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‘Altered Carbon’: You seriously need to DIE right now




Spoilers can be found in all Stacks!

The show is based on the first book of the same name in a series, by Richard K. Morgan. Set far in the future, the show informs us that technology exists that allows us to back up our very essence, in theory our soul, into a thing the show simply calls a Stack.

And so long as our Stack still exists, even if the body we wear is killed, we live on. We have to be loaded into a new body, usually called a Sleeve, or adversely can be loaded into VR – Virtual Reality of course – and spun back up to be conversed with once again, and many nasty lines can be crossed in VR, to many characters’ chagrin.

What you have to accept, right off the bat accept as fact, is that this nonsense is considered normal for them. These concepts, of immortality, of the soul, of what it means to be human, while they are all presented and certainly discussed to some degree, are available to us the audience only from afar, whereas these characters, they are actually living in it. Prepare yourself for spinup in VR, I’m about to spoil a great deal of the plot, but then there’s no real way to talk about the delight that is ‘Altered Carbon’ otherwise.

The Protectorate is basically exactly what it sounds like, a collective of staggeringly rich like-minded high society types who rule several planets together, policed by guardians called C-TAC Agents, and occupied by nobles who are generally referred to as Meths. (The word apparently refers to Methuselah, oldest living descendant of Noah and thought to be the longest-lived person ever.) The lesser dregs of Bay City, the criminals and the poor, just trying to get by, have to contend with the likes of a murdered 8-year-old daughter being spun up into an inappropriate Sleeve and humiliations even more severe, causing a clear rift in general society.

On the other side, we have the church freaks and true believers, fanatics who refuse to get a cortical Stack implanted on religious grounds, so when they die out here in the Real, it’s forever. Like for really-reals. The subject is hotly debated and in theory religious freedom still exists out here in the future, but as with today, often causes a lot of headaches for law enforcement trying to crack cases and you know, solve murders. Thus we are introduced to Kristin Ortega (Martha Higareda), that bulldog of a cop who can take a beating and still curse you out in loud Spanish, with her large extended family who celebrate Dia De Los Muertos, which is now a more or less official holiday as far as everyone’s concerned, rather like you’d expect, only now the ghosts show up in the Sleeve of a large tattooed and creatively pierced white man. The debate of spirit versus Sleeve is clearly demonstrated in Ortega’s large family, how she loves them all in unique quiet and happy ways. Until the Kovacs case really begins to heat up, that is.

And we come full circle, welcome back to the world Takeshi Kovacs (Joel Kinnaman), some specially and mystically trained operative known as an Envoy, from more than two hundred and fifty freaking years ago, the last known Envoy in the whole world. One of the richest and oldest Meths of Bay City, well not technically the city, no, he built a white tower into the sky, calls it the Eyrie and everything, meet Laurens Bancroft (James Purefoy). It was he who had the temerity, the balls and oh gods yes the money, to raise Takeshi Kovacs himself in this ridiculous new body, to solve a murder. Specifically, Laurens Bancrofts own murder, as he points to a bloody swatch on the stone wall to demonstrate where his mind and Stack where erased in a former body. Kovacs new Sleeve comes with its own set of inherent problems, hailing from prison and formerly somehow of the police force too, as Elias Ryker does.

Finding out what happened to Bancroft was never going to be easy, but then Bancroft didn’t shunt out and re-Sleeve Kovacs for anything other than the truth to the one question – who killed Laurens Bancroft? The search for the answer mows through a very bad idea of a fling with Miriam Bancroft (Kristi Lehman), a pants-wetting confrontation with one of Bancroft’s sons Isaac (Antonio Marziale), and what sure looked like yet another Laurens Bancroft murder, but literally by his own hand this time.

But all of this is little compared to memories Takeshi Konvacs visits whenever he can, dreams of unpleasant life with his tiny sister and abusive father, having to make hard choices and living with the consequences, and his training as an Envoy, specially at the hands of Quell (Renee Elise Goldsberry), their leader. Her charisma is a thing to behold, her training is absolute, and her attraction to Takeshi in particular is undeniable. Even Tak’s sister, older now but still together fighting as one like the dragon with no end, can’t help but notice the formidable team Tak and Quell make. Jealousy is an ugly and, sad to say, long-lasting emotion.


So when Takeshi’s sister Reileen (Dichen Lachman) shows up in a proper Sleeve to attempt to save him from himself, Kovacs is beyond taken aback and understandably reluctant to accept damn near any kind of help. Based on his Envoy training, Takeshi has already managed to surround himself with loyal minions, and he began in the most unlikely place possible, a near-defunct AI hotel that no-one uses anymore, the House of the Raven. Poe (Chris Conner), the AI construct that runs the hotel, is far from the emo goth poetry writer his model is based on, but rather, a fiercely loyal and surprisingly gentle construction that can both lower machine guns from the ceiling to take on all comers, but also tend softly to the damaged psyche of the daughter of Takeshi’s next minion, Vernon (Ato Essandoh). Vern’s daughter Lizzie (Hayley Law) was severely damaged and her father could only spin her Stack back up in VR, where she’s apparently stuck reliving her attack, over and over. No-one would ever think the king of beating hearts under the floorboards would bring a damaged girl back from the brink and teach her to kick so much ass, but there you have it. Even Lizzie’s mom, who shows up in an unusual Sleeve, while she may not entirely approve of the methods Poe uses, cannot argue with the results. Armed with these unique helpers, Takeshi Kovacs will use any and all methods at his disposal to discover the real truth behind the murder of Laurens Bancroft, no matter who it hurts, no matter what else his investigation might uncover, and then finally, finally, he might get to go back on ice and just rest.

Like the future existence of Bladerunner crossed with the culturisms and snark of The Fifth Element, Altered Carbon is a world rife with intrigue, mystery, twisted love and rueful pain, and never-ending possibilities. Altered Carbon season two, based on the second book Broken Angels by Richard K. Morgan, is already slated for production, though rumor has it Kinnaman won’t be returning for the lead role of Takeshi Kovacs. Given the Sleeving abilities of the world, the show can certainly do that and even get away with it, but without Kinnaman’s brooding twinkles it may be slightly less enjoyable.

Download a Sleeve and jack in to Altered Carbon on Netflix now!

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‘Abigail’: Bite Me Harder Tiny Dancer



A gang of misfit kidnappers find their tiny target far more bloodthirsty than they bargained for! 

So, unfortunately, the trailers gave it away and let’s be real that’s why most of us are here, the knowledge that the kidnap victim Abigail (Alisha Weir), codenamed by the would-be kidnappers appropriately as ‘tiny dancer’, is in fact, a vampire. Not a spoiler, point of fact, one of the film’s actual great selling points. And the reactions from the misfit club when faced with a real actual f*cking vampire, range hilariously from the blunt “no such thing as vampires” all the way to, “Are we talking True Blood or Twilight rules or what?” all while covered in buckets and buckets of blood. 

Anyway, the gang manages to subdue and abscond with the aforementioned Abigail, in a pre-prepared duffle bag, like you do, and converge to a new location, a house oddly similar to the one she was just taken from. Welcomed and given codenames by a man who introduces himself as Lambert (Giancarlo Esposito), our misfit club is told to simply hold down the fort in this strange old house with the girl chained up in a room and one person to attend her, for twenty-four hours, and they’ll all get paid. 

As inevitable as the tides, the dopey druggie Dean (Angus Cloud) is the first to die, and we’re going to give that death-style points for inspiring terror right off the bat. The very controlling Frank (Dan Stevens, holy crap yes that is the guy from FXs Legion) is also of course the most suspicious – of everyone around him, sure, but also he himself is totes sus. We don’t learn terribly much about the musclebound tank who gets dubbed Peter (Kevin Durand), he’s your pretty typical little-brains-heart-of-gold muscle-for-hire any proper gang needs, right down to the bottle problem. Sammy (Kathryn Newton), well, even for being a purported hacker-type, she has, like, reality issues. Rickles (William Catlett), he’s arguably the most dangerous among them, ex-military and yet somehow here and involved in kidnapping for a few mills. Joey (Melissa Barrera) is our Final Girl, and though she has the inevitable problems in her recent past, she seems more capable of doing the hard thing and still somehow empathizing at the end of the day. Must be her burning desire to get back with her son. 

The fit hits the shan pretty quickly, and Abigail morphs from tiny dancer to tiny monster, though honestly, the way Abigail spoke the entire time in the film, if the ‘nappers had been paying close enough attention, would have been a solid clue. The performance from Alisha Weir as Abigail is incredible, as she literally dances a fine line between comedy, tragedy, and outright monstrosity. With a face full of makeup and the force of a tiny tornado to back it up, Weir brings to mind the great performances of the vampires in 30 Days of Night who saw the practicality in the need to trap their food, but also, play with it a bit first before feasting! Anything else would give away the absolute fun time that is Abigail, so you should go see it, out in theaters now!

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Scrubs Reunion: The Band Gets Back Together



Fans of the beloved medical comedy series Scrubs were recently treated to a thrilling surprise when John C. McGinley, who portrayed the iconic Dr. Perry Cox, dropped a photo on Twitter hinting at a potential reunion project. The image, showing McGinley alongside his former co-stars, sparked a wave of excitement and speculation among fans who have been longing for more adventures with the beloved Sacred Heart Hospital staff.

While details about the reunion project are still scarce, the mere possibility of seeing the gang back together again has sent waves of nostalgia through fans who fondly remember the show’s original run from 2001 to 2010. Scrubs was not just a sitcom; it was a heartfelt exploration of friendship, love, and the chaotic world of medicine, all wrapped up in a quirky and often hilarious package.

At the heart of the show was the bromance between JD (played by Zach Braff) and Turk (played by Donald Faison), whose antics and deep bond served as the emotional anchor for the series. Their dynamic, along with the sage wisdom (and relentless sarcasm) of Dr. Cox, provided viewers with memorable moments that have stood the test of time.

As we eagerly await more news about the Scrubs reunion project, one thing is for sure: it’s time to dust off those old DVDs, rewatch our favorite episodes, and get ready to welcome back our favorite gang of doctors, nurses, and janitors for what promises to be a memorable reunion.

But Scrubs was more than just its main characters. The supporting cast, including the eccentric Janitor (played by Neil Flynn), the neurotic Elliot (played by Sarah Chalke), and the wise-cracking nurse Carla (played by Judy Reyes), each brought their own unique flavor to the show, creating a rich tapestry of characters that fans grew to love.

While the photo shared by McGinley has fueled speculation about what the reunion project might entail, whether it’s a one-off special, a new season, or something else entirely, one thing is certain: fans are eagerly awaiting any opportunity to dive back into the world of Sacred Heart Hospital.

In an age where reboots and revivals are commonplace, Scrubs stands out as a series that has the potential to recapture the magic that made it a fan favorite in the first place. With its blend of humor, heart, and unforgettable characters, a reunion project has the opportunity to not only satisfy longtime fans but also introduce a new generation to the joys of life at Sacred Heart.

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‘The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’: Rebellion with a cause



The story of the rise of Coriolanus Snow, from teenage Capital City pawn to rising Dictator of the Hunger Games! 

Apparently no one out here in post-apocalyptic Panem has heard of irony and so they name their children things like Coriolanus (Tom Blyth), Tigress, and further off in Hunger Games lore, after swamp plants like Katniss. Corio’s father was a legendary general and that is pretty much the only reason young Snow and his meager family of grandmother called Grandma’am (Fionnula Flanagan) and sister Tigress (Hunter Schafer) are tolerated here in the Capital City at all. 

Most of the snotty youngsters at the academy won’t let Snow forget how far his family has fallen, but he’s generally not concerned with them. What is concerning is the strong disapproval of the drugged-up Dean Casca Highbottom (Peter Dinklage) and the creepy attention of Dr. Volumnia Gaul (Viola Davis) as she lurks in the classroom sniffing out talent. The Dean feels very strongly the annual Hunger Games should end, while Gaul is violently adamant that not only do the Games continue, but that they get as much more attention as possible. And young Snow is stuck in the middle, when the yearly prize money normally awarded to the academy student with the best grades gets switched out for, you guessed it, the student that can make this years’ Hunger Games as entertaining as possible. 

Whilst the students are protesting this sudden change, the annual Reaping is about to commence, and big shock and surprise, Corio’s candidate from District 12 Lucy Grey Baird (Rachel Zegler) is chosen as a Tribute. This is where the film begins to really take off on musical wings, for as it turns out, Lucy Grey can sing. Boy, can that gal sing! She can sing, she can play guitar, she can work a crowd, she can calm things down, she can fire ‘em up too! And Corio, being no dummy himself, instantly plots ways to use his Tributes amazing voice to draw attention to her, and admittedly his own, plight! 

Though far too many people sneer at the idea, Corio takes his position as Mentor to his Tribute seriously enough to sneak onto the tram taking the Tributes to their habitat, which turns out to be a completely appropriate moniker, as this year the Tributes are held before the Hunger Games in a large zoo habitat so the weatherman ‘Lucky’ Flickerman (Jason Schwartzman), host of this years games, can MC the hell out of everything up close and personal! 

What happens at this years Hunger Games and the subsequent consequences to both Corio and Lucy Grey is actually only half the story, and the movie. Coriolanus has always had to be opportunistic, but learning to be absolutely ruthless when necessary under the tutelage of Dr. Gaul, who basically thinks it’s always best to be merciless, is an eye-opening education indeed.  Even after they’ve both been consigned to military service and his friend Sejanus Plinth (Josh Andres Rivera) decides to finally rebel, Corio and Sejanus continue to deceive each other and themselves, to accomplish their separate goals. Not even the love Corio swears he feels for Lucy Grey can save him, or them, from the adamant absolute necessity of the Hunger Games continuing. And after all that’s happened, Coriolanus Snow has gotten a terrific education in the best way to be the absolutely ruthless next Hunger Games advocate, and oh yeah, President of Panem. 

The movie does itself no favors by trying to stuff not one but two major storylines and a bunch of side storylines sadly introduced and then ignored, into the film. It would have been entirely possible to turn Ballads of Songbirds and Snakes into two different movies, separated between feathers and scales if you like, and do justice to the major storylines in both. Blyth gives a fine  performance as a young Coriolanus Snow, but the fact that President Snow is played by Donald Sutherland in all three of the Hunger Games films means Blyth has incredibly large shoes to fill. Rachel Zegler as Lucy Grey is absolute fire, and yes the actress did sing the songs in the film herself, including the Hunger Games franchise epic song, ‘The Hanging Tree’. Every time Lucy Grey opens her mouth and sheer soul-searing music comes out, it provides a distinct counterpoint to the soul-crushing ambition of Coriolanus Snow and further demonstrates the District and Caste separation Hunger Games is known for. And if, by the end of the film, Coriolanus Snow has come to agree that the Hunger Games must continue but perhaps under his own auspices, he has no one but himself to blame when another younger but still rebellious female blows it all up in his face! 

Choose rebellion or conformity for yourself in The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

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