Cara Gee (Drummer) is Hazel James in BIRDLAND, the story of ex-cop Sheila Hood (Kathleen Munroe), who hides cameras in her home to observe her ornithologist husband’s affair with Hazel’s older sister Merle (Melanie Scrofano). When Merle falls to her death from a bridge and another of her lovers, Ray Starling (Joris Jarsky), is found dead in his own hotel, Hood is pulled into a dark world of corruption, sex and death and her surveillance footage forms the backbone of a police investigation that threatens to incriminate her and destroy her marriage. Directed by Peter Lynch (who Norm Wilner of Toronto’s NOW Magazine once said was “a director fascinated by obsessive outsiders”), BIRDLAND will be released on VOD in both Canada and the US on 26 January (Amazon, Google, Xbox, and iTunes). It will begin showing at the Carlton Cinema in Toronto on 26 January as well. Continue reading →
DARK MATTER – Season 3 Episode 10 – SPOILERS
Victor gives The Android (née Suki) three glimpses into her forgotten past. She sees Two take over the Raza by killing Shrike and Jasper. She also learns that it was Ryo who first introduced her to chocolate (pudding), and sees Five (then Emily Kilburn) introduce a nanovirus (most likely a virus that reprograms nanites) into her system on the instructions of Two (then Portia Lin). The purpose of the nanovirus was to activate all of The Android’s “hidden subroutines”. Portia tells Emily that the activation of these subroutines means a lot to her. How did they become deactivated, and how did they change Suki?
The Android’s appearance mirrors that of her creator, Dr. Irena Shaw. Two and Irena were once a couple, and when Shaw developed an inoperable brain tumor, The Android was created as a new and more durable body for her, but Shaw did not think it right to use an android body in that way, and so she was put in stasis until a cure for her condition could be found. Two was Rebecca at the time, and has forgotten the relationship entirely.
For me, this episode brought to mind old issues with Star Trek. Will Riker’s aversion to being cloned, and Data’s continual attempts to be more human are two things that have always bothered me. In one scene, The Android addresses (with the help of Six) physical duplication and whether it conflicts with individuality, and in a later scene, she has a commendably un-Data-like conversation with Five.
The Android is freaked out when she learns the story of her origin, and Six attempts to reassure her.
SIX: “You seemed pretty keen on checking out that facility at first. Before Dr. Shaw.”
ANDROID: “I don’t know how to put it into words. Her existence somehow diminishes me.”
SIX: “No, it doesn’t.”
ANDROID: “I’m a lesser version of someone else. A diluted, imperfect facsimile.”
SIX: “You’re wrong. Being imperfect isn’t a bad thing.”
Six goes on to explain to her that what she is labeling as imperfections are really the unique variations that make up a separate and distinct individual.
In the STTNG episode Up the Long Ladder (Season 2 Episode 18), Commander Riker reacts to a request that he donate cells from his body for the purpose of cloning. “One William Riker is unique,” he responds. “perhaps even special. But a hundred of him, a thousand of him, diminishes me in ways I can’t even imagine.”
Riker objects to being copied, and The Android initially objects to being a copy. But Six‘s reasoning should apply in both cases. Riker’s reaction never made sense to me. It was disturbing that the entire crew of the Enterprise agreed with him, and declined to donate cells.
Later, when Five walks in on The Android as she is practicing her smile, there is this exchange:
FIVE: “What are you doing?”
ANDROID: “I’m practicing at being human.”
ANDROID: “To see what all the fuss is about.”
FIVE: “If you really want to seem more human, I could always fix the upgrade.”
ANDROID: “The upgrade is a mask. It isn’t me.”
The Android doesn’t want to be human. She wants to understand what people think is so great about it.
Virtual Sarah gets an android body. It seems that Dr. Shaw has no general objection to human minds in android bodies. She only objects to putting herself in one. During the process, the GA attacks the Sanctuary, so the androids and Dr. Shaw must flee and complete Sarah’s transition elsewhere. Sarah has left the Raza, and now in the company of Victor and his friends.
In The Android’s second flashback, after the chocolate pudding, Portia enters and tells Ryo that Dwarf Star Technologies has a manufacturing facility on Nova-17. “If we want to save our hunting grounds,”, she says, “we’re going to have to do it ourselves.” She further explains that attacking the facility could prevent a full scale invasion. Invasion of what by whom?
The best scene is near the end of the episode when Three (Anthony Lemke) apologizes to The Android (Zoie Palmer) for his anti-Android attitudes. Android tries whiskey for the first time, quickly goes back to hot chocolate, and tells Three that he speaks his mind without thought of consequence and that’s something they have in common. Then she flashes him that smile she’s been practicing. Three’s newfound enlightenment seems genuine, but one wonders if his antidroidism (?) will return once he finds out Victor’s true nature.
Willa Milner (Anya) also sings. Her album Criminals and Dreamers, and her latest single, Lovefool, are available on iTunes. Her music is described as “dark electro pop”, and can also be streamed on Spotify and Pandora.
Zoie Palmer described her experience playing both Dr. Shaw and The Android. “…there’s a scene in there where I’m playing Dr. Shaw and there’s nobody else in the room with me, but I’m talking to five people,” Palmer told Kelly Townsend of The TV Junkies. “What they do is they put a little thing in your ear where you hear the lines, and you have to remember where each actor is standing so that when they deliver the line you turn to where they would be standing. It was really challenging and it was really bizarre and out-of-body for an actor to not have the other actor in front of you, but to hear their lines.”
Roger Cross (Six) will be Brother Freeman in the comedy HEADSHOP, a “magical urban tale” about Dr. Latrice Monroe (Nicole Ari Parker), a psychologist from San Francisco who decides to end a romance with her longtime psychiatrist boyfriend/business partner. She moves on with her life by opening her own private practice in an Oakland neighborhood that is very resistant to employing her services. As her new neighbors slowly open up, they inadvertently teach her the true meaning of community. Written and directed by Kim Bass, HEADSHOP is currently filming in Santa Clarita, California.
KILLJOYS – Season 3 Episode 2 – SPOILERS
Zeph (Kelly McCormack) refuses to follow D’Avin’s orders. “Fake fire doesn’t burn,” she says, ignoring the countdown to disaster. The room dissolves in flames, and she wakes up in Lucy’s cargo hold. Zephyr had figured out that the mission was a VR simulation. Spock did the same sort of thing at the Melkotian simulation of the OK Corral: “Physical reality,” Spock said, “is consistent with universal laws. Where the laws do not operate, there is no reality. All of this is unreal. I know the bullets are unreal, therefore they cannot harm me.” (Star Trek TOS, Episode 3.6)
Indications are that Zeph will be around for a few more episodes. McCormack described the character to Dean Amond of Find Your Inner Geek: “Zeph is a dream role. She’s a weirdo tomboy farm girl turned science nerd who has zero filter or interpersonal skills, and is obsessed with the biological science and dresses like a female Link from Zelda!…The role was challenging because I was spitting so much science and every scene – and I mean this – every single scene, there was a new fancy space science contraption I had to look like a natural using. But being the awkward tomboy nerd comes naturally to me and it was a pleasure playing a character who has such an unwavering passion for science.”
In John’s absence, Turin, Dutch, and D’Avin audition three RAC lab techs to provide Johnny-like insights into the tech of the Hullen. Zeph is one of those techs. Luc Trottier and Erik Knudsen play the other two. Turin hires the two guys (Trottier’s character is named Benji. Knudsen’s character is never referred to by name.) and sends Zeph home, but Dutch rectifies the error and hires Zeph herself. Johnny’s adventures on what Turin calls an “emo walkabout” are chronicled in parallel with the virtual adventures of the RAC techs.
Johnny’s walkabout happens in Rat City, where he finds out that it’s not the Hullen that’s skinning and re-skinning people, it’s a cosmetics company run by a hackmod named Niko (Victoria Modesta). She skins hackmod owners, then uses their epidermes to provide new identities for fugitive hackmods in the hope of resettling them on a planet at the far end of The J. The puzzling thing is that she keeps the skinless victims fresh by spraying them continuously with green goo. (Olli discovers this in the course of her investigations and brings Johnny back three severed hands from the unfortunate victims, which is how he discovers what is going on.) Had she simply disposed of the bodies, her activities might not have been discovered.
Olli (Tommie-Amber Pirie), who is actually a re-skinned version of Clara, is uninjured. There were no hackmod casualties in the episode except for Ruby (Ewa Placzynska), who had an allergic reaction to the re-skinning and was summarily stabbed through the heart with Niko’s prosthesis. (We don’t know what happened to Niko in the end. Hackmod leader Havigan was non-committal on that point.)
Johnny returns home. Asked if she missed him, Lucy says: “if ships could cry, I would’ve rusted”, even though it is unlikely that any of Lucy’s components are susceptible to rust. John brings with him added information on the locations of Hullen in The J. From John’s holographic map, it appears that The J is a globular star cluster. (One might think from the name that it would be a J-shaped open cluster.)
The scene that ends the episode is extraordinary. Delle Seyah Kendry wakes up in the sick bay (?) of Aneela’s ship. Apparently fully recovered from her gunshot wound, she is escorted to a place where Dutch’s double is preparing to bathe in a pool of green goo. Aneela bathing in green goo brought to mind Countess Bathory bathing in the blood of virgins. Delle Seyah doesn’t know where she is, but quickly figures it out. She knows Dutch would never wear that lipstick. “Welcome to my ship,” Aneela says to her. “Now come, tell me everything.”
Karen LeBlanc (Banyon Grey) will be Amy in the TV series INSOMNIA, in which strangers are forced to play a life-threatening game. Set against the backdrop of Moscow, twenty contestants must kill or be killed, with all contestants having been injected with a poison that will kill them if they fall asleep. The series is intended to be a multi-season program where in each season the game will be played in a different city with different characters. The entire first season was filmed in Moscow. (The scenes set in the US and Cambodia were shot on sets.) Few restrictions were placed on where the series could film, so there are scenes involving Red Square, the Kremlin, the Bolshoi Ballet, the Federal Assembly of Russian Federation, and the US Embassy. A trailer is available on YouTube. INSOMNIA’s eight episode first season will premiere on Starz later this year.
Hannah John-Kamen is the recurring character Rosa Persaud in the second season of THE TUNNEL: SABOTAGE. The UK series, based on the Swedish series THE BRIDGE (Bron|Broen), centers on detectives Karl Roebuck and Elise Wassermann, who are called upon to investigate the death of a French politician. When an unexpected discovery is made at the crime scene, the pair is forced into a partnership as they attempt to locate a politically-motivated serial killer who tries to draw them into his own personal agenda. The series is set mainly in Folkestone and Calais (the two ends of the Channel Tunnel). A trailer is available on YouTube. Season two is now airing on PBS in the US. Airtimes will vary depending on the local station.
Laara Sadiq (Mother Sal in Episode 1.4) is the voice of Fattema in the animated feature THE BREADWINNER. It tells the story of Parvana, a 12-year-old girl growing up under the Taliban in Afghanistan. When her father is arrested, Parvana dresses as a boy in order to work and provide for her family. Together with her best friend Shauzia, she risks discovery to try to find out if her father is still alive. Director Nora Twomey, who is from Cork in Southern Ireland, has not been to Afghanistan, but has worked closely with Afghani consultants on the film. “That really helps us with the authenticity,” Twomey told Jessica Hill of The National. “The beauty of animation is that it’s part artistic expression, part reality, so we’re trying to merge the two. It’s not an absolutely photographic representation of Kabul, but more of an artistic representation. I’ve tried very much to create the look of Kabul – the colour of people’s clothing versus the brownness of the houses up against the hills. It’s a very specific-looking place. I think we’ve managed it.” THE BREADWINNER is based on the award winning children’s novel by Deborah Ellis, and should be released later this year. A trailer is available on YouTube