Stitchers: When Darkness Falls – Zed’s Dead Baby (Review)

EMMA ISHTA

Stitchers is back. Not all the way, it is still a long time before  the next season starts, but this little taste of what makes this show so special proves that the gang are not resting on their laurels.  This one-off Halloween episode, titled When Darkness Falls, keeps the topical humor running and has some real “treats” in the script and a couple of clever tricks.

In the area of humor, what can be more topical than Kyle Harris, as Cameron, doing a “corn” riff, a’la Amanda Stenberg‘s “Don’t Cash Crop my Corn Rows” video. And…for treats, Aussie actress Emma Ishta, aka Kirsten Clark, gets a few “in-jokes” included in the script. The tricks all belong to the plot twist in the episode’s storyline.

In the area of treats, for example, the automated zombie that Camille uses in her attempt to scare Kirsten is referred to as “Zed,” by Allison Scagliotti‘s character  which is obviously a reference to the “Z” letter being called zed in the land down under, just as it is in England. Later, Kirsten herself mentions Australia and actually drops a little “Crocodile Dundee” type pronunciation in the same line.

Clever writing and topical humor aside, the plot for this Halloween episode of Stitchers is top notch and offers fans of the show a Cameron and Kirsten “cuddle moment.”  It also has Linus (Ritesh Rajan) in a much happier mood than when he was last seen in the season one finale.  Suffice to say that Cameron is not dead, or in a coma, in this episode but as the time period is not really specified, this could be somewhere in the middle of season one’s time line and not after the “Cameron!” shouted out by Kirsten at the end of the finale. 

In terms of  plot, it is noted that everyone is well aware of Camille’s annual Halloween party which has to be relocated, meaning, apparently, that the group have all known each other for at least a year. However, It should also be noted that Tim from engineering (Cameron Britton) is not at the party and after spectacularly saving everyone in the lab towards the end of the season, his lack of appearance at the Halloween “do” indicates that this is before the gut wrenching final episode.

When Darkness Falls starts with Camille being frustrated about not getting rise out of Kirsten. The stitcher explains that she does not do “scared” (as in creepy, ghosty, scared) and after an amusing scene where Cameron and Linus trot out some costume ideas for the upcoming party, things move to the lab under the Jade Frog.

ALLISON SCAGLIOTTI, RITESH RAJAN
Linus with real “working” udders…

Cameron gets out his corn rant just before the alarm sounds for the latest stitch. Enter the “victim” for the episode, (2003’s Peter Pan star Jeremy Sumpter in a brilliant guest role) one Devon Landry, who is found hanged with a note stating that he is “Sorry for what I did.”

Maggie (Salli Richardson-Whitfieldtells the group that “what Landry may have done is kidnap a girl.” They have to do the stitch to find out where the young lady is and, if she is still alive, save her.  Cue Cameron’s usual “references” pre-stitch, which includes calling Kirsten “Scream Queen” and rumbling out “Here’s Johnny” as the the sequencing begins.

Once Kirsten is in the stitch, she learns a bit about the dead man and at one point, he talks to her while she is in his dead memory. Properly freaked out, Clarke ends the stitch and is not overly impressed with Cameron’s and Linus’ explanation about the occurrence. After the stitch, Devon shows up in the real world and once again Kirsten is, understandably, frightened. While Halloween shenanigans may not frighten Ms. Clark, nor the thought of being in dead people’s brains, a “stitch” following her around is a different matter.

While the “hauntings” continue, the group search for the missing student, Kelly Marino. Camille does not allow this to stop her search for a new venue for her Halloween party and when the stitchers gang (like the Scooby Doo gang sans dog) head to Landry’s house, Camille decides that this location is perfect for the “Nightmare on Camille Street” shindig.

There is a satisfying plot twist that involves twins, an apparent ghost, that is not dead at all, and some clever thinking on the part of Kirsten.

Before any of these things occur, Cameron and Linus explain to Kirsten that Devon talking to her in the stitch, did not really happen. She is not convinced. Clark also sees the dead man standing over a dead body, under a sheet, with a bone saw in his hand while in the stitch.

Linus (Ritesh Rajan), Cameron, Camille and Kirsten all head to Devon’s house and Kirsten sees someone upstairs. The four colleagues enter the dead man’s home,  and the two guys decide the the place is decidedly creepy. After finding “no body” (Linus’ joke) they leave.

Later, after Camille makes “eye-dourves” and then leaves with Linus to pick up a coffin for the party, Kirsten is visited by the dead man who looks at her through her bedroom window.

A creeped-out Kirsten heads to Cameron’s apartment (one of the funniest bits in the show has Ms. Clark knocking nonstop on the door until Cameron answers it) and after having a spoonful of “calming” hazelnut spread,  Kirsten tells him he has the couch and she is sleeping in his bed.

Kirsten has a very intense, and scary, nightmare and after waking up, she sees Devon in the hallway outside of Cameron’s apartment door. Grabbing her host, they look and Landry is nowhere to be seen. Kirsten then  asks Cameron to stay in bed with her. The next morning, the two are sleeping when Fisher (Damon Dayoub) calls and the stitch pilot seems pretty pleased with himself. 

As the episode moves on, they learn that Devon worked in a cadaver lab (bone saw) and when they arrive to search the lab, she finds a clue; Landry’s phone.  Before finding the smart phone, Kirsten mentions that Cameron snores and Fisher’s  bemused response is, “TMI.”  On the dead man’s phone, they find a picture of the missing student and “Devon.”

Later, back at the stitchers lab, Camille does  the math and finally explains that the kidnapped girl has 124 minutes to live. (Note: Listen to Kirsten’s pronunciation of “parameters.”-  “Tie me kangaroo down sport.” Great nod to her place of birth and a nice treat for her fans.)

After another stitch, where things are quite weird and Devon speaks to Kirsten again, she learns where the girl is and the group go to rescue her. After the student is safe, it is time to party and the gang show off their outfits and have some brilliant moments of interaction.

By the end of the episode, Kirsten proves that she really can take care of herself and Camille shows that she can clear a room.  Turns out that Devon was not the kidnapper or  attempted killer of the girl and not the ghost that was scaring Kirsten.

Brilliant episode with some hints (Maybe?) about Cameron and Kirsten as well as Camille and Linus. Example: Was the fact that Linus and Camille are arguing at the party a coincidence?  Probably not.

It has to be said, that Emma Ishta wearing a set of purple angel wings and outfit  is gorgeous as an angel (or Superhero That-Look) and Allison Scagliotti as a vampire space princess totally rocks it. (Great vamp teeth…and oh so impressive in that outfit.)

Stitchers: When Darkness Falls was an excellent telling of a “one off” tale for the season. (The scary one, not the Ho-Ho-Ho one.) A reminder of what we love about the series and all the characters that fans care about.  Who can possibly not like an episode where Cameron “gets the girl” and fans get to go “Awwww.”

The second season of Stitchers returns in 2016 on ABC Freeform. While waiting for the second season to start, have a look at Emma with Zed (Brian La Rosa) or do a little binge watching of season one.

EMMA ISHTA
Zed’s not dead baby…

 

 

 

Stitchers: When Darkness Falls – Halloween Special (preview)

ALLISON SCAGLIOTTI, EMMA ISHTA
On October 20, the Stitchers “Halloween Special” When Darkness Falls airs on ABC and for fans, it is another chance to re-live that connection with Kirsten, Cameron, Linus and Camille. Sadly, for existing “Stitcher-philes” this stand alone episode will not answer any of the questions left unanswered in the season one finale. On the plus side, this is a brilliant “one off” with a clever plot and it is hard to imagine a better tribute to the world of “trick or treat” via the Stitchers team.

Camille (Allison Scagliottitries to get Kirsten (Emma Ishta) enthused about the upcoming holiday (cue some Camille-like jokes and quips),and  the lads drop by, Cameron (Kyle Harris) and Linus (Ritesh Rajan) to talk costumes for the festivities.  Later, in the lab, a new stitch case arrives. 

A young man is found dead (Jeremy Sumpter) and Kirsten is stitched into the man’s memory. Once there she discovers some disturbing evidence of kidnapping and the “stitch” talking to her. Properly freaked out, Kirsten stops the stitch.

The team have to find the victim and figure just what is going on with Ms. Clark all amidst the backdrop of Halloween and Camille’s killer party.

When Darkness Falls continues the clever writing and fun homages that Stitchers and its team do so well. The opening of the Halloween one off show sort of feels like a nod to the old Charlie’s Angels series open with its multiple character voice over.

Camille, tries to get to Kirsten’s inner scream queen:

http://www.disneyabcpress.com/abcfamily/video/8fdc2vozzefw_vx6t6ahzghyybm33bva/embed

Kirsten’s roommate and colleague also has to relocate her “infamous” Halloween party, due her old venue being sold off:

http://www.disneyabcpress.com/abcfamily/video/u_g197yi2lcwn3rso7y9_a3w9cp4nmxb/embed

Meanwhile, despite Kirsten’s non-excitable reaction to the season, she is a bit unsettled that the dead man who spoke to her in the stitch seems to be following her:

http://www.disneyabcpress.com/abcfamily/video/xxnj5csnjpqiwwrii780sw61z5twnpa_/embed?t=30

This is a wonderful chance for fans to get their Stitchers fix while waiting for season two to be produced for 2016. It also lets us see a hale and hearty Cameron and a happy Linus. While there is no connection between this special and the first season, or if there is a connection it is very well hidden, it is great to see the band back together.

Keep an ear out for a few mentions of Oz, one of which Camille makes. There are more treats in store for fans but unfortunately, until the actual review MikesFilmTalk cannot reveal anything else for fears of entering spoiler territory.

Apart from Cameron and the gang, Maggie (Salli Richardson-Whitfield) and Fisher (Damon Dayoub) show up and to get involved with this spooky episode and even Tim from engineering (Cameron Britton) can be seen in the lab. The only other “regular” who does not pop up is Les Turner…

In only two days time Stitchers: When Darkness Falls will air on ABC Family. Prepare to see Kirsten in a new light and for a little surprise here and there in relationships. Kudos to all the cast for delivering a great Halloween special. One last hint about the upcoming episode not everything is what it seems, not even candy corn…

Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments ABC Freeform Style

MATTHEW DADDARIO, KATHERINE MCNAMARA, EMERAUDE TOUBIA, DOMINIC SHERWOOD
It may still be a few months till January 2016, and still a further 12 days after that till the premiere of ABC Freeform ‘nee Family show Shadowhunters, but it already feels like the network has another hit on its hands. Based upon the young adult fantasy series by Cassandra Clare (who wrote a total of six books, the last being published in 2014) the new show is the second adaption of this popular franchise.

Starring Katherine McNamara as the series’ heroine Clary Fray, Shadowhunters follows the girl as she learns, after reaching 18 that nothing in the world is what it seems and that she can see things other’s cannot. The new birthday girl learns she very special and her family tree contains, not royalty, but a long line of half-angel/half-human shadowhunters. These “hunters” chase down demons and she joins a team of other hunters while learning of a whole host of supernatural entities that share our world.

“Shadowhunters” is produced by Constantin Film are producing Shadowhunters, Ed Decter (Helix, The Client List) and McG (Supernatural, Chuck) are the show’s executive producers and  the first episode will be directed by  McG . Apart from McNamara (as Fray)  the cast will include  Dominic Sherwood  (Jace Wayland), Alberto Rosende as Simon, Emeraude Toubia and will include Matthew Daddario  Isaiah Mustafa and Glee’s Harry Shum Jr.

The network will be wetting fans appetite for the new show in December, on the 6th, when a “making of” special.  Beyond the Shadows: The Making of Shadowhunters  showing fans of the Cassandra Clare book series a look at what went into making the series. This special, which will air at 9:30 pm ET/PT on Sunday December, 6, will include interviews with the show’s stars who will talk about what they did to prepare for their roles.

Beyond the Shadows: The Making of Shadowhunters is produced by Big Door, Inc. and Jen X Productions, Inc.,  Jennifer Erwin is executive producer and Max Yoffe is co-executive producer.

For those who are familiar with Clare’s books already below are two trailers released by the network. One is a promo, which will explain the series to fans and newbies alike and a “teaser” sneak peak is also included.  Not everyone will be familiar with the literary version of this new series, which has also been made into a film, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (2013)  and another installment of the big screen adaptation will hit the big screen in 2016.

Shadowhunters looks brilliant, in both the promo video and the sneak peak. This one has MikesFilmTalk pretty excited. Spectacular looking sets, some pretty cool FX and a glimpse of some exciting “sword play.” McNamara looks ready to take her character to the limit. Watch these video offerings and see what you think.  The series airs January 12, 2016, tune in and see if it delivers.

http://www.disneyabcpress.com/abcfamily/video/l4jtfbnetta4cf_0qp892zsxp4tk9wzq/embed?t=2

http://www.disneyabcpress.com/abcfamily/video/levnb7t_ulper79hixxdxbopu7e0imrq/embed

 

Pretty Little Liars: Season Finale: Wait…What?

The Liars sans Ali
Having come late to the Pretty Little Liars verse, it did not take long, seemingly, to get into the storyline and various plot devices on show. “Seemingly” being the operative word here, since each new season finale “reveal” left this viewer a little nonplussed…The biggest reveal, Charles is Charlotte (is CeCe) resulted in a “Wait…What??” moment. The very end of the finale, which features a jump into the future of five years, shows the liars getting back again to save Mrs. Rollins, aka Ali.

While the biggest jaw-dropping moment had to be the Charles is CeCe reveal, there were several other things in the Game Over, Charles segment that were, to say the least, eye popping. (Never mind most of these reveals actually stretching the suspension of disbelief required to breaking point and beyond.) The Star Trek, or Mission Impossible, type technology during the whole CeCe exposition, aka reveal sequence, was that bit…too, too. Even the “billion dollar club” Carissimi Group could not have that type of “techno” at their fingertips…

*Sidenote* did it annoy anyone else that the “meeting CeCe/mistaking her for Ali” scene ended with Vanessa Ray’s character standing outside the coffee shop, with the girls inside being visible in the window, and that CeCe’s< and therefore our, view of Aria, Em, Hanna was clearly a video shot of the liars and not a real view of them inside the coffee shop?

Back to the Game Over, Charles season finale, let us look at what works and what does not, from the viewpoint of someone who missed the start of this party, in other words the first four seasons.

What Works:

All roads lead to Radley. This works perfectly, even if one never watched any prior seasons. Every scenario led back to the place. Even the Carissimi Group was a tie-in for crying out loud, Radley was the elephant in the room. Nuff said.

Sara was a plant/baddie. This also made perfect sense. There was never any point where this girl did not feel “off.” Right down to the kiss and snuggle that led to her moving from Em’s house, “so we can date properly,” scenario. While it was never clear who she “worked” for, it was clear that she was not the victim she claimed to be.

Mona as creepy accomplice. This works brilliantly. The girl is odd and quirky and not in a good way.

Mr. DiLaurentis is a douche. No issues with this “reveal” at all. The man has always been a rotter, even Hanna, who is not the sharpest tool in the shed, realized this.

What Does Not:

Charles is CeCe This one could be debatable. The decision to pull out the old transgender trope card sort of works…just. That said, what is odd, again from a late arrival, is that CeCe (Vanessa Ray) is drop-dead gorgeous. As good looking as the younger Charles was, would he have really transitioned so well? Also, wouldn’t Ali have noticed that CeCe’s equipment was a bit different? This reveal feels forced and like the series creator’s are catering to GLAAD and the LGBT community for brownie points.

The secret room/door at the Prom. This one is sort of self explanatory.

Mona as super computer genius. Mona tells the liars that she started “snarfing” Alison the minute she got back in town. Snarfing, for those in the know, means taking large files or documentation without permission aka information theft via WiFi. Seconds after the “snarfing” comment, Mona then says that since she could not get a lock on Charles’ location she coded a program to decrypt the signal source and…” Another, wait…what? moment. It just feels…forced.

The 3D holographic monitor screen and that computer Mona accesses. Nope. Too technologically advanced and once again, Mona knows how to use it. Perhaps the young lady in question has been shown to be a computer whiz in previous seasons and if so, apologies to the show’s writers are in order. But seriously? The monitor? Come on folks.

Ali is murdered…Twice.CeCe kills Ali and Mona does as well. The former with a rock in front of her/his horrified mother. Turns out that the killed Alison was really Bethany all along. Mainly a problem in that it does not make a lot of sense that both CeCe and Mona killed Bethany.

*Sidenote* Hands up all those who thought that, by the end of the episode, CeCe was going to turn out to really be Bethany and that Charles was really dead…killed by CeCe?

The secret room leads to Radley. What?? Spencer and Hanna went to the Carissimi Group offices before, questioning the CeCe DiLaurentis plant Rhys, and not only did they not notice that the building was near Radley, but the show’s creators never bothered to mention it either. In the season finale, however, there is a secret passage connected to the secret room that leads to Radley where CeCe, Alison, Mr. Dilaurentis and Sara are. Sure…

Food for thought:

Not long after Mona’s show of expertise, Spencer defuses CeCe’s bomb, which accomplice Sara turned on, just in the knick of time. This little event, like the rest of the season finale feels convenient and contrived. While the final episode is annoying, a lot one might add, it could have worked just fine if the program makers had not decided to do the entire reveal in one episode.

This end episode screamed two-parter. Sadly, it was not and the whole multi-reveal feels forced and hokey. A disappointing end to a season that, for the most part, has been clever, funny and addictive. The question of just who Charles was, apart from being A, was huge as was his motivation for the horrible things he had done.

The girls searching for an answer was entertaining and thought provoking. The whole, he is alive, he is not thread was great and the whole Charles is a girl now, could have worked beautifully if the writers and the producers had taken a bit longer to deliver the reveal…In a two parter.

Long term fans of Pretty Little Liars may be perfectly happy with the series end episode. If this is the case, apparently it is not a good idea to come late to the liars party without some serious binging first. That said, some of the issues brought up here would not disappear with a binge “catch-up” of the show or having the season finale as a two-parter. They do not work, full stop.

The show will be back in 2016 and the first title of the first episode appears to be a riff on “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” from the Daphne Du Maurier novel Rebecca. I could be wrong, but with the time jump, of five years, in the finale and the Rebecca reference, it looks like the next season is going to be flashback city.

Final Verdict:

The season finale was a little disappointing and forced.

Difficult People: Hulu Sitcom Sans the Humor (review)

Jullie and Billie Difficult People
As either Edmund Gwenn or Edmund Kean said on their deathbeds “Dying is easy. Comedy is hard.” Difficult People, Hulu’s new sitcom is the second new comedy to be released on an unsuspecting public sans humor. Another comedy miss Kevin from Work, the ABC Family sitcom that is premiering on August 12, seems to prove, along with Hulu’s Difficult People, that this adage is correct. Both show’s have “died” as apparently comedy is very hard.

While Kevin from Work tried too hard, Difficult People seems to put very little effort into their attempt at tickling the funny bone. On Hulu, both the pilot and the second episode are up for viewing. Following Kevin from Work‘s lead “People” is not filmed in front of a live studio audience, probably for good reason.

The show follows the daily interaction of Julie (Julie Klausner) and her gay BFF Billy (Billy Eichner) both are “aspiring” comics (according to IMDb) who are in their 30s and still trying to make it. American Horror Story‘s Gabourey Sidibe has a tiny role as Billy’s boss, at the cafe where he works, and Andrea Martin (Aunt Voula in My Big Fat Greek Wedding) plays Julie’s mother.

The two leads in Difficult People play characters who are essentially unpleasant and shallow. Neither one has a single redeeming quality and this should be funny. Unfortunately the whole thing feels flat and uninspired. Similar to the ABC Family sitcom, this new series is throwing everything into the mix to see what will fly. While not quite kitchen sink humor, it relies on a shotgun approach with an emphasis on underplaying what is basically underwhelming humor to begin with.

Both Eichner and Klausner have a background in comedy. Billy is a favorite on Funny or Die (home of iSteve and Between Two Ferns, et al) and Julie has several comedies under her belt. Both of these performers have, for all intents and purposes, come from YouTube; Google’s attempt at creating another version of television and neither performer is weathering the change of venue very well.

YouTube can, and often does, stretch boundaries of what is funny. The shows which become hits do so as a niche bit of entertainment. Shows like Johnny Dynamo; a scripted comedy/drama, worked extremely well and attracted big names in its second season. While this is a good example of what works, the series was not a sitcom and it seems that this genre of TV does not work well when produced on a YouTube template.

There are sitcoms that can be considered successful regardless of the Google template. Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell works and is very funny if not a little flat at times. Rick and Morty also works, but only just, although there must be a good amount of fans who like the series as it starts its second season on Hulu.

It seems that Hulu and ABC Family are attempting to pull in a YouTube savvy audience with these new sitcoms and missing the mark as a result. Difficult People may eventually turn into a competent comedy without flat and awkward performances by its cast. *Sidenote. Why Gabourey Sidibe is in this debacle is a mystery. Presumably as a CV (resume) filler or an attempt to learn comedy…

Difficult People is a definite miss, but at least it has company as the abysmal Kevin from Work also misses the comedy mark by a mile. Sorry Hulu, you need to head back to the drawing board and perhaps think seriously about leaving the YouTube formula alone for awhile.

Verdict: Give this one a miss.