Judge Sandra Dozier can't stop giggling over the name "Ashlocke," and it's really starting to get on our nerves now.
Our review of Mutant X: Season 1, Disc 9, published April 5th, 2004, is also available.
Protecting a world that doesn't know we exist
Loosely based on the Silver Age Marvel comic book of the same name, Mutant X takes an old theme and turns it into a show that probably won't win any awards for originality but does provide solid entertainment and good old-fashioned action adventure.
Facts of the Case
Back story: Twenty or more years ago, Genomex corporation undertook a plan to experiment with genetics in children in the hopes of curing illness and ending hereditary disorders, but their experiments weren't always successful. A doctor called Adam (John Shea), who had been heading up the team, broke away from Genomex when he realized what was happening to the grown-up mutants—he developed Sanctuary, an underground lair where they could live and base their operations. His goal: to fight back against Genomex, end the persecution of these man-made mutants, and protect humanity from any mutant fallout. He recruited four strong mutants to help him in his fight.
Picking up where Season One left off, the mutants are trying to pin down Ashlocke, renegade mutant and all-around jerk. Adam wants to cure him, something the team (especially Shalimar, who has to endure mind invasions from Ashlocke) can't quite get on board with, but they let him try. In a later episode, they find out why Adam is so dedicated to a cure, but it doesn't change the need to get rid of the increasingly dangerous Ashlocke, who is dying and feeling more and more desperate.
In between encounters with the appropriately named Ashlocke (one wonders if the screenwriter was German and having some fun with phoenetics), the mutants get into trouble (Jesse loses control over his phase powers in one tense episode) and learn more about their continually developing mutations.
Episode 201: "Past as Prologue"
Episode 202: "Power Play"
Episode 203: "Time Squared"
Episode 204: "Whose Woods These Are"
Episode 205: "The Future Revealed"
With Season One über-baddie Mason Eckhart gone, Ashlocke (Michael Easton) steps in. I have to say, this guy is the weak link in Season 2. I can't tell if it's the overacting, his perpetually sleepy expression, or just the outlandish things the character does to cure himself so he can wipe out Adam and his band of Merry Mutants, but I didn't enjoy the Ashlocke-centric episodes as much. Unfortunately, he's the major piece of the Season Two arc, and he appears in almost every episode in this first volume.
What is good about Mutant X is watching Adam and the mutants do their thing. Everyone is just so into it—half the enjoyment of the show is just watching them go at it with gusto. In fact, it's the episodes that mostly deal with the main four mutants that seem to work the best—this series excels when it shows the weaknesses each mutant must deal with, even as their powers change and become more potent.
As usual, there is plenty of martial arts goodness, and the wire work seems to have improved in Season Two. Fight scenes, at least for these first five episodes, tend to be shorter and more frequent, which suits me just fine—I tend to get a little restless during longer fight scenes. Also, is it just my imagination, or are production values higher in Season Two? More appearances of their stealth fighting craft and more on-location settings are definitely welcome.
John Shea, always the most enthusiastic member of any project he's involved with, steps up to the plate with another beefy extra on disc one. He fills in the Mutant X history nicely and talks about the evolution and arc for his character, Adam. This would be a good extra to watch before checking out the episodes for viewers who are new to Mutant X or who missed most of the first season. Disc two contains two featurettes, one on the fighting choreography and one on the special effects makeup used in episode 204, "Whose Woods These Are."
Transfer to DVD is quite good, with a crystal-clear anamorphic image that shows no softness or compression artifacting. The colors are bold and crisp, even in darker scenes. Sound is also very good, with a surprisingly active 2.0 surround track. The only drawback here is that voices are a little quiet compared to music and ambient noise.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Again, as with Season One, my only real beef is the way ADV is releasing Mutant X. Most consumers who are used to getting an entire season of television episodes in a single box set with be put off by both the bulk and the price of Mutant X. Even at the rate of six episodes per release, Season Two will cost nearly $80.00 and take up four inches of shelf space. This is good if you want to sample the series before seeing more, but the final price is a little steep.
It's worth checking out Mutant X for a TV show that stays true to its comic book roots—the feel and style of most episodes is much like a comic book. Existing fans of the show will also appreciate the high-quality transfer and extras.
Mutant X is found not guilty but is hereby ordered to lower the price a bit.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: ADV Films
• Interview with Actor John Shea
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