Published work – September 2014

Metro iconAs it’s almost October, I thought I’d share some of the articles that I’ve written for Metro Blogs throughout September.

After going to the launch of Glue, E4’s latest drama, I’ve written a couple of pieces about the show – which has since become one of my favourite programmes on television at the moment.

I also celebrated the 20th anniversary of Friends by selecting my choices of the sitcom’s best episodes and revealed some of my favourite Derren Brown shows – an article that was then shared on the illusionist’s Facebook page.

Check out the following blogs:

Friends turns 20: 20 episodes you need to watch

7 reasons I’ll be watching Strictly for the first time this year

9 best moments from the McBusted Tourplay announcement

11 types of students you’ll meet during freshers’ week

9 reasons why E4’s Glue is an unmissable yet shocking drama

Bad Education is back: 10 reasons Jack Whitehall is top of the class

9 reasons to be excited about Disney Infinity 2.0

13 things you need to be a convincing pirate on Talk Like A Pirate Day

11 lessons learned from Educating the East End (including how to run an election)

7 best moments from Our Girl series opener

Our Girl: Can anybody compete with Downton Abbey?

8 times Derren Brown blew our minds

Glue: 8 biggest shocks from episode two

8 reasons why How I Met Your Mother should’ve used its alternative ending

Giant spiders vs crane flies: Who wins?

And there’s plenty more to come in October…

In The Club: 6 things that need to be revealed in the finale

Will Chris propose to VickyKay Mellor’s done it again. In The Club, her latest compelling drama, has hooked the nation.

The series, which follows six expectant mothers and their partners, has been captivating week upon week, but now that In The Club is reaching its conclusion, there’s still so much left to be revealed.

We’re due a Vicky-centric episode this week, which will see the midwife suffering with excruciating stomach pains, but there’s still plenty of loose ends to be tied up with the other characters as well.

Here are six things that we need to find out as drama comes to an end:

1. Will Chris propose to Vicky?

Vicky’s been not-so-subtly dropping hints to Chris that she wants to get married, but he’s made his feelings clear and, at the moment, it looks like Vicky’s going to raise her baby alone. However, as the midwife starts to have unexpected pains will Chris accept some responsibility for the child and finally propose?

2. Will Kim choose Susie or Neil?

Since getting pregnant Kim has struggled with her feelings for friend and sperm-donor Neil, much to the annoyance of her partner Susie. After Neil assisted Kim during the birth of their child she moved into his flat, but then returned to Susie at the end of last week’s episode. Things are likely to be tense as Kim continues to have conflicting feelings, but who will she choose as the series ends?

3. Will Rick go to prison?

Rick’s still not found out his sentence for robbing a bank and, as his court case looms, he’ll finally discover whether he’s being sent to prison or not. With new-born twins, two other children and their finances in a dire situation, Diane’s hoping that her husband will get a suspended sentence, but will he be that lucky?

4. Does Simon’s dad have feelings for Rosanna?

Now that Rosanna and Simon are living with his parents things have been tense to say the least. Since playing the role of Rosanna’s birthing partner Simon’s mother has been more than happy to stick her oar in but, more intriguingly, as Rosanna met Simon’s dad the pair shared a knowing look. Do they have a history together? If not, sparks were definitely present during their introduction.

5. Has Jasmin got her confidence back?

It’s fair to say that, of all of the expectant mothers attending Parent Craft, Jasmin was the most apprehensive. After last week’s paternity scandal is she feeling better about motherhood? And will her relationship with Dev remain strong following their emotional heart-to-heart?

6. Will Kim continue to support Rosie?

As Kim decided to return to Susie she left Rosie staying with Neil and Jude, but will Rosie cope without her biggest supporter so far? And how will Neil manage with his son, Rosie and his granddaughter staying under his roof? If Susie decides to support Jude and Rosie, Kim could remain an active role model for the young mother – she certainly needs one now that her father isn’t fit to care for her.

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?

My advice to the TOWIE producers…

By the looks of Twitter, I’m with the 90% of the British population who wishes they could un-see last night’s dreadful The Only Way Is Essex, better known as, live. It has been described as the ‘worst tv show ever’ by readers of The Sun and many fans have expressed how they were tempted to stop watching.

The thing that struck me though, is that it was the cast who were getting slated online. Although I’m in agreement that some are acting a little too big for their boots *cough* James ‘Arg’ Argent, I really don’t see how the failure of the live episode can fall into their hands.

The Arg Charity Show... it's all for charity!

The Arg Charity Show… it’s all for charity, apparently!

Whilst the message was clear – the ‘stars’ were putting on a charity show – there were no details anywhere with how fans could donate to their charity of choice, Breast Cancer Care, and although some may claim they raised awareness, no facts on the cancer were shared.

The show played out like a poorly executed version of The Muppet Show, except it wasn’t funny… It was plagued with poor edits and a lack of understanding of those behind the scenes that as they were shouting to the cast, the audience could hear them too. It is a credit to the post production staff of the regular shows that it is usually edited so smoothly. Last night we had to endure cutting people off mid-sentence and moving to a shot of two people looking at each other in silence – until we heard those behind the camera say “we’re rolling”.

Sam and Kirk have lots to discuss

Sam and Kirk sit in silence, until they are prompted by someone behind the camera to “talk about Lauren”

If last night’s show did anything, it made it clear just how constructed the storylines are. We heard producers prompting Sam and Kirk to “talk about Lauren” and it would appear the only people pressuring Joey to talk about marriage are those we don’t see on-screen. The poor boy was almost reduced to tears and the rumours online are saying it’s because he was being pressured to propose at the end of the show.

So, my advice to TOWIE producers – the live show clearly didn’t work, please don’t try it again, if you do, count your losses, it’s pretty clear the show last night was scripted and had been rehearsed, so don’t try to pretend it isn’t.

If you’re going to revolve it around a ‘talent’ show, don’t cut away from the acts, aren’t they what it’s all about? In fact, an even better route could be to put on a TOWIE pantomime, add an ‘Essex twist’ to a tale we all know.

The saving grace of the live show was, without a doubt, Kirk Norcross’ performance. He’s never mentioned that he could sing before so it was a shock when he said he was singing a jazz song, that’s usually Arg’s territory. In my opinion, and according to Twitter, he was the star of the night… It would be great to see a little rivalry between him and Arg over the performance.

But please, don’t try to go live again. I don’t think the nation can handle it….or Joey.

The live show appeared to upset Joey, who was seen crying to producers after the show

The live show appeared to upset Joey, who was seen crying to producers after the show

(All screenshots have been sourced from ITV Player, if you dare to watch the episode again, it’s available here for the next month.)