Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Fairly Something Alright

This week Amber West and I return to somewhat of a normal Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday review as we take on two of our favorite summer channel’s programs: USA’s new series Common Law and the returning Fairly Legal.

Now in its second season, Fairly Legal follows former attorney turned mediator Kate Reed (Sarah Shahi, Life) as she tries to change San Francisco for the better.  On the exterior, Kate appears tough and callous, but anyone who actually knows her knows that she has a bleeding heart for those less fortunate – and by less fortunate, we only mean those that the rich can afford to beat down in a court of law.

Kate lets both sides tell their stories, and she typically sides with the underdog.  Actually, even though she works for a large and prestigious law firm (founded by her recently deceased father), Kate doesn’t like much about Corporate America.

But Kate is good at what she does, and most of her cases are assigned to her by the courts and usually by a judge that keeps a stern fist with Kate (Judge Nicastro, played by Gerald McRaney, Simon & Simon).   Trust us; Kate needs someone to keep her in line…

One of Kate’s only confidants is her assistant, Leo (Baron Vaughn), because for the most part, Kate alienates everyone around her: her step-mother/partner/roommate/boss, Lauren Reed (Virginia Williams); her ex-husband/ADA, Justin Patrick (Michael Trucco, Battlestar Galactica); and the firm’s most recent addition, her partner Ben Grogan (Ryan Johnson).

Lauren screaming into an ice bath… clearly she had a day FULL of Kate.

The first season of Fairly Legal was fresh — instead of the traditional TV police procedural or courtroom drama, we see a glimpse into the life of another legal aspect: mediation.  Season one follows Kate, a highly flawed character who can fix anyone’s life but her own.  We watched as she deals with the aftermath of her father’s death, working with Lauren without her dad around, and her separation from Justin.  She lives on her father’s boat, broken from his death and her impending divorce, and really tries to ground herself as best she can.

Kate’s hottie ex-Justin — I’d throw my arms up in the air if dealing with Kate too…

But season two has changed the story – changed Kate in our opinion.

The boat is gone (some sort of leak caused an explosion), forcing Kate to now live with Lauren.  Despite the obvious animosity shared between the two in season one, the Reeds really seem to be trying to work it out this season.  Why are the two working so hard?  To form a united front against the next big change – the new partner.

Reed & Reed (the law firm) is under water (not literally; it’s struggling), so Lauren brings in a cut-throat, no-nonsense attorney as partner along with this finances.  Ben represents just the type of person Kate can’t stand – he’s arrogant, he’s successful, and he’ll do anything to win regardless of who or what might stand in his way – he’s the male version of Kate.

The character of Ben also brings a new twist to the show – the love triangle.  In the first season, Kate struggles with her love for Justin but realizes she is better off without him.  Now, Kate has two successful men vying for her attention.  Honestly, this storyline is predictable and boring.  Fairly Legal took something that wasn’t broken and attempted to fix it.

Ben, the best part of season two…

But the love triangle isn’t the only facelift to Fairly Legal this season.  Something has changed with Kate – she’s borderline annoying.  She’s pushy and argumentative, but in a different way from last season – she’s almost bratty.  She’ll use anyone or anything to get her way, but then becomes overly argumentative when someone else uses her very same tactics to accomplish their goals.  Kate was lovable in season one, and somehow she’s lost this appeal with the show’s new direction.

I figure the creators made these changes to save the show.  The USA Network took a long time to announce when a second season would air, something that is very unlike one of my favorite networks (especially during the summer months).  But since this is my review, I’m downgrading my rating to a JFTV ratingFairly Legal is perfect TV viewing when you have what I like to call “boredom hunger” (when you grab that bag of chocolate that you’re only eating because there’s nothing else left to do).  Last year, if I had reviewed Fairly Legal, it would have earned the MacTV rating.  But the only thing worthy of my favorite cheesy shell this season is the character of Ben.

But keep this in mind, all of the said frustrations with season two don’t stop me from recording Fairly Legal and watching it when I’m caught up on everything else… so it’s still worthy of a watch.

What do you think? Do you watch Fairly Legal?  Do you like the changes to the storyline in season two or did you prefer the first season?  And since we brought up the love triangle, should Kate be with Justin or Ben?  I’d love to hear from you!

Come back next week when Amber and I revisit two of our previously simmering reviews: Amber determines if Smash really is a “smash” hit and I try to give Lifetime’s The Client List the benefit of the doubt.

Remember to stop by the #watchwed hashtag in Twitter to discuss any of today’s reviews, or to mention any television programs that you’d like to see on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday in the future.

A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:

GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more
MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies
GMacTV (Gourmet MacNCheese TV): A combination of fine wine and comfort food
JFTV (Junk food TV): It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds
TBPTV (Twice Baked Potato TV): Part gourmet and delicious, while absolutely horrible for our cholesterol
SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out
NIV (Nyquil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer
LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech

Advertisements

Tele-Tuesday – Pretty Little Liars is Pretty Fantastic for Teen TV

The insurgence of YA mystery on TV receives a DVR priority in this Young Adult mystery writer’s house.   Thankfully, ABC Family provides young mystery lovers (and some of us “old”) with a few great soap-opera style whodunits with Pretty Little Liars topping the list.

The run-down:

Alison DiLaurentis

The series begins when Alison DiLaurentis(Sasha Pieterse) remains are found a year after her mysterious disappearance in the fictional town of Rosewood.  This event brings together her four former best friends who had drifted apart following that fateful night.  Alison was the glue that held the girls together, the leader of the high school clique.  As the episodes progress, viewers see Alison’s viciousness and many of the secrets that she holds over everyone’s heads — is she not a nice girl, or is she simply misunderstood?

After attending Alison’s funeral, the four friends reunite outside the chapel when each of their cell phones sound — they’ve received their first threatening text message from “A” — and the mystery begins: Who killed Alison? And, who is “A”?

Aria Montgomery

PLL #1 – Aria Montgomery (Lucy Hale) returns home from a year abroad with her family, and forgetting she’s a teenager and back in America, goes to a local bar where she meets Ezra Fitz (Ian Harding).  The two immediately hit it off and share a kiss after connecting over their love for literature.  The next day at school, Aria walks into English class where she discovers Ezra is also her teacher.

Meanwhile, emotions erupt at home when her mother (Ella Montgomery, played by Holly Marie Combs) leaves her father after discovering the true reason behind the family’s extended absence from Rosewood — Aria’s father, a professor, had an affair with a teaching assistant at the local college.  Aria and Alison knew this secret prior to the Montgomeries’ extended vacation, having spotted Mr. Montgomery (Chad Lowe) making out with his TA in his car.  Whoopsie!

Isn’t it ironic that Aria now begins a torrid love affair and dates her teacher after torturing her father for a similar inappropriate relationship?  “A” won’t let Aria forget it…

Hanna Marin

PLL #2 – Hanna Marin (Ashley Benson) replaced Alison as the most popular girl in school following her friend’s disappearance.  “Hefty Hanna” — as Alison liked to call her — dropped her baby fat, partnered with her new BFF Mona (Janel Parrish) and took to a life of brattiness and shoplifting.

Hanna’s friend – Mona

Hanna lacks the self-confidence a young woman needs, having watched her father walk out on her and her mother.  She spirals out of control, throwing herself at her boyfriend, only to be rejected.  Not helping matters, Hanna watches as her single mother (Ashley Marin, played by Laura Leighton) bails her out of trouble by bedding the detective on Hanna’s shoplifting case.

Hanna really has the worst luck — she wrecks her boyfriend’s car, and she is involved in a hit and run when she gets dangerously close to discovering “A’s” real identity.  When Mona throws her a surprise “glad you’re alive party,” someone steals all of the money (assumedly “A”) that Hanna’s mother stole from a client at the bank.  And, while following “A’s” sordid trail back to the money, Hanna falls for the wrong boy who happens to be feeding information to the girls’ nemesis, Jenna Marshall (Tammin Sursok) — who of course later turns out to be the right boy for her anyway (Caleb, played by Tyler Blackburn).

Spencer Hastings

PLL #3 – Spencer Hastings (Troian Bellisario) is the poor-little-rich-girl of the bunch.  Her successful parents push Spencer to be the absolute best, much like they did with her older sister Melissa (Torrey DeVitto).  Spencer is brilliant, but plays second fiddle to her sister, always aware that her parents favor Melissa.  To retaliate, Spencer kisses her sister’s boyfriend and then later kisses her new fiancé.  Matters only get worse for Spencer when Melissa surprises the Hastings family by abruptly marrying her boyfriend right after calling off her previous engagement.

Spencer’s big sis – Melissa

Spencer begins to investigate her new brother-in-law, and slowly uncovers an affair between him and Alison that happened just before Alison’s disappearance.  As she continues to investigate, Spencer believes that her new brother-in-law not only stalked her best friend but also killed her, causing the rift between Spencer and her sister to intensify.

Now a suspect herself in Alison’s murder, Spencer befriends Toby Cavanaugh (Keegan Allen) who also happened to serve time in jail briefly as the main suspect in Alison’s death.  Did I mention that Toby is also the half-brother of Jenna?

The vindictive Jenna

Toby knows just how deceiving and manipulative his sister can be….is Jenna “A”?

Emily Fields

PLL #4 – Emily Fields (Shay Mitchell) is the daughter of a military father always away on assignment who is confused with her own sexuality.  She starts the series with a boyfriend but then falls for the new girl in town, sending her mother (Nia Peeples) into a tailspin.  Making even more of a splash, Emily takes Toby Cavanaugh to the homecoming dance as her date trying to hide the fact that she’s gay.  The fact that Emily doesn’t totally believe in Toby’s innocence, like the rest of the town, leads to a dangerous encounter — only one of many.

After accepting that she is a homosexual, Emily is further devastated when her girlfriend is sent away to military school after marijuana is found inside her back pack.  Emily’s world continues to turn upside down when her mother announces that they’re leaving Rosewood to live with her father who is stationed in Texas.  Meanwhile, Emily holds the key to the photo evidence the girls have uncovered on her home computer (evidence they believe links back to Alison’s killer) which conveniently gets erased when the realtor shows the Fields’ house.

And the texts begin…

The conclusion:

Each of the girls have oodles of conflict surrounding them individually, even without “A’s” threatening their every move (there’s so much more that I didn’t mention).  Throw in the suspicions the police and their parents have regarding their involvement in Alison’s murder, and the lies they continuously try to hide despite “A’s” best efforts, and Pretty Little Liars doesn’t bore its viewers — it has twists and turns week in and week out.

And the suspicions…

Season two ended with the huge unveiling of “A” — but is it really her?

I have my suspicions that the incorrect identification of “A” is just another twist masterfully planned by the real “A” — confused yet?

Don’t worry — everyone can clear it up when Pretty Little Liars season three premieres Tuesday, June 5th.

And the fear…

Do you watch Pretty Little Liars or is the show “too young” for you?  What do you think about the mystery — do you believe the identity of “A” or are you like me and believe there’s much more to the story?  Has anyone read the books?  Which of the girls do you relate to the most — Aria, Spencer, Hanna, Emily, Alison, Mona, or the outcast Jenna?  I’d love to hear from you!  

Friday FabOoolousness – A Weekend Away: What Writers Really Do at Conferences

Last weekend marked my second trip to DFWcon.  Granted it’s not a long trip for me, considering the conference usually takes place halfway between Dallas and Fort Worth, but it was a weekend away nonetheless.

So Friday night Jillian Dodd and I filled our hotel room with drinks (the adult kind) and snacks, and we mingled with some from our local writing circle and a few from different parts of the country.  Already, my conference experience was off to a better start than last year.

Don’t get me wrong; last year’s DFWcon opened my eyes.  For the most part I attended craft workshops and learned all about synopses, beginnings, plotting, and social media.

However, this year I experienced a different element all together – the human element.  I was fortunate enough to meet so many of the online friends that I’ve only known through social media over the past year.  And let me be the first to say that mingling at a conference, versus only attending the classes, makes all the difference.

But more on this later…

First let’s discuss the business side of attending writing conferences.  Probably one of the most important tools a writer can take to a writing conference is – get this – a pen and pad.  Jess Witkins had the right idea when she showed up with this:

Yes, this is Jess Witkins’ notebook… Rockin’ notebook, right?

Immediately, I knew Jess and I would be life-long friends, and not just the online kind.

Once we’re prepared with supplies in hand, the next important decision a writer must make is which workshops to attend.  Unlike last year, I took more of an interest in the business side of writing.  I attended workshops led by agents discussing the publishing world today, panels made up of other writers sharing their self-publishing experiences, and even a class presented by an entertainment lawyer/agent who gave the rest of us the inside scoop on what kind of money a first-time published author can expect to make in the traditionally published world.  Let’s just say that each and every one of these workshops solidified my decision to self-publish.

But still, even though I’ve attended this conference before, I still selected a few craft workshops that I felt were crucial to my writing career.  After all, knowledge is the key to success — right?

My first craft workshop was led by the New York Times Best-Selling Author James Rollins – “Putting the Thrill in Thriller.”  James’ class was fabOoolous, but my favorite lesson he shared was this: never kill your characters the same way twice; make sure there is blood on the page (okay, so not literally).

And let me just say how fabOoolous James himself is.  Our group of MyWana faithful was lucky enough to get to spend more than the Key Note speech and workshop hour with James, no doubt due to his friendship with Kristen Lamb.  But I can honestly say now that I’ve had dinner (twice!) and lunch with James Rollins.  I’d say NYTBSA again, but everyone gets the point; instead, I prefer to call him my friend.

Just havin’ lunch with James Rollins… Somebody pinch me!

The next craft class I knew that I must attend was “Writing Love Scenes” by erotic romance author Roni Loren.  As a YA writer, I shy away from the love scenes (my first book, Football Sweetheart, has a classic “fade to black” love scene,  because that is what the genre calls for and what I am comfortable writing).  The first point Roni made was probably the most important lesson she shared, and it sounded almost like a duh! moment once she said it: all love scenes need to keep the story moving forward and/or change the characters; otherwise, it’s unnecessary.

And just how awesome is Roni?  She provided the class with a “Why Does this Love Scene Suck?” Checklist.  All I know is that when I’m ready, she has me prepared and ready to move forward with writing some sexy-time.

Partyin’ with Roni — you know our group closed the reception down… Literally.

The next craft workshop I selected was absolutely full of potential: “Crime Scene Investigations: Fingerprints, Truth & Myth” taught by a local DFW CSI.  There was so much information to cover, that our instructor was clicking through the slides every two seconds.  Every time I’d write something down, he’d move on to the next slide.  It got to the point of ridiculousness and I just started laughing.  I wasn’t alone; Donna Newton can back me up on this one.

So I just sat back and listened – so much wonderful information about fingerprints – but I think I may need to buy a book.

Donna and I ready to learn all about fingerprints… thanks for the picture, Dawn Alexander!

The last few workshop hours of the final day were a bit more difficult to choose from, but along with what seemed like the entire conference, I chose to attend the “Writing Emotion” class by NYTBSA Lori Wilde.  Similar to what Roni mentioned earlier in her love scenes lecture, all emotions should lead to decisions and keep the story moving forward.  Ms. Wilde’s class on emotion was simply fabOoolous (I’d say fantastic here, but it is Friday FabOoolousness after all).  She was generous to offer the class email copies of her notes; I need to get on that…

As everyone can see, I wasn’t kidding about my statement that the entire conference attended the emotion workshop.  Julie Glover and I had to sit on the floor at the front of the room.

Sittin’ on the floor like the star pupils we are, right Julie Glover?

For my final workshop of the conference, I selected the “12 Do’s and Don’ts of Thriller and Mystery Writing” taught by agent Ann Collette.  I’d seen Ann around the conference, particularly at the Gong Shows, but didn’t experience the full Ann until attending her class.  She’s hilarious y’all – if you don’t already follow her on Twitter, find her.  She’s friendly too; we’ve already had a Twitter conversation.

And in going out with style, being the last session of the conference, somehow Ann knew we’d be tired of writing so she distributed a fabOoolous five-page handout listing not only twelve, but thirteen Do’s and Don’ts.  My hand thanks her.

Now back to the social story of this past weekend’s adventure.  As if we didn’t already know it, writers are fun:  no subject is off topic or inappropriate (I’m talking about the “Big O” conversation at the lunch table Sunday… poor James); sleep is overrated (this one’s for you, Kait Nolan – since you put me on your “poo” list for keeping you up too late and having margaritas in our room); and silent auctions are a murderous game (right, Piper Bayard and Jenny Hansen?).

“Winning!” with Piper Bayard and Jenny Hansen

I ended my 2012 conference experience with a huge smile on my face — maybe it’s because of the people (okay, it’s definitely because of the people); maybe it’s because I felt like I was actually in my element; or maybe it’s because I won a rocking door prize (admission for two to Southfork Ranch, a one night stay, and breakfast for two).  All in all, I’d do it again.  And again.  And again.

Did I mention the people?

Lunch time with my new English bestie (Donna Newton) and my roomie (Jillian Dodd)
Posin’ with the beautiful Ingrid Schaffenburg
MyWana 0311 – this one’s for you! (with Jenny Hansen, or the More Cowbell blogger as she’s known around social media)
Me and my friend Jess Witkins from Canada. I mean Wisconsin…
Showin’ off my signed copy of Red with Kait Nolan
And one last photo with the brave and fabOooolous Nigel Blackwell

Did you attend DFWcon?  What do you find the most beneficial in attending writing conferences?  Have you had the opportunity to meet any of your online friends recently?  I’d love to hear from you!    

Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Summer Sizzles in The Glades

I know Amber West and I promised to review two of USA’s summer programs this week on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday, but we told a little white lie.  Amber’s taking a much needed week off, so I’ve decided to review a summer program over on A&E that hasn’t been mentioned on The Ooo Factor since April, 2011 that everyone should check out – The Glades.

The Glades follows Detective Jim Longworth (played by the ever-adorable Aussie, Matt Passmore) as he solves crime in South Florida.  Excommunicated from Chicago after allegedly sleeping with his boss’s wife, Jim takes his settlement money and moves to the Miami area to play golf.  He takes a job with a small law enforcement agency (FDLE – Florida Department of Law Enforcement) not thinking it will take him away from the golf course all that often.  He was wrong.

Carlos & Jim

Partnered most of the time with the agency’s medical examiner (Carlos Sanchez, played by Carlos Gomez from ER), Jim ruffles feathers as he solves homicide cases using his unique approach and disregard for the rules.  Carlos tries desperately to ground Jim and keep him from drawing attention to the FDLE, but no one can wrangle Jim — except maybe Callie.

Callie & Jim

While working a case, Jim meets Callie (played by Kiele Sanchez), a single-mom and registered nurse who is also putting herself through medical school at the same time.  The two have an instant connection, but there’s only one problem – Callie is married.

Her husband, Ray (Clayne Crawford, perhaps most recently recognized for his role on Leverage as Eliot’s nemesis), is serving time for armed robbery during season one.  In season two, Ray cuts a deal and is placed into Witness Protection, but not before putting a kink in Jim and Callie’s love affair as he gets to spend some time with their son Jeff.

Jeff

Jeff (Uriah Shelton) adores Jim, but obviously he loves his dad and yearns for the day his parents can be together once again – like any child would.  This poses a problem for Callie, who doesn’t want to upset her son, but knows her relationship with Ray is over.  Eventually, Callie decides Jim is worth the risk and announces she wants a divorce to pursue her future with him.

The Glades also stars: Michelle Hurd (also from ER) as Colleen Manus, Jim’s FDLE boss; and Jordan Wall as Daniel, Carlos’ intern (a fun sidekick for Jim, even if his overzealousness drives Carlos crazy all of the time).  Oh, and before I forget, Callie also assists the FDLE on cases from time to time as a forensic nurse.

Jim & Callie in the field, literally. Okay, it’s more like the glades…

One might wonder why yet another police procedural set in or around Miami is worthy of a watch.  I can answer in one word – Jim.  Not only is he adorable (as mentioned earlier in this post), but his character is seriously flawed and he walks to the beat of his own drum, ignoring everyone and everything he’s told.  But don’t worry; although the character is a bit of a rebel, he’s not annoying.

In case anyone wants another reason, how about the tumultuous relationship between Jim and Callie.  Everyone knows that once television characters “hook up” on screen, ratings seem to fizzle.  Regardless, I can’t help but root for these two to get together.

I’m not much of a romantic (in other words, it doesn’t bother me if a television program or motion picture doesn’t end with the ever-popular “happily ever after”), but it’s because of Jim’s character and his on again/off again relationship with Callie that I keep tuning in.  For this reason, I must award The Glades with a MacTV rating – the flames definitely have our water boiling and it’s ready for us to dump in our favorite cheesy shells to enjoy while we watch the summer sizzle down in South Florida.

Oh, the romantic tension…

And don’t worry – if anyone missed the previous seasons of The Glades, A&E has clips from season one and two available online.  But even better yet, A&E.com also has all of the season two episodes currently available as well.  Check it out!

The Glades season three premieres Sunday, June 3rd on A&E.

What do you think? Do you watch The Glades?  Will Jim and Callie finally get together or will some new obstacle stand in their way?  I’d love to hear from you!

Come back next week when Amber and I review two of the USA Network’s dramas – the new series, Common Law, and the sophomore surprise, Fairly Legal.   Really, we will this time.  Promise.

Remember to stop by the #watchwed hashtag in Twitter to discuss any of today’s reviews, or to mention any television programs that you’d like to see on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday in the future.

A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:

GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more
MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies
GMacTV (Gourmet MacNCheese TV): A combination of fine wine and comfort food
JFTV (Junk food TV): It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds
TBPTV (Twice Baked Potato TV): Part gourmet and delicious, while absolutely horrible for our cholesterol
SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out
NIV (Nyquil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer
LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech

Tele-Tuesday: The Return of MTV’s Teen Wolf

On a Tele-Tuesday post last year, I introduced MTV’s new summer TV series: Teen Wolf.  We all remember the 1985 comedy starring Michael J. Fox, right?  MTV promised to use the generalized idea behind the ’80s Teen Wolf, but compared their story to a transformed version with a darker side, similar to the CW’s The Vampire Diaries.

First, a few similarities:

In 1985, Michael J. Fox played Scott Howard; today, Tyler Posey plays Scott McCall.

MTV’s Teen Wolf – Scott McCall

In 1985, Scott Howard’s best friend was an oddball named Stiles; today, Scott McCall’s best friend is an awkward oddball named Stiles (played by Dillon O’Brien).

MTV’s Teen Wolf – Stiles

In 1985, Scott Howard wasn’t the best basketball player on the team, not until he transformed into his wolf-self; today, Scott McCall isn’t anywhere close to the best lacrosse player on the squad, until he endures the cursed bite, that is.

Now, to a few differences:

In 1985, Scott Howard suffered from a family curse, a long line of male werewolves that sometimes skipped a generation; today, Scott McCall is bitten by a werewolf while out in the woods searching for the remains of a dead girl with his best friend.

MTV’s Teen Wolf – Scott “wolfed” out

In 1985, Scott Howard show-boats around as his wolf-self; today, Scott McCall works desperately to keep his curse secret from everyone, excluding his BFF, Stiles.

In 1985, audiences laughed along with Scott Howard in Teen Wolf; today, viewers and Scott McCall cringe as another person in the community is brutally attacked by a supposed animal.

More Wolf

MTV’s Teen Wolf pleasantly surprised me.  First of all, like most other things MTV, the show is geared toward the younger audience or YA as we’ve become accustomed to in the literary world.  I may be in my thirties, but I like most Young Adult television series, and more importantly I really enjoy Teen Wolf.  And it’s not just me – my guy doesn’t miss an episode either.

Moreover, the show’s claim to focus on the mythology of the werewolf and the darkness of the curse has played a major role in the television series.  If The Vampire Diaries has taught the TV rating’s world anything, it’s that teens (as well as whoever is watching) prefer the dark twists and storylines – if we want comedy, there are sitcoms for that.

During the first season, Teen Wolf introduced the idea of the alpha and beta wolf.  An alpha is the strongest, most powerful, and the most deadly kind of werewolf.  Scott McCall and Derek Hale (played by Tyler Hoechlin from 7th Heaven) are beta wolves.   The Alpha bit Scott, and wants Scott to join his pack – insists actually.

MTV’s Teen Wolf – Derek Hale

The Alpha is obviously a nasty and horrible werewolf, and Scott wants nothing to do with this violent lifestyle.  Will Derek help him?  Or is Derek setting Scott up?  Let’s say a little bit of both – nothing like a taste of both worlds to make Derek even more lickable – I mean, likable.

As with any supernatural drama, Teen Wolf also offers a bit of werewolf on werewolf in the form of fight scenes.  While it wasn’t as exciting as a Salvatore brother fight (Yes, I’m talking about Stefan and Damon, ladies!), it held our attention and stayed true to MTV’s promise of a darker rendition of the cinematic classic.

Like most Young Adult features, or really any television show for that matter, Teen Wolf also has the love story: the typical nerdy high school boy (Scott) who wants to lead a normal life and date the beautiful new girl (Alison Argent played by Crystal Reed).  Not interesting enough?

MTV’s Teen Wolf – Alison Argent

How about a forbidden love…  Did I mention that Scott’s dream girl’s father is the lead hunter out to kill the werewolves in the area?  And that she too is to train and fulfill her family legacy of hunters?  Only Alison doesn’t realize at first that she hails from generations of hunters or that her boyfriend is a wolf.  But when she does, will she choose her family or Scott?

And let’s not forget that Scott’s humiliation of “top-jock” Jackson Whittemore (played by Colton Haynes from The Gates) on the lacrosse field now drives Jackson to discover exactly what Scott is hiding.  Jackson knows that Scott didn’t pick up his super strength overnight by hitting the weight room.  Once Jackson learns Scott’s secret, he decides he wants a “piece” of the wolf himself.

MTV’s Teen Wolf – Jackson

What exactly was Jackson’s deal with Derek?  We all know after the final battle Derek assumes the role of Alpha; will Jackson join Derek’s pack?

Speaking of Derek’s pack, he wasn’t the one to bite Scott.  Is it now safe to assume it will definitely be Scott versus Derek in season two?

And what about Lydia (played by Holland Roden), the annoying girl admired by Stiles but who barely gives anyone besides Jackson the time of day?  The original Alpha did attack her before his demise, but Scott apparently gave her a clean bill of health when he noticed her marks weren’t healing as quickly as his wolf bite did.  Is she in the clear or is she too now a member of a pack?

MTV’s Teen Wolf – Lydia

I smell some major wolf action in season two…

Season two premieres Sunday, June 3rd on MTV, following the MTV Movie Awards.

What do you think?  Did you watch the first season of Teen Wolf?  Do you plan to continue with season two?  Do you prefer the 1985 comedy or the newer, darker version?  I’d love to hear from you!

Friday FabOoolousness – “Let’s Dance!”

It’s time again for Catie Rhodes and I to break down another cinematic original and its remake – this month, we discuss Footloose.

First, let’s review Catie’s summary of the 1984 film:

Footloose is the story of a big-city kid who moves to a podunk town where dancing is illegal.  The big-city kid fights to hold a school dance, a prom, and encounters resistance from both town leaders and other kids who don’t like slick, fast talking outsiders.  Footloose has it all–romance, fighting, laughs…and dancing.

And in keeping with Catie’s style, here’s a taste of the most recent, Footloose (2011):

I’ll be the first to admit that when I saw the trailer, I felt the remaking of Footloose was sacrilege.  The 1984 film is and forever will be a classic – why mess with greatness?

But it’s because of this negativity that I asked to review the 2011 remake by MTV Films.  And I won’t lie – I prepared myself for a horrible film.

The opening scene gave me goosebumps, blasting the original Kenny Loggins’ “Footloose” as today’s teens danced and partied.  It almost seemed like there wasn’t a generational gap between kids today and kids twenty years ago – everyone appreciates good music.  Heck, I wanted to get up and dance with them.  Already, my opinion of the movie slowly began to turn around…

Immediately following the opening scene, five teens are killed in a horrendous car accident.  The driver, a senior football star, was also the son of the town’s reverend (Rev. Shaw Moore, played by Dennis Quaid).  This accident forces the members of the Bomont, Georgia city council to impose strict laws, forbidding teens from drinking and participating in public dancing.

The “new” Ren

Fast forward three years and viewers are introduced to the new kid in town, Ren McCormack (played by Kenny Wormald), a boy who also recently suffered a great loss of his own with the death of his mother.

The “new” Ariel

Ren immediately finds himself not mixing well with the locals and can’t quite understand why a local police officer pulls him over for disturbing the peace (he was playing his music too loud).  He attempts to befriend the reverend’s daughter (Ariel, played by Dancing with the Stars’ Julianne Hough), but she’s too busy rebelling and dating an older, rough-around-the-edges man to give Ren the time of day.

The “new” Willard

After Ren makes friends with a fellow high school boy (Willard, played by Miles Teller), he learns that the town also enforces a “no dance” ordinance.  Needless to say, Ren is miserable in Bomont.

Does this sound familiar?  It should – the 2011 film mirrors the 1984 classic throughout.  Usually I’d list the differences between the original and remake, but today we’re going to appreciate the similarities:

Ren’s car – a yellow Volkswagen Beetle, also known as a Slug-Bug around Texas
Ren’s hobby and pastime – Gymnastics
Ariel’s boots – red
Ren’s first day of school attire – a neck tie
Ren’s “blowing off some steam” dance scene – a lot of the moves were the same (but the music was way off)
Willard learns how to dance – wearing a straw cowboy hat to the music “Let’s Hear it For the Boy” by Deniece Williams
The high school students’ secret hangout – The Yearbook
Ariel’s t-shirt at the council meeting – “Dance your @$$ off”
Ren’s prom attire – dark red, almost maroon, tuxedo jacket with a black bow-tie

Can everyone see where I’m going with this?  I applaud the attention to detail in keeping the original alive.  Of course there were also a few differences, but the bottom line is what matters – the story remains the same.

Footloose is a story about a boy, a stranger from another part of the country, who moves in and changes the town people’s lives and opens their eyes to believing in their children again.

Footloose is the story of a town coming together to celebrate life, not just mourning the dead.

Footloose is the story of children finding their voice – peacefully and respectfully.

Catie mentioned the music in the original Footloose, something none of us can argue with – the soundtrack is simply amazing, featuring artists such as Kenny Loggins, Sammy Hagar, Mike Reno (of Loverboy), Ann Wilson (of Heart), Bonnie Tyler, Foreigner, John Mellencamp, and Quiet Riot.

How does the remake compare?  The 2011 soundtrack may not be considered a classic twenty years from now, but the movie does feature many of the original’s hits – including Kenny Loggins’ and Blake Shelton’s rendition of “Footloose”, a Quiet Riot heavy metal song, plus remakes of “Hero” and “Almost Paradise”.

Catie also enlightened the rest of us with a fun fact – Kevin Bacon was not the first choice to play the role of Ren in the 1984 hit — Tom Cruise and Rob Lowe were considered first.  Can any of us imagine anyone besides Kevin Bacon playing Ren?

The “original” Ren

Similarly, Kenny Wormald wasn’t the first choice for the remake either.  Apparently Zac Efron, Chace Crawford, and Thomas Dekker all passed on the role first for one reason or another.  I was a little disappointed, especially that Chase Crawford didn’t work out, but I must say I am not at all sad after watching Kenny Wormald’s performance.  I don’t know who he is, but he’s absolutely adorable and nailed the character of Ren.

Speaking of relatively unknowns, the same can be said for Miles Teller.  Catie honored the fabOoolous performance of Chris Penn as Ren’s best friend, Willard, in the 1984 film.  But what about the 2011 portrayal of Willard?  Miles Teller may actually be the best casting of the entire film.  Sometimes I actually saw and heard Chris Penn in his performance.

Now Catie closed her post on an entirely different note, introducing the true story on which Footloose is based.  Be sure to remember and click over to her blog to read all about it.

For me, I’m just going to close with Ren’s words: “There is a time to dance.”

“Let’s Dance!”

What do you think?  Have you seen either the original or the remake of Footloose?  If you’ve seen both, which do you prefer and why?  If you haven’t, do you want to?  I’d love to hear from you! 

Remember to stop by Catie’s blog discussing the original if you haven’t already.

Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Missing, in More Ways Than One

This week Amber West and I revisit two of our simmering reviews on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday — ABC’s Scandal and Missing.  Are we still watching?  Or have we given up completely?

Well, I may not have given up on Missing completely, but it seems the network has.  Missing has officially been cancelled — so I guess it’s missing in more ways than one.  But for the sake of today’s review, I’m sticking with it… considering I’ve stuck with it every episode along the way.

What would you do if your child went missing while studying abroad?

This frightening situation is the premise behind ABC’s soon to be missing drama, Missing.

The series begins with Becca Winstone (Ashley Judd) as she witnesses, or overhears really, an explosion that kills her husband (CIA Agent Paul Winstone, played by Sean Bean) while talking to her son, Michael, on the telephone.

Missing then fast forwards ten years when a now eighteen year old Michael (played by Nick Eversman) informs his mother that he has been accepted to an architectural summer program in Rome.  Becca’s hesitant at first, considering Venice is where her husband was murdered, but agrees to Michael’s study abroad opportunity.  The two only have each other, and they share a very close relationship as apparent with his secret “I love you” code — 235@W’ — “23” is Michael’s soccer number; “5” because the heart is the 5th largest organ in the body; and “@W’” because Becca is the head of the Winstone household, thus making her Winstone Prime.

A little while into Michael’s trip, all texts and calls stop.  Causing her to worry even more, Becca receives a phone call from Michael’s architectural program telling her that he has missed multiple courses and has since been withdrawn from school.  Becca decides to do what any mother would do — she takes it upon herself to travel to Rome to search for any leads and clues into her son’s disappearance.

Becca first visits Michael’s apartment where she discovers spoiled food on the table and his cell phone plugged into the wall charger.  What teenager goes anywhere without his or her cell phone?  She’s reading his outgoing call history when she is interrupted by a man with a gun.  A struggle ensues, but Becca kicks this man’s booty, grabs his gun, and flees from the window after she hears police sirens.

How in the world can a soccer mom (literally, she’s a soccer mom — Michael’s favorite sport is soccer, and this plays into the story in more ways than one) and flower shop owner disarm and kill a man so effortlessly?  Because like her deceased husband, Becca is a retired CIA agent (she retires following her husband’s death).

While on the run from authorities, Becca reaches out to an old ally (Giancarlo Rossi, played Adriano Giannini) who informs her that the man she just killed in her son’s apartment is former Italian intelligence.  While hiding out and resting at Giancarlo’s, Becca continues to study her son’s phone and its photographs, and discovers that there is a surveillance camera out on the street behind his apartment.  She tracks it across town, breaks in, disables the security alarm, and hacks into the video footage of the day her son disappeared (she knows Thursday was the last day anyone saw him alive).  Becca watches the surveillance as two men grab Michael and throw him into the back of a black van with French plates.  A mother’s worst fears realized… 

Becca manages to track down clues, but constantly runs into more men and women with guns.  Not only is she frantically searching for her son, hopping European cities left and right (Missing was filmed on location in Europe — eight different cities, I believe), and dodging foreign police, she’s also attempting to trust other CIA operatives (led by Agent Dax Miller, played by Cliff Curtis).  She needs help, but Agent Miller’s team definitely doesn’t trust Becca because of the size of her CIA file — “the thinner the file, the better the agent.”  After a few chance encounters with the operatives, Becca also begins to run from her former employer’s new team.

She can’t trust anyone.  TWIST.  Or can she?  TURN.

Without giving too much away for those who haven’t seen it and still wish to, despite the cancellation — hopefully it will be available on Netflix and worthy of a watch — know that no one is as they seem.  No one.  TWIST and TURN.

With only the season finale left, the series has impressed me in that the action never slows down.  The twists kept me on my toes and impressively answered questions along the way, while of course throwing more twists right back at us.  Considering the network’s cancellation, I really hope the season finale wraps things up.  I want to see Becca — a woman on a mission, comparable to a female Jack Bauer — beat the living daylights out of the bad guy and wrap her arms around her son.

And despite the network’s cancellation, I can’t help but award Missing with the MacTV rating.  Not only do I like Ashley Judd (I can watch Double Jeopardy and High Crimes over and over again), but the non-stop action and numerous twists adds heat to the already rapidly boiling water — perfect conditions for a warm bowl of our favorite cheesy pasta.

If anyone missed the series, Missing may totally be worthy of a spot on a Netflix Queue when available – well, depending on how the season finale (eh-hem, I mean series finale) wraps up.  If the episode ends on a cliffhanger, a cliffhanger that will never see answers, I might recommend everyone steer clear of Missing.  There’s nothing quite like investing hour after hour in something to only be disappointed at the end.  Thanks a lot, ABC…

But if the finale ends with Becca kicking booty and finding Michael, it’s definitely worth a watch!

What do you think? Did you watch Missing?  Was this series cancelled too soon?  I’d love to hear from you!

Now click over to Amber’s blog and find out if Scandal has passed her DVR queue test… is she still watching?

Come back next week when Amber and I review two of the USA Network’s dramas – the new series, Common Law, and the sophomore surprise, Fairly Legal.

Remember to stop by the #watchwed hashtag in Twitter to discuss any of today’s reviews, or to mention any television programs that you’d like to see on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday in the future.

A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:

GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more
MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies
GMacTV (Gourmet MacNCheese TV): A combination of fine wine and comfort food
JFTV (Junk food TV): It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds
TBPTV (Twice Baked Potato TV): Part gourmet and delicious, while absolutely horrible for our cholesterol
SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out
NIV (Nyquil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer
LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech