Monday, October 31, 2011

From LA Examiner: 'American Horror Story' Renewed; 'The Secret Circle' Previewed...

"FX picks up season two of American Horror Story, just in time for Halloween!"

Happy Halloween, indeed! FX announced via press release to the media today that they have renewed American Horror Story for a thirteen-episode second season. This announcement comes in the middle of it's two-part Halloween special, the conclusion of which sheds some more light on Tate (Evan Peters)'s deal and airs on November 2nd... [MORE]

"PHOTO PREVIEW: Shelley Hennig visits Henry's lakehouse in The Secret Circle"

When LA TV Insider Examiner visited the set of The Secret Circle earlier this month, the kids of the coven were camped out one rainy night at a lakehouse-- a lakehouse that belonged to a familiar, though no longer entirely living, face. While the production crew created thunderous rain and sprinklings of lightning outside the windows for the episode entitled "Beneath," the majority of the circle sat upstairs in the living room, drinking and playing truth or dare. You know, like typical high school kids. But since they are witches-- and since a traitor (Jake aka Chris Zylka) sat among them-- the evening was bound to end anything but typically... [MORE]

Sometimes I Just Want To Gush: 'Once Upon A Time' Edition...

Usually when a show hits episode three, I consider doing a "second look" review. It's the least I can do, I figure, since my initial series reviews are based solely on the pilot episodes, and let's face it, that's not always entirely fair, let alone indicative of the show that unfolds later. So those I gave less than mediocre reviews get a second chance to make me fall in love with them since I firmly believe you have to get to know something-- anything-- before you can actually love it. But sometimes when a show wins me over immediately from its pilot, I still want to give it a second look. Not necessarily because I think it can go downhill so fast but because it's often hard to put into words just why I fell for it at first sight. Once Upon A Time was one such series. I gave the pilot five stars and watched it no less than six times prior to it even hitting the ABC airwaves. I had such high hopes for it, I selected it as my favorite new show for fall. And since just last year the show I had put in such a prestigious slot was canceled by episode three, I had a lot riding on this one. I didn't want to be considered a jinx!

And the thing is, I know Once Upon a Time is not a show designed for everyone, but it is a show I believe everyone needs to watch at least one episode of-- even if only to indulge your inner child. There are enough sword-fights and on horseback battles to interest the so-called "manly men," while there are the relationship dramas between true loves torn apart, as well as unconventional families, for the more romantic of viewers. There are grand, sweeping sequences full of magic and power and beauty, and there are simpler, more subtle mind game moments between characters, as well. Each hour-long episode takes you on a ride. I've seen the first three episodes three times each now, and they're still hard for me to put into words because while watching, I get so swept up in what's on-screen I forget I'm supposed to be turning a critical eye; I just want to be a part of their world.

[Side note: In the "I knew I liked you" department, both Jennifer Morrison and Ginnifer Goodwin named Ariel the Little Mermaid as a character they, too, hope to see pop up soon on Once Upon a Time. The show may not be for everyone, but it is most certainly for me.]

The true mark of quality entertainment has always been, especially for me, it's ability to transport. Whether or not it is reflecting a world that mirrors your own, if it can take you out of your own for even a fraction of time, it is doing something right. But these days, with our increasing distractions, that seems increasingly harder to do and therefore rare. Networks are outright encouraging viewers to not engage fully in watching a show but to divide time by logging onto their official website or onto Twitter and joining in a conversation with other viewers about what they are watching. Once Upon a Time has hosted live Tweet-a-longs already, having only aired two episodes to date, and while that can work to make fans feel involved for some, for others, the multitasking proves too difficult and causes them to miss important plot points or inter-character moments. But Once Upon a Time is a show that does best with a second viewing anyway-- giving you ample time to not only relish in the world but also take a closer look at the details you may have missed-- the details which many in Storybrooke may be missing about who they really are.

I honestly believe we will never see another show like Once Upon a Time on television ever again. Nor should we want to humor copycats or knockoffs of any kind. I was more than a little bummed to learn as a member of the media I wasn't getting an advance copy of episode two because the visual effects were so great, it simply wasn't going to be done in time to send. That upset me as already a fan who just wanted more, more, more, but it also upset me as someone who feels FX tend to distract from, rather than enhance, the story. But when episode two "The Thing You Love Most" finally aired, it all clicked perfectly into place. As with the complicated characters, epic love story, tense rivalries, and dark and disturbing adversaries, the visual effects are just another piece of the puzzle Once Upon a Time needs to be the best it can be. I honestly can't imagine what the show would be without the snarled trees around the Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla) or puffs of black smoke when Snow (Ginnifer Goodwin) uses fairy dust against trolls. Even the seemingly simple establishing shots of the castle on the hill in perfect, gleaming daylight wouldn't be the stuff of picture books (or fairy-tales) without the extra light beams put in in post. Every week, Once Upon a Time makes a mini-movie. Now I'm just waiting for the merchandising to kick in!

Once Upon a Time is without a doubt a mythology show. It plays with time and universes and versions of characters. There are mysterious elements that weave in and out of each episode, answering a little here, only to open a door to a bigger question there. It is, of course, thanks to the cleverness of the writers-- show creators and runners Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, as well as staff writers like Liz Tigelaar and Jane Espenson-- that this doesn't scare the audience off. But it should be noted that it is because of the network itself, ABC, that the series gets to tap into such richness in the first place. Fairy-tale characters were always pretty one-note in the tales we heard told as kids, but that is because we were only allowed to know one very small piece of their story. It would be easy for a network (as we are seeing being done with NBC's Grimm, by the way) to take interesting characters and just plunk them into an already existing formula, relying on their surface differences to be a gimmick used to hook viewers into watching but never paying off the complexities or intrigue underneath. That is not what Kitsis, Horowitz, or ABC are about, though, and what we get is a thickly layered character drama we eagerly follow deeper into the woods.

When the ratings for the premiere of Once Upon A Time came in so strong (a 4 share, which is practically unheard of with DVR culture what it is!), I didn't pat myself on the back, though a little part of me felt extremely vindicated. We may sit alone in our homes sometimes while watching TV, but knowing that so many others out there like what you (or I) like is instant community. It gave me hope that audiences are eager for smart television-- television that you have to immerse yourself in fully in order to understand fully-- television that was still escapist television but which makes you think. And when there was no drop-off to the second episode-- ratings wise, but also quality of writing wise-- the proof was right there: this was no fluke; Once Upon a Time truly is magical television.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

From LA Examiner: Eric Winter Coming To TNT; Lana Parrilla Humanizes 'Once Upon A Time's' Evil Queen; Reggie Lee Previews 'Grimm'; FOX Feeds Halloween

"Scent of the Missing nabs Eric Winter"

The drama, which has already cast Tricia Helfer, is based on the Susannah Charleson book, centering on a "tenacious, strong-willed K-9 Search and Rescue volunteer who works with an equally determined partner-- her mischievous golden retriever, Puzzle." The pilot is being produced by procedural maven Carol Mendelsohn, as well as Melissa Byter and Treena Hancock. Winter is said to be playing Jake, another member of the team who works with his own dog, Shadow... [MORE]

"The Evil Queen Speaks: On the Set with Once Upon A Time's Lana Parrilla"

At the end of the Once Upon A Time pilot, Emma (Jennifer Morrison) asks Regina (Lana Parrilla) if she truly does love her adopted son Henry (Jared Gilmore), a boy that Emma gave up for adoption ten years prior. Having been born from a fairy-tale, Emma has a magical power of her own, you see; she can always tell when someone is lying. So as she studies Regina’s face when Regina claims that yes, of course she loves her son, and then moves into Granny’s B&B, the audience gets the impression that Emma knows a truth about Regina already that perhaps Regina has yet to even admit to herself. LA TV Insider Examiner had a chance to sit down with Parrilla on the Vancouver set of Once Upon A Time earlier this month to weigh in on if Regina truly had a caring bone in her body or if her “Evil Queen ways” were shining through every moment, even in the Storybrooke world... [MORE]

"Reggie Lee breaks down the addiction and procedural elements to NBC's Grimm"

Back before NBC even announced time slot for their new supernatural cop drama Grimm, early comparisons immediately began to ABC's new fairy-tale drama Once Upon a Time, as well as to longer-running fan favorites like Supernatural (The CW) and Fringe (FOX) due to the similarities in subject matter. Grimm centers on a homicide unit in a town where creatures from the famous Grimm's stories walk among the "regulars," and more often than not, wreak havoc. But the show has a few very specific differences that set it apart from any it has already been compared to. Here Reggie Lee weighs in on what those things are plus a few more that make Grimm-- and his police Sergeant role-- unique... [MORE]

"Get your grub on with FOX' (not just candy) Halloween food truck in L.A."

FOX is rolling out a very special "Eats & Treats" food truck in Los Angeles in order to get fans into the Halloween spirit! And for those of you with more refined palates (read: you don't just sit around eating candy for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the days and weeks around the trick-or-treating holiday), the entirely FREE menu consists of everything from grilled cheeses to french fries to s'mores. And it's all themed for FOX' fabulous programming! ... [MORE]

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

From LA Examiner: 'Homeland' Renewed; Adam Brody Returns to Teen So.Cal Life in 'Good Vibes'; What Joshua Gomez Brings to the New Intersect on 'Chuck'

"Today Showtime is the hero, renewing Homeland for season two"

David Nevins, did you ever know that you're our hero?? It's only been four episodes since Homeland hit Showtime, but we've been on the edge of our seat every week not only for the next new dramatic episode but also for an announcement about its fate. Showtime seasons are short, after all, and we needed to mentally prepare ourselves if the first season would be the only one. Each episode is already savored, but it would carry much more weight if they'd be the last. Thankfully, though, Showtime has announced this morning that they have greenlit a second season of the already acclaimed drama... [MORE]

Adam Brody makes waves in Good Vibes, another “teen life in So.Cal” series"

Looking at Woodie, the lanky, blond-Afroed “surf dude” in MTV’s new animated high school comedy Good Vibes, you would probably never be able to guess at the man behind him. Listening to Woodie, with his slow, relaxed drawl might not be much help. But the talented voice actor bringing Woodie to life, Adam Brody, swears that he has more in common with his new character than his fans might imagine... [MORE]

"Q&A with Joshua Gomez on being the new Intersect in Chuck"

Joshua Gomez has come a long way on Chuck. Even before Morgan picked up those sunglasses in the season four finale and ended up “knowing kung fu,” he had grown up a lot through the years, simply working with his best pal and being let in on some spy secrets. He went from a computer repair guy that no one took seriously (he slept on Star Wars sheets, after all!) to a managerial position within the Buy More with a very real, and pretty, girlfriend. Okay, he still sleeps on the Star Wars sheets, but that just makes Morgan, Morgan! And now in the fifth and final season, we are meeting Morgan 2.0: Intersect Morgan who now has the ability to save the day. And the world... [MORE]

"PHOTO PREVIEW: Mike & Molly's scary Halloween wedding (sort of)"

Don't worry; we didn't just spoil a major plot point. Mike (Billy Gardell) and Molly (Melissa McCarthy) are not moving their nuptials up just to fall in time with a holiday-- a holiday that Mike actually hates, by the way. But the titular duo in CBS' Mike & Molly are taking on a couple's costume worthy of any wedding when they dress up as Frankenstein's monster and his bride! ... [MORE]

Celebrate Halloween By Carving Your Fave TV Character into a Pumpkin...

It's pretty easy to come up with ways to take your favorite television character and turn it into a kick-ass Halloween costume these days, but so much more goes into this upcoming holiday than "just" dressing up. And if you're planning to decorate your house for the trick-or-treaters-- or for a party of your own-- it isn't enough to tear up some cotton balls and make cobwebs or peel grapes and leave them in a bowl as eyeballs. If you're dressing like Sue Sylvester or Ron Swanson or Don Draper this year, you're going to want to make pop culture decor to match. And what better way than with some television-inspired carved pumpkins?

Look, I'm not so good at art, and I don't make any pretenses about that. So I admit: I want to cheat. And thankfully television and its characters have become so popular and a part of our daily lives and celebrations that these retailers have embraced them as a part of the Halloween imager
y, right alongside "classics" like witches and werewolves and ghosts.

Ultimate Pumpkin Stencils
sells cut-outs to help you perfect the pop culture faces-- be it animalistic Angry Birds or the supernatural from True Blood or even the kid-friendly Sesame Street dwellers.

You might already be familiar with, but I bet you didn't realize that every year they add new images and samples based on what is newly popular. Gone are the smiley/scary face pumpkins and in its place are veritable artistic portraits of everyone from America's favorite serial killer (Dexter Morgan) to zombie hunter Walter Grimes to donut lover Homer Simpson and returning TV fave Sarah Michelle Gellar. Some designs are admittedly way more advanced than we may be, but they have patterns for that!

And following in their footsteps, is offering stencils to a few favorite Archer characters like the man, the myth, and the legend himself, as well as his lady love Lana Kane. The best news here is that it's free and downloadable right now.

But may take the cake this year. Not only are their stencils also free and downloadable, but they even have one for our favorite new television character (villain or otherwise!), Constance from American Horror Story. And you know, featuring a Vampire Diaries hottie is a bonus for them, too.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

From LA Examiner: 'Happy Endings' Celebrates Halloween Early; Henry Simmons Puts The Man in 'Man Up!'...

Happy Endings’ Penny (Casey Wilson) really loves couple costumes. You may remember the double Snookis of last year. In fact, she loves them so much that she risks telling her new beau about her plans for them to don one in “Spooky Endings,” this season’s Halloween episode and he breaks up with her. But just like the double Snookis, Max (Adam Pally) comes through once again. And their costume is just one small reason why this holiday episode may have been mistitled. After all, the only thing “spooky” about Halloween with the Happy Endings gang is that its way more fun than any of the real Halloween parties we have been to! ... [MORE]

"Henry Simmons tries to infiltrate the Man Up! gang through Star Wars"

It may seem that Henry Simmons is too much of a man’s men for the rest of the, well, men-children on the new ABC comedy, Man Up! but even if that is true, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for him in their little group. In fact, for all intents and purposes the very differences that seem to exist on the surface may be what attracts the other guys to him in the first place: he can offer a fresh perspective. And once they really get to know him, Simmons shared, they will find they really do have a lot of things in common. He may be the voice of reason at times, but he’s quirky nonetheless! So audiences can look forward to Simmons sticking around for the long haul and embracing the comedy dynamic in a brand new way... [MORE]

Monday, October 24, 2011

From LA Examiner: Shane West Talks Back Half of 'Nikita' S2; 'Supernatural' Preps A Wedding & Murder Spree; #MoreEthan! On 'The Secret Circle'...

Sometimes I feel like I should just work directly for Warner Brothers and/or The CW...

Now that Nikita fans know Michael (Shane West)’s dirty little secret past with Cassandra (guest star Helena Mattsson), and really, it didn’t seem so bad—we mean, we’d love to have little Max as our kid, too!-- we’re not too worried about the fact that she’s sticking around for at least another episode. Though West teased that “Cassandra’s character ends up being a lot more interesting than people think” when we caught up with him in Los Angeles just last week, personally we think what is more exciting is the fish-out-of-water element this season has been for Michael. And we are hoping that means we’ll get some more insight into him and his past soon... [MORE]

"Jensen Ackles & Jared Padalecki tease Supernatural’s wedding & “Slash Fiction”

When LA TV Insider Examiner caught up with Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki on the Vancouver set* of Supernatural this month, we asked them a little bit about the struggles for their characters this season. Admittedly, we have always been much more focused on the emotional arcs for the boys, rather than “just” the demon of the week, but season seven seems to be ripe with both! ... [MORE]

"Adam Harrington gives us a taste of “More Ethan” on The Secret Circle"

This may not be the most professional thing in the world, but LA TV Insider Examiner decided last week to try to trend a special hashtag for The Secret Circle. In the act of full disclosure, it is not a hashtag we came up with (we can thank a fellow journalist for it), but we are taking the idea and running with it: #MoreEthan, to signify we want to see more of Ethan Conant (Adam Harrington) on The Secret Circle! We would never take all of the credit, but it appears we are getting our wish sooner than perhaps expected. After quite a few episodes with only a mention of Ethan, he is bursting back into the show to try to stop his son from tempting fate, but also to (finally) deal with the ramifications of what happened sixteen years ago with his own circle and what appears to be being mimicked now with his son’s... [MORE]

Friday, October 21, 2011

From LA Examiner: 'The Secret Circle' Halloween; Advance Reviews of 'Chuck' & 'Grimm'; Jennifer Morrison Acts As The Audience In 'Once Upon A Time'...

"PHOTO PREVIEW: The Secret Circle's Britt Robertson previews Halloween (Masked)"

"It’s kind of kitschy, I mean, you know, the thing is when we have witches and Halloween, it can be fun to make fun of certain things, you know what I mean?" The Secret Circle star Britt Robertson smiled when LA TV Insider Examiner visited her on the Vancouver set* earlier this month... [MORE]

"Chuck Vs The Fifth Season: He may not be the Intersect but he’s still the key"

“It’s times like these I wish I still had the Intersect,” Chuck Bartowski (Zachary Levi) not so glibly remarks in the opening scene of “Chuck Versus The Zoom,” Chuck’s fifth and final season on NBC-- a scene that sees Chuck, Casey (Adam Baldwin), and Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski) staring down multiple gun barrels, on the edge of a mansion on a cliff's balcony... [MORE]

"Fall 2011 preview: NBC's Grimm"

NBC knows how to do police procedurals. Whether they’re chronicling the side of the law that catches criminals, or the side that locks them up, they have perfected the formula of issues of the week. For some reason, though, the network-- and its audience-- seems reluctant to embrace change or open their minds to more complex storytelling. A show like their newest one-hour drama, Grimm, with its complicated themes and almost anti-hero characters, seems to scream a warning that this isn’t your typical NBC cop drama. And yet the pilot episode proved to be exactly what you’d expect from a network procedural, burying its intricate mythology the way lead character Nick (David Giuntoli)’s family buried the truth of what he was for so long... [MORE]

"Jennifer Morrison is the audience's eyes in Once Upon A Time"

ABC’s newest drama, Once Upon A Time, is a magical ride into a land that we may have imagined in our wildest dreams as children but most likely have grown too cynical to even think about these days. But don’t worry; the show itself has an answer to that! Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) is a real world woman with deeply ingrained fairy-tale roots-- roots about which she is not aware and once confronted with flat out disbelieves. She acts as a portal for the audience, in that way: a somewhat jaded realist who has seen too many dark parts of the world to suspend her disbelief towards something so fantastical... [MORE]

Thursday, October 20, 2011

From LA Examiner: Shane West Previews The 'Nikita' Split; 'Modern Family' Sees All-Star Guest Stars; Charisma Carpenter, Bewitching on 'Supernatural'

When a show like Nikita throws its leads into a relationship as early on as season one, you know things can't stay all rosy forever. It's The CW, after all. But Nikita (Maggie Q) and Michael (Shane West) have been very much together since they went on the run, and as much as we love them together (and we do love them together!), we have to admit we've kind of been waiting for the other shoe to drop. Even the best spies and assassins, as we've already seen, sometimes screw up due to emotional entanglements. Michael and Nikita show a softer side around each other, which has been great for character development, but if it starts to bleed over into their missions? They'd be sitting ducks for Division in no time! ... [MORE]

"PHOTO PREVIEW: Modern Family's great guest stars of November 2011"

Modern Family may be a show about kin, but kin can often include friends, as well as bloodlines. And come the "Treehouse" episode this November, you're about to see why. With star-studded friends like this, who even needs family!? ... [MORE]

"Charisma Carpenter gets & gives Supernatural relationship advice"

It's from one iconic, fan favorite series to another for Charisma Carpenter! The Buffy alum spent some time up in Vancouver this summer filming a very special guest starring role on Supernatural, and from what she told us about her "Shut Up, Dr. Phil" appearance (with a title like that, you know it's going to be good!), the episode itself is sure to be iconic all on its own... [MORE]

"PHOTO PREVIEW: Community gears up for November sweeps"

School may have only been back in session on Community for a few short weeks now, but already things have gotten pretty advanced. Britta (Gillian Jacobs) has declared a surprising major-- psychology-- while Troy (Donald Glover) and Abed (Danny Pudi) have finally taken their own relationship to the next level and moved in together. And this is just the beginning. Community is planning a whole bunch of big events and parties to come over the next few weeks, and our recommendation is that you get involved, too, by throwing viewing parties every Thursday! ... [MORE]

"PHOTO PREVIEW: Spend Halloween at a Parks and Recreation house party"

The Pawnee Parks and Recreation department may not be the most festive bunch, but enough of them are goofball enough-- or at least childlike enough-- to appreciate the sentiment behind Halloween. Besides, they love to party, and what better an excuse than such a holiday, right? Well, in the fourth season Halloween episode entitled "Meet N Greet," that's exactly the attitude! ... [MORE]

'Supernatural's' Sam's Makeshift Workout Tape...

Jared Padalecki shared this "alternate take" from Supernatural's "Shut Up, Dr. Phil" episode with his Twitter followers today.

Thanks for sharing, and hint hint Jim Michaels: Now that the show is incorporating his real life love of working out into Sam's life, let's hope that means we can expect Dean (Jensen Ackles) to pick up a guitar soon!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

'Ringer's' Constant Red Herrings Warrant It A Final Warning...

Remember how fans of LOST used to get frustrated, and somewhat angry, about the show unraveling so many mysteries without entirely paying them off-- even by the series end? Well, Ringer is way worse. There is something to be said for "duplicitous" (series co-creator Eric Charmelo's seeming favorite word) characters, but it's a whole other story to slowly (very slowly!) start to peel back layers to characters, only to throw in a "gotcha" moment at the end. Of every single episode. That many red herrings not only makes it really hard to attach to characters-- because at any given moment when you think you know about them is completely threatened by yet another twist, most of which seem to come out of thin air-- but it also makes it seem like the writers are having fun at the audience's expense by saying they can just do whatever they want. And the last time I felt that disrespected by a showrunner, I quit the show. Ringer should consider itself lucky I so love its cast...

Ringer's characters don't seem to have a handle on who they are, and that means the show itself doesn't, either. Sometimes there are elements of camp, sometimes elements of noir. Both could co-exist-- if they were consistent. When they're not, it just seems like the creative forces behind the show aren't always on the same page. And honestly? I just want someone-- anyone!-- to acknowledge the fact that Siobhan (Sarah Michelle Gellar) isn't acting like herself and is wearing her fear on her face in just about every scenario. Even in the self-centered world of socialites, she is (was?) important enough for people to pay attention to, and Bridget is really not doing a good job of blending. Is she being over the top for the audience's benefit? Because that, too, is a little bit insulting. If you have a high concept show, you have to commit to it and not dumb down. And if she isn't intentionally being over the top but if everyone just thinks that's the best way to go, well, I guess I can chalk that up to creative differences between me and them.

I know the show got its full season order from the network, and it's great to see them throw their weight and marketing money behind a show that, on paper, is smart enough to be the direction The CW, and television in general, should be headed. But we're in episode six, and the execution isn't living up to the hype. A cool final thirty seconds of every episode is not enough to sustain. And a final thirty seconds that negates everything we were thinking for the past forty-three and a half minutes is even worse. I can't trust anything the show tells us, and quite frankly, I'm losing faith that will change any time soon. Right now Ringer is all flash and gimmick and not a lot of substance.

Unless you count Kristoffer Polaha's sad puppy eyes. Which, actually, I do.

Final warning, Ringer. The CW may be giving you over a dozen more episodes, but you and I may be dunzo soon.

"Murder House" Makes 'American Horror Story' Worth A Second Look...

I can admit it when I'm wrong. And I can admit it when I'm about to say something I never expected to say. This is one of those latter times: American Horror Story is about to get good, y’all!

After ripping apart the American Horror Story pilot, many of you probably assumed I never tuned in again. But that's not true. Because I know pilots can be particularly complicated animals for writers, directors, and actors, and I'll always give the show at least two more episodes to find their footing (even when it physically hurts me to sit through). And when the subsequent episodes prove worthy of an upgraded review, I can swallow our pride and admit that. I wanted to like American Horror Story from the get-go because of its high-concept and unique idea-- not to mention its cast! And it took until the third episode, but American Horror Story finally delivered on all of its complex promises. Maybe "Murder House" was the pilot they should have aired.

I also hated the male gaze in the pilot. You can read about that here.

“Murder House,” the third episode of the first season of American Horror Story, was intricately written by Jennifer Salt, and did what seemed impossible after watching the first two episodes of the series: it wove together complex family drama with the Harmons with creepy, and at times overtly violent, scare tactics from the house. For the first time in the series I wasn’t just being led down a rabbit hole; I was allowed to stop and drink in little gulps of each character.

First there is Vivien herself who declared that her family had to move after the home invasion in episode two. When she is hit with yet another harsh reality from her husband Ben (Dylan McDermott)-- not only did he cheat on her, but now it appears he has tied up all of their money in this house, trapping them here-- she takes matters into her own hands and decides to learn all she can about the place she currently inhabits. This serves as the most fluid device possible to allow for flashbacks to the house in its younger years-- and to seamlessly explain where the newest spirit (guest star Lily Rabe) comes from.

As Vivien is on her “murder tour” of Los Angeles, seeing the alley where Sal Mineo got stabbed and making the final stop at her own doorstep, Ben is still seeing patients and dealing with the mistress who landed on his doorstep. Plagued by fatigue, memory loss, and flat-out fainting spells, it appears Moira (Alexandra Breckenridge) is getting to him in more ways than one. Though I can’t help but wonder what happened to his obsessions with fire from the pilot, I have to admit this new drug-induced state is a much better parallel to the history of the house than anything I have seen thus far.

It turns out the man who built the house was the first to “go mad”-- though, like the Harmons today, his worries were primarily financial. A prominent surgeon, he was up to his ears in bill collectors and had a diva-like wife and new baby boy to feed. He got hooked on his own anesthetics, started making weird Dr. Frankenstein type creatures in the basement, and ultimately made his money by performing (and botching) a number of hush-hush abortions. His wife masterminded many of them, a somewhat desperate twinkle in her eye. When she shows up on the Harmons’ doorstep today, that desperation is oozing out in her voice, almost panicked by some of the modern changes made to “her” house and concocting plans for the unborn baby in Vivien’s belly.

This woman may be a fairly new complication for the Harmon family, so we are just scratching the surface with her. But if Salt is penning future episodes, I trust we will get to the bottom of things-- albeit slowly and suspensefully. As it is, she made great strides on our favorite mystery from the get-go: Jessica Lange’s Constance.

Sidenote: I don’t think her name is a coincidence, as she is the one constant all of these various homeowners through the ages have to tie them all together. And to the house.

At the end of the second episode, we learned that Constance seemed to control Tate (Evan Peters), and though we have yet to learn exactly how or why (though our current theory is that he is her “perfect boy” of a son, and she’s just reluctant to let him go), we do get insight into the dark dealings she has had with Moira (Frances Conroy) through the years here in episode three. I won’t say about their history but let’s just say Constance is responsible for Moira’s murky eye! Jessica Lange has been a stand-out ever since her introduction in American Horror Story, but “Murder House” really allows her to show off multiple facets to the character. She’s no longer just an eccentric, slightly un-P.C. woman “in the know.” In truth there is a deep sadness to her, implying that she may regret the actions performed out of anger that have affected so many of the house’s inhabitants. Though she may have once thought she could control the way the house bound certain individuals, she may actually be the most trapped of them all.

I honestly can’t wait to see where the show goes next!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

From LA Examiner: 'Hawaii Five-0' Halloween Photos; Andrew Miller Introduces Chris Zylka; Ginnifer Goodwin Lives Her Fairy-Tale Dreams On ABC...

When you decide you want to do a Halloween themed episode of your critically acclaimed drama, you call in the big guns, right? Well, if you're smart you are. And Hawaii Five-0 is certainly smart! That's why for this season's spooktacular episode, "Ka Iwi Kapu (Sacred Bones)," they have secured none other than Freddy Krueger himself, Robert Englund! ... [MORE]

"Andrew Miller teases the newly unbound Secret Circle & Chris Zylka's entrance"

All along The Secret Circle has been telling us that the magic is at its strongest and most effective point when the circle is bound. And all along it has been saying that you need six to complete and bind the circle. The kids of Chance Harbor did that pretty early, and pretty easily, but after a demon got lose and into Nick (Louis Hunter), they lost one member. So now what does that mean for their powers-- and their relationships as friends-- going forward? LA TV Insider Examiner caught up with The Secret Circle executive producer Andrew Miller to find out! ... [MORE]

“We haven’t redefined her; we’re just fleshing her out a lot,” Ginnifer Goodwin said, a twinkle in her eyes, when LA TV Insider Examiner sat down with her to discuss her iconic role as Snow White in ABC’s Once Upon A Time... [MORE]

"ABC developing a vehicle comedy for Judy Greer"

We love Judy Greer. So we also love the news that ABC is developing a new comedy series with and for her. If there was ever an actress who deserved to go from supporting character or "guest star" (like her recent stint as Ashton Kutcher's ex on Two and a Half Men), it is Greer, after all... [MORE]

Mark-Paul Gosselaar Joins "25 Days of Christmas"...

I love Christmas. Anyone who reads this blog knows that. I love it more than Hallmark, the company that started selling ornaments and decorations in August of this year. I bought an ornament then, but even I had to admit I thought it was a little early. So when ABC Family sent over their first press release for the new original movies included in this year's "25 Days of Christmas" extravaganza, I hesitated about posting it. I didn't want to turn the rest of you off from my blog by getting too into the holiday season too soon. But then I stopped and thought for a minute and realized I don't care if you get turned off. I love Christmas, and I am posting away! It may not be professional to skip Halloween and Thanksgiving and dive right into this admittedly incredibly biased stunt, but this is a personal blog, so I don't have to play by the rules of timing! Besides, if ABC Family didn't want all of you to get excited about it, too, they wouldn't have sent the info so soon. So get excited. Because this season, not only are there brand new holiday movies coming your way, but one of them features the love of most of our childhood lives, Mr. Mark-Paul Gosselaar!

"25 Days of Christmas" won't start until December 1st, but on November 20th there will be a "Countdown to 25 Days of Christmas" to get you even more in the mood, at a much more calendar-appropriate time.

From the ABC Family press release:

This year, “Countdown to 25 Days of Christmas” will feature the ABC Family original movie premiere of Desperately Seeking Santa on Sunday, November 27 (8pm). Laura Vandervoort stars as an ambitious young marketing executive who dreams up the ticket to Christmas sales: a sexy Santa contest. Teenage girls and their moms flock to her mall when the gorgeous winner of the contest becomes a local hero, sending sales through the roof. She counted on this new Santa to win her a promotion - not win her heart, complicate her life and question everything she ever wanted. In addition, ABC Family is proud to bring the wooftastic holiday movie The Search for Santa Paws to television for the first time on Monday, November 21 (9pm).

“25 Days of Christmas” is the biggest cable programming event of the year, and ABC Family delivers the gift of holiday cheer with the world premiere of the original movie, 12 Dates of Christmas, starring Amy Smart and Mark-Paul Gosselaar. Premiering Sunday, December 11 (8pm), 12 Dates of Christmas follows a young woman who re-lives the same first date on Christmas Eve over and over again until she learns to open up her world to new things and stop living in the past.

Viewers can also ring in the holidays with the television premiere of the Pink Panther animated short A Very Pink Christmas, on Wednesday, December 7 (6pm) and the network premiere broadcasts of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, on Wednesday, December 7 (9pm), and Disney-Pixar’s Up on Friday, December 16 (9pm).

Triple platinum artists, The Band Perry, who are currently nominated for three AMA and a total of five CMA Awards, have written and recorded an original holiday song for “25 Days of Christmas” and will shoot a music video for the song, which will be part of the network’s on-air and online campaign. Viewers will get an exclusive 60-second sneak peek of the music video during the November 20 (8pm) airing of Holiday in Handcuffs, and the entire video will be available immediately afterward online at

Monday, October 17, 2011

From LA Examiner: 'Hart of Dixie' Heats Up; Phoebe Tonkin Previews A Breakdown; IBG Inc's Latest Conversation Series DVD...

"Hart of Dixie’s Wilson Bethel & Jaime King preview “In Havoc and in Heat”

Things are about to heat up on Hart of Dixie. Literally and figuratively! In tonight’s brand new episode, “In Havoc and in Heat,” the town of BlueBell experiences a heatwave that the locals use as opportunity to “go crazy,” which prods just about everyone in town to tell Dr. Zoe Hart (Rachel Bilson) to throw caution to the wind and go for it with Wade (Wilson Bethel). But fun, games, shirtless men, and a montage of “come hither” approaches aside, this episode is actually a real dramatic turning point for the series, as well as a number of characters... [MORE]

"Phoebe Tonkin says The Secret Circle’s Faye is about to go “a little mad”

The Secret Circle’s Faye Chamberlin (Phoebe Tonkin) may just be the ultimate Mean Girl. Not only has she been fighting and plotting to be the Queen Bee amongst her witchy circle of friends, but she has those supernatural powers to back her up. Any tool a typical high school girl has in her arsenal is magnified ten-fold for Faye. Kids can be cruel; words can be crueler; but magic? Magic can kill. Literally... [MORE]

"IBG Inc's "Conversation with Gillian Anderson & David Duchovny" coming to DVD!"

Los Angeles area non-profit IBG Inc announced earlier this morning that their latest "Conversation Series" event, a special one-of-a-kind candid sit down between former X-Files stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson is coming to DVD as of October 18 2011... [MORE]

'Hart of Dixie' Climate Change PSA...

Thank you, Wilson Bethel. No, really, thank you.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Where'd The Good Drama of 'The Good Wife' Go?...

Dear The Good Wife:

Okay, look, I don't want it to sound like I don't want Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies) to be happy, but well, I guess in a way that's exactly what I'm saying. Because now that Alicia has left her philandering husband and not only is work going well but she also has a new guy to sleep with, she is content. And I'm...not. Now I'm finding the story unfortunately lacking-- not in quality of writing but in the drama nonetheless. The tension, sexual or otherwise, seems to have gone out the window. And for a show in its third season, said drama should be picking up, twisting and turning the story-- and the audience's emotions with it-- at every act break. Instead you seem to be cooling off. And all I want is for the other shoe to drop...

Don't get me wrong, your "case of the week" aspect is still just as strong as ever, but that kind of procedural element hasn't been enough for me in a long time. Courtroom moments are still as interesting and compelling as ever, as well, but aside, what are we left with? No more political drama for Peter (Chris Noth); no more secrets for Kalinda (Archie Panjabi); no more tugging from the kids, the husband, the boss, and the long-time friend for Alicia. Things have simplified immensely-- almost seemingly dumbed down for the CBS audience who have come to know, love, and expect "just" the procedural. All of the things that won you Academy accolades, as well as the critical acclaim-- and you know, the heart of this particular blogger-- have dissolved. While still compelling, you feel like a shell of your former self.

I'm inclined to blame the network for this. I always blame the older demographic for why my favorite shows become a bit more lowest common denominator in later years. I can't ignore the fact that there is pressure to reach a larger audience, and the easiest way to do so is to adopt a formula proven to work within the genre. In this case, I assume the network may have also stepped in and took a bit more creative control with the overall direction of the series than they had in the past. After all, that would most easily explain why so much emphasis has been placed on the procedural elements this year, while the little rivets that may (or should) be popping off of Will and Alicia's relationship boat are relegated to deep, deep in the background. But I also think there is something to be said for the fact that Robert and Michelle King gave the audience so much of what they wanted last season-- with Kalinda's past being revealed, as well as Alicia and Will (Josh Charles) finally hooking up in such a hot way. You may have blown your proverbial wad, and that's a hard momentum to maintain. The cards are on the table for Kalinda; she is no longer the enigma that intrigued and enticed us all to tune in. And with her kowtowing to Alicia's deserve to be left alone, they are at a stalemate. Once two female formidable forces, stronger when together of course, are now barely two ships passing in the night. And their shared energy is sorely missed.

But furthermore, now that Alicia is with Will, the family aspect of her life is also stripped from the show. Her kids split their time with her and her now separated husband, so they are rarely on-screen. The issues they had in the past, in dealing with the unhappy home, are now null and void, so they have even less of a reason to be around. Another complication from Alicia's life is simply being carried out off-screen, if at all, and the layers we were once so eager to peel back from her character just lay discarded on the floor.

Unless things start to go wrong in her relationship with Will-- or unless she and Kalinda find a way to make amends-- I don't see anything changing anytime soon in this season, and that's a shame because what always made you stand out among other procedurals, other law shows, and other network dramas in general was its complicated character infrastructure. But these days I feel like they all too easily fit into molds of what TV says they should be, rather than actually reflecting real people. It's a kinder, gentler The Good Wife thus far in season three, but I don't know believe that's warranted. The stakes should gradually be raised as episodes unfold. Maybe right now, just a few episodes in, we're being lulled into a false sense of calm so when that other shoe finally drops it makes an even bigger impact because the build-up has been so great. After an episode like "Feeding The Rat," where the case itself had such an obvious outcome, though (Sterling K. Brown is too famous and too good to be "just" an eyewitness, everyone knows that!), I'm unfortunately beginning to doubt that.

I miss the old Alicia. Even if that means I'm a little bit sadistic for missing a woman who was clearly struggling. But mostly I just miss the old The Good Wife. Please come back soon.

From LA Examiner: 'Chuck' Final Season Clip; Photo Previews of 'Big Bang Theory's' Halloween & 'Supernatural'; 'Once Upon A Time' Review...

"Chuck S5 clip: Sarah tries to seduce a secret out of her husband"

They say marriage can change a lot of things in a relationship, and perhaps surprisingly Chuck Bartowski (Zachary Levi) appears determined for that to be true. In the past it was easy for Chuck to fall into a trance-- but now the Intersect is out of his head, and he is only looking forward for his future with Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski). And that means not reverting to old ways, pitfalls, or entrapments. So when Sarah tries to seduce a secret out of him, he is determined not to let her wiles work on him. But is that one mission Chuck is just doomed to fail? ... [MORE]

"PHOTO PREVIEW: The Big Bang Theory scares up Courtney Ford for Halloween"

There's just something about Sheldon (Jim Parson) this season on The Big Bang Theory, is there not? ... [MORE]

"PHOTO PREVIEW: Supernatural S7, Ep6: "Slash Fiction"

The title isn't what you think. The sixth episode of the seventh season of Supernatural is titled "Slash Fiction" but is not another meta look for the fandom ala "The Real Ghostbusters" or even "The French Mistake." Instead, “Slash Fiction” will see the boys going on the run once again as the Leviathans pull out all of the stops to get to them. As series star Jensen Ackles teased during LA TV Insider Examiner's set visit earlier this month: “The Leviathans are trying to weed us out…and they’ve come up with different scenarios, trying to do so. One of them is getting the cops, basically, put on our trail and really making us America’s Most Wanted"... [MORE]

"Fall 2011 preview: ABC's Once Upon A Time"

Disney has made television pilots for decades but never before have they created one that embodies all of the beauty and the magic from the fairytales their films have brought to life. Once Upon A Time takes the best characters from our childhood and not only shows them in all their glory but also gives us a look at what they would be if they just walked amongst us regular folk. By flipping back and forth between their fairytale world and their modern day town of Storybrooke we explore the beauty of who they should be and the darkness of who they have been cursed to be... [MORE]

Friday, October 14, 2011

'Parks and Rec' Inspires a "Treat Yourself Weekend!" ...

On last night's episode of Parks and Recreation, "Pawnee Rangers," we were introduced to something so simple and yet so necessary we can only hope it sticks. Not just as a plot point for episodes to come but also for its fans. "Treat Yourself" was the objective of Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari), a character who has yet to do such an honest day's work that it warrants a "treat" and Donna (Retta), a woman who lives a lifestyle much more lavish than we would imagine a small town cityworker could afford. I'm not going to bastardize the effect with a summary-- you should just watch the episode in full-- but suffice to say their day of pampering inspired me to solidify my own.

"Treat Yourself" is all about doing something completely for you-- something that will bring you happiness and put you in a zen-like state in these otherwise stressful times. And "Treat Yourself" looks different for Tom, Donna, and even Ben (Adam Scott), who they dragged along. And it will look different for me and for you. Luxury, decadence, and excess is in the eye of the beholder; some might say I "treat myself" far too often as it is simply by eating cupcakes for breakfast. Some might say that walking into an art gallery and "impulse buying" a new Fazzino a few weeks ago may have been a treat worthy of the year. Some might say that wearing pajamas to work is a treat in and of itself. But that's their perception.

Working as a television blogger, where entertainment is really a 24/7 cycle in this digital ages of smartphones, tablets, and well, 24/7 original programming, I take my Saturdays very, very seriously. Far before Parks and Recreation made it a "thing," I was "treating myself" to a day completely devoid of work or even correspondence. What's once a year? I need relaxation once a week! I would turn off my laptop, only check email and Twitter on my phone sparingly, and usually (read: when the weather was 65 or higher) head out to Malibu with a book, my dog, and my towel with the pillow built-in. I'd tan, nap, read, and eavesdrop for a few hours and then come home, order take-out and watch a guilty pleasure movie marathon into the wee hours of the morning. I often cap it off with a bubble bath, during which I drink an ice cream soda. It's not too outrageous-- for some it's completely mundane and sedate-- but it works for me.

Parks and Recreation has given me reason to consider stepping it up, though. Not every week, but definitely this week. In addition to lounging by the water and reading (the brand new Chuck Klosterman novel), I think I'm going to hit the mall and purge my own sock drawer (and probably a lot of my underwear while I'm at it...). And then design a pair of sapphire and aqua marine hoop earrings to match my "day" tennis bracelet that I literally wear every day. TREAT YOURSELF.

But the point is, "Treat Yourself" is going to result in a different action for every individual person, but it is something that we need to do in order to create our best possible selves. Parks and Recreation may have given us the okay, but the tools have been within us all along! What is YOUR "Treat Yourself" day going to look like!?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

From LA Examiner: Zac Levi Serves Chick-fil-A; 'Community' Proves Fate Theory; 'The Middle's' Halloween; Anna Torv Teases a 'Fringe' Love Triangle...

"Zachary Levi hangs up his spy gear, slaps on a Chick-Fil-A uniform?"

For most actors, getting a gig on television would be enough for them to hang up their food service uniform once and for all. But Zachary Levi is not most actors. For a special one afternoon engagement, the star (and occasional director) of NBC's Chuck buttoned up his preppy blue and slapped on a name tag to serve patrons at the drive-thru of the brand new Chick-fil-A here in Hollywood. Why? To benefit charity of course! ... [MORE]

"Community rolls the dice in “Remedial Chaos Theory” but its laughs are fated"

Whoever said bottle episodes had to be contained to standing sets? Not Community, that’s who. Prepare to meet Troy and Abed’s new apartment! ... [MORE]

"PHOTO PREVIEW: The Hecks go trick-or-treating on The Middle"

The Middle’s Heck family may not be who first pops into mind when it comes to holiday cheer, but they’re bound to do Halloween right, right? After all, it’s just about getting free candy! ... [MORE]

"Anna Torv responds to a potential Fringe love triangle upon Peter’s return"

Though it is not long before Peter (Joshua Jackson) returns to the Fringe Division, fans of the FOX sci-fi drama might not want to get too excited too soon. After all, it’s not like he’s going to return and magically so will Walter (John Noble) and Olivia (Anna Torv)’s memories of him. Though both characters are seeing Peter’s face, they don’t understand how, why, or who he is. But he does. He remembers them, and more importantly, he remembers how important his relationships with them were. Putting people in a room together isn’t enough to tug on deeply ingrained emotional pulls, though-- not even in Fringe. So someone’s bound to be disappointed. In fact, when LA TV Insider Examiner sat down with Torv on the Vancouver set* of Fringe last week, she said flat-out that the homecoming is “not the reunion that Peter would be hoping for"... [MORE]

"ABC orders full seasons of Revenge, Suburgatory, Happy Endings"

It's a good day to be Paul Lee, as critics pretty much all across the television landscape were thrilled to hear the news of ABC's first full season orders of 2011-2012... [MORE]