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Two can keep a secret, if one of them is dead...
Pretty Little Liars
Member Name: Wickedinrock
Pretty Little Liars
Advantages: Good acting for a teen show, gripping storyline, scary!
Disadvantages: Not for everyone!
Pretty Little Liars is a new television series based on the Pretty Little Liars series of novels by Sara Shepard. The show premiered on the US television channel ABC in June 2010 and on Viva in the UK in October 2010.
~ The show ~
The series follows the lives of four girls; Aria, Hanna, Spencer and Emily whose best friend Alison disappears after a sleepover. One year later the girls, who are no longer in contact, begin receiving text messages and emails from someone called "A" who taunts them with the secrets that they thought only Ali knew. The girls begin to wonder whether Ali is dead as presumed as their old secrets rear their heads and the girls start to question who they can trust.
When Jenna and Toby Cavanaugh return to school after an extended absence, we find out that the girls are hiding one terrible secret, something they swore to take to the grave. The girls were responsible for an accident which caused Jenna to go blind - something that Jenna's brother Toby had taken the blame for. The girls suspect that Jenna might be behind the "A" messages, especially when they find out that Ali and Jenna were closer friends than they ever knew. Even worse, after further revelations about Ali's past they suspect that Toby might be Ali's killer.
~ Characters and storylines ~
Aria Montgomery (Lucy Hale) moves back to Rosewood with her mother Ella, father Byron, and younger brother Mike after a year living in Iceland. Aria and Ali found out that Byron was having an affair with a younger woman before they moved abroad; something Aria has been able to keep quiet until "A" reveals it to her mother. Aria starts dating an older guy over the summer and on her return to school finds out that he is her new English professor. When Aria's secrets start to become common knowledge, she and the other girls decide to find out who "A" is and why he or she wants to hurt them. Lucy Hale is the most well known of the young actresses and I feel she has been given the lead role in the series, despite Aria being the boring character in the books!
Spencer Hastings (Troian Bellisario) is an intelligent over-achiever whose family put pressure on her to be as successful as her sister Melissa. Spencer has fallen for Melissa's fiancÚ and also kissed Melissa's ex boyfriend Ian, who we find out was in a secret relationship with Ali before her disappearance. All secrets that she thought no one knew until "A" starts to reveal them.
Hanna Marin (Ashley Benson) is now the most popular girl at Rosewood Day after Alison's disappearance. Previously an overeater worried about her weight, she now rules the school with her fashionable clothes and group of minions and shoplifts for attention from her absent father. Her old insecurities come out when she starts to doubt her relationship with Sean, a popular football player and also through revelations made by "A". Hanna's relationship with her new best friend Mona also starts to deteriorate as Hanna becomes closer to her old friends.
Emily Fields (Shay Mitchell) is a champion swimmer with a popular boyfriend. Emily begins to doubt her sexuality as she befriends Maya, a new girl at school who has moved into Ali's house. Emily also becomes friends with Toby Cavanaugh, who she realises she has a lot in common with. However, when her friends find out details which link him to Ali's disappearance she starts to doubt him which leads to disaster.
Alison (Ali) DiLaurentis (Sasha Pieterse) was the former leader of the clique. Ali went missing at a sleepover at Spencer's and a year later, her disappearance is still unsolved. Ali appears throughout the series in flashbacks, normally through her friends' memories, as a bully. Since her disappearance, revelations about Ali's life have arisen, including her relationship with an older guy and mysteries about her family life which have led her old friends to dig deeper.
~ Does the show stay true to the books? ~
I find that the girls' relationship is very different in the show to how it was in the books. The books portray them as 4 individuals who never really cared about each other and were just 'put together' by Ali to form a clique. When "A" starts harassing them they come together to work out who it is, but never as close friends, especially Hanna who prioritises her other friends above them throughout the books. However, in the show, they seem much closer. It could just be good acting or good on-screen chemistry but their relationship is much friendlier.
The girls are also much more personable and likeable on the show, especially Hanna who is portrayed in the novels as a popular girl who only cares about clothes and boys. She is actually my favourite character in the TV series. I'm not sure if Ashley Benson is just a good actress or whether it's the way they've written the character, but she is deep and seems to care about her friends more than the material things she likes in the books.
Aria's family are quite significant characters in the show, where they play less of a part in the books. Ella (Aria's mum) is played by Holly Marie Combs (of 'Charmed' fame) and I wonder if they have made the character more important to accommodate the actress?
~ What I like about it ~
I have read all 8 books and really liked them even though they are targeted at young teenagers. However, I find that the television show is aimed at a slightly older audience, with good acting and real suspense and mystery. The books could be very cheesy and some of the interesting parts are glossed over very quickly without much chance to develop. It's very rare that I prefer a TV series or movie to the original books but in this case I have to say, it's much better!
I love that they have been able to take the mystery from the books and make it into a believable story for TV. They have been able to amplify the suspense and really scare the audience. I watched most of the episodes by myself in my parent's old dark house at night and scared myself silly! There is one particular scene where the girls enter Spencer's house to find that it has been ransacked and there is a message on her mirror in red lipstick 'It's not that easy, bi**hes'. Later they receive a message with a video attachment showing that "A" was filming them from inside Spencer's wardrobe when they found the message. I was TERRIFIED! I had to check all the wardrobes before I went to sleep!
I certainly couldn't end the review without talking about the theme tune! It is dark, and actually very scary! An eerie voice sings 'Got a secret, can you keep it? Swear this one you'll save. Better lock it in your pocket, taking this one to the grave. If I show you then I know you won't tell what I said. Cause two can keep a secret if one of them is dead...'
The song is called Secret by The Pierces and is certainly appropriate for the show. The title sequence shows a doll (who looks very similar to Ali) being dressed up in clothes and make up and placed into a coffin while the girls look on. It's an excellent opening to the show and something that grabs the audience's attention and would make them continue to watch.
~ Overall ~
After a day at work and a horrendous tube journey, Pretty Little Liars is the ideal TV show to escape reality. It's simple enough to just sit back and enjoy without thinking too much, but at the same time it captures the imagination and you feel involved with the characters. In all honesty, this show does not have mass appeal (my dad would hate it, my boyfriend puts headphones in when it's on) and really caters to teenage tastes with all the typical growing up issues (hopefully without the murders and stalkers). I hate to make statements like this but I think it's also more for females, especially when all the main characters are teenage girls. However, it is still a great show and I'm going to rate it 4/5. I've a feeling it will be snapped up by a bigger channel soon and will become quite popular!
There have only been 10 episodes of Pretty Little Liars so far with 12 more scheduled to be shown from January 2011. Personally, I can't wait!
(Also on Ciao under the same name)
Summary: A great show for teens with a great story and good acting!