Tag Archives: TV

Limited Series vs. Book: Big Little Lies, “Somebody’s Dead”

A blur of flashing red and blue lights, flashes of women in pearls, and images of Elvis and detectives spin in a dizzying display of a dress-up event gone wrong in the opening minutes of the premiere episode of Big Little Lies. The HBO limited series is set to adapt the bestselling Liane Moriarty novel of the same name over the course of seven hour-long episodes.

The density and complexity of the novel certainly lends itself to being a limited series and not a movie that would inevitably leave out plot points for time. That said, the premiere episode starts off a little slow. It focuses on exposition, bringing both the drama of the “Blonde Bobs” — or crazy mothers — around which the murder mystery story revolves and the comedy — particularly from Reese Witherspoon, who plays the character of Madeline.

School orientation is a stressful day for everyone, including children and parents. Madeline proves as much by almost getting into a car crash with a car full of teens, including her daughter from her first marriage and then twisting her ankle. This is where the story starts, in a flashback after the first few minutes establish someone has died at a school fundraiser. This opening episode stays (mostly) true to the story, setting the tone for the tiny beach town of stuck-up mothers and their precocious children.

We meet Madeline, her daughters, her husband, ex-husband and his new wife, Bonnie, as well as Madeline’s best friend Celeste and new friend Jane. Each has kids in the same first grade class, where little Amabella is apparently choked on the first day by a boy in class. She places blame on Ziggy, Jane’s son, who denies having hurt the little girl.

That’s about as far as we get into the story, but in some beautifully shot flashback images, we get the idea that Jane and Celeste have some pretty haunting histories. The visual markers of this are perhaps less subtle than those in the book, but they certainly grab attention.

Differences from the book include the story happening in California instead of Australia and the kids being in first-grade instead of kindergarten (perhaps another year allows for them to be more mature and have more of a voice than in the book?). The series also softens the relationship between Madeline and her older daughter. While they’re sour with each other in the first half of the episode, they have a nice moment at the end that doesn’t really happen in the book until — well, ever. In the show, Ziggy also asks his mother why Amabella said he choked her when he didn’t. That doesn’t happen in the book. While that may seem like a minor detail, it’s really an important one for the overall story and works to make the viewer more sympathetic to Ziggy and Jane.

But the story is so good, the setup so well done, the child actors so good, and Reese Witherspoon’s portrayal of Madeline so comically spunky, there’s no doubt I’ll be watching the rest of the series.

 

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‘X-Files Origins’ YA Books Due in January

If you’re a lover of The X-Files and the recent reboot wasn’t enough for you, there’s no need to worry. According to Entertainment Weekly, just after the new year, a pair of young adult fiction novels will be released detailing Mulder and Scully as teenagers in the late 1970s.

The X-Files Origins: Devil’s Advocate and The X-Files Origins: Agent of Chaos are set to be released on January 3rd and tell the stories of how events in Mulder’s and Scully’s lives led to the professions they entered.

Honestly, I don’t know that adults will be rushing to the bookstore to pick up copies of these books unless it’s for their children. This is clearly the authors’ and publishers’ attempt at trying to pull a younger audience into The X-Files fandom. If successful, it would certainly give young kids something to talk about with their parents. But that’s if it succeeds.

Entertainment Weekly has several excerpts from the new books. 

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‘Mad Men’ Creator Matthew Weiner Pens Novel

120320_innterogation_weiner-crop-rectangle3-largeFinally, a celebrity who’s not writing a self-indulgent memoir but who’s gracing us with what he has already proven to do so well: fiction. “Mad Men’ creator and writer Matthew Weiner has written his first novel, according to The New York Times.

It took him about nine months to write the novel, Heather, the Totality, which is expected to be published by Little, Brown in the fall of 2017. The book sounds absolutely fascinating and perfectly creepy — telling the story of a teenager named Heather from the perspective of multiple characters who are obsessed with her, be it her parents or others vying for her attention.

Publishers who have read it say it’s similar to Henry James or Edgar Allan Poe and is “psychologically very chilling” and “very clever.”

Though Mad Men wasn’t necessarily written with that feeling or tone in mind, I always felt that certain episodes had it — as viewers and other characters just waited and waited for the seemingly inevitable collapse of Don Draper. Same with Tony Soprano in The Sopranos, for which Matthew Weiner also wrote.

Weiner is a man who’s already mastered the craft of writing. This novel is simply a different format, but it doesn’t mean it will be any less artful than that which he’s already created.

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Bryan Cranston To Release Memoir This Fall

“I am the one who knocks” on your…bookshelf? That’s right. Actor Bryan Cranston, who played the infamously beloved Walter White on five seasons of Breaking Bad, is set to release a memoir, A Life in Parts, October 18.

According to Entertainment Weekly, it will includes sections about his most famous roles, including Walter White and the dad on Malcolm in the Middle, as well as sections about his real life.

The best part, though, are the front and back covers of the memoir, which portray Cranston’s uncanny ability to be seemingly friendly and seemingly ferocious. (Truth be told, my fiance and his family ran into Bryan Cranston a few years ago in New York City and said he was extremely friendly.)

Aside from being a big Breaking Bad fan, I have always been fascinated by actors who can vacillate between comedy and drama, as well as those who hit their prime later in life like Cranston did. Coming off one of the most best television series in recent memory, Cranston’s memoir is sure to sell well.

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Review: Year of Yes

year-of-yes-9781476777092_hr-476Recap: When Grey’s Anatomy/ Scandal/ How to Get Away With Murder writer/ creator/ producer/ extraordinaire Shonda Rhimes realized she said “no” a lot, she decided something needed to change. Her sister had pointed out to her during Thanksgiving a few years ago that Shonda Rhimes, the woman who runs ABC’s Thursday night TV show lineup, may have been saying “yes” to more work and more amazing shows — and for that, we are forever grateful — but she wasn’t doing much for herself or her children. When she came to this shocking revelation, she decided that for one year, she would say “yes” to anything and everything that scared her.

And she so wonderfully documented it all for us. She said “yes” to attending events and giving speeches that she would normally turn down without hesitation. She said “yes” to watching what she ate and taking care of her health for the first time in years — and lost a ton of weight doing it. She said “yes” to doing what she wanted, even if that meant losing some friends along the way and ending a relationship. She said “yes” to playing with her children more often. She said “yes” to getting help from a nanny. And then she said “yes” to putting it in a book so we could learn the ways of her almighty awesomeness and badassery.

Analysis: My telling you many of the things Shonda Rhimes said “yes” to does not ruin the book in any way because this book is about so much more than saying “yes” to your fears. It’s about finding yourself and growing up, even when you think you already have. Year of Yes is a unique combination of memoir and self-help book that not only inspires, but energizes. I learned so much about Shonda Rhimes’ life and world, including all the fun details and anecdotes I’d hope for from any memoir. She writes a lot about her family, her career, and her kinship with the character she created, Christina Yang. But I also found that I had some of the same fears as Rhimes does, the same fears that many women have.

This book taught me how to take a compliment (because I deserve it!), and it taught me that difficult conversations are important to have, even if you think you might lose a friend (he/she probably wasn’t a very good one anyway!). I gained a new outlook and perspective from this book. And what’s better: it’s written in the very way Rhimes writes her TV shows. It felt familiar. Rhimes felt like my friend. It was like I could hear Ellen Pompeo as Meredith Grey or Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope saying certain sections of the book out loud. It became clear to me how much of Rhimes’ personality comes out in her TV characters, so it was nice, for once, to see her come out of her shell through this book instead of hiding behind one of her characters.

MVP:  Shonda Rhimes. Publishing a book like is courageous. I couldn’t help but think of all the formerly close friends of hers buying this book and reading the sections about them. Putting it all out there is a scary thing. It is the ultimate “yes,” and Rhimes astounded me by doing it.

Get Year of Yes in paperback for $8.46.

Or get it on your Kindle for $12.99.

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‘Games of Thrones’ Spoilers from Unfinished Book May Appear in New Season

18377268Promises are meant to be broken, right? Well, George R. R. Martin is doing just that. The latest Game of Thrones book he promised to have finished by early this year and published by March isn’t finished yet.

According to Los Angeles Times, he wrote a truly apologetic message to fans on his blog Saturday, explaining “Believe me, it gave me no pleasure to type those words. You’re disappointed, and you’re not alone. My editors and publishers are disappointed, HBO is disappointed, my agents and foreign publishers and translators are disappointed… but no one could possibly be more disappointed than me.”

Asked if the season would include spoilers, he said, “Maybe. Yes and no.” But he also said, “Some of the ‘spoilers’ you may encounter in season six may not be spoilers at all… because the show and the books have diverged, and will continue to do so.”
Not having read the books or seen the show, I can only imagine what fans must be thinking. I think it’s fair at this point to consider the show and book series separate. That said, the concept of Martin revealing some upcoming plot lines of the novel in the new season is pretty thrilling — for both viewers and readers.

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‘Bob’s Burgers’ Cookbook In the Works

For those of you who watch the cartoon Bob’s Burgers, you know that almost every episode includes a “burger of the day.” Now, those burgers are about to become a reality.

According to Entertainment Weekly, tumblr blogger Cole Bowden is releasing a cookbook of all the shows’ burgers of the day, in conjunction with show creator Loren Bouchard. Bowen created the tumblr, The Bob’s Burger Experiment to recreate the shows’ recipes a while back, and it caught the attention of the show creator.

Now the two are releasing a physical cookbook in March 2016, with Bowen’s recreation recipes and show creator Bouchard doing the illustrations. The Bob’s Burgers Burger Book is already a #1 bestseller on Amazon!
You can pre-order The Bob’s Burgers Burger Book in hardcover for $14.41.

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