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Archive for the ‘Television’ Category

The trailer for Gotham, the Batman prequel series, looks amazing

They’re doing this series right.

Fox recently ordered a full season of Gotham, and here’s what we have to look forward to.

Based on the early bits, it looks like it’s going to be incredible.

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How the Writers Guild of America strike of 2007-2008 shaped TV today

April 27, 2013 Leave a comment

Hollywood Writer's Guild of America 2007-2008 Strike

Strikes suck.

Teacher strikes, garbage strikes, and auto worker strikes disrupt daily life in a number of temporarily inconvenient ways, but when the writers of our favourite shows go on strike, it creates a narrative ripple effect that can last for years.

Plotlines get cut. Early draft scripts get used and drag down show quality. Shows go on hiatus, and some never make it back from the layoff.

All that happened in 2007, when the Writers Guild of America (WGA) went on strike and demanded a bigger piece of emerging digital revenues from the entertainment industry.

The WGA spent a total of 14 weeks writing picket signs instead of TV and movie scripts. The dispute was resolved in February 2008, but not before doing a whole lot of bad – and a little bit of good – for the television and film industries.
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The long, troubled history of Wonder Woman on screen

XBox 360 Injustice: Gods Among Us video game Wonder Woman

She’s often considered the third member of DC Comics’ great triumvirate, after Superman and Batman, but Wonder Woman, a.k.a. Princess Diana of the magic island Themyscira, has struggled mightily to make it to the big or small screen these last 40 years. From Linda Harrison to Lynda Carter, Adrianne Palicki to Keri Russell, The few successful renditions of Wonder Woman have been hamstrung by repeated failure, which begs the question: will they ever do Diana right?

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6 voice actors you love (but have never heard of)

January 25, 2013 Leave a comment

Luke Skywalker Mark Hamill Joker in Batman

It’s a rare and special thing when an actor so embodies a character that he or she becomes that character in your mind forevermore. You may watch that person go on to play dozens of other roles, but for you they will always be that character you remember best.

Maybe you’ll always see Harrison Ford as Han Solo, or as Indiana Jones. Perhaps Bruce Willis is forever John McClane, and maybe Mark Hamill will always be Luke Skywalker.

But for many people, Mark Hamill will always be the voice of the Joker, even if some of those people don’t know he’s the man behind the voice.

That’s right: after playing the hero in Star Wars, Mark Hamill turned in a few forgettable live action roles before becoming an extremely prolific voice actor who has given life to the Joker, the Hobgoblin, Wolverine, and countless other cartoon and video game characters. He’s one of the best in the business, but there are many others like him who you’ve never seen.

There are many supremely talented voice actors who embody some of your favourite video game and cartoon characters, yet their credits flash past you and you don’t blink an eye. Their voices can be iconic or instantly identifiable, but you know them only by the other characters they have played – not by their names.

These are some of the true titans of the voice acting industry. You’ve heard some, if not all, of them, because a good voice actor can rack up credits at a ridiculous pace.

Take a look – for the first time – at some of your favourite voice actors.

1. Jennifer Hale

Female Commander Shepard redhead from Mass Effect 3 with Omni-blade

This one is a personal favourite. She’s Ms. Marvel. She’s Felecia Hardy/Black Cat. She’s Commander Shepard, and this is her favourite store on the Citadel.

If you’re a superhero cartoon fan or a video gamer worth your salt, you’ve heard Jennifer Hale more than once.

She excels at voicing strong, kick-ass women with a touch of sex appeal and a no-nonsense attitude, and her crowning achievement thus far has been as the Mass Effect franchise’s female player character, Commander Shepard.

Voice Actor Jennifer Hale aka female Shepard from Mass Effect

Jennifer Hale.

Her other hardnosed video game heroines include Samus Aran from Metroid Prime, Jedi Bastila Shan in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, and Naomi Hunter in the Metal Gear Solid series.

In cartoons she’s been tough girl Twi’lek Jedi Aayla Secura on Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Hal Jordan’s girlfriend Carol Ferris on Green Lantern: The Animated Series, and sweetheart Cinderella in Cinderella II: Dreams Come True.

There are too many appearances to count, quite frankly.

Check out the many voices of Jennifer Hale below.

2. Frank Welker

Transformers 1980s cartoon Decepticon leader Megatron with Michael Bay Megatron head voiced by Frank Welker

If you’re a child of the ’80s, this guy is evil incarnate. He’s equally famous for providing the voices of Dr. Claw in Inspector Gadget and Megatron – among others – in Transformers. Add in the role of lead monster Stripe in Gremlins, and he may well have haunted your childhood. But, if you’re a child of the ’90s, this guy is “reary, reary scared, Raggy,” because he’s given up his evil ways and become the voice of Scooby Doo.

Voice Actor Frank Welker at Transformers premiere

So this is what Dr. Claw looks like.

Frank Welker’s throaty, raspy growl has netted him many cartoon villain roles, but it’s also made him the most prolific dog voice in the business.

Seriously. Check out his highlight reel.

His talents started at a young age, when he found he could dupe animals by mimicking their sounds. No wonder, then, that he become such a spectacular animal substitute.

Welker’s voice sounded too “old” to reprise Megatron in Michael Bay’s Transformers, but he later got the chance to return to the franchise as Soundwave.

It’s not as if Welker needed the work, though. In 2011, Hollywood calculated the top-grossing box office actors, and Welker was in the top 10.

Well, the top 5.

Okay, Frank Welker was the number 1 box office earner, beating out Samuel L. Jackson at 2 and Tom Hanks at number 3.

Pretty good for a guy who does animal voices.

3. Jim Cummings

Winnie the Pooh voiced by Jim Cummings

Jim Cummings has been the voice of Winnie the Pooh since 1988, and he’s been Tigger for nearly as long. He doesn’t rest on his Hundred Acre Wood royalties, though; the man is an absolute vocal chameleon, and he does secondary roles in far too many television shows to count.

Jim Cummings

Jim Cummings.

Cummings started as a singer and river boat deckhand before moving to California to take up his voice acting career. Since then, he’s become one of the very best voices in the business.

His first Disney role was in Aladdin. Disney loved him, and it shows: he was the only actor to work in every animated Disney television show in the ’90s, and he’s been in multiple Disney movies every year since his debut. Cummings was even the go-to backup for Jeremy Irons on The Lion King. Irons had some trouble with the singing, so Cummings tagged in wherever Irons needed him.

Even with the whole stable of Disney properties ready to use his voice, he continues to spread his talents around. He dabbled in video games for a while before catching on with some of the biggest releases of the last five years, including The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Mass Effect 2, World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria and Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Check out the many talents of Jim Cummings below.

4. Cree Summer

Penny from Inspector Gadget voiced by Cree Summer

Better keep Cree Summer and Frank Welker apart; Welker’s was Dr. Claw, while Summer’s first role was as Dr. Claw’s true nemesis, Penny, who routinely saved her bumbling uncle Inspector Gadget from Claw’s plots.

Don’t limit her to little girl roles, though, because Cree’s got range. She was the sexy Foxxy Love in Drawn Together, the adorable Susie Carmichael in Rugrats and the wise Princess Kida in Atlantis: The Lost Empire.

Voice Actor Cree Summer

Cree Summer, enjoying summer.

Penny was Summer’s first voice role, but she later made the jump to live action in the Cosby Show spin-off, A Different World. She made a few more guest appearances on shows through the ’80s and ’90s before settling into the voice career.

And, like many on this list, she’s hit the video game circuit in the last decade. Catch her as the Archangel Auriel in Diablo III and Executor Selendis in StarCraft II. Once you recognize her, you’ll never miss her again.

Summer’s throaty, energetic voice stands out instantly. She is the definition of “that girl who did the voice of that other girl…”

Check out her highlights below.

5. Tara Strong

Batman Arkham City voiced by Tara Strong

The term “geek cred” is a great way to explain an actor’s niche appeal. Most of the people on this list have some level of geek cred for their cartoon and video game roles. Tara Strong gets plenty of it for playing the Joker’s psycho girlfriend Harley Quinn in Batman: Arkham City, and a little more for playing zombie-killing cheerleader Juliet Starling in Lollipop Chainsaw.

But no one else on this last has what Tara Strong has: Brony cred.

Tara Strong is the voice of Twilight Sparkle (the purple pony) on My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

“So what, big deal,” for most; “BIG DEAL!” for others.

Just check out this forum where a bunch of grown men praise, slam and otherwise debate the merits of Strong doing some Twilight Sparkle cosplay.

“Our Brony Queen is truly awesome,” says Chuck Belcher in the comments.

Voice actor Tara Strong

Tara Strong, the voice that launched a thousand Bronies.

Strong started her career as a vocalist in a Toronto Yiddish theatre at age 4 and went to a performing arts school at 13 to hone her craft. She soon made the jump to voicing cartoons and, later, video games. She was baby Dil Pickles in Rugrats, Bubbles in Powerpuff Girls, and the singing voice of Meg in Family Guy.

And about that geek cred?

It doesn’t stop at Harley and Juliet. She’s also lent her voice to the Ratchet & Clank, Final Fantasy and Metal Gear Solid franchises.

Strong is also no stranger to cartoons, with a pile of credits to her name.

Check out her achievements below.

6. Keith David

Gargoyles Goliath Keith David

You may know him from his film work, but you love him for his voice acting.

Unlike most of the people on this list, Keith David has a formidable live action resume to go along with his voice acting credits. He was in Crash, The Thing, and Pitch Black; he helped Charlie Sheen get high in Platoon, and since then, he’s been cast in secondary military roles time and time again. Chances are if you recognize him in a movie, he’s wearing a general’s uniform and telling everyone how dire the situation is.

Billy Bob Thornton and Keith David in Armageddon

Keith David (left) is getting sick of Billy Bob Thornton’s BS in Armageddon.

While he tends to fly under the radar and play secondary roles in film and on television, he really excels when the focus is his voice. He’s done plenty of singing on Broadway, and he regularly provides narration for commercials, promos and television shows. He’s been on Adult Swim, Robot Chicken, 1000 Ways to Die and Justice League, among other things.

But if there’s one role he’ll always be associated with, it’s as the noble gargoyle leader Goliath in Gargoyles.

Keith David’s voice is deep, commanding and powerful, and he can twist it to make it sinister or noble. That versatility has allowed him to play many heroes and villains in cartoons and video games.

Gamers may know him as the Covenant’s Arbiter in the Halo series, Captain Anderson in Mass Effect or gang leader Julius Little in the Saints Row series.

Aside from Gargoyles, his most notable animated roles have been as the title character in Spawn, the black cat in Coraline and the villainous voodoo witch doctor Shadow Man in Disney’s The Princess and the Frog. He doesn’t have nearly the credits of the others on this list, but every role has been huge.

If you don’t mind some swearing, listen to Keith David’s Julius Little lines dubbed over his Arbiter character in Halo.

If you live and breathe, listen to his awesomeness as Goliath in the Gargoyles intro.