Debbie Reynolds Dead at 84: A Life Well Lived

A young Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds

Debbie Reynolds an Oscar nominated star of the ’50’s and 60’s has died one day after her daughter Carrie Fisher died from a heart attack aged 60. Todd Fisher informed the press after Ms. Reynolds was admitted to hospital earlier on Wednesday, 28 December with breathing problems.

Reynolds, who started off her career as a major film star by impersonating  Betty Hutton, became America’s sweetheart after playing roles like Tammy, in Tammy and the Bachelor (which spawned a million selling single for Debbie Reynolds; “Tammy’s in Love”).

It was after appearing in the  1952 Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor film Singin’ in the Rain that Reynolds’ career really took off. She went on to make a number of hit films, including  The Unsinkable Molly Brown  before she turned to television.

Ms. Reynolds did not completely leave the cinema however. She voiced the spider in Charlotte’s Web in 1973. She worked steadily in television and did more voice-over work including the popular animated kid’s show, The Rugrats. (She voiced Lulu Pickles.)

Mary Frances Reynolds was born on April Fools Day in El Paso Texas in 1932. Throughout her long life and career, she married three times, one husband; her third,  squandered her money away and left her $3 million in debt. A massive amount that she paid off by performing at Las Vegas and Reno Nevada.

Debbie was nominated for an Oscar for her portrayal of Molly Brown in the 1964 film “The Unsinkable Molly Brown.” At the end of her career, she accrued 17 awards and a further 36 nominations. One of the awards received was the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in  2016.

Reynolds’ first husband, Eddie Fisher; father to Carrie and Todd, left her for Elizabeth Taylor in 1958 in a move that shocked the world. Carrie Fisher a product of that union died on 27 December age 60 after a heart attack.

Social media, already reeling from the death of an icon, is now trending on Twitter with #RIP Debbie and Carrie. The world has lost a legend and her iconic daughter. Both women who lived life to the fullest and were, in their own way, bigger than life itself.

Ironically, it was on a Debbie Reynolds TV movie that Carrie got her start in the business; Debbie Reynolds and the Sound of Children.  Both women were strong, witty and not backward in coming forward. The two shared a sometimes tempestuous relationship which Carrie wrote about in her semi-autobiographical novel Postcards From the Edge.

Todd Fisher, Debbie’s son, reported his mother’s death on Wednesday, 28 December.  Ms. Reynolds had been rushed to the hospital earlier in the day for breathing problems and suspected stroke.

Mr. Fisher said, in a statement, that his mother wanted to be with Carrie. Ms Reynolds is survived by her granddaughter Billie Lourd and her son Todd, a TV commercial director.

Debbie Reynolds has died suddenly after leading a life “well lived.” She will be remembered for a long and varied career that, like the Unsinkable Molly Brown, could not be held back or down. She was also known to a legion of “Star Wars” fans as Carrie Fisher‘s mother.

Scream Queens: Two Hour Finale – Kitchen Sink Time (Review)

Watching the two hour season finale of Scream Queens, where it was definitely “kitchen sink” time in terms of homages, nods and winks to the horror genre and plot twists, one thing became painfully clear. After glancing midway through the two episode ending at Facebook the real meaning of Billie Lourd’s earmuffs was revealed.

SQ-S1_112-sc40-42-pp_0032_f_hires1

Watching the two hour season finale of Scream Queens, where it was definitely “kitchen sink” time in terms of homages, nods and winks to the horror genre and plot twists, one thing became painfully clear.  After glancing midway through the two episode ending at Facebook the real meaning of Billie Lourd’s earmuffs was revealed.

The social media site showed that a character in the entire first season of Scream Queens; Chanel #3,  was in fact played by the real life daughter of “Princess Leia.” Billie Lourd is  Carrie Fisher’s offspring and obviously the earmuffs were there to parody ( Or honor?) the hairstyle that launched an attack on a Death Star…

Scream Queens is clever. That has been apparent since episode one.  But this clever?  The mind boggles.  Certainly each episode has a plethora of homages and moments that are intended to spoof the slasher genre from here to tomorrow, but the depths of these “hidden” moments are impressive.

Beyond the fact that this revelation resulted in a real face palm moment, although in my defense there was something about those earmuffs that was tantalizingly familiar over and above the fact that it made Lourd look ridiculously cute, this was proof positive that Ryan Murphy, Ian Brennan and Brad Falchuk were super geniuses. (Three points if you can guess where that phrase comes from…)

The combined episode finale, where Dorkus and The Final Girl(s)  were slapped together  could mean that FOX have opted not to bring back the series or that the network wanted to make room for Christmas programs.  Regardless of the reason, fans of the show were given a two hour treat where only commercials interrupted the fun.

Sadly, in the first episode it was “so long Pete,” after his character reveals that he was one of the killers. No more Matthew McConaughey impressions, that were so spot on, and Grace is spared by the Red Devil that leapt in to kill Pete.

SQ-S1_112-sc21-pp_0060_f_hires1
RIP Pete

*Spoiler alert*

Hester was the other killer. Of course she was, this became glaringly obvious when it was revealed that “gay” Boone was a twin. Dark-haired boy and dark haired girl made sense, in terms of viewer logic versus the show’s DNA results.

Still, the amount of “killers” in the show was pretty impressive and we are not talking about Gigi, Boone and Hester. Dean Munsch kills her ex (framing his “Mia Farrow” girlfriend) and Chanel Oberlin “accidentally” killed the cook (with a little help from Hester.).  Not to forget that Munsch, while not killing Hester and Boone’s mother, and Grace’s dads girlfriend,  did cover up the fact of her death.

Standout moments:

Munsch (Jamie Lee Curtis) telling Hester that she knows that she is the real killer. The dean tells the murderer that she is going to turn her in. Hester counters with the above information and that she will turn in Munsch as payback. The two stand glaring at one another until Munsch smiles and agrees not to turn in Hester. Smiles all around and hands are shaken.

The juror angrily scratching out the “not guilty” verdict after Chanel Oberlin’s vitriolic rant against the jury of “hippos.”

Chanel Oberlin and Chanel #3 standing at Dorkus’ bedside discussing who she looked like after the acid incident and #3 triumphantly announcing that is as Toxic Avenger she was thinking of.

“Cujo dog-costume.”

Nickelback.

Exploding pizza guy.

The evil computer generated laugh before the pizza guy explodes.

There are many more, too many to include in one review that already needs to cover two episodes that FOX cobbled together for a finale.

Back to the plot, Emma Roberts apparently will never leave the Palmer Asylum although with a Red Devil in the building the chances of Chanel # 3 or 5 making it out are slim as well.

It is hard to spotlight any one performer who really killed it in the finale. Many had their moments.  Jamie Lee Curtis talking to Hester and explaining that there were some things just burned into  her memory :

“…like Joe Theismann’s injury and Two Girls One Cup.”

Drinking coffee when that particular line cropped up in the episode resulted in caffeine being spewed across the table in a crowded fast food outlet.   Such comedic utterances are brilliantly indicative of the writing for this season.

A perfect example lies in the dialogue between Wes and Grace where he uses the word matriculate, this in a setting where multi syllable words are not part of the main characters’ vocabulary.

It goes without saying that Denise Hemphill being allowed to live is beyond criminal. However, since the series is a parody of parodies, or  a spoofing of spoofs, it does make a certain amount of sense.  Scream Queens is a small screen Scary Movie, Not Another Teen Movie, Hot Shots!, Part Un and  Part Deux, and the list goes on…So perhaps there is method behind the annoying madness.

Lea Michele steals the show, in her long expository reveal, and who knew that the gal from Glee could be that damned funny?  Overall the show’s ending was funny and perfect for the tale.  While Michele takes the limelight as Hester explaining all the mechanization behind her murdering spree, with brother Boone, mad props go to another Kappa Kappa Tau sister, Chanel # 3.

SQ-S1_112-sc21-pp_0005_f_hires1
Those Princess Leia ear muffs…

At the trial, as the “updated” verdict is read, # 3 sports a beam of satisfaction that she has, at last, got something in common with daddy (Charles Manson). At one point she even waves majestically at the crowd in the courtroom.

While FOX is being quite cagey and not revealing whether the show will be renewed for a second season, the first ended with a bang (see what we did there) and gave fans a finale to be proud of. Scream Queens may be over now, but it will not be forgotten.

Scream Queens was funny, campy, extreme, very non-PC and addictive.  While we may not get Billie Lourd back, if the red devil goes on to slice and dice the two other Chanel’s,  but if the FOX is with us, we just might.

 

 

 

 

Scream Queens: Thanksgiving – Bring Me the Head of Gigi Caldwell (Review)

The Scream Queens Thanksgiving episode should have been titled Bring Me the Head of Gigi Caldwell. While the whole Thanksgiving Agatha Christie reveal scene at the Kappa Kappa Tau meal felt like one long buildup for the diners to see that Gigi lost her head to the remaining red devil killer.

SQ_110_PP_sc31pt_0256R_hires1

The Scream Queens: Thanksgiving episode  should have been titled Bring Me the Head of Gigi Caldwell. While  the whole Thanksgiving Agatha Christie reveal scene at the Kappa Kappa Tau meal felt like one long buildup for the diners to see that Gigi lost her head to the remaining red devil killer.

It has to be said that only this series could blend the kid’s game Duck, Duck Goose into a Miss Marple/Hercule Poirot “the killer is” dinner scene so seamlessly. After Dean Munsch (Jamie Lee Curtisdelivers her evidence to prove the Chanel # 3 (Billie Lourd) is her prime suspect, the dean pats the sorority sister on the head saying “Goose.”  Then, following the rules of the children’s game, # 3 gives her evidence (being “it”) that Munsch is the killer. 

The Thanksgiving scream queens, plus one,  at the house then do a round robin as various protagonists point the accusatory finger at their choice suspect. Note: The idea of naming the killer was Dean Munsch’s brainchild.  Episode 110 of Scream Queens has the various sorority sisters heading out to attend celebrations away from the house only to return. The girls  then partake in the “mystery dinner party” reveal game suggested by the dean.

Hester (Lea Michele) pops up alive and well at the Radwell family feast, after being pushed down the stairs last week by Chanel Oberlin  in the sorority house. The Radwell family tree is chock full of various versions of Chad, in other words the entire clan turn out to be snobby, snotty and downright nasty.

*Sidenote* Did anyone else notice that Julia Duffy (Newhart, Shameless) who played mommy Radwell,  looked an awful lot like Brit entertainer Jennifer Saunders‘ character in Shrek 2?

Standout moment:

Grace’s dad Wes (Oliver Hudson) confessing  that he was in the meat locker because of his new diet.

“Paleo diet. It works.”

“Paleo.”

Standout Moment Deux:

The brilliantly vicious and tacky Pictionary game at Chateau Radwell:

“Snore, uh, uh, um, um, whore! Neck brace whore! ”

(Radwell family cheers)

“Neck brace whore!”

SQ_110_sc15_1522R_hires1
Neck brace whore (Lea Michele) Chad (Glen Powell) and Chanel # 1 (Emma Roberts)

Of course the episode’s crowning moment (See what we did there?), which allows all the participants at the Kappa Kappa Tau Thanksgiving dinner to scream in horror,  is the appearance of Gigi Caldwell’s decapitated head in place of the “pardoned’ Tiburon.

Missed Opportunity:

Pete’s list of evidence, which actually revealed that Grace’s dad, is the father of the recently deceased Boone, was not done in his “Matthew McConaughey” voice. Would have been perfect guys, and you missed the chance to bring Diego Boneta all the way home. 

Coulda, shoulda, woulda…eh fellas?

Near Miss:

Chanel # 3 and her Thanksgiving meal of Swinson’s TV dinners.  This gag was a “close but no cigar” joke that did not quite work.  There was the sound of gears meshing in thin air as the whole thing felt like a near miss instead of the spot on humor this series is known for.

Scream Queens: Thanksgiving was, overall, humorous well paced and a little annoying.  If felt like that long, and massively irritating, “Little Bunny Foo Foo” joke.  All build up and too long a wait for the punch line.

At the start of the episode, where Gigi hands the electric carving knife to the remaining red devil killer, the audience know that this grown up sorority sister has goofed.  It was, from the moment that the costumed serial killer “revved” the blade, fait accompli that Caldwell’s severed head was going to turn up.

Unfortunately, by the time that Gigi’s “John the Baptist” entrance is made the viewer has almost forgotten the buzzing carving knife.

Scream Queens does still deliver in the comedy department though.  Curtis’ vitriolic and acid tongued college kid hating dean is still brilliant and continues to amuse:

Chanel # 3: “Then Dean Munsch.”

Munsch:  “Than. Not thenThan. Have you ever even cracked open a book? Or attended a class? (snorting) God. I hate you people.”

SQ_110_sc41pt0497R_hires1
“Then Dean Munsch…” (Billie Lourd)

As the list of suspects dwindles;  both Gigi and Boone are now dead,  the last red devil killer is still at large. However, as the late Ms Caldwell stated in an earlier episode, her team of serial killers are not the only homicidal maniacs haunting the college grounds and eliminating sorority sisters.

Scream Queens airs Tuesdays on FOX. Tune in to see who the next victim will be.

 

Scream Queens: Seven Minutes in Hell (Review)

SQ_106_PP_0504r_hires1

Before looking at the humor in Scream Queens, Seven Minutes in Hell, there a a few holes to look into (and no, despite a show that wallows in double and triple  entendres that is not another one) while chuckling at the “Someone always goes lez” line that is so politically incorrect.  The news is that the Ryan Murphy co-creation is steadily dropping in ratings and this could be down to viewers taking the show too seriously.

Example: Those pesky holes, aka plot holes, aka “wtf” moments.

In this episode, all the Kappa gals are trapped in the house. All windows and doors are locked, via a panic system; a’la Panic Room, when suddenly the power goes out.  As anyone knows  (Well, anyone who watches technical thrillers, Die Hard,  or even CBS’s Scorpion.) when the power goes out all electric powered locks go down. The house, once the power went off should have been “wide open.”

This was ignored however, just as after Chad comes over to break into the “locked” house by breaking a second story window,  he requests that his smart phone be hooked up to the sorority house speakers to jam some hot music and the group all dance to said music.

Hello? No power? Speakers need electricity…

And last, but not least in the blazingly obvious stakes, there is the broken window on the second floor where a few knotted sheets could have rendered everyone safe-ish.  Chanel, however, repeatedly states that they are all still trapped in the house (where the doors must now be open with the electric off) and recommends that they use the hidden tunnels to escape.

There were a number of other “holes” in the episode, but to be honest?

Who cares?

This was a fun episode and a chance for almost every “sister” to be funny as hell. Chanel #3 (Billie Lourd) gets to pile on the comedy, with her wildly unplayed performance, and the entire exchange between Sam (Jeanna Han) and Lourd’s character is hysterical.  Sadly, Sam dies in the bathtub in the storage room. (Which points out another hole, 5 gives the gay pledge the key which was given to ZayDay (Keke Palmer) moments earlier in the episode.

Still, despite all the boo-boos in the show, how can one not love a series where Emma Roberts’ character admits to watching documentaries on A&E about the Mafia as a survival tool.   Or hosts a slumber party, suggested by new co-president Williams, where “someone always experiments with lesbianism and a serial killer strikes,”  which featured a “spin-the-bottle” game despite there being no guys there and Chanel #1 clearly did not get it.

Sam does, although she does not get a chance to benefit from 5’s experimental smooch too much before being snuffed out in the tub later. Something that Chanel numero five is responsible for.

The Red Devil, despite its mask looking an awful lot like Jamie Lee Curtis’ Dean Munsch, may turn out to be Gigi and/or Denise since that were the only two character’s not seen.  Disregarding Pete’s not being there either since someone in the cast brought that up so it must be a red herring. However, Wes; Grace’s dad, only shows up at the end of the episode. After threatening to throw his daughter over his shoulder and carrying her out, daddy leaves empty shouldered.

With the masculine chest plate of the Red Devil, at least one of the two killers must be a bloke, although the man’s pectoral plastic molding is not the only “clue” to the killers gender. In the tunnel scene the killer comes at Chanel and ZayDay with an axe in each hand. At the risk of sounding sexist, there are not many women who could weld two heavy duty cutting implements that easily.

*Sidenote* In this episode it is revealed why Chanel #3 wears those earmuffs, which, apart from making her look cute, does look a little odd.  Cute ear coverings aside, it is also revealed that her fear of being accused of being the serial killer after everyone learns that her dad is Charles Mansion, was not unfounded. Although to be fair, only Chad reacted to the news.

ScreamQueens_EP106-PJParty_0067r_hires1

The body count, by the end of the episode, was three. Sam, who manages to a) see the killer’s face and b) reveals that she knew “it was you.” The second casualty was the poor frat lad who had his arms chopped off earlier.   Third was the last half of the Roger/Dodger twin set who buys it after being shot with a red (color-coordinated) nailer apparently with huge amount of nails in it.

Another of the funnier moments was Chad, who after “building up of his armless Dickie Dollar brother” deserts the poor guy when the killer turns up.  Just as amusing was Chanel #1 picking on poor #5. The “vagina with teeth” gag was so cruelly funny and a perfect indicator of Roberts’ character’s childish nastiness.

Lea Michele’s character is still vying for the creepiest girl in the house trophy and all the characters, except for Grace, are still vacuous airheads.  The combination of shallow self centered characters and a slew of horror film references still works brilliantly:

Chanel Oberlin: “That means the killer is still in the house!”

Farty McCandles: “Oh God, has someone checked on the kids?”

The clear reference to the 1978 Carol Kane film When a Stranger Calls  is just one of many nods and winks to iconic horror films  in the series.

It is not clear just why numbers are dropping. This show is special funny. Glee goes to American Horror Story funny, and without all the annoying High School Musical singing and dancing or Lady Gaga.

Scream Queens is anti-PC, irreverent and funny. As stated before, it is National Lampoon’s Animal House married to Sorority Row. Sit back and enjoy it.  This is hilarity with little semblance to reality and despite hints that Denise Hemphill is not dead, well worth watching. The show airs Tuesdays on FOX.