Thursday, June 10, 2010

Pretty Little Liars - A "Pretty" Great Time


"Pretty Little Liars" premiered on ABC Family this week, and since I am too cheap to get cable, I had to wait until the next day to watch it on Hulu.com. And it was so worth it.

Every positive thing I felt from watching the two-minute trailers and sneak peeks were validated by watching the hour long pilot. I know I am a 24-year-old male, but I have the tastes of a 13-year-old girl, and I really am okay with that; especially if my 13-year-old girl tastes result in me watching "Pretty Little Liars" every week.

As I've said before, the show seemed very "Gossip Girl" meets "Scream," and watching the pilot didn't change my mind at all. This hour had more scandal, secrets, lies, lust, betrayal, murders and mysterious texts than I could have ever imagined on ABC Family.

The show starts off with your average 15-year-old girl sleepover: alcohol and secrets. The girls go to bed, but awake to their friend saying that the Queen Bee of the group, Alison, has gone missing. One theme song later, we're taken one year into the future when the four remaining girls in the group begin to receive mysterious text messages signed from "A" saying that she knows their secrets.

And boy, do they have secrets!! Aria (Lucy Hale, "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2") is having a secret relationship with her English teacher. (I know it is wrong, but it feels so right. I've never been such a fan of statutory rape in the school systems...)

Emily is doing her best to hide her feelings for Mya (Bianca Lawson, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Save the Last Dance"), the new girl living in Alison's old house. (Bianca Lawson was born in 1979. Can we do the math for one second and let me know why she's playing a 16-year-old? And then can we discuss how she actually looks 16?)

Hanna steals things even though her mother can afford them. Daddy issues, anyone?

And Emily is doing her best to not steal things: her sister's fiance, to be exact. (Although, I'd like to see Emily get it on with the fiance, and fast.)

Is Alison really back, ready to spill their secrets?

The dead body found buried under a gazebo at Alison's former home begs to differ.

So, if it's not Alison, who is it? That's what I want to know. I also want to know what the main girls did to the resident blind girl, Jenna. Occasionally throughout the episode, they mention "the Jenna thing" and that they can never tell anyone what happened.

Bitches, murder, mysterious texts, blind girls, and a "We can never mention this again" secret past. Has TV ever been better? Yes, and I don't need a mysterious text message to prove it. But I'm still going to watch this show and enjoy every soapy minute, not caring for one second what anyone thinks of me. And I promise you that is not a pretty little lie.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Top 10 Movies That I'd Like To See As Musicals

"Legally Blonde" has a musical version. "The Addams Family" has a musical version. Even Green Day has a musical with their songs.. Obviously, Broadway is where it's at. You know you've made it big when your music/plot has made it onto a Broadway stage. With that said, I took a look at 10 movies I think would be brilliant on stage...

10. Death Becomes Her
This movie starts with a musical number, anyway, so we're off to a good start. I'm not sure how a lot of this movie would be doable on stage - holes through people's stomachs, heads turning 180 degrees.. I get it. It might be tough. But it's called Broadway magic for a reason. If the head turning and stomach holes could be achieved, this movie would be a great campy treat on stage.

9. Elf

If those Rockettes can get their own stage show, why can't Buddy?

8. 13 Going On 30

This could be a really fun show. I can see it in my head. The music could be very 80's pop, especially for Jennifer Garner's character, while the rest of the cast could have more modern sounding tunes. Anything that brings 80's pop and 13-year-old girls in a grown woman's body together can never be a bad thing.

7. Disney's Hercules

Seeing the Muses live would be EPIC. And Idina Menzel would play the perfect Meg. If that is not enough to persuade you, "Mary Poppins" is on Broadway. "Hercules" isn't. Just sayin...

6. Hocus Pocus

I feel like this is already a musical, they just forgot to put music in it. Well, besides "I Put A Spell On You." These characters were MADE for the stage... Winnie, Sarah, Mary - just perfect. I don't know how Binx would work, but I'll let a creative director ponder that one.

5. Bring It On

Okay, I know that some big name people (Lin Manuel Miranda of "In the Heights" fame is doing music and Jeff Whitty of "Avenue Q" is writing the book) are currently working on making this a stage show, but it's still on my list for two reasons. One - I wanted it to be a musical as soon as I saw it in theaters, so this musical is MY brain child, not Miranda & Whitty's. And Two - they are really putting the "duh" in "dumb" because even though they have a great story in the palm of their hands, they are choosing to... tell a brand new story. No Sparky Polastri, no Big Red, no Clovers, no Toros, no loser sneeze... I will still see this show as soon as possible, but I feel as Big Red must have felt when the Toros don't use her routine. ("Nationals. Silver Platter. Hello.") Why take the name of a great movie and change the whole plot? If we were interested in seeing ANYTHING about cheer leading, we would have rented "Bring It On 12," but no... when I hear "Bring It On," I want to see my Toro and Clover girls. This news makes me want to choke someone... ("Better I choke you, Lafredddd...")

4. The Brady Bunch Movie

Although I just talked about how changing the plot of "Bring It On" for a musical was stupid and upsetting to me, I wouldn't mind it for a Brady Bunch musical. While I like the plot of "The Brady Bunch Movie," my main wants for a Brady Bunch musical would just be the same parody tone of the films. Keep the plot, get rid of it, I don't care... I just need this story of a lovely lady on stage. And if Jennifer Elise Cox isn't currently working, I want her reprising her role as Jan. And Christine Taylor can play Marcia. Actually, just bring back the whole cast (minus Bobby & Cindy... we'll need kids. We want this shit to look believable.)

3. Cruel Intentions

Like my "13 Going on 30" musical, I can also see this one in my head. In fact, I've been seeing this musical in my head since 10th grade. It obviously had some major casting changes over the years, but my current dream cast features Lea Michele in Sarah Michelle Gellar's role. We've seen her play innocent and naive in "Spring Awakening," and while whiny and full of herself on "Glee," we've never seen her play a real bitch. And I'm shaking just thinking about it. It could be amazing. But enough of my dream casting...  this show would really work on stage.. It's dark, it's twisted, it has its moments of comedy, but also has it's moments of heart. I think the only thing that would hurt this as a musical is the change of tone - while the movie can go back and forth from comedic moments to tragic deaths, I'm not sure the changes would be as smooth if songs were being sung. Either way, I'd like to see it happen. "So there's your analysis, Dr. Freud. Now tell me... are you in or are you out?"

2. Jennifer's Body

This movie is my number one choice for a musical adaption BY FAR. However, the number one choice on this list is more marketable than "Jennifer's Body," so I put this movie as number two. But, although I'd be the only one in the audience for a "Jennifer's Body" musical, I still really think it would work. Although this movie changes tone from scary to comedy, I don't think a stage show of this would suffer the same problems as a "Cruel Intentions" musical. In this show, we could focus on the camp and cut the horror - sure, she's a girl that eats boys to survive, but that doesn't have to be scary. I'd be lying if I said I didn't think about how to make this show work every day of my life... If "Evil Dead" can be a stage musical, "Jennifer's Body" certainly can, as well.

1. Mean Girls
Although my queen of a college roommate disagrees, "Legally Blonde" really worked as a musical. Especially for its target audience - tween girls and gay men. It doesn't take a lot to make either of those focus groups happy when it comes to Broadway - a good story, some great dancing, and a dash of pink. "Legally Blonde" had all of that. And heart. What could be better than that? "Mean Girls" on Broadway - it would have everything that made "Legally Blonde" what it was... a good story, great dancing, a dash of pink (on Wednesdays, of course), but instead of the heart found in "Legally Blonde," we'd have snarkiness and backstabbing. I already have my ticket.

I read an article a while ago where Tina Fey said she and her husband were working on a "Mean Girls" musical, but I've never seen the fruits of that labor. So, as I wait impatiently for that, I'm forced to dream of the musical on my own. And it's good. A whole song about how perfect/evil Regina George is. A giant Burn Book coming down from the sky... it's just the perfect blend of Broadway magic and high school bitchiness, and really - what else could a man ask for?


Agree? Disagree? What movies do you want to see on stage?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Summertime and the Livin' is Easy..

Okay, I don't know that summertime living is "easy" unless you are still in pigtails. Even with summer "vacation" quickly approaching, many of our lives are still just as hectic. And it doesn't help that so many faces we've been welcoming in our home all year are taking vacation of their own, whether it be just for a few months (my Wisteria Lane ladies, the students at Cyprus Rhodes University, those scandalous Upper East Side'ers...) or a permanent one (those islanders who have been "Lost" for so long...). Either way, each year at this time, I go into a seasonal depression.

While most people are getting OUT of their seasonal funk because the sun is finally coming out to play, I'm getting IN mine, because well, all of my shows go on break. But what can cheer a boy up?

Summer television.

It's trashy. Most of it doesn't last because usually, it's not that high in quality. But if it DOES last long, it's a treat. And if it doesn't... ehh, who cares... it's still three months of fun.

Last year, I was introduced to one of the best things that ever happened to me, "Harper's Island." And while there's no way for it to make a return - (ratings sucked and everybody died) - I will still always hold a special place in my heart for it.. And it helps that I have it on DVD.

While Entertainment Weekly and Justin Guarini on the TV Guide Channel can inform you about ALL of the new/returning summer shows, I'm only telling you about the ones I plan on watching. So if you want to read about more than 7 shows, go elsewhere.

Could I have bumped my list up to 10? Sure, but I don't want to watch 10. I only want to watch 7. Could I have knocked it down to 5? Sure, but again - I can't think of two that I want to cut out.. I want 7, and I'm getting 7.

JUNE

The Hard Times of RJ Berger (June 6, MTV)

What's being tagged as "Hung" for the younger set, "The Hard Times..." focuses on a high school nerd is relatively unnoticed until he is pants'ed and everyone sees his manhood. His rather large manhood. It's then that everyone begins to notice him and wants to be around him. I've heard this plot before. I call it "last weekend."



Pretty Little Liars (June 8, ABC Family)

I know I did a little write up about this show already, but that was my list of my two favorite shows in general. This is my list of "Must Watch Summer TV." So, it is not necessary to go over the plot again because you can go back a few posts and read it if you'd like. What I will say is I'm excited to see the girl that plays the dead bitch, and if she is anything less than brilliantly wicked, I'm contacting ABC Family. With death threats.



Hot in Cleaveland (June 16, TV Land)


For all five of you that have ever seen Lisa Kudrow's fake reality show, "The Comeback," the plot synopsis sounds exactly like the show's fake sitcom, "Room and Bored" except with a much older cast. For those of you totally unfamiliar with that reference... first of all, I don't need to seeee that. Get some taste. Second - it's a group of successful LA women living in a house with Betty White as a much older nosey landlady.



The Gates (June 20, ABC)

It's being described as "Desperate Housewives" with vampires. I like "Desperate Housewives." I like vampires. I'm in.



JULY

Big Brother (July 8, CBS)


While third time was NOT the charm for me "Big Brother"-wise, I am still excited to watch this train wreck of a show... While the show could have been better with me as a house guest (I auditioned three times...what is it going to take?), I'm still excited for the backstabbing, back dooring, and twists. With us "Expecting the unexpected," I am constantly on the edge of my seat watching this show. However, with no Showtime II, I won't be able to watch Big Brother After Dark this summer. Is it time for me to finally dish up some cash for live feeds? We'll see how much I like the cast...

This season, the schedule changes to a Weds/Thurs/Sun schedule, each at 8 p.m. Julie Chen hosts (minus her pregnant belly).



Covert Affairs (July 13, USA) 


I have never watched ANYTHING on USA, and I'm not happy about giving this a chance. However, it's a pretty blonde girl working as a spy for some agency... so naturally, I'm just pretending it's Veronica Mars all grown up. If I can't get a VM movie, I can at least get this USA rip-off.



AUGUST

Bachelor Pad (August 9, ABC)


"The Bachelor" ("Bachelorette?" ...I don't watch it, so I have no idea which one is airing right now) is ending late July, so how will ABC tickle your taste buds with all things Bacheor? Ohhh, by ripping off of every cable channel with reality shows, of course! We've seen all the dating shows on VH1 (or maybe we haven't, but we know they exist), and we also heard about "I Love Money" where said contestants from said dating shows return to compete for money. MTV has "Real World" and documents the daily lives of strangers, but then brings back fan favorites to compete for money. Well, ABC has heard our prayers and is answering them. Fan favorites (and un-favorites) from previous seasons will be back this summer for a "Big Brother"-style game, except one night a week instead of three and with Bachelor outcasts as its stars. I've never watched "The Bachelor" in my life, but I DO watch "Big Brother" and I WILL be watching this.



Seeing as most of my write ups of these shows are just "________" meets "_________" or "a spin off of ________" or "a rip off of ___________," it's not hard to see summer television is NOT about creativity. But who asked for creativity? It's summer; TV creators need a vacation, too. So, take off your shoes, sip on a margarita (keep sipping until these shows are actually good), and keep watching. I know I'll be doing all of those.

How to REALLY make Glee "the best show on TV"



The cast of "Glee" is currently on a sold-out national tour, there are four soundtracks available, and the show was just picked up for season 3. America loves "Glee." I do, as well. I tried to get tickets for the tour, but failed. I own all of the soundtracks. And I couldn't be happier about season 3.

But yet, something makes me nervous about all of this.

And his name is Ryan Murphy.

Murphy, "Glee's" creator, is also the father of "Popular," (which previously aired on the WB) and "Nip/Tuck," (previously on FX). Both shows had their moment of shining in the spotlight as "Glee" is currently doing, but somewhere after a season or two, they quickly go downhill... and fast.

What can "Glee" do to stay on the right track and make sure the gang isn't cancelled before they even make it to Nationals? Good thing I'm here with these answers...

1. More Rachel Berry


You may think I'm crazy for saying this. She's clearly the leading female role, and 75% (if not more) of the soundtrack recordings are her belting away. Do we need more Rachel-centric plots for the show to survive? That's not what I'm saying. Should the soundtracks be 100% Rachel instead of 75? Not necessarily.

Here's what I mean... While Rachel is obviously the lead, and on most occasions, she gets at least two solos per episode, there have been a few episodes where Rachel gets NO songs. And these episodes have been some of the weakest the show has seen...

Earlier in the season, "Acafellas" was an episode that focused on Mr. Schuester's acapella group. While it had a few funny lines (Who is Josh Groban? Kill yourself!), the episode over all was not very good. Then we had a season full of Rachel, and I forgave Murphy and the rest of the staff for that episode until Kristen Chenoweth's second appearance as April Rhodes in the episode, "Home." Again, this was a Rachel-less episode, and it was one of the worst, if not THE worst, episode of the season. The tone of the show had randomly changed from the comedy we are used to to an after school special about dead parents, being comfortable with who you are, and another serious plot line that I'm currently forgetting... It was just awful.

If those two episodes have not proved that Rachel needs one song per episode for the show to be a hit, I don't know what will...

2. More Emma Pillsbury


I don't really like this character (or actress since she ruined Betty's life/relationship on "Ugly Betty"), but still... isn't this bitch a guidance counselor? It would be nice if we saw her occasionally...ya know, doing her job. As it is, Emma Pillsbury is only set dressing. Flesh her out, give her more to do than pine over/not pine over Will Schuester. And again, since she's a guidance counselor, maybe she can deliver some advice time and time again.

3. Tina needs acting lessons
...Just saying. Use some of the profit from the national tour to give Jenna Ushkowitz some classes.

4. More Focus on Writing
Yes, there are four soundtracks and a national tour. But first thing's first - this is a TELEVISION COMEDY SHOW.
This is not "Rosie O'Donnell's Variety Hour," so while songs and dances are fun and nice, the writing should be top priority. If more attention were paid to the writing of the show, most of the other problems I have with this show would be fixed... I know the show is still in its first season, but we're 20 episodes in - I think we should have found our footing by now, but instead, the show moves randomly about as bad as...well, Finn's dancing.

5. No More Themes!
While I enjoyed the Madonna-centric episode, I have no idea where these themed episodes came from. The first half of season one showed a somewhat random selection of songs that tied nicely in with what story lines were going on. Then, Gleeks everywhere died as we were forced to take a four month break until it resumed in the spring. But when "Glee" came back, Mr. Schuester (and Ryan Murphy) introduced something we had never seen before: assignments.

Since when is Glee Club a class? Since the break, the club had a Madonna assignment, a Lady Gaga assignment, and an assignment where they need to find a song with the word "Hello." While I think Schue's assignments are odd and randomly introduced, I really don't enjoy themed episodes.

"Home," for instance... the God awful Rachel Berry-less episode with Kristen Chenoweth, only featured songs with the word 'home' in it... "Home," "A House is Not a Home"... we get it.

Then, in "Dream On," the club's assignment was to find a song that told about their dreams... and guess what? All the songs had the word 'dream' in them...

Get rid of the themed episodes. They are lame.

6. Go Back To Your Roots
When the show started, Rachel was getting slushies thrown at her as her rendition of "On My Own" played in the background. I loved it. The show made fun of theater/choir geeks, and although I was involved in both in high school, I obviously didn't mind because it was all in good fun and most of the anti-choir/theater jokes were funny because they were true. However, somewhere during the infamous four month break, "Glee" creators saw that their target audience was... shocker... theater/choir geeks.

So, what did they do? No, the Glee Club is still far from popular, but the anti-Glee jokes are not as harsh. And one may notice there is now at least one show tune per episode... and not to poke fun at them, either. While Kurt singing "Rose's Turn" was one of this season's better solo performances, it still gave me the creeps and made me angry. Just make fun of Broadway, okay?

7. More Time Spent on Plots
All I need to say is Rachel found her mom in one episode and they said goodbye to each other the week after. ...I'm sorry, what?

And although I said that was all I needed to say - the layout of each episode (give or take a few plot lines: Quinn's pregnancy, Terri's "pregnancy," Kurt's coming out) is very sitcom-y. There's a problem. It's solved by the end of the hour and everyone seems to have forgotten about the problem/consequences/aftermath by the next episode. Even if the problem is solved within an hour time frame, am I to believe that every single character is fine with what went down and will never bring it up again? This is high school; bitches will cling onto that shit for years...

8. Character Development on Supporting Characters

Something I DO like is that they are starting to flesh out the main characters - Will is finally single and is getting very Playboy-ish because of it. Papa wants some. Is it the best trait in a role model? No, and that's why I like it. Finn's "faggy" rant last week was also one of my favorite "Glee" moments because Finn is a nice guy, but he is bending under high school pressure. I like it.

But for every four dimensional character arc, we also have the Cheerios of the world: Brittany's funny. Santana's a slut. Okay...but what else is Santana besides bitchy and slutty? Is every bone in her body 100% nasty? I think not. Sue Sylvester has compassion; where's hers? And the two back up dancer boys.... have they ever had a line?

9. Continuation!
Again, focusing on writing would fix this... but can we just discuss some questions I have regarding continuation on this show. Remember when Will Schuester had to PAY to run Glee Club? The school doesn't have enough funding... Now, I understand SOME Cheerios money went to the club and maybe they won some cash for winning sectionals... but how much money are they getting, exactly? They didn't have money to get a wheelchair accessible bus for Artie, but they have enough money to change costumes for each number? ...And to have FIRE SHOOT UP DURING THE GUY'S PERFORMANCE OF A KISS SONG? I'm sorry. Something isn't clicking...
Also, where exactly is Quinn living? Is home girl homeless? Last I heard, she was kicked out of her house and living with Finn... but then Finn found out he wasn't the father..., and although they never said that she wasn't welcomed in the Hudson household anymore, when Finn & his mother were going to move in with Kurt, Quinn was nowhere to be found.

Speaking of Quinn/Finn baby drama... at sectionals, Finn came back to save the day, but made a point of saying he was NOT okay with Quinn and Puck's lies/betrayal/blah blah. Then we return after a four month break (but only like... a week in "Glee" time) and see that everything is fine now. I would have liked some aftermath. That's all. Just a little aftermath.

But I understand this is just a TV show... so fine, skip over Finn being angry. I'll ignore the fact that they have more costume changes than a Beyonce concert even though they are on a limited budget. But I really am worried for homeless Quinn's living situation. I do not want this baby born in an alley...

EDIT: My editor informed me that Quinn is currently living with Puck. His mother doesn't let her eat bacon and Puck is too clingy. So that is answered... so we can add that to number 8. Supporting characters. SHOW them at home, don't just tell me about it. When Quinn was living with Finn, we saw a few scenes. But now that she's with Puck, we only hear anti-bacon stories...

10. Song Choice! Song Choice! Song Choice!
What I WON'T get over, however, is song choice. In the beginning, we had songs that fit nicely in with the plot. They were perfect to move the story along, but now I feel as if songs have NOTHING to do with any real plot OR they are so in your face... no longer a happy medium. Yes, everyone likes Madonna. But was a whole episode of Madonna songs necessary? No, because not all of them fit in plot-wise. Just bring back betrayed Rachel singing "Take A Bow" and a hopeful Glee Club singing "Don't Stop Believing."



I am a huge "Glee" supporter and will be there to watch the show succeed ...or crash and burn. Either way, I will love everyone attached. It just hurts me to see Ryan Murphy up to his old tricks on a show I care so much about.