Monday, April 27, 2009

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

The sitcom “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” was created by Susan and Andy Borowitz. There were 6 seasons of around 25 episodes each, that is 148 episodes in all. The first episode was broadcast in September 1990 on NBC and the last one was aired in May 1996. Since then there have been of course many rebroadcasts and adaptations in different languages. Each season attracted at least 11 millions of viewers on the NBC; moreover the series won many awards like for instance a Kid’s Choice Award and it was also nominated for the Golden Globes and the Emmy Awards.

First of all, an introduction to the main characters of the series seems necessary:

Will (played by Will Smith) is the protagonist of the sitcom. He is rather hip and loves basketball, rap and girls, which are far away from his cousin Carlton’s hobbies and interests; a cause of frequent tensions. Will’s uncle is called Philip Banks (played by James Avery), he is a lawyer and a rather protective father. Many of the comic effects on the show are due to Will and Geoffrey’s jokes about his corpulence. His wife, Vivian Banks (played by Janet Hubert-Whitten and then by Daphne Maxwell Reid) is the sister of Will’s mother. At first she is depicted as an ambitious self-assured woman whereas she seems more like a caring and discreet homemaker afterwards. The couple has four children: first Hilary (played by Karyn Parsons) who is a stereotypical brainless doll whose only interests lie in shopping, money and fame. Her pretention and lacks of understanding create many comical situations. Then comes the snobbish Carlton (played by Alfonso Ribeiro) who has at first some difficulties to accept Will. Ashley is the third child (played by Tatyana M. Ali) who looks up to Will as a big brother. She is a mummy's girl and her father is overprotective to her and tries to control her life. The youngest child, Nicholas "Nicky" Andrew (played by Ross Bagley) was originally used to add comic effect and emotional punch to the show. Then comes Geoffrey Barbara Butler (played by Joseph Marcell), the family's cynical English butler. The last main character is Jazz (played by Jeffrey A. Townes), Will's ill-mannered and a bit simple best friend.

And now the plot summary: as the theme song tells it, Will, an African-American teenager from West Philadelphia, got caught in a little fight with some up to no good guys. His mother got scared and thus sent him in Bel-Air (L.A., California) to his uncle and aunt (the Banks family) hoping that the posh environment will help him becoming responsible, mature and respectful. However, Will is planning to become the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and shatter his new entourage as you could say... The comic effect in most of the episodes is created by the social difference expressed in the language used by Will and his rich family and the contrasting attitude of everyone.

The series has really pushed only one actor; Will Smith of course. No need to mention his whole filmography, you probably know most of it. What concerns the other actors, most of them played in TV shows, which stayed unknown in Europe, or had only a token role in series like “In the House” or “Melrose Place”. Actually Alfonso Ribeiro (aka Carlton), who became a filmmaker, is the one who had most success, apart from Will. As for Jazz, he returned to music and created his own record label.

In conclusion, this series is highly recommended as it has been one of the major sitcoms during the 1990s and yet it is still topical and hilarious today. As a foretaste here is a compilation of the funniest dances during the episodes:

Caroline Clément
Elodie Valet

One Tree Hill

One Tree Hill is an American television drama for teenagers which began in September 2003 on The WB Television Network. This soap opera was created by Mark Schwahn and takes place in a fictional town in North Carolina. This small town, One Tree Hill, is named from a song from U2.
Schwahn originally planned to create a film and wanted to name the show An Unkindness of Ravens, Ravens being the name of the basketball team in the serial. The episodes, about 130 so far, last around forty minutes each. Up to now there are 6 seasons and this year a 7th one began.The main actors are Chad Michael Murray (Lucas Scott), James Lafferty (Nathan Scott), Hilarie Burton (Peyton Sawyer), Bethany Joy Galeotti (Haley James), Sophia Bush (Brooke Davis). Some of them played in other films or soap operas: Chad Michael Murray (in Gilmore Girls, Dawson’s Creek, Freaky Friday,…), Sophia Bush (Nip/Tuck, Sabrina, The Teenage Witch, John Tucker Must Die,…), Hilarie Burton (Dawson’s Creek). Bethany Joy Galeotti is also a singer-songwriter and a musician. In 2005 Chad Michael Murray and Sophia Bush married after two years of dating but five months later this was annulled.

The story takes place in One Tree Hill in the 2000s. Lucas and Nathan Scott are half brothers. Their father, Dan Scott, left Karen Roe, Lucas’ mother, before Lucas was born. Lucas, his mother and Keith, Dan’s brother, live together. Karen, who runs a café bar, has a love affair with Keith. Dan Scott lives with Deborah and their son, Nathan. Dan is important in the story because he is a crook and everybody hates him. Lucas and Nathan play basketball in the school’s team and Peyton, Brooke and Haley are cheerleaders. They form a group of friends. The serial recounts the up’s and down’s of this friend’s group and of their families. In the first four seasons the spectators follow the character’s secondary school years. In the fifth season there is a sprung of 4 years, this season and the followings describe thus the years of the characters after university. At the beginning or at the end of episodes Lucas or other characters often quotes well-known American or British writers like Walter Scott or James Joyce for example. These quotes refer to events or situations of the episode.
Marie Collage & Camille Mertens

That '70s Show

"That '70s Show" is an American humoristic series which was created by Mark Brazill, Bonnie Turner and Terry Turner. This sitcom presents the everyday life, the first loves and the fooleries of six teenagers who live in an imaginary town called Point Place, Wisconsin. it is set in the seventies from May 17, 1976 to December 31, 1979. It was broadcast on the FOX TV network from 1998 to 2006.

Eric Forman (Topher Grace) is the show's main character. He is a skinny teenager who is fond of Star Wars. His girlfriend and neighbour is Donna Pinciotti (Laura Prepon) and his best friend is Steven Hyde (Danny Masterson). The latter is paranoid, rebellious and a regular drug user who after his mother’s abandonment moved into the Forman’s basement. Then there is Michael Kelso (Ashton Kutcher), a dumb womanizer. And his girlfriend is Jackie Burkhart (Mila Kunis), a pretentious and hoity-toity high school cheerleader whose main concern is wealth and social status. Her relationship with Kelso is always on and off again, unlike Donna and Eric’s one. And last but not least Fez (Wilmer Valderrama), a foreign exchange student from a non-identified country. As his name is unpronounceable, he is nicknamed Fez, the acronym for Foreign Exchange Student.

Other important characters include Eric's aggressive and bossy father, Red (Kurtwood Smith), who is a veteran of World War II and the Korean War. Eric’s mother hen Kitty (Debra Jo Rupp) is warm-hearted but also intrusive and likes the occasional drinking. She has to combine two jobs: housewife and nurse. The show also introduces Bob Pinciotti (Don Stark), Donna's stupid father.

The series is particularly well-known for the dream sequences, the circles and its guest stars. The first one depicts various characters' imagination or dreams in the form of parodies of famous films of the time such as Star Wars, Rocky, and Grease. The second one consists in a group of characters sitting in a circle often surrounded by clouds of Marijuana. The camera goes from one character to another and stops at each successive individual as he or she is speaking. And finally the series has received many guest stars like Bruce Willis, Brooke Shields and Lindsay Lohan

To sum it up, “That ‘70s show” is a very funny serial comedy, which is still very topical today, even though it is set in the seventies. This is obviously not to be taken seriously and it is inadvisable for humorless people. Here is an episode!

Aliénor Alzetta, Abigail Zinque & Louisa Gangolf

How I met your mother: a love story in reverse

How I met your mother is an American situation comedy or sitcom, i.e. a television programme which consists of recurring characters in a common environment and generally includes laugh tracks or studio audiences. It was launched on CBS in September 2005. The series, shot on location in New York, was created by Craig Thomas and Carter Bays. There have been four seasons so far.

The title of the series can easily be explained by the framing device, since episodes generally start with a short shot showing Ted’s children sitting on a couch and listening to their father who relates the story of how he met their mother. A short opening credit screen follows and launches the show for good. Each episode consists of one huge flashback, going back to the days when, 25 years earlier, Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor), was 27 and was living in New York.

The plot begins in 2005, showing all about Ted and how he fell in love. He is a single, 27-year-old architect living with his two best friends that he met at the university, Marshall Eriksen, a law student, and Lily Aldrin, a kindergarten teacher. Those two have been dating for nine years when Marshall proposes. Their engagement causes Ted to think about marriage. He realizes he also wants to find true love and begins his search for the perfect soul mate, which does not please his friend Barney Stinson, known as a confirmed bachelor and womanizer with sometimes outrageous opinions and a passion for suits. Ted is introduced to a young reporter Robin Scherbatsky, when Barney plays the game he invented to introduce his friend to women: "Have you met Ted?" When he sees her, he is convinced it is love at first sight. He quickly falls in love with her and thinks about settling down, but destiny has something else in store.

There are three main sets: the apartment, the bar MacLaren’s and the taxi. The Maclaren’s, in which a big part of the show takes place, is as important for Ted and his friends as the Central Perk for the characters of the series Friends. It is based on a bar in New York called McGee's.

The theme song is a portion of the piece of music "Hey Beautiful" by The Solids, a group of which Bays and Thomas, the creators of the sitcom, are members. The opening sequence is made of several photographs which were taken by Ted and his friends when spending time together.

The show has received favorable reviews. So far it has had an average of 10.54 million viewers for season 4 and the show’s highest rating since season 1 is 11.85 million viewers.
Yaël Halterman & Marie Demez

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Gossip Girl: welcome into the scandalous life of Manhattan's elite

“Where have you been Serena and who am I, that’s a secret I’ll never tell. You know you love me, XOXO, Gossip Girl.”

That is how each episode of the series
Gossip Girl begins, and also how it ends. Based on the book series of Cecily von Ziegesar, Gossip Girl is an American television series, aired on the channel CW since 2007. The executive producer is Josh Schwartz, already known for the successful series Newport Beach.

The series takes place in
Manhattan, particularly in the Upper East Side, which is one of the most expensive neighbourhoods in the United States. ‘Gossip Girl’ is in fact the ghost-narrator of the series who reveals the lives of the characters on her blog. The pilot of the series begins with the comeback of one of the central characters: Serena Van der Woodsen, who had left the country for mysterious reasons. Watchers discover quickly that she had had a relationship with Nate Archibald who was at that moment dating her best friend, Blair Waldorf. Serena must face her old ghosts, one of which being the unscrupulous Chuck Bass, a multimillionaire’s son. Fortunately she meets the egghead Dan Humphrey, who lives in the less prestigious area of Brooklyn. The ingredients of the series are: love, friendship, relationships, break-ups, drama, and blows below the belt.

Characters are of course nothing without actors. The teenagers’ five new idols are: Blake Lively as the tall blond-haired girl Serena van der Woodsen and Leighton Meester as the two-faced Blair Waldorf. As far as the boys are concerned, Chace Crawford plays the role of the ideal son-in-law, the very British Ed Westwick is Chuck Bass and Penn Badgley, who is incidentally dating Blake Lively both on stage and off, is Dan Humphrey.

The series
Gossip Girl, hero-worshiped by teenagers, does not have unanimous support. Gossip Girl can indeed be called ‘every parent’s nightmare’ since each episode shows teenagers kissing, smoking, having sex, drinking, shoplifting and taking drugs. What is more, Gossip Girl received five awards at the Teen Choice Awards 2008: Show Drama, Breakout Show, Actress Drama for Blake Lively, Breakout Male for Chace Crawford and last but not least, TV Villain for Ed Westwick.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Sea Patrol

Sea Patrol is a fictional Australian TV series which deals with the life of a navy ship and its crew across a number of special events. The first season was launched in June 2007 and produced by Nine Network, one of the most important broadcasting channels in Australia. There have been two seasons so far, the second one being broadcast from March 2008 until June 2008. The executive producers, Hal and Di McElroy intend to air at least 6 seasons and the third one is already being broadcast. The producers attracted audiences with popular actors such as Lisa McCune who played in several films and a dozen TV series and who is one of the most popular actresses in Australia.

Most of Sea Patrol was shot on location in Queensland, a north-eastern state in Australia. Each episode deals with something illegal such as drug smuggle, illegal immigrants and so on. Yet, all episodes are connected together with one main plot.

Two real ships of the Royal Australian Navy were used to shoot the episodes. The first season ship is a Fremantle class patrol boat and the ship for the second season is an Armidale class patrol boat. Becauseof this highly sophisticated equipment, the cost of the series rose to 15 Million Australian Dollars, which made it the most expensive television series of all times in Australia. Due to this huge budget, Sea patrol was one of the most anticipated Australian series ever.

However, the reception of the series was not as good as expected, receiving at first mixed but generally positive reviews, but then decreasing after a while. For example, Michelle Hover, a reviewer for, heavily criticized the series saying that “the script was technically inept and did not support the caliber of actor of Lisa McCune”. Indeed one of the flaws of the series is that it is often surrealistic: in one of the first episodes, the crew finds a woman lying unconscious on a beach and the crew takes her on board; when she arrives on board she suddenly stops breathing and the best idea that comes to the mind of the captain is to do a tracheotomy with the barrel of a 9-mm gun, instead of a pen. Despite this criticism, however, Sea Patrol received some awards such as “Best Achievement in Sound for a Television Drama” and some of its actors –including Lisa McCune- were nominated for the “most popular actor” award. Moreover, the series was so successful that it has been broadcast in thirteen countries so far.
The last season on air started March 2009. Why don't you go and have a look!

Pushing daisies

Pushing daisies is an American series that was created by Bryan Fuller. It aired on the TV-channel ABC for two seasons (22 episodes) and immediately after the pilot episode it became a hit in America. The series is a fairy tale that centres on Ned, a pie-maker who possesses the ability to bring dead people back to life again.

The plot of the series can be summarized as follows: Ned is gifted with the mysterious ability to bring dead beings back to life again and even food becomes edible again, simply by touching them once. However, there are some minor stipulations to that ability. First, Ned can only touch dead people once, if he touches them a second time they die, in fact forever. Secondly, if Ned keeps a person alive for longer than one minute, something of similar “life value” drops dead as a form of balance. In the first episode Ned finds out that he possesses this talent by resurrecting his Golden Retriever Digby after he had been hit by a truck. He also brings his mother to life again, but he keeps her alive for longer than one minute. So, in order to keep the balance, the father of his childhood sweetheart Charlotte Charles dies. Of course it was bound to happen that his mother died shortly after her resurrection when giving him a goodnight kiss. Ned loses touch with Charlotte, because his father sends him to a boarding school. Meanwhile, Charlotte is taken care of by her agoraphobic aunts who move in to take over the role of her parents. Ned moves on in becoming a pie-maker and opens his own restaurant called “the Pie Hole”. But his restaurant fails to attract any customers and Ned is happy to hear that the private investigator Emerson Cod, who accidentally had discovered Ned`s gift, offers him a job. Ned has to bring murder victims back to life, ask them question about their murderer and touch them again so that they die forever. Emerson will then being able to solve the case and share the reward money with Ned. So far so good. But then Ned discovers that Charlotte has been killed and he decides to resurrect her forever. This of course demands that they never touch each other again after Charlotte’s resurrection. In spite of this, they fall in love again. Charlotte learns to appreciate life at Ned’s side and Ned slowly becomes more self-confident. Their love-story continues and the funny trio solves lots of cases.

The title of the series refers to the expression “to be pushing up the daisies”, which means: to be dead.

The story’s main character Ned (the Pie-Maker) is starred by Lee Pace. In 1997 the actor was accepted to the Juilliard School Drama Division in Lincoln Centre. He was given very classic roles such as Romeo in “Romeo and Juliet”, Richard II in “King Richard II” and Cassius in “Julius Caesar”, among others. More recently in 2003 Lee Pace starred in the Sundance Hit, Soldier’s Girl. He was awarded the Golden Globes Prize and the Independent Spirit Award, but he also won a Gotham Award for Outstanding Breakthrough Performance.

Ned’s sweetheart Charlotte Charles is starred by Anna Friel. The actress has had a very successful career on television. So far she has appeared in various TV-series, including Coronation Street, A Midsummer Nights Dream and Fields of Gold among many others. She was also given roles in films such as Perfect Strangers, A Midsummer Nights Dream and Me without you. In 1995 she was awarded the Best Actress Prize for TV Times Award, and via her role in Pushing Daisies she was awarded the Satellite Award in 2007. The series was described as an outstanding TV-series.

A very important role too is starred by the dog Digby. The other actors include Chi McBride (in the role of the investigator who wants to make money out of Ned’s secret power), Ellen Greene and Swoosie Kurtz (who star Charlotte Charles‘s two aunts) and Kristin Chenoweth, who stars the waitress Olive Snook who works at Pie’s Hole and is in love with Ned.

In May 2007 Pushing Daisies was given a 13-episode order by ABC. A few months later, the show received a full season order. However, there were problems with the scripts of the second season, as only nine out of twelve were complete and eventually ABC cancelled the TV-series. There is good news about this though, because from 30th May onwards you will be able to watch the final three episodes on ABC.

Mélina & Jessica

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Desperate Housewives

Who has never heard about the famous American series Desperate Housewives? Here is an article which will give information to beginners as well as to more experienced fans. Desperate Housewives is a comedy-drama series created by Marc Cherry and broadcasted for the first time in October 2004. A group of female friends lives in Wisteria Lane, in the fictional town of Fairview, Eagle State. In every episode, Mary Alice Young, who commits suicide at the beginning of the series, leads us as omniscient narrator into the life of her friends. The story is all about domestic struggles, crimes and mysteries hidden behind the appearance of a perfect suburban neighbourhood.

But who are those five scheming women? As opposed to Bree (Marcia Cross), the perfect hostess, there is Susan (Teri Hatcher), who can’t cook and whose blunders often make the viewers laugh. But they both are good and caring mothers. However, Lynette (Felicity Huffman) has many problems with her own children, four little rascals. Fortunately, she has one of the best husbands to support her. Gabrielle (Eva Longoria) is probably the most resolute of all of the desperate housewives of Wisteria Lane. She knows exactly what she wants and is ready to do everything to get it (her gardener, for example). Every neighbourhood must have a man-stealer, and Wisteria Lane is no exception. After having managed to make friends with most of the leading ladies, Edie (Nicolette Sheridan) indeed seduced the desperate husbands of her so-called friends. A new leading character, Katherine (Dana Delany), appears in the fourth season. She already lived in the neighbourhood many years ago and then left. Her problem: in the past, she accidentally killed her daughter and is now trying to pass her adoptive daughter off as her dead daughter. Are you still following?

Now hold on tight! Here is a description of the opening sequence. The idea behind it is to evoke the show's quirky spirit and to portray domesticity and male-female relations through the ages. The images are taken from eight famous pieces of art. In the beginning we see Adam and Eve, with Eve eating an apple. Then an animation shows Queen Nerfertari being overwhelmed by many children surrounding her. The next image is that of the Arnolfini Portrait by Jan Van Eyck. The husband on the painting is seen eating a banana and throwing the skin on the floor. His wife then comes and throws the rubbish away. Then, a more modern painting from the 1930s, American Gothic, shows the farmer seduced by a pin-up. His disapproving wife then disappears in a tin of sardines. On the World War II poster Am I Proud!, we can recognize the famous Campell’s Tomato Soup designed by Andy Warhol falling into the hand of a man. The latter is part of pop art work, Couple Arguing and Romantic Couple. Finally, the four main characters are seen under the Tree of Life, catching an apple.

We hope that you have come through this long (but interesting) description and that you now want to watch Desperate Housewives!

Cécile & Pauline