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Wednesday, October 7, 2015


For lovers of action-packed pulp sci-fi, a blazingly good time can be had with Warner Home Entertainment's 4-disc DVD set THE 100: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON. 

Heady, steamy, and intoxicating are just some of the adjectives that come to mind when trying to describe this rip-roaring entertainment.  Hokey, sappy, and cringe-inducing are three more.  It's a wild mix.

This is due to the fact that "The 100" reminds me of a corny old-time chapter serial with its heroes and villains hustling from one location to another, getting into skirmishes and cliffhanger predicaments ad infinitum, sending search parties out to find missing people and then having to send rescue parties out after the search parties, etc.

While the action and plotlines tend to go round and round a bit, they always remain interesting enough to hold our attention.  And the whole thing really starts to come together around the mid-season point when the Sky People and the Tree People (sounds kind of like a Tarzan movie or Flash Gordon serial right there) form a very uneasy alliance against the Mount Weather Complex, a military bunker whose inhabitants ("The Mountain People") seem to have sinister designs upon all outsiders.

The Sky People, in case you missed season one like I did, are a group of survivors who sat out the nuclear war that wiped out most of the human race in huge orbital space stations, which were subsequently linked together into a single massive station called the Ark. 

But 97 years later they're running out of oxygen and must send an expedition down to Earth to see if it's habitable.  Since all crime is dealt with harshly on the Ark, anyone under 18 is imprisoned for minor offenses while adults are "floated" off into space.  Thus, 100 of these underaged "criminals" are chosen to go to Earth as guinea pigs.

Of course, the matter of who goes where is rendered academic when the entire space station complex crashes to the ground at the end of season one, after the 100 have already encountered savage forest-dwelling humans they call "grounders" (who refer to themselves as the "Tree People") and engaged in a bloody ongoing conflict with them which the adults now find themselves in the middle of.  To make things even worse, there's also a bloodthirsty race of mindless cannibals called "Reapers." 

Once the adults and teens of the Ark get together in a fenced-in base camp in the woods, made from the remains of their crashed space station, the conflicts come hot and heavy.  Headstrong lass Clarke Griffin (Eliza Taylor, PATRICK remake) is the leader of the motley crew of young people and finds herself often butting heads with her mother Abby (Paige Turco, "Guiding Light"), who will become the official chancellor of the group. 

Abby, meanwhile, has her own ongoing problems with former chancellor Marcus Kane (Henry Ian Cusick), one of those "let's negotiate with them" types, and the Ark's one-time top dog Thelonius Jaha (Isaiah Washington), who was thought dead until he made his way to Earth in a missile and now has some seemingly crazy ideas of his own on how to reach the Promised Land.

The series has a wealth of other good characters--so many, in fact, that there's never a shortage of interlacing plotlines to keep the story racing along.  Various members of the 100 are either engaged in doomed love affairs or seething with mutual enmity as the main conflicts rage around them. 

One "Arker", Octavia (Marie Avgeropoulos), is so in love with one of the grounders, Lincoln (Ricky Whittle), that she aspires to become a warrior in his tribe. This seriously upsets not only hardcore warrior Indra (Adina Porter) but also their ruthless, coldhearted leader, Lexa (Alycia Debnam-Carey, FEAR THE WALKING DEAD), with whom Clarke will make that uneasy alliance amidst much chest-thumping, mistrust, and general hostility.

What really lights the fuse on season two is the attack on Mount Weather by these combined forces after it's discovered that many of their people are being held there and subjected to horrific medical experiments.  Their leader, Dante Wallace (Raymond J. Barry in what is surely one of the best roles of his career), seems a kindly old man, while his son Cage (Johnny Whitworth) and Dr. Tsing (Rekha Sharma) radiate evil.  Eve Harlow of LOST AFTER DARK is outstanding as Maya, a Mount Weather resident who helps her new Arker friends Jasper (Devon Bostick) and Monty (Christopher Larkin) escape a fate worse than death.

The final eight episodes or so are a binge-watcher's delight, with edge-of-your-seat excitement, suspense, and some intense plot twists.  There's also a disturbing element of moral ambiguity to the good guys' actions that adds an extra touch of realism to the show's depiction of warfare.  Best of all, the final episode of the season offers a satisfying resolution that doesn't give the viewer those old "cliffhanger blues." 

The 4-disc DVD set from Warner Home Entertainment is in matted widescreen format with Dolby 5.1 surround sound and subtitles in several languages.  Bonus features consist of featurettes "The 100: Unlocking the Mountain" and "The 100: Pre-Viz Stunts", deleted scenes, a 2014 Comic Con panel, and a gag reel.

THE 100: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON delves into all of its wonderfully hokey sci-fi melodrama with fierce conviction, and never lets up until each plotline has been run through the wringer.  It may be a little rough around the edges at times, but few TV shows are as entertaining as this one.

Buy it at

Street date: October 13, 2015


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