Happy New Year TV lovers! Since it’s a fresh start, let me reintroduce myself: My name is Leanne, (She awkwardly curtsies, stumbles, and falls. Wow, smooth.) I’m completely obsessed with all things television-related and I’m thrilled to continue spoiling you all with what’s coming up on your favorite shows! So here’s how it’s going to work: Every Wednesday, I’ll post a short but oh-so sweet list of all the spoilers you absolutely need to know. Every show will get their time to shine, but if you really want to hear scoop about a particular series, find me on Twitter (@LeanneAguilera) and use the hashtag #LeannesList to tweet a question about your favorite show. Or if you’re too lazy to open another window on your desktop, just place your requests in the comments below. Voila! So easy right?
Now that we’re slowly but surely becoming cyber soulmates, let’s get started! In the first 2013 edition of Leanne’s Spoiler List I’m dishing about the oh-so hot brand new characters you’ll be meeting in season two premiere of Smash and revealing a deeper peak into Elena’s sired mind from The Vampire Dairies boss Julie Plec. I also sweet-talked my way into watching the winter premieres of White Collar, Switched at Birth, and House of Lies and now I’m sharing all the goods about your favorite characters. So sit back, relax, and get ready for a new year filled with fun reviews and exclusive spoilers from yours truly. 1. Smash: A Dashing New Duo!
Some of you know I might have a teeny tiny crush on a show called Glee, so you can imagine how much I absolutely love NBC’s racy, innovative, and infectiously fun musical drama Smash! The season two premiere is still a month away, (Feb. 5!) but lucky for you Broadway lovers, I asked Santa for a sneak peek and I was very good this year! The first episode back is a whopping two hours long, and it is packed to the brim with new characters, thrilling musical numbers, and so many twists and turns that you’ll definitely need a neck brace when it’s done.
GALLERY: 10 Best (and 5 Worst) TV Couples of 2012
Here's what I can spill about the episode: Dev is officially out of the picture and so far there is absolutely no sign of Julia’s drone of a son Leo. (Cue the applause please!) We get to meet two new fellas, Jimmy and Kyle, who are beyond talented and of course — in true Smash fashion — they’re definitely easy on the eyes. Think of this dynamic playwriting duo as the new Julia and Tom. Kyle writes the book, and Jimmy uses his swoon-worthy voice and musical skills to create the songs. While the Marilyn Musical Bombshell is caught in yet another pre-production snafu, Karen discovers the newbies in a bar and is instantly entranced by their powerful ballads and unique sound. There is only one problem—Jimmy (the so-hot-it-hurts one) has a massive chip on his shoulder and doesn’t want Karen (aka “Princess”) to help him and his partner achieve their dreams. Not to worry: Karen is determined to help their Broadway-bound show—whether they like it or not. Looks like Karen’s got herself a new beau to crush on! 2. House of Lies: Drunk and Delusional If you’re not watching Showtime's comedy House of Lies, you should probably seriously reevaluate your DVR schedule because this show is hilarious, witty, and most importantly, it has Kristen Bell! (Let’s all take a minute to relive the wonderment that is the Ellen/Kristen sloth video.) Now that’s were all in an amazing mood, let’s just dive straight into House of Lies season two scoop. (It premieres Jan. 13, bee tee dubs).
GALLERY: TV's Best Bitchfaces Jeannie is now back from a paid leave of absence from work. Remember that whole sleeping with her boss thing? Well, now she’s got a bigger problem: What the heck happened the night she got wasted with Marty and completely blacked out? It turns out Marty doesn’t remember their drunken night of debauchery either. Luckily, Jeannie begins to have flashbacks from their interesting (and bloody) night, but the last 30 seconds of the episode are definitely something that you don’t want to miss. Oh, and fun fact: Clyde has not one but two girlfriends! That’s right: Claude, our favorite smooth talker, is currently in a Ménage à trois relationship and invites Marty to join the festivities. Of course, I can’t reveal to you what Marty chooses, but I can tell you that his reaction is priceless. What about Doug, you ask? Welp, Doug makes a complete and total fool of himself in front of a very important client. Yet again. 3. The Vampire Diaries: Sired Vampire Girl Problems Whenever The Vampire Diaries is on a hiatus, life seems bleak, empty, and fang-free. Sigh. Luckily for all you Mystic Falls lovers out there, I chatted with the all-knowing TVD showrunner Julie Plec to help curb your bloodlust until the drama returns Jan. 17. Even though we saw the rage/devastation when Stefan learned of Elena and Damon’s recent under-the-sheets activities, Plec reveals that Elena’s love triangle between the two Salvatore brothers is far from over. “Elena's mindset is basically a combination of feeling a sense of loss of not being able to be around Damon and also this profound sense of guilt for how much she's hurt Stefan.” Don't forget about the third man in her life, though: her brother, Jeremy. "Equal to that, a protectiveness of Jeremy,” Plec adds. "She's feeling very unsettled that she's not there where he is in helping him go through the motions to uncover the rest of his hunter marks. So she's got a lot that she's concerned about." Our heroine will never lead a normal high school senior life, but then again, she is a vampire. GALLERY: TV's Most Infuriating Third Wheels
But about that Damon situation: Is Elena ever going to question the sire bond, or is she dead set that her love for Damon is the real deal? Plec answers, "In the midst of all of it, she's still wondering, are these [true] feelings she's feeling? They feel so real. What is going on with me?” Looks like we’re going to have to wait a few weeks to find out, but head on down to the comments with your speculations! Is it just the sire bond messing with her head, or does Elena truly love Damon? 4. Switched at Birth: Gifts Galore!
After what seemed like the longest season one in the history of television (I might be exaggerating just a tad), Switched at Birth returns Jan. 7 with a brand new season and a whole lot of fun! I've already witnessed the amazingness of the season two premiere and I am happy to report that fans will not be disappointed. When we last saw our two families, Angelo was awarded with a $5 million settlement which was basically the court's way of saying, "This is really awkward and we're really sorry that the hospital switched your two daughters. So here's a huge pile of money to make up for it." So, what’s a fella to do with all that cash? Shower everyone with gifts, that’s what! A cappuccino maker, a telescope, and a Rolex watch are just a few of the pricey items that Angelo gives the family to show his love. But the coolest present of all is definitely Daphne’s.
GALLERY: Twist! TV's Best (and Worst) Game Changers When I was on the Switched at Birth set last month, the lovely Katie Leclerc was kind enough to spill the details to me and now I’m going to do the same for you: “Daphne gets a food truck!” Leclerc exclaims. The actress reveals that although Daphne has an intense passion for cooking, owning a food truck is a huge challenge and commitment for the high schooler. “Now she has to learn about business and has to learn about how her business affects other businesses and different communities and things like that. But she figures it out and she really grows up. She really just thrives in that environment and it’s good to see that,” she says. Business savvy is great and all, but with food trucks it’s all about the tasty treats! So what will Miss Daphne be dishing up? Leclerc smiles. “The first time she takes it out she does waffles, but it turns out that she is going to do tacos… but with a twist,” she spills. Sounds delicious to me!
5. Comment Question: Dale Sullivan asked, “Got anything new on "White Collar"?”
Well my dear Dale, I just finished watching the mid-season premiere of White Collar and let me confess something to you: I have a HUGE crush on Matt Bomer. Is that spoilery enough for you? Okay, fine. Let’s get to it! The episode, “Family Business” — which premieres on Jan. 22 — is a total Marry Poppins (practically perfect in every way!) When we last saw our handsome hero, Neal discovered in a shocking twist that Sam is actually his father. Dun dun duuun! Now fans will pick up right where we left off and in the first three minutes you’ll learn everything you ever wanted to know about our MIA daddy, including the backstory behind the picture Neal has from when he was a little boy.
Golden Globes 2013: Worst TV Snubs To find the truth behind his father’s criminal past, Neal must go undercover into the spirited world of counterfeit whiskey (pun intended). So get excited, White Collar fans, because the only thing better than a shirtless Neal is a drunk one with a sneaky plan. We already knew that our blue-eyed badass was incredible at a lot of things, but you can now add professional alcohol replicator to that list. After a fiery climax (yup that’s a big clue), Neal makes the tough decision about whether or not he wants his dad to be a part of his life. Are you excited to meet Smash’s dashing new man? Counting down the days to get your Delena and Stelena fix? Intrigued by the new season of House of Lies? Tell me everything in the comments below!
Follow Leanne on Twitter @LeanneAguilera
[Photo Credit: USA, The CW, ABC Family, NBC, Showtime]
Leanne’s Spoiler List: Seth Gabel Spills ‘Arrow’ Secrets, ‘The Vampire Diaries’ Gets Darker
Leanne’s Spoiler List: A Fiery 'Pretty Little Liars’ Premiere, A Badass Back On 'Revenge'
Leanne’s Spoiler List: ‘Gossip Girl’ Flashbacks and Fatalities, ‘Dexter’ Makes His Choice
You Might Also Like:
’American Idol’ Winner Hospitalized After Head-On Car Crash
20 Hottest Bikini Bodies of 2012: Katy Perry, Miley and More!
Robert Zemeckis is a blockbuster director at heart. Action has never been an issue for the man behind Back to the Future. When he puts aside the high concept adventures for emotional human stories — think Forrest Gump or Cast Away — he still goes big. His latest Flight continues the trend revolving the story of one man's fight with alcoholism around a terrifying plane crash. Zemeckis expertly crafts his roaring centerpiece and while he finds an agile performer in Denzel Washington the hour-and-a-half of Flight after the shocking moment can't sustain the power. The "big" works. The intimate drowns.
Washington stars as Whip Whitaker a reckless airline pilot who balances his days flying jumbo jets with picking up women snorting lines of cocaine and drinking himself to sleep. Although drunk for the flight that will change his life forever that's not the reason the plane goes down — in fact it may be the reason he thinks up his savvy landing solution in the first place. Writer John Gatins follows Whitaker into the aftermath madness: an investigation of what really happened during the flight Whitaker's battle to cap his addictions and budding relationships that if nurtured could save his life.
Zemeckis tops his own plane crash in Cast Away with the heart-pounding tailspin sequence (if you've ever been scared of flying before Flight will push into phobia territory). In the few scenes after the literal destruction Washington is able to convey an equal amount of power in the moments of mental destruction. Whitaker is obviously crushed by the events the bottle silently calling for him in every down moment. Flight strives for that level of introspection throughout eventually pairing Washington with equally distraught junkie Nicole (Kelly Reilly). Their relationship is barely fleshed out with the script time and time again resorting to obvious over-the-top depictions of substance abuse (a la Nic Cage's Leaving Las Vegas) and the bickering that follows. Washington's Whitaker hits is lowest point early sitting there until the climax of the film.
Sharing screentime with the intimate tale is the surprisingly comical attempt by the pilot's airline union buddy (Bruce Greenwood) and the company lawyer (Don Cheadle) to get Whitaker into shape. Prepping him for inquisitions looking into evidence from the wreckage and calling upon Whitaker's dealer Harling (John Goodman) to jump start their "hero" when the time is right the two men do everything they can to keep any blame being placed upon Whitaker by the National Transportation Safety Board investigators. The thread doesn't feel relevant to Whitaker's plight and in turn feels like unnecessary baggage that pads the runtime.
Everything in Fight shoots for the skies — and on purpose. The music is constantly swelling the photography glossy and unnatural and rarely do we breach Washington's wild exterior for a sense of what Whitaker's really grappling with. For Zemeckis Flight is still a spectacle film with Washington's ability to emote as the magical special effect. Instead of using it sparingly he once again goes big. Too big.
The first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.