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‘American Horror Story: Freakshow’ gets freaky with teasers

- August 29th, 2014

American Horror Story: Freakshow may be the exact ingredient needed in keeping the genre pushing series afloat.

FX released five teasers in subsequent for their upcoming fourth season last week, with each one being freakier than the last.

After last season’s venture into campy horror grounds, exhibiting the life of teenage witches not nearly as clever or sincere as Buffy and Sabrina, the show could use a traumatizing season dedicated to dysfunctional bodies and strange characters.

1.) Fallen Angel

The first time audiences are introduced to the elusive woman with wings. Although she may appear angelic, it’s becomes apparent pretty quickly this is a devil in a world run by members of the innermost center of hell.

2.) Lick

Lick is the exact type of teaser American Horror Story fans were hoping to see after last season’s underwhelming scenes. It promises physical grotesqueness, akin to superb standout scenes from both the first (Violet’s body being found) and second season (Santa Clause). It’s not particularly gory, but it’s just creepy enough to elicit a small disturbing shiver out of their most veteran fans.

3.) Spotlight

Spotlight plays heavily with the ideas of shadows, the idea of what potential horror could be lurking around the dark corner. Let your imagination run wild with the possibilities of the endless horrors the cast will have to face on camp grounds this fourth season.

4.) Caged

A mysterious, probably sadistic ring leader holding his troupe and his audience captive is just one theme showrunner Ryan Murphy and his writing team are bound to run wild with, but the possibility of an actual woman with wings sounds simply irresistible for any horror fan.

5.) Head to Toe

Three legs! Attractive woman! A snippet of the eerie American Horror Story music playing in the background!

6.) Admit One

Like the spliced tongue, the unclenching claw or disfigured hand is precisely the right amount of creepy crawly undertones the show needed to rebound. It manages to pull off being both subtle and direct in pointing out just how intense this season may get.

I’m sure in the next couple of weeks more teasers may drop, and I’ll be sure to add them to this collection of all things weird produced by Ryan Murphy’s mind. For now, may these images haunt your dreams and spark your nightmares.

That was Murphy’s goal, right?

American Horror Story: Freakshow premieres October 8 on FX.

Men love Mistresses; And one of them, Jes Macallan, says dudes can learn a few things

- August 29th, 2014

Jes Macallan one

Sometimes watching Mistresses is like being in high school and sneaking into the girls’ bathroom. If you’re a male, that is.

“Oh my God, I love that metaphor!” said Jes Macallan, who plays Joss Carver in Mistresses.

“It’s like those men who got sucked into watching Sex and the City because of their wives, but then never could admit that they really couldn’t turn away. Because this is the secret other side, these are the reasons why we go on dates with you, or sleep with you, and it’s why we’re all crazy, or not, you know what I mean?”

Um, yup.

Mistresses, which airs its second-season finale Monday, Sept. 1 on ABC and CTV, focuses on the lives and loves and ups and downs of four female friends. Besides Macallan’s Joss, there’s her sister Savi, played by Alyssa Milano, Karen, played by Yunjin Kim, and April, played by Rochelle Aytes.

It seems that at least once per episode, Joss, Savi, Karen and April get together for a “girl chat” session that is terrifying to men, because they’re left to think, “Oh my God, is this really the kind of stuff that women talk about?”

As a counterpoint to that, I remember an episode of the old animated sitcom King of the Hill, when Hank made a new friend. Hank happily explained to his wife Peggy that he and his new pal were having such a great time “not talkin’ about stuff.”

“It’s that whole ‘men are from Mars, women are from Venus’ concept,” Macallan said. “We’re wired differently. And I don’t care if you’re gay, straight, whatever, it’s just the genetic makeup of how we communicate.

“In Mistresses we are those women in the demographic who have a glass of wine and tell each other everything and are super emotional and want to express. We over-think everything. And men, you guys are so frickin’ rational, you jerks.”

Well, I don’t know if “rational” necessarily is the right term. Maybe more like, “emotionally constipated.”

“I think this all goes back to hunter-gatherer, in that there’s necessity and practicality and that comes first (for men), because it has to,” Macallan said. “If we were all running around flying by the ass of our emotions, and whatever feelings come up and whatever thoughts happen, it would be chaos.

“But also, I think men need women to kind of soften that, and make sure that everybody feels loved and nurtured. If we combine it, we both have what it takes to meet all our needs.”

In a perfect world, sure. But Mistresses mines the cracks in that system for both drama and comedy.

For example, with Macallan’s character Joss now engaged, there were some funny scenes a couple of weeks ago when Joss met her fiance’s massive family for the first time. Of course, they instantly all were playing charades. What is it about big families and charades?

“Oh my God, seriously!” Macallan said. “And to people who aren’t from big families, what is it about charades that are so horrifying? My family (in real life) is so the charade people. I am the oldest of seven, so that’s why I frickin’ played charades over and over, because my family is gi-normous. But yeah, the size of family is equally proportionate to the inevitability of playing charades.

“Joss is kind of freaked out by the whole scene. She starts to realize, ‘Wow, Savi and I never had this growing up.’ For better and for worse. And I can totally relate to that. I come from very strong parents, but a very broken background as far as marriages and kids. We’re like The Brady Bunch on crack. But my Canadian husband, his parents were married for 30 years, they had this perfect little family.

“So I get it, I’ve been there, when you’ve been dating somebody and you go into something so unfamiliar for the first time, it’s like, ‘Whoaaaaaa.’ ”

In the season finale of Mistresses, Joss’ engagement party is front and centre. If you’re a male, charades or no charades, the whole extravaganza will be like sneaking into the girls’ bathroom in high school.

“That’s exactly what it’s like!” Jes Macallan agreed excitedly.

Meet you in there.

Bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Tony Soprano never died: David Chase

- August 27th, 2014

Did Tony Soprano die?

It’s a question Sopranos fans have been pondering for eight years, the topic of heated debates in the middle of empty dive diners at two thirty in the morning.

Okay, maybe the last part was just my specific group of friends.

Regardless, legendary showrunner and creator David Chase finally confessed that Tony hadn’t died after the screen faded to black at the end of the show’s sixth season.

“No, he isn’t [dead],” Chase told Vox’s Martha P. Nochimson, shaking his head.

Chase has been hounded for years by journalists, critics, fans, and other screenwriters alike for the answer to television’s proverbial finale.

There’s no rhyme or reason for why Chase finally admitted the answer behind closed doors now, but after almost a decade of constant battering and annoying pleading from both complete strangers and close compatriots, the simplest answer is probably the correct one: he was sick of it all.

As Nochimson explains in the profile of Chase, this was a man who fell in love with cinema, poetry, philosophy, and the carefree, do it yourself attitude of the ‘60s. He enjoyed crafting material that ignited imagination in its audience and for years felt nothing but disdain for the very medium he would be come famous for.

“Chase wasn’t just playing with our heads when he designed the conclusion of The Sopranos; he was part of the ongoing evolution of the American imagination,” Nochimson wrote.

Nochimson explained that at the end of the series, with Tony sitting morosely with his wife and son inside a New Jersey restaurant, ready to settle down and possibly leave behind his vicious illegal life, he’s entered his own version of hell after seasons of sifting through purgatory.

It’s all very Dante Alighieri, a comparison the high-browed Chase would gladly accept, I’m sure.

Chase admitted to Nochimson that poetry played a strong part in both the creation and the conclusion of HBO’s show, citing Edgar Allen Poe’s, “Dream Within a Dream” piece as the major inspiration for fading to black instead of producing a more conclusive end.

Other key inspirations came in the form of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, a show that played heavily with dreamscapes and fantastical sequences that marveled television audiences.

It was important to Chase that The Sporanos end on a high, and most importantly, positive note. A picture of Tony Soprano the family man, not the blood stained, maliciously maelovant  monster that he sometimes appeared to be.

The finale is a contradiction that asks a little something out of its audience, Chase explained. Life is full of contradictions, much like Tony’s. Good versus evil, right versus wrong, personal ambition and gain versus the betterment of others. The decision to fade to black was a simple one for that very reason.

At the end of the day, was Tony a monster or a beloved family man?

The debate that sparks from that very question, even in the dingiest of dive bars at two in the morning, is exactly what Chase wanted.

Update: David Chase’s PR team alleged Wednesday night that Chase’s answer was “misconstrued” and taken out of context. According to Chase, “To continue to search for this answer is fruitless. The final scene of THE SOPRANOS raises a spiritual question that has no right or wrong answer,” the press release stated.

Vox has yet to respond to the allegations that they changed the quote to fit their story.

This story will be updated as details come to light.

SPOILER ALERT: Finale details, as True Blood has been spilled for the last time

- August 24th, 2014

true-blood-season-7-teaser-trailer

The series finale of True Blood turned into a sequel of sorts.

So consider this a SPOILER ALERT if you don’t want to know what happened in the finale, which aired Sunday night on HBO and HBO Canada. But if you saw it, you understand that the episode would have fit snugly within the Kill Bill collection of movies. Call it, Kill Bill: Volume III.

The main drama in the finale turned out to be a battle of love, and wills, between Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer) and Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin).

Bill was dying from “hepatitis V,” and had refused the cure, thinking he was doing Sookie a favour by finally getting out of her life in a permanent way. The twist, though, was that he asked Sookie to kill him with her “fairy light,” which would have put him out of his misery and also turned her into a normal girl, which is what she claimed she always wanted.

Ultimately, yes, Sookie killed Bill, with a little help from Bill himself. But they did it the old-fashioned way, with a stake. Sookie came to the conclusion that being a fairy is what she was meant to be, and she actually didn’t want to give it up.

Now, had it been up to me, True Blood would have ended with Sookie walking away from the cemetery.

But there was a flash-forward “happy ending” tacked on, with Eric (Alexander Skarsgard) and Pam (Kristin Bauer van Straten) getting rich off “New Blood,” and everyone gathered for a happy thanksgiving three years down the line, including the previously departed Sam (Sam Trammell). Sookie was pregnant with the baby of a mystery guy, but I suppose he was meant to be just the random “normal dude” that Bill Compton never could be.

In other developments, after an entire season building up Mr. Gus (Will Yun Lee) and his evil henchmen, they all were eliminated with relative ease within minutes of the start of the finale. That whole plot line was kind of ridiculous. And by the way, now that I think of it, why were Eric and Pam so keen on stealing Mr. Gus’ idea about “New Blood?” Why do vampires need to make money? Can’t they just take whatever they need, including vast sums of cash? Oh well, side point, not to ruin the mood.

Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) and Hoyt (Jim Parrack) got married. They’re living in Bill’s house, which he left to Andy (Chris Bauer), on the condition that he rent it to Jessica and Hoyt at a decidedly below-market rate. And also in the flash-forward, Jason (Ryan Kwanten) and Brigette (Ashley Hinshaw) had a mess of kids, but overall it seemed pretty manipulative to add Brigette to the mix with just a few episodes remaining in the series, merely as a closure device for Jason.

Regardless, after seven seasons, True Blood is gone. In the end, even though it broke her heart in the short term, Sookie had to “kill Bill” to be happy in the long term.

There will be no more sequels. Blood has been spilled. TV is a little less red.

Bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Dive into ‘Gotham’ with four new featurettes

- August 22nd, 2014

Fox clearly understands Batman fans simply can’t wait to finally set their eyes on Gotham in one month’s time.

With exactly 30 days until the premiere of their genre turned crime show centered on the life of Commissioner James “Jim” Gordon, the network has released four separate behind the scenes featurettes to, hopefully, hold fans attention until the first episode.

“Gotham is a show very much about the origin stores of some of the greatest super villains of the DC mythology,” creator/showrunner Bruno Heller (The Mentalist) explains in the first video.

It’s precisely the type of content super fans will be eager to watch in order to better understand the side channeling universe they’re about to enter.

The first video focuses solely on the mythology of the DC universe, and more specifically, the villains that inhabit it.

As much as Batman is a fantastic character, a super vigilante (remember readers, he’s technically not a super hero), it’s the anachronistic villains that draw attention back to the series time and time again.

Case in point: Batman: The Animated Series and Batman Beyond.

The second video focuses on the heavily speculated young Bruce Wayne story arc.

Considering the show looks like it’s staying true to its Frank Miller roots, it’s a fair assumption that we can expect to see Year One storytelling elements woven into the show.

Of course, the four part series that has become a staple in the industry focused on Wayne’s evolution into Batman instead of focusing primarily on his childhood, but the murder of Wayne’s parents as the traumatic event that set forward the vigilante persona is discussed pretty heavily at length.

The third video is all about the “vibrant” ambiance of Heller’s Gotham, a stark contrast to the one portrayed in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, according to the showrunner.

“We talked about a city out of control, and our fantasy of 1970’s New York,” director/executive producer Danny Cannon said. “The films of Sidney Lumet (12 Angry Men) and William Friedkin (The Exoricst): Graffiti everywhere, cops everywhere, corruption everywhere.”

The concept art certainly tells a vastly different story than Nolan’s, but that may be the exact ingredient the universe needs for a television reboot.

Since its announcement, the show has been compared to the Dark Knight trilogy, and as more information has become available over time, it’s abundantly clear Heller and his team have a unique perspective for the beloved detective stories.

The last video, and easily the most interesting one, paints a brief picture of the villains and heroes being introduced to the audience in the first season.

As we already knew, the story will focus on Gordon’s slow rise through the police force and the brutal crimes he encounters at the hands of manic murderers.

“People are starting to lose faith in law and order. Criminals are starting to run the streets. The craziness and the kind of theatrical projection that villains have in the DC world are just starting to show their faces,” Heller said.

From Catwoman to the Penguin, the villain origins are shaping up to be the most interesting part of the show, and like I said earlier, the main reason to return week after week.

I guess we’ll see if the show lives up to the hype in just 30 days.

Gotham premieres on Fox on September 22 at 8 p.m. EST.