On one of my walls in my college dorm room there’s a huge poster of a surfer walking on a beach at sunset. It says ‘It’s nothing like where you live. And nothing like what you imagine.’ The air of exclusivity and subtle teasing that surrounds the poster mixed with a gorgeous backdrop is exactly what made me so invested in the show it advertises. Ten years have come and gone since ‘The O.C.’ premiered on FOX in the autumn of 2003 and to me it’s as brilliant, influential and beautiful now as it ever was.
The fourth season of ‘The Vampire Diaries’ contains all kinds of new components. The opening has changed into a more generic introduction to the show (don’t worry, they change it back later on). The show is losing some of its steam because it’s using a lot of familiar tricks (understandably so considering this is the fourth season of a show that packs more story than any other show out there). Oh, and the main character is very much dead. Season 4 feels fresh and vibrant. Because “losing steam” on ‘The Vampire Diaries’ means that it’s still pretty much the most daring, fast-paced, ahead-of-the-curb drama that is on the air, there’s still enough to enjoy. The visual effects rival that of ‘Game of Thrones’, the bloodshed and death count puts ‘Dexter’ to shame and the risk the writers dare to take make any show look like child’s play. And yet, ‘The Vampire Diaries’ is still seen as that teen show about a girl in love with two vampires. Which is true. But if you judge a show by its premise, you’re going to miss out on the most fun you can have on network television. Continue reading
With great pride I present to you my essay on the demise of Disney’s traditional, hand-drawn animation. A look back on how the artists, the executives and the industry influenced an art form that thrived and derailed at the biggest entertainment company in the world.
The link will send you to SugarSync where you can download the PDF of the essay.
‘The Croods’ is DreamWorks latest installment and one that hits all kind of high notes. It’s not a sequel and therefor already a refreshment from the studio’s line-up. Yet, ‘The Croods’ is built on age old foundations of storytelling and still manages to feel new. With family, traditional versus modern and road trip wrapped up into one film you can’t really expect too much originality. Everything does go exactly as panned out but one of the perks is that the movie is savvy enough to never question its predictability. Instead, it thrives on it and molds it into something entirely different.
The movie features a caveman family hiding away from the dangerous world they live in, day after day. Until the daughter, Eep, disobeys her father’s rules and goes out to meet a guy named Guy. Guy proclaims the world is ending and unlike any of those Mayan folk, he’s actually on to something. Eep and her family make a run for it and Guy is stuck guiding them on their way to a new home. Continue reading
Second seasons are always tricky for teen shows. The first season finale always leaves a huge mess to clean up and there aren’t a lot of relationships left to explore for the main cast. One Tree Hill fixes this problem just like almost any other character-driven show, by introducing a truckload of new characters. It adds just enough spice to the mix to keep things interesting and feeling fresh while steering away from the drama that ignited the series. After all, estranged brothers Lucas (Chad Michael Murray) and Nathan (James Lafferty) are no longer mortal enemies and the battle between Leyton and Brucas fans is a distant memory.
The season picks up with a funeral but, as the show has done before and will do many more times after, it’s just a dream. Dan (Paul Johansson) hasn’t died from his heart attack but it proves to be enough for Lucas and Keith (Craig Sheffer) to return to Tree Hill. Lucas tries to be friends again with Brooke (Sophia Bush) and Peyton (Hilarie Burton) who are recovering from their broken hearts and are on their way to becoming besties again themselves. Deb (Barbara Alyn Woods) reconsiders her divorce now her husband needs her care. Nathan and Haley (Bethany Joy Lenz) slowly try to convince everyone that their impromptu marriage wasn’t a big mistake.
New faces include the cocky Felix (Michael Copon) who is set on leaving his mark on his new town by organizing a “dare night” while going after his neighbor Brooke. Anna (Daniella Alonso) is the mysterious beauty who runs into Lucas and the two connect immediately, as Lucas is want to do. Karen (Moira Kelly) and Keith both get their own love interests as well, causing their “will-they-or-won’t-they” story to take a backseat. But the only real interesting addition to the cast is the arrogant but charming Chris Keller (played by an unforgettable Tyler Hilton), who’s a musician that connects with Haley through music in ways her fresh husband Nathan can’t. Season 2 is definitely full of life with a large cast who are basically all love interests for one or more people (except for some family members who appear later in the season). But considering barely any of these characters are still around by season’s end, they are more of a distraction than anything else.
In the first half of the season, Tree Hill is turned into a love fest with everybody pairing up and getting disgustingly happy, for a change. Everyone, except Peyton. Gone is the rock chick from last year as the blonde gets the rare role of playing a single girl for a long time. Her journey is relatable and unique in any TV drama, culminating in a excellent episode that sees her alone at a formal wearing her deceased mom’s dress when someone spills a drink on her. Brooke also gets a complete overhaul as she turns from peppy, boy-crazy cheerleader to responsible, careful student-body president. The back half of the show’s longest season expands this kind of character development as multiple characters reflect on who they were, who they are and, as the show’s theme song so explicitly mentions every week, who they want to be. An episode that mirrors the pilot in a “what if” setting proves just how far all of these characters have come since we first met them.
In the sense of character development, the show’s arguably worst season, isn’t all bad. The acting is only really good by exception, namely leads Johansson, Burton and Bush are steady performers, while lead Murray is cringe-worthy at every emotional turn. A lot of time is spent on characters we are never going to see again, but the few times main characters get their spot light are absolutely worth it. After all, this isn’t your Emmy show. One Tree Hill, like other WB shows such as Everwood and Gilmore Girls, rely more on character depth than on story. Stories tend to move at a slow pace but complement the characters and focus more on motives, feelings and consequences, than they do on action. It’s the kind of show you watch on a lazy Sunday afternoon when you’re feeling romantic. It’s the kind of show that touches on blackmail, attempt at suicide or coming out gracefully but never in a raw or realistic setting. It’s the kind of show where moral is turned into quotes and where the musical soundtrack is often better than much of the dialogue. Especially this year the music steps up. With the introduction of club Trick, bands are given a platform to perform even more. Music from Jimmy Eat World, The Get Up Kids, Switchfoot and The Veils is used memorably. When Lucas opens or ends another episode with a voice over in which he quotes a famous author with a line that is relevant to every character’s journey while an indie-rock song is playing in the background, it’s easy to forgive the show’s shortcomings and only care about everyone’s happiness.
One Tree Hill’s second season is made up of more soap, more drama, more music and many more characters, but it still has some of that small town magic that made you fall in love in the first place.
Memories are only as good as the feeling they give you, which why through the art of re-watching, TV shows tend to give you the best kind memories: the ones that last forever. 2012 was a perfect year in that sense adding and taking some of my favorite shows of all time. Whether these shows set themselves apart by cinematography, quotes, song choice, editing, nostalgia or performance, they add up to truly some of the best moments of the year. Here’s my top
10 11 of favorite TV moments of the year.
!!! Obviously there are major spoilers ahead. Watch out if you still want to see Downton Abbey S3, The Vampire Diaries S3 or Grey’s Anatomy S8!!!
Bonus: Kristen Bell’s weird love for sloths
There’s absolute joy in seeing your favorite star in the world in an interview. Ellen is a great host so everything about Kristen Bell visiting would be good. But we couldn’t expect she’d have a birthday video about a special present from her boyfriend. The video is hilarious, the moment so weird and random and yet relatable. It’s an honest moment in a new age where celebrities make their own press. With 14 million views it’s the most popular video from the list and it spun off a series of spoofs and homages. Kristen Bell remains flawless.
Episode: Ellen January 31st, 2012. Continue reading