Jun 27

Second-Look Review of ‘Pretty Little Liars’ – ABC Family

© 2010 ABC Family

So, I decided after panning the pilot of “Pretty Little Liars” on ABC Family,” to give the show a second look.

No, “Pretty Little Liars” is not the worst show on television, but it certainly isn’t the best. After watching the second episode, “The Jenna Thing,” here’s a list of my reasons:

1. In one of the scenes, it was brought up by Aria’s mother that Hanna wasn’t even recognizable. The pilot opens up with the main characters (Aria, Spencer, Emily, Hanna and Alison) having a slumber party before Alison goes missing. The girls are the same actresses in present day. If the producers wanted the girls to look different, why weren’t younger girls cast for the flashbacks? It’s only been three years since Alison’s disappearance. People don’t change that drastically do they? Unless they have a face lift.

2. The adult actors get on my nerves. Particularly, Holly Marie Combs. She doesn’t seem to be a good fit as Aria’s mother, Ella Montgomery. She’s more like an older sister. Personally, I’ve never cared for her as an actress because she has a strange way of talking and over acts. I’ve liked Chad Lowe in the past, but in this role he seems a little creepy. And Laura Leighton’s character, Sydney Andrews, on “Melrose Place” feels like she’s been transported to Rosewood. Can’t she break out of playing the trashy vixen?

3. Maya St. Germain (Bianca Lawson) a girl who moves into Alison’s old house is a lesbian with a serious attraction to Emily Fields (Shay Mitchell). Emily is very confused by her own feelings toward her new friend Maya. This is depicted very well in the book which shows there’s nothing wrong with being a lesbian and no one should feel ashamed. But the way Lawson portrays Maya in the television show, gives me the willies. It’s downright bizarre — like being gay or a lesbian is perverted. I don’t know if this is ABC “Family” showing its face or what?

4. Toward the end of the episode, it’s finally mentioned that the Montgomery’s lived in Iceland, a place they moved to after Alison’s disappearance. I’m surprised this wasn’t brought up in the first episode. It could have been a simple line of dialogue directed toward Aria, such as “How was Iceland? I’m glad you’re back in town.” I’m sure some viewers who haven’t read the books were scratching their heads saying “Iceland, what’s that all about?”

5. Maya keeps mentioning Alison’s old stuff in her room to Emily. Why did Alison’s parents leave their daughter’s possessions behind? Again, I know this is in the book, but in the show, it could be better explained.

6. Suddenly boyfriends never seen in the previous episode are appearing. Ben, Emily’s boyfriend appeared for a nanosecond in the first episode and was at least given some lines in the second. And where did Hanna’s boyfriend, Sean, come from? Out of thin air, that’s for sure. On a side note: the bitter rivalry between Spencer and her sister Melissa is rather weak too.

7. Mona (Janel Parrish) is only a blip on the screen, as well. She’s Hanna’s new big friend and partner-in-shoplifting. This is also a major plot point in the book which leaves the girls wondering why Hanna is friends with someone they used to make fun of.

8. “The Jenna Thing.” At least it was mentioned why the girls are all spooked by the sudden appearance of Jenna — who’s suddenly back in town. But it’s too cryptic. Even the text messages from “A” aren’t as frightening to the girls as they should be. The texts should make the girls worry if Alison is sending them from beyond the grave, because who else would know all their secrets?

The texts don’t seem to be doing the trick, except for arching some eyebrows. “The Jenna Thing” ended with a cliffhanger of Jenna possibly being the one sending the messages. But the mystery of who could be sending them should be dragged out.

The only characters I care for are Aria and her teacher Ezra Fitz. Out of everyone their acting seems to be fairly good — that’s saying a lot in the acting department.

The jury is still out on “Pretty Little Liars.” I shamefully recorded the third episode. I have to say “Pretty Little Liars” is like junk food — you should stop eating it, but you crave it because it’s so bad for you.

Despite the second episode being a little better than the pilot, I’m giving it the same score as the last: 2 “What’s on the Tube Tonight?” retro pictures.

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