Ready for a Twisted New ABC Family Murder Mystery?

I’ve not kept the fact that I love ABC Family’s teen mysteries a secret.  Heck, I’ve only blogged about Pretty Little Liars at least five times.  The ongoing questions have me hooked: Who killed Alison? Who is leading the “A” team? How do they have so much dirt on Aria, Hanna, Spencer, and Emily? Why do they continue to torture these girls—what could they have possibly done to deserve this?

One can only assume that the “A” team is composed of primarily teens (Mona and Toby for example) and young adults (I’m convinced Melissa is in on it as well), so how is it that they know the deep-dark secrets of the girls’ families too?  No one is safe on this show; not the teens, not the parents, and I love it!

With every episode of Pretty Little Liars, the questions keep coming.  And every once in a while, we get answers… but not many before the show breaks for hiatus.  I hate the mid-season hiatuses.  I can’t stand waiting for the new episodes to return.  However, I do appreciate ABC Family’s seasonal run—they split each season up, usually airing new episodes in the winter and in the summer, instead of the traditional September through May like the major networks.  And more times than not, we can expect a new one-hour special, usually around Halloween, that keeps with the story and introduces more mysteries to us.

And because I enjoy Pretty Little Liars as much as I do, I decided to give The Lying Game a try last year when it premiered.  While this teen drama didn’t start out as a murder mystery, we have seen a few dead bodies since…

I can’t say I like The Lying Game as much as I do PLL, evident by the fact I’ve only blogged about it twice.  However, similar to PLL, The Lying Game is riddled with questions:  Who is the twins’ biological mother?  Who is the twins’ biological father?  Why were they split up at birth?  And who split them up?  How could Sutton have turned out so nasty (she really is a Queen B) in such a loving household, and Emma so sweet when she was bounced from one horrible foster family to another?

One by one, most of TLG‘s secrets have been answered; and as they’ve been revealed, I have literally found myself with goose bumps (while some have sadly been predictable).  But don’t be fooled; once a truth is uncovered, another mystery begins…

So, it’s because of the allure and success of these two teen programs that I plan to watch ABC Family’s newest mystery starting tonight—Twisted.

Twisted follows Danny Desai (Avan Jogia, from the popular Nickelodeon series, Victorious), a troubled teen recently released from juvenile detention after serving five years for his aunt’s murder.  Looking for redemption, Danny immediately reconnects with two of his best girl friends from his past—Jo (Maddie Hasson, from The Finder) and Lacey (Kylie Bunbury).

Since Danny’s conviction, Jo has had trouble moving on and is considered by many to be a social outcast, while Lacey has left her past behind… for popularity and a new boyfriend.  Bringing this group back together doesn’t go as smoothly for Danny as he had hoped, especially after a classmate is found murdered and he becomes the prime suspect—again.

This new series also stars: Denise Richards (mostly recognized for her tumultuous marriage to Charlie Sheen, but also from her seductive and messed up role in Wild Things) as Karen, Danny’s mother—the former socialite, whose social status hasn’t quite recovered since her son’s arrest; Sam Robards (Gossip Girl) as Kyle, Jo’s father and the town’s sheriff; Grey Damon (Friday Night Lights and The Nine Lives of Chloe King) as Archie, Lacey’s new boyfriend; Kathy Najimy (Veronica’s Closet) as Mrs. Fink; and Kimberly Quinn (Terriers) as Jo’s mother.

Twisted premieres tonight (June 11th) on ABC Family.

Are you an ABC Family fan?  Do you plan to check out the new teen mystery, Twisted?  I’d love to hear from you!      

Oh, Those Pretty Little Liars…

The insurgence of YA mysteries on TV these days 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

Needless to say, I am so very excited about the summer premiere next week!  So in honor of the “Pretty Little Liars,” I am sharing an older blog post to help get everyone ready for the return of Aria, Hanna, Spencer, and Emily this summer.

*****

Alison

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 just a mean 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

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.

Hello, Mr. Fitz!

Meanwhile, emotions erupt at home when her mother (Ella Montgomery, played by Holly Marie Combs) leaves her father after learning 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?  And don’t worry, “A” won’t let Aria forget it…

*****

Hanna

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 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 then 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 local detective on Hanna’s shoplifting case.

Hanna really has the worst luck… like when she is involved in a hit and run because she gets dangerously close to discovering “A’s” real identity.  Or when Mona throws her a surprise “glad you’re alive party,” and someone (assumedly “A”) steals all of the money that Hanna’s mother “borrowed” from a client at the bank, threatening to expose her mother’s secret.

Love Caleb’s style…

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)—and who of course later turns out to be the right boy for her anyway (Caleb, played by Tyler Blackburn).

*****

PLL #3 – Spencer Hastings (Troian Bellisario) is the poor-little-rich-girl of the bunch.  Spencer’s successful parents push her 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 the older Hastings daughter.

After Melissa’s shotgun wedding to a boy on the PLL’s unofficial suspect list, 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.

Toby, Toby… is he good or not?

Now a suspect herself in Alison’s murder, just like the other girls at one point or another, Spencer befriends Toby Cavanaugh (Keegan Allen) who also happened to serve time in jail briefly as the main suspect in Alison’s death.  Oh, and did I mention that Toby is also the half-brother of Jenna?  Jenna, the girl the PLL’s are blamed for temporarily blinding…

*****

PLL #4 – Emily Fields (Shay Mitchell) is the daughter of a military father always away on assignment.  Emily is confused with her own sexuality, starting the series with a boyfriend but then falling 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, attempting to hide the fact that she’s gay AND ignoring the fact that the entire town believes him to be a murderer.

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 backpack.  Emily’s world continues to turn upside down when her mother announces that they’re leaving Rosewood to live with her father while he 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.

*****

Each of the girls has 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…

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

And the fear…

Despite the fact that I’m in my thirties, I tune in every single week to watch these little teenagers scurry around, playing detective, trying their best to solve their BFF’s murder, and hoping to discover the true identity of the creepy texter known only as “A.”

Pretty Little Liars is one of my favorite programs on TV today… I can’t wait for it to return this summer!

And seriously… there is so much more that I didn’t even mention!

Who is wearing the red coat?? Could it really be??

What do you think? Do you watch Pretty Little Liars?  How would you rate it?  Who’s your favorite character and why?  Have you read any of Sara Shephard’s books?  I’d love to hear from you!

Pretty Little Liars returns to ABC Family Tuesday, June 11th!

TNT –Terrific (Summer) Nighttime Television Continues…

I can remember back when the summer months meant we couldn’t find anything new to watch on television… maybe a reality program here, or a two-hour made-for-TV-special there, but no new series.

But not anymore.

TNT has some of the best summer programming of any network today.  This year, I count six series (five returning favorites and one new) that my household will watch, keeping our TV schedules full of terrific (summer) nighttime television.

Last week, we shared three of the network’s veteran programs premiering in their third and fourth seasons later this June.  And today, we’re talking about two more of TNT’s returning hits PLUS a new freshman series starring one of my faves…

*****

King & Maxwell

Based on the novel series of the same name by David Balducci, King & Maxwell stars Jon Tenney (Sean King) and Rebecca Romijn (Michelle Maxwell) as two former Secret Service agents now working together as private investigators to solve crime—by whatever means necessary.

Together they have an abundance of previous life experiences under their belt, making them two of the best at what they do—despite losing his job in the Secret Service (the president he was assigned to protect was assassinated), King attended law school and knows the legal system.. while Maxwell, a former Olympic athlete, uses her attributes and her connections to aid in the investigations.  And as with any good television partnership, opposites attract.

The new series also stars Michael O’Keefe (Caddyshack) as Frank Rigby and Chris Butler (The Good Wife) as Darius Carter, two FBI agents who clash a bit with King and Maxwell’s methods.

King & Maxwell premieres June 10th.

*****

Major Crimes

Over the last few seasons of The Closer, we tolerated Captain Raydor (Mary McDonnell) as she terrorized Brenda Leigh, leading all of the officer-involved investigations (kind of like Internal Affairs).  But we also witnessed a softer Captain Raydor who stood by Brenda Leigh and did everything in her power to protect our favorite Deputy Chief.

And last summer, we watched Captain Raydor take over Brenda Leigh’s team.  That’s right—Raydor stepped in following Brenda Leigh’s departure and took over the Major Crimes Division, including almost the entire cast of The Closer (Provenza, Flynn, Tao, Sanchez, Buzz, Taylor, and even Fritzy on occasion.)

While it wasn’t quite the same without our favorite Southern belle, the series kept this Closer fan watching.  I expect some changes in season two, like the addition of new characters (Nadine Velazquez from My Name is Earl) and perhaps seeing less of a few of the cast members we love (King & Maxwell’s Tenney), but I am still looking forward to the return of Major Crimes.

Season two of Major Crimes premieres June 10th.

*****

Perception

I don’t know much about Perception, other than it stars Eric McCormack as Dr. Daniel Pierce, a neuroscience professor who suffers from schizophrenia.  Despite his internalized demons and hallucinations, he is a brilliant man who assists the FBI with complex cases.

The series also stars: Rachael Leigh Cook as Special Agent Kate Moretti, a former student of Dr. Pierce, and the FBI agent responsible for adding him to the team of investigators; Kelly Rowan as Natalie Vincent, Dr. Pierce’s imaginary best friend… who it turns out is based on a woman (Caroline Newsome) that Dr. Pierce saw once at a party and became infatuated with; and Arjay Smith as Max Lewicki, Dr. Pierce’s live-in teaching assistant who helps keep the good doctor’s real-life and hallucinations straight.

As I mentioned earlier, I don’t know much about Perception.  I watched a few episodes but the series didn’t grab me in a way that makes me want to watch every single episode immediately.  And when my DVR crashed, I lost the rest of the first season… thus, I haven’t seen every episode.  However, the fact that TNT is bringing it back gives me hope.  Maybe the network will offer the first season online or via OnDemand and I can catch up before the premiere of the new season?

Season two of Perception premieres June 25th.

*****

Did you enjoy Major Crimes or Perception last summer?  Will you check out King & Maxwell?  I’d love to hear from you! 

TNT – Terrific (Summer) Nighttime Television

I can remember back when the summer months meant we couldn’t find anything new to watch on television… maybe a reality program here, or a two-hour made-for-TV-special there, but no new series.

But not anymore.

TNT has some of the best summer programming of any network today. This year, I count six series (five returning favorites and one new) that my household will watch, keeping our TV schedule full of terrific nighttime television.

Over the next two weeks, we’ll discuss these TNT series.  First up, three of the network’s veteran programs, premiering in their third and fourth seasons this June…

*****

Falling Skies

Falling Skies follows a group of survivors led by Tom Mason (Noah Wyle) after aliens invade and attack our world as we now know it.

As if the practically complete destruction of our planet wasn’t bad enough, the aliens want our few surviving children and plan to attach a horrendous apparatus to the children’s spines (the harness). This device controls the children—but what are the visitor’s end goals?

The series also stars Moon Bloodgood as Anne Glass, the resident doctor among the survivors, and Will Patton as Captain Dan Weaver (the title “Captain” should give plenty enough away about his role among the survivors).

I didn’t pay much attention to the first season of Falling Skies… but my guy LOVED it. And yes, I used all caps because he rarely shows this much excitement about a television program. So, I tuned in with him for most of season two, and I must admit, I found myself enthralled and asked him to not watch any more of the episodes without me. Aliens usually aren’t my thing, but Falling Skies I can do.

Season three premieres June 9th.

*****

Franklin & Bash

They’re Totally Lawyers. Totally.

Jared Franklin (Breckin Meyer) and Peter Bash (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) have been friends since high school. And now they live together, party together, and work together, yet never seem to tire of one another. The two are quite unconventional, especially when it comes to the cases they choose to represent and how they win over the courtroom…

It all started with the two sitting at a diner, watching the traffic in Los Angeles while they banter back and forth like best friends do. When a fender-bender takes place directly in front of them, they race out to the scene and immediately offer their business cards and legal representation to the driver responsible for rear-ending another car.

Why is the driver not responsible for the crash when he clearly bumped into the car in front of his? Franklin and Bash explain that it is because the driver was distracted by the interactive advertising sign yards ahead flashing images of a sexy young woman. The young and unconventional (really unconventional) attorneys take the case to court and prompt the beautiful girl in the ad to unbutton her shirt while on the witness stand, thus proving her chest to be guilty of causing an unnecessary distraction to those driving. With that, they win their case against a large and successful law firm.

Witnessing and enjoying the unique techniques of Franklin and Bash, Stanton Infeld (played by Malcolm McDowell) offers the two friends jobs at his very successful and large law firm. Along with their ex-con assistant, Carmen, and their agoraphobic clerk, Pindar, the two join the firm and later become partners.

The series also stars Reed Diamond as Damien Karp, the obvious successor to his uncle at the firm and the classic jerk, as well as Garcelle Beauvais as Hanna Linden, another lawyer at the firm with previous romantic ties with both Damien and Franklin.

Meyer and Gosselaar have great comedic timing and a perfect on-screen chemistry, leaving one to forget they are actually playing characters on television (not to imply they aren’t hilariously funny and friendly in real life because they probably are). And remember, Franklin and Bash are quite unique… the successful bachelors throw weekly parties, and their famous “Margarita-Mondays” have already saved one of their cases and provided them the vision to defend another case successfully.

See? Unconventional… and fun.

Season three premieres June 19th.

*****

Rizzoli & Isles

Based on the novels by Tess Gerritsen, Rizzoli & Isles follows Boston detective, Jane Rizzoli (Angie Harmon), and her best friend/medical examiner, Maura Isles (Sasha Alexander), as they solve crime together.

The two friends couldn’t have less in common — Rizzoli hails from a working class family; her dad’s a plumber, her younger brother (Colin Egglesfield) has just been released from prison, and her other little brother (Jordan Bridges) idolizes Rizzoli and is following in her footsteps, much to the dismay of their overbearing mom (the fabulous Lorraine Bracco). Meanwhile, Isles’ biological father (John Doman) is a Boston mafia boss. She was raised by her adopted parents (her mother is played by Jacqueline Bissett) where she learned to focus on her studies, and adapted a fabulous sense of style… how many medical examiners do you know who perform autopsies in stilettos?

But regardless of their differences, the girls have each other and they make for one of the best crime-fighting duos on television today.

The series also stars Lee Thompson Young as Rizzoli’s partner, Detective Frost, and Bruce McGill as Rizzoli’s former partner/senior detective, Vince Korsak.

If you liked Crossing Jordan, you’ll also like Rizzoli & Isles. Season four premieres June 25th.

*****

Come back next week when we share two more returning TNT summer favorites PLUS a new series that we can’t wait to check out (hint: it stars Jon Tenney from The Closer)!

Do you enjoy any of the above TNT original programs? Which one are you most looking forward to and why? I’d love to hear from you!

Tele-Tuesday: Politics – Drama and Comedy

This weekend, I watched the pilot episode of USA’s new miniseries, Political Animals.  The word “politics” is a double-edged sword for me; I know that as an adult, understanding the politics of our respective countries is important, but mostly it does nothing more than frustrate me.  Maybe the networks recognize that politics upsets many viewers, thus the insane amount of police procedurals and medical dramas and lack of political series on the boob tube currently.  When I think TV and politics today, only one show comes to mind—Scandal—and its more drama than politics.

Until now.

If not evident from my earlier summer posts, I love the USA Network.  And when I saw the previews for the new miniseries, Political Animals, and saw the star-studded cast, I knew that I’d have to give it a try.  Now, I didn’t watch it live; I don’t really watch any TV live, unless it’s a sporting event.  But I did add the new drama to my DVR queue and watched it seven days after its original air date.

So what is Political Animals?  Let’s start with this question: who does everyone think of when we say former First Lady and current Secretary of State?  Did everyone answer Sigourney Weaver?

Secretary of State Elaine Barrish (with son Douglas in the background)

In the new six-part miniseries, Sigourney Weaver plays Elaine Barrish, a recently divorced former First Lady and current Secretary of State fighting to keep her family and her insane position in the U.S. government intact.  I think we all know who this sounds like, but let me add that Ms. Weaver herself has stated on talk shows that she is not playing Secretary Clinton.  Plus, the Barrish family is not the Clinton family, nor is it any one particular former President’s family.  Instead, the creators took bits and pieces from many different White House families, as well as created a fictional component, and the Barrish clan was born.

The USA network is known for its characters and Political Animals is no different.  Elaine Barrish is a strong, female lead.  She graduated first at her law school and received a ten-minute standing ovation after her commencement speech.  Despite her husband’s adulterous ways, she stood by her man throughout his political career (including his path from Governor to President of the United States).  And, most importantly, she more than challenged the Democratic male candidate throughout the presidential primary race before graciously stepping down.

Following her concession, Elaine asked her husband for a divorce.  It wasn’t until her separation from the former President that her popularity really soared with the American public, and the President-elect recognized this.  Secretary Barrish stated in the pilot episode that she did not want to be the country’s senior-most official dealing in foreign policies, but when the President of the United States calls for you, you answer.

Strengths aside, Elaine Barrish also has her flaws and weaknesses.  When in a stressful situation, the Secretary lights up a cigarette.  I can’t remember the last time I saw a character light up on screen.  In the “olden” days, characters smoked on television all of the time—but not today.  Additionally, despite her divorcing the former President, Elaine still has the rare tendency to run back to him when the going gets tough.  Sometimes a person needs the familiar warmth of a loved one, former or current—it’s a human response.

Secretary Barrish with Susan Berg (Reporter) – Will these rivals become the closest of friends?

In addition to Ms. Weaver, Political Animals also stars: Carla Gugino, a reporter who hasn’t been kind to the Secretary over the years; Ciaran Hinds, the former President and the Secretary’s ex-husband; Adrian Pasdar, the current President; Dylan Baker, the current Vice President; James Wolk, the Secretary’s son and Chief of Staff; Sebastian Stan, the Secretary’s other son and first openly homosexual child in the White House; and Ellen Burstyn, the Secretary’s mother.  Now that’s a cast!

Besides the cast and characters, the series also has drama.

From a political standpoint, the Secretary works feverishly to save three American journalists falsely imprisoned and convicted in Iran as spies.  As if the scandal wasn’t enough, she learns that the President and his sleazy Chief of Staff have known about the Iranian government’s requests and tried to handle it on their own, without giving into the demands of the Iranian President.  Keep in mind, I have only watched the first episode…

From a personal standpoint, the Secretary’s family is not-so-perfect either.  We all know her husband has flaws—her main reason for divorcing him was his many years of infidelity and his ego.  The Secretary’s one son, played by James Wolk, seems perfect—he’s clean cut, extremely intelligent, and engaged to a beautiful woman.  His fiancé also seems perfect, but she is secretly battling her own demons with bulimia and her infuriation with her future husband’s loyalty to his mother.  And the Secretary’s other son, played by the adorable Sebastian Stan, attempted suicide a year earlier and the family covered it up—or so they thought.  Anyone in politics should know nothing is sacred, not even the near death of a child—not to the media anyway.  Additionally, he is addicted to drugs.  He’s been to AA and has a sponsor, but the recent refusal of his parents to fork over the cash for him to open a restaurant/bar, and the national coverage of his suicide attempt, has pushed him over the edge.

Along with the drama, Political Animals also has moments of pure comedic genius.  Bud Hammond (Ciaran Hinds) and Margaret Barrish (Ellen Burstyn) have some of the funniest lines on TV.  I watched this episode with my parents, and even my father asked which network we were watching—not because we’re prudes, we’re Texans and language does not offend us—but because the dialogue was definitely unusual considering television sensors today.

And speaking of dialogue, here is my favorite line from the pilot:

“Bitches don’t like to be called bitches. Us bitches don’t like that.”
~Elaine Barrish to Susan Berg (Carla Gugino) AND Susan Berg to her boyfriend’s mistress/blogger at The Globe.

I also really enjoyed it when the Secretary told her husband’s Secret Service Agents that if she was going to kill Bud (her ex-husband), she would have done it years ago.  I don’t remember the exact quote, so I’m paraphrasing, but I think everyone will understand and appreciate it just the same.  This line was quite funny when used in the context of the scene.

Secretary Barrish – will she be the next President of the United States?

Lastly, I want to mention one final aspect of the story that I truly appreciate—the attempt at bi-partisanship.  Despite the Secretary’s obvious affiliation to the Democratic Party (her husband was a Democratic President; she ran for President in the Democratic primary; and her dogs are named Teddy, Bobby, and Jack), she and her sons constantly reference Elaine Barrish’s love of elephants.  C’mon, we all know what the Republican Party’s symbol is… the elephant.

So considering the network, the casting, the characters, the drama, the comedy, the dialogue, and the attempt at bi-partisanship, I can’t wait to check back in for the remaining five episodes.  I’m kind of sad this is only a miniseries…

What do you think?  Have you watched Political Animals?  Do you want to?  I’d love to hear from you! 

Remember to check out my YA Mystery novel, Football Sweetheart… now available on Kindle!

Tele-Tuesday: Summer Chaos, Part Two

Last Tuesday, I listed all of the TV shows that I try to watch each night in Summer Chaos, Part One.  I attempted to pick only one or two shows per night, but in some instances I couldn’t walk away without selecting at least three.

And even with these programs watched and erased from our DVR, it’s still full.  One might ask, how is this even possible right now?  Despite it not being the typical television season of September through May, we still find ourselves recording more than a few programs per night.  Plus, during the summer months, we are busier than usual.  Not only do we find ways to deal with the heat, like making frequent trips to the pool and water parks, but we also gather up the troops and travel to fun and sunny destinations.  All of these activities pull us outside and take us away from our televisions.  For our household, this leaves our DVR queue full.

So, in addition to last week’s list, today I’m going to share our left-over bucket that we cram into our weekend viewing.

Here’s to everything else… the rest of our must-see summer television series.

*****

Rizzoli & Isles

C’mon, it’s Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander!!  Angie plays Jane… just one of the guys, solving crimes, but with much prettier hair.  And Sasha plays Maura… a medical examiner who examines bodies and performs autopsies in stilettos.  And lets not forget about the humor…

Leverage

Our favorite team of cons…because last week I already stated Neal Caffrey is my favorite individual con…  Nate may lead the team, but I personally don’t think Leverage would quite be the same without the supporting cast of Parker (the thief), Hardison (the hacker), and Eliot (the muscle).

Covert Affairs

Sometimes her spy abilities prove to be a bit frustrating, but Annie Walker is with a new team this year—with more freedom.  Maybe this will open up the romantic door with Auggie a little?  We hope so!  We need more Auggie…

Dallas

So far I’m really enjoying this new generation of Ewings… they’re especially fun to look at!  Christopher or John Ross?  Elena or Rebecca?  It’s a tough decision…

Men at Work

How I Met Your Mother meets Sex and the City…  Men at Work‘s season ended last week, so that’s one less show for us to watch.  But let me just say, it was fun—it was great to see dating from a guy’s perspective—and I can’t wait for the 2013 season.    Yes, it was picked up…

The Glades

A&E is really stepping it up with its original programming…  As one can probably tell from my list last week and this week, I love police procedurals.  But Jim Longworth takes his detective skills to an entirely different level.  Not only is he adorable, 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.

Hell’s Kitchen

This season’s group of chefs may be the most dysfunctional ever!  But it doesn’t matter!  I still want to eat at a Gordon Ramsey restaurant… and I’m going to order the scallops, risotto, and Beef Wellington!

Lost Girl

There’s a little bit of Fae (supernatural) sexiness for everyone… men and women!  As a woman, I can honestly say that Bo and her succubus abilities are pretty hot.  My guy’s not here to defend himself, but I think he’d agree—he’s always suggesting we watch Lost Girl on the DVR.  And Dyson?  If someone doesn’t know what I mean simply by saying his name, check out an episode and find out for yourself!

And speaking of SyFy, two more of the network’s summer hits start at the end of the month…

and

*****

Do you watch any of these shows?  Which summer show/s do you absolutely have to find the time to watch?  I’d love to hear from you…

Remember to check out my YA Mystery novel, Football Sweetheart… now available on Kindle!

Tele-Tuesday: Summer Chaos, Part One

During the summer months, we are busier than usual.  Not only do we find ways to deal with the heat, like making frequent trips to the pool and water parks, but we also gather up the troops and travel to fun and sunny destinations.  All of these activities pull us outside and take us away from our televisions.  For our household, this leaves our DVR queue full.

One might ask, how in the world can your DVR queue be full right now?  Despite it not being the typical television season of September through May, we still find ourselves recording at least a few programs per night.  Most of the shows we are currently recording come courtesy of TNT and USA, but there are also a few others…

So, for the sake of today’s post, I’m going to share my absolute must see series in a special summer edition of a Pick or Two Per Night… okay, maybe three in some instances.

*****

SUNDAY

True Blood

This picture is missing the hotness of Alcide, but I think everyone gets the point.

But where I say True Blood, my guy would argue Falling Skies

And I must admit, the sci-fi hit about aliens invading our planet is growing on me.

And before we go to bed, we take a quick hit of Weeds

Sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun…

*****

MONDAY

The Closer

I started this series late and then went back and caught up courtesy of Netflix.  Having watched every single episode, I must say that I am VERY pleased The Closer is bringing back “the one” that got away… will Brenda Leigh finally find the evidence to arrest Stroh in these final six episodes?

Then, we end the night with an hour of Teen Wolf

Everyone knows there are werewolves in this series, but without giving too much away, I just want to add that I love the addition of the lizard-like thing this year.  Plus the battle between Scott’s “army” and Derek’s “army” only adds to this TV with bite.  Who will win?  Probably Scott, but as long as Derek gets lots of screen time, we’re all good!

*****

TUESDAY

White Collar

Neal Caffrey is hands-down my favorite con-man on TV…

Plus, I always have to find time to sneak in my teen mystery fave… Pretty Little Liars

And enough time for a quick set of laughs… and sometimes gore…

*****

WEDNESDAY

Necessary Roughness

You know… because it has football. 🙂

And then we go back a day and watch Tuesday night’s Franklin & Bash

They may be unconventional, but they are totally lawyers!

*****

THURSDAY

Burn Notice

I watch for Michael Westen; but I honestly love Sam, Maddie, Jesse, and Fi just as much… My guy can’t get enough of Sam Axe (he’s a big Evil Dead fan).

Followed immediately by Suits

Even though this would NEVER happen in “real” life… someone without a law degree working as an associate at a major law firm… when the managing partner knows his secret… but it’s great TV!

*****

FRIDAY

Common Law

Wes and Travis are really growing on me, especially when they role play…. and my guy laughs his rear off in every episode.

*****

Late Friday night and continuing through Sunday, we cram a lot more into our weekend television viewing.  Come back next week to see just how insanely long that list is… trust me, it’s long.

And in addition to the list of shows above that are or will soon be on my DVR queue, perhaps my favorite summer obsession starts this Thursday…

Big Brother airs one-hour episodes Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday nights on CBS, PLUS three hours of unedited and live footage every night of the week on Showtime.

Let the good times begin!

Do you watch any of these shows?  Which summer show/s do you absolutely have to find the time to watch?  I’d love to hear from you…

Tele-Tuesday: TNT – Terrific (Summer) Nighttime Television

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – TNT has some of the best summer programming of any network today.  Tonight kicks off the new season with the premieres of Franklin & Bash and Rizzoli & Isles, two fun and unconventional dramas.  But the summer fun doesn’t end there!  Three returning favorites and three additional new series also premiere over the course of the summer, keeping our TV schedules full of terrific nighttime television.

*****

Franklin & Bash

They’re Totally Lawyers.  Totally.

Jared Franklin (Breckin Meyer) and Peter Bash (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) have been friends since high school.  The series begins with the two sitting at a diner watching the traffic in Los Angeles while they banter back and forth like best friends do, when a fender-bender takes place directly in front of them.  Racing out to the scene, they immediately offer their business cards and legal representation to the driver responsible for rear-ending another car.

Why is the driver not responsible for the crash when he clearly bumped into the car in front of his?  Franklin and Bash explain that it is because the driver was distracted by the interactive advertising sign yards ahead flashing images of a sexy young woman.  The young and unconventional (really unconventional) attorneys take the case to court and prompt the beautiful girl in the ad to unbutton her shirt while on the witness stand, thus proving her chest to be guilty of causing an unnecessary distraction to those driving.  With that, they win their case against a large and successful law firm.

Witnessing and enjoying the unique techniques of Franklin and Bash, Stanton Infeld (played by Malcolm McDowell) offers the two friends jobs at his law firm.  Along with their ex-con assistant, Carmen, and their agoraphobic clerk, Pindar, the two join the firm.  The series also stars Reed Diamond as Damien Karp, the obvious successor to his uncle at the firm and the classic jerk, as well as Garcelle Beauvais as Hanna Linden, another lawyer at the firm with previous romantic ties with both Damien and Franklin.

Meyer and Gosselaar have great comedic timing and a perfect on-screen chemistry.  Franklin and Bash live together, party together, and work together, yet never seem to tire of one another.  Their famous “Margarita-Mondays” have already saved one of their cases and provided them the vision to defend another case successfully.

Franklin & Bash is full of unconventional (one more time to be clear) courtroom fun, and season two premieres tonight (June 5th).

Rizzoli & Isles

A Boston detective, Jane Rizzoli (Angie Harmon), and her best friend/medical examiner, Maura Isles (Sasha Alexander), solve crime together.

The two friends couldn’t have less in common — Rizzoli hails from a working class family; her dad’s a plumber, her younger brother (Colin Egglesfield) has just been released from prison, and her other little brother (Jordan Bridges) idolizes Rizzoli and is following in her footsteps, much to the dismay of their overbearing mom (the fabulous Lorraine Bracco).  Meanwhile, Isles’ biological father (John Doman) is a Boston mafia boss.  Isles was raised by her adopted parents (her mother is played by Jacqueline Bissett) where she learned to focus on her studies, and adapted a fabulous sense of style.   How many medical examiners do you know who perform autopsies in stilettos?

But regardless of their differences, the girls have each other.  Or at least they did – season two ends with Rizzoli shooting Isles’ dad.  Even though Isles has a difficult time admitting her true feelings for her biological father, he’s still her father.  Will Rizzoli and Isles’ friendship survive?

The series also stars Lee Thompson Young as Rizzoli’s partner, Detective Frost, and Bruce McGill as Rizzoli’s former partner/senior detective, Vince Korsak.

If you liked Crossing Jordan, you’ll also like Rizzoli & IslesSeason three premieres tonight (June 5th).

*****

In the upcoming weeks, we have more to look forward to:

Falling Skies

Falling Skies follows a group of survivors led by Tom Mason (Noah Wyle) after aliens invade and attack our world as we know it.

As if the practically complete destruction of our planet wasn’t bad enough, the aliens want our few surviving children and plan to attach a horrendous apparatus to the children’s spines (the harness).  This device controls the children – but what are the visitor’s end goals?

Falling Skies also stars Moon Bloodgood as Anne Glass, the resident doctor among the survivors, and Will Patton as Captain Dan Weaver (the title “Captain” should give plenty enough away about his role among the survivors).

Courtesy of my Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday partner, Amber West, I learned that Falling Skies is actually inspired by the events at Lexington and Concord during the American Revolution.  To read her review of the sci-fi drama, click here.

Season two of Falling Skies premieres June 17th.

The Closer

The Closer follows Brenda Leigh Johnson (Kyra Sedgwick) and the Major Case Squad as they solve L.A.’s worst crimes, while her FBI-agent/husband (Fritzy or Fritz Howard, played by Jon Tenney) provides his and the Bureau’s expertise to her team.

Brenda Leigh hails from the south, if not already evident by her accent, and has a very hard time hiding her emotions when she has a bad day – she opens her desk drawer full of chocolate and digs in.  She possesses that southern charm we’ve grown to love over the years, and having been born and raised in Texas, I can personally attest to what Brenda Leigh actually means when she says, “Thank you, thank you very much.”  Kyra Sedgwick perfects the sarcasm so many southerners use in our daily vocabulary.

In addition to the drama, each show promises humor, and I find myself smiling at each episode’s end regardless of how gruesome their case.  Most of the fun centers on the interactions of her team: David Gabriel (Corey Reynolds), Louie Provenza (G.W. Bailey), Andy Flynn (Tony Denison), Michael Tao (Michael Paul Chan), Julio Sanchez (Raymond Cruz), Buzz (Phillip P. Keene), and Commander Taylor (Robert Gossett) with her boss, Will Pope (J.K. Simmons).

The final six episodes of The Closer premiere July 9th.

Leverage

The Leverage team consists of a group of criminals turned do-gooders that utilize their specialized skills to avenge those harmed by the wealthy and/or powerful.  Each character has his or her own flaw which helps the viewers understand their passion behind the individual cases they accept.

Nate Ford (Academy Award winner, Timothy Hutton), is “The Mastermind” — he leads this team of otherwise misfits.  He selects the team’s clients, and he uses his skills to anticipate the movement of the con’s marks while the rest of his team is in play.

Joining Nate are his “side-kicks” (without whom, the show would not be the same):

“The Grifter” — Sophie (Gina Bellman).  Sophie serves as Nate’s right hand.  She has secrets that even the audience is still trying to figure out: is she royalty? Is she married? Or is she just a great actress? Well, maybe she’s not as great on stage as she is at playing the marks of the con.

“The Hitter” — Eliot (Christian Kane.  Eliot has a bit of an anger-management problem: he loves to punch and kick, but he refrains from using guns as much as possible.  His number one job is to protect the team; but, sometimes he takes on a character role that showcases his intelligence, not just his muscle, in order to complete the con.

“The Hacker”  — Hardison (Aldis Hodge). Hardison loves his computers, technology, and “Lucille,” his thoroughly pimped out techie van.  He has designed the team’s headquarters twice now (they had to blow the first office up to hide their identities), and the specialized equipment the team uses on each case.

“The Thief” — Parker (Beth Reisgraf).  Moving from foster home to foster home, Parker lacks many social skills, but might just have the biggest heart of all the cons.  One might think that Parker lacks empathy, but when she’s emotionally involved in a case, she’ll stop at nothing to take down the bad guys.  Parker is one of the best thieves around, and her supreme safe cracking skills and her extreme acrobatics make her crucial to every case.

The Leverage team gets it done, even if they are a bunch of “bad cons” converted to good.  Season five premieres July 15th.

*****

But what about new shows – does TNT have any new fresh faces to add to our television programming this summer?

Dallas

One of the most anticipated programs this year is the continued story of the duel between the members of the Ewing family.

We’ll see Ewings from the ever-popular soap opera that aired from the late ‘70s to the early ‘90s, including Larry Hagman as J.R. (who remembers the famous slogan:  Who shot J.R.?), Linda Gray as Sue Ellen, and Patrick Duffy as Bobby to just name a few.  Additionally, we’ll meet the new Southfork generation of Ewings, played by the young, fresh, and beautiful faces of Josh Henderson, Jesse Metcalfe, and Jordana Brewster.

Bring on the oil fields, cattle ranches, cowboy boots, cowboy hats, and family feuds.  Dallas, we’ve missed you.

The new Dallas premieres June 13th.

Major Crimes

Following the conclusion of The Closer, Captain Raydor (Mary McDonnell) takes the lead in TNT’s spinoff, Major Crimes.

For the past few seasons, we’ve tolerated Captain Raydor while she terrorized Brenda Leigh, leading all of the officer-involved investigations (kind of like Internal Affairs).  But we’ve also witnessed a softer Captain Raydor who has stood by Brenda Leigh and done everything in her power to protect our favorite Deputy Chief.

How will Captain Raydor do leading Brenda Leigh’s team?  That’s right – almost the entire cast of The Closer returns for the new series, including Provenza, Flynn, Tao, Sanchez, Buzz, Taylor, and even Fritzy.

The new Major Crimes premieres August 13th.

Perception

Would TV be complete without a new medical drama?

I don’t know much about Perception, other than it stars Eric McCormack as Dr. Daniel Pierce, a neuroscientist who specializes in complex cases for the FBI.  The series also stars Rachael Leigh Cook, a former student of Dr. Pierce, and the FBI agent responsible for adding him to the team of investigators.

I guess we’ll just have to see what this is all about.  Perception premieres July 19th.

*****

Do you enjoy any of the above TNT original programs?  Which of the new summer 2012 shows are you most looking forward to?  I’d love to hear from you! 

Tele-Tuesday – New to Summer: Better Late Than Never

Summer is coming to an end, and we have some new programs to sink our teeth into before the fall television series return.  These new shows bring drama galore – police drama, dating drama, and teen drama.  What will you watch?

The new police drama:

Against the Wall – Lifetime

Wanting to advance her career in the Chicago Police Department, Abby Kowalski (Rachael Carpani most recognizable for her recurring roles on Cane and The Glades) is faced with a tough decision.  Does she wait for the necessary promotions as a female detective, or speed things up and join the Internal Affairs division?  Abby chooses IA, and her decision causes a divide within her family; a family with a long line of Chicago police officers.

Everyone knows that cops and IA officers do not get along – but what happens when a decision affects your entire family dynamic?

Against the Wall also stars Treat Williams (Everwood), as Abby’s father, and Kathy Baker (Picket Fences, Medium), as her mother.

Following the Internal Affairs division instead of detectives adds a nice twist to the ever popular television police drama.   Find out this Sunday if it’s worth a watch– Against the Wall premieres July 31st.

The new comedy – dating drama:

Friends with Benefits – NBC

Hot on the tails of the major motion picture success of No Strings Attached and Friends with Benefits, NBC brings us this new thirty-minute comedy following a group of twentysomethings as they battle the dating world.

In Friends with Benefits, everyone is single and looking – Ben Lewis (Ryan Hansen, Veronica Mars) wants the perfect woman.  Sarah Maxwell (Danneel Harris Ackles, One Tree Hill; yes ladies – she’s married to Supernatural’s Jensen Ackles), just wants someone to settle down with and perhaps start a family.  There’s also the figurative “lady-killer” (Fitz played by Andre Holland), the “free-spirit” (Riley played by Jessica Lucas, who also played Riley on the new Melrose Place), and the “techie-genius” (Aaron played by Zach Cregger).

Oh, and Ben and Sarah are apparently the “friends with benefits.”  Who wants to bet they eventually decide they are soul-mates?

Produced by the great Brian Grazer (Parenthood and Arrested Development), Friends with Benefits might just make the grade.  Find out when the show premieres August 5th.

The new YA inspired drama:

 

The Lying Game – ABC Family

From the creators of Pretty Little Liars, and based on the novel by Sara Shepard, ABC Family brings the young adult audience another teen mystery this August.

Emma Becker learns that she was separated at birth from her identical twin sister, Sutton Mercer (both roles played by Alexandra Chando, As the World Turns).  Emma, a foster-child, agrees to switch places with her twin and live Sutton’s life with her wealthy adopted family while Sutton searches for their birth mother.

Not long into the switch, Emma learns that Sutton has disappeared and she’s faced with the dilemma of telling the Mercer family and all of Sutton’s friends the truth.  Is Sutton in trouble? Why were they separated in the first place?

Like most other ABC Family dramas, The Lying Game has cast a well-known group of actors: Andy Buckley as Ted Mercer (The Office), Helen Slater as Kristin Mercer (Supergirl, The Legend of Billy Jean), Tyler Christopher (General Hospital), Blair Redford (the new 90210), Alice Greczyn (Privileged), and Adrian Pasdar (Heroes).

If the mystery is anywhere near as decent as its predecessor, Pretty Little Liars, TLG is definitely worth a watch.  The Lying Game premieres August 15th.

What do you think? Do any of these shows interest you enough to watch?  Do you think starting in August will help or hurt these shows? Do you know of any other late summer starts?  I’d love to hear from you!

Be sure to go vote for the Tamberny Awards show by clicking here before July 29th!  And, just to show how fun Amber and I can be….

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

Tele-Tuesday: “Real” Summer Fun

The networks produce tons of reality television for basic cable over the summer months.  Let’s be honest – the networks produce tons of reality television every month for all of the networks – period.  One can find reality shows on almost any network at any time, including A&E and The History Channel.

While there is more than enough out there for everyone to choose from, June and July bring back two of our favorite reality shows – Hell’s Kitchen and Big Brother.

 

First up, Hell’s Kitchen

Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey hosts one of the best cooking shows on television, and definitely the most-fun.  Along with his British accent, his multiple Michelin stars (one of the top hotel and restaurant annual guides), his multiple renowned restaurants, and six television programs, Chef Ramsey might just as well be known for his stellar vocabulary.  He drops the “F” bomb a lot, and the television sensors bleep him quite a bit.  “You, Donkey,” happens to be one of our favorite Ramsay-isms.

Lewd language aside, Chef Ramsey shares his knowledge of cooking and invites twelve chefs (some aspiring chefs, some sous-chefs, and some executive chefs) to compete for an opportunity of a lifetime – the chance to win a high paying position at a top restaurant in popular cities such as Vegas, Atlantic City, Los Angeles, and Whistler, British Columbia.

Each season promises drama as the cast members’ personalities inevitably clash.  But most importantly, and ironically, each season the cast members appear to cook the same dishes incorrectly over and over again driving Chef Ramsey absolutely bonkers.  Such dishes include scallops, risotto, and beef wellington.

One by one, the competing chefs’ jackets are burned, leaving only two to battle it out for the prize.  The final two select previously eliminated teammates to work alongside them in the final competition of the season, and there’s nothing quite like watching the two struggle with this decision, knowing the strengths, weaknesses, and tempers of their cohorts.  These two finalists build their own menus and sometimes even design their half of the dining room giving Chef Ramsey a full view of their potential as Executive Chefs.

Chef Gordon Ramsey and season 3 winner Rock Harper

Former winners of Hell’s Kitchen include: Michael Wray (Season 1), Heather West (Season 2), Rahman “Rock” Harper (Season 3), Christina Machamer (Season 4), Danny Veltri (Season 5), Dave Levey (Season 6), Holli Ugalde (Season 7), and Nona Sivley (Season 8).

If you love food, love to cook, or love to laugh, I highly suggest giving Hell’s Kitchen a try.  I have added dining at a Ramsey restaurant to my bucket list.  Do you know what I’ll order?  Scallops, risotto, and beef wellington!

Hell’s Kitchen premiers Tuesday, July 19th on FOX.

 

Next, we have Big Brother

What do you think of when you hear the term ‘Big Brother’?  “Big Brother is watching you,” right?  Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell still lives strong today.  Only today, many people immediately think of CBS’s hit reality show, Big Brother, not the classic literary work.

Each season, approximately thirteen houseguests arrive for their summer of seclusion cut off from the outside world completely – no television, no telephone, no radios, no newspapers, no computers – no contact.  They compete against each other in food and luxury competitions, as well as the ever-powerful Head of Household (H.O.H.) and the Power of Veto competitions in the hopes of winning the $500,000 cash prize.

Alliances inevitably form, and usually only the strongest survive the game.  On the other hand, forming and publicly acknowledging an alliance will most often times ensure the members of said alliance have the largest targets on his/her backs.  Two of the most successful alliances in the history of Big Brother formed the previous two seasons – Season 11’s Jeff Schroeder and winner Jordan Lloyd, and season 12’s ‘The Brigade’ consisting of winner Hayden Moss, and his three buddies: Enzo Palumbo, Lane Elenburg, and Matt Hoffman.

Video cameras capture the houseguests’ every move.  In addition to CBS’s airing three episodes a week, live 24/7 feeds are available online, and Showtime airs Big Brother: After Dark every night from midnight to 3am (EST).

America watches and votes on special circumstances to make the houseguests’ lives even more difficult. For example, the losing members of the food competitions are forced to eat “Big Brother Slop” for seven days.  The slop has been compared to oatmeal in texture, but lacks all taste.  America votes each week and allows the losing houseguests the opportunity to eat other selected food items such as bok choy and baby food.

America has also voted some of the biggest twists into the game – The Power of Coup D’Etat (season 11 awarded to Jeff Schroeder), re-entry into the house (season 6 awarded to Kaysar Ridha), and the Saboteur (season 12 awarded to Ragan Fox).   But don’t worry; Big Brother doesn’t always need America’s help to thrust the houseguests into a deep paranoia.  In Season 11, Big Brother introduced Pandora’s Box.  Each time the houseguest of choice decides to open the box, the remaining houseguests endure a good consequence and a bad consequence.  They never know what might happen until it’s too late and the decision has been made.

Big Brother host – Julie Chen

CBS and Julie Chen host some of the most fun summer television programming has to offer.  If you love watching men & women battle it out physically, go insane and breakdown, and engage in some of the most strategic game-play on television today, check out Season 13!

Big Brother premiers Thursday, July 7th on CBS.

 

Are you a fan of Hell’s Kitchen or Big Brother?  Who’s your favorite winner from Hell’s Kitchen?  Who’s your favorite houseguest from Big Brother?  How about your least favorite and why? Which reality television shows do you enjoy?  If given the opportunity, would you audition for reality television?  I’d love to hear from you!

Special Announcement – Tomorrow, Amber West and I launch our new blog series, Why it’s Worth a Watch Wednesday.  Come back and check out our first editionsSwitched at Birth (ABC Family) and Teen Wolf (MTV).  Stop by the twitter hashtag (#watchwed) and visit with us about any of today’s television shows that you’d like to see discussed on our series.