Pretty Little Liars has been called, “the show impossible to follow” a few times. It is on the same train as LOST, in which a show gets so many mysteries intertwined, the audience abandons it in favor of something simpler or your audience sticks by you and hates your series finale…
PLL has angered fans at least once. For two years, we waited to learn just who A was. Several cast members said in interviews that the show was different than the books, and that A’s identity was not the same. Well, when that fateful day came, A was revealed to be Mona—- the same character as in the books. You can read about that entire mess here.
However, I’ve stuck with the show. It’s part “I’m in it, so let’s finish it” and part “Oh, that was actually a good twist!”
For me, Pretty Little Liars finally did something right when the ultimate A was revealed to be Ezra Fitz, the school teacher turned lover of Aria Montgomery. Had I been writing the show, that’s what I would have done too. Of course, some fans (me included) are worrying Ezra as A is somehow another red herring, or a gimmick, as I’d call it at this point.
And now, PLL has a spin off show. Ravenswood.
Character Caleb, boyfriend to Hannah, meets some girl on a bus and bond over being children in the foster system. The girl is Miranda, and she’s just found out she has an Uncle, and she’s going to see him. After they get off the bus for what seemed like YEARS, the two find gravestones with their names and pictures of them, but, from about 1900. The former was all part of the latest PLL episode. Many fans complained the Miranda/Caleb plot slowed down the episode. Of course, if you know a thing or two about television, my guess is the PLL episode was the ‘backdoor pilot’ for Ravenswood.
Anyway, the actual Ravenswood episode begins and boy, is it ever a hot mess. As I watched , I really felt that I was watching a pilot that had been produced by a first draft of a script. I’m sure that’s not what it was, but it darn near seemed like it.
For one, it’s quickly apparent that there are many, many characters here. That normally wouldn’t be a problem. However, here you’ll have a 1 to 2 minute scene about “the mystery” involving one new character and then, you go off and meet someone else. But, none of these scenes let you know who these people are. All they talk about is “the mystery” and two characters are siblings and their father is dead. I’m sitting there wondering when I’m going to hear a character name more than once….I need to know who the heck I’m watching. I believe there were 14 characters in this episode. That’s overload. Furthermore, apart from a few characters I’ll talk about later, many of them were almost completely void of personality.
For the sake of you not being confused: The plot of the show revolves around some curse that is affecting 5 teens, including Caleb. It looks as though our teens have died many years ago, as pictures of dead people look just like them…
I found it a bit comical, however, around a bit of Caleb’s story. It had been teased that there was a scene where Caleb’s portrayer, Tyler Blackburn, was ‘naked’ in a bath tub. Once the story had been established, a character tells Caleb that the house has a bath, if he wants to wash up. Caleb says he’s more of a shower kind of guy. We break from his plot and when we come back, Caleb is talking to Miranda for a bit, and then, Caleb says, “Well, I’m going to take that bath now…”
Obviously, Tyler Blackburn in a bath is something many people want to see and I found myself laughing at how the show seemed to be referencing that fact. Part of me wonders if the show would have faired better if it was strictly over Tyler in a bath.
In all seriousness—-
The main problem with this pilot, however, was that most dialog was of an explanation type nature. It was almost entirely exposition. I understand a pilot has to introduce you to its world. But, there have been a trillion pilots, and hardly any get stuck in this “explaining” mode.
Of the characters, I feel that Miranda and Mrs. G were the most fleshed out and the most interesting. I think that’s partly because these characters were first introduced on PLL and not this “Explain” pilot of Ravenswood. There was only one character introduced in the Ravenswood pilot that was somewhat interesting: Remy. We learn she is a budding journalist, has a crush on a boy, and her parents are having martial problems.
The final moment of the episode features the 5 main characters trapped in a car underwater. Cliffhangers can be amazing, but not in a pilot like this. After the cut to black, the promo for next week reveals all 5 characters alive, not trapped in a car— so the entire cliff hanger loses it’s effect. If you end on a cliff hanger like that, your promo needs to focus on their escape— not situations away from the cliff hanger!
I truly believe this was the “baby” of Marlene; the project she truly wanted to bring to life. And, it appears no one had the heart to tell her that this idea just doesn’t translate well on the screen. If you look at the credits, you can see that the writers and producers of PLL are also working on this. I think this is a case where they were all in love with it and an extra set of eyes never looked at it and told them what this really was… a sub plot for PLL. It probably could have worked. But as a show, it’s a hot mess.
Time will tell if it gets better. I may watch episode two. But, if Twitter is any indication,
“Well, I’m going to take that bath now,” – Caleb Rivers
EDIT: After ten episodes aired, RAVENSWOOD was canceled, on 2/14/14.