Tag Archives: 90s television shows

Dead Girls Who Text, Underage Sex, Kind of Perplexed – A First Look at ABC Family’s “Pretty Little Liars”

Yesterday, I wrote a blog entry about the television shows I planned on watching this summer.  My awesome blogging buddy Amy, over at Imaginary Men, suggested I add to my roster ABC Family’s latest attempt at undermining its reputation for being the “Good Little Christian Cable Channel.”  The show, entitled Pretty Little Liars, is based on a young adult novel series of the same name, which was written by Sara Shepard, and produced by Alloy Entertainment (a.k.a. the folks responsible for the Gossip Girl series).

And, boy am I glad I did!  This show is a snarky recapper’s DREAM!

But before I get started with my official recap, let me take a moment to discuss some of the casting decisions for this show . . . particularly the casting of its adults.  Now, on most teen shows, “adults” aren’t generally given all that much to do.  Rather, their limited screen time tends to fall into one of two categories.  There is the: “I’m a sweet, but bland, parent with no discernable personality, who has absolutely no clue about what my kid does everyday” type; and the “I am a raging a-hole parent, with no redeeming qualities, who is totally intent on screwing up my kid’s life” type.  Based on what I’ve seen from the pilot, this show is no exception.

Surprisingly, however, some of the “adults” on this show, were given an impressive amount of speaking lines in the pilot.  And I’m thinking that this anomaly probably can be attributed to who they are.  Ready to feel REALLY OLD, fellow 90’s era TV watchers?  Try this on for size . . .

One of the character’s moms is played by Holly Marie Combs.  You might remember her as Piper, the “smart sensible sister” on the television series Charmed, who also happened to be a bonafide witch.

Her husband on the show is played by Chad Lowe, brother of THIS GUY . . .

(Sorry Rob!  We know you are supposed to be all “respectable” now.  But some of us still remember your sex tape scandal . . .)

As for Chad himself, a few of you might remember him as “Jesse” a.k.a. “the loner kid with the earring, from Life Goes On, who just so happened to have AIDS.”

But more of you probably remember him as the former Mr. Hilary Swank.

This time, let’s try to say NO to drugs, Chad!

Next up is Laura Leighton, who you might recall playing “that crazy slutty b&tch Sydney” from the OLD Melrose Place . . .

 . . . OR “that crazy slutty middle-aged DEAD b&tch” from the NEW (and recently cancelled) Melrose Place.

Oh, and even though she doesn’t technically play a “parent,” I would be remiss not to mention Torrey Devitto, who plays one of the Pretty Little Liars’ obnoxious significantly older sister.  Torrey is perhaps best known for playing Crazy Nanny Carrie on One Tree Hill.

This was the storyline that made me stop watching One Tree Hill.  It was THAT BAD!

She is also the lucky chica rumored to be engaged to THIS GUY . . .

That’s right boys and girls, Crazy Nanny Carrie and Vampire Stefan apparently do the nasty together, on a regular basis.  It’s a good thing vampires can’t have kids, because otherwise, he would DEFINITELY have to hide HIS from her!

Anyway, now that I’ve written virtually an ENTIRE blog entry on the supporting cast of this show, perhaps its time I get on with the actual recap.  So, here goes . . .

It was a DARK and STORMY night!

Bet you thought the above-referenced tired cliche went out of style during your grandma’s time.  NOT SO!  Because that is exactly the setting for our opening scene, which takes place in an old dirty barn, that probably smells like horse poop, in a small town in Pennsylvania, one year ago.  This is where we meet the girls for the first time. 

First up is Aria (Lucy Hale), who we KNOW is supposed to be the “loner bad girl” because she wears black and has (gasp) a pink stripe in her hair.  Then there’s Spencer (Troian Bellisario), who is obviously the “smart girl,” because she wears argyle sweaters.  Third, is Emily (Shay Mitchell), a.k.a the jock.  She’s gotta be the jock, right?   Because what other high school girl would wear SNEAKERS to a dirty barn party!  Finally, there is Hanna (Ashley Benson), who we instantly realize is the “fat dorky girl who is about to become thin and popular” because she wears . . . wait for it . . . baggy t-shirts and hoodies.

The girls are chatting away when they hear A NOISE!

But when they go to investigate, it ends up only being the soon-to-be-dead, Alli (Sasha Pieterse).  At least initially, Alli is provided with very few defining qualities, aside from being kind of mean.  She also has a habit of saying weirdly foreshadowing things that no human being would ever actually utter in real conversation.  Here’s an example: “It’s important to share secrets.  It keeps us close.”  

Yeah, whatever, girlfriend!  Your days are numbered . . .

Later that night, the girls are asleep on the dung covered barn floor (still in their dress clothes and shoes, of course — too poor to buy PJs and slippers, I guess?), when one of them wakes up and realizes that two of them are missing: soon-to-be-dead Alli, and “smart” Spencer.  Spencer comes back, looking really creepy, and says that Alli is GONE! 

And no one suspected this Spencer chick of any wrongdoing, why, exactly?  Oh, that’s right .  . . “smart girls” who wear argyle CAN’T POSSIBLY be killers . . . How foolish of me to forget.

Sex in a Fetid Public Bathroom is HOT!  (But doing it with your teacher is not . . .)

One year later, “bad girl” Aria is back from a year long stint in Iceland . . .  And she’s DIFFERENT!  Apparently, her year in Europe scared that pink stripe right out of her hair.  And now, she doesn’t wear BLACK anymore.  She wears PURPLE!  Clearly, this is a changed woman . . . 

Based on a stilted and awkward “we needed to include this scene, in order to give you information” chat she has with her mother, we also learn that Aria and the other girls drifted apart after the “Alli Incident.”

Speaking of “chats,” when Aria leaves the house, she has a creepy conversation with her dad about promising to keep his “secret.”  And if this wasn’t ABC Family, I’d be really worried about the implications of that awful-sounding statement.  But it is ABC Family . . .  so I’m not terribly concerned.

After dropping her little brother off at Lacrosse practice, Aria heads to a local bar to pick up a cheeseburger.  While there, she meets Ezra (Ian Harding), a recent college grad who just got a teaching job in town.  Ezra has bland, goofy good looks, bad hair, and an ineffectual, almost effeminate, quality about him.  He also “woos” Aria with cheesy lines like, “If you write for yourself, it’s true passion.” 

In short, Ezra is Hugh Grant in every movie he has EVER been in . . .  except Bridget Jones’ Diary.

Not wanting Ezra to know she is jailbait, Aria, without exactly lying, subtly allows Ezra to believe that she is in college.  After chatting for about a minute, these two start boning in a nasty unisex bathroom, right there in the bar.

Way to stay classy, former Goth Girl!

Wouldn’t you have loved to see the exchange that led to this?  Here’s how I think it probably went:

Ezra:  “Hey .  . . I hear the bathroom here is INSANELY CLEAN.  Wanna check it out?”

Aria:  “Actually, I don’t really have to pee.”

Ezra:  (Tries to wink, but can’t, and ends up looking like he is having a seizure.) “Neither do I.”

The next day at school, in a scene that surprised precisely NO ONE, we learn that Ezra is Mr. Fitz (Could the dude HAVE a geekier name?), Aria’s English teacher.  “Brilliant” college grad that he is, Mr. Fitz responds to this revelation by saying “Oh Crap!” 

He does so loudly, and in front of the entire class.  Clearly, this guy WANTS to be arrested for statutory rape.  As if being called out for boning the English teacher wasn’t enough, Aria’s phone rings loudly to inform her she has text message.  (Ever heard of the “vibrate” function, Aria?”)  This is the message she receives . . .

So much for her dad’s “Big Secret.”  Aria instantly suspects the “A” who sent the message is Dead Alli.  (Hmmmmmm, how much do you think texting minutes cost in Heaven?  Because, I’m willing to bet they aren’t cheap . . .)  Through a flashback, we learn that Aria and Alli were running away from a dorky girl at school named Mona, when they came across Aria’s dad making out with one of his young students in his car. 

Speaking of making out with your students, Aria approaches Ezra and tells him she still wants to be his permanent f*ck buddy.  Statutory rape regulations BE DAMNED!  Ezra responds by making this speech about what an amazing girl she is, and how much she means to him.  (Am I missing something?  Because from what I saw, all these two did was make out in a bathroom.  We’re not exactly talking Romeo and Juliet here . . .) 

 Anyway, despite his “undying love” for the youngun, Ezra breaks it off with Aria.  Ever the idealist, Mr. Fitz truly believes that one day he will find an 18-year old, someone who, unlike Aria, he can screw in the potty, without fear of repercussion.  Aria is crushed . . . especially since she probably caught a bad case of hepatitus from that toilet seat . . .

Aw Man!  My Mom Never Screwed a Cop for Me!

Next up on this “Where Are They Now?  Dead Alli Reunion Special” is Hanna, who we find shopping (or rather shoplifting) at the mall with fellow former dork, Mona.  We know that Hanna is thin and popular now, because she wears tight tops, and “mean girl” music plays virtually every time she is on screen.  After flirting with the customer service guy, Hanna quickly exits the mall with an expensive pair of sunglasses she totally didn’t pay for. 

Later, while Hanna and her mom are eating dinner alone together. (Daddy apparently skipped town, probably after watching Mommy “act” in the New Melrose Place.  Can you really blame him?)  Their discussion is interrupted by a visit from the Shoplifting Police. (Oh I’m serious!)  They are here to arrest Hanna for taking those darn sunglasses.

At the police station, while Hanna’s mom is trying to talk her daughter out of trouble, Hanna, like Aria, receives a “mysterious” phone message from the “mysterious A.”

Very clever A!  But I was kind of hoping for a “don’t drop the soap” joke  . . .

Finally, Hanna and her mom are allowed to leave the police station.  While in the car, Bad Mommy tells Hanna how important it is not to do anything to jeopardize her newfound popularity.  She instructs Hanna to deny the shoplifting allegations. 

Later at home, while Hanna is watching TV and eating ice cream, Bad Mommy stumbles in, making out with none other than the Chief of the Shoplifting Police!  The two start going at it, RIGHT IN FRONT OF HANNA!  To make matters worse, Bad Mommy, looks RIGHT AT Hanna, while she is making out with Sheriff D-bag, just before taking him upstairs to bone him.  EWWWWW! 

So, it looks like Laura Leighton will be playing a Crazy Slutty B*tch on this show.  Thank goodness, she doesn’t have to worry about being typecast.

Les-be Friends!

Someone new is moving into Dead Alli’s house.  Apparently, that family is Amish, and doesn’t watch television.  Otherwise, I hope they bought the place dirt cheap.  After all, unsolved disappearance/ murder locations are not exactly top sellers in the real estate market.  When Jock Emily brings a “welcome basket” over to the new neighbors, she meets Maya (Bianca Lawson), a girl around Emily’s age. 

Maya is obviously supposed to be a teenager.  However she looks, talks, and acts, like the star of a gay porno loosely based on that old 70’s movie, Jackie Brown . . .

Everything Maya says to Emily is followed by an exaggerated wink and suggestive nod.  Her dialogue is laced with a series of bad puns and sexual innunedos that would make Samantha from Sex and the City proud.  Here are some of my favorites:

“Oh, I bet your a great swimmer.  You TOTALLY have the body for it.”

“I just really want to get to KNOW you better.”

“I’m corrupting you!”

“Is this your first time?”

Maya conveniently has a picture of her “boyfriend back home” in her bedroom.  But the dude has “beard” written all over him.  They don’t actually show the guy’s face, but I bet if you zoom in, you will find out that it’s someone like THIS GUY . . .

I’m talking about the openly gay Kurt from Glee, in case you missed it . . .

While walking home from school one day, Maya and Emily decide to make out.  Later, at school, Emily gets a letter in her locker from A, who, apparently, blew all her Heaven cell phone minutes, and now needs to resort to more inexpensive methods of communication . . .

My Sister’s Creeper . . .

Back in Uptight Over-Achieving Land, Spencer is basking in the glory of her new cottage, which she decorated herself and plans to move into during her junior year.  Unfortunately for Spencer, Crazy Nanny Carrie her older sister has other plans.  Her and her fiance are waiting for their own place in the city to be finished.  Meanwhile, THEY will be moving into the cottage. 

Crazy Nanny Carrie Spencer’s sister can really care less about what this does to Spencer.  However, her boyfriend, Wren (Julian Morris), is more sympathetic.  We know these two are going to connect, instantly, because they both  share a love of argyle.  It’s a match made in Heaven!  Too bad Crazy Nanny Carrie Big Sis is in the way . . .

If Ezra is Hugh Grant from every movie OTHER THAN Bridget Jones Diary, Wren is Hugh Grant FROM Bridget Jones Diary.

In fact, Ezra and Wren look SO MUCH alike, I almost couldn’t tell them apart.  While his fiance is away, Charming and Cute, But Super Sleazy Wren hits on Spencer shamelessly.  My favorite exchange between them is when they are both in their swimwear, and Spencer pulls out the oldest guy-getting trick in the book, by faking a sudden neck injury.  

Fortunately, Shirtless Ezra has come to the RESCUE!  After all, he is a future med student.  And EVERYBODY knows that sexy pornographic massages are the first thing you learn how to do in medical school . . .

Later, Spencer is up in her room “fantasizing” about Wren, when she gets an e-mail from the highly prolific “A.”

In a flashback, we learn that this isn’t the first time Spencer has made a play for one of her sister’s men.  She also apparently got down and dirty with Crazy Nanny Carrie’s (See, I didn’t even bother crossing it out this time.) last boyfriend, who, interestingly enough, bore a striking resemblance to both Ezra and Wren. 

OK . . . now this is getting weird .  . . Is there some sort of unwritten rule in this town that EVERY guy who lives there HAS to look like a young Hugh Grant?

The Body, The “Jenna Thing,” and the Return of the Shoplifting Police

Toward the end of the pilot, Alli’s body is magically found.  Horrified and frightened, the girls admit to one another, that they have each received messages from A, the Most Chatty Dead Girl Ever!  Later, at Alli’s funeral, the four former friends sit together at the front of the church.  They share looks of horror when JENNA– star of the mysterious “Jenna Thing” the foursome have been ominously referring to throughout the hour — arrives to attend the funeral.

Apparently, Jenna is blind.  How did she become that way?  Did the girls do something to bring about her blindness?  Did she simply watch too many episodes of the New (now cancelled) Melrose Place?  Here’s hoping they don’t cancel this show, before we can find out . . .

After the ceremony, the girls are confronted by none other than the Chief of the Shoplifting Police!  I was about to remark that it is highly inappropriate to discuss contraband designer sunglasses at a FUNERAL.  However, apparently, that wasn’t the reason for the Chief’s visit.  

It seems that when Chiefy is not making out with slutty mommies, or taking teens to the slammer, for failing to pay for chewing gum at the local 7-Eleven, he likes to solve murders!  And he plans on solving Alli’s murder!  Be afraid, girls!  Be very afraid!

So, what did you all think of Pretty Little Liars?  Did anyone actually watch it, besides me?  If so, are you planning to watch it again?  Or was this just a one night stand?

(Pretty Little Liars airs Tuesdays at 8pm on ABC Family.)

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The Baby Sitters Club and Sweet Valley Twins – They’re BAAACK!

The Summer Before, a prequel to the critically acclaimed (not to mention AWESOME) Babysitter’s Club series is now available in bookstores.  The first four books in the original series are also being updated and re-released.

Sweet Valley Confidential, a book that chronicles the lives of the gorgeous and popular Wakefield twins, Elizabeth and Jessica, as they enter their late 20s and early 30s, should hit bookstores around February 2011.

Upon reaching the ripe old age of seven, I unilaterally decided that I was TOO OLD to read picture books.  And so, after pleading my case to my mother one weekend, the two of us hit the library, in search of “Big Girl Books.”  Holding my mother’s hand, I steered her clear away from the Children’s Book section, and headed determinedly toward the section containing books for “Juveniles and Young Adults.” 

Two series immediately caught my eye, based on the sheer volume of related books to choose from.  Both sets of books offered “pretty” covers, featuring enviably attractive “Big Girls,” who appeared to be significantly older, wiser, and cooler than myself.  (Who says you can’t judge a book by its cover?)  The names of the two series?  The Babysitter’s Club and Sweet Valley Twins!  I grabbed the first two books of each series off the shelf, and was on my way.  And so began my long-term childhood friendship with a motley crew of babysitters, and two twin girls with vastly different personalities . . .

For the uninitiated, The Babysitters Club was initially comprised of four girls.  Bossy Tomboy Kristy, Shy and Sensitive Mary Anne, Boycrazy New York Native Stacey, and the Artistic, but Academically Challenged, Claudia.  In later books, the Club expanded to include Vegetarian California Girl Dawn and junior members – Bookish Horse lover Mallory, and Graceful Ballet Dancer Jessi.  Most of the books would focus on the adventures of one particular club member, while using the babysitting experiences of  her friends as subplots.  As for me, I was probably most like the  Mary Anne character, but WANTED to be most like Stacey, because she was BLONDE,  POPULAR, GOOD AT MATH, and all the boys liked her.  Sure, Mary Anne had Logan as a boyfriend, but honestly, he seemed pretty lame.  (I’m sorry, but how many manly middle school boys do you know that actually ENJOYED babysitting?)

“Think she’d notice, if I closed my eyes and pretended she was a DUDE?”

I absolutely ADORED these books.  And spent WAY too much time fretting over the lives of the aforementioned characters.  (“OMG!  Kristy is moving into a mansion!  She’s so lucky!”)  (“WOW!  Dawn and Mary Anne are stepsisters now.  FUN!”)  (“WTF!  Stacey is moving away!”)  (“OH NO!  Claudia thinks she’s ADOPTED!”)

In addition to reading the books, I also owned a Babysitters Club wall calendar, postcard book, and diary. 

I saw the movie (which wasn’t nearly as good as the books).  And watched the television series (which ALSO wasn’t as good as the books).  The TV series, in particular, had some pretty crap acting.  For an example, check out this old clip I found on YouTube.  It just may feature a familiar face . . .

Some of my friends and I even attempted to start our own babysitters club.  However, since the oldest of us was 9 at the time, we didn’t get many clients . . .  For a time, I even tried to draw little hearts over my “i” s when writing in school, like the Stacey character did in her babysitting journal entries,  but that didn’t stick either . . . 

Ann M. Martin wrote literally hundreds of Babysitters books.  The original series ran from 1986 through 2000.  And you know what?  In all that time, the kids NEVER AGED!  By the time the series ended, these characters seemed more like kids that I would babysit, instead of the other way around.  I have a theory as to why this is, but I’d rather keep it to myself, if you don’t mind . . .

And now, after nearly a decade away, it appears that the girls are about to get even YOUNGER! Age discrepancies aside, when I heard that Ann M. Martin was writing a prequel to the series entitled, The Summer Before, I was super psyched!  I don’t care that I’m too old, I am TOTALLY reading this book.  The seven-year old inside of me demands it! 

Of course, part of me wishes that Martin had chosen to write a sequel, instead of a prequel, so that I could finally find out whether my babysitting pals ever actually graduated the eighth grade . . .  But until that happens, at least I will be able to check in on my OTHER friends, the Wakefields.

If The Babysitters Club were the fictional girls that I most wanted as my friends, the Wakefield twins were the fictional girls I most wanted to BE!  It was as if Francine Pascal, took the super cool Stacey character from The Babysitters series, transplanted her to the West Coast, cloned her, and gave her a book series all her own!  Elizabeth was the smart, conscientious one — an excellent student, and class newspaper editor, with designs on a future career in journalism.   She was kind of a goody-goody, and a tad boring, most of the time.  So, of course, I related to her the most (even though I didn’t really want to) . . .

Jessica was a Total Bitch!  Your classic mean girl.

She could care less about school or grades.  And was only interested in boys and popularity, and her snooty “elite” club called The Unicorns.

Really, Francine Pascal?  This was what you chose as your “Cool Girl” Mascot?

Throughout most of the series, Jessica took advantage of Elizabeth and generally treated her like crap.  But, like any abusive relationship, she always apologized during the last few pages.  So, Elizabeth, a glutton for punishment, took her back.  And for some reason, despite all her evilness, us readers liked her anyway . . . (We even liked her more than we liked Elizabeth, although most of us didn’t want to admit it . . .)

Unlike The Babysitters Club series, which focused exclusively on the characters’ middle school years.  We got to watch Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield throughout their childhood, and up through young adulthood.  In fact, before the first book in the  Sweet Valley Twins series was even released, there was Sweet Valley High, which detailed the highschool adventures of the Wakefield twins.

Unfortunately, for whatever reason (she never told me why), my mom wouldn’t let me read these books.  I eventually read the first few when I was a bit older.  And they WERE surprisingly risque, especially considering the time during which they were written.  Upon turning 14, Jessica Wakefield went from just being a bitch, to being a bitch AND a slut. 

In addition to these two series, Francine Pascal went on to release Sweet Valley Kids, which featured the twins in second and third grade . . .

Sweet Valley Senior Year (self explanatory), and the Sweet Valley University series.  Oh, and of course, there was a TV show . . .

 . . . which I never watched.

After taking a few years off, it appears that the Wakefield twins are back in action.  In addition to the new Sweet Valley Confidential book (or, as I like to call it, Sweet Valley Adults), Juno writer, Diablo Cody, is also, apparently, in the process of penning a movie featuring the girls.

 . . . although something tells me, were they actually to exist, Elizabeth and Jessica wouldn’t exactly be buddy-buddy with Diablo.  Those tatts alone would send the prissy Wakefields running for the Hollywood Hills.  Now THAT’S something I’d like to see on the big screen!

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Filed under Books I loved as a kid, nostalgia, Novel, Sweet Valley Twins Series, The Babysitters Club Series

Whatever Happened to TV Theme Songs?

Remember back in the olden days, when television shows had catchy theme songs, and opening sequences, typically featuring pictures of cast members and scenes from the show?  Whatever happened to those?   When was it exactly that television programmers decided that theme songs were “dorky” — that cast pictures and opening credits were just plain unnecessary?  Perhaps, it happened around the same time that producers made this  . . .

Call me out of touch, but I, for one, miss my TV Theme Songs.  After all,  “jingles” were the soundtrack to my childhood and adolescence.  The opening sequences that accompanied them allowed me the few precious moments I needed to get revved up for my favorite shows.  (Not to mention, they allowed me to drool over adorable close-ups of whatever actor I happened to be crushing on at the time.) 

This is why today, I would like to pay homage to the theme songs and opening sequences that made me the TV Recapper I am today.  These opening sequences that I am about to show you will probably be as close as I will ever come to writing an autobiography.  My list begins with the first two television programs that I recall watching, back when I was still in diapers, and runs all the way through to present day.  (Don’t worry, I only chose ten shows . . .)

So, without further adieu:  My Life as a Series of Television Theme Songs . . .

Sesame Street

For most of us, this was probably the first television show (and theme song) to which we were exposed.  I’m pretty sure my mom was already making me watch Sesame Street, when I was still in her womb.  And even though I haven’t watched the show in . . . well  . . . a LONG time, its theme song still gets my toes tapping, and its colorful opening sequence still brings a smile to my face.

(Unfortunately, I couldn’t find an opening sequence on YouTube that corresponded to a time when I was actually watching this show.  All the available examples either aired too early, or too late for Baby Me.   Plus, apparently, Sesame Street changes their opener ALL THE TIME!  Fortunately, the song always stays pretty much the same.  And the  above opener came closest to how I remembered the sequence, i.e. MORE pictures of puppets and LESS of random kids that I don’t know, or care, about . . . So you can get the basic idea.)

Fraggle Rock

I have very vivid memories of this HBO show. (Can you believe HBO used to air children’s programming at night?  Things SURE have changed . . . )  The extent to which I remember this show is strange considering that, based on the time frame during which it aired, I had to have been more or less a toddler when I was watching it.  I distinctly remember, however, that its characters were awesome!  Let’s see . . . there was Red, the sporty tomboy Fraggle,

Mokey, the artsy-fartsy, hippie-dippy Fraggle,

oh . . . and that other Fraggle that talked, acted, and sort of looked like Woody Allen.

Then there were the DOOZERS, blue collar workaholics that were ACTUALLY BLUE!

And, let’s not forget Fraggle Rock had one of the most kickass opening sequences of ALL TIME!

Full House

This is one of those shows that, back when I was a kid, I thought was AWESOME.  However, now, sometimes, I watch it in reruns, and wonder what I was smoking back then  . . .  Yet, back in the day, Full House was part of TGIF, ABC’s kid-friendly Friday night lineup.  And everyone who was anyone (and who didn’t have a sleepover party to attend that weekend) was watching. 

D.J. Tanner was the big sister I never had, but wish I did.  Little Me wanted to be just like her when I grew up, (or, rather, merely aged a few years).  I even had my room decorated the way her character did on the show (same bed sheets)!  Apparently, I would have been one stalkerish little sister . . .  It’s probably a good thing that I was an only child.   

Home Improvement

Honestly, I shouldn’t even be including this one, because the theme song had NO WORDS, and, actually, was kind of lame.  However, Home Improvement was a very important show for me, because it marked my ascent into womanhood.  After all, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, the middle child on the show, was my FIRST EVER television crush!

In fact, this very picture, which was probably cut out of some Teen Bop magazine from the early 90s, hung on my childhood bedroom closet door for an embarrassingly long time.  Just in case, you were curious, my first movie crush was Macauley Culkin from Home Alone.

It seems kind of creepy for me to be saying these things now.  But, rest assured, these were both age appropriate crushes for me at the time . . .

Fresh Prince of Bel Air

A rapping, super cheesily dressed, teenage Will Smith?  How could I NOT include this opening sequence in my list?

Friends

After listening to this theme song EVERY Thursday night for TEN YEARS, I can’t even hear the first few bars of “I’ll Be There for You” anymore, without wanting to slit my wrists.  But there was a time, not too long ago, when I LOVED the song, and LOVED the show!  Honestly, who DIDN’T want to be one of the Friends?  They were all just SO COOL!  (Well . . . except for, maybe, Ross.)

Dawson’s Creek

Ahhhh . . . Dawson’s Creek.  My lifelong obsession with Pacey Witter and his gal pal, Joey Potter began with just a few simple words, belted out by Paula Cole, “I don’t wanna wait!”   (Sadly, I own, and still, on occasion, watch, the DVD’s for the ENTIRE series.)  Oh, and by the way, just a note for The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity: here’s living proof that you DID NOT invent “shaky cam.”

The O.C.

The O.C. has been off the air for a few years now, but I am still going through a bit of withdrawal.  Benjamin McKenzie’s Ryan Atwood was the ULTIMATE brooding bad boy (and pretty easy on the eyes too, I might add).

Oh, and Seth and Summer? They gave hope to EVERY nerd out there who ever had dreams of dating the prom queen.

Plus, the show’s opening sequence, put a modern spin on a musical classic . . .  What could be better?

Veronica Mars

Adorably snarky teen super sleuth?  CHECK!  Twisty turny and surprisingly dark seasonal mysteries (and slightly less twisty and dark episodic mysteries)?  CHECK!  Super sexy, mildly mutually abusive, “LoVE” / Hate relationship between two hot twenty-somethings playing teens? CHECK!  Catchy, yet ultra hip, theme song and title sequence featuring The Dandy Warhols?  TRIPLE CHECK!

True Blood

Well, folks, we have traveled long and far (20 some odd years, to be exact), but we have finally made it back to present day.  And, like I said, for the most part, theme songs and opening sequences have, sadly, become a thing of the past.  But fear not, because all hope is not lost . . .

While it does not technically fit the opening sequence mold (no pictures of the cast are shown here), True Blood’s “Bad Things” title sequence is everything a slightly raunchy, often funny, and fangtastic show about vampires, and other assorted supernatural creatures from the South, should be . . .

So, there you have it — my life summed up in ten television theme songs . . . Something tells me the next generation won’t be able to write a blog entry like this one . . .

[P.S.  Did I forget to include YOUR favorite TV Theme Song in this list?  If so, maybe I caught it in the sequel to this post, which features 10 more awesome TV Theme Songs.  You can find that post here.]

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Filed under 80s television, 90s television, music, television, TV theme songs

Hey, remember that show Party of Five? Do you think Dr. Jack Shepard does?

 

Matthew Fox IS Dr. Jack Shephard.  And I am pretty sure he will continue to BE Dr. Jack Shephard, for better or worse,  LONG after Lost airs its season finale.  However, when the first season of Lost aired, back in 2004, I found that I couldn’t look at “Jack” without thinking, “Hey, isn’t that the guy from that show I used to watch back when I was a kid?  The one with all the hot orphans?”

Dude, you’re just burying your dad NOW?  Hasn’t he been dead since 1994?

For those of you unfamiliar with the show, Party of Five was an hour-long drama that aired during the mid through late nineties.  The show revolved around the five Salinger siblings, who were forced to raise one another, after both of their parents were killed in a tragic drunk driving accident.  The clan included, early twenty-something Charlie Salinger (Matthew Fox), teens Julia and Bailey, young violin prodigy Claudia, and baby Owen.  

The acting on Party of Five was top notch.  It is no wonder that many of these “child stars” went on to have major movie and film careers.

Aside from Mathew Fox, there was . . .

the adorable Scott Wolf, who now stars in ABC’s show V;

Is it just me, or does this guy never age?  According to IMDB, he’s in his 40s now, and could probably STILL play a high schooler (well . . . maybe college).

Neve Campbell, who you might remember from the Scream movies;

Lacey Chabert of Mean Girls fame;

Ghost Whisperer Jennifer Love Hewitt; and

Jeremy London, who I always confuse with his twin brother, Jason.  He used to be pretty big in the ’90s. Now, I think, he just does a lot of Lifetime movies . . .

As a child, who was still a bit young to understand the true tragedy that had actually befallen the Salingers, I remember thinking about how much fun it would be to live in a house run by teenagers.  To eat pizza every night for dinner.  To sleep in a tent in the living room, like the Claudia character did (I was about that character’s age, at the time the show aired, so her living arrangements made TOTAL sense to me).  To not always have to clean up after myself (but, if you absolutely HAD to do chores, there would inevitably be singing and dancing involved). . .

Plus, I was an only child.  So I would have killed for a cool older sister, like Julia, to emulate, or a cool older brother like Bailey to pal around with.  And if I couldn’t be Claudia, and have Bailey for a big brother, I would have loved to date him like the shy bookish girl-next-door, Sarah Reeves.  I had a HUGE crush on Scott Wolf back then.  And even though I was closest in age to the Claudia character, Jennifer Love Hewitt’s Sarah reminded me most of myself.

Like most teen dramas, the show dealt with the typical issues that young adults face during their adolescence: friends, dating, academics, puberty, peer pressure, etc.  However, it also had added layers of complexity, involving the unique challenges associated with raising a family at a very young age.  Additionally, there were a couple of really powerful episodes, during the first season, that addressed the death of the Salinger parents, and how each character coped when forced to come face-to-face with the drunk driver who killed them.

Because you tend to watch television shows very differently in your pre-teens than in your twenties, I took the liberty of Netflixing the first season of Party of Five a few months back.  I am pleased to report it has withstood the test of time.  If anything, I appreciated the show more, upon second viewing, because I better understood its dramatic subtext and complex character relationships.

Like most shows, Party of Five went off the rails a bit in its final couple of seasons.  In my opinion, it became WAY too maudlin.  This is not to say that Charlie’s cancer storyline, and Bailey’s battles with alcoholism, weren’t well written.  They just weren’t exactly a joy to watch.  Plus, there was that oddly funny, but completely out-of-place plotline, involving the youngest child Owen, and his newfound penchant for cross-dressing.  I guess the show’s writers inserted the story as a means of comic relief, but I sort of didn’t get it . . .

Lackluster final seasons aside, Party of Five was a major player on my ’90s television viewing roster, which is why I decided to give it a shout out here.  And, who knows, maybe clips from the show will pop up in a Lost Dr. Jack Shepard flashback, sometime soon?  Boy would Entertainment Weekly’s Doc Jensen have a field day with that!

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Filed under Party of Five