It's tidbits time, America! And there's loads to learn, know, see, and read on this, the day after Halloween. Spooky, scary! It's like a werewolf bar mitzvah, but not really. Let's get to reading, shall we?
Fairly Legal Will Not Get Third Season: USA has decided to not renew sophomore Fairly Legal after attempts at revamping the series. Network heads gave the show a second-season renewal based on the likability of the show's star, Sarah Shahi, but stressed that the show needed to improve. After no results, even with a showrunner change and casting tweaks on the show, the series ended its second season down 1 million viewers—from 3.5 million viewers to 2.5 million—and that was something USA just couldn't ignore. Don't worry too much about Shahi, though: she's already booked a reoccurring gig on Chicago Fire. And USA is about to renew Burn Notice for a seventh season, so everyone is doing just fine. [Deadline]
It's Seventh Heaven on Scandal: Remember Stephen Collins, the priestly dad from the popular family-friendliest show ever, Seventh Heaven? Well apparently he's ready to have himself a bit of a Scandal, as he's recently lined himself up a guest-starring role on the show as a reporter in an upcoming Season 2 episode. [TVLine]
ABC Relocating with Hollywood & Vines: ABC has its eyes set on another, Revenge-esque show. The network has given a script order to Hollywood & Vines, a murder-mystery set in (duh) Hollywood, from writer/director Michael Tolkin and Revenge's current producers Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey. The new soapy drama series will revolve around three sisters from a dynastic Hollywood family. Their lives are forever changed when they all discover that they're connected to an A-list actress who turns up dead in a pool. Murder! Intrigue! Mystery! Drama! [THR]
Hello Ladies, Says HBO: HBO has given an eight-episode series order to co-writer/director/star Stephen Merchant's comedy pilot, Hello Ladies. The project, co-written with former The Office writer/producers Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky, stars Merchant as an awkward and out-of-touch Englishman on a quest to find the woman of his dreams in Los Angeles—someone he imagines lives in glamorous world of beautiful people he so desperately wants to infiltrate. The pilot co-starred Christine Woods, Nate Torrence and Kevin Weisman. [Deadline]
Brendan Fraser Is No Longer a Legends: Well, that was quick. After recently announcing he would be starring in the project, Brendan Fraser has bowed out of the TNT series. Citing creative differences with showrunner Howard Gordon about the direction of his character, a deep-cover operative named Martin Odum—who has an apparently uncanny ability to transform himself into a different person for each job (Dollhouse, anyone?)—the exit is being described as an amicable one. [Variety]
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The allure of a jump scare that perfectly-timed loud noise that sends a horror movie audience jumping is hard to ignore. They're easy but effective — if you want to shake people up nothing works as well as a well placed violin screech or slamming door sound effect. Thankfully the new evil ghost movie Sinister mostly avoids the easy way out by developing its lead character a novelist with a drinking problem and exploring an inventive twist on "found footage" (the guy actually finds footage). It all works quite well… that is until it starts relying on jump scares.
True crime writer Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke) hasn't had a hit book in years but he hopes to change his life around by investigating a set of murders committed in the backyard of a suburban home. To immerse himself in the history Ellison moves his entire family into the house where the committed murders took place (and without telling them their new home's little secret). He immediately falls down the rabbit hole discovering a series of Super 8 movies depicting the first killings and a string of other bizarre murders all captured on gritty film. Ellison loses himself to the movies only flinching when his wife Tracey (Juliet Rylance) begs him to come to bed or his son Trevor (Michael Hall D'Addario) wakes up in a fit of terror from an anxiety ailment. But as he watches and rewatches the snuff films Ellison begins to see a connection between them: a shadowy figure who it turns out might be a supernatural entity.
Great horror rides on its lead and Hawke serves Sinister well. He's ambitious and overly confident of his abilities as he digs deeper and deeper into the history of the Super 8 movies. He makes some poor choices — why writers in movies are continually keeping secrets from their families and drinking way more whiskey than their finances would allow is one of Hollywood's great mysteries — but Hawke is adept at making the act of watching someone watch something interesting. His obsession with the mystery his slowly disintegrating mind is reminiscent of Jack Torrence in The Shining.
But before Sinister gets that involved with its central character it strays into run-of-the-mill haunted house territory. Vincent D'Onofrio pops up for a quick expositional Skype chat to inform Ellison that the dark being in his home movies might be a Pagan deity that eats the souls of children. That would explain all those pesky kid ghosts that keep whispering in the ear of Ellison's Ashley (Clare Foley) and making creepy bumps in the night.
Sinister's most terrifying material comes from the grainy "found footage." When director Scott Derrickson moves back and forth between Ellison and the films the writer illuminated only by the flickering projector it's chilling. But the movie progresses away from that into its own conventional horror movie. Weighed down by explanation and meandering action Sinister loses track of its character angle in favor of the almighty jump scare. It's exhausting — but then again as the nickname suggests they never fail to make one jump.