On Tuesday June 27th 2017, Pretty Little Liars will finally bid adieu. And I say “finally” because I feel like I can’t remember my life before the show. What was once a fun guilty pleasure and then an all-out TV obsession has long since turned into an obligation of sorts – I just need to know how it ends. I’m a bitter-ender, damnit!
This Presidential Election has been rather divisive, but I think we can all agree on one thing – it needs to be over. So after you cast your vote on Tuesday, why not take your mind off things with some TV. No, I’m not recommending you watch the 24-hour news cycle, I recommend checking out these election day-inspired episodes.
Arbor Day is this Friday, so in honor of this tree-hugging holiday, here’s ten memorable trees as seen on TV. To celebrate, why not fire up the DVD player, Netflix, or whatever you use and watch one of these shows. And then turn off the TV and go plant a tree. No seriously, that would probably be a better way to recognize the day.
It’s been another busy year of watching TV. Some beloved shows bid adieu, some jumped the shark, others enjoyed a creative resurgence, and many new excellent shows were added to my watchlist. To celebrate, here’s my ‘best of’ list for 2015. As always, this list is both subjective and ultimately meaningless. Cheers to the new year!
This past week Pretty Little Liars aired a black and white episode (“Shadow Play” 4×19), a homage to film noir, that I thought was equal parts amusing and frustrating. While the episode looked beautiful and thematically worked, I was slightly annoyed by the break in the season’s new found momentum. And I think that highlights a common issue with gimmick episodes, moving the story along needs to be of equal importance as the creation of the new world or new story structure that is being presented.
Gimmick episodes can be a fun break or departure from a television show’s existing world or structure. Hell, television may be one of the only storytelling formats that allows for such a diversion, but the fact remains that television series are meant to tell a story and its a bit of a disservice to fans to not follow through – even if there happens to be singing and dancing.
I mean that’s probably why these kind of episodes got shouldered with the term ‘gimmick’ in the first place. But not all of them are all pizazz and no substance. Just look at Dan Harmon’s Community or the works of Joss Whedon for further proof. From claymation to puppets to musicals to silence, these episodes were effectively used to shed new light on characters or to push a narrative along by eliminating obstacles or inhibitions.
And that’s not to say that Pretty Little Liars failed in those aspects, I just wish this episode aired at a different point in the season, because the last two episodes were finally hitting its rapid-fire WTF pacing that makes the show so much fun, and this one slowed things down considerably, albeit understandably since we were supposed to be inside of Spencer’s sleep deprived and Adderall fueled brain.
Interestingly enough it was the ABC Family who approached the showrunners with the idea to have Pretty Little Liars embrace it’s noir roots and go full on black-and-white. Typically that kind of request would be a hallmark sign for a gimmick episode – something shiny and new for the network to promote during sweeps months, similar to stunt casting. But I’ve got to give the showrunners credit for taking the opportunity to make like the classiest drug haze dream episode ever.
Although there was an ‘ah-ha’ mystery solving moment at the end of the episode, along with a present day reveal to the rest of the Liars that Aria and Ezra were back together, I thought the episode was actually most effective when it was focusing on the Emily and Paige relationship in the 1940s.
Despite the fact that the episode was initially told from Spencer’s point of view, “Shadow Play” really excelled when it switched perspectives to demonstrate that the fears and trepidations expressed by Emily and Paige are still common today. They might be out to their family and friends and live in a pretty protective and supportive circle, but they still have to, unfairly might I add, worry about how society as a whole views them and their relationship and for the show’s writers to make that one of the takeaways, well that’s a pretty good way for a gimmick episode to mean more.
Despite the ongoing un-summer and even un-spring like weather we’ve had in Jersey lately, I take some comfort in the knowledge that it will eventually warm up. I know this because summer TV has slowly started to come back (and because it’s almost June).
So here’s a quick rundown of some of this summer’s new and returning TV series, you know for those rainy and lazy days.
I’ve got a long list of hour-long series I am excited about, which is tricky to balance given my desire to also go outside. Among my favorites – Pretty Little Liars (6/11 Tuesdays 8pm ABC Family) and True Blood (6/16 Sundays 9pm HBO). Both are so ridiculous, in a completely entertaining kind of way.
Falling Skies is also on my to-watch list. TNT’s original sci-fi series has really come into its own in the last two seasons and returns June 16th at 10pm. Under the Dome (6/24 Mondays 10pm) has also piqued my interest. This new series is based on a Stephen King novel and was produced by Steven Spielberg, it also kind of reminds me of Jericho and its cast is highly recognizable to TV nerds like myself.
I can’t say I’m excited about it, and I don’t know if I’ll even watch, but The Killing is coming back for a third season. Yes, it was cancelled and yes they solved Rosie Larson’s case, but if watching somewhat incompetent cops drive around in the rain is your thing, then make sure to tune in on June 2nd at 8pm.
And unfortunately it’s still going to be a long wait for Breaking Bad and the return of Walter White and Jesse Pinkman. The last few episodes finally return to AMC on Sunday August 4th at 9pm.
One of my favorite summer series, So You Think You Can Dance (Tuesdays on FOX) has already returned, but don’t worry you haven’t missed much – they are still in the audition phase.
In the realm of guilty pleasures – Wipeout is back. Catch it at 8pm on Thursdays on ABC. If your a fan of fake scripted series, the second season of TLC’s Breaking Amish airs Sundays at 10pm.
America’s Got Talent kicks off its competition on Tuesday June 4th 2013 on NBC at 9pm. And for anyone who prefers winter, well, Ice Road Truckers is all new Sunday June 9th at 10pm on the Discovery channel.
There are also a good number of culinary competition shows making their debut over the next few weeks, if that’s your sort of thing.
Click here for a complete list of 2013 Summer TV premier dates.
If your favorite summer series wasn’t mention, my apologies, there is seriously way more ‘new’ TV on during the summer than you might think. Networks are even burning off cancelled series like 666 Park Avenue and Zero Hour, so if you were a fan now’s the chance to set the DVR and see what never was. But seriously, check out this comprehensive list of premier dates for summer TV -happy viewing!