Checking in: Looking Season 2 and it’s Cancellation by HBO

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After getting quite deep into the problems that surrounded Looking’s first season (here and here) I wanted to give the second season a full run before sitting down and sharing my thoughts.  Did it step up from season one?  Did it become more enjoyable and less painful to watch?

Well, I can say that Looking, for it’s second season, took a massive-gigantic-much wanted step forward into becoming a show that focused more on multiple episode story arcs and  about creating conflict and drama and less about the slow-moody snails pace it aimed for in it’s first outing.

Story lines of death, HIV, cheating, drugs, downward spirals, the demise of relationships, professional uncertainty…these elements all gave the show and each character a much needed breath of life and sense of purpose that was visibly lacking in the first season.

The central story line of Patrick (Jonathan Groff) and his on again-off again relationship with Kevin (Russell Tovey) was played out with much more intention and realness.  We were torn watching Kevin cheat on his boyfriend but felt like he and Patrick were a perfect fit but also thought Patrick deserved the punishment of not receiving Kevin’s full attention for how he treated the lovable Richie (Raul Catillo).  The relationship that moved from secret hook-ups to full blown romance made for an intense and well constructed finale that, i’m pretty sure, saw us all side with Patrick after discovering Kevin was still active on gay hookup app Grindr.

It was such powerful moments as that fight/discussion between the two that shows how much more the show was bringing this season and this wasn’t just restricted to the Kevin/Patrick/Richie triangle.

The budding (and somewhat unlikely) relationship between the emotionally/professionally damaged Agustin (Frankie J Alvarez) and HIV positive Eddie (Daniel Franzese) and the distancing of best friends Dom (Murray Bartlett) and Doris (Lauren Weedman) trying to identify where they are in their lives together created equal amounts of compelling stories.

Looking back at Looking, season two offered up more memorable episodes and moments than the first.  Patrick and Dom joining Doris at her fathers funeral, Dom and Agustin rescuing a heavily intoxicated Patrick from making the worlds worst jealousy fueled Halloween party speech, Kevin showing up at Patrick’s door step and telling him he’s left John….it’s situations like this I’m actually saddened to hear that HBO have pulled the plug on a third season.

Looking (while low rating) has a dedicated fan-base that for season one hated or viciously defended and for season two, joined together to equally love and while there is some comfort in knowing HBO plan on giving fans a special Looking finale, the fact that I can sit here and say “you know what, Looking is pretty fucking amazing” after roasting it so badly can only show that cancelling the show is a move not widely supported.

For further reading, may I suggest 11 reasons why HBO needs to renew Looking and An open letter to HBO: Save Looking

Can Patrick trust Kevin?  Will Dom’s chicken window be a success?  Will Agustin and Eddie’s new relationship survive?  Will Doris and Dom be able to sustain their newly defined life-long friendship?  Will Richie be happy?  There’s too much left hanging that I fear a final special won’t be able to cover and so in closing I feel like all I can say is – – -

We deserve a third season of Looking.

Do you agree?  Was season two a step up from season one?  Did HBO make a smart decision in cancelling the show?  Sound off in the comments below.

Pretty Little Liars Unmasks Big A

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Ashley Marin (Laura Leighton and Hannah (Ashley Benson) have words)

5 years.  Yep, we’ve spent half a decade with Aria, Hannah, Emily, Spencer, Alison and a myriad of wayward teens, sexed up parents and shirtless hotties trying to decipher clues as to the identity of Rosewoods main antagonist and finally, this Friday night (March 27th) on FOX8, we’ll be given the biggest clue – the identity of A.

Well sort of.

Without offering spoilers, we’re not given a definitive answer as to who is Big A, but you’ll leave this episode with not one, but two massive revelations and a possibly the answer to the question…”Is ‘blank’ actually Big A?”

When you see the episode, you’ll see where i’m going with this!

The episode which aired Tuesday night in America was one of the most watched episodes of the show this season with PLL’s creator Marlene King saying “This is an episode that’s not just shocking and action-packed and scary as hell — it’s demented and emotional.  I just think there are many, many things that are going to feel new to our fans, and that’s what’s so exciting about it.  It’s the most important episode we’ve done so far so. It’s just balls out, and a really fun, new, and interesting direction for the show.”

The Pretty Little Liars Season 5 finale airs Friday night, March 27th, 7:30pm on Fox8

Top Pick on Netflix Australia: The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

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Now that Netflix has officially launched in Australia, I need to note my top pick for new content that is a must watch for any subscriber.

Located in the US TV category is a sweet yet not so sweet comedy called The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.  Kimmy (Ellie Kemper) is discovering what modern life is like for the first time after being freed from a cult – a cult that lived in an underground bunker where Kimmy and 3 other women were being held hostage for 15 years (they had been told the world had pretty much blown up).  It’s a rather macabre premise for a show – especially a comedy.

Wanting to steer clear of the ‘Indiana mole women’ tag Kimmy and her fellow cult devotee’s have been so kindly given, Kimmy decides to make a break and start her life in New York City and in what seems like record time, Kimmy manages to find an apartment with a roommate in Titus (Tituss Burgess) and a job as a             co-dependent for wealthy socialite Jacqueline Voorhees (Jane Krakowski).

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Kimmy adjusts to modern terms….

Kimmy’s sudden burst into the modern world and her adjustment to this new life away from the bunker provide the base story point for the season and the comedy revolving around dated slang versus modern technology.

As Kimmy, Kemper is perfection.  The doe eyed, clueless optimist plays well with Kemper (the role was created with her in mind) who breathes innocence into a woman not wanting to be seen as a victim.  her incessant happiness should be annoying but in Kempers hands, her sweet temperament  comes off a somewhat adorable.  Krakowski on the hand is my favorite. As the perfect image at any desperate cost (foot surgery and all), Jacqueline could be considered to be an older version of Krakowski’s other alter ego (30 Rock’s Jenna Maroney) but it’s easy enough to over-look it with the amount of fantastic one liners she constantly spews out.  Jacqueline is the kind of woman you hope doesn’t exist yet you know she does.

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The brains trust behind Kimmy Schmidt is of course Tina Fey and 30 Rock producer Robert Carlock.  The two working together have created a show that has a familiar feel to it (30 Rock fans should be all over this) but is so separate from the creators roots, new viewers should stick around.

The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, complete season one is available on Netflix Australia.

Showcase to Marathon OITNB Season 3

Ruby Rose joins the cast of Orange is The New Black's third season
Ruby Rose joins the cast of Orange is The New Black’s third season

Showcase are bringing us the entire run of Orange is the new Black’s third season in one marathon event at the same time the show premiere’s in the US – Jan 12th!

It’s great news for fans of the quirky prison drama (who have access to Showtime via Foxtel) as the channel is also planning a seasons one and two marathon prior to the onset of season three.

So what can we expect for season three?  Netflix are keeping most details hush hush but we already know that local Ruby Rose has joined the cast and that Jason Biggs will not be returning (for season three at least).

Veteran actor Mary Steenburgen will appear playing Pornstache’s (Mendez) mother but how exaclty that will play out considering his current imprisonment and that actor Pablo Schreiber who plays Mendez is a series regular on another show (The brink) and Laura Prepon’s Alex Vause will return as a major player again after being somewhat absent for most of season two.

So mark your calendars – June 12th for the entire third season of Orange is the new Black on Showcase!

Netflix Australia Official Launch, Prices and Library

Netflix Australia's streaming library has been leaked online
Netflix Australia’s streaming library has been leaked online

Subscription streaming services Presto and Stan have now been live for more than a month now and the third service – and the one with the biggest name – Netflix, launches tomorrow to Australian and New Zealand residents.

The Aussie form of Netflix is going into the market with the lowest price of the three services – just $8.99 a month (Stan is $10 per month, Presto $9.99) for the lowest of the three available packages, and while heavily affordable, the $8.99 package will only stream in standard quality.

And while Netflix have been keeping their library secret, a Reddit user has ‘apparently stumbled across their entire television and movie library’ and leaked the entire thing a day before launch.

House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Orphan Black, Homeland, LOST, House and Arrow – among others, are all listed to be readily available to subscribers from tomorrow – most of which has been confirmed by Netflix.

Having had some play time on the US version, I can easily say Netflix was my favorite, mainly due to it’s ease of use, personalization suggestions and massive back and current library (I managed to fall into a Dawsons Creek – Melrose Place – 30 Rock binge session)

All new users will receive one month’s free trial of the service before the three tier packages come into effect.

Are you planning on using Netflix?  Already subscribed to Presto or Stan?  Let us know what you think of them in the comments below.

That X-Files Re-Boot Is Almost Happening!

Drink up!  The X-Files is nearing a confirmed return!
Drink up! The X-Files is nearing a confirmed return!

That X-Files reboot news that popped up back in early Jan is reportedly one step closer to actually happening with news coming out that FOX are apparently close to green lighting the revival.

It’s being noted that the network has ordered a ‘short stack’ order for the planned re-boot which could see less than 10 episodes made of the popular sci-fi series that made David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson household names.

Both Anderson and Duchovny have had successful post X-files careers and it’s believed that the hectic work schedule of both stars is part of the reasoning behind the short-stack order (Duchovny’s ‘Aquarius’ is due to premiere soon while Anderson is flitting between Hannibal’s third season and The Fall’s third season).

Along with Gillian and David, creator/writer Chris Carter is back on board and an offer to Mitch Pileggi (Director Skinner) has been made.

Any final say on the re-boot is most likely to come in May when FOX have their planned upfront presentation in New York.

Are you excited for the return of Dana and Spooky?  Sound off in the comments below!

Update: March 24th 2015

FOX has confirmed that Mulder and Scully will officially be returning to our screens searching for little green men!

The six episode series is slated to begin production in June/July with creator Chris Carter describing the shows return as “a 13-year commercial break.  The good news is the world has only gotten that much stranger, a perfect time to tell these six stories.”

No official run date has been set.

Jessica Lange Confirms No Return for AHS Hotel

Lange as witch Fiona Goode from AHS Coven
Lange as witch Fiona Goode from AHS Coven

“Yes, I’m done.  We’ve had a great run here. I have absolutely loved doing these four characters that I’ve had the opportunity to play. In all the madness, I’ve loved the writers, my actors, Ryan and the whole, I mean, insanity of it, shooting here, shooting in New Orleans, the stories, everything.  It was my absolute favorite. We had a great run.”  These are the words uttered by AHS star Jessica Lange confirming that she will not be a part of the cast for the fifth installment of the AHS series.

Insert sad face here

Insert sad face here

Speaking at their annual PaleyFest panel, Lange confirmed her departure from the series while two new cast members were announced – White Collar’s Matt Bomer and 30 Rock’s Cheyenne Jackson who will both be joining Lady Gaga for the new season.

Any other information regarding the AHS: Hotel series was kept quiet.

AHS: Hotel will consist of 13 episodes and begin in October on FX.

X Factor New Zealand Judge Outrage

X Factor NZ Judge Natalia Kills show her ugly side
X Factor NZ Judge Natalia Kills show her ugly side

The X Factor franchise is never one to shy away from controversy.  From contestants going AWOL (Altiyan Childs) to completely disappearing into oblivion (Karise Eden) to in fighting between judges (Mel B and Nat Bass) to a constant rotating judging roster (UK version Cheryl Cole and Mel B in out in out etc) but now, the New Zealand version of the show is making headlines and for a very ugly reason.

Sunday’s live show saw married judges Natalia Kills and Willy Moon (who?) verbally attack contestant Joe Irvine comparing him to fictional serial killer Norman Bates and calling him disgusting.  Watch the clip below.

In an unexpected tirade, Kills – who called out her respect for artist integrity and creativity – rips shreds off Irvine claiming his look and sound is a complete rip off of her singing husband Willy Moon.  “I personally found it artistically atrocious. I’m embarrassed to be sitting here in your presence having to dignify you with my opinion,”

And it didn’t stop there with Moon (who nobody seems to have actually heard of before) contnuing with his wife’s tirade saying “You look like Norman Bates dressing up in his mother’s clothing. It’s just a little bit creepy and I feel like you’re going to stitch someone’s skin to your face and then kill everybody in the audience.”

Gotta give it to Irvine though who remain calm and collected and didn’t bite back unlike judge Melanie Blatt (All Saints) who jumped to Irvine’s defense and even claimed he was dressed better than Moon.

TV3 which broadcasts the show in New Zealand has since been inundated with numerous complaints about the pairs bullying of Irvine while twitter users called for the pairs sacking. “TV3 does not condone bullying and are currently on-site with Joe who is doing well,” TV3 said in a tweet after the show.

So word of advice, a white man in a suit crooning is now considered a complete rip-off of Willy Moon.

Update: 2:45pm

In a very smart move and from pressure from outraged viewers TV3 have fired both Natalia Kills and husband Willy Moon from X Factor NZ.

MediaWorks chief executive Mark Weldon says “Last night on X Factor both Kills and Moon made comments that were completely unacceptable. While the judges on X Factor are expected to provide critiques of the performances, we will not tolerate such destructive tirades from any of the judges.”

“Contestants put their all into this competition and they should expect to receive feedback and criticism that is professional and constructive. We no longer have confidence that Kills and Moon are the right people to perform the role of X Factor judges and they will leave the show, effective immediately.  We are appalled at the very poor judgement and intention shown by Natalia Kills and Willy Moon,” its director of programming, Jonathon Summerhayes, said.

2 replacement judges – yet to be named, will replace Kills and Moon from next week.

AMC Orders Two Series of The Walking Dead’s Companion Show

Photo Credit: Justin Lubin/AMC
Photo Credit: Justin Lubin/AMC

AMC’s ‘yet-to-be-titled’ companion series of it’s number one show The Walking Dead is off to a solid start with the network ordering straight up – two series right off the bat.

Set in Los Angeles, the unnamed show will focus on a new set of characters, looking at the onset of epidemic that wiped out millions of people and turned them into zombies with the shows first season set to consist of six hour long episodes premiering on AMC in late Winter (probably August).

“We take incredibly seriously the notion of building a satisfying companion series to the number one show on television. From the beginning of ‘The Walking Dead’ on AMC, we’ve been asked questions about what was going on in other parts of the zombie apocalypse, and what it looked like as the world really did ‘turn.’ Through this new series, we’re going to find out,” said Charlie Collier, AMC president. “Robert Kirkman, Dave Erickson and their writing team, along with an incomparable set of producers, cast and crew have created something remarkable and clearly distinct. We respectfully follow the request of Monty Python as we bring out (the latest of) our Dead.”

“We feel empowered by this two-season commitment, a serious show of faith from our network partner AMC,” Kirkman said. “I personally take it as a sign that they believe, like we do, that we’ve accomplished our goal of developing something original that can pay tribute to the original show and expand the world I created while at the same time having something new to say with this story. I’m very grateful that we now have the opportunity to tell this amazing story and show the fans that we really haven’t scratched the surface yet when it comes to ‘The Walking Dead.’”

The series will star Cliff Curtis (“Missing,” “Gang Related”), Kim Dickens (Gone Girl, “Sons of Anarchy”), Frank Dillane (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince) and Alycia Debnam Carey (Into the Storm).

Wentworth Season 3 Casting News AND Season 4 News!

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Queen Bea and her group of blue hoodie wearing prisoners have been confirmed to return for a fourth season of Wentworth!

Foxtel and FremantleMedia announced recently that production on the fourth season will start in Melbourne mid 2015!

Foxtel Head of Drama Penny Win said “All of us at Foxtel and FremantleMedia Australia are extremely proud of Wentworth and the passionate bond the series has forged with drama lovers, starting with our discerning Foxtel subscribers and expanding to captivate audiences around the world.”

FremantleMedia Australia Director of Drama and Wentworth executive producer Jo Porter said “Without wanting to give away any specific spoilers from season three, suffice to say it builds to a fabulous crescendo that in turn has given our season four writers a fantastic launch pad to explore what is next for the complex and compelling characters of Wentworth. Our loyal Wentworth fans are not going to be disappointed and I know our amazing cast and crew are going to relish bringing to life these potent stories.”

Work on the drama’s third season ended last August and is set to premiere on Foxtel’s SoHo channel April 7th.

Pia Miranda joins the cast for season 3.  Pic Supplied/Foxtel
Pia Miranda joins the cast for season 3. Pic Supplied/Foxtel

The Daily Telegraph also announced some interesting casting news for the up-coming third season.  Looking for Alibrandi star Pia Miranda, All Saint’s Libby Tanner and Tammy McIntosh will all appear with Miranda playing inmate Jodie Spiteri, Tanner (whom I’ve always though would be perfect for this show) stars as psychologist Bridget Westfall and McIntosh as vigilante Karen Proctor.

Say’s the Daily Telegraph article “A production spokeswoman hinted: “all three will impact the power play of the prison.”

Season Four will air some-time early-mid 2016.

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