Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Ravenswood

Welcome back to Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday!

Today I’m jumping in with one of my most anticipated shows of the season—Ravenswood.

ABC Family Summary: Tormented by a deadly curse lingering for generations in a small Pennsylvania town, five strangers search for its origins to put it to an end. 

I’ve made no secret of the fact about how much I love Pretty Little Liars… and now, I *kinda* have a second hour of PLL to watch every week.  How’s that?  Because Ravenswood is a Pretty Little Liars spinoff!

For those of us who watch PLL, we saw a sneak peek into the town of Ravenswood last season.  And I don’t know about the rest of you, but I couldn’t wait to see why the entire town gathered at the statue when the bells rang.  Creepy!

Which is why I find it odd, how after four episodes, the series has yet to explore this one single time.  Are we supposed to forget how odd it was when Spencer and Toby visited Ravenswood for the first time when the entire town gathered in the cemetery like zombies when the bells tolled?  I guess so.

Anyway…

With the spinoff comes the sad realization that Caleb (Tyler Blackburn) is leaving Rosewood for Ravenswood.  Does this mean he and Hanna are breaking up?  So far, no.

Joining Caleb in Ravenswood are four strangers (to him, not to each other necessarily): Miranda, played by Nicole Anderson from Beauty and the Beast, a transient like Caleb who is searching for her biological uncle and any sense of family that she can find; Remy, played by Britne Oldford from American Horror Story: Asylum, the daughter of the local paper owner who isn’t as quick to dismiss the curse when she discovers a history of it; Luke, played by Brett Dier from The L.A. Complex, a local boy grieving his father’s recent passing and the most reluctant to believe what is going on around him; and Olivia, played by Merritt Patterson from Kyle XY, Luke’s sister (and homecoming queen) who is searching for answers to her father’s death and is the first, besides Caleb, to see actual ghosts.

Together these teens must dig into the town’s past to uncover its secrets. And hopefully break the Ravenswood curse.

The curse… every time a soldier returns from war, usually when he or she survived some miracle that his or her fellow soldiers did not, five teens must die.

And guess what?!  Remy’s mother (played by Sophina Brown from Shark and Numb3rs) just returned from war, having been found underneath rubble, the lone survivor of an attack.

The series also stars: Steven Cabral as Miranda’s uncle, Raymond, and the owner of the Ravenswood funeral home—I don’t know who this Australian actor is, but he is CUTE!!; Henry Simmons (NYPD Blue and Shark) as Remy’s dad, Terry—LOVE him and the fact that he and his real life wife play husband and wife on Ravenswood!; Meg Foster as Carla Grunwald, the creepy funeral home “keeper” who also served as a sorority mother on Pretty Little Liars; and Laura Allen (The 4400) as Luke and Olivia’s mother, Rochelle, who also happens to be the prime suspect in her husband’s murder.

If someone can’t tell, I have a crush on the adult men in Ravenswood… even if Uncle Ray looks like a grown up version of Eddie Munster.

But back to my assessment…

Is Ravenswood as good as Pretty Little Liars?  No.  Not yet anyway.

Actually, the two really aren’t anything alike (other than the character of Caleb moving over to Ravenswood and the PLL girls having visited the town of Ravenswood on occasion).  Our favorite Rosewood girls deal with real life problems, like the murder of their best friend, stalkers, and crazy “live” people…  the Ravenswood five are fighting the supernatural and a curse.

But I will applaud Ravenswood on one thing.  The curse is no joke.  And by that, I mean they’ve actually already killed one of the stars of the show.  Even if he/she (I don’t want to give anything away) is still technically on the show because he/she appears as a ghost (remember, supernatural TV…).  Regardless, that doesn’t happen all that often on TV—the stars of a television series are usually safe.

I’m going to stick with Ravenswood, mainly because I’m a Pretty Little Liars fan and I want to see where it goes.  But like I said earlier, it is nowhere near as good as PLL.  We already know the curse, so there’s not a lot of mystery (except for who killed Luke and Olivia’s dad… and why?).  However, there is suspense (like is anyone else going to die and how?).  For that, I’m awarding the new ABC Family teen drama with the JFTV ratingRavenswood isn’t great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds.

What do you think—have you watched Ravenswood?  I’d love to hear from you!

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
Inedible TV: Exactly how it sounds…

*****

Tiffany A. White is the author of the YA mystery Football Sweetheart series available on Kindle and Nook.  She is available for contact via Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or via email at tiffany {at} tiffanyawhite {dot} com.

Tele-Tuesday: Who’s Behind the Gossip?

This month marked the beginning of the end for one of the CW’s most popular series, Gossip Girl.  After six seasons of witnessing the lives of the very privileged Upper East Side teens (and a few Brooklyn-based teens) at Constance progress from high school to college and now to young professionals, loyal viewers sit on pins and needles to see who the mastermind is behind the “Gossip Girl” email and text blasts.

“XOXO, Gossip Girl.”

And, if the other fans of Gossip Girl are like me, these last few years have been a bit trying… watching every single character silently walk away from college and suddenly find themselves handed the golden spoon to a promising and successful career… waiting to see if any of the characters’ shenanigans would stop or if the same vicious cycle would repeat itself yet again… and needing to know who in the world has been torturing the characters from day one by revealing all of their dirty little secrets.

Who said what about whom?

Based on the young adult novels by Cecily von Ziegesar, Gossip Girl follows five young characters in New York City: Serena van der Woodsen (Blake Lively), also known as “S” and the “It Girl”; Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester), also known as B or the “Queen B”; Chuck Bass (Ed Westwick), also known as the “Bad Boy” of the Upper East Side; Nate Archibald (Chace Crawford), also known as the “Golden Boy” of the Upper East Side; and Dan Humphrey (Penn Badgley), also known as “Lonely Boy” or the lone Brooklynite of the group.  They’re all friends, sort of, and they all have oodles of conflict surrounding them.  Trust me, it never stops.

Queen B’s fashion… remember the headbands?

The early years were great—the latter years not so much.   So why do I keep tuning in for more?  Maybe it’s because I’m a glutton for punishment; maybe it’s because I hate to quit anything, even television shows; or maybe it’s because I can’t give up without knowing certain outcomes after investing six television seasons of my life into the show…

  • Will Chuck and Blair end up together?  They need to.  They deserve each other…
  • Will Dan walk away from the nonsense he has put up with all of these years from Serena, Blair, and Chuck and start a new life?  Please, even if it takes Georgina (Michelle Trachtenberg) helping him come to his senses…
  • Will Nate ever walk away from all of the drama?  He is always the first to help a friend out of a jam, but his character seems so much more grounded than the rest of them.  He deserves more…
  • Will anyone slap Serena?  Anyone?  One time?  Multiple times?  Please?  She is so whiny and self-centered…
“Bad Boy” Chuck… he’s always been my favorite.

But, trust me; it hasn’t always been frustrating and it’s not all bad.  There are quite a few aspects of the show that I won’t complain about.  And, despite my annoyances, Gossip Girl reminds me of some of my favorite television programs of all time.

The fashion.  While so many outfits are a bit over-the-top and most of us could never afford to dress like these kids, the fashion keeps us all up-to-date on what’s hot and what’s not.  Gossip Girl reminds me of Sex and the City in this way.  Women may have loved Carrie’s and the other girls’ outfits, but deep down knew that we’d never own any of it ourselves.  Not at those prices anyway.

S & B – BFFs 4-Ever… just look at how cute these outfits are! Gotta love the hats…

The music.  Gossip Girl kind of reminds me of the “real” 90210 in a way when it comes to music.  Aaron Spelling’s popular teen drama always included the generation’s best music.  At the end of each episode, he would announce the name and artist of the featured songs.  GG does the same, and I’ve learned of numerous artists I may not have known otherwise if not for this (I don’t really listen to the radio anymore).

Poor “Lonely Boy” – he’s never been able to walk away from his love for Serena… not matter how she treats him.

But the real question is—will we learn who “Gossip Girl” really is?  We know Georgina filled in for the gossip columnist for a while, as did Serena and Nate.  But who is the REAL mastermind?  Will the show introduce a new character played by Kristen Bell?  After all, she’s the voice behind the mischief.  Or will it be someone we’ve known all along?  Jenny (Taylor Momsen)?  She’s been MIA for a few years now…  Vanessa (Jessica Szohr)?  Where did she disappear to?  Eric (Connor Paolo)?  He’s been mistreated so many times that we all know he’d have motive.  Or, let’s go out on a limb here… is it one of the adults?  Serena’s mom, Lily (Kelly Rutherford)?  Dan’s dad, Rufus (Matthew Settle)?  Blair’s housekeeper, Dorota (Zuzanna Szadkowski)?  Chuck’s uncle, Jack (Desmond Harrington)?  Wouldn’t that be a nice twist if GG was actually one of the elders?!

Nate… always there when his friends need him.

Bottom line, Gossip Girl, you’ve hooked me.  I must know the answers to my questions, and I will tune in to the final episodes and cross my fingers that we learn the true identity of the face behind the blasts come December when the series ends.  When it’s all said and done, I will wish all of the characters the best moving forward… except maybe Serena.  I don’t know why, but I just can’t bring myself to like the character.

Chuck and Blair… they belong together.

Here’s to hoping the ending doesn’t disappoint.

What do you think?  Are you a Gossip Girl fan?  Who do you think GG is?  Are there any television shows you’ve stuck with from beginning to end simply because you’d already invested so much time into them, but probably shouldn’t have?  I’d love to hear from you!

Friday FabOoolousness – Fall, Football, and Varsity Blues

I’ve asked it before, and I’ll ask it again…  what says Friday night during the fall months better than high school football?

The sun sets; the temperatures cool; and the sounds of marching bands, spectator’s cheers, and the crackling of shoulder pads crashing into one another echo throughout the neighborhoods.  Ah, the memories…

In honor of Football Sweetheart‘s recent release and football season everywhere, grab the old letter jacket, microwave some popcorn, grill a few hot dogs, crack open a coke, and curl up on the sofa for a great movie that reminds us all of the good ol’ Friday nights in fall.

Varsity Blues (1999)

High school football is life in West Canaan, Texas, and anybody who’s anybody plays their part for the team.  Training begins at a very early age—girls perfect their toe-touches as soon as they can jump, and boys practice tossing the pigskin through a tire hanging from a tree as soon as they can stand.

Jonathan “Mox” Moxon (James Van Der Beek, Dawson’s Creek) plays quarterback for the West Canaan team—backup quarterback.  His best friend, Lance Harbor (Paul Walker, the Fast and the Furious movies), is the starting quarterback.  The competition doesn’t bother the two boys, but it drives their fathers absolutely crazy.

The two teens seemingly have it all—Mox has the grades for prestigious Brown University, plus he has a healthy teenage relationship with his best friend’s sister (Jules Harbor, played by Amy Smart).  Lance doesn’t quite have the grades, but he does have an opportunity to play college ball, and he’s dating a gorgeous cheerleader (Darcy Sears, played by Ali Larter).

Everything comes crashing down around the boys when Lance injures his knee during a game and Mox is thrown onto the field and thrust into the spotlight.  Mox wasn’t as prepared as he should have been, having not expected to play, but he manages his way through the final buzzer and later rushes to the hospital to be by his friend’s side.

Doctors determine that Lance can’t play, and his football days have quite possibly come to an end.  Mox can’t believe what he’s hearing and he grows even more devastated when he learns that the team’s legendary coach (Bud Kilmer played by Hollywood great, Jon Voight) has been covering up minor knee tweaks here and there by injecting Lance with cortisone shots for a while now.

Mox makes the best of the situation and takes charge of the team with Lance and his other friends by his side: Charlie Tweeder, played by Scott Caan; Billy Bob, played by Ron Lester; and Wendell Brown, played by Eliel Swinton.

Varsity Blues isn’t just about football, but more about teens finding their way in spite of what they have been conditioned to do.

Varsity Blues is about as realistic as it gets when talking about high school football in West Texas, without actually claiming to be inspired by actual events: the coach’s win-at-all-costs attitude; the quarterback’s celebrity (everyone remembers the whipped cream bikini, right?); the realization that great moments are often times the most painful; and that character is built by going against the norm.

The ending can make even the toughest man cry, and this movie will forever be one of the best Friday night flicks for fall.

Oh, and the soundtrack is fabOoolous… Collective Soul, Loudmouth, Green Day, Foo Fighters, Third Eye Blind, and Van Halen to just name a few of the artists.

Now, I’m ready for some football!

Have you seen Varsity Blues?  Did your high school take football as seriously as West Canaan?  What other movies remind you of your high school days?  I’d love to hear from you!

If you liked Varsity Blues, check out my YA Mystery novel, Football Sweetheart… now available on Kindle and Nook!

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