I can’t believe that the TV season is already coming to a close! It feels like just a few weeks ago we were eagerly anticipating all of our favorite shows to return to the magical boxes in our living rooms, and now we have to endure the long months of summer before we see our favorite primetime hits again. But while we prepare to bid adieu to some of our favorites — yes, I’m looking at you Suburgatory — we also get to say hello to some new deliciously dark dramas.
This week’s edition of Leanne’s Spoiler List has a lovely selection of five fantastic shows from all over the TV spectrum. Ready to know about this week’s killer prom on The Vampire Diaires? Read on for all the details on the gorgeous gowns and dangerous decisions. I chatted with the always wonderful Emilie de Ravin about Belle’s darker alter ego in this week’s all-new Once Upon a Time and caught up with the star of Awkward to bring you scoop on this season’s drastic character changes. Hannibal’s leading man Mads Mikkelsen reveals Dr. Lecter’s taste in women and I watched the world’s most perfect season finale on Suburgatory. Oh, and did I mention there's a lightning round?
1. The Vampire Diaries: Prom Problems
It's finally prom time for our favorite Mystic Falls seniors on The Vampire Diaries, but it's a bittersweet occasion considering at least half of everybody's friends and family are dead. Plus, there's that pesky business of Elena having turned her humanity off. The show returns Thursday at 8PM on The CW for "Pictures of You," the first of five brand-new episodes leading up to the Season 4 finale on May 16.
Since this is The Vampire Diaries we're talking about, there's a lot I can't tell you about what happens. But here's what I can reveal: Early in the episode, Caroline deems this year's prom a "friend dance." It's the perfect name, considering there are some lovely bonding moments between all of the seniors (except the friends Elena has shunned since her No Humanity thing). And shippers, take note: There's Klaroline, Steroline, (all of the -olines, basically), Delena, Stelena, and other coupled-up moments galore. Squee!
Let's see, what else can I tell you? Rebekah, the poor, dance-deprived Original, finally gets to a school dance. For real! And she looks great. Meanwhile, Bonnie learns some very important things about her magic (yes, they're Silas-related), and a prom king and queen are crowned — yes, we know them. Finally, just to get you ultra-excited for the episode, I'll leave you with this: You will see some familiar faces you might not expect. Yes, that was purposefully cryptic. No, I can't tell you any more!
2. Suburgatory: What a Perfect Finale Looks Like
There are many reasons why I completely adore ABC’s quirky comedy Suburgatory. In addition to the giggle-worthy characters and the amazing one-liners I also love their theme song — It’s so catchy! So you can imagine my delight when I was watching tonight’s season finale (Airing at 8PM!) and I heard a beautiful rendidtion of “Pleasant Nightmare,” song by the incredibly hunky Jeremy Sisto — like father like daughter, right?! I can’t reveal when or why George is gracing us with a song, but I can tell you that I definitely got a little misty-eyed. (Okay fine I was totally crying!)
I hate the fact that after tonight’s special two episode season finale, I will have to endure many Suburgatory-free months until next season. (Fingers crossed!) But luckily, the powers that be in Chatswin are sending fans off with one ass-kicking, truth-revealing, game-changing season finale. Be prepared for a change of scenery — and I hope you like leather!
Since so many amazing things are going to happen tonight, I’m going to give you a lightening round of spoilers: Noah is going to get his revenge on Dr. Bob and it is terrifyingly creative. Tessa and Dalia have the best girl on girl TV fight that I have seen in a long time. (Think Kill Bill but with the return of the “lesbian boots” from the pilot!) Ryan Shay will take your breath away with his silent sexiness, and let’s just say I’m curious about bathroom floors now. Lastly we’ll see a familiar face return to Chatswin just in time, and learn a shocking secret about one of our favorite couples.
3. Once Upon a Time: Racy Lacey
It’s finally almost here! After weeks and weeks of magic-free TV, Once Upon a Time finally returns to our lives this Sunday with a brand-new spellbinding episode. On Friday, I’ll be giving Once fans a more in depth article on what to expect from “Lacey,” but for now — to get you all as excited as I am — I just got off the phone with the incredibly sweet Emilie de Ravin to find out all the details on Belle’s new alterego, and just have to spill some secrets!
As all Rumbelle fans know, when we last saw Belle she was wearing a hospital gown, completely stripped of her memories. Luckily, in this Sunday’s episode her memories are restored — but unfortunately, they aren’t Belle’s memories. “Regina gave [Belle] this false memory to once again mess with Mr. Gold, and take away the one thing he loves," de Ravin explains. So, everyone, — let’s say hello to Lacey! De Ravin explains that Lacey is the complete opposite of the Disney princess we’ve all come to know and love.
“Compared to Belle she’s very free-spirited," she says. "She a smart girl, but she doesn’t want adventure and she doesn’t care about books. She’d rather hang out at the Rabbit Hole and drink and play pool." I also made sure to clarify an important distinction — we’ve seen in the past that Belle is very much about book smarts, so is it safe to assume that Lacey is more partial to street smarts?
“Ooh completely!" de Ravin says. "That’s a very good analogy. Belle will have a cup of tea, Lacey will have a double Jack on the rocks. Maybe three.” Oh, I can’t wait to meet her!
For more details on Rumple’s plan to restore Belle’s rightful memory and scoop on the fairytale flashbacks, check back to Hollywood.com Friday morning!
4. Awkward: More Mother/Daughter Bonding
How crazy was the Season 3 premiere of Awkward on Tuesday?! Not only is Ricky Schwartz no longer going to be ruining lives at PHHS, but we survived a almost-pregnancy-scare with Jenna, too! Thanks to Jake’s big mouth, things are now rocky between Matty — who now knows the truth —and Jenna. I caught up with the Awkward cast last week, and star Ashley Rickards told me that Jenna is not mad that the secret came out. “I don’t think that it was even a thought-out decision that she turned to Jake," she says. "I think that he was just there, and it just came out because she trusted him and their relationship."
Despite the fact that Jake might be regretting his “Jenna 4 Eva” tattoo right about now, there are bigger problems heading to our quirky heroine. Rickards told me that fans are going to see Jenna going to a much darker place this season. “I think she has spent two seasons trying to get where she is in life," she says. “There comes a point ... where she’s forced to wonder if this person is who she is — the person she wants to be. It’s sort of the first time she’s going to make some decisions that don’t turn out in her best interest.” Yikes!
At least we know that Jenna’s relationship with her mother is finally in a much better place, and Rickards teases that this relationship is really going to become important to Jenna’s dark days this season. “Between the letter and everything, what tore them apart also brings them closer," she explains. "They’re going to lean on each other — and subsequently Jenna is going to be leaning on Lacey’s fake boobs — a lot more this season.” Aww. Well, true to the show’s theme, that sounds awkwardly nice.
5. Hannibal: Deliciously Dark
If you're not watching NBC's smart, sick new drama Hannibal, you're totally missing out. Not only does it feature jaw-dropping performances from the likes of Hugh Dancy (swoon!) and Laurence Fishburne, but its lead Mads Mikkelsen offers a unique perspective on a well-tread serial killer that will have you both disgusted and mesmerized at the same time.
Although he's a horrible murderer, Hannibal's relationship with the other leads is quite fascinating — and when Jack Crawford (Fishburne)'s wife (Gina Torres) shows up as a patient in Dr. Lecter's practice who is dealing with cancer, we'll find out just how empathetic he can be. "[The cancer is] something that touches Hannibal," Mikkelsen tells Hollywood.com. "He likes to see emotions. He likes to see when people have emotions for certain things. He does have empathy — even though it is an act, a lot of it, he also… believes that this is sad. And his advice is sometimes very useful. It's not all a spin."
But despite his sympathy and compassion for Jack's wife, don't count on Hannibal getting a romantic lead of his own anytime soon — for very good reason! (Ahem, he eats people). Though the movie iteration of the character was drawn to Jodie Foster, it's more of a je ne sais quoi in women's personalities than a sexual attraction, Mikkelsen explains. "He finds them delicious," the actor says of women with a laugh. "I'm not sure [being in a relationship is] something he misses, but it's all very complicated. I think that we'll see more of [his relationship with women] — it's there in the first season, but we'll see more of it [down the line]." Eeek! Run away ladies!
Are you excited to see our favorite vampires at their senior prom? Intrigued to meet Lacey this week on Once Upon a Time? Sad to see Surburgatory go? Tell me everything in the comments below!
—Additional Reporting by Jean Bentley and Shaunna Murphy
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A kids’ movie without the cheeky jokes for adults is like a big juicy BLT without the B… or the T. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted may have a title that sounds like it was made up in a cartoon sequel laboratory but when it comes to serving up laughs just think of the film as a BLT with enough extra bacon to satisfy even the wildest of animals — or even a parent with a gaggle of tots in tow. Yes even with that whole "Afro Circus" nonsense.
It’s not often that we find exhaustively franchised films like the Madagascar set that still work after almost seven years. Despite being spun off into TV shows and Christmas specials in addition to its big screen adventures the series has not only maintained its momentum it has maintained the part we were pleasantly surprised by the first time around: great jokes.
In this third installment of the series – the trilogy-maker if you will – directing duo Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath add Conrad Vernon (director Monsters Vs. Aliens) to the helm as our trusty gang swings back into action. Alex the lion (Ben Stiller) Marty the zebra (Chris Rock) Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) are stuck in Africa after the hullaballoo of Madagascar 2 and they’ll do anything to get back to their beloved New York. Just a hop skip and a jump away in Monte Carlo the penguins are doing their usual greedy schtick but the zoo animals catch up with them just in time to catch the eye of the sinister animal control stickler Captain Dubois (Frances McDormand). And just like that the practically super human captain is chasing them through Monte Carlo and the rest of Europe in hopes of planting Alex’s perfectly coifed lion head on her wall of prized animals.
Luckily for pint-sized viewers Dubois’ terrifying presence is balanced out by her sheer inhuman strength uncanny guiles and Stretch Armstrong flexibility (ah the wonder of cartoons) as well as Alex’s escape plan: the New Yorkers run away with the European circus. While Dubois’ terrifying Doberman-like presence looms over the entire film a sense of levity (which is a word the kiddies might learn from Stiller’s eloquent lion) comes from the plan for salvation in which the circus animals and the zoo animals band together to revamp the circus and catch the eye of a big-time American agent. Sure the pacing throughout the first act is practically nonexistent running like a stampede through the jungle but by the time we're palling around under the big top the film finds its footing.
The visual splendor of the film (and man is there a champion size serving of it) the magnificent danger and suspense is enhanced to great effect by the addition of 3D technology – and not once is there a gratuitous beverage or desperate Crocodile Dundee knife waved in our faces to prove its worth. The caveat is that the soundtrack employs a certain infectious Katy Perry ditty at the height of the 3D spectacular so parents get ready to hear that on repeat until the leaves turn yellow.
But visual delights and adventurous zoo animals aside Madagascar 3’s real strength is in its script. With the addition of Noah Baumbach (Greenberg The Squid and the Whale) to the screenwriting team the script is infused with a heightened level of almost sarcastic gravitas – a welcome addition to the characteristically adult-friendly reference-heavy humor of the other Madagascar films. To bring the script to life Paramount enlisted three more than able actors: Vitaly the Siberian tiger (Bryan Cranston) Gia the Leopard (Jessica Chastain) and Stefano the Italian Sealion (Martin Short). With all three actors draped in European accents it might take viewers a minute to realize that the cantankerous tiger is one and the same as the man who plays an Albuquerque drug lord on Breaking Bad but that makes it that much sweeter to hear him utter slant-curse words like “Bolshevik” with his usual gusto.
Between the laughs the terror of McDormand’s Captain Dubois and the breathtaking virtual European tour the Zoosters’ accidental vacation is one worth taking. Madagascar 3 is by no means an insta-classic but it’s a perfectly suited for your Summer-at-the-movies oasis.
Making an earnest cinematic argument for the immortality of the soul and the existence of an afterlife without delving into mushy sentimentality is a difficult task for even the most gifted and “serious” of filmmakers. Oscar-winning director Peter Jackson discovered as much last year when his sappy grandiose adaptation of the ethereal bestseller The Lovely Bones opened to scathing reviews. Critics by and large tend to bristle at movie renderings of what may or may not await them in that Great Arthouse in the Sky.
And yet filmmakers seem determined to keep trying. The latest to make the attempt is Clint Eastwood who throughout his celebrated directorial career has certainly demonstrated a firm grasp of the death part of the equation. His filmography with a few notable exceptions practically revels in it: of his recent oeuvre Invictus is the only work that doesn’t deal with mortality in some significant manner. With his new film Hereafter Eastwood hopes to add immortality to his thematic resume.
The film's narrative centers on three characters each of whom has intimate experience with death and loss. Their stories in true Eastwood fashion can ostensibly be labeled Sad Sadder and Saddest: Marie (Cecile de France) is a French TV news anchor who’s haunted by disturbing flashbacks after she loses consciousness — and briefly her life — during a natural disaster; George (Matt Damon looking credibly schlubby) is a former psychic whose skills as a medium are so potent (the slightest touch from another human being triggers an instant powerful psychic connection a la Rogue from X-Men) they’ve left him isolated and alone; Marcus is a London schoolboy who retreats into a somber shell after losing his twin brother in a tragic car accident (both brothers are played rather impressibly by real-life twins Frankie and George McLaren).
Humanity offers little help to these troubled souls surrounding them with skeptics charlatans users and deadbeats none of whom are particularly helpful with crises of an existential nature. Luckily there are otherworldly options. Peter Morgan's script assumes psychics out-of-body experiences and other such phenomena to be real and legitimate but in a non-denominational Coast-to-Coast AM kind of way. Unlike Jackson’s syrupy CGI-drenched glimpses of the afterlife Eastwood’s visions of the Other Side are vague and eery — dark fuzzy silhouettes of the departed set against a white background. Only Damon’s character George seems capable of drawing meaning from them which is why he’s constantly sought out by grief-stricken folks desperate to make contact with loved ones who’ve recently passed on. He’s John Edward only real (and not a douche).
Marie and Marcus appear destined to find him as well but only as the last stop on wearisome circuitous and often heartbreaking spiritual journeys that together with George’s hapless pursuit of a more temporal connection (psychic ability it turns out can be a wicked cock-blocker) consume the bulk of Hereafter’s running time. We know the three characters’ paths must inevitably intersect but Morgan’s script stubbornly forestalls this eventuality testing our patience for nearly two ponderous and maudlin hours and ultimately building up expectations for a climax Eastwood can’t deliver at least not without sacrificing any hope of credulity.
It should be noted that Hereafter features a handful of genuinely touching moments thanks in great part to the film's tremendous cast. And its finale is refreshingly upbeat. Unfortunately it also feels forced and terribly unsatisfying. Eastwood an established master of all things tragic and forlorn struggles mightily to mount a happy ending. (Which in my opinion is much more challenging than a sad or ambiguous one.) After prompting us to seriously ponder life’s ultimate question Eastwood’s final answer seems to be: Don’t worry about it.