Pretty Little Liars: Catching up is Hard to Do

Promotional poster for Pretty Little Liars
Looking over the list of “popular” shows on TV, Pretty Little Liars ranks right up toward the metaphorical top. With a cast of beautiful young women who can act and are topically relevant (example: Lucy Hale who is so socially applicable that Wes Craven killed her off in the first teaser opening for Scream 4) who fill roles from Sara Shepard’s book series that the show is based on, albeit very “loosely.” The many seasons of this mystery/thriller series ticks all the right boxes.

There is, however, one problem with the show. If you have not been an avid viewer from season one, or at the very least season five, catching up is hard to do. Being late to this particular party means trying to figure out who does what and to whom. Regardless of the character confusion the show does feature some great performers and this makes the difficulty worth it.

Holly Marie Combs who does not look much different from her 1998 Charmed days but can still pack a thespian shattering punch when in front of the camera is one example of a solid performance provider. Other cast members include personal favorite Nolan North, the voice over artist and actor who is seemingly in every video game ever, Nia Peeples, Torrey DeVitto and a slew of familiar names and faces who adorn the screen of this popular show.

Watching the latest season on Hulu yields a mishmash of events which leave the viewer at a total loss. The storyline, as presented by IMDb states that the four main “liars” were blackmailed when their fifth member, and leader, Alison DiLaurentis disappeared. Their deepest, darkest secrets will be revealed by “A” if they do not comply. Now Alison is back and she is apparently trying to save her four female buddies.

The girls in question were prisoners in an elaborate house that is makes one think of the banned episode of The Avengers, where a leather-bound Emma Peel being put through the paces was considered too risque for prime-time TV audiences. (The episode was A Touch of Brimstone and American censors banned it “outright” from US television screens. Pretty impressive for an old black and white show.)

Anyone not having read the books will be completely lost, although the show is, as stated above, only loosely based upon Shepard’s series. Fans will only be able to enjoy the series for another season according to Lucy Hale who let the cat out of the bag last year.

For the time being the girls are out of the doll house, after setting fire to the thing while Alison followed clues to the location. Now all of the ones from the house are having issues, flashbacks and dealing with it as best they can. Sara Harvey, the girl who had been in the silo doll house for years, runs away from home and goes to Emily’s place.

Rather ominously, Sara does not believe their captor is Andrew Campbell while Aria is so convinced that it is Andrew she lied to the police saying that she’d seen his face. Mona decides to go back to school and enlists Aria and Emily to return as well. Emily stays at home to comfort Sara and Aria never leaves the coffee shop.

Alison reveals a persecution complex, Spenser is struggling at home and it turns out that Andrew is adopted. Lorenzo and Ali appear to be mutually attracted to one another and the thought now is that Campbell may really be Charles DiLaurentis. Jason, however, shoots this down by telling Spenser that Charlie DiLaurentis was his imaginary friend.

Em, Ari, and Mona are at the doctor’s office to go through a group session when Spenser relays what she learned from Jason. However evidence exists that shows “Charlie” is real and as the girls discuss this, a call comes in for Emily from Sara on her borrowed burner phone.

Sara is asleep and a gloved hand, holding a knife is poised above her body. A text message appears stating that if his name is mentioned, the girl dies and they have seconds to leave the doctor’s office. They all comply. When they get to Sara, she is unaware of what happened.

Emily’s mother tells the girls that Andrew is being released by the police because of a lack of evidence. All the girls go through the DiLaurentis home looking for the proof that Charles is real. Aria finds a picture that matches the home movie that the girls found in the doll house. It shows Jason and another blond-haired boy…Charlie?

Andrew bumps into the girls at his release and is not best pleased that they thought he had kidnapped them. After he storms off, they meet Lorenzo and later talk about the “shocking game” Charles made them play. Now that it seems Andrew was not responsible, tensions return.

Ali and Jason confront their father about Charles DiLaurentis again and this time his answer is different. Viewers, however, will have to wait as whatever poppa DiLaurentis tells the two is behind glass and all we can hear is Alison saying, “What?”

Pretty Little Liars may be a little difficult to catch up on, but three episodes made it fairly easy to follow the most recent events. The show is entertaining and certainly contains a lot of twists and shifts in direction. Another ABC hit that will be missed when it ends after one more season.

Scream 4…Sidney’s Last Stand

Scream 4
Scream 4 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I fell in love with the original Scream after watching the first five minutes. When Wes (we are not worthy) Craven killed off the “name” star in the first reel. With this one action he showed us, the audience, that he knew and loved horror films and thrillers. The little nod to Hitchcock’s killing of Janet Leigh at the beginning  of Psycho told me immediately that this was a film-maker that was going to have fun with the genre.

Scre4m aka Scream 4 is the last of the Scream franchise. I had real reservations about the last of the Screams. I was afraid that Wes had gone to the well once too often and that the bucket he drew up would be empty. Boy was I wrong. This was a brilliant end to a series that has always shown a stroke of genius in each sequel. Yes I know that Wes cannot take all the credit. These films work because of the writing and the acting as well.

Scre4m opens with a murder similar to the first Scream films. Although it comes to us initially via various trailers to the fictional Stab films in the Scream verse. We are introduced to Sidney Prescott’s cousin Jill, played with great panache by Emma Roberts. We then get to see all our favourite living characters from the previous films.   Deputy Dewey, played again by David Arquette, is now the sheriff of Woodsboro and has married Gale.  Gale Weathers-Riley, played by Courtney Cox, has retired from the mainstream news world and is trying to write “the great American novel” and not getting very far with it. Sidney Prescott, played again by Neve Campbell, is now a writer. Her book, about living through and dealing with the events from the previous films, is a bestseller. She returns to Woodsboro as part of her book signing tour.

Sidney Prescott
Sidney Prescott (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We also meet the new cast of “victims.” Hayden Panettiere as Kirby Reed, one of the slew of friends that Jill has, makes the most of her part. She was born to play this kind of role. I of course still think of her as the cheerleader from Heroes, you know “Save the cheerleader save the world.” But she does a brilliant job as the future “man-eater” Kirby. The other memorable friend of Jill’s is Rory Culkin as Charlie Walker. Charlie is the Randy substitute in this Scream film. A necessary replacement since Randy is dispatched by Ghost Face in Scream 2. Although not in the victim department I have to mention Marley Shelton. As Deputy Judy Hicks she rocked it out of the park. Her characterisation of the love lorn Deputy Judy was both comedic and scary, sometimes at the same time.

Of course Ghost Face is still voiced by Roger Jackson. Could anyone else have done it? I think not. His voice is synonymous with Ghost Face and always will be. I can’t reveal anything else about the plot because I will be heading into spoiler territory if I do. I can and will tell you it deals with the theme of the internet and it’s propensity to make celebrities out of those who know how to use it.

So that’s it. I have, like so many other Scream fans I am sure, waited for this film for ages. I loved it so much that I sat through two viewings on two separate occasions. I also couldn’t wait for a special edition blu-ray to come out. As much as I want special features, in this case it did not matter.

So  hats off to Director Wes Craven for once again pulling it off. The grande finale of all the Scream’s was nigh on perfect.