Halloween, with a Spoonful of Sugar*.

*Sugar is not people. Unless it is. Proceed at your own risk.

As I compile my list of spooky movies, the wind outside is roaring and the rain will likely keep the tiny pirates and monsters from coming by this evening. (Oh, well: More candy for meeeee!)

I’m not a fan of excessive gore or torture porn, so you won’t find a lot of the popular horror films of the last decade here. Instead, I go for psychological thrillers, violence in service of the plot, and, weirdly, anything with Christina Ricci.

So, if you’re looking for something to watch this evening in between handing out candy – or later this evening – I have a few suggestions. (Descriptions may include spoilers, though I’ll try to keep them to a minimum.)

1) Cursed (2005)
Starring: Christina Ricci, Joshua Jackson, Jesse Eisenberg, Judy Greer
Spook Factor: 3 Ghostfaces

The first of my Christina Ricci picks, this Kevin Williamson-Wes Craven joint production is as tongue-in-cheek as the Scream franchise and, if you pick up the unrated version, only slightly less bloody than any of Craven’s many slasher series. But, in this werewolf-in-the-modern-age story, what I love about this movie is how it doesn’t even try to redeem its villain, as so many other stories try to humanize the monsters.

Watch: Amazon | YouTube

2) Notorious (1946)
Starring: Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains
Spook Factor: 2 Ghostfaces

Of my three favorite Hitchcock films (The 39 Steps and The Lady Vanishes are the other two.), this post-war psychological thriller is guaranteed to stay with you long after the credits roll. While the specifics of the plot are dated, the tension that is artfully ramped up over the course of the movie will eat away at you – as will your curiosity over what becomes of the film’s villain after he’s last seen on screen.

Watch: YouTube

3) The Addams Family (1991)
Starring: Raul Julia, Angelica Huston, Christopher Lloyd, Christina Ricci, Joan Cusack
Spook Factor: 1 Ghostface

The next of my favorite Christina Ricci movies, I’m hard-pressed to pick the first of the two theatrical Addams movies over the second (The summer camp! The baby jokes! David Krumholtz!), but the first outing of the creepy and kooky family on the big screen stands out because it holds up so well as both a comedy and an artifact of its time. As a little girl who loved both Barbies and the Beetlejuice cartoon, this was the first movie I’d ever seen that reflected my interests in a way that didn’t make me feel like my interests were completely out of place.

Watch: Amazon

4) The Burbs (1989)
Starring: Tom Hanks, Carrie Fisher, Corey Feldman
Spook Factor: 4 Ghostfaces

How terrifying can a Tom Hanks movie be? Let me put it this way: This movie so scared me as a child that I blocked it out for years, convincing myself it was a nightmare I’d had until I discovered it was real as a teenager. It has a cast full of big 80s Hollywood names, and the humor walks the fine line between morbid and ‘how did they get that past the censors’ in this dark comedy that will make you think twice about your neighbors.

Watch: YouTube

5) Penelope (2006)
Starring: Christina Ricci, James McAvoy, Reese Witherspoon, Catherine O’Hara, Richard E. Grant, Peter Dinklage, Nick Frost
Spook Factor: 1 Ghostface

This is, frankly, more a fairytale than a cautionary tale, but as it concerns disguises – and as the denouement takes place on Halloween – I’ll include it. It’s not the strongest plot or the tightest written of these films (and it pales next to Ricci’s turn in Sleepy Hollow), but it’s a good choice if you find yourself settling in for a Halloween evening with a pint of ice cream, and you don’t want to scare yourself silly tonight.

Watch: Amazon | YouTube

6) Sleepy Hollow (1949)
Starring: Bing Crosby
Spook Factor: 5 Ghostfaces
I was never the sort of person who hid behind the couch when I was scared – until I saw Disney’s animated short of Washington Irving’s classic short story. If you’re a fan of all subsequent variations on the story (Theatrical releases, stage, TV movies and the TV show), you’ll enjoy this. And if you’re wondering why I deemed it the spookiest of all the entries here, watch it and consider it was intended for children when it was released 64 years ago.

Watch: YouTube

7) From Hell (2001)
Starring: Johnny Depp, Heather Graham, Ian Holm
Spook Factor: 4 Ghostfaces

Into every life a little true crime must fall, and this adaptation of a graphic novel investigation of the Butcher of White Chapel, Jack the Ripper, is my pick. It’s heavy on gore and while, truly, the most frightening element might strike you as Graham’s attempt at an English accent, the genuinely terrifying aspect of this story is knowing the British government might have turned a blind-eye toward one of their own in order to save face.

Watch: Amazon

8) Fright Night (2011)
Starring: Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell, David Tennant, Toni Collette, Imogen Poots
Spook Factor: 3 Ghostfaces

While I love the 1985 original version of this movie, the 2011 remake arguably has a better plot and far better special effects. If you have the time this weekend, it’s worth doing a double-feature of both movies, but if you have only time for one this week, make it the remake and settle in for some genuine laughs and a few cringe-and-giggle moments.

Watch: Amazon

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Our Favorite Halloween Episodes

It’s the most ghoulish time of the year–the time that astronauts, fairy princesses, and tiny Captain Americas ring your doorbell for some free candy! If you prefer shenanigans and tricks to the blood and gore of the horror genre, then kick back and relax with some of mine and Becca’s Top 10 feel-good Halloween-themed episodes, in no particular order.

01. Parks and Recreation {Season 2, Episode 7} “Greg Pikitis”

 

P&R usually delivers gems for their Halloween episodes, especially considering one of them involves a long-awaited proposal, but “Greg Pikitis” stands head and shoulders above all of the others. It might actually be my favorite P&R episode of all time. Ann’s attempt to throw an amazing Halloween party nearly fails before Tom, dressed as T-Pain, comes in to save the day; we also get to see some of the cast in some pretty great costumes. But it’s Leslie’s annual war with one of the town’s high schoolers, Greg Pikitis, that takes center stage. She’s almost unhinged as she stalks, accosts, and threatens to torture her nemesis. She’s aided and abetted by her cop boyfriend, Dave, along with Andy, who introduces his alter-ego: Burt Machlan, FBI. If you’ve never seen Parks and Recreation, I highly recommend this one as an introductory episode.

Watch this episode: Netflix | Amazon | YouTube

02. Community {Season 1, Episode 7} “Introduction to Statistics”

The study group attends Annie’s Dia de los Muertos party (Chang: “You don’t have to keep doing that!”) while Jeff tries to sneak into the faculty party. The episode was awesome, from Pierce tripping on Starburns’ mysterious pills (his chair fort was pure genius) to Abed being Batman.

Watch this episode: Hulu Plus | Amazon | YouTube

03. Friends {Season 8, Episode 6} “The One With the Halloween Party”

 

Ross is Spud-Nik. Chandler is a giant pink bunny, because somehow Monica doesn’t know anything about the Velveteen Rabbit. Rachel is pregnant and terrifying the children. Sean Penn guest stars. And there’s an intense and hysterical arm-wrestling match between Ross and Chandler. Really, how could you not want to watch this episode before heading out to your costume party?

Watch this episode: Amazon | YouTube

04. Boy Meets World {Season 5, Episode 17} “And Then There was Shawn”

 

While this did not air around Halloween, it’s a perfect episode to watch for the holiday. The gang is stuck in detention, and the episode goes through all of the horror genre tropes, with Shawn taking the lead. Angela plays the girl who constantly screams and getting all huffy when Jennifer Love Fefferman screams. Eric delivers one of the most enduring lines of the episode: “Now there’s only two people horribly dead here, that’s an acceptable loss.” While it is fun to see all the tropes being played out in a fun way, there was also heart underneath it. There’s a reason people are being “murdered,” and all is revealed by the end.

Watch this episode: Amazon

05. Psych {Season 6, Episode 3} “This Episode Sucks”

 

I’m not a fan of vampires, and I’m not a fan of vampire parodies, but somehow Psych managed to make a near-perfect episode out of an over-exposed genre. It’s not explicitly Halloween-themed, but Shawn and Gus don vampire costumes (Lestat from Interview with a Vampire and Blacula, often mistaken for Count Chocula, respectively) that are very detailed, and the set designers went above and beyond to create a vampire-themed bar that lends itself to a very Halloween-esque atmosphere. The vampire theme flows nicely through Lassiter’s storyline, where he falls in love with a mysterious blonde woman (Kristy Swanson, aka The Original Buffy) who is connected to a case where a man has been exsanguinated. It has great character moments among Psych’s usual camp, especially if you enjoy grown men doing True Blood impressions.

Watch this episode: Netflix | Amazon | YouTube

07. Chuck {Season 1, Episode 6} “Chuck versus the Sandworm”

Chuck meets someone who he believes he can relate to as he tries to get the assistant manager position at the Buy More. The B story is about Morgan Grimes, Chuck’s best friend, who gets his first dose of adulthood in this episode because he believes he is losing Chuck now that Chuck has Sarah in his life. Chuck has always been about friends and family, and in this episode it delves more into Chuck’s friendship with Morgan, and how loyal Morgan is to Chuck. Who else would wear a sandworm costume with you other than your best friend? (Chuck will be available on Netflix November 1, so let yourself have two days of Halloween.)

Watch this episode: Amazon | YouTube

08. Modern Family {Season 2, Episode 6} “Halloween”

The Dunphys love Halloween, and Claire goes all out to decorate her home as a haunted house (even going as far as admonishing Alex for doing her homework instead of working on her costume). The most memorable part of the episode is Mitchell’s storyline, where he dresses as Spiderman for work only to find out that no one else dressed up; he ends up shimmying down a drainpipe in broad daylight. At the end of the episode, the family gathers together at the Dunphy house to scare the daylights out of the neighborhood kids. Cam tells the world’s worst Halloween story while Gloria talks in a stilted American accent, but the real highlight of the entire episode is Phil, who is freaking out about his neighbor’s divorce. He delivers a lot of sweet and funny moments and really balances out Claire’s neurotic freak-out toward the end of the episode.

Watch this episode: Amazon

09. The Office {Season 2, Episode 5} “Halloween”

The Dunder Mifflin crew always loves to dress up (except for Jim, of course) and this was the first time we got to see it. Michael was obsessing over firing someone while Angela was obsessing about throwing a perfect party. It all goes horribly wrong, as usual, but it ends sweetly.

 Watch this episode: Netflix | Amazon

10. Community {Season 2, Episode 6} “Epidemiology”

  

It has to be a pretty great show in order to land on this list twiceright? Mysterious Army meat leads to an illness that overtakes the Greendale Community College Halloween party. What could be better than that? The only thing better than the one-liners in this episode (“Be the first black man to make it to the end” and “Jeff… Still cool as a zombie!” are my favorites) are the costumes. No one can figure out that Shirley is Glinda the Good Witch, Dean Pelton’s Lady Gaga costume is startlingly accurate, Britta’s T-Rex costume is adorable, and Chang is walking around dressed as Peggy Fleming, making it his mission to accuse people of being racist when they guess he’s Michelle Kwan. The fact that the entire episode is set to ABBA (along with the Dean’s voice memos to himself) just elevates the hilarity.

Hulu Plus (available for free today!) | Amazon | YouTube

It was difficult for us to pare down our favorites to only ten! What are your favorite Halloween TV episodes?

We Need to Talk About Laurel

**This post contains spoilers for the most recent episode of Arrow, “Crucible.”**

As an episode about revelations, coming to terms with past actions, and choosing between what is easy and what is right, this episode was solid. Stephen Amell did some of his best acting opposite Caity Lotz, and she in turn delivered a very memorable and likeable performance as the Black Canary, who turns out to be Sara Lance.

If this episode were an after-school special about the perils of drunk driving, I would have to call it a resounding failure. In fact, I think the episode failed on all fronts regarding Laurel. The last thing anyone wants to watch on TV is a perpetual victim, it’s not exactly an attitude or frame of mind that viewers will rally behind.

If you’re thinking to yourself, “Well, that’s kind of unfair, that sometimes happens with grief, people react in different ways. It’s realistic.” That might be true, but it’s not like Laurel is brand new to tragedy. She survived the death of her sister and her boyfriend and the indignity that their deaths occurred while they were sneaking around behind her back. Instead of spiraling out of control, Laurel worked hard to become a respected lawyer in the wake of her personal tragedy. Now, we are made to believe Laurel was in denial about her role in Tommy’s death, and she only realized last week that it was largely her fault he died. (It’s a point of contention, but let’s call a spade a spade: Tommy wouldn’t have been in the Glades if Laurel hadn’t been too stubborn to leave before the earthquake.)

I’ll also concede the point that she went through a very traumatic ordeal last week; “Broken Dolls” was considerably darker than Arrow’s usual fare, and Laurel came dangerously close to death. It would be enough to send anyone on a spiral, and I would understand it if Laurel had chopped off her hair, quit her job, and moved to the Amalfi Coast. I even understand her hitting the wine bottle pretty hard; it’s not a healthy way to cope, but we all have our ways of dealing.

What I can’t understand is Laurel, former CNRI lawyer and current employee for the district attorney, slamming back glass after glass of wine and then getting behind the wheel of a car. As if watching her drive drunk wasn’t enough cause for outrage, Laurel then proceeded to use her position at the D.A. to try to get out of trouble, and when her father, who watched as his daughter almost died a week ago, showed up to take her home, she was not at all apologetic for her actions.

Even then, maybe I would’ve cut her some slack for still being drunk and full of the nasty emotions that usually accompany inebriation when you’re in a state of grief. Surely the next day, when she’s sober, she would be more reasonable, right? Well, we aren’t that lucky. Instead, when a concerned Oliver turns up to check on her, Laurel trots out her list of woes and holds her unapologetic line regarding her DUI before blowing Oliver off.

I don’t understand the endgame here with Laurel. Each week, she becomes less relatable to a fanbase that is already predisposed not to care about her. I actually started watching this show solely because I was a fan of Katie Cassidy, and for a good part of the first season, I was invested in Laurel’s life. Now, I don’t even know if I care whether she gets her life back on track. She doesn’t serve as a love interest or a nemesis of Oliver, and as of this week, she’s not even hell-bent on catching his alter-ego. The lack of Tommy means Laurel now lacks softness or nuance. She’s no longer serving as a mentor to Thea, and her only interactions with Felicity have been perfunctory. Her only scenes now are with her dad (who delivered much better scenes with Hooded Oliver last week than Laurel has thus far) and with Adam, a character we don’t know enough about to really form an opinion. I know people are speculating that she will somehow become the Black Canary, and I guess the logic is that Laurel needs her own darkness to match Oliver and Sara’s, but her coping mechanisms appear to be different from theirs. So what are they attempting to do with Laurel?

This episode wasn’t all about Laurel, though. Arrow continued its tradition of fast-paced reveals by unveiling Black Canary as Sara Lance, Laurel’s sister. Fortunately, Sara is engaging, entertaining, and equally as tortured as Oliver. Her scenes with Stephen Amell were fraught with emotion, and her concern for her sister and father was evident.

The second revelation came from Oliver, who confided in Diggle and Felicity that he’d lied about Sara’s cause of death. It turns out, Oliver had seen Sara after the shipwreck, and we get a glimpse of that at the end of the episode, where a flashback reveals Oliver coming face to face with Sara on his mysterious captor’s ship. We’ll find out next week about Sara’s role in the flashbacks and how she survived the shipwreck, and hopefully we’ll get some clue about what’s going on with Slade, who was tragically absent from this episode. (Sidenote: Is that the last we’ve seen of Shado? Did she die in the bombings?)

It was this second revelation that produced the best scene of the night: Diggle and Felicity confronting Oliver about his decision to keep Sara’s real cause of death a secret. Thankfully we have Diggle there to muddle through Oliver’s half-truths and omissions as he focuses on the fact that Oliver hasn’t told them everything (or anything) about the island.

Diggle: All right, so just to make sure I understand this correctly: After not drowning when the Gambit went down, Sara didn’t exactly make it to the island with you, where you would see her die yet again. Feel free to fill in the blanks.
Oliver: Not right now.
Diggle: You mean not ever, don’t you, Oliver?

Obviously, Oliver is not forthcoming with fill-in-the-blank details because otherwise we would have no fodder for flashbacks for the rest of the season. The real problem is that Diggle and Felicity have been following Oliver blindly for almost a year now, and neither of them know what it is that made him into the man he is today. Diggle’s been noticeably short-tempered since his breakup with Carly, and that probably has to do with the fact that Oliver still refuses to confide in his team. They’re not ones to sit around and tell sob stories, but Diggle and Felicity deserve at least morsels from Oliver regarding his time on the island. We know all about Oliver’s first year on the island, but that’s because we have the advantage of the show telling us about it in backstory form. There’s no evidence that the name Slade Wilson is familiar to Diggle, much less Felicity.

Speaking of Felicity, her concern in this conversation has more to do with the Lance family and what it means for them that Sara is alive; her secondary concern is for Oliver, who openly cries during the entire scene. “Laurel and Mr. Lance, they both blame you!” Oliver, with the proper amount of angst, says it was his fault she was out there anyway, so why torture her family with the truth about Sara’s death? But it’s after Felicity points out that the Lances deserved to know the truth that Oliver finally explodes: “These were five years! Five years, where nothing good happened! And they were better off not knowing!”

 

Diggle asks the toughest question of all, “Do they deserve to know now?” but Oliver deflects, focusing instead on the Crime of the Week: stolen assault rifles. The Baddie of the Week is known as The Mayor, and he’s not long for this world or episode. The gun problem brings Oliver into an alliance with Alderman Sebastian Blood as they do a gun buy back, during which Oliver confides in Sebastian about his problem with the Lance sisters (though he doesn’t name names). Sebastian’s advice is convoluted and a little alarming:

“Sooner or later, we all go through a crucible; I’m guessing yours was that island. Most believe there are two types of people who go into a crucible: the ones who grow stronger from the experience and survive it, and the ones who die. But there’s a third type: the ones who learn to love the fire, who choose to stay in their crucible because it’s easier to embrace the pain when it’s all you know anymore.”

Oliver was pretty distracted, so I guess that’s why he didn’t recognize that for the scary declaration that it is. Their conversation is interrupted by The Mayor, who ambushes the gun buy back. Sin, the Canary’s sidekick and a new friend to Roy, sustains a gunshot wound to the gut, but she survives it thanks to Roy’s quick aid (and Oliver’s anonymous financial aid).

Toward the end of the episode, Sebastian visits Oliver at Queen Consolidated to thank him for his help during the ambush, and he delivers another chilling line after Oliver suggests he run for mayor: “There is more than one way to save a city.” Hey, didn’t Malcolm Merlyn spout the same sort of propaganda during his ramp-up to the Undertaking?

Oliver encounters Sara at the hospital as she tries to check on Sin, and he pleads with her to reveal herself to her family. She insists that she’s a ghost, “We died on that island,” but Oliver argues that they both lived for a reason. Sara rightly points out that if her family found out the truth, they’d never speak to Oliver again, but he says it’d be worth it. The gravity he has with Sara is the sort of thing we expected to see in his scenes with Laurel last season, which is a good case for keeping Lotz as the Black Canary. It serves as a nice balance for Amell, who gets to show his lightness and smiles in scenes with Rickards’ Felicity, and now we get to see his turn in equally charged scenes with Lotz’s Sara.

 

Paul Blackthorne also delivers two very emotional scenes; the first is where he seeks out Oliver at Verdant and asks him to talk to Laurel. He admits that he drank pretty heavily after Sara died, and that he is afraid of the same thing happening to Laurel. It’s a big moment for Quentin, and probably the closest thing Oliver will ever get to forgiveness from him. The other scene is at the end, when he talks to his AA group over shots of Laurel downing glasses of wine as she takes pills. It’s a tough scene given what he went through last week, the fact that he sacrificed a lot by asking Oliver for his help, and considering that he’s only recently started coming to terms with Sara’s death through healthier means.

As for the Slade-less flashbacks, Oliver sits in a prison cell and gets shot by the man interrogating him. They provide the tools for him to patch himself up, and his cell neighbor tells him they do it to test his strength. “Living is not for the weak,” he says, which is a practical motto for castaways and prisoners.

This episode was not short on reveals, though; at the very end, Sebastian unmasks himself (literally) as Brother Blood, and he’s trying to raise his own army of superhumans to help free the city from its chains. He tries to inject The Mayor, with a serum, but The Mayor dies almost instantly. The fact that The Mayor was taken into SCPD custody but somehow ended up in Brother Blood’s hands is telling: the police department is deeply corrupted.

A few miscellaneous notes:

– Oliver’s most heartbreaking line is when Diggle says, “You know, Oliver, someone once told me that secrets have weight. The more you keep, the harder it is to keep moving.” Oliver is choked up when he replies, “You see how hard I work out,” and poor Diggle doesn’t know how to argue against that. It’s hard to tell if Oliver’s doing it because he still doesn’t fully trust them, or if it’s for the same reasons he won’t tell the Lance family the truth about Sara: They’re better off not knowing.

– During Oliver’s recount of Sara’s survival and subsequent death, Felicity’s expression is tragic as she asks, “Do you have any happy stories?” It’s heartbreaking in an entirely different way.

– Summer Glau reprises her role as Isabel Rochev, but she only seems to chide Oliver for his lateness and continually ask him where he’s going to get money to fund his pet projects. I hope this show has better stuff planned for her in the near future.

– Sara and Sin have a great scene in the clocktower early on in the episode. We learn that they met when Sara saved Sin from a group of guys, and Sara sagely says, “No woman should ever suffer at the hands of men.” It’s clear these two women already have a shared loyalty to one another, even though they both have their secrets, which is why it was nice to see Sara sneak into the hospital to check on Sin at the end of the episode.

Next week, we get to meet the League of Assassins, and hopefully we’ll get to learn more about Canary’s Gotham roots and her connection to Ra’s al Ghul.

The Ambiguously Legal Duo!

Disclaimer: This post contains spoilers for episode 3.03, “Broken Dolls,” of The CW’s Arrow.

This is an episode where Quentin Lance shined. It was obvious that his character was greatly disturbed about one of his former collars, Barton “Dollmaker” Mathis, escaping jail, and going back to making his victims into dolls.

The episode reveals the reason why this case is so close to him is because it happened after he lost his daughter, Sarah, when the Queen’s Gambit sank. The Dollmaker kept killing until Lance was able to catch him. This left Lance more vulnerable because he was not able to save the girls like he wasn’t able to save Sarah. Yet, Lance decides to join up with The Arrow (Yeah! New nickname.) in order to help take the murderer down. I loved the interaction between Lance and Team Arrow.

Lance is the one who reaches out to them for help by calling Felicity. I love the bond he and Felicity seem to have. They have gone from him arresting her on suspicion of helping The Hood to considering her a kind of comrade in arms. (I guess that’s what happens when you defuse a bomb with another person.) Felicity is one of the reasons why Lance  reaches out to The Arrow: Felicity vouches for him. Lance has slowly realized The Arrow may not be as bad as he once was, and him changing The Hood’s name to The Arrow is proof of it. As Laurel tells her father, Lance has seem to have done a complete 180. Lance is realizing the law cannot always offer the justice needed, and it’s the reason why he joins forces with Team Arrow in this episode. This case is close to him, and he needs to stop The Dollmaker or he will live with a certain amount of guilt.

While it is evident Lance is hurting, he is able to understand why he is hurting, and try to overcome the hurt while he is able to identify Arrow and Laurel as being ones who are hurt as well. While keeping an eye out on Felicity while she is undercover, Lance is able to have a real heart to heart conversation with Arrow, opening up to the other man. This is the first time we see him opening up with a character that is not Laurel. One reason why he opens up is because he knows Arrow must be broken as well since he decided to become a vigilante. Lance also recognizes a certain change in The Arrow, with the latter trying a new, non-lethal method. It’s one of the reasons I believe Lance chooses to avoid seeing who is under the hood. Lance sort of has a new-found respect for Arrow, thus the new name, and respects Arrow wanting to keep his identity a secret. Another reason could be plausible deniability. By never seeing who Arrow is, Lance is able to protect Arrow’s identity. He will never have to testify on who Arrow really is, if he does not know who Arrow really is.

Finally, Lance realizes Laurel is broken. He knows there is another reason why she is all gung-ho in capturing Arrow, besides him being the vigilante. He knows something is buried deep in Laurel that she is not revealing. He calls her out on it, and after Arrow saves them, she opens up to him about the guilt she feels about Tommy’s death.

The episode also showed a group and a family breaking. The island group was broken in this week’s episode. First, Slade and Oliver leave Shado by herself, and while they are gone, Slade warns Oliver about forming attachments. The rift between the group is small, but it is slowly growing throughout the episode. It is close to the final part of the island story where we actually see the group torn apart because someone is shooting at them. Oliver lies on the ground about to go unconscious while a part of Slade is on fire. Oliver later wakes up to finds himself in some kind of prison, alone with no sign of his friend. Earlier in the episode Slade called it home, but it was destroyed. They no longer had the home they built with each other.

Then there is Oliver and Thea being broken about their mother’s trial. This is emotionally breaking both of them emotionally especially once the death sentence is put on the table. There is a good chance they will lose their mother. What is amazing is Moira is one of the more stable characters in this episode. She has come to terms with her guilt. But she also reveals to her lawyer there is a part of what she has done that she never wishes her children to know, which limits the defenses available to her.


Finally, there was a better look at the Black Canary. After she helps him escape from Laurel and the SWAT team, The Arrow tells Roy to find her for him. This leads to the introduction of a new character, Sin, who already knows Roy’s nickname, Abercrombie.

Sin is Black Canary’s go-to girl, and both of them are quickly becoming favorites for me. I learned who Black Canary was weeks ago, but what really piqued my interest was seeing her confrontation with the man in an outfit similar to Malcolm Merlyn’s Dark Archer outfit. I can’t wait for this story to unfold, and I really wish we’d get to keep this Black Canary. However, one of my only questions is: Does the Canary already know Oliver is The Arrow?

Tune In / Tune Out: Week of Oct. 19, 2013

“Lull” is a funny word. It sounds so close to ‘dull,’ which is silly because lulls aren’t always dull – unless they’re in TV land. It’s the third week of October and November sweeps are still at least a week off, so our picks (and pans) this week are a little sparse.

Tune IN

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: This week’s episode was written by Game of Thrones writers D.B. Weiss and David Benioff, and that’s reason enough to watch it. If that doesn’t entice you, how about the idea of watching Charlie transform into a genius while the rest of the gang is outsmarted by a rat? – Kerry

The Tomorrow People Full disclosure: I missed the second episode because I had out-of-town visitors and, really, TV kind of pales in comparison to hanging with people you only get to see maybe once a year, if that. But I’m so glad I decided to tune in again this week. (It was a toss-up between this and a new episode of Nova on PBS about how things are made.) I was particularly impressed by the choice to focus on Cara’s background, especially as it hinged on successfully turning an overused trope on its ear. There are thematic similarities between this show and its lead-in, Arrow, but the approach is different enough that it doesn’t feel like watching the same show twice. – Moff

Tune OUT

Castle: It kills me to say so, but this episode was a total mess. When the only bright spot of a sixth-season episode is your guest star (Chuck alum Joshua Gomez) and not the main relationship, the friendly banter between friends, the case, or the quips, then you have a real problem on your hands. Adding insult to the sloppy police work, lazy case building, and questionable methods for dealing with insane people, the episode ended with Beckett actually buying into the idea of time-travel. Why does it seem like the writing staff just doesn’t care anymore? – Kerry

Once Upon a Time: Robert Carlyle and Lana Parilla often are called out for carrying so much of the episodes they’re in, and that praise is well deserved. But this is a show with an ensemble cast, and with the kind of uneven writing they’ve been given thus far this season, it’s not surprising there will be dud episodes because whoever is the focus cannot be expected to carry the entire episode themselves. Yet, that is exactly what happened this week, and, frankly, that is a first or second season problem; it’s not something a show should still be struggling with three seasons in. – Moff

This Tryst is Rated PG

From time to time, reality intrudes on our valuable TV watching time, and we realize we can’t cover everything we love. So, we’ve asked some of our friends to step in and help us out when Real Life gets in the way. And today is one of those days. Please enjoy this Trophy Wife post from Mary.

This post contains spoilers for the most recent episode of Trophy Wife, “The Tryst.”

The promos for this episode (promos! Those clips a network runs like commercials to remind you to watch their shows! Sorry, promos are a mostly foreign concept to diehard Community fans) promised a trip ‘back to the 80’s!’ with Pete, Kate, and Diane all in almost-outrageous-enough-to-be-hilarious costumes of Billy Idol, Melanie Griffith, and Pat Benatar, respectively. It turns out to be a themed school fundraiser, which Diane guilts Pete into helping with after he’s promised to take Kate out for a fancy romantic dinner in a scene where he finds Kate sitting on the floor in the bathroom eating potato chips she hides from the kids “behind the big bottle of bleach.” It’s one of Bradley Whitford’s best scenes of the episode, and he’s not even wearing guyliner yet.

 

While Whitford and Malin Akerman grouse around the fundraiser (and who wouldn’t when Marcia Gay Harden is showing everybody up by looking so luminous in her Benatar getup), Jackie is babysitting and leaving her laptop unattended so Warren and Hillary can stumble upon her video profile for a dating website. The video is predictably full-on Jackie in all her Jackie glory, with Michaela Watkins dressed in what looks for all the world like a costume from a homeschoolers’ production of Fiddler on the Roof, and a performance of an original song titled “No, That’s Not My Elephant.” Warren and Hillary are of course horrified – they actually think she did too many impressions, AND they want to cut out the beatboxing! Simpletons – and offer to help her redo it, with Hillary on wardrobe and Warren contributing his vidding skills. Not even Jackie’s best Foghorn Leghorn impression can deter them. And we have a B-story!

 

Back at the fundraiser, Phyllis Smith reprises her role as mousy teacher Mrs. Steinberg, tapped by Diane to deliver an introductory speech since Diane’s first choice of Pete is missing. Pete and Kate are in a supply closet getting sleeves of cups (I’d be shipping these two based on the vague Jeff/Annieisms alone, even if they didn’t have nice chemistry) and also drinking smuggled whiskey and getting busy. “Schools always make me horny” Kate purrs, and Pete hilariously sighs “Huhhh,” clearly not similarly swayed but also still totally up for it since, y’know, Malin Akerman.

There are a few missed opportunities throughout the middle section of this storyline; Smith is certainly adept at playing sad and mousy, but she sparkled on The Office in her moments of sass and cattiness. It was far more fun to watch her quietly deliver a shrewd zinger to the camera in a talking head as Phyllis Lapin-Vance than when she crumples into tears as Harden’s Diane snips at her to “get it together” and crowds her away from the podium after a terrible speech delivery. And back in the supply closet we find Kate and Pete very PG-ly fixing their clothes after their apparently episode-title-worthy “tryst.” I’d rather have seen some makeouts instead of the clunky dialogue that made sure we know they had sex, especially since the episode is named for it. I mean, I know this is a network sitcom about family values, but what’s more family-oriented than hot married people getting it on?

Before we move on though: Spoiler Alert: there’s no handle on the inside of the supply closet door, because it is in a set built by the crew of a sitcom, and that is how sitcoms do things.

At Chez Harrison, we find Jackie gamely letting Hillary dress her in Kate’s clothes (even though she first balked “…I have a woman’s breasts and Beyonce’s butt”, then chose the bedspread as her favorite potential outfit) while Warren explains to Bert that they’re trying to find his mom someone to marry. “Or maybe they’ll just do it!” he adds quickly, off Bert’s dismay. Predictably, Warren’s suggestion does not ease the worries of an 8 year old who’s discovering he’s not the only priority in his mom’s life, so he interrupts filming with a…

“Noodle dance! Oh yeah!”

It’s adorable. But not as adorable as when Jackie halts filming to sit Bert down and reassure him that he’ll always be her “number one guy.” This storyline works nicely because Jackie is never a desperate spinster; it’s easy to believe her level-headed-ness when she tells Bert she’s just looking for a grown up to “hang out with,” and it’s a boatload of fun to watch her confidently put her Jackiest foot forward in her profile video. The tone is very reminiscent of Abed’s storyline in Community’s “Physical Education”; Jackie and Abed are both willing to bend the way they present themselves to help others’ efforts to get them dates, yet in the end everyone realizes they’re at their most charming when they’re just being themselves. I’m looking forward to a queue of quirky suitors, and I’m very hopeful that they’ll find a love interest for Jackie who appreciates her Christopher Walken impression as much as Bert does.

Back at the school, Pete is smartly using the conveniently placed electrical boxes to flip lights on and off throughout the building to alert someone of their whereabouts. Kate is just so done with this whole evening, and on top of everything else she has to pee (Pete: “How bad is it?” Kate: “Somewhere between Bert on a long car trip and Warren in a hot tub” “Pete: “Oh no.”).

 

In her crankiness she decides to “help” with the lights and succeeds in scaring poor Phyllis some more, and shutting down all the power to the whole building. Inexplicably, flipping the switches back on that they’ve just flipped to off doesn’t work, so Pete and Kate resolve the issue of Pete giving in to Diane’s guilt trips by the light of Kate’s cellphone screen. Kate’s frustrated outburst about the evening’s events is earned; she *did* sacrifice a rare evening out with her husband, and even dressed up for the theme, and that was before getting trapped in a supply closet. Their nice resolution conversation is interrupted when they’re abruptly saved by a janitor, and once back at the fundraiser, Pete immediately refuses Diane’s next request for help. Which turns out to be for him to help her lift a kid in a wheelchair onto the stage, because, again, this is a sitcom.

At home, Kate and Pete sit down to a dinner Pete had Warren had prepared, so it consists of dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets and fruit roll ups. Kate’s fine with it because they also have whiskey. Girl, this is where you lose me. I hope Pete takes her out for a replacement dinner because this is a woman who eats bleach chips on her bathroom floor. Throw her a bone (note: that was not meant to be a callback to my bemoaning their lack of makeouts, but let’s call it a happy accident and count it for both purposes.). Jackie wanders through the scene, nabs a dino nugget for the road (and another because “he needs a friend.” Using it!), and swans out with their bedspread around her shoulders like a poncho. She’s really kinda working it.

Mary is a military wife, mother, and certifiably pathological fangirl. Though she’s written before, this is her first foray into blogging. Her interests include livetweeting, cooking, baking, buying, and – most importantly – eating food, puns, and deciphering her toddler’s attempts to speak English. Follow her #mamatweets, #wifepeopleproblems, and #islandproblems (it’s not all complaining, honest) on Twitter at @maryarrr

Pretty Little Oh Thank God Thor is Talking To Us During the Commercial Breaks!

This post contains spoilers for the Pretty Little Liars Halloween special, “Grave New World,” as well as spoilers for the episodes that aired over the summer.

There’s a lot of good television to be had on Tuesday nights. That’s what my Twitter timeline tells me, anyway. My plate is relatively full on Tuesday nights, so I must’ve been pretty excited to set aside my new favorite comedy (please watch Brooklyn Nine Nine, I don’t ask you for much!) in order to watch four of the most hilariously dressed teenage girls run around a haunted mansion for an entire hour of a backdoor-pilot-Halloween-special, right?

Apparently hats were mandatory. And I wasn’t paying super close attention to the theme, but apparently it was mid-century graveyard Gothic Kentucky Derby? While Spencer just went full-on school marm, which is just SO Spencer.

So, to rewind a bit, at the end of the summer half-season, we learned that Ezra may or may not be one of the A’s. The little liars stumbled upon his lair (or as the show would hashtag it, “#lAir”) in Ravenswood, and it led to the greatest gifset known to mankind. We’re supposed to believe this is a red herring of sorts, because Mona (#MonA) turned out to mostly not really be completely A (it’s #complicAted), and Toby (whose name tragically does not have an “A” in it to capitalize for the relevant hashtags) was also not really A, meanwhile Ali is running around all alive so we don’t know what to think.

I choose to believe Ezra is #EzrA because nothing bad ever happens to Aria, his one true 17-year-old love. The worst thing that ever happened to her was being locked in that box with #deAd #gArrett (okay, I’ve taken the joke too far, I’ll stop now). On the spectrum of terrible things that have happened to these girls, it wasn’t so bad.

 

Still, I suspect this show will wuss out and make it so Ezra was only part of the A team because he was trying to help Aria or something lame like that. They did it with Toby, and viewers were much less invested in his relationship with Spencer than they were/are with Ezra and Aria. And I say that as a Toby fan.

The primary problem with this episode is that it’s a Halloween special. Historically, Pretty Little Liars has delivered lacklustre Halloween specials, despite all the pomp and circumstance they get from the network. If it’s not flashbacks to when Ali was alive, it’s weird one-off storylines where Hanna’s mother encounters a ghost girl who is completely irrelevant to the plot of the show. After three seasons of this, the avid viewer knows not to expect too much from these specials. (I can’t even fathom what the casual viewer makes of this show.)

The actual problem with this episode is that it’s a backdoor pilot for Ravenswood, a show that premiered right after the Halloween special. Backdoor pilots are tricky, because they’re meant to set up a show to spin off out of the same universe as the show you’re watching, but it also asks the viewers to invest a lot of time in characters they don’t normally care about. (Gossip Girl failed miserably at its backdoor pilot, and the CW just recently tried again by spinning off The Originals from The Vampire Diaries, though the jury [and ratings] are still out on that one.) Tonight’s Pretty Little Liars spent half of the episode on Caleb riding a bus with an adorable little brunette named Miranda. She’s cute enough objectively to pique our interest, but when the Liars are running around crypts and old mansions and generally making bad decisions, it’s hard to care about the charming girl who is trying to steal a bag of chips from a creepy old man on a bus.

Moreover, most of Caleb’s appeal is his bad-boy-turned-good-boyfriend demeanor, which is 90% thanks to Hanna. They are a winning duo, and they are a couple we cheered for because they’re rooted in honesty. It was really hard to watch Caleb connect with Miranda, and it was really hard to stomach Hanna telling Caleb to stay behind in Ravenswood and help this adorable perfect stranger. It’s not something I like to see Hanna doing, and it makes the entire premise of Caleb staying in Ravenswood feel shaky, even after he discovers his likeness on a gravestone. I get why they want to spin Caleb off onto his own show–he’s the only recurring character with a murky enough backstory and the ability to carry a show–but I think splitting him from Hanna will actually do him a disservice in the fanbase. That remains to be seen, probably on the Ravenswood front, because I’m betting Hanna will have her hands full with tonight’s reveals.

As far as the Liars, I’d give you the play-by-play of the episode, but it basically consisted of a rather contrived graveyard party in a perpetually foggy town, the aforementioned bus ride, a lot of frightening props, and a gratuitous shot of rats for no good reason. Hanna got stuck in a phone booth at one point, and she tried to dial out on a rotary phone.

Aria and Emily teamed up to make the World’s Dumbest Duo, complete with them both sticking their heads under a broken window and narrowly escaping decapitation. Spencer was attacked by EzrA, or we’re supposed to believe it was EzrA because of the creepy Victorian gas mask getup, but she somehow didn’t manage to Spencer her way into unmasking him.

Due to the lack of good material for Spencer, good scenes were few and far between, but the best scene was definitely when Miranda rescued Hanna from the phone booth. Both girls treated each other with suspicion until Miranda found out that Hanna was Caleb’s girlfriend.

Spoiler alert: pretty much.

They ran around the house together, trading quips and being generally awesome, until Miranda went to find Caleb so he could give Hanna the worlds most amazing looking hug.

 

I’m gonna miss these two in action.

Anyway, the upshot of the episode is that 8:57pm rolled around and we were all thinking that this was a waste of a good hour, and then this happened:

 

And the funny thing is, we all already knew Ali was alive: the viewers have known for a while, and the girls found out in the summer finale. As far as reveals go, this wasn’t a huge one, but it was pretty significant. I’m a big fan of Sasha Pieterse, who plays Ali, and she was fantastic in this scene. She was reminiscent of the old Ali, the domineering one we see in flashbacks, but she also portrayed fear and love at the sight of her friends. Don’t get me wrong, Ali’s still sort of a villain at this point, but man, Sasha and Troian Bellisario (Spencer) are on a whole different plane, acting-wise, than the rest of the young actors on this show.

She’s clearly terrified as she talks to the girls, imploring Hanna to remember what she said to her at the hospital, and she disappears when Ezra emerges from the brush, handing Aria her forgotten phone.

They should’ve had a better reason for Caleb leaving his town and his girlfriend. It wouldn’t have been that hard for Caleb to discover his name and likeness on a gravestone a little sooner, so that Hanna could say “Wow, that’s creepy, maybe you should stay here and get to the bottom of this.” Now, we either have to worry about the inevitable love triangle, or we have to hope that Caleb and Miranda are somehow related.

We also should’ve been treated to a bit more from Ali, considering what we sat through for 57 minutes. We should’ve had concrete proof that she’s afraid of Ezra, or some kind of indicator about her endgame, or just a little hint as to what she’s been up to for the past two years.

Good to know, Ali.

At least we had Thor talking to us from an abandoned building at every commercial break. He said the words “Pretty Little Liars” at one point, so that kind of made the entire hour worth it to me.