Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Where Were They Then: Lucy Hale

Where Were They Then is a new series of posts I'm going to try out in my blog. It's fairly self explanatory, but the idea behind this is that I examine a fairly well known actor or actress's earlier roles. Sounds simple enough, right?

Lucy Hale
Photo Credit: ABC Family

While I don't watch Pretty Little Liars, it would be hard for me to deny that it's a popular series. On Monday nights, my Facebook feed is cluttered with comments like "PLL Night!," and on Tuesday mornings, the internet is flooded with recaps of the previous night's episode. So, for this first installment, I'm going to focus on Lucy Hale, one of the stars of Pretty Little Liars.

American Juniors

 When it aired, I thought American Juniors was pretty much the coolest show ever. I think I was in the fifth or sixth grade at the time, so you'll have to cut me a little slack. Anyway, for those of you who have never heard of American Juniors or were just much cooler than me in 2003, it was a show set up very similarly to American Idol, except the contestants were miniature-sized. The biggest difference in the structure of the show (that I can remember) is that once the top ten contestants made it to the final rounds of the show, one would make into the American Juniors "band" each week (for a total of five members) instead of one being eliminated each week. I guess they figured that the five losers could find comfort in each other at the show's end.
 

Anyway, Lucy Hale was one of the top ten American Juniors, and in fact, she actually made it into the short-lived band. Her personal song list during the show included songs such as "Get Here," "Make It Easy on Yourself," "I'm Going to Make You Love Me," "Breaking Up is Hard to Do," "I Surrender," and "Call Me." I remember being a little bit obsessed with her version of "Call Me" back in the day, and I wasn't the only one that like it because it was the song that got her voted into the group. She was included on two cds (both of which I bought as soon as they were released) associated with the show: a top ten compilation and the band's one and only cd.

 
I don't know her, but I feel Lucy Hale would kill her PLL stylist if she gave her an outfit like this to wear today.

 Privileged 

Pretty Little Liars isn't Lucy Hale's first starring role in a scripted show. Back in 2008, she was one of the leads in the CW show Privileged. Privileged was also based on a book, and was about a young woman (Joanna Garcia) hired by the grandmother and guardian of two spoiled, rich girls (Lucy Hale and Ashley Newbrough) to tutor them. It wasn't anything groundbreaking, but it was a really cute show that I enjoyed watching every week. Unfortunately, it got the axe after only eighteen episodes.

 
Lucy Hale with Baby Franco

Other Lucy Hale Appearances
 The two shows listed above are the main things in which I remember seeing Lucy Hale. However, she's had several notable guest appearances. Here are some the one's I remember:

I couldn't find a clip for it, but Lucy played Robin's sister in the "First Time in New York" (2x12) episode of How I Met Your Mother.

 







Did you watch Lucy Hale in any of these before Pretty Little Liars? Where you too a fan of American Juniors or Privileged? Maybe you saw her in something else. Whatever it is, I'd love to hear your thoughts below.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Link Roundup: Volume 4

Who says TV isn't good for you? Check out Cracked's 6 TV Shows You Won't Believe Saved People's Lives.

If you're worried about your favorite show's future, Entertainment Weekly has categorized shows by their odds of returning in their TV Survival Scorecard. Keep in mind that several shows have been renewed since the list was updated on 3/11 such as Parks and Recreation, Community, and Fringe.

The highly hyped Grey's Anatomy musical episode is this week. These four clip have been released. The singing looks ridiculous (but sounds amazing in Sara Ramirez's case), but the opening scene almost made me tear up.

In this article from the LA Times, Mary

Saturday, March 26, 2011

In Medias Res: The Event-"A Message Back"

For some reason, I haven't felt like reviewing any of the shows I watched last week. I like to think it's because I didn't have time to write reviews during the week, and I wouldn't remember them well enough if I wrote the reviews now. It's probably just because I'm lazy, but whatever the reason, I didn't want to review them. However, I did want to post some new content to this blog. So, I thought I'd try something new. That's where the "In Medias Res" series comes in. The idea behind it is that I watch a current episode of show that I haven't been following. Thus, I start in medias res or "into the middle of things." For the shows I've covered so far, I've used more of a review format than a recap format. However, I've been wanting to try out the recap format, and I think this idea lends itself to that format. I'm calling this a "series" because it's something that I'll probably do again if this turns out well. If it's a failure, however, this may just be a one shot thing. 

I had a little bit of a trouble choosing which show to cover for this. However, I've chosen "A Message Back" of The Event. I've heard vague things about this show (and have seen the old-lady-faced children scene), but I really don't know much about it. 

Luckily for me, the episode starts off with a "previously on" segment. Unluckily, I don't understand most of it. There's an explosion, a gun shot, some fighting, mention of boy's name, a dramatic hospital bed scene, talk of the President, and Luke from Gilmore Girls. That's about all I got out of it.

The actual episode starts in some kind of control room with two guys in it. One of them is playing with one of those cool collapsible sphere things when an alarm goes off. The two guys have some dramatic conversation about radiation or something. Collapsible-sphere-dude freaks out, but the guy in the striped shirt tells him to chill out. I'm assuming from collapsible-sphere-guy's acting that he's either a one-shot character or has incredibly sweet connections in Hollywood. Only holy crap, I feel bad for criticizing him because he get's shot in the head by chill-out guy. Then, I find out that chill-out guy is named Anthony. He had a dramatic conversation about a secret message from "home" (does this mean that these two fellows are aliens?) with a man who is amazing at making expressions.
Here are two shots of Mr. Expression in action. Photo Credit: NBC.


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Top of the Morning to You: A Morning Glory Review

First things first. "Top of the morning to you" is a phrase that appears nowhere in Morning Glory, but it's the first thing that popped into my head when I typed out "Morning Glory." That awkward introduction being said, I watched Morning Glory last night, and I thought I'd share my thoughts on the movie. There were both some good aspects to the movie and there were some bad aspects to the movie. Luckily, there wasn't any "ugly" to the movie. So, for organization's sake, I'll separate my thoughts on the movie into the good and the bad. So, I guess the begs the question: good news or bad news first? I'm going to go with the bad and then the good, but feel free to read it in whatever order you choose.

Photo Credit: Macall Polay/Paramount Pictures
 The Bad
One aspect of the movie that really did not work for me was it's early attempts to make Becky (Rachel McAdams) endearing. Don't get me wrong. It's not that I don't like Rachel McAdams. In fact, it's the opposite; I think that she has enough inherent charm that there was no need to make efforts to give her character charm. The beginning of the movie has McAdams bumbling around incompetently with such klutziness that she gives Bella Swan a run for her money (see see this). Okay, maybe it's not that bad. I understand that the movie wanted us to see a progression in Becky's competence, but I felt that her initial behaviorism was too cartoonishly over the top.

Another issue I had with Morning Glory is that its subplots weren't great. There was a half-hearted romance that was okay, but it really served no purpose. There also seemed to be come attempt to throw a "work isn't what matters in life" message into the mix. While this ended up tying into the film in a sense, it was somewhat sloppily done, and I would have liked the film better without it.

The Good
Ty Burrell. Okay, I'm done.

Okay, I'm just kidding with that. However, I did greatly enjoy Ty Burrell's (of Modern Family fame) five minutes or so of screen time. I love him on Modern Family, and he lights up the screen when he's on it. Besides Ty Burrell, I thought Morning Glory did a good job with the casting. Harrison Ford's character was a little too gruff for my liking, but I think he did a good job playing him. I'm not Diane Keaton's biggest fan, but she too was good in the role that she was given. As I stated earlier, I'm a fan of Rachel McAdam's, and her charm was a large part of what worked about Morning Glory.

Probably the biggest draw of Morning Glory to me was the job at a morning show aspect. It was an interesting job that I haven't seen featured a lot in movies, and the movie really shine's when it focuses on Becky's work. I found myself really rooting for her show to do well. I stated earlier that I wasn't crazy about the romance subplot, however small it may have been. Maybe it would have made the movie too one dimensional, but I'd be interested to see what it would have been like if it focused solely on Becky's job. Part of what was fun about Becky's morning show was that it was a fun parody of shows like the Today Show (which actually plays a role in the plot). I think they could have had a bit more fun with the parodying (I, for one, would have loved to see a Kathie Lee/Hoda joke), but it was still an enjoyable aspect.

Bottom Line
Morning Glory is a cute little chick flick. It's far from the best of it's genre, but I enjoyed it. I wouldn't recommend rushing out to buy it, but it's a good rental if you're in the mood for a bit of fluff or are a fan of Rachel McAdams.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Double Feature Review: Glee-"Original Song"/Raising Hope-"Mongooses"

I haven't posted in eons, but I'm back in full force with a double feature review. I decided to post my reviews of Glee and Raising Hope together, because I don't have a whole lot to say about either of them. I thought about being cutesy and doing some type of contest between the two, but it wouldn't be a fair fight. Spoiler alert, but I'm going to go ahead and say that I much preferred tonight's episode of Raising Hope to Glee. So, without any kind of cutesy match up format, here are my reviews:

Glee: "Original Song"

I just don't know how to quit Glee. I honestly didn't enjoy tonight's episode all that much, but I'm not even going to pretend that I'm not going to watch Glee when it comes back after its hiatus. I can't blame my disinterest in "Original Song" on something that I often blame my dislike of a Glee episode-a focus on an unrelated them rather than a progression of the plot. In somewhat of an ironic twist, I actually think that Glee's focus on the plot is much of what I didn't like about this episode. It felt somewhat tedious, like they were just tying up some loose ends. It wasn't terrible, but I ended up playing Words With Friends for the majority of the show simply out of boredom. Surprisingly, the original songs didn't end up being a train wreck like I had feared they might (although I found it weird that Kurt could just tell they were original songs). The songs weren't anything too special, but they were mildly catchy and pleasant enough to listen too. I wouldn't buy the songs on iTunes or really care to listen to them outside of the show, but they fit well into the plot.  Despite the fact that I was bored by "Original Song" for the most part, I will mention three things that I enjoyed about it. For one, I liked that Kurt told Blaine off about him singing every single song as a solo while the Warblers back him up. Ever since Blaine gave Kurt a speech about not standing out, his excessive attempts to stand out have bothered me. So, even if he went right back to his old ways after the duet, I enjoyed that somebody pointed out his hypocrisy. The second thing I enjoyed about tonight's episode was Rachel's getting some recognition. I'm a bit embarrassed to say this, but I almost teared up at her getting a MVP award from the rest of the Glee club. Rachel has been treated horribly this season by everyone, both behind her back and to her face. So, even if they still made fun of her as she got the reward, I really like seeing her receive a reaction other than rejection. The third aspect I really liked about tonight's episode was the fact that New Directions was so supportive of the Warblers and the Warblers were so supportive of New Directions (I know that's a really awkward sentence, but I spent several minutes trying to make it better before I decided to just go with it). Tying this to one of my other liked aspects of episode, Kurt might be the only friend that Rachel's had this season. So, it was really touching to see him and his new classmates supporting her. But even outside of that, everyone's support of their friends was just really touching. I love that Glee didn't throw in some lame storyline about sabotage between the two groups and chose to make them supportive of each other instead. Plus, their reactions reminded me of Will's hilarious reaction to the Warblers' "Hey Soul Sister" (if you don't know what I'm talking about, do yourself a favor and click this: Best Face Ever).

Raising Hope: "Mongooses"

Raising Hope was excellent tonight. Because it was so solidly good, I don't have a whole lot to say about the episode. However, I'll quickly point out an aspect of "Mongooses" that is characteristic of many Raising Hope episodes. One of these is their good use of Chekhov's gun. Even though it should probably have been obvious to me from Mamaw's earlier shot, I honestly had no clue what was going on in the attic scene until it was explained. Everything in the episodes fit together really well, from Mamaw's delusion of mongooses to even Sabrina's showing her grace under fire in an extremely impressive feat of acrobatics. Raising Hope often impresses me with their use of Chekhov's gun like Mamaw's Jenga skills when listening to "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)" in "Dream Hoarders." I also thought it was really sweet to see how the family functions only when they work together. Even though this was shown in a quirky way, it was really sweet.

Did you watch either Raising Hope or Glee tonight? Whether you agree with my assessments or feel I got them wrong, I'd love for you to share your thoughts below.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Grey's Anatomy Musical Episode

Okay, so as often as I talk about being too lazy to write a real post, y'all probably think that I'm quite the sloth. Well, that's probably true, but I feel like I have an actual excuse today: I'm sick. I have a cold, and after taking some Advil Cold and Sinus, I'm feeling kind of loopy. I know, cool story bro. I tried writing a review of last night's How I Met Your Mother, but I just couldn't finish writing it. I guess the logical thing to do would be to not post today. But, it's the first day of March, and I wanted to start out the month with a new post (also, I have some school work to do and I'm trying to procrastinate). Anyway, I'm going to leave the heavy lifting to youtube as a result. I thought I'd post this behind the scenes feature for the Grey's Anatomy musical episode. I'm kind of scared to see what they're going to come up with, but I'll hold all judgement until I see the actual episode.



Also, I'd like to point out that there has been singing featured on Grey's Anatomy before. For example, I'd like to present this wonderful moment from Cristina and Lexie:



In the process of hearing about this musical episode, I learned that some of the cast are actually pretty good at singing.

Here's a clip of Sara Ramirez singing for those of you who haven't heard her before:



You can here a little sampling of Chandra Wilson's voice here:



And finally, here's a fun clip of James Pickens Jr., Jessica Capshaw, and Kevin McKidd singing:



And with that, I conclude my super-lazy post.