Tele-Tuesday: Creeping Through the Murder House

Yesterday was Halloween, so in keeping with the previous week’s Tele-Tuesday theme and the spooktacular holiday, we are taking a walk through FX’s new thriller – American Horror Story.

FX does it again with fantastic original programming.  Joining the likes of Nip/Tuck, Damages, and Justified, American Horror Story keeps with the creepy and dark story lines and doesn’t disappoint!

Following a miscarriage and an affair, Vivien and Ben Harmon leave Boston with their daughter looking for a fresh start.  The family buys a gorgeous house, despite learning that the previous owners both died in the basement in an apparent murder-suicide. 

The house is perfect for the Harmons; large enough for Ben (Dylan McDermott, The Practice) to open his private psychiatry practice, and outdated just enough to keep Vivien (Connie Britton, Friday Night Lights) busy redecorating.  At first daughter Violet (Taissa Farmiga) doesn’t understand why the family has to move across the country, but she soon adjusts after she meets her father’s new patient and fellow “cutter” Tate (Evan Peters).    

The family’s new neighbors stop by to introduce themselves: Constance (Academy Award winner, Jessica Lange) and her daughter Adelaide. Constance warns Vivien that Addy has always been attracted to their new home and tends to walk in as she pleases, but fails to disclose that she too has a long history with the house.   

Next, Vivien meets Moira, the house’s former housekeeper.  After briefly visiting with Moira, Vivien decides to hire her to help tend to the house.  But here’s the creepy part – Vivien sees Moira as an older woman (played by Frances Conroy, Six Feet Under), but her adulterous husband sees Moira as a young and sexy maid (played by Alexandra Breckenridge, Dirt).   

Regardless of which version of Moira is on screen, Constance can’t stand her.  Years earlier, young Moira was sleeping with another former owner of the house (played by Eric Close from Without a Trace), a man who Constance loves.  After walking in on Moira and her lover having sex, Constance shoots and kills them both.  Constance doesn’t bother to notice that her boyfriend was forcing himself onto the beautiful housekeeper; instead, she just shoots point-blank into Moira’s eye before taking dead aim at his chest.    

Following a home invasion of crazy people reenacting a previous murder that allegedly took place in her house in the 1960s, Vivien decides to hop on board a tour bus that stops outside her new home to learn a bit of history about the house — The Murder House.

The house was built in the early 1900s by a Dr. Charles Montgomery for his wife, Nora.  Suffering from a down economy, the doctor performs abortions inside the house for extra money.  It’s not long before an angry family member of one of Charles’ patients kidnaps and murders his son.   The events destroy the family, particularly Nora, but when the doctor begins to sew his son back together like a Frankenstein monster, his wife loses it. 

In the 1960s, a group of sorority girls live in the house.  Maria, a devout Christian, answers the door to find a bleeding man on the front porch.  She brings him inside and calls upstairs for the house nurse to help — but it’s a set up.  The man and his friends drown the nurse, and hog tie and brutally murder Maria. 

Vivien has heard enough.  Noticing blood, she jumps off the tour bus and rushes to the doctor afraid she’s suffering another miscarriage.  Her baby is fine, but despite her doctor’s warning to not attempt a move during pregnancy, Vivien insists they sell the house.   

In addition to the legends that Vivien has already heard, the house has an even longer history of death making it difficult for the realtor (Christine Estabrook, Desperate Housewives) to show the house.    

In the 1970s, the house was vacant and set of red-headed twin tweens enjoy vandalizing the property.  Young Adelaide warns the two to not go inside, but they ignore her and continue to break lights and wreak havoc on the house.  After entering the basement, the two boys are murdered. 

Another previous owner, Larry Harvey (Denis O’Hare, True Blood), set the house on fire while his wife and daughters slept.  He too burned, but was spared before perishing himself.  After serving years of his life sentence in prison, he was diagnosed with an advanced stage of brain cancer and was released to live out the remainder of his days a free man. 

Larry begins to stalk Ben and warns him that he must get his family out of that house…

On Halloween 2010, gay lovers Chad (Zachary Quinto, Heroes) and Patrick (Teddy Sears, Raising the Bar) die while preparing to celebrate the festive holiday.  Following a fight, Patrick storms off and a mysterious man dressed in rubber drowns Chad in his apple-bobbing station. 

Attempting to mend fences with his lover, Patrick rushes home wearing his Halloween costume and discovers his partner’s body before suffering his own untimely death at the hands of The Gimp.  As we can see, the previous owners did not die in a murder-suicide, as the realtor tells it, but rather a double homicide.     

Past events continue to unfold, but remember one of the reasons why the family moved away from Boston?  Ben had an affair with his student (Hayden played by Kate Mara from We Are Marshall). 

Hayden announces she is pregnant and shows up at the Harmon house hoping to convince Ben to take care of her or warns she will ruin his marriage.  Crazy Larry takes a shovel to Hayden’s head and Ben covers up the murder by burying her in a grave in the backyard.  As Larry sees it, Ben now owes him; and the house has a new ghost lingering around.

Speaking of the grave, there were other bodies down there: Moira for one.  Constance explains this is why the slain housekeeper is forever tied to the house, especially after Ben builds a gazebo to cover up Hayden’s body.  But are there other bodies down there too? 

All this after just four episodes…    

What do you think?  Have you watched American Horror Story?  Who is The Gimp?  What happened to Tate?  What happened to Constance’s other children, and is she a ghost?  Speaking of Constance, isn’t Jessica Lange magnificent?   What happened to Mrs. Montgomery?  Will Addy be tied to the house along with the other ghosts?  Will the Harmons escape The Murder House?  Who is the father of Vivien’s baby, her husband or the man in the rubber suit?  There are so many questions…I’d love to hear what you think!

Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Last Law & Order Standing

This week, Amber West and I are flipping channels over to NBC and sharing our Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday reviews of Harry’s Law and Law & Order: SVU.

For the past twenty plus years, Dick Wolf’s productions have dominated the NBC primetime slots.  He first created the original Law & Order, and then added spinoffs SVU and Criminal Intent, as well as the short-lived Trial by Jury and LA.    

The last of the franchise still standing today is Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, currently in its thirteenth season.  Like the original, SVU has a great ensemble cast, and it showcases gut-wrenching storylines. 

The Special Victims Unit is a specialized department that focuses on assault and rape cases in New York City, often times inspired by today’s headlines.   

For the first twelve seasons, the SVU team depends on lead detectives Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni).  Benson, the product of her mother’s rape, and Stabler, the father of five children, take the cases personally and sometimes take actions we as viewers wish we could see more of on television – in other words, they’re not always by the book, and therefore one of the partners is always in trouble. 

SVU’s cast, for the most part, has remained the same for all thirteen seasons, including: Captain Cragen (Dan Florek), and also detectives Tutuola (Ice-T) and Munch (Richard Belzer). 

The original Law & Order split the hour-long program into two parts – “the police who investigate crime and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders.” [t1]  SVU doesn’t follow the exact same formula, but does of course involve the district attorney’s office in each episode (returning favorites in season 13 – Casey Novak played by Diane Neal, Alexandra Cabot played by Stephanie March, and Michael Cutter played by Linus Roache from L&O).   

This season, viewers will see a new cast of characters following Meloni’s departure from the show and Hargitay’s rumored request for a lighter workload.  Danny Pino (Cold Case) joins as Det. Nick Amaro from warrants and narcotics, and Kellie Giddish (Chase) transfers to NYC from Atlanta as Det. Amanda Rollins

In addition to SVU’s fictionalized accounts of current events, viewers can count on a large revolving door of guest stars.  So far in season thirteen, we’ve seen a familiar story line where a hotel maid accuses a foreign diplomat of rape.  In episode two, SVU landed guest stars Dan Lauria (The Wonder Years), Mehcad Brooks (Necessary Roughness), and real-life basketball greats Chris Bosh and Carmelo Anthony.    

This week (tonight actually), Kyle MacLachlan (Twin Peaks, Sex and the City) and Paige Turco (Damages) guest star as husband and wife in a fictionalized account of a particular politician’s scandal. 

Before rating, I must issue this warning – the writers don’t sugar-coat things.  If you don’t like watching bad things happen to children, don’t watch! 

The past few weeks, the GTV rating has been awarded left and right; but, not today.  While I do watch Law & Order: SVU religiously, I can only award the JFTV ratingSVU is like junk food, particularly like that bag of greasy potato chips – it’s not great for us, but we keep coming back for more. 

SVU is the last of the franchise airing new episodes.  I simply can’t imagine television today without hearing this:

Of course, I am worried that I will soon have to get my Law & Order fix watching reruns only (thank you, TNT!). 

What do you think? Do you prefer the original Law & Order, SVU, or Criminal Intent? Will SVU survive Meloni’s departure, or will this be the last of the L&O franchise?  I’d love to hear from you!

Now click over to Amber’s blog and check out her review of Harry’s Law.  The GTV ratings came to an end over here; will Amber award another top review over on her site?   

Come back next week when Amber and I switch over to FOX and review two supernatural programs – the new hit, Terra Nova, and the returning favorite, Fringe.

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 future Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday posts. 

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
JFTV (Junk food TV): It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds
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
 


 [t1]Opening narration spoken by Steven Zirnkilton