Pretty Little Liars – A Pretty Little Television Adaptation

 

Pretty Little Liars has become somewhat of a cultural phenomenon in the US. The show’s third season has just finished and is going from strength to strength with ABC picking it up for another two seasons. There’s also a spin-off show, Ravenswood, in the works.

Based on the captivating book series by Sara Shepard, the show follows four girls who are tormented by the disappearance of their best friend Alison. Aria (Lucy Hale), Emily (Shay Mitchell), Hanna (Ashley Benson) and Spencer (Troian Bellisario) are all stereotypical teenagers with different interests. The girls are fundamentally different yet pulled together by Alison, the glue of the group. They share secrets like all best friends do, but Alison seems to have dirt on everyone in town so when she disappears and is never seen again there are many suspects who could have been involved.

Alison’s disappearance causes the girls to drift apart and they believe their secrets are buried with her… until a mysterious person starts sending them intimidating messages revealing things only Alison knew, signing off the messages with “-A.” Initially the girls think Alison is still alive but when her body is found buried under the gazebo of her old house, the girls regroup to find the perpetrator.

The original book series has proved to be extremely popular, with twelve novels published as well as a companion novel. Two more books are planned for release by the end of this year.

Due to the loyal fan base of the novels, there has been a lot of controversy about the production of the television adaptation. Whilst certain elements remain the same, such as the characters names and the general plotline, some viewers have complained about more major differences. For example, some truly sinister characters in the book series have been transformed into love interests and well-received characters are still featured in the television series despite being killed off or leaving in the novels.

Whilst it’s fair that dedicated fans get frustrated about the differences in the adaptation, it’s clear to see why the production of the show doesn’t follow the same narrative as the original series. Most of the novels only span a timeline of a few days, which wouldn’t transfer easily onto a weekly television show of 20 or so episodes a series. New plotlines need to be introduced, or drawn out, to have enough material. The pilot episode, for example, was based entirely on the first book. If the show continued at this pace, there wouldn’t be enough material to make one series.

The show features many shocking scenes full of suspense.

The show features many shocking scenes full of suspense.

The issue with television adaptation is that suspense needs to be built in every episode, which usually only focuses on a few plot points. In the case of Pretty Little Liars, with four main characters, it is essential to address a number of different plotlines in each episode. Due to the amount of content that needs to be addressed, fans often become frustrated when questions remain unanswered and sub-plots are forgotten about.

Marlene King, the executive producer for the show, constantly comes under fire on social networking websites for the show’s direction. Fans either criticise her for digressing away from the books or for leaving too many unanswered questions. But that’s surely what good television is all about – Intrigue, suspense, shocks and debate.

Fidelity to the source text is important to some extent, but with television adaptations, you never know how long the show is going to run for. To remain popular, producers will respond to what audiences want.

It can be frustrating as a viewer when questions remain unanswered and characters disappear for a number of episodes and it can be annoying when promos are edited to suggest viewers will receive answers when they don’t – but is fidelity in adaptation as important when it comes to television?

With Pretty Little Liars’ incredible fan base, and the go-ahead for at least two more seasons, it’s likely that producers will be able to plan ahead for what needs to be revealed and when. They have many hours of content they need to fill with plots so it is clear they will need to bring in new ideas rather than remaining entirely faithful to the books.

After all, if the show followed the exact plot of the book series surely we’d all be passive viewers, never excited about character developments and never intrigued about what would be happening in the next episode. It’s far more exciting to be an active viewer, continually being shocked by characters and wondering what will be revealed next. Pretty Little Liars is, in my opinion, a great example of how adaptation should be done for a continuing series.

What is your opinion on adaptation for television? Is fidelity less important for a continuing series?

 

Preview: Gavin and Stacey’s US Remake – Us and Them

Cast of 'Us and Them' [Image: Independent]

Cast of ‘Us and Them’ [Image: Independent]

The pilot of the American Gavin and Stacey adaptation, Us and Them, has officially been picked up by Fox TV.

I previously wrote about the remake, originally under the working title of Friends and Family, over on Yuppee Magazine but the trailer for the pilot has finally arrived:

Some things are clear from the trailer, there are new jokes but the general plot remains the same – a pair of young lovers start a relationship whilst dealing with their eccentric families. Gavin (Jason Ritter) is now a city slicker from New York and Stacey (Alexis Bledel) is from small town Pennsylvania.

Whilst adaptations are always exciting to watch, part of the beauty of Gavin and Stacey was the simplicity of its scripting. Catchphrases from the show weaseled their way into common phrasing and whilst the representations of characters were stereotypical, they were always relateable.

I think the main contribution to the success of the remake in America will be how viewers warm to the characters. In the original version of the show all of the characters were likeable and hilarious so hopefully with Ruth Jones and James Corden on board as executive producers this will be the case with the remake.

I’m excited to see the show when it airs but as a huge fan of the original I can’t help but be dubious about how it will translate on American television and whether it will do the show justice. I know that this has been the general feeling amongst UK viewers (and even American fans who have watched the original series) but others have expressed their excitement on social media at seeing the show being reinvigorated, stating it will fill the void left when Gavin and Stacey finished.

What are your thoughts based on the trailer? Will it be a tidy remake or a big mistake?

Why the world is going gaga for Candy Crush Saga

Candy Crush Saga

Candy Crush Saga features creative levels and challenges building on the traditional match-three formula

There has been an invasion of games on Facebook in recent years. From Farmville to Bejeweled, the inclusion of game apps on the social networking site has had a Marmite effect – you love them or hate them.

The game of the moment is undoubtedly Candy Crush Saga. Following months of resisting signing up, I am now hooked.

Candy Crush Saga is just like Bejeweled before it but with added twists. To advance each level, the player is tasked with different challenges. Not only do you have to get high scores, but you need to unblock certain squares or drop certain tokens to the bottom of the grid.

Interaction is important in Candy Crush Saga – you need to engage with your Facebook friends in order to advance or pay a small fee to unlock more levels. Whilst there was once a sense of “oh god another game request” when you logged into Facebook, now people are writing statuses asking for help and it’s incredible to see the amount of people playing via the on-screen map.

There are a number of reasons why Candy Crush Saga has remained one of the top played games virally over the last few months:

It’s Goal Orientated

Candy Crush Saga has its own narrative and doesn’t follow the same formula with every level. Whilst you might be against the clock on one level, the next will challenge you to break chained blocks of ice to free candy pieces. These differences stop the game from becoming monotonous and intrigues the player to wonder what challenges will appear next.

It Allows Synced Platforms

The game doesn’t standalone on Facebook as it is also a downloadable app. One of the biggest problems with gaming apps on Facebook is that they don’t captivate users to a full extent – not everyone logs into Facebook everyday and if they do, they might not have time to play a game. By creating the app to connect with smartphones, users are able to sync their accounts so that they can engage with their Facebook friends without ever having to log into a computer. If they have a spare five minutes, they’re far more likely to play on their mobile.

The Game Map

Competitiveness is a natural aspect of life, so Candy Crush very cleverly includes a game map. Players will want to get further than their friends and will want to beat the high scores displayed, what better way to motivate them than including their friends profile picture over the level they’re on?

It’s Not Endless Gameplay

Most would see this as a fault, but I think it encourages a return to play. Each player only has five lives at a time. If they run out, they can pay for more or ask their Facebook friends to send some but if they want to wait an hour or so, the lives will return. This not only encourages competitiveness to advance but motivates yourself to progress in the next five lives.

What are your thoughts on Candy Crush Saga? Do you love the app or do you hate the influx of requests?

more! Magazine Suspended after 25 years

More Magazine Suspended

This week Bauer Media announced that it was suspending more! Magazine after 25 years of publication. Some embraced the news saying that these women’s magazines promote negative lifestyle choices but others stated their fears that this wouldn’t just be the beginning of the end for young adult magazines but of the production of print magazines in general.

Reports have stated that more! Magazine was suspended due to a significant drop in readership over the last year. According to the Audit Bureau of Circulations (cited in The Guardian), for the final half of last year the magazine had an average weekly circulation of 92,459, compared to 200,000 in 2007 and 300,000 in 2000.

There’s no denying that the decline in print sales is due to the increase in online writing. Bloggers and online magazines are now prominent outlets for the 24 hour news (or gossip if you will) cycle. If people want celebrity news, it’s now readily available online from a number of popular blogs. News hits Twitter quicker than anywhere else and with increased engagement with readers, online writers are far more personable than an unnamed person in a magazine.

Some publications have adjusted to these changes – Company Magazine place a lot of emphasis on fashion bloggers, promoting them on their website and in their magazine, but it remains to be seen if this will be enough.

Whilst I’m the first to admit that it’s easy to fall into the trap of visiting a magazine’s website then not feeling the need to buy the magazine itself, I’ll be sad to see more! Magazine go. Regardless of what people say about the influence of the magazine industry on young girls, for me, more! inspired positive career choices, embraced women from all walks of life without judgment and looked at sensitive issues that many women struggle with whilst always maintaining the magazine’s infamous witty humour.

Hopefully other magazines will be motivated to adapt following the news of more!’s cease in production by embracing the digital age and working on what readers want and what will encourage them to remain loyal to the print format.

Top 5: Invaluable Web Tools for Bloggers and Online Journalists

[Image: Zoomzum]

[Image: Zoomzum]

Web tools are essential for bloggers and online journalists, whether for generating traffic, sharing articles or enhancing your skills. There are numerous free tools on the web that are invaluable for these writers in order to make their posts, and websites, the best they can possibly be. Here are my picks of the best of these web tools:

Google Trends

Sometimes it can be so difficult to decide what is newsworthy enough to be written about. Whilst I’m a firm believer that as long as you are writing about something that interests you it will be worth it, publishers don’t always think in the same way.

Google Trends allows the user to not only see the “Hot Searches” in their country of choice; it allows them to see the most searched terms on any subject of their choice. This is a great way of seeing what subjects are of interest, and will potentially bring traffic to your website, and what trends people are interested in at the moment.

Google Alerts

This goes hand in hand with Google Trends but is of more use to the a subject-focused journalist. For example I have alerts set for Film, Literature, Music and Television as they are the subjects I enjoy writing about most.

You can set alerts to be emailed to you however frequently you want (with broader topics like mine I would suggest getting updates less frequently).

With Google Alerts, the best articles of your subject of choice are sent directly to your inbox so you are kept up to date with trends and interests.

Dropbox

I tend to work using numerous devices, so it can be really frustrating keeping track of a master document. I’ve had bad experiences using USBs in the past and as I frequently use my tablet for editing, the Dropbox app is a great find.

Dropbox is user friendly and simple to use. It creates a folder to save documents in on the computer, which is then synced to the tablet’s app. When using a different computer, documents can be accessed by logging in online, making work accessible whenever and wherever needed.

Bitly

Sharing posts is a great way to drive traffic to your blog, especially when you can use social networking websites, like Twitter, to reach like-minded people. However, with a limited amount of characters to use, it is often essential to shorten URLs in order to be able to say everything that needs to be said.

Bitly not only shorterns URLs, it allows you to organise URLs into bundles to save, and share, all over the web. Once links have been shared, you can go back onto bitly and get their stats– when they were clicked, the location of the viewer and the referrer of the link.

Codecademy

Whilst many blog hosts don’t require knowledge of HTML and CSS, it’s still a great skill to have as an online writer. Codecademy offers simple lessons on Web Fundamentals (as well as many other programming topics) in an easy to do format.

Instructions are relatively straightforward, with hints available when needed. The layout of the website is great, you enter the code you’ve learned into the box on the left and it appears in a result tab next to it.

As well as teaching the fundamentals of coding, it offers productive tutorials that can be applied straight to the user’s personal website, such as the design of a button.

 

Whilst these may not suit all writers, I’ve certainly found them to be useful. Are there any tools you would suggest for an online journalist or blogger?

World Book Day: My Most Memorable Books

Today is the annual event made for avid readers like myself – World Book Day. It is the biggest celebration of books and reading in the UK and Ireland and whilst when I was younger it was an occasion to dress as my favourite fictional character, it has since become a time when readers recommend new books to read via social media.

In celebration of World Book Day, I have decided to look back on the most memorable books that I have read throughout my life:

Harry Potter and the Philosophers StoneHarry Potter

I would think the Harry Potter series would appear on most “life in books” lists. The series is so timeless that it can be read over and over again (in fact I’m half way through re-reading the books again now). Whilst J. K. Rowling may not have the most sophisticated style of writing, she created a world that is loved by children and adults alike.

The characters are all unique, intriguing and relateable and as a child I wanted so much for Hogwarts to be real. The best thing about the series though is that it doesn’t shy from more negative themes that children need to learn about – loss, neglect and danger.

 

A Clockwork OrangeA Clockwork Orange

I originally read Anthony Burgess’ classic ‘A Clockwork Orange’ for my A-Level English Literature coursework and immediately loved it. It was the book that introduced me to dystopian novels and I loved the fact that the themes of the novel were prevalent in modern culture.

When I discovered that the characters all used their own language in the book, I initially thought I would struggle to follow the narrative but I found it easy, perhaps due to the influx of modern day slang terms.

The best element of the novel though, in my opinion, has to be the main character, Alex. You want to hate him, he commits vile crimes and is extremely narcissistic but he is the definition of an anti-hero because in the end you actually root for him to turn his life around.

Never Let Me GoNever Let Me Go

Kazuo Ishiguro’s ‘Never Let Me Go’ is another one of my favourite dystopian novels. It is set at a fictional boarding school in East Sussex where children are raised being taught the importance of being fit and healthy. It is revealed that the children are clones being raised to provide organs for “normals”.

The novel follows friends Ruth, Tommy and Kathy throughout their childhood at the boarding school, as they move to the “Cottages” a residential complex for young adults and eventually, when Ruth and Tommy become ‘donors’ and Kathy becomes a ‘carer’, looking after those who donate.

The narrative is completely captivating and emotionally heartwrenching. The book has a film adaptation, directed by Mark Romanek, which is extremely faithful to the novel.

The Hunger GamesThe Hunger Games

Suzanne Collins’ trilogy of novels has become my new favourite book series. Again, set in a dystopian future the narrative follows 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen from Panem, a post-apocalyptic version of North America. Each year, one boy and one girl from each of the twelve districts of Panem are selected at random to compete in the The Hunger Games.

The Hunger Games is a televised event in which the selected participants are sent to fight to the death in an arena all in the name of entertainment for the rich that live in the Capitol. After her sister Prim is selected at random, Katniss volunteers to take her place in the event.

Collins’ writing style is absolutely fantastic and she keeps you captivated on every page. The novel is carefully written in the way that there is a cliffhanger at the end of every chapter and you just want to continue reading.

The Perks of Being a WallflowerThe Perks of Being a Wallflower

Stephen Chbosky’s ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ is the last novel I read that made me feel emotionally vulnerable. The epistolary style of writing puts you straight into the mind of the main character, Charlie. By writing in first-person in a series of letters, Charlie is honest and doesn’t hold back. He is extremely easy to empathise with and you end up putting yourself in his state of mind.

This novel also has a faithful film adaptation, with the script adapted by Chbosky. I’ve already written about an article about both the book and the film on this website already. Check it out here – Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower – From Page to Screen.

So there are my favourite books – are any of them your favourites? Which books would be on your lists?

Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower – From Page to Screen

The Perks of Being a WallflowerThis feature contains some brief spoilers from both the book and the film adaptation of ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower was a huge success when released in the cinema last year. It is no surprise that the screenplay is faithful to the book, as both were written by incredible writer Stephen Chbosky.

Although an over-used phrase, the book is truly a coming-of-age story that focuses heavily on the disillusionment so frequently felt by teenagers. The plot revolves around Charlie, an apprehensive freshman starting the new school year. He has communication issues and struggles to connect with people following the suicide of his best friend, Michael, the year before the novel begins.

Charlie initially struggles to connect with his family and explains that the only family member he has ever felt close to was his aunt Helen, who died when he was younger.

I read the book for the first time last year when the film was announced and was so captivated by Chbosky’s writing style that I managed to read the whole thing in a day. It’s uniquely written through a series of letters to an undisclosed person meaning that Charlie’s first-person narrative is honest and he doesn’t hold back. As the novel is written in this way, it is so easy to find yourself empathising with Charlie.

There are many themes to the novel, from abusive relationships and sexuality to drugs and adolescence. However, I felt the main theme was loss. Charlie is not only suffering from the loss of his best friend, but also the loss of his youth and, as the novel goes on, his innocence.

Throughout the story, we see Charlie befriend the eccentric Patrick and Sam and adapt to his new, more social, life. Patrick is openly gay and secretly dating popular quarterback, Brad. Sam is his step-sister and has a troubled past, Charlie is immediately besotted with her, but feels he isn’t good enough to do anything about it.

Initially, Charlie is heavily juxtaposed to Patrick. Patrick is over-the-top and obnoxiously loud to teachers whereas Charlie doesn’t have the confidence to participate in classes. As the plot develops and Charlie feels more comfortable with his new friends he gains more confidence and feels free to voice his true opinions.

The novel features many great quotes

The film adaptation of the novel has been a long time coming. The novel was first published in 1999 and has gained a cult following since. It is considered a modern classic by many and features some amazing quotes, including one of my personal favourites “we accept the love we think we deserve”.

The film is extremely faithful to the original novel, which I feel is because Chbosky adapted the script himself. Chbosky has stated in the past that the novel is semi-autobiographical and he can relate to Charlie which may play a part in why the characters do not digress from their original representations.

Usually I find film adaptations don’t live up to the novels they are based on and whilst I still think in this case the novel is better than the film, there isn’t much in it at all.

I think one strength of the film adaptation is that the characters are established much quicker than in the book. When initially reading about Patrick and Sam, I wasn’t sure what kind of people they were as I was only finding out about them at the same speed as Charlie, but as soon as you see the pair on-screen, you understand they are eccentric outcasts.

Logan Lerman is fabulous as wallflower Charlie, especially during party scenes, where he portrays Charlie’s naivety brilliantly. One stand out scene is when Charlie has started dating one of Sam’s friends Mary-Elizabeth. During a game of Truth of Dare? Charlie is dared to kiss the prettiest girl in the room, but instead of choosing Mary-Elizabeth, he chooses Sam. Lerman’s performance when he realises the mistake he has made is great, as Charlie is slowly seeing himself turn back into a recluse as his friends stay away from him.

Emma Watson is also surprisingly good as Sam in the film. Although at times her American accent leaves a lot to be desired, her performance is much better than that in any of the Harry Potter films and after seeing the film, I believe she has the potential to continue as a successful actress for a very long time.

However, it is Ezra Miller’s portrayal of Patrick which is truly exceptional. He is able to go from over-the-top clown to emotionally vulnerable in a matter of seconds and you understand why the character is able to draw so many people in. One outstanding scene is when he is confronting Brad about their affair in front of his friends. The dispute turns violent and Patrick completely breaks down. It is no surprise that Miller received a number of accolades for the role.

The production of the film is also well done. Music is a big part of the book and this is conveyed on-screen as the film has an excellent soundtrack. Additionally the editing is extremely clever, with many sound bridges used for transitions, particularly as Charlie recollects about his past. This allows the audience to see the links he makes in order to remember these events.

My only issue with the film itself is that I think it hints too heavily at the films climatic twist, something which was quite shocking and unexpected in the book. However, I often find this to be the case with adaptations.

Overall, I would highly recommend both the novel and the film, but would suggest reading the book first in order to fully embrace and understand Charlie as a character.

 

The Best of ‘Gavin and Stacey’

Gavin and Stacey

L-R: Rob Brydon, Melanie Walters, Ruth Jones, Joanna Page, Mathew Horne, James Corden, Alison Steadman and Larry Lamb

Be warned, this post contains spoilers from the show ‘Gavin and Stacey’

Gavin and Stacey was a huge hit when it started back in 2007 and marked a new era in UK comedy. The show, written by James Corden and Ruth Jones, was critically acclaimed and a commercial success.

The show told the story of the romance between Gavin (Mathew Horne), from Billericay, Essex and Stacey (Joanna Page), from Barry, Wales. It follows key moments in their relationship, from their first meeting to getting married and starting a family.

Their relationship is heavily contrasted to their best friends Smithy (James Corden) and Nessa (Ruth Jones) who end up having  a child together, despite hating each other.

Other characters include Gavin’s mum, Pam (Alison Steadman) and dad, Mick (Larry Lamb), Stacey’s mum, Gwen (Melanie Walters) and Uncle Bryn (Rob Brydon).

With the recent announcement that the show was to be remade for American television, re-titled Friends and Family, I couldn’t resist looking back at some of the best moments of the series.

Gavin meets Gwen and Bryn for the first time

After a miscommunication with Stacey, Gavin travels down to Wales to make things right. He is met by Gwen and Bryn who assume he is a Jehovah’s Witness and don’t let him get a word in edgeways.

 

Smithy’s Best Man Speech

Smithy spends the majority of the episode telling anyone who will listen he’s written an amazing speech. Having heard Gavin’s emotional declaration of love to Stacey, Smithy is too overwhelmed to talk. The speech is featured in the book From Barry to Billericay… and it is indeed a corker.

 

Mick’s going to be on the telly!

The gang are all excited because Mick is going to appear on the news. They are all cheering for the new “local celebrity”, despite the fact it is because he found a dead body. Bryn even describes the moment as the best day of his life… until the report comes around and Mick is only seen saying “well it’s the last thing you expect to find when you come into work in the morning”.

Mick Gavin and Stacey

 

The Barn Dance

Bryn decides to organise a Barn Dance for Gwen’s birthday and invites all of the gang along. He is surprised to find Gwen doesn’t have that many friends and ends up inviting people he knows she doesn’t even like. Bryn and Nessa put on a surprise performance of Islands in the Stream before being interrupted by Stacey’s brother Jason, who has a strained relationship with Bryn due to an undisclosed event that took place at a fishing trip.

 

Oh Doris, Where’s the Salad?

Gwen’s next door neighbour Doris was an absolute scene stealer. She had many standout moments, from flirting with Gavin, taking home toyboys (including Noel from Hearsay) and singing along to The Smiths. Her best, and arguably most iconic moment came in series 3, when she was tasked with making a salad for baby Neil’s christening party.

 

The House of Fun

The gang have a drunken night at Pam and Mick’s house which is just hilarious. There are so many things that make this clip amazing – Dawn falling over, Pete’s general drunkenness, Smithy’s reaction to Pam smoking, Mick coughing and Gavin then imitating him, Pam suggesting shots, the conga line and Nessa and Mick swapping tops. It almost makes you want to get drunk with your parents…

 

Pete and Dawn renew their Wedding Vows

Pete and Dawn decide to use song lyrics as their vows – they decide to recite Coldplay’s Fix You and Michael Jackson’s Ben. Pete is having trouble reciting the lyrics without elongating them as if he was singing the song and Smithy takes his job of giving Dawn away a little too seriously. If you can find them, the outtakes from this scene are hilarious.

 

Nessa’s Wedding

As you can probably guess, Nessa’s wedding day was as far from traditional as you could imagine. There was no white dress, she wore the boots she wears everyday and she traveled to the church with Stacey in a trailer attached to her dad’s car. The episode saw cameos from Noel from Hearsay and John Prescott, who had previously been alluded to being one of Nessa’s past lovers.

There are so many great moments in the show, I could probably list 20 more easily! What are some of your favourite scenes?

The Best of ‘How I Met Your Mother’

How I Met Your Mother is, without a doubt, one of my favourite shows. There are so many great things about it and I think it’s premise is a great idea.

For those who haven’t seen it, it follows Ted Mosby as he tells his children – you guessed it – how he met their mother. He recalls stories about his life as a bachelor with best friends Marshall, Lily, Barney and Robin.

In honour of the show’s return to UK television tonight, here I run through my favourite things about the show.

The Catchphrases

The show is full of catchphrases (mostly Barney’s) and unsurprisingly, they never seem to grate on you as a viewer. Some of my favourites include:

“Have you met Ted?” 

Due to Ted’s desperation to find a soulmate, his friends sometimes feel the need to introduce him to women he isn’t confident enough to talk to. This is one me and my friends love so much, we’ve taken to mimicking it on nights out.

“It’s going to be Legen – wait for it – dary!”

Barney thinks everything is legendary. Whilst his friends think he is too liberal with the word, he is always looking for things that will outdo the last in terms of “awesomeness”.

“Suit Up!”

Barney loves suits -so much so that in the 100th episode he sings a song about it. He is often heard telling his friends to “suit up” to join him on the hunt for women. Variations of the phrase have included “snow suit up” and “flight suit up”.

The Slap Bet

The best episodes of the show revolve around the Slap Bet. When Marshall and Barney debate why Robin won’t go to a mall, they bet on why, agreeing that whoever wins gets to slap the other. When Barney mistakenly thinks he was correct and slaps Marshall, they soon find out the real reason why Robin won’t go to the mall (see Robin Sparkles) and as the slap bet commissioner, Lily gives Marshall the right to slap Barney five times over all eternity. In a later episode, Marshall wins the right to slap Barney another three times, making eight in total.

The slaps happen at random times throughout the show and are often unexpected. The best one has to be during the episode Slapsgivingwhen Marshall terrifies Barney by introducing him to the “slap countdown” after the slap has occurred, he treats the gang to an original song he had written for the occasion “You Just Got Slapped”. 

Only six of eight slaps have been seen on screen so far.

Marshall and Lily

Marshall and Lily – or should I say Marshmallow and Lilypad – are the most adorable couple. It was clear from the start that they were destined to be together and whatever they’re doing is always sweet. When they’re separated, Lily sleeps with a Marshpillow and he has a pre-recorded “night night song” where he sings her to sleep. They live for Halloween when they can dress up in extreme couples costumes (such as Sonny and Cher and a pirate and his parrot) and are always there to offer Ted moral support.

Robin Sparkles

As previously mentioned, Robin doesn’t like going to the mall. No one can work out why, until they come into possession of a video from her past – a music video of ‘Let’s Go to the Mall’ by Robin Sparkles. It is revealed that Robin was a 90s popstar in her native Canada, although, because Canada was “a little behind”, she looks like she belongs in the 80s.

So far in the show, as well as her debut, we’ve seen her soppy ballad, ‘Sandcastles in the Sand’ and also her double act with Jessica Glitter (Nicole Scherzinger). This series we’ll see what happens when Robin Sparkles deals with unrequited love and discovers grunge…

Guest Stars

The show has seen a number of celebrity guest stars, many of which have joined the show for numerous episodes. Some of the most memorable have been:

Britney Spears as receptionist Abby. She becomes obsessed with Ted and stalks Barney, warning girls to keep away from him.

Mandy Moore as Amy. She gets drunk with Ted and encourages him to get a tattoo with her. Ted opts for a butterfly on his lower back… something he regrets in the morning!

Enrique Inglesias as Gael. As Robin’s first boyfriend following her break-up with Ted, it is expected that the gang will all hate Gael, but they all fall for his charms, even Marshall…

Nicole Scherzinger as Jessica Glitter. Jessica Glitter used to be part of a double act with Robin Sparkles on the show Space Teens. 

Jorge Garcia as the Blitz. The Blitz always misses awesome moments, when he joins the gang for dinner, his curse “the blitz” gets transferred to Barney.

Katy Perry as ‘Honey’. Ted can’t remember ‘Honey’s’ real name when talking to his kids but refers to her as “Honey” because when you recall things she says, you can’t resist replying with “oh honey” because of her naivety.

Katie Holmes as ‘the Slutty Pumpkin’. Ted spends years hoping to meet the girl who got away one halloween, only to find she doesn’t live up to his expectations when they meet again.

The casts real-life spouses have also featured on the show. Alyson Hannigan’s husband, Alexis Denisof, appeared as Sandy Rivers, Robin’s co-worker. Taran Killam, Cobie Smulder’s husband, appeared as Blauman, Marshall and Barney’s co-worker and David Burtker, Neil Patrick Harris’ partner, appeared as Scooter, Lily’s obsessive ex-boyfriend.

The Bloopers

I usually find the bloopers to any show hilarious, but because the cast are so amazing, I think these ones are especially great! Watch them below:

 

Freaks and Geeks: Then and Now

Note: This blog post will contain spoilers about the TV show ‘Freaks and Geeks’ 

Although lesser known in the UK, the Judd Apatow produced Freaks and Geeks (1999-2000) has a cult following in the US despite only lasting for one season. The show introduced audiences to some of the biggest actors and actresses in film and television today and dawned the start of the ‘comedy clique’ that would frequently appear on-screen together.

Freaks and Geeks marked the start of many successful careers [Getty Images]

Freaks and Geeks marked the start of many successful careers
L-R: Seth Rogen, Busy Philipps, Samm Levine, John Francis Daley, Jason Segel, Linda Cardellini, Martin Starr, James Franco. [Getty Images]

The show followed the Weir siblings, Lindsay (Linda Cardellini) and Sam (John Francis Daley), and their respective friendship groups, the freaks and the geeks, as they went through high school during the 1980s. The show focused on friendships, family bonds, drug use, bullying and issues with self-image. It dealt with serious issues in a light way and, unsurprisingly considering the cast, had many hilarious moments.

The Freaks consisted of Lindsay, Daniel (James Franco), Nick (Jason Segel), Ken (Seth Rogen) and Kim (Busy Philipps). They were a group of burnouts likely to be found smoking weed by the bleachers or sneaking out of class. At the beginning of the series, Lindsay is dealing with the death of her grandmother and the narrative predominately follows her questioning her faith and social standing as she begins to hang out with the ‘freaks’ rather than the mathletes.

The Geeks consisted of Sam, Neal (Samm Levine) and Bill (Martin Starr). The series saw the Geeks trying to avoid bullies, deal with first crushes and coping with family issues.

Last year, Vanity Fair reunited all of the cast members publicly for the first time since the show was cancelled. They had previously held a reunion at PaleyFest in 2011, however, James Franco was not present due to filming commitments.

Vanity Fair reunited the cast of 'Freaks and Geeks'  for the Judd Apatow comedy edition

Vanity Fair reunited the cast of ‘Freaks and Geeks’ for the Judd Apatow comedy edition

Here is a run through of the best moments of Freaks and Geeks and the career highlights of the cast so far:

The Freaks:

Lindsay Weir (Linda Cardellini)

Lindsay Weir

Best Moments

At the start of the series Lindsay isn’t the most likeable character. It is frustrating as a viewer to see her trying to be somebody she is so clearly not just to fit in with this group. But her best moments come when we see her compassionate side, such as when she talks about her late grandmother or when she defends Eli, a boy with mental disabilities. As the series goes on, she builds a friendship with Kim which is great to watch and it is endearing to watch her struggling with her feelings for the overly-keen Nick.

Notable Credits

Velma in Scooby-Doo and Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed
Cassie in Brokeback Mountain
Nurse Samantha Taggart in ER

Current Projects

Voice work on Gravity Falls
Currently voicing Sharla in Out There.

Daniel Desario (James Franco)

James Franco

Best Moments

Daniel’s turbulent relationship with Kim offers some humorous moments, especially when he decides to agree with everything she says during episode 12, ‘The Garage Door‘. However, some of his best moments occur when he is communicating with the geeks. In the finale, Daniel is forced to join the Audio/Visual club after pulling the fire alarm to try and get out of a test so to be nice the geeks invite him to join them at their Dungeons and Dragons night, where they all bond over Daniel’s creation of Carlos the Dwarf (see below). 

Notable Credits

Harry Osborn in the Spiderman franchise
Aron Ralston in 127 Hours
Will Rodman in Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Current Projects

Alien in Spring Breakers
Oz in Oz the Great and Powerful

Nick Andopolis (Jason Segel)

Jason Segel

Best Moments

Nick is the character who is freakishly loveable. He is obsessed with Lindsay, going as far as serenading her with Styx’s ‘Lady’ (cringe through the clip below) and later writing his own song for her, ‘Lady L’. His pride and joy is his 29-piece drum kit and he is initially convinced he can make it as a drummer, despite having no motivation to do anything about it. There are many touching moments between Nick and Lindsay where she tries to encourage him to be more ambitious, but he struggles to remain motivated under the watchful eye of his dad, who has warned if he doesn’t sort himself out soon, he’ll be going into the army.

Notable Credits

Peter in Forgetting Sarah Marshallalso writer
Gary in The Muppetsalso writer
Tom in The Five-Year Engagement; also writer

Current Projects

Series 9 of How I Met Your Mother
Featuring in This is the End as himself
Rumoured to be taking the lead role in Dreamworks’ Undercover Cop an 80’s era comedy

Ken Miller (Seth Rogen)

Seth Rogen

Best Moments

In my opinion, Ken is so underused in the series. Although he is there early on to provide some witty one-liners, it is only when he gets a girlfriend during episode 12 that he more heavily featured. When Ken meets his girlfriend, Amy, Rogen’s performance is spot-on. He goes from the quick-witted, sarcastic character to the one who doesn’t know what to do or say.

Notable Credits

Officer Michaels in Superbad; also writer
Dale Denton in Pineapple Expressalso writer
Kyle in 50/50

Current Projects

Featuring in This is the End as himself; also writer
Linked to Nicholas Stoller’s Townies alongside Zac Efron
Linked to Anthony Leondis’ B.O.O.: Bureau of Otherworldly Operations

Kim Kelly (Busy Philipps)

Busy Phillips

Best Moments

When I watched the first few episodes of the show, I hated Kim Kelly. I thought the way she spoke to Daniel was awful and her mistreatment of Lindsay actually felt like bullying. However, by the fourth episode, ‘Kim Kelly Is My Friend’, that all changes. You get a glimpse of her dysfunctional family life and realise she mistreats others because that’s all she’s ever known. As the series progresses, her friendship with Lindsay grows and the two really care and respect each other, which is great to watch.

Notable Credits

Audrey Liddell in Dawson’s Creek
Hope Bobeck in ER
Laurie Keller in Cougar Town

Current Projects

Continuing to film Cougar Town
Featuring in Kat Coiro’s A Case of You

The Geeks:

Sam Weir (John Francis Daley)

Sam Weir

Best Moments

As Sam is quite a lot smaller than most of the other boys his age, he lacks a lot of self-confidence, especially when talking to his crush, Cindy Sanders. He’s a true mummy’s boy and worries about Lindsay mixing into the wrong crowd. There is an adorable moment when Lindsay decides to have a party whilst their parents are away, worried that their house will get wrecked, Sam buys a keg of non-alcoholic beer and swaps it with the original keg. Another great moment is when he tries to revamp his image to make himself look a bit cooler, however his choice of a blue jumpsuit doesn’t quite have the desired effect…

Notable Credits

Dr. Lance Sweets in Bones 
Carter in Horrible Bosses; also writer
Mitch in Waiting…

Current Projects

Ben House in Rapturepalooza
Writer of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2
Writer of Vacation

Neal Schweiber (Samm Levine)

Best Moments

Neal comes out with some of the best liners on the series – my all time favourite is “I’m Jewish. That’s no cakewalk either. Last year, I was elected school treasurer. I didn’t even run!”. He is convinced he is older than his years and that he can charm Lindsay into liking him and after finding out his dad is having an affair, he starts to speak to people through a puppet. Whilst Levine is hilarious during the funny moments, he also makes your heart melt during his more emotional scenes.

Notable Credits

Pfc. Hirschberg in Inglourious Basterds
Spanky in Sydney White
Appearances in Lost, How I Met Your Mother, Modern Family and 90210.

Current Projects

Uncredited role in jOBS
Pranked caller in Miss Dial
Matt Nealy in Phys Ed

Bill Haverchuck (Martin Starr)

Best Moments

I could write an entire blog post about Bill Haverchuck, who is, without any doubt, my favourite character on the show. In a show full of amazing one-liners, his are always the best and the way Starr uses simple mannerisms means that even when he’s not speaking, Bill is the person you are watching. From getting drunk whilst watching Dallas, drinking a concoction of disgusting food that Sam and Neal have blended together to earn ten bucks and trying to teach the boys how to “dance sexy”, he is always providing laugh-out-loud humour. However, his best moment has got to be his halloween costume… (see below)

Notable Credits

Martin in Knocked Up
Joel in Adventureland
Appearances in How I Met Your Mother, Parks and Recreation, New Girl and Community

Current Projects

Featuring in This is the End as himself 
Todd in The Lifeguard
Roman DeBeers in Party Down