Pretty Little Liars: Bedlam – All Roads Lead to Radley…Again (Review)

ANDREA PARKER, SHAY MITCHELL, GWEN HOLLOWAY

You have to  love all the Pretty Little Liars with their tendency to point fingers at nearly everyone as suspect when things go pear shaped (wrong).  Last week saw A.D. texting out testily to the Liars and “Beldam” sees all roads leading to Radley, again.  In season six it seemed everyone who went to school with the Liars spent time the the town’s asylum. Now it appears that it may be a prerequisite for most,  if not all, of  Rosewood’s denizens to have spent time there.

Back to Emily:  In the previous episode she jumped to the conclusion that Ali killed Charlotte based on her friend’s delirious call to the Almighty after she questioned her. Now she thinks she could be wrong. Especially after getting the “midnight” phone call from Alison begging her for help.

Rollins, the secret Brit, who must be A.D. (if he is not he certainly seems to have a vested interest in torturing his wife Ali for no apparent reason,) changes the visiting rules. Only family are allowed in to see DiLaurentis, although that is not a firm and fast rule as he throws “Aunty” Mary Drake (aka Jessica DiLaurentis) out with Emily.

Drake has angry words with Rollins afterward and Em watches with interest through the glazed opaque glass wall.  Even the silhouettes look angry so it is easy to tell that someone is having a falling out.

Aria and Ezra’s book effort hits a stumbling block when Liam (who volunteered to help on their co-authored book) lets his green-eyed monster out of the bag. He pretty much accuses Ezra, Aria’s former English teacher,  of being Humbert Humbert from “Lolita.” Liam also demands that chapters be re-written so the rest of the world will not see a “Lolita” connection. Ezra is not pleased and sees through Liam’s anger dressed as constructive criticism.

Hanna, who has returned from captivity with the help of Mary Drake, has flashbacks of  meeting cute with her ex fiancé Jordan.  Hanna also has another  memory; her  breakup. with Jordan. She remembers what happened  when she  discovers that the bar where they met has been torn down. Poor Hanna reacts badly.

Spencer’s mother fires her for being unfocussed and spending too much time on her friends.  Mary Drake is working her way through the Liars, meeting them individually and, apparently, trying to befriend them all.

Jessica DiLaurentis’ twin sister trots out her own sad backstory, which manages to pin the death of an infant on her dead sibling, that ends with Mary in Radley. Lucas, Hanna’s savior with a multi-million dollar deal looks as trustworthy as a snake with a switchblade. He also looks a bit off…

Pretty Little Liars ends with Ali being drugged via her intravenous drip and having her gurney moved out of her solitary confinement space and down the hall.  As Alison looks on fearfully the double doors at the end of the hallway open to reveal a bright white light.

Season seven of the series has allowed the girls to grow up. It is, after all, five years (plus) later.  This has been a mixed blessing as the characters can now dress like grown women but still suffer from a “high school” mentality when it comes to their impression of the Scooby Gang.

In term of performances, all bring much to the table. They have had six seasons to really learn their characters and it shows.  Sadly, this last trip to Rosewood may be a little contrived (As if the first six seasons were not?).  It will, however,  be interesting to see who made those Mission Impossible type masks and  learn just who Rollins really is.

Pretty Little Liars airs Tuesdays on Freeform.

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Uncle Buck – Going to Jail Party/I Got This – Show Finding Its Feet (Review)

AALYRAH CALDWELL, IMAN BENSON, SAYEED SHAHIDI, MIKE EPPS

After despairing at last week’s episodes with their  poor parent/Uncle Buck mix (and slapping two episodes together as well as being  out of order which is still the case this week) the show has turned things around with “Going to Jail Party” and “I Got This.”  Episode four is all about Will and Alexis worrying about Miles’ impulsiveness and where it comes from. It is also about pranking a neighbor and providing a comedic highlight. Perhaps the best in the series thus far.

“Going To Jail Party” focuses on parent teacher meetings for all three children and this shifts the parents to a smaller portion of the storyline. This move does not hurt the characters  but serves to let their humor come out smart and snappy.

Miles is in trouble at school for staging a race between the biology class’s white rat and the first grade class’  hamster Sprinkles.  The race goes badly and Maizy is upset that her brother’s actions  caused the school  pet to be injured.   Alexis learns of the stunt and when his teacher explains that Miles  acts without thinking of consequences, she first blames their Uncle Buck.

At the house, the kids and their uncle party down with loud music and are having fun till “Mr. Creepy Neighbor” calls the police.  They retaliate with a hysterical prank. Without giving too much away, it involves the family dog, a spider suit and a giant web.

(The revenge prank by the neighbor was equally funny since it made Buck scream like a girl.)

This was easily  the best episode in the series so far.

The mix was perfect with less time given to the grown ups and more on the Uncle Buck/children interaction.  It had more of a “John Candy” feel to it. The storyline was focussed more on the kids and Alexis’s realization that Miles gets his impulsiveness from her was also funny.

“I Got This” did run parallel storylines with the parents attempting to “sex up” their relationship and once again featured more of Uncle Buck bonding with the children.  From helping Miles with his first  crush to sorting out Tia’s social life Buck’s hands are full. On top of his “manny” responsibilities he also has to support his team the Chicago  Bulls with his lucky ball.

Uncle Buck is also about the kids’ manny turning over a new leaf. There was, perhaps, a bit too much time spent on the parents with their anniversary celebration but the main storyline was spot on.

Miles’ first crush is a little girl with more piercings in her face than Carter has little pills and Buck is horrified. He can see that this young lady is years ahead of Miles and not a good match at all. He manages to keep it together, interfering only when needed until the pierced girl breaks out the beer.

Tia has issues with her friends after she lies about going out on Twitter.  Maizy watches Uncle Buck’s zombie movie and freaks out. Buck makes Tia’s problem worse and makes Miles angry.

The Bulls lose and Buck ends up ready to quit his manny job.

If the series can continue on this vein, more along the lines of “Going to Jail Party” which was very funny, although “I Got This” was almost as good.  More comedy like the spider gag would not go amiss and would help the “JC” quotient.

This tendency to slap two episodes together does not bode well for Uncle Buck however.  Whether this has been done to facilitate the upcoming holiday or an effort to get things over with in  a hurry is not known.

Uncle Buck  airs Tuesdays on ABC.  Hang in there, the show is getting better. Tune in and see what you think.

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Hunters: Pretending to See the Future – Finnerman an Exalted? (Review)

Hunters - Season 1

Hunters zooms toward its season one finale and in “Pretending to See the Future”  things come to a head between Truss Jackson and Ruth Finnerman.  McCarthy makes a surprise reappearance. Regan and Flynn grab Carp’s son and Carp loses his head.  Musa was injured at the hotel attack and things begin to point to Finnerman being an Exalted.

At the start of the episode Truss is at church with his family after being removed from the ETU by Finnerman. A man dressed as a missionary finds Jackson’s car and plants a sonic bomb under it. Truss and his family narrowly escape being killed. Jackson calls Finnerman claiming that Hunters have tried to kill him.

As Flynn gets coffee for himself and Regan, the news is blaming the hotel massacre on a lone shooter. The two track down Carp and kidnap his son instead of the arms dealer. The young man is dying of leukemia and they learn that he is meant to have Regan’s blood injected as a cure.

Pablo begins to die and starts going through a seizure. Regan injects the blood and Carp’s son responds well. He announces himself cured and then dies horrifically.

While the two ETU agents wait for Carp to show up Jackson meets Briggs at a safe house. Finnerman’s “boy” is there to kill Truss and he gets the upper hand, temporarily. Briggs shoots his old boss in the shoulder and Jackson escapes. Shortly after he talks his would be assassin out of killing him.

Flynn and Regan wait to meet Carp at the docks. A car; its speakers playing loud rock music, pulls up and stops. The lights blind the two agents. Regan calls out to Carp and the weapon dealer’s head comes flying out of the vehicle.

It is McCarthy and he wants to swap sides. He has been exiled by Musa and he wants to strike back.

Musa r is paranoid now that his healing powers have been damaged by the attack on the hotel.  He demands that everyone prove who they are and afterward he tells Abby about the Exalted. Musa claims that they are there.

He also tells her that they want to stop the purge. After their little talk the ship can be seen in a giant hanger. Whether this means that they really intend to escape and not blow up the world remains to be seen.

Finnerman gets a text from Briggs asking her to meet him at the safe house. She arrives and discovers that Briggs has gone back to Jackson. After a short bit of conversation  Truss explains that his old boss  crossed a line attacking his family.  He apparently  shoots Ruth Finnerman although it is not a head shot.

There are flashback throughout the episode where Truss re-lives his first exposure to Hunters. He also remembers the first time they use Echo Protocol to kill innocents to protect the secret.

Rather interestingly, Ruth, despite her family line recitation of ancestors who have served their country,  seems less than human. Something about Finnerman is odd. Her tunnel visioned mission to stop the Hunters and  lack of  emotions about family and killing innocents makes her seem less than human.

Listening to Musa talk of the Exalted; who also want to stop the Hunters makes one wonder if she is one. Disguised, as the Hunters are, to be human. Her position in the ETU makes for the perfect cover and allows her to stop Hunters.

This may seem a little far out but the woman’s behavior is less human and more automaton. Finnerman ruthlessly goes after everything that protects the secret. It also   allows her to kill more Hunters. Could Ruth be an Exalted Hunter?

Along the way Emme tells Flynn that she still loves Abby regardless of whether she is human or not.

Next week’s episode is the season one finale.  Will the Hunters use the ship to go home as Musa claims or will they destroy  the planet.

Hunters is deadly serious with no humor to lighten the load. Show creator  Natalie Chaidez has given us a grim and suspenseful science fiction thriller. It is a world  where the terrorists are aliens who are different from us under their skin. 

(Sidenote: There was one moment that was unintentionally funny. After Musa goes through the proving ceremony. Liana cuts her arm to the “bone” and shows her inner Hunter. Holding the bloody limb up in the air she states, “One of us.” Meant to be a serious moment, it brought to mind the dinner scene from Tod Browning’s 1932 cult film Freaks.  All that was needed was the “Gooba  gobble”  part of the line to make it complete.)

The season finale “New Holy Ground”  airs July 11 after the show takes a break for the Fourth of July.

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Guilt: Exit Wounds – Getting It So Wrong (Review)

DAISY HEAD

Guilt on Freeform continues to irritate rather than entertain.  “Exit Wounds “keeps getting it so wrong in terms of the law in England.  This week it is specifically gun laws and the reactions of the “Old Bill” (slang for police) to guns and their use in self defense.  First of all the courts and law enforcement do not really want the citizenry to defend themselves.

The cops would much rather find your cold dead body and then work to prosecute the culprit rather than find you standing over your assailant victorious and unharmed. Violence, in the United Kingdom,  is left to the experts, i.e. the police.

This is, after all, the country where celebrity Myleene Klass was strongly rebuked in 2010 for “brandishing a knife” at intruders in her home. She was alone there with her child and flashed the kitchen implement in an effort to make them leave. The cops were not best pleased.

In terms of using a gun as self defense, Norfolk farmer Tony Martin was arrested in 1999 and done for murder after shooting at two  burglars. He killed one and did three years for defending himself and his property.

It is highly unlikely that the Old Bill would have been so understanding toward Mrs. Linley for getting a hunting rifle out to defend her husband and home. (Granted she shot her cheating hubby and Patrick Ryan and then lied about it. Regardless of her telling the detective’s “porkies” (slang for lies) they would  not responded so sympathetically.)

(One last sidenote about the rifle.  Gun laws in the UK are beyond stringent. Owners must have a proper certificate and the weapon, if stored at home, must be in a locked case.  Not to mention that in all likelihood the thing should have been a shotgun rather than a proper hunting rifle with a scope. Guns in the UK are exorbitantly priced and while a university professor may be able to afford a weapon that would cost thousands of pounds to own, it is unlikely.)

Back to the plot: This week Guilt sees Mrs. Linley paying a visit to her wounded husband and Grace.  Patrick is seen to by his girlfriend, aka Madame Prosecutor and  then turned in. Stan’s plan to recover Molly’s phone goes awry when the blackmailer turns out to be much cleverer   than he is. James is definitely not a nice man and the prince apparently got Molly pregnant.

Grace falters under the weight of all the haters on social media and overdoses on her sisters sleeping pills. Natalie feels responsible and when she waits to visit Grace meets the reporter who tipped Patrick Ryan off previously.

It does seem that the prince is the one with something to hide. He goes to intimidate  DS Bruno and it seems to work. (Which is rather interesting as the royal family have no real power at all.)  But this move can be somewhat overlooked as it appears that the prince has  information on Bruno that the detective sergeant does not want out.

Right now the prince probably  wants his visits to the “50 Shades” club kept secret. It would also seem that he wants any news of his being the father of the child Molly was carrying when she died kept quiet as well.

There was one high note in the third episode of Guilt. The bus scene with the blackmailer, her man and the Manchester football supporters, aka hooligans. It was odd that they got involved with the little fracas with the backpack. (Although later it all makes perfect sense.) At the end of the scene, Gutterie postures and threatens only to be head butted in the face and it is priceless.

It seems that the ex-pat lawyer is not “all that” after all.

Grace does a “Paula Deen” and speaks to her haters, except it appears to be either on periscope or snapchat and not on video. Her spiel goes over well and she gets a flood of support.  Herein lies the main problem (apart from the English things that are off) with Guilt.

We have a dead pregnant girl, slashed to rag doll ribbons that was the BFF of Grace Atwood. Thus far the amount of tears shed for her dead bestie would not fill a shot glass or an egg cup. Self centered to the nth degree, it has all been about Daisy’s pain and upset. Most annoying.

Guilt airs  Mondays  on Freeform.  Stop by and see how you feel about the show and Grace. It may get better. For example, Natalie was far less irritating this week…

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UnREAL: Season 2 – Treason (Review)

Shiri Appleby in UnREAL

UnREAL keeps the surprises coming.  This week in “Treason” it becomes apparent that no one has anything remotely resembling loyalty towards anyone else.  Darius gets some alarming news about his injury and Quinn’s father dies.  Rachel convinces the footballer to stay with the show and Romeo gets his walking papers. Chet takes his son out for the day and gets arrested for his effort.

This is a fascinating show to watch. Apparently a mirror image of what really transpires behind the scenes of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. Both reality television dating shows have been running since 2002 and 2003 respectively. Neither show appears to  be in any danger of cancellation in the foreseeable future.

UnREAL shows the underbelly of the beast. Proving that “reality” is manufactured in every sense of the word. From adroitly manipulating the contestants and the “bachelor” to making up storylines for the players.  It also includes lying, double crossing and cheating as well as manipulating the viewers.

This season started with a focus on a Black man being the show’s eligible bachelor. Despite the network’s displeasure at Quinn changing the formula Darius Beck,  an  NFL quarterback with an image problem,  agrees to be the first black man to be on the show.

Constance Zimmer is Quinn. Tough as nails and cynical to the extreme, this show runner plays to the crowd and consistently reveals a side that is less than pleasant.  She does have a soft side though one that is overcome with  vitriol and abrasive behavior. When her father dies it clearly upsets her but she hides it behind bitterness and anger.

When asked about what to do with her father’s personal effects she replies:

“Just put everything in the house, throw in a match, and burn it to the ground.”

It is apparent that her father let her down in some way. Something that Quinn has grown to expect from the male of the species. Chet is  the latest man in her life to run true to form.

After  Rachel’s attempt to have Quinn and Chet removed from the show in episode two things have taken a turn for the worse between Goldberg and her mentor.  Last week saw Quinn and Chet replaced by Coleman Wasserman and Rachel set up for a fall by Chet’s pal at the network.

The previous episode also saw Darius injured by one of the contestants. The football player needs surgery or he could become  paralyzed.  As the title of this week’s episode suggests there is treason afoot as Rachel attempts to keep Darius on the show and Quinn plots to take him out.

Rachel is still working the “making TV history” angle and trying to salvage her spot on the show. Quinn may talk of retaking the show while she attempts to scuttle Goldberg and Wasserman’s plans but that is window dressing.

Quinn wants the power back but  she also wants to hurt Rachel after her “power grab.”  She is also  angry that her protégé “stabbed her in the back.” Wasserman may be playing to Rachel but it is Quinn he will need to shove out the door if he wants to keep control of the show.

Chet proves to be an ally in the fight against Wasserman and he helps Quinn in her bid to injure the quarterback and get him off the show.  The plan backfires when Rachel talks Darius into an epidural.  The battle lines are drawn as Chet is hauled off to jail for kidnapping his son.

This revealing series about what really goes on behind the scenes in reality dating is addictive and should make fans of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette aware of the manufactured nature of these type of shows.  Zimmer and Appleby are brilliant as the two strongest women on the lot and they are what make this who what it is.

The chemistry is spot on and another thing that makes UnREAL work so well.

The series airs Mondays on Lifetime. This is must watch television and the show along with  its performers should get a few gongs come Emmy time. Check it out now.

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