably also get maimed or killed when the rebels blow up a military target in town, are never even mentioned in the show. This is one of those really troubling issues inherent to all wars, and which could inspire some serious discussion, but is, of course, completely ignored.

Jason decamps to the rebels, and dad Neville declares him “dead to me” as a result. Start placing your bets now for the eventual father/son showdown.

Oh, Danny, we hardly knew ye! Graham Rogers as Danny Matheson. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC
Oh, Danny, we hardly knew ye! Graham Rogers as the doomed Danny in Revolution. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC

Pulling yet another trick out of the creaky “trying to prove we’re unpredictable” box, the hour finished off with another character death. Militia helicopters blast the rebel camp where Charlie & Company are hiding and Charlie’s brother (Graham Rogers) gets killed in a spectacular fashion. We get to see his heroic death from several angles, and in slow motion, no less!

Since Charlie’s desire to rescue Danny was the focus of the entire first half of the season, his death seems to herald a major shift in the show’s direction away from our girl heroine — not to mention making viewers feel that the time they’ve invested up until now has been pretty pointless.

In reality, Danny’s character was given no development beyond his occasional use as a punching bag, so his departure has little emotional impact for viewers. (One could argue that his slo mo death scene got more screen time than all of his previous appearances combined.) What a waste. And since we all know that no one ever really dies in sci-fi, it’s a good bet that he will reappear in future episodes anyway, the same way Charlie’s dead dad still shows up in expository flashback scenes. So it’s not like he’s really gone, ya know, but he remains pretty superfluous.

Let's face it, Mom is just weird. Elizabeth Mitchell as Rachel Matheson in Revolution. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC
Let’s face it, Mom is just weird. Elizabeth Mitchell as Rachel Matheson in Revolution. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC

You might think that the unexpected murder of the sibling that Charlie had been so desperate to find all these months would be an appropriate excuse for her to exhibit the extremes of grief, but oddly, after the initial shock, both Charlie and her mother only come across as coldly stoic. Charlie decides to place all of the blame on General Monroe, and swears revenge.

Why does no one even mention the fact that mom Rachel was directly responsible for creating the devices that allowed Monroe to cause Danny’s death? Yes, she was the enemy’s captive at the time, but it was her knowledge and ability that created and powered the weapons, yet she seems to feel no sense of responsibility at all.  This makes no sense, because any normal person, most especially a mother, would feel an enormous sense of guilt over the part she played in this death.

Rachel’s final act is one of desecration – slicing open her son’s corpse to acquire a mysterious blinky device that will presumably power some future weaponry – and raises the weird, ickiness vibe of her character even higher. For me, these scenes make her character look even more repellent, which I sincerely doubt was the writers’ actual intention.  Time, it is supposed, will tell.

Things that didn’t work in this episode:

  • That six people could escape certain death from an assault missile attack by hiding in an old freezer unit was ludicrous. And pretty insulting to the viewers, honestly.
  • How exactly did Charlie & Company manage to walk all the way to a rebel camp and arrive before the deadly helicopters that can fly 150mph?
  • Charlie seemed to have mysteriously found a working hairdryer in the midst of fleeing. Her salon-styled appearance was pretty laughable in some scenes.
  • How did Danny, who has held a gun exactly ONCE before in his entire life, manage to engage, aim and fire a rocket launcher so precisely as to take down a helicopter?
  • Killing off underdeveloped characters has next-to-no emotional impact, and only leaves the viewers wondering who will get offed next. (I vote for Aaron, the next least-utilized character on the show.) What was the point of this?

Things that did work in this episode:

  • Many squibs died in the offing of Danny. Although his leaping about in slo mo was a bit much, it was nice that the SFX crew got to do something creative besides blowing up the occasional building. Please give them more to do. (And fire that makeup lady with the blow dryer while you’re at it.)

Watch the first minute of REVOLUTION’s return

Eric Kripke and J.J. Abrams introduce the first minute of Revolution’s return with a brand new preview clip, in which Abrams promises that, “the second half of the first season is just bigger and cooler and gets more intense.”

This is good news for fans of the NBC post apocalyptic sci-fi drama that have been waiting patiently for the show’s return during an interminably long four-month hiatus.

Tracy Spiridakos returns as "Charlie is Revolution.
Tracy Spiridakos returns as “Charlie” in Revolution.

The story picks up exactly where it left off back in November, with General Monroe (David Lyons) ordering out one of his now functional military helicopters to gun down our escaping heroes. Charlie Matheson (Tracy Spiridakos), her uncle Miles (Billy Burke), and the rest of the gang appear to take refuge from the overhead assault in an abandoned diner.

Starting off the second half of the first season of Revolution with a bang is a smart move by the producers who are no doubt hoping that fans have not forgotten too much about these characters and their struggle for power in their dystopian world of the future over the long winter break.

You can check out the 60-second clip right now:

Why we love to be scared: EMP’s "Can’t Look Away" horror exhibit

"Creature from the Black Lagoon" mask. Credit: Angela Graves
Creature from the Black Lagoon mask. Credit: Angela Graves

"Can't Look Away: The Lure of Horror Film" at the EMP Museum.
“Can’t Look Away: The Lure of Horror Film” at the EMP Museum.

Now at EMP Museum in Seattle, WA, “Can’t Look Away: The Lure of Horror Film” exhibit explores the role that horror plays in the human experience and how it’s been represented in 100 years of film and contemporary culture.

Three of the world’s most prolific horror film directors — John Landis (An American Werewolf in London), Roger Corman (Little Shop of Horrors) and Eli Roth (Hostel) — were invited by the museum to handpick a selection of favorite films which exemplify the influence and scope of cinematic horror. Their choices formed the basis for the ongoing exhibit.

“If you don’t want to be scared in a horror film, don’t close your eyes. Close your ears.” — Eli Roth

Visitors to the Seattle exhibit can watch video clips of interviews with these directors, take a trip to the “Hell Hole,” a video screen embedded in the floor that plays a 10-minute montage of famous horror films from several generations, and explore a multitude of interactive exhibits including a section on how music and sound are used to create or lessen tension in a horror film.

Axe from "The Shining," 1980, from the Paul G. Allen Family Collection.
Jack’s axe from The Shining, from the Paul G. Allen Family Collection. Credit: EMP Museum

For avid horror fans, one of the most exciting features of the exhibit is undoubtedly the display of iconic movie artifacts and memorabilia, like a shooting script from 1963’s Night of the Living Dead, the Gill Man Mask worn by the Creature from the Black Lagoon in 1958, a Facehugger and a life-size Xenomorph figure from the James Cameron Alien franchise, the Hi-8 camcorder used in 1998’s Blair Witch Project, and Jack Torrance’s axe from 1980’s The Shining, amongst many other fascinating items.

“[Horror movies] are not really roller coasters like the thrill ride, they are roller coasters of the soul.” — Guillermo del Toro

Full-size Xenomorph from "Alien." Credit: Angela Graves
Full-size Xenomorph figure from Alien. Credit: Angela Graves

Of all of the props on display, recent museum visitor Angela Graves said, “We all liked the full-size Alien the best! I thought the Frankenstein wall section was nice to see,” she added, “since most of the other props were more recent. Also pretty interesting to see were the Constantine demons, [from] when he went to Hell.”

A zombie costume from Michael Jackson’s Thriller is displayed in its corner. Mick Garris (Masters of Horror), who also served as a consultant for the EMP “Can’t Look Away” exhibit, wore this tattered outfit in the 1983 music video. Other artifacts on view include a Jason Voorhees mask and machete from Friday the 13th, Freddy Krueger’s razor glove from Nightmare on Elm Street, Part 5, and a spellbook and pointy stakes used in the Buffy The Vampire Slayer television show. Interactive screens next to certain props show how these items appeared during production.

Horror movie posters displat at the EMP Museum. Credit: Angala Graves
Horror movie posters on display at the EMP Museum. Credit: Angela Graves

A “100 Horror Films to see before you die” wall showcases both famous and more obscure horror movies from 1920 to 2008, with an accompanying timeline that lists significant cultural influences and historic events occurring while these films were being made.

Although the exhibit is rated PG-13 due to the scary subject matter, one thing kids of all ages are certain to enjoy is the interactive “Shadow Monster” installation. Angela Graves was enthusiastic about her family’s experience, “The shadow wall was cool! You’d walk into the ‘area’ and your shadow would get antennae, wild hair, or even long, strange fingers!”

Werewolf mask from "An American Werewolf in London." Credit" EMP Museum
Werewolf mask from An American Werewolf in London. Credit: EMP Museum

Since no exploration of horror would be complete without a scream or two, the inclusion of a “Scream Booth,” where visitors can step inside a soundproof enclosure and release their best bloodcurdling shrieks on cue to horror footage, proves a popular addition. Inside, quick snapshots of the screams are taken and displayed on screens outside the booth, where they can be uploaded to share with friends later.

See the EMP’s “Scream Booth” Flickr photostream

A “Monster Timeline” infographic identifies the many different types of horror movie monsters both by appearance and habits, and delves into why these imaginary creatures have amazed and terrified us throughout the years.

“In science-fiction films the monster should always be bigger than the leading lady.” — Roger Corman

Jason's mask from “Friday the 13th/" Credit: EMP Museum
Jason’s mask from Friday the 13th. Credit: EMP Museum

So, why do we need monsters? “From cave paintings to contemporary digital technologies, we’re still making monsters,” director Landis says, “What you hear a lot is that horror films are a way of confronting death without having to die, [in this way] you can confront your worst fears, but not get eaten!”

“Since monsters are so basic to human nature, I think there will always be monster films,” suggests Landis, “and it will always be fascinating to figure out ‘what the hell was that about?’”

For more information about the exhibit, visit


RELATED ~ The Stanley Hotel is Still Shining

9 Ways to get ready for REVOLUTION’s return in March

Billy Burke as Miles Matheson in Revolution. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC
Billy Burke as Miles Matheson in Revolution. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC

  1. Refresh your memory by watching the last 5 episodes of the NBC drama for free on before Revolution’s March 25 return.
  2. Five full episodes too much for you? Watch a five-minute Catch Up with Revolution video recap of the season thus far.
  3. Download a special edition of the Revolution pilot episode with behind-the-scenes commentary from the shows co-creator Eric Kripke and Jon Favreau, the first episode’s director.
  4. View a two-minute promo for the show’s return, Revolution Returns! below from the NBC YouTube channel.
  5. Track the journey of the Matheson family and their friends across what used to be the United States with this interactive online map.
  6. Watch Revolution Revealed interviews with cast and creators on YouTube.
  7. Check out the six-part animated webisode series Wheatley’s Letters, which details Militia spy Corporal Joseph Wheatley’s undercover mission to undermine the Rebels. The webisodes are available on, Hulu, and YouTube.
  8. Explore behind-the-scenes videos for more insight into the extensive technical preparation of the show, like Revolution: Creating Fight Scenes with Stunt Coordinator Jeff Wolfe.
  9. Get a feel for the making of the TV series with photos of Charlie and company from the set of Revolution during the season’s first half.

Revolution has been taking a break since November, but last according to TVLine, this January chief of NBC Robert Greenblatt said, “The first episode back is a big episode that completely turns the story in a really significant way. It kind of sends the second half of the season off on a new trajectory.” Greenblatt added that one reason NBC wanted to keep Revolution off the air for a while was their desire to bring it back with a strong lead-in show.

Executive producers J.J. Abrams and Eric Kripke didn’t seem concerned about the show’s four-month hiatus at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour in Pasadena in January. In fact, the idea to relaunch the series with fewer repeats pleased Abrams.

Annie Wersching
Annie Wersching to join Revolution. Credit:

“I was enormously relieved because I felt like we were getting to a place for the viewer where it would be the best possible show,” Abrams said. The break also gave the executive producers “the ability to take a breath, look at what we’ve done and really analyze it,” said Kripke. “I think we did a lot of things right. But I felt like we could pick up the pace of the stunning revelations.”

Miles and Monroe’s relationship will get an added twist when 24 alumnus Annie Wersching joins the cast of Revolution as Emma, former love interest for both men, TVLine reports. This history behind this crucial love triangle is sure to heat up the already angry conflict between the two former friends.

Wersching joins two other former 24 cast members, Kim Raver, who plays Captain Neville’s Lady MacBeth-like wife Julia, and Leslie Hope, who will be taking on the new role of President Foster of the powerful Georgia Federation.