Tag Archives: television

Limited Series vs. Book: Big Little Lies, “Once Bitten”

The latest installment of the Big Little Lies limited series picks up with Amabella now being bitten by one of her classmates. Once again, Renata blames the bullying on Jane’s son Ziggy, adding more stress to Jane’s life. She’s already tangled up in visiting the man who assaulted her years ago after Madeline and Celeste find him online and learn that he lives and works nearby. In this episode, we see a different side of Jane starting to come out as she takes her gun to target practice and smokes weed while she drives to her assailant. It was a trip she had planned to make with Madeline and Celeste but instead she goes it alone. We only get a glimpse into her meeting with him but never learn how it ends or if she confronts him. Instead, we just get an image of her screaming and banging the horn in her car, speeding home and getting pulled over by the cops.

Meanwhile, Madeline is having her own car troubles when she gets into a crash with her co-worker and director at the theater, Joseph. He picks up her and takes her “for a drive” to discuss their relationship. The discussion erupts when they crash in the parking lot. Joseph injuries seem serious, but he winds up coming out of it okay, and it becomes clear that the crash more or less shocked the relationship right out of them as they recede by their families for the love and support they need.

Love and support are two things Celeste certainly isn’t getting at home as she continues to navigate her murky and abusive relationship with her husband Perry. Here, again, we see her going to therapy without him. It’s probably for the best, since she finally comes clean –after some serious pushing from her therapist — just how physically abusive and harmful Perry can be.

Again, I loved this episode and how they’re slowly building the tension to the explosion that I expect the final episode will be. However, NOTHING that happens in this episode — with the exception of Celeste’s trip to the therapist — happens in the book! Because this tawdry relationship between Madeline and Joseph doesn’t exist in the book, there’s never a car crash in the novel either. And because Madeline and Celeste never tell Jane they found her assailant in the book, Jane never goes to visit him. If the show was going to add so much story to fill the time of seven episodes, why didn’t it just stick to the book and shorten the series to six episodes instead of seven? But again, the story is still well done, the acting great, and the editing –especially the audio editing int his episode– is incredible.

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Limited Series vs. Book: Big Little Lies, “Living the Dream”

The backlash against Renata’s daughter not inviting Ziggy to her birthday party continues in this third episode of the Big Little Lies limited series. Finally, an episode where things really get moving. We see and hear less from the other parents in the school as part of the investigation and instead delve deeper into the lives of our main characters: Madeline, Celeste, Jane …and Renata? (Renata is an important character in the novel, but certainly is not central to the story; however it appears the creators of the series are trying to make her more of a central character here. Maybe that’s just what happens when you have someone as good as Laura Dern playing the role.)

This episode takes us through Renata’s daughter, Amabella’s, birthday party. Because everyone in class was invited except Ziggy, Madeline arranges for Ziggy and several other kids and moms to instead go to “Disney On Ice” in lieu of the birthday party, stirring up all kinds of mom drama.

Meanwhile, Ziggy accidentally leaves the class hippo behind at “Disney On Ice,” sending his mother, Jane, into a spiral over what the moms will say about her. Jane then reveals to Madeline her big secret: that Ziggy’s father is a man she met in a bar who assaulted her. Madeline’s older daughter decides to move out of the house and in with her father because of the stress she feels in her mother’s home. Celeste and her abusive husband see a counselor together.

This episode takes big steps in moving the story forward. The veil is starting to lift on the darkness of Jane and Ziggy, as well as Celeste and her husband. The episode also somewhat redeems Madeline, making her more likable than in the second episode by showcasing how much she genuinely cares for others.

But there are a couple of striking changes between this episode and what happens in the book. Jane’s assault is described much more vividly in the novel. Jane explains to Madeline that the man who assaulted her also verbally assaulted her, calling her fat and ugly. The fact that he called her that is vital to understand Jane as a person. Her lack of confidence in her body and herself all stem from that singular moment. With those verbal details left out of the series, we’re led to believe the assault was strictly physical when, in fact, it was also emotional, and emotional scars also last a lifetime.

The episode also takes a big jump when we see Celeste and her husband go to couples therapy. Though initially timid, they eventually open up a lot about their abusive relationship in a way that’s so dissimilar from the book, I was shocked. It seems as though the series to trying to humanize her husband? But why? He’s horrible. Celeste’s storyline in the book is so great because we get to watch her become stronger and stronger. By going to therapy with her husband and initially lying about the details of their marriage, she comes across more weak than strong. It’ll be interesting to see how the rest of this plot is played out in the series knowing that it added this twist.

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‘Big Little Lies’ Coming to HBO

If you haven’t yet read Liane Moriarty’s huge bestseller, Big Little Lies — don’t worry, I haven’t yet either!– there’s now more incentive to do it. The bestselling novel is coming to HBO in the form of a limited series.

According to Collider, the series is set to debut in 2017, and it looks awesome. I only found out about this a few weeks ago when I was watching HBO and saw the trailer.

The series stars Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Adam Scott and Laura Dern. It’s interesting that it’s set to air in this way on HBO, but apparently the story is complex enough to warrant more than your standard 120-minute feature, and the cast is so good, well, does it really even matter how long it is?

Meanwhile, this isn’t the last we’ll see of Liane Moriarty adaptations. According to Variety, Witherspoon and Kidman have already teamed up to produce a movie version of Moriarty’s Truly, Madly, Guilty. 

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‘Pretty Little Liars’ Star To Release Book of Essays

ian-harding-01-2015Is life imitating art or is art imitating life here? According to Entertainment Weekly actor Ian Harding, who plays teacher and writer Ezra Fitz on Pretty Little Liars, is releasing his own book of essays entitled Odd Birds this coming May.

His character on the teen phenomenon of a show is a writer and author, so it’s interesting to learn he writes in real life. While I’m deeply curious as to whether he got into writing since playing a writer on the show or if the show creators wrote that into the series, knowing that Harding himself liked to write, I’m also a little confused about the description of his book, as Isabella Biedenharn explains.

Harding will publish his essay collection, Odd Birds, in May 2017, EW can announce exclusively. Odd Birds will chronicle Harding’s life in Hollywood — including anecdotes from PLL — through the lens of bird watching, making it a fascinating and funny journey for readers of both celebrity memoirs and nature books.

How someone tells anecdotes about a teen television series through the lens of bird watching is pretty baffling to me. But I am interested to know if he’s as a good a writer as they make his character out to be on PLL!

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‘Clarissa’ Audiobook Now Available

Is it just me or is 2016 becoming more and more nostalgic for the 90’s? First comes the Fuller House reboot. Now author Mitchell Kriegman’s book, Things I Can’t Explain: A Clarissa Novel is available on Audible. The book is based on 90’s character Clarissa Darling from Clarissa Explains It All.

The audiobook — just released today — is voiced by Melissa Joan Hart’s sister, Emily Hart Madar. (Melissa Joan Hart played Clarissa in the 90’s television series.) Below is a special five-minute clip from the audiobook:

The book follows a grown-up Clarissa as she navigates her 20’s. I listened to the clip this mooring, and have to say it’s perfect for what it is. It definitely has more of a YA feel, but that’s the audience the show always targeted, and it’s a smart way to aim for a new generation of Clarissa fans.

You can download the Audible version of Things I Can’t Explain here.

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Movie & Show vs. Book: Friday Night Lights

515mak2bfsol-_sy344_bo1204203200_It’s hard to believe that when speaking to several fans of the beloved NBC TV show “Friday Night Lights,” they didn’t know the show is based on a book published 25 years ago.

Friday Night Lights tells the true story of the 1988 Permian Panthers high school football team in Odessa, Texas. Penned by Buzz Bissinger, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who decides to spend a year in Texas to understand the beauty and darkness that lay beneath the Friday night lights, the book became a huge bestseller and later spawned a movie of the same name and the TV show. That book had such stunning success for good reason.

First of all, Bissinger has a beautiful way of writing; his description, attention to detail and tone bring the reader to the football fields and locker rooms with him. His prose is moving and powerful, yet understated. Seriously, it’s rare that I pay that much attention to an author’s writing, but Bissinger made me take notice.

What’s amazing is the depth with which he details not only the games played each Friday night, but also the backstories of the six players on whom he decides to focus the book and the history of the city of Odessa itself — one of financial crisis, racism, socioeconomic gaps and crime. In this way, the book includes many things the movie and TV show never get the opportunity to touch. In this day and age when the gap between the rich and poor and between black, white and Hispanic seem to be widening, those details would have been a revelation to see onscreen.

But then again, the movie is now 12 years old and the show 10 years old. Unlike the television series, the movie follows the book exactly, specifically following that 1988 season of the Permian Panthers including Boobie Miles’s injury-sparked downfall and Chris Comer’s rise to the occasion. The TV show takes the premise and many elements from the book and dramatizes it into its own separate — and still mesmerizing — story.

However, Boobie’s story is far more devastating in real life and in the book than in the movie. Where, as the book details, Boobie heart-wrenchingly hurts his knee in a meaningless pre-season scrimmage, the movie has it happen in the first big game of the season, which is a) more dramatic but also b) less ironically shocking and sad. And where, as the book details, Boobie quits the team and is forgotten about, never to speak with most of his former teammates again, the movie finds him standing on the sidelines during the state championship game, cheering for his boys. I get it; the movie producers wanted the movie to have a happy ending. But part of what makes Friday Night Lights (the book) so good is its depressingly real demonstration that things don’t always work out the way you want them to, even if you are a star athlete in high school; sadly, dreams don’t always come true.

It’s safe to say that if you liked the movie or TV show, you will like the book and maybe even appreciate the onscreen adaptations more, knowing the real story. (I also highly recommend reading the 25th anniversary edition, which came out earlier this year. It details a 2015 update on each of the six players Bissinger details in the original edition.)

Get Friday Night Lights, 25th Anniversary Edition in paperback for $10.33.

Or on your Kindle for $9.56.

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J.K. Rowling/”Robert Galbraith” To Release New Detective Novel in Series

Another detective novel from bestselling author Robert Galbraith (reminder: the pen name for bestselling Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling) is on the way.

According to Entertainment Weekly, the next Cormoran Strike novel is due to be released this fall. The novel is the third in the detective series, following The Cuckoo’s Calling in 2013 and The Silkworm in 2014. The third novel is titled Career of Evil, and an official date has not yet been released.

Rowling planned to release a total of seven novels in the detective series, similar to the Harry Potter series. As previously reported, the books are also being adapted into a TV series.

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