REGULAR CAST, GUEST CAST & CREDITS
TV GUIDE PROMO
AIRING AND RATING INFORMATION
SYNOPSIS by Bret Rudnick
SYNOPSIS 2 by Kym Masera Taborn
REVIEW by Bret Ryan Rudnick
Davis Press (Horst)
Mark Williams (Cat Man)
Written by RJ Stewart
Directed by Greg Yaitanes
Filmed in Auckland, New Zealand, by Renaissance Pictures in association with Studios USA. Executive producers Rob Tapert, Sam Raimi, R. J. Stewart; co-executive producer, Eric Gruendemann; producer, Chris Black, Janine Dickins; co-producer, Mike McDonald, associate producer, Sam Clark; director, Greg Yaitanes; writer, R.J. Stewart; camera, Kevin Riley; editor, Cushla Dillon; music, Joseph LoDuca; casting, Marie Adams, Beth Hymson-Ayer, Tracy Hampton.
TV GUIDE PROMO
Two warriors in the year 2525 rescue Cleopatra, an aspiring actress, from a cryogenic freeze after more than five centuries. This episode: Cleopatra finds the world in chaos. ClickTV
An actress awakens from cryogenic sleep to discover that centuries have passed and she's now in a dangerous underground world. Knight Ridder/Tribune
A woman frozen in the year 2001 wakes to find that robots have taken over Earth. Variety
Cleopatra, an aspiring actress, awakens from a cryogenic deep freeze after more than five centuries. ExciteTV
AIRING AND RATING INFORMATION
1st RELEASE: 01/17/00
An AA average of 3.2
(13) X-Files 4.7
(17) ER 4.2
(24) Stargate 3.7
Lost World 2.6
Total Recall 2.0
2nd release: 03/13/00
An AA average of 2.6
(13) X-Files 3.8
(21) Stargate 3.1
Baywatch Hawaii 2.3
Lost World 2.2
Earth: Final Conflict/Beastmaster 2.1
3rd release: 07/17/00
An AA average of 2.2
(15) X-Files/ER 3.7
Earth: Final Conlfict/Voyager 2.1
Relic Hunter 1.8
This commentary is by Bret Ryan Rudnick.
Three people emerge from an underground tunnel into a huge chamber that is an apparent reproduction of the Sistene Chapel. Two of them are principal characters in the show, Hel (Gina Torres) and Sarge (Vicky Pratt). They are accompanied by Horst, a male companion. They are seeking a way to the surface, but Hel is reluctant. After getting further instruction from The Voice, which only she can hear and communicate with, the three break out onto the surface and into broad daylight.
Hel is disoriented. It is her first time outside. Sarge is apparently a veteran of many such journies. As they get accustomed to the light and open air, they become fearful. The hear a Bailey appoaching.
Bailies are large, mechanical, robotic creatures. They look like a cross between a giant metal bumblebee and some impossible mollusk. The Bailey is fast. And deadly. It springs a number of weapons and begins shooting.
Sarge and Horst distract the Bailey while Hel sneaks beneath it. She manages to break off one of the weapons from the Bailey and recovers it. This was their mission from The Voice. They need the weapon to figure out how it works so they can ultimately defeat the Bailies.
They escape the Bailey firepower but once back underground, it is noticed that Horst is wounded. Horst is also discovered to be a robot -- a Betrayer robot. Betrayers don't like our human heroes and vice versa. Looks like there's going to be a big fight!
At the time of this review, the Main Title, was not complete, but the theme song has the following words and reveals some of the series milieu:In the year 2025, the millenium had just arrived.
Man fell asleep, a technological fool.
Woke up one day under mechanical rule.
People were driven far down underground,
and left the surface of the world without a sound.
Here they survived for five hundered years,
beneath the planet where we hide with all our fears.
In the year 2525, there are women with the will to strive,
One will follow the voice in her head.
In the year 2525, Cleopatra is newly revived,
Joining forces to reclaim the Earth,
Looking ahead, to [something, something] rebirth.
There's a big fight between Sarge and Hel versus Horst. Sarge and Hel escape, but Sarge has been badly wounded. in fact, she needs a new kidney (having already lost one sometime in the past).
The Voice isn't happy that Hel and Sarge are not moving. The stolen Bailey weapon is needed in the lab for research. But Hel isn't about to leave her friend in the lurch, and they go in search of a new kidney in a shady shop where human spare parts are bought and sold.
This underground world has mutants aplenty, since the shop owner is some kind of cat-man, and his assistant is more than a small part snake. Cat-man explains he recently acquired some spare parts in the form of cryogenically frozen humans. What does Hel have to trade?
Hel offers weaponry, cat-man isn't interesed. But what does catch his eye is a wooden tube that Hel has. Wood is very unusual underground. After removing a picture from the tube, Hel hands it over and cat-man grants Sarge a kidney.
The organ is coming from an unsuspecting donor, who turns out to be our third heroine, Cleopatra. She awakens as the operation is concluded, thinking she is still in her own time and place. She checks her breasts, comments "good work", and overhears Hel and Sarge comment that she would be better off dead than left with cat-man and his pals.
Cleopatra grabs the Bailey weapon, with no idea of how to use it, and draws upon her limited acting skills to at least confuse Hel and Sarge to the point of standoff.
They are interrupted as the Betrayer robot Horst breaks into the room, minus his midsection. Cleo screams (she does this a lot) and certainly by now realises she's not in Kansas anymore.
Fight, fight, fight.
The Voice confirms that Horst is after Sarge. Hel and Sarge fight off Horst and escape with Cleo in tow. Horst has lost them and he jumps down a shaft for the moment.
Cleo and Hel and Sarge have a moment to get acquainted. Cleo is definitely a fish out of water when she's told it's 2525, not 2001. As Cleo gets hysterical, Sarge slaps her. Cleo fights back. Cleo muses "You think it's easy to go in for a basic boob job in the year 2001 and wake up five centuries later?"
Sarge and Hel don't know about boob jobs, and Cleo doesn't know what's happened in the last 500 years. Cleo explains she made up all the "double-oh-eight" stuff at the standoff. Hel says she was very convincing. Cleo remarks she studied acting for two years at Glendale Community College, but she's a stripper to "pay the bills". Cleopatra is her stage name.
They "swing" their way down to the lab (think Spiderman), Cleo screaming as they go. They meet Mauser, another robot, but not a bad one.
Cleo finds out that people live underground and have for centuries. No one knows much about the Baileys, except they're very dangerous and kill anyone on the surface.
Cleo also reveals another talent -- she is an excellent mimic. She can sound just like Sarge.
Meanwhile, Horst has found the lab and breaks in.
Mauser needs time to get the stolen Bailey weapon operational -- it is their only hope to defeat Horst.
Horst is still after Sarge. Hel convinces Cleo to mimic Sarge and the distraction is successful. Mauser gets the time he needs to fix the Bailey weapon.
Hel takes the weapon and fries Horst. The immediate threat is over.
In a moment of peace, Cleo laments again that the world is not a nice place. Hel says she and her friends are fighting to reclaim the surface. "All for one and one for all," Cleo mumbles. Hel and Sarge think that's great and beautiful stuff.
"I've got a million of 'em," Cleo smiles.
This commentary is by Kym Masera Taborn.
Hel and Sarge go to the surface where they meet up with a Bailey and are forced back underground. While retreating, Sarge is wounded by a killer robot called a Betrayer (they work for the Baileys). Fleeing for safety the ladies hide in an ancient cryogenics lab. While tending to Sarge's wounds, Cleopatra is awakened from a 500 plus year crypgenically enhanced coma. When the Berserker finds the ladies, Cleo acts herself out of a paper bag and the two others are mighty impressed. "As they educate her in the ways of war, she teaches them that looking good won't necessarily hurt the cause."
This review is by Bret Ryan Rudnick.
Mix one part CHARLIE'S ANGELS, one part VIP, one part MATRIX, sprinkle liberal dashes of SPIDERMAN, THE TRIPODS, LEXX, add for flavour half a dozen British science-fiction shows, and you might get the sense for CLEOPATRA 2525, one of two new half-hour shows from Renaissance Pictures that replace the finished series HERCULES: THE LEGENDARY JOURNEYS.
CLEOPATRA 2525 is a "fish out of water" story which centres on a young woman who went in for cosmetic surgery in 2001 and woke up in the year 2525 to a world where people have been driven underground by montrous machines that patrol the surface (Baileys). Humanity is further harassed by Betrayer robots, which can look like humans but who try to kill them. It's also a world of mutants (cat-people, snake-people, and others), high technology, computer voices, and great looking women in skimpy clothing, a world that is designed to appeal to the "young male" demographic above all others.
Cleopatra (Jennifer Sky) is an exotic dancer and part-time actress who has to learn fast what this new world is all about. Apart from her obvious assets, she can and does use her acting and mimicry skills to advantage.
Hel (Gina Torres) is the leader. She alone hears and gets instructions from The Voice, a computer that communicates with her via an implant in her head.
Sarge (Vicky Pratt) is another freedom fighter who works closely with Hel, and she is a veteran of many combat sorties.
Throughout the series, these three will figure most prominently in the battle to reclaim the surface of the planet.
This is an interesting series. The thirty minute format is tight and lends itself to an unfolding story arc, and there are many questions to be answered right from the first episode. Where do the Baileys come from? What is the nature of The Voice in Hel's head? Why are there mutants? Where do the Betrayers come from? Will Cleo stop screaming? All these questions and more will be pursued in the series.
As regards the acting, Renaissance have chosen a fine cast. From what I've seen so far (the pilot episode and bits from other episodes) Gina Torres is the strongest of the three. She is measured, deliberate, and consistently gives strong performances. Her strength of character is reminiscent of Lucy Lawless in Season One and Two of XENA.
Vicky Pratt is a fine Sarge. Sarge is a soldier who doesn't say much and generally speaks only when necessary. Vicky Pratt's wonderful athleticism shows through in the action sequences, and there are a lot of them. Those familiar with the flips and jumps from XENA and HERC will recognise the style here, but unlike those other shows, the stunts here are not quite as comic bookish, at least not from what I've seen.
Jennifer Sky is almost unrecogniseable for those who know her as Amarice, and this is a tribute to her skill as an actress. After having seen her perform as both Amarice and now as Cleopatra, I have renewed respect for her. Although her character screams a lot in the first episode, Jennifer Sky does convey the "fish out of water" theme very well.
In fact, as the series progresses, all of the three principal actresses grow and mature in their performances. This is only natural, since it takes a bit of time to get the "feel" of a character and the direction that character is going. None of them disappoint. It's interesting to see how each of them handle challenging and different situations.
The set design for the series is tremendous. The sets are both futuristic and fun, but not totally comical. The same can be said of the costumes. Let's face it, skin sells, and it's the young male demographic being sought. The costumes do the job, yet they are also interesting.
The cinematography is also very interesting and well done. There is a fabulous scene in the second act of Episode One where the actors are talking around a table, and the camera "orbits" them throughout the scene. Very well done.
Although almost all of the series is shot indoors, there is a benefit to the New Zealand location -- fine local talent. With recurring villains such as Creegan (played by Joel Tobeck) and Raina (played by Danielle Cormack) we have a lot to look forward to.
At the time of this review, the material I have seen does not have the final visual effects or music, but the temporary placement of these is great if that's a hint of what the broadcast version will show. The visual effects are state-of-the-art and very busy. The music is progressive and techno. The combination of all the elements of actors, set design, music, visual effects, and interesting camera angles all come together to make a show that is appealing on a number of sense levels.
If it's a good, thoughtful first impression that is sought, R.J. Stewart hit the bullseye with the opening images in the pilot episode.
The first thing we see is a reproduction of a pendentive on the Sistene Chapel -- the famous Creation of Adam by God (although on the show we see a mirror image of Michaelangelo's real work), God's hand outstretched to Adam. Spray painted graffitti on a corner declares "Baileys Suck". In order to get to the surface, Hel has to blast through the artwork, but as a 26th century inhabitant, she knows nothing of its significance or meaning.
It's moments like this that get me interested in this show. A picture can indeed be worth a thousand words, and that is definitely conveyed right from the start.
According to Encyclopedia Brittanica, Hel was orginally the name for the land of the dead in Norse mythology, and later came to be the name for their goddess of death. Hel was a child of Loki. "Her kingdom was said to lie downward and northward".
Personally, I'd like to see a bit less shooting and a bit more dialogue as this new world is explored, but I'll take my quiet moments when I can get them. After all, we've just started. I'll certainly give it a few episodes to keep me hooked.