Get Your Geek On: Felicia Day takes on Dragon Age

I think Felicia Day just might like crazy costumes. But I’m sure the gaming fans out there certainly won’t mind.

After all, it was revealed today that Felicia Day herself is going to be in an upcoming web series called Dragon Age: Redemption, based on the game Dragon Age. Felicia Day plays Tallis, an assassin, who is on a quest to find a renegade magician — and along the way finds her own band of allies.

To be honest, I’m a little out of my element. I’ve never played Dragon Age, but I knew friends that did. I know how that sounds. It’s kinda like I want to be a role-playing gamer wannabe. It’s not that I necessarily want to be in the world of Dragon Age, but the fact that Felicia Day wrote this new series and had people like with Peter Winther (Independence Day associate producer) as director and John Bartley (Lost) as cinematographer, it certainly has a lot in its favor. I’m also a large supporter of web series, since they have interesting freedoms — and challenges — in such a different medium. Add in Felicia as an actress herself, and well, it’s definitely intriguing.

Plus, if The Guild tells us anything, it should certainly be fun to watch.

But if you’re particularly worried what adaptation can do to a cult favorite, well, Felicia has that under control, too.

A life-long game player, Day is fully aware they have a poor track record when it comes to adaptation. “I am an organic gamer and I love games, and I particularly love this franchise,” she says. “I put every single effort into making this something that gamers will be proud of. Even though we were constrained a lot as a Web series, none of the people who were involved took that as a constraint. They took that as a challenge.”

Personally, I think it’s worth checking out. But what about you? Any of you fans out there of Felicia or the game that can share some predictions?

The series should hit the web sometime this year. Will you be watching?

*image from USA Today and Tallis Productions

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Five People to See More of in 2011

Well, yesterday, I covered the five people I’d like to see less of in the coming year. Rather negative, I know. Well, this time, let’s be more positive! How about the rest of this top ten list of people on our minds? The people we want to see.

I should say that there are a lot more people I’d love to add to this list. I’m going to try to keep it to people that you might’ve seen in 2010. Perhaps an “Honorable Mentions” column is necessary, but then again, there’s always room to expand in the comments.

Five People We Want to See More of in 2011

Jorge Garcia – Really, I guess I could say that I want to see more of all of the actors from Lost in the coming year (except, of course, for the really annoying ones), but out of all of them, Jorge Garcia was certainly one of my favorites. And I even enjoyed him in How I Met Your Mother. Overall, I just feel like he’s got more to show us. Plus, he was one of the surprised in that fun opening number on the Emmys this past year.

Amber Riley – I know I’ve had my share of Glee hate, but here’s where I make an exception. Amber Riley, who plays Mercedes, is incredible. Any time she opens her mouth, I can’t seem to keep my eyes off the screen. What made me notice her for the first time? Well, of course, perhaps she wouldn’t have been nearly as visible if it weren’t for Glee, and while I know this was in 2009 and not 2010, what made me fall for Riley was her singing of the national anthem at the World Series. Just incredible.

Lucy Liu – Give this girl a show. After rewatching some of her old Ally McBeal episodes and watching (and rewatching) her mini-series Marry Me, Lucy Liu has grabbed my attention yet again. Sure, she’s appeared in the dearly departed Dirty Sexy Money and Cashmere Mafia, which clearly didn’t keep the people’s attention, but I definitely think there’s a role out there for her, and I want to see her in it ASAP.

Lizzy Caplan – I know this seems to be a rather female-heavy list, but you have to admit, there’s some good talent out there. Next up is Lizzy Caplan of the recently departed (slain, really) Party Down. I’ve seen Caplan in a good bunch of  things: Mean Girls, Cloverfield, Tru Calling, Related… Heck, I even see that she’s made an appearance in True Blood. This girl can act and has a variety of roles under her belt. I’m pretty sure she can play anything–with any hair color she pleases. (I’d also like to add Adam Scott to this list, but then I’d have to watch Parks and Rec. Ew.)

Felicia Day – Cute, fun, and fresh. It sounds like I’m signing her up on a dating site, but really, Felicia Day is nothing but surprises. She was fantastic in Dr. Horrible. She was kickass in Dollhouse. And she’s changing the way people watch TV through her web series The Guild. Really, I just want to keep seeing her get work anywhere and everywhere on screen (except, maybe we can get her something better than those Sears commercials).

Well, that’s the top five in my book. There are certainly more. In fact, honorable mentions really go to the entire cast of Dollhouse. More awards to come throughout the week, but let me know who you want to see more of in the comments!

*images from Yahoo! TV and Wikipedia

Dollhouse: When the end is here

Raked finally processed the finale, enough to write about it.

DOLLHOUSE:  2.13 “Epitaph Two: The Return”

I think you really have to wonder what’s going to happen as you step into the end of another Whedon series, especially when you take the leap ten years ahead, and you’re in a post-apocalyptic world of sorts–a world based on an episode that wasn’t even aired.

I’ve got to feel bad for anyone who didn’t watch “Epitaph One.” You had to have been pretty lost. Sure, you got the general idea of what happened, but who are Zone and Mag? Who is this little girl? (By the way, SO glad we got to see Zone develop as a character.)

For the rest of us, it was great. I’m not sure how I missed the memo that Felicia Day would be returning to Dollhouse, but it was worth it. Even if she lost her legs in the process.

I have to admit, Whedon knows how to create a sense of surprise. The two main deaths of the episode were, of course, Ballard and Topher. I don’t know why I didn’t see Ballard’s death coming after his conversation with Echo, but maybe that was because I was lost in Mag’s pain. The shock of having her legs hole-punched was enough. You had that moment where you thought nothing else could happen worse–and then you had Ballard.

Meanwhile, we all knew that Topher was going to die when he went up to Adelle’s office. So why was it such a surprise? We had no idea that he’d completed the device, so when he took that moment to look at the photos, we really all just paused and took a moment. His final, “Hm,” was the last thing we ever heard.

Joss sure knows how to play with a viewer’s emotions.

But I must say, the most intriguing part of this episode was the techies. Seeing Victor with his teched out face, seeing him use the tech to change the language he speaks…it was so interesting. Almost tempting. You could see how it they could have gotten hooked on the tech. Even I thought how awesome it must’ve been to have any language or knowledge easily put into your head.

And how do you think this all started? Well, I guess technically we’ll never know, but it sure made me wonder whether it all started with the Victor upgrade that we saw in “Hollow Men.” If we could upgrade Victor’s fighting skills, why not his knowledge? Why not his language? Why not everything? After all, Echo is holding all sorts of specialties in her head. Why not everyone else?

I loved that aspect of the episode. It really made you realize that in this world that was crumbling apart, it wasn’t just Rossum that was taking over the tech. It could be in anyone’s hands.

And by the way, Rossum: Was it not creepy to see Harding choosing the next body he could abuse? “Stretch out”? Uggh, just made me shiver.

Overall, it was a very powerful finale. I’m glad we really got to see the end–and the end of the end–even if we did say good-bye to two of our favorite characters. I loved how we saw Adelle become the heartfelt figure she always had in her, and Sierra finally got a happy ending. And while, true, it was a little over the top, I liked that Ballard and Echo got their happy ending, even if it was only in her head, especially since it was a final gift form Alpha.

I think I could have watched the apocalyptic episodes over and over–a series on its own, really. I guess that just shows us how much a show like this really had. And yet, it lived a life so short.

The Guild: A little web series that could

KT puts her nerd status on display again.

Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog has probably gotten more buzz than any other web series, but it wasn’t created in a vacuum.  Among the Whedon brothers’ inspiration for the show was a modest little web series called The Guild, created by, written by, and starring Felicia Day.

The Guild has grown to be something of a phenomena itself, at least in certain quarters of the internet.  Their first season (like most fledgling shows) was a little bumpy, but since then Day and her collaborators have fine-tuned the writing and production and gotten backing from Sprint and distribution from Microsoft.  New episodes are first made available through the Xbox and Zune, if you happen to own either of those devices, then are hosted on msn.com.  Eventually you can also stream them at watchtheguild.com or YouTube.  A little confusing, but it works.

The web series is starting its third season this fall, and it has found its wings in a big way.  It follows six members of a guild — people who get together online to play an MMORPG (that’s “massively multi-player online role-playing game”) of the sort that sounds a lot like World of Warcraft, but is always carefully referred to as “The Game.”  Anyway, that’s the only link these people have to each other, and until recently (meaning season 1), they had never met in person.  Some of the characters still think that was a bad idea.  And though each season consists of only ten or twelve short episodes, each character has a storyline and a very distinct personality.  Humor is definitely a key component, and season two even has some action when Codex meets one of her neighbors, who is a professional stunt man.

Yes, Codex.  All of the character are only ever referred to by the names of their characters in The Game.  We do learn Codex’s real name — Sydney, I think — but that’s it.

Season three opens a day or two after the disastrous party from the season two finale and Codex is still freezing her brain over a pint of “self-pity ice cream.”  She’s fairly cheerful, though — she’s the sort of person who feels the need to fix everyone else’s problems, and she’s sure that the imminent release of an expansion to their game will patch up everybody’s quarrels.  After all, she says, “it’s about the game, not each other.  Stupid humans.”  Adorable delivery.  Have I mentioned my girl-crush on Felicia Day?  Her video blog-style introductions are often my favorite part of the show.

Despite Codex’s optimism, new online quests and powers aren’t quite enough to make everyone forgive and forget as they all line up outside their local Game Stop.  Spirits sink further when a rival guild led by Wil Wheaton shows up and cuts ahead of them in line.  (Juvenile, yes, but in an amusingly over-the-top kind of way.)

By the end of episode 3.02, the conflict between the two guilds has solidified as the plot to watch this season.  And after Codex votes herself the new guild leader, Tinkerballa is seen flirting with Wheaton’s kilt-wearing character — I smell treachery in the air.  Should be fun!

[After the jump: a few last comments]

Continue reading

Dollhouse: The future is dark

KT and Raked take on the unaired episode of Dollhouse, and without intention, actually have different points to make about the stellar episode. Check out KT’s post, and Raked’s is below.

DOLLHOUSE: 1.13 “Epitaph One”

Bear with me. I wrote this entire post last night, only to have it disappear from my drafts. Sigh.

I knew a little about this episode before it aired–that it was in the future in an apocalyptic time. For some reason, I misunderstood the idea of “apocalyptic,” because I thought it was more of a wartime area of the world and less widespread. Boy, was I wrong.

Imprinting has caused a war in the world, and we have our very own Felicia Day trying to find a safe haven. As much as I was looking forward to seeing Felicia Day in this episode, I can’t say she was the standout actor in the episode. That honor gets split between Amy Acker and Fran Kranz, for the reasons I’m about to say below.

It’s amazing what Joss Whedon does to Amy Acker. We all saw her transformation in Angel, playing basically the polar opposite of the role she was originally cast. Here again she’s playing two roles: Dr. Claire Saunders and Whiskey. And really, she was brilliant.

Haunting. So haunting. I mean, just imagine that to save herself–and any others that came by–she gave up her sanity to become Whiskey. Knowing that she would actually have lost her sanity long ago, she gave up the only person (well, imprint) that she’s ever known. And even Whiskey seemed scarred by the loneliness. The way she stood by herself in that room. The hollowness in her eyes. She’d been beaten down.

And the end. Somehow, Amy Acker can be so haunting and beautiful at the same time. When she gassed the Dollhouse, then just sat there to watch and let herself die, too. I mean, that one last image was just so beautiful. But the sadness that came with that image was almost tangible.

But what about Fran Kranz? If you know my Dollhouse posts, you know that while I enjoy Topher, I don’t necessarily think all that much of him. I mean, he’s fine.  He’s the humor of the show, of course. So far, we haven’t seen all that much else of him.

Until this episode. Man, when he is in his bunker, of sorts. The craziness he showed–regressing to a childlike state. It was heartbreaking. And sadly, even then, he couldn’t turn his mind off. It continued on as he circled round and round and realized that you could imprint the masses–quicker, faster, more efficiently! As his mind revealed more and more that the technology could do…and then he realized the cause of the world today, and how he played a part of it. It was intense and heartbreaking. It was an amazing scene. And to see that Adelle even had a reaction to it–she with the coldest heart of all–you couldn’t imagine what they must have gone through for her to change so drastically.

[Read more after the jump!] Continue reading

Dollhouse: Keeping our own voices

KT and Raked (read her post here) finally get a look at the episode that never aired in the U.S.  You can buy it on the season 1 DVD or through iTunes.

DOLLHOUSE:  1.13 “Epitaph One”

It’s 2019 and we’re following a ragged group of survivors through urban rubble.  Gotta say, Dollhouse‘s answer to “Where do you see yourself in ten years?” is one I’ll pass on, personally.

Structurally, we’ve all seen this before:  one plot in the present intercut with flashbacks that help to explain how we got here.  (I think I’m going to call 2019 “the present” for this post, and all of the memory scenes “flashbacks,” even through most of them are flashforwards from a 2009, Dollhouse season 1 perspective.  Otherwise the verbs get weird.)  And we all know the horror movie plot where the characters keep dying while we scream at the TV about how you should at least check the shadows  before undressing for a very exposed shower.  We know that even if the main suspect seems crazy, she’ll ultimately prove to be innocent.

But what I think is neat here is that they’ve written themselves ten years into the future.  The 2019 storyline kept just enough tension and paranoia to carry it along while the flashbacks carried the episode.  Think of it:  this is potentially a sneak preview of where the show might go in the future if it gets the chance, yet also that there’s plenty of room to explain how we get into those situations.

And I loved that they didn’t over-explain.  Where was Boyd going, and why, and what was his relationship with Saunders?  How did Paul and Caroline make their escape?  What exactly was “thanks to Alpha?”  How did Adelle wind up running what was apparently a safe house for actives, and what drove Topher around the bend?  We can guess enough to go with it, but there are plenty of stories left to tell:  the journey is at least as interesting as the destination.

Cleverly, the most important clue to what precipitated this dystopia is tucked into Topher’s mad raving:  someone could instantly imprint people through a phone call, just like Alpha wiped Echo over the phone in “Grey Hour.”  Topher’s division of people who answered the phone and people who didn’t seems to have become Mag and company’s division of “butchers” and “actuals.”

An odd side effect of introducing the 2019 characters was that it made me all the more excited to recognize the familiar sets and remember how much I like all of the series regulars.  How great was it that Mag, Zone, and the others jumped to the assumption that Topher’s office was a daycare?  (Reminded me just a bit of Motel of the Mysteries, a hilarious book in which future archaeologists describe a 20th century motel as a temple complex.  Sorry, tangent.)

My quibble about the flashbacks was the way they were introduced via The Chair.  Were we supposed to assume that Mr. Miller parroted what each person said, or that he narrated and summarized the scenes we saw?  Also I wasn’t always clear about whose memories we were getting, and that bothered me too.  Often we seemed to be in Adelle’s head, which is interesting because we’ve never seen her in the chair.

[Dominic, Mag, and the big, sunny ending after the jump.] Continue reading

Thursday Open Thread: Do you Twitter?

I got in a conversation at work about the pros and cons of Twitter. As you know, I’m a big check in the “pro” column (follow me @rakedreviews), but others stay far, far away from the Twitterverse.

So here’s a fun little Open Thread for this Thursday.

Do you Twitter? Who do you follow? (And all the stuff in between.)

I want to hear it all. Tell me if you Twitter and why. If you don’t Twitter and why. And best of all (here comes the fun part), who do you follow?

Personally, there’s a lot of fun on there. I follow a good amount of TV and entertainment news (which is probably why I was on the edge of my seat while fall TV schedules were coming out).

But then there’s the fun, ridiculous celebrities. From William Shatner (@WilliamShatner) to Felicia Day (@feliciaday) to Miley Cyrus (@mileycyrus –And I must say, some of her rants are just funny.), I’ve got myself quite a collection. Add in some Dollhouse stars and the BroCode (@brocode), and you’re all set.

So what about you? Share your faves or who you’d recommend. Kinda like a #followfriday on Raked. Click the red box below or jump to comments.