Marton Csokas has been a working actor for 25 years with roles in productions ranging from “Xena: Warrior Princess” to the recent remake of “The Equalizer.” That means the New Zealand native can recognize elements in a script that will make a job more enjoyable.
He saw such elements in the new AMC series, “Into the Badlands.” The series looks at a futuristic world where feudal lords rule the land through armies of warriors adept at martial arts. It’s a place where the past, present and future come together.
“I think that’s what drew all of us to the project,” Csokas says during a lunch interview at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. “For myself for this fusion, redefining of the genre is only going to serve the imagination and make the creative pallet more interesting than a linear narrative might.
“This series blends the classical with the futuristic.”
His character, Quinn, is one of seven barons trying to exist after disaster struck Earth. Csokas sees the show as a Darwinian universe where people are trying to survive as best they can.
Quinn is married to Lydia (Orla Brady). It’s a world where both men and women are equally as strong and ruthless, so they don’t have a typical relationship.
“There are interfamilial dynamics, there’s betrayal, there is usurping, there’s forms of love and other catastrophes. And so this world is a microcosm of what you might experience in the present day when we strip down to its raw primal ingredients,” Csokas says.
Csokas likes how the relationship between Quinn and Lydia is defined by how well they know each other. That will lead to a lot of conflicts and collaborations.
And there will be plenty of big fights. The series was sold to AMC on the promise there would be major fight sequences in every episode. Many of the actors spent five months in fight training before filming started.
Having to learn all of the fight choreography adds another layer of work for the actors. But that isn’t a negative. Csokas says he likes that he’s getting to show off his skills through the lens of the martial-arts sequences choreographed by veteran martial-arts experts Master D.D. and Stephen Fung.
“The collaborative medium is at its best when that occurs,” Csokas says.
Troy Dunn makes a living having people hang up on him. No, he’s not a telemarketer. Dunn spends his days looking for missing people, and that means a lot of telephone calls to strange people.
He showed off his skills in the reality series, “The Locator,” and is now on the hunt with an original series on the UP cable channel called “Last Hope with Troy Dunn.” The show has done so well for the cable channel that a new after-show, “Last Hope With Troy Dunn: Live,” launched Nov. 5.
“Very often people think I’m a bill collector or I’m a repo man or I’m something negative. So I sometimes have to call people three or four times to get them on the phone,” Dunn tells TV critics. “Oftentimes, people are a little spooked.”
He’s spooked a lot of people over the past 25 years as he and his team have assisted tens of thousands of people worldwide in repairing their lives and reuniting their families. It all began in 1990 when he helped his mother, who was adopted as a baby, locate her biological family.
Not every story deals with adoption stories. Dunn’s search can be anything from a missing relative to an abducted child. He has worked on more than 40,000 cases over the past quarter of a century.
“Every single case is somebody that’s exhausted all resources. I thought it was interesting when they named the show ‘Last Hope’ because it truly is a phrase that is in almost every email that we receive,” Dunn says. “And part of our criteria for this new series is to try and see if we can solve the unsolvable.
“And that’s what you’ll see in this series.”
Dunn is not your typical TV star. The father of eight children won’t let his children watch most television programs. He especially dislikes reality TV, despite his series falling under that umbrella.
What he thinks separates his show from the reality herd is that there is no mandate from his cable channel executives that all cases must end on a positive note.
Dunn knows he’s been blessed with having a family with no missing parts. He says he never forgets how fortunate he has been.
“We raise our children with a lot of extra hugs and loves because I’ve seen how many times families have been torn apart, and they don’t know when the last hug will be,” Dunn says. “So this work has been a blessing in my life. And part of what I’m trying to do is just to try to give other people the same unfair advantage that I feel like I’ve had in building a family.”
Coming soon: Fox has announced the start date for midseason programming. Fans of “The X-Files” will be able to see the new episodes starting Jan. 24 and 25. And the final season of “American Idol” is scheduled to begin with a two-night event Jan. 6 and 7. Fox will broadcast the three-hour “Grease: Live” on Jan. 31.
Who better?: Roseanne Barr, who played one of television’s most interesting moms on her self-titled comedy series, is the host of “Monsters: When Moms Go Bad.” The second season launches at 10 p.m. Nov. 27 on Investigation Discovery.
Coming up roses: Ken Burns, the filmmaker whose work airs regularly on PBS, will be the 2016 Tournament of Roses grand marshal. Burns, who has won 14 Emmy Awards and two Grammy Awards, will ride in the 127th Tournament of Roses Parade on Jan. 1.