For weeks now, the cast and crew of MTVs Teen Wolf have been warning audiences that a major character death would happen before the end of the third season. Although the show has never shied away from killing off characters — except for Jackson, who merely moved to London when Colton Haynes left the show — this one could be the last straw for fans.
In November, Teen Wolf creator Jeff Davis hinted that a core character would die in the second half of the third season: “Prepare to lose someone,” he said. “We will possibly be changing our main title sequence, so not everyone’s going to make it out of this season alive.”
For those of us who are still reeling from the traumatic deaths of Erica (Gage Golightly) and Boyd (Sinqua Walls) in 3A, this was particularly harsh.
So who could it be? If Davis is telling the truth and it’s someone in the main title sequence, then it could be Scott, Allison, Stiles, Derek, or Lydia — all of whom have been on Teen Wolf since the very first episode. If Davis is lying (a highly likely possibility) the victim could be Isaac, Danny, or one of the adults: Melissa McCall, Chris Argent, or Sheriff Stilinski. Any of these would tear out our hearts.
Since Teen Wolf is character driven — they keep the show grounded in reality while their lives are inundated with the supernatural — it’s hard to imagine the series without any of these characters. Then there’s the worry that the death won’t be given its due. If Teen Wolf kills off one of the main characters and the show does a poor job of it (like Erica in 3A) that could make the death even more heartbreaking... and infuriating.
We don’t know about you, but we’re very, very wary of the third season finale.
Lions Gate via Everett Collection
When we last left our heroes, they had conquered all opponents in the 74th Annual Hunger Games, returned home to their newly refurbished living quarters in District 12, and fallen haplessly to the cannibalism of PTSD. And now we're back! Hitching our wagons once again to laconic Katniss Everdeen and her sweet-natured, just-for-the-camera boyfriend Peeta Mellark as they gear up for a second go at the Capitol's killing fields.
But hold your horses — there's a good hour and a half before we step back into the arena. However, the time spent with Katniss and Peeta before the announcement that they'll be competing again for the ceremonial Quarter Quell does not drag. In fact, it's got some of the film franchise's most interesting commentary about celebrity, reality television, and the media so far, well outweighing the merit of The Hunger Games' satire on the subject matter by having Katniss struggle with her responsibilities as Panem's idol. Does she abide by the command of status quo, delighting in the public's applause for her and keeping them complacently saturated with her smiles and curtsies? Or does Katniss hold three fingers high in opposition to the machine into which she has been thrown? It's a quarrel that the real Jennifer Lawrence would handle with a castigation of the media and a joke about sandwiches, or something... but her stakes are, admittedly, much lower. Harvey Weinstein isn't threatening to kill her secret boyfriend.
Through this chapter, Katniss also grapples with a more personal warfare: her devotion to Gale (despite her inability to commit to the idea of love) and her family, her complicated, moralistic affection for Peeta, her remorse over losing Rue, and her agonizing desire to flee the eye of the public and the Capitol. Oftentimes, Katniss' depression and guilty conscience transcends the bounds of sappy. Her soap opera scenes with a soot-covered Gale really push the limits, saved if only by the undeniable grace and charisma of star Lawrence at every step along the way of this film. So it's sappy, but never too sappy.
In fact, Catching Fire is a masterpiece of pushing limits as far as they'll extend before the point of diminishing returns. Director Francis Lawrence maintains an ambiance that lends to emotional investment but never imposes too much realism as to drip into territories of grit. All of Catching Fire lives in a dreamlike state, a stark contrast to Hunger Games' guttural, grimacing quality that robbed it of the life force Suzanne Collins pumped into her first novel.
Once we get to the thunderdome, our engines are effectively revved for the "fun part." Katniss, Peeta, and their array of allies and enemies traverse a nightmare course that seems perfectly suited for a videogame spin-off. At this point, we've spent just enough time with the secondary characters to grow a bit fond of them — deliberately obnoxious Finnick, jarringly provocative Johanna, offbeat geeks Beedee and Wiress — but not quite enough to dissolve the mystery surrounding any of them or their true intentions (which become more and more enigmatic as the film progresses). We only need adhere to Katniss and Peeta once tossed in the pit of doom that is the 75th Hunger Games arena, but finding real characters in the other tributes makes for a far more fun round of extreme manhunt.
But Catching Fire doesn't vie for anything particularly grand. It entertains and engages, having fun with and anchoring weight to its characters and circumstances, but stays within the expected confines of what a Hunger Games movie can be. It's a good one, but without shooting for succinctly interesting or surprising work with Katniss and her relationships or taking a stab at anything but the obvious in terms of sending up the militant tyrannical autocracy, it never even closes in on the possibility of being a great one.
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There's an allure to imperfection. With his latest drama Lawless director John Hillcoat taps directly into the side of human nature that draws us to it. Hillcoat finds it in Prohibition history a time when the regulations of alcohol consumption were subverted by most of the population; He finds it in the rural landscapes of Virginia: dingy raw and mesmerizing. And most importantly he finds it in his main character Jack Bondurant (Shia LaBeouf) the scrappy third brother of a moonshining family who is desperate to prove his worth. Jack forcefully injects himself into the family business only to discover there's an underbelly to the underbelly. Lawless is a beautiful film that's violent as hell striking in a way only unfiltered Americana could be.
Acting as the driver for his two outlaw brothers Forrest (Tom Hardy) and Howard (Jason Clarke) isn't enough for Jack. He's enticed by the power of the gangster figure and entranced by what moonshine money can buy. So like any fledgling entrepreneur Jack takes matters into his own hands. Recruiting crippled family friend/distillery mastermind Cricket (Dane DeHaan) the young whippersnapper sets out to brew his own batch sell it to top dog Floyd Banner and make the family rich. The plan works — but it puts the Bondurant boys in over their heads with a new threat: the corrupt law enforcers of Chicago.
Unlike many stories of crime life Lawless isn't about escalation. The movie drifts back and forth leisurely popping in moments like the beats of a great TV episode. One second the Bondurants could be talking shop with their female shopkeep Maggie Beauford (Jessica Chastain). The next Forrest is beating the bloody pulp out of a cop blackmailing their operation. The plot isn't thick; Hillcoat and screenwriter Nick Cave preferring to bask in the landscapes the quiet moments the haunting terror that comes with a life on the other side of the tracks. A feature film doesn't offer enough time for Lawless to build — it recalls cinema-level TV currently playing on outlets like HBO and AMC that have truly spoiled us — but what the duo accomplish is engrossing.
Accompanying the glowing visuals and Cave's knockout workout on the music side (a toe-tapping mix of spirituals bluegrass and the writer/musician's spine-tingling violin) are muted performances from some of Hollywood's rising stars. Despite LaBeouf's off-screen antics he lights up Lawless and nails the in-deep whippersnapper. His playful relationship with a local religious girl (Mia Wasikowska) solidifies him as a leading man but like everything in the movie you want more. Tom Hardy is one of the few performers who can "uurrr" and "mmmnerm" his way through a scene and come out on top. His greatest sparring partner isn't a hulking thug but Chastain who brings out the heart of the impenetrable beast. The real gem of Lawless is Guy Pearce as the Bondurant trio's biggest threat. Shaved eyebrows pristine city clothes and a temper like a rabid wolverine Pearce's Charlie Rakes is the most frightening villain of 2012. He viciously chews up every moment he's on screen. That's even before he starts drawing blood.
Lawless is the perfect movie for the late August haze — not quite the Oscary prestige picture or the summertime shoot-'em-up. It's drama that has its moonshine and swigs it too. Just don't drink too much.
This year at the Oscars, Aaron Sorkin took home a golden statue for his screenplay for The Social Network. Odds are, Aaron Sorkin is not a name with which you are entirely unfamiliar. Even if you had no idea that he wrote The Social Network, you’ve probably either seen or, at the very least heard of, The West Wing. This long-running drama about the behind-the-scenes goings on of the White House and the president’s inner sanctum was as critically acclaimed as it was commercially successful.
Unfortunately, and despite the naked, gold man now staring back at him from his mantle, success is something that often eluded Sorkin early on; especially in the realm of television. In addition to The West Wing, Sorkin produced two shows, Sports Night and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, that didn’t make it past a second or even an inaugural season respectively. Even if you don’t count yourself an avid fan of Sorkin, these two shows are sterling examples of top-notch television demanding and deserving of your attention.
Sports Night and Studio 60 both revolve around the high-stress world of producing live television shows; something clearly residing comfortably inside Sorkin’s wheelhouse. Sports Night, as its name suggests, takes place in the universe of late-night sportscasting. The lead anchors of this third-place highlight show are Dan Rydell (Josh Charles) and Casey McCall (Peter Krause). Charles is probably best known for his adolescent turn as Knox Overstreet in Dead Poets Society while Krause forced us all to take notice as one of the leads in HBO’s Six Feet Under. The two of them have the amazing back-and-forth chemistry of lifelong friends and they lend a certain unique and honest perspective as to how the on-air camaraderie of sportscasters can be informed by their history together.
What’s interesting about Sports Night is that it features many of the great Sorkin tropes but presented in such a way as to demonstrate how clueless the networks initially were as to how to package his comedies. This was his first show, and his style was clearly at odds with the ABC sitcom blueprint. Despite the breakneck conversational tennis match that comprised almost all of the dialogue and the severity of the drama into which it often chose to delve, Sports Night is the only Sorkin series to feature a laugh track. It could not feel more like a producer’s note and gives certain moments of the series a very inauthentic quality. Despite this misstep, Sports Night is an amazing viewing experience that adroitly juggles heavy drama with cathartic humor. Luckily, the laugh track doesn’t last…unfortunately neither did Sports Night.
After Sorkin’s first run at TV fell flat, he effectively chalked up a win in this column with The West Wing. As if endowed with a renewed confidence in his roots, Sorkin unleashed Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, which chronicled the inner workings of a weekly comedy variety show. Much like Sports Night, Studio 60 features an outstanding ensemble cast anchored by two creative characters that are also lifelong friends. In this case, they are two comedy writer/producers played by Bradley Whitford and Matthew Perry. The way these two work off each other is an extension of the relationship between Dan and Casey on Sports Night and arguably an improvement upon it. Studio 60 also benefits from the fact that most of its character roster is made up of people who work in comedy so the laughs are effortless at times, but shockingly and intensely layered at others.
There are two big differences between Sports Night and Studio 60. The first is that by the time Sorkin made Studio 60, he had really hit his stride and the network knew exactly how to present his material for maximum effect…or so they thought. There is no laugh track in Studio 60 and the drama is as warmly embraced as a pratfall or one of Matthew Perry’s signature buffoonish double-takes; one of my favorite things about his style of comedy.
The second difference between the two is inherent in the pilot episodes. In Sports Night, we sort of hit the ground running with an entity (the show within the show) that is already well established and constantly moving so we are introduced in the middle of the story and have to hold on for the ride. Studio 60 on the other hand starts with the colossal collapse of the show within the show and the network’s desperate race to save it from extinction. We are forced to watch something rise from absolute ruin piece by piece. This upheaval accounts for the punch-in-the-gut of what I truly feel is one of the greatest pilots of all time.
So if it’s so good, why was Studio 60 binned after one season? Turns out somebody at NBC had the brilliant idea to launch Studio 60 at exactly the same time as 30 Rock. So audiences were forced to choose between a wacky, broadly drawn show (but still well-written to give credit where credit is due) loosely based on SNL and a cerebral, highbrow deconstruction of SNL. You do the math. While Studio 60 was just removed from Netflix Instant, both seasons of Sports Night were recently added. It would behoove you to shell out a few coins to purchase the first, and only season of Studio 60 and give Sports Night a spin on Netflix. These two shows represent the great potential of television writing, especially in the hands of a mad genius like Aaron Sorkin.
Gwen Verdon, a four-time Tony Award winner from Broadway's Golden Age, has died at age 75 from natural causes at her daughter's Vermont home. The petite, redheaded performer captivated audiences in musicals such as "Damn Yankees," "Chicago" and "Sweet Charity."
Verdon was married to director-choreographer Bob Fosse, whom she married in 1960, and the couple worked together on "Anna Christie" and "Redhead" along with "Chicago" and "Damn Yankees." Her last Broadway appearance was in "Chicago" in 1975 with Chita Rivera and Jerry Orbach.
Broadway theaters dimmed their lights at 8 p.m. Wednesday in honor of the legend.
ACTRESS JULIE LONDON DIES: Julie London, nurse Dixie McCall of television's "Emergency!", died Wednesday of cardiac arrest in Los Angeles. London, who had been in poor health since suffering a stroke five years ago, was married to "Dragnet" actor Jack Webb, then jazz composer and actor Bobby Troup, who portrayed resident brain surgeon Dr. Joe Early alongside his wife on "Emergency!"
In her youth, London appeared in films with Hollywood legends such as Rock Hudson, Edward G. Robinson and Gary Cooper, and Billboard magazine voted her one of the top female vocalists of 1955, 1956 and 1957.
PRODUCER WALTER SHENSON DIES: Walter Shenson, who produced "Help!" and "A Hard Day's Night" for the Beatles and 12 other films, has died from complications from a stroke in Los Angeles. He was 81.
Shenson worked as a publicist for Paramount Pictures on the films "The Caine Mutiny" and "From Here to Eternity" before turning to producing. Among Shenson's other films: "The Mouse That Roared" with Peter Sellers and "Reuben, Reuben" with Tom Conti.
ACTOR RICK JASON DIES: Rick Jason, who portrayed Lt. Gil Hanley on the 1960s TV series "Combat!", committed suicide at his in Moorpark, Calif., home officials said Tuesday. Jason was 74 and had been depressed over personal matters, officials told Reuters.
Before becoming a household name on "Combat!", Jason starred in the short-lived series "The Case of the Dangerous Robin" and a TV movie, "The Fountain of Youth," directed by Orson Welles. Other TV appearances include "Murder, She Wrote," "Wonder Woman," "Fantasy Island" and "Dallas." Jason also had regular appearances on the soap opera "The Young and the Restless."