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Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Pretty Little Liars

You know that thing? Sure you do, that thing? The one where you watch a show and some sweet little girl in pigtails comes skipping on and you go "aww, isn't she cute", and then a few years pass and she's still there only now she's 15 and you think " Hmm, she's quite pretty, I bet she'll turn a few heads when she grows up" and then a few more years go by and she turns 18 and suddenly you can't move for bikini shots in the tabloids and pin up calenders on canteen walls and she's getting her norks out in the lads mags and wearing a piece of string to red carpets and you're thinking "Phwoar yeah, I definitely would". And then you catch a repeat of that old show and you suddenly feel really old, and not a little bit dirty. Yeah, that thing. You know what I'm talking about. Well, if you're a man you do. Can't speak for the fairer sex.

All of which is why I don't have all that much of a problem with the American casting method of having 20 year old pre-pubescents and 40 year old teens. It eliminates a lot of the guilt. Alyssa Milano and Hayden Panettiere aside of course.

Why do I bring this up now? Well, it's my transparent excuse to post a shedload of rude pics of hot young women,, actually it's because I've just looked up the actresses in a show I'm watching, in which the core characters are High School girls. There isn't one of them that's under 20. One of them is older than I am and was playing teenagers 10 years ago. Sickeningly, she looks no different now than she did then.

Pretty Little Liars is a strange one. I'm not going to lie, I love me some teen based soap opera. So when I saw that Lucy Hale, the best thing about Privileged (and one of the few people to come out of Bionic Woman with anything resembling credibility, which gives her some Quest validity), was all set to star in a new mystery/thriller/soap about a bunch of teens with a secret I was a wee bit chuffed. Not least because all indications where that there was set to be a supernatural basis for at least some of what was going on in the show.

Three episodes in and I have to say that, while they are still trying to tease a ghostly presence, I'm not buying it. I've not read ahead on the internet, nor have I read any of the books on which the series is based so I can't say for sure but I reckon a good old fashioned psycho/blackmailer is at the heart of it all. When it comes to the supernatural aspect, I'm not sure their hearts are in it to be honest. Feels a bit perfunctory. However, while the possibility (however slim) remains, I am taking the opportunity to write a little bit about it for The Quest because the show does have a lot of the elements I look for in a genre show.

Premise is simple enough : Four teenage girls are reunited at the start of the school year, having spent the Summer apart. Their bond is rekindled as a dark secret from the previous year comes back to haunt them in the form of text messages and threatening notes. The notes are signed 'A', which just happens to be the initial of the missing girl. When the girls body is discovered, they realise she couldn't be behind the messages. Or could she? Dun Dun Durr...

It's all a bit "I Know What You Did...", to be fair. Obvious inspirations aside though, the strengths are many. For a show aimed primarily at the teen market it has managed to amass a pretty full blooded cast. The 'teens', whether the core four or the supporting characters, are pretty decent, and the adults are played by household faces, if not household names, like 'The actress on Charmed who wasn't Alyssa Milano or Rose McGowan'. "Who McMahon?" Or that "Hey, he looks a bit like Rob Lowe only not as good looking" guy.* And Laura Leighton, who should qualify as a household face but somehow doesn't, on account of how she seems to have turned into a completely different person. As someone who knows her primarily from Melrose Place it took me three episodes to figure out who she was meant to be playing. I kept seeing her name in the titles but I'm buggered if I could recognise her. She got, well, not old as such...

The show was described by some as being similar to Gossip Girl (a show I'm yet to see but I get the impression it revolves around text messages?) and a junior version of Desperate Housewives. Housewives is a show I have watched. I came to it on the basis of the Mary Alice ghost character, assuming the show to be supernatural in nature but once it became apparent that that whole thing was just a gimmicky excuse for a voice over I stayed, at least for a while, for the murder mystery and the shadiness of the Mike character. Once the mystery of the first season was tied up, and after the second season arc proved such a damp squib, I drifted away. Of course , that show is still chugging merrily away and could well have regained it's early form for all I know but I'm afraid I don't have the stamina to find out.

The biggest vibe I'm getting from the show is more of a Veronica Mars deal. It's not as good as that show, and the cast lacks any real stand out characters like Veronica herself,
or Logan (who remains one of my favourite television characters ever), but there is that feeling,which Neptune had, of the whole town being a hotbed of deceit and absolutely everyone having something to hide that makes me think that if they play their cards right, fading numerous mysteries in and out, paying off on their clues and keeping things fresh, Pretty Little Liars could well turn into something a little bit special.

Having said all of that, I am prepared for the fact that it could just as easily finish off the 'A' plot and quickly devolve into just another soap. Or that b) it could stick slavishly to the books. Since I haven't read them I don't know whether that would be a good thing or a bad thing. I'm debating whether I should pick up the first one to check it out. My problem is that without knowing beforehand how close they are I'm wary of spoilers. I'll probably leave it until the show has a few more episodes under it's belt.

*I do actually know who they are, by the way. I is only joshing like.

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