October 31, 2017

SVT #110, Pumpkin Fever: This Halloween, Jessica’s Masquerading as a Good Person

Posted in books tagged , at 5:00 pm by Jenn

Do it! Do it! Do it!

Summary: A week before Halloween, Mr. Clark tells the students at SVMS about a local contest to find the school with the most “pumpkin fever.” If SVMS can get into the spirit of the season better than any other school in the area, they’ll win money they can use for a big school trip. The kids immediately start brainstorming, and Elizabeth comes up with the winning idea: elect a King and Queen of Halloween, with votes cast via jack-o’-lanterns. Aaron volunteers the soccer team to carve jack-o’-lanterns in each contestant’s likeness.

The Unicorns figure that since they’re the prettiest, most popular, bestest girls in the school, they’ll lead the votes. But Liz accidentally puts herself ahead in the running by arranging for a local newspaper reporter to cover SVMS’s participation in the competition. Everyone repays Liz’s favor by voting for her. And since the carvers put each contestant’s initials on the pumpkin, there’s no way Jessica can pretend those votes are really for her.

Jessica has to do a fall-themed art project, but she has no ideas. She sees some jack-o’-lantern earrings Elizabeth made out of acorns and decides to pass them off as her project, after telling Liz that they’re dumb and a big fashion don’t. This is exactly the opposite of the truth, as everyone at school loves the earrings. Janet decides that the Unicorns should make and sell them to make more money for the school trip. Since Jessica would rather die than lose the approval of Queen Janet, she agrees.

Elizabeth catches Jessica gathering acorns for the earrings, so Jess lies that she’s been taking care of a poor, orphaned baby squirrel. Liz buys this, even though Jess isn’t usually the type of person to do something like this. Elizabeth even decides to write an article about her heroic sister for The Sixers. And no, she doesn’t do any fact-checking.

The Unicorns’ earrings are a huge hit, and Elizabeth quickly realizes that a) Jessica stole her design and b) the acorns weren’t for a squirrel. She tries to stop the paper from going to press with her story, but it’s too late. Now Jessica is both an artistic visionary and the next Dr. Doolittle. Everyone votes for her for Queen of Halloween, and the reporter who comes to cover the contest gets interested in doing a piece on Jess and the squirrel, too.

Liz is fed up with her sister and tries to out her as a liar by telling the reporter to get a picture of the squirrel. Jess lies that the squirrel died, and she’s really emotional about it and would rather not talk about it right now, okay? Elizabeth’s plan completely backfires, as Jessica’s popularity only increases, and people commission pumpkins for her in the squirrel’s memory. Jess, sociopath that she is, has no remorse.

Apparently the acorn earrings are so fashionable and creative that a woman from a local boutique wants to buy two dozen pairs. Jessica enlists the Unicorns to make them, though they’re growing tired of all the attention she’s getting. California Girl magazine, which declined to feature Jessica back in Breakfast of Enemies, now wants to include her in a fall fashion article. Somewhere, Claudia Kishi is incredibly jealous.

Elizabeth is even more tired of Jessica’s sudden popularity than the Unicorns are, and she tells Amy and Maria that the first earrings were actually hers. They agree to help her get revenge on her twin. At first they want to just pelt her with water balloons, but Liz chooses to inflict some psychological damage instead. She writes a Telltale Heart-ish story called The Telltale Jack-o’-Lantern (I guess Elizabeth’s creativity was all tapped out by the earrings) about a girl who steals and buries her twin’s jack-o’-lantern so she won’t win a contest. The jack-o’-lantern digs itself out of the ground, driving the thief crazy with the sound. The girls also play a tape of digging noises to drive Jessica crazy.

It works, and when Jessica is inevitably crowned Queen of Halloween, she reveals that Elizabeth deserves the honor. However, everyone wants to reward Jessica’s honesty by letting her keep the title. Ultimately, though, Liz gets the last laugh, as she’d arranged for a big pumpkin-guts fight without telling Jess. Yeah, getting slimed with pumpkin guts totally makes up for all the lying. Also, California Girl no longer wants to feature Jessica in the fashion section, but they do want her to write about everything that happened for a piece about embarrassing experiences. She makes up with Liz by asking her to co-write the article. So, as usual, Jessica gets away with her scheming. Sigh.

Thoughts: I can’t believe this came up on the schedule the week of Halloween. What are the odds?

Also, what are the odds that the soccer players are also accomplished enough carvers that the faces on their jack-o’-lanterns turn out recognizable?

I guess we should be grateful that Jessica doesn’t try to catch a squirrel just to back up her story.

This book proves that Elizabeth can be almost as devious as her twin, just in a different way. Fortunately, she normally chooses to ignore her evil inclinations.

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August 8, 2017

SVT #100, If I Die Before I Wake: Deliver Us from Eva

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , at 5:07 pm by Jenn

Well, they should have known something was wrong with the house when they saw that there were giant eyes inside

Summary: Eva is ready to finish off the twins, Amy, Winston, and Todd on the Riccolis’ widow’s walk. Even though they have the advantage of five people against one, and Todd is ready to fight, the kids resign themselves to death. Eva attacks Elizabeth, who falls from the widow’s walk, but Eva grabs her arm to save her, I guess so she can kill Liz herself. Come on, Eva, let gravity help! She loses her grip and Liz falls again, then suddenly wakes up inside the house. The other babysitters are also alive and well, though confused about how all five of them could have had the same dream. Liz also has cuts from where Eva scratched her in the “dream.”

It’s pretty early in the morning, but the sitters keep themselves awake until the kids get up. Amy, Todd, and Winston leave, and the twins fall asleep for about an hour while the kids are watching TV. They don’t have any dreams, so they figure they’ve somehow defeated Eva. When the twins get back home, Andrew calls to tell them that the kids’ nightmares have also ended. The twins think the horrible stuff is behind them and start looking forward to Halloween, which is the next week.

Fast-forward a few days, and everyone’s getting costumes. Steven wishes he could find something super-scary, but the store everyone’s shopping in doesn’t have anything he likes. Since his sisters have been talking about Eva a lot, he decides to dress up as her and scare the crap out of the twins. This means he’ll have to wear a nightgown with daisies on it and carry a teddy bear, but it’s a sacrifice Steven is willing to make.

The twins visit the Riccolis, who are all happy now, partly because their nightmares are gone and partly because Mr. Riccoli has finally joined them. He and Mrs. Riccoli ask the twins to babysit the kids on Halloween while they go to a party, and since they figure Eva’s out of the picture, the girls say yes. (Jess will have to miss a Unicorn party, and Lila bugs her about it, so Jess makes her fall out of a canoe at Secca Lake.) At home, Jessica gives Alice a Halloween costume she bought her, but Alice is apparently anti-Halloween (how have we never heard about this on any of the series’ past Halloweens?) and won’t even consider wearing it.

Jessica hears scratching noises at her window one night and thinks she sees Eva outside. The next night, Liz thinks she sees her, too. When the twins start talking about Eva at breakfast, Steven takes advantage of the conversation to ask a few questions about what Eva looks like, so he can put the finishing touches on his costume. The twins think they see Eva again that night and wonder if she somehow left their dreams and became real.

While doing some landscaping at the Riccolis’, Steven finds a piece of cloth with daisies on it under a boulder. Even though he was just thinking about Eva, he doesn’t put it together that this must be from her nightgown. Meanwhile, the twins pay a visit to a cemetery and find Eva and her parents’ graves. They’re shocked to see that Eva has followed them there and run from her. Eva loses her bunny slipper, and Elizabeth picks it up, for some reason. The twins barely get away.

Halloween is the next day, and the twins ask Amy, Todd, and Winston to join them at the Riccolis’ that night. Steven is just about ready to put his costume to scarifying use when he decides he’s missing something. He remembers that Jessica has a teddy bear (which is actually Eva’s) and goes to get it from her closet. He spots the bunny slipper, too, and decides to take it as well. Jessica sees him heading back to his room and thinks he’s really Eva, freaking out the twins. Steven pretends he was asleep and didn’t see anyone in his room.

While trick-or-treating that night, Steven comes across the real Eva, who’s not happy that he has her bear and her slipper. Steven’s so shocked and scared that all he can think to do is give them to her. Eva isn’t appropriately grateful, telling Steven that he and his sisters will die that night. Steven rushes home, where Alice has received a picture and letter from Eva, leading her to remember the last night she babysat Eva: Halloween exactly 25 years ago. Eva’s parents got to a party, and Alice puts Eva to bed with her teddy bear and one bunny slipper. She makes sure to lock the balcony door so Eva won’t fall if she sleepwalks.

Alice’s friends Dyan, Jim, and Walter (Amy’s mom, Todd’s dad, and Winston’s dad, remember) surprise her by sneaking into the house through Eva’s window. Alice realizes too late that they didn’t lock the balcony door after they came in. By the time she gets up to Eva’s room on the third floor, Eva’s on the balcony. Alice doesn’t finish her flashback until later, but it’s pretty obvious what happens: Eva falls over the railing.

Steven interrupts Alice, babbling about “she” and the twins being in danger. She tells him the twins are trick-or-treating, since she doesn’t know they’re babysitting. Steven runs around town looking for them, learning from Lila that they’re at the Riccolis’. As he’s on his way over there, Jessica is lured to Eva’s room by a voice she thinks is Elizabeth’s. She passes out, and the others start getting worried when she doesn’t come back, but they don’t bother going to look for her. When they hear a scream, they run up to Eva’s room, where Liz sees that the picture of Eva and Alice that used to be there is gone.

As Eva locks the sitters in a room together, Steven shows up. His costume is so good that the sitters think there are somehow two Evas now. Steven is able to slow Eva down while the sitters go get the kids out of the house. They realize that the house is on fire and they can’t make it outside by going downstairs. They’re able to get the kids out through a window, since the roof slopes low enough that they don’t have to jump too far to the ground. But Eva’s still coming for them…

At home, Alice finishes the rest of her flashback, then reads Eva’s letter, which reveals that she didn’t die after her fall. She was somehow able to keep coming back to the house without her parents knowing. She blames Alice for her fall, since Alice scared her when she was on the balcony. She admits to using makeup to make herself look like a monster so she can scare the sitters. Now she plans to go even further and kill Alice’s daughters as revenge. Alice realizes this is all real, and that her kids are in danger. She rounds up her old friends and tells them to meet her at the Riccolis’ house. Just then, the Riccoli kids arrive to confirm that Eva is about to kill the sitters.

Back at the house, the sitters head to Eva’s bedroom, since they have no other place to hide. The house starts falling apart due to the fire, but the sitters and Steven are able to escape through a window. Eva isn’t so lucky, as the house collapses her around her, apparently killing her for real this time.

Sometime later, Alice and the twins go to the cemetery to visit Eva’s grave, which actually contains her body now. They’ve figured out that Eva, like Miss Havisham in Great Expectations, was never able to let go of what happened to her. They think the gardener who died in Too Scared to Sleep may have been helping her stay hidden. Though they can’t explain the shared nightmares, they think Eva was hurting them in real life, and they just thought she was harming them in their dreams. But who cares about details – Eva is gone, and everyone is safe. Let’s just hope the Riccolis had excellent insurance.

Thoughts: If you ask me, this whole thing is Mr. and Mrs. Sullivan’s fault. They should have moved Eva to a different bedroom or made the railing on the balcony higher when she started sleepwalking. And it wasn’t Alice’s fault that the balcony door was unlocked – it was Jim, Dyan, and Walter’s fault. Eva spent 25 years being mad at the wrong person.

So did Eva never grow? She should have been in her 30s during this miniseries, but apparently she was the same size as when she was a kid.

The ghostwriter needs to make up her mind whether Alice was 12 or a sophomore when she sat for Eva.

Winston: “I’m too nice to die!” Okay, Winnie.

May 16, 2017

SVT Super Chiller #9, Evil Elizabeth: Can’t Fight the Moonlight

Posted in books tagged , , , at 4:56 pm by Jenn

So no one finds it weird that Elizabeth is just walking around with this on her face all the time? Really?

Summary: Elizabeth is really excited about Halloween, and wants to do a paired costume with her twin. Jessica thinks that’s immature, when everyone knows Halloween is the chance to dress up fancy and be really sophisticated. Whatever you say, Jess. Fortunately for Liz, Amy and Maria are up for figuring out a three-part costume. Jessica decides to go as a figure skater but has to reconsider when Lila announces that as her costume – and she’s even going to wear an outfit worn by an actual famous skater.

On the way to the Wakefields’ for a big sleepover, the twins and some of their friends pass a rundown house everyone calls the “Luna place.” Jess makes up a story about a witch who lives there, which annoys Liz. She sees a full moon over the house and points it out to her friends, but Amy and Maria don’t see it as full.

The girls have a séance at their sleepover, and Mandy seems to channel someone who speaks through her. The channeled voice warns the “sisters” (and Liz and Jess are the only sisters present) to “watch the rising of the moon, and watch your sister.” If they’re not careful, someone tragic will happen. Jessica sees the shape of a full moon in a candle flame, but no one else notices it.

Liz learns that “luna” means moon, and that there will be a full moon on Halloween. Those two things combined with the full moon she thought she saw make her a little creeped out. She comes across a black dog with an orange face carrying a grotesque mask in its mouth. When Liz takes the mask, she sees another moon. She puts on the mask and starts taunting Jessica. Jess tries to brush off her nastiness, thinking Elizabeth is just messing with her.

Elizabeth starts wearing the mask more and more often, acting meaner and meaner every time, both to Jessica and to Amy and Maria. When she’s not wearing the mask, she claims not to have any idea that she acted out of character. Jess is worried that the warning from the séance is the real deal, and that something horrible is happening. When she and Steven both see the moon turn red one night, Jess gets even more spooked.

Jessica tries to get Elizabeth interested in sisterly bonding by carving pumpkins together. Liz is back in the mask, though, and thinks carving pumpkins is immature. Later, maskless, Elizabeth is really hurt that Jess carved a pumpkin without her. Jess realizes that the mask is causing Liz’s strange behavior, so she steals it, but Liz easily finds it again and puts it back on.

Jess runs into the dog Liz got the mask from and follows it to the Luna place. There, she meets Corinna Black, the alleged witch who lives there. Jess tells her about the mask, which Corinna says was buried for decades. I guess the dog dug it up? She warns that the mask will make Elizabeth worse the more she wears it, and eventually Liz will be a horrible person even without it. Jess needs to make sure Liz doesn’t wear it when the moon rises, or the process will speed up.

Jessica tries to steal the mask again, but Elizabeth is obsessed with it and won’t let it go. She has a nightmare about feeling like everything is changing. Is this all just a metaphor for puberty? I guess it’s possible. Liz’s behavior keeps getting worse, and she’s reached the point where she doesn’t have to wear the mask to be awful. She starts hanging out with the SVH series’ reformed bad girl Betsy Martin, and everyone at school wonders why she’s suddenly changed so much.

When Jess tries to go back to the Luna place to talk to Corinna, there’s no door to the house. Jess doesn’t seem as freaked out by this as she should be. Elizabeth and Betsy get ready for Halloween mischief by egging houses, including the Luna place. Ned and Alice are their usual clueless selves about Elizabeth’s sudden shift – they think she’s just moody, and they don’t see anything wrong with her hanging out with different people.

Steven asks his astronomy teacher if the moon could appear red, but she says no. Again, mass hallucinations should be freaking these people out. Jess finally reconnects with Corinna, who insists that she make Elizabeth destroy the mask during the lunar eclipse that is conveniently happening on Halloween. Corinna reveals that the last person who wore the mask burned down her house, killing her entire family…except Corinna. So…maybe she should have done a better job of getting rid of the mask, eh?

Once Jess has filled Steven in on everything going on, the two of them come up with a plan. They know they need to stick close to Elizabeth on Halloween, but they also know she’s not going to let them. So Jessica dresses as Liz and tells Betsy that they should crash a Halloween party on Courage Mountain. She leaves Liz a note about the party, pretending it’s from Betsy. They plan to meet up with Liz on the mountain and force her to destroy the mask.

Jess goes out trick-or-treating with the Unicorns (she ran out of time to come up with a costume, so she goes with the classic sheet-ghost look) while Elizabeth and Betsy terrorize little kids by stealing their candy. An hour before midnight, Jessica pretends to go to bed while Steven tells their parents he’s going to a party. Jess sneaks out and the two ride their bikes up Courage Mountain. Jessica has a vision of the moon on fire, dropping flames onto the Wakefields’ house.

Unfortunately, Elizabeth and Betsy aren’t on their way up the mountain – they’re at the Wakefields’, where Betsy wants Liz to smash the pumpkin Jessica carved. Liz hesitates, because even in her possessed state, she doesn’t want to hurt Jess. But she gives in to peer pressure and chucks the pumpkin on the ground, accidentally lighting some leaves on fire with the candle inside.

As the eclipse begins, Jessica has a bad feeling and tells Steven she needs to go back home. Elizabeth is unable to break her trance as she watches the leaves catch fire, putting the house at risk. Jess arrives pretty quickly and starts to put on the fire before anyone even notices it. Liz throws the mask in, finally destroying it. The twins are extremely grateful to Corinna for helping them out, though Jess can’t help but wonder if Corinna was an innocent victim when someone else was cursed by the mask, or if she was the one who burned down her own house and killed her family. That’s…messed up for a book for preteens.

Thoughts: Clearly, the ghostwriter saw The Mask and wanted to adapt it for middle-schoolers.

I actually feel bad for Jessica in this book. No one wants a mean sibling.

Looks like Jess learned nothing from the Nora situation about not assuming people are witches. Why am I not surprised?

Ned, parent of the year, re: Elizabeth’s behavioral changes and horrible new friends: “She’s just going through a phase. It’s nothing to worry about.” Again, why am I not surprised?

What DOES surprise me is that Janet and Lila don’t consider themselves too told to go trick-or-treating.

February 21, 2017

SVT Super Chiller #7, The Haunted Burial Ground: The “Old Ones” Probably Don’t Approve of This Book Either

Posted in books tagged , , , at 4:51 pm by Jenn

Yeah, that skeleton sure looks scary

Yeah, that skeleton sure looks scary

Summary: It’s almost Halloween, and Steven decides to pull a little prank on Jessica by making her think she’s being followed by a tall, headless man. Apparently there’s a local myth about two skeletons, one without a head, being seen on Sleepy Hollow Road. Jessica’s relieved that this one is actually Steven and his friend Scott, who managed to ride a bike with one on the other’s shoulders. Impressive! Jessica quickly forgets about the prank since she’s so excited to talk to Scott – he’s in a band called the Skeletons, and he’s hot. Scott thinks Jessica’s 13, which is apparently super-mature compared to 12.

Elizabeth also has a new friend, Kala, who’s only in town for about a month before her family moves somewhere else. She’s Native American, and her time at Sweet Valley Middle School gets off to a rough start when Bruce, Aaron, and Jake Hamilton pull a prank of their own. They use fake blood and a rubber axe to make Kala think Jake has been attacked.

Elizabeth rescues Kala from the ridiculous boys and tries to assure her that the boys didn’t target her for any personal reasons. She invites Kala to come with her to work with Houses for the Homeless, Sweet Valley’s versions of Habitat for Humanity. At the worksite, Liz introduces Kala to Jack Whitefeather, a project chairman who cheers Kala up partly just by being another Native American in a town that doesn’t have many.

Jessica runs into Scott again (with Steven and Joe), and they start talking about music. He’s learning “Monster Ball,” a new duet from Johnny Buck and Melody Powers. Jessica’s thrilled, as she loves the song, and she tries to get Scott to invite her to sing it with him. He humors her, but he’s not that interested in singing with a kid. Jess decides that the Unicorns should throw a Halloween party and invite the Skeletons to play – maybe then Scott will bring her on stage to sing with him. Not only would she get attention and sing with a hot guy, but all the Unicorns would be jealous.

Unfortunately for Jess, the Unicorns don’t want to throw a party, for possibly the first time ever. They think a Halloween party would be childish. Jess talks them into it by pointing out that they can dress up as celebrities instead of ghosts or witches. The girls want to have the party someplace distinctly Halloween-y, and they settle on an old house Lila’s father’s company is about to tear down. He vetoes the idea as too dangerous, but approves of a shack on Sleepy Hollow Road, as long as the girls fix it up (using their Houses for the Homeless skills) so it’s safe. They also have to be respectful of an elderly couple living next door.

The Unicorns celebrate with a sleepover at Jessica’s, the same night Elizabeth has invited Kala over. The girls try to use a Ouija board to find out of the shack is haunted, but Ellen messes up the session by making the board warn the girls to stay away. She doesn’t want to have the party at the shack because they’ll have to do so much work to get it ready. Fair enough. Elizabeth thinks they can donate the shack to the homeless shelter’s Nature Club Scouts after the party, which makes their work more worthy.

Since no one wants to bother with the Ouija board if Ellen’s just going to screw with them, the girls decide to have a séance. Jessica bumps the table to mess with everyone, leading to a fight. In the middle of everything, Kala seems to fall asleep. As the girls try to channel a spirit to ask about ghosts on Sleepy Hollow Road, Kala starts talking in a weird voice, telling the girls, “Do not disturb the old ones.” Alice interrupts the séance to send everyone to bed before the girls can figure out what’s going on. Kala wakes up but doesn’t remember the séance.

The girls see skeletons outside the house as they’re going to bed, but the ever-logical Liz quickly figures out that skeletons don’t wear sneakers. She busts them as Bruce and Jake. The girls invite them in, and as everyone’s chatting, Kala comes downstairs to tell them that the “old ones” are resting and shouldn’t be disturbed. The girls think she means Alice and Ned. Kala seems to be sleepwalking, though Janet, who already dislikes Kala because she had the nerve to talk to Denny Jacobson at school, thinks she’s faking. The next morning, Kala says she doesn’t remember much of what happened at the sleepover.

Jessica stalks Scott, Steven, and Joe so she can invite the Skeletons to play at the party, but she can’t get Scott alone. The Unicorns are starting to sour on the party, since it’ll require so much, so Jess gets them interested again by telling them the Skeletons are playing. Elizabeth and Kala check out the shack, and Kala mentions a dream she had about a bat telling her that they need to leave it alone. Minutes later, the Unicorns arrive, and Jessica stumbles into a cave and is swarmed by bats. One swoops down on Janet, which disturbs Kala, since she imagined that exact thing happening after her dream.

The girls start the clean-up process, but Elizabeth’s mood darkens when a man from Fowler Construction tells them the shack is scheduled to be demolished right after the party. I hope the Nature Scouts can afford the rent on a place in an office park, instead of the clubhouse Liz wanted for them.

The girls clean up a bunch of trash, which they bag up for a special pick-up by trash collectors. But Jake, Bruce, and Aaron pull yet another prank, hiding themselves in garbage bags to scare the girls. Jake gets busted and tells the girls that Bruce and Aaron are in other bags – bags the trash collectors have just picked up. The kids run after the garbagemen and rip open their bags, but the boys aren’t inside. When they return to the shack, there are two bags there, containing the boys. They say that someone moved them, telling them to let the “old ones” rest.

Elizabeth finds an arrowhead on the property, because every children’s book that has anything to do with Native Americans includes someone finding an arrowhead. Kala talks more about her dreams, which featured a bear and an eagle. As Jess continues trying to get Scott alone to ask him about the party, the other Unicorns work on reinforcing the shack so it’s safe. The girls ignore Mr. Fowler’s instructions to respect the elderly couple nearby, dumping trash bags in their yard so they don’t have to take them to the dump (since the trash collectors are mad at them and won’t come back). Despite the Unicorns’ attitudes, Liz still wants the party to go ahead, for Jess’s sake, so she tries to keep the peace.

Ellen thinks she sees a bear in the woods, and Elizabeth sees a bird she thinks is an eagle. She tells Kala, who’s had another dream about all those animals; they want her to tell the others again not to disturbed the “old ones.” Then Ellen finds a skull in a creek, which the Unicorns decide to turn into PR for the party.

Liz helps Jess get Steven away from Scott so Jess can finally ask him about playing at the party. She basically dares him to play in a creepy shack. Scott agrees, as long as Jessica sings with him…and as long as she spends a night in the shack before the party, to ensure no ghosts will come after him. Jessica easily agrees and enlists the Unicorns, Elizabeth, Amy, and Maria to spend the night as well. Kala can’t make it, since she hasn’t been feeling well. I guess channeling ancient Native American spirits or whatever takes a lot out of you. But Kala shows up in the middle of the night, warns the girls that the “old ones” don’t like having their rest disturbed, then leaves.

Liz goes to see Kala in the morning, but Kala doesn’t remember going to the shack. They go back to the property and find more arrowheads, as well as a vase depicting an eagle, a bat, and a bear. Elizabeth thinks this means the property is a Native American burial ground. Kala must be channeling the spirits of people buried there, who don’t want their resting place disturbed so an office park can be built. Sure.

The girls go to Fowler Construction to beg the crew to stop the construction, which goes over as well as you would expect. It turns out that people paid to do a job won’t listen to two 12-year-olds who want them to stop working because dead people said to. The girls then go to Mr. Fowler’s office to talk to the man in charge, but he doesn’t consider their argument strong enough to stop the construction.

On Halloween, everyone gathers for the party, which Kala decides to skip, since the “old ones” are so against any disturbances there. But she gives Elizabeth some Native American clothing in the hope that the “old ones” will see it as a peace offering. Everything at the party goes fine until it’s time for Jessica’s duet with Scott. Things get really loud, and the shack begins to shake. The vase Elizabeth found gets smashed. That can’t be good.

There’s so much noise and so many people dancing that the shack collapses. Somehow, no one’s hurt, despite beams falling all over the place. Everyone sees a couple of skeletons, one of them headless, leaving the debris. The headless one retrieves its head – the skull Ellen found – and the two of them head off together. Everyone thinks someone’s playing another prank, but all the usual suspects are present and accounted for.

Jack Whitefeather confirms that the shack is on a Native American burial ground, so Mr. Fowler wisely decides not to tear it up for an office park. His company is also going to build the Nature Scouts a clubhouse. Mr. Fowler is actually a pretty good guy. Kala thinks this will please the “old ones,” and the sighting of an eagle seems to confirm this. Okay, well, thanks for stopping by, Kala. No one will ever mention you again.

Thoughts: Kala: “It was my grandmother’s name. She was Native American.” Elizabeth: “Wow. That means you’re part Native American.” What would we do without Liz?

Ghostwriter, please do your homework. It’s Melody Powers, not Melodie.

Lila knows what “macabre” means. I’m impressed.

When Elizabeth and Kala are meeting with the jerky foreman: “He gave her braid a friendly tug.” I hope Kala gave his shin a friendly kick.

September 26, 2015

BH90210 10.6, ’80s Night: The Naked Truth

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , , at 1:12 pm by Jenn

No. Oh, so much no

No. Oh, so much no

Summary: David’s radio show is so popular that everyone at the After Dark now listens to it while he’s broadcasting. He urges a caller named Tony to dump his girlfriend, and when Tony hedges, David does the deed himself. In case we’ve forgotten, David’s a jerk this season. At the beach apartment, Donna informs Kelly that the Patches – the parents of her rapist – are there. Kelly refuses to talk to them, but they tell her they’ve forgiven her for killing Joe. They hope she can forgive them for what their son did. Kelly says that what Joe did was unforgivable.

A guy who lives across the alley from the After Dark comes to complain about the noise caused by Noah and Gina’s new after-hours business. Gina butters the guy up to get him to calm down. She reminds Noah that they need to keep things going so he can afford all the nice things Donna wants. Noah tells her they’re moving in together. At the Walshes’, Matt watches a news story about one of his clients, Pete, who’s been sentenced to death for rape and murder.

Donna goes by the After Dark, where Noah and Gina pretend they’ve been working on a theme for a Halloween party. Noah quickly comes up with the idea for an ’80s night. Gina runs out to get “accessories.” Noah gives Donna a nice bracelet purchased with the money he made from strippers. How romantic.

Kelly goes to court with Matt, who’s super-nervous about arguing such an important case. After all, a man’s life depends on him. Matt calls Pete’s brother Walter to the stand for Pete’s appeal. The brothers had a rough childhood with an abusive father. Pete confessed to Walter after he murdered a woman named Pam, and Walter turned him in to the police. In the ten years he’s been in prison, Pete has changed, and Walter pleads for the jury to spare his life.

Steve wants to turn the Walshes’ into a haunted house for Halloween, partly to get in touch with his inner kid. Janet already has plans for the holiday, going out with some old friends. In fact, she’s going to play with their band. Steve’s like, “I thought I was the wild and crazy one.” Back in court, the prosecutor plays a recording of Pete’s rape and murder confession. He relays his crime as if nothing major happened. Kelly leaves the courtroom, unable to hear it.

At the club, Tony asks David to help him get his girlfriend, Amber, back – the breakup was a huge mistake. David thinks it was the right thing, since Amber doesn’t love him. Tony begs David to fix things. Dylan calms him down, then tells David he’s being an idiot. David ignores him, then announces that the topic of that night’s show is “old friends and when it’s okay to tell them to go to Hell.”

Donna and Noah flirt boringly, and she complains that he works too many hours. Noah’s just happy that she has no idea what he’s been up to. He tries to make sure that the same goes for Dylan and Gina. Dylan’s back bugging David for his behavior, calling him reckless. David says that he just gives advice, and if people take it, that’s their responsibility. Dylan points out that he doesn’t have any training in counseling people, so he could really screw things up for someone.

Janet comes home to a haunted house that she admires until it scares her. She gushes about how great the band rehearsal was. Steve doesn’t think this is the right time for her to be revisiting things she did in college. Janet points out that he’s getting ready for Halloween to impress kids, so he’s not exactly demonstrating the kinds of mature, adult activities they should be participating in. She’d really like him to be supportive.

At the beach apartment, Matt apologizes for bringing Kelly to a trial that involved rape. She tells him about the Patches’ visit and their quest for forgiveness. She wonders if Matt would want Joe executed if he’d killed her. Matt says that he wouldn’t – the death penalty is immoral and isn’t applied fairly. Kelly’s disgusted that he would be okay with her killer getting to live. She hopes he loses Pete’s case.

Noah calls Gina in the middle of the night, asking her to grab Dylan’s key to the DJ booth and bring it to the After Dark. Otherwise the strippers won’t have any music to dance to. Gina gets the key and makes the delivery…then notices that Mel is at the club. Also at the club: Donna, who wanted to keep Noah company while he worked late. She starts to storm out but is stopped by police. The club is being shut down, and Noah’s in trouble for prostitution, operating without a license, and disturbing the peace.

Gina rushes Mel out the back door as the police cuff both Noah and Donna. They think Donna’s a hooker. Gina heads back to the hotel, putting Dylan’s key back on his keychain and getting back into bed with him to pretend she was there all night. When Dylan’s woken by a call from Donna, Gina learns that she was arrested. Kelly thinks that Matt’s doing something immoral by defending Pete. He introduces her to Walter, who’s hanging out with him until the verdict comes back.

Noah and Donna are released from lockup, and Donna gives back her new bracelet, since it was paid for with strip-club money. She leaves with Dylan, refusing to talk to Noah. Donna heads to the Peach Pit, where David’s telling Nat about his latest meddling in people’s lives. She tells him that he’s being a jerk and making fun of people. What would he say if a teenage girl called him and asked if she should give in to a boyfriend pressuring her to have sex? David’s behavior worries her.

The verdict is in, and Pete’s appeal has been denied. Walter blames himself for basically sentencing his brother to death. Kelly feels bad. Gina tells Noah that they made $4,000 the night before, even with the police breaking things up. She tells him he can have all of it, first making sure he didn’t tell anyone that she had anything to do with the strip club. Dylan arrives, announcing that he’s shutting down the strip club. He was fined $40,000, and his probation could be in trouble. The guys bicker about who works for who, and Dylan demands that Noah pay half the fine.

It’s Halloween! The haunted house is a hit, though some kids run away screaming before Steve can give them popcorn balls. Janet gets ready for a band performance, which Steve objects to. She can’t believe he’s being such an overprotective father to her after being so immature so often. She wishes he would come to the performance, since it’s so important to her.

David goes to see Amber, telling her he was wrong to force Tony’s hand. He asks her not to blame Tony for David’s actions. Kelly goes to see the Patches, wanting to talk about forgiveness. Meanwhile, the club holds its ’80s night. A bandana’d Dylan tells Gina and her crimped hair that he woke up in the middle of the night and noticed his key missing, so he knows what she’s been up to. She promises that the strip club is done and she won’t be lying to him anymore.

On air, David apologizes for giving bad advice to his callers, blaming his personal problems. Now he’s going to work on getting people together. He also seems to want to make up with Dylan. Noah tries to ease Donna’s worries, telling her that the criminal charges have been dropped, so he just has to pay the fine. Donna doesn’t think they should live together – she can’t trust him. Noah notes that he came clean, but she reminds him that he didn’t tell her while it was going on.

Matt joins Steve at the haunted house, which he thinks is about to have a new wave of visitors. Matt points out that it’s 9:15, so the kids are probably in bed. Steve says that he used to believe in capital punishment, but after talking to Kelly about Pete’s case, he’s changed his mind. Then Steve puts on his best Miami Vice outfit and goes to the club to see Janet play. His conversation with Matt helped him remember that he doesn’t have to be a responsible parent all the time. After all, kids have bedtimes. Janet just wants to make sure his costume isn’t from his own closet.

The band plays (Janet’s on bass, by the way), and Steve’s the most excited person in the audience. Gina sneaks out to call Mel, looking for some gratitude, since other people at the strip club got arrested. He tries to brush her off, so she asks what David and Jackie would say if they knew where he was the other night. She’s going to need some hush money.

Kelly returns from the Patches’, telling Matt that she “gave them what they wanted.” Whether it was genuine or not, she knows it was the right thing to do. Matt hopes she can forgive him, too, but Kelly has no sympathy for Pete. Matt says it’s his fault if Pete dies; it means Matt couldn’t save him. Kelly says that they shouldn’t see each other until the case is over.

Thoughts: Steve’s objection to Janet playing in a band is…? He never explains it.

No judgment, but I’m going to guess that Donna was mistaken for a prostitute because of her clothes.

Yeah, they don’t call a lawyer and give him a verdict over the phone. You have to go to court and get everything on the record. Nice try, though.

Who looks at his keychain when he wakes up in the middle of the night?

Donna dresses up as Madonna. Oh, I get it!

Noah looks like an extra from Wet Hot American Summer.

Janet’s friends’ band is called Zaftig Figure. That’s not bad.

January 24, 2015

Party of Five 6.4, Wrestling Demons: Risks! Consequences! Other Things About Taking Chances and Changing!

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , at 1:27 pm by Jenn

If I were Bailey and Will, I would do whatever this man said

If I were Bailey and Will, I would do whatever this man said

Summary: Victor has switched from being Diana’s nanny to being Owen’s, and is trying to talk to Bailey about his parenting philosophy. Since Halloween is approaching, he thinks he and Owen should decorate the house as a haunted house. Bailey resists. Owen doesn’t think Victor will last that long anyway, since his nannies never do. (Maybe not, Owen, but sometimes they marry your brother.)

Evan does some editing to Julia’s writing, trying to work while she yaps in his ear. She’d like to have a more personal relationship with the person who’s going to be tearing apart all her hard work. She asks for a joke, but Evan doesn’t seem to have a sense of humor. Bailey tries to get in touch with Sarah, but she’s busy getting her doomed spinoff off the ground.

Bailey runs into Will, who reveals that he’s been in town for a month. He decided to take a year off of school, and has gotten an internship with a pro wrestling organization. Bailey doesn’t get why Will didn’t inform him of these major life changes. He invites himself along while Will picks up someone at the airport.

Kirsten visits Charlie at work and they compare notes on research they’ve done about adoption (him) and fertility treatments (her). Charlie’s a bit overwhelmed by all the work that would go into having their own child. Cameron is still writing trash about his friends on the Internet, and Claudia’s still the only one who knows he’s the wannabe Gossip Girl. Alexa doesn’t like the idea of changing her habits to make the writer stop bugging her.

Victor meets Griffin, who’s still renting the “guest cottage” for his business. Owen gets his sisters to override Bailey’s veto of the haunted house, so Victor tells him they can do it as long as they’re willing to face the consequences. Julia’s friend Isabel tells her that people are spreading rumors that she got her book deal by sleeping with Evan. Julia finds the idea ridiculous; she and Evan have no interest in each other. Isabel isn’t so sure that Julia doesn’t have a little crush.

Bailey and Will go to the airport to pick up a wrestler named Mr. Mayhem. The guy is unfriendly and wants to be taken to Walnut Creek rather than San Francisco, so he can see his wife. Bailey panics because he’s supposed to go to work. He suggests that Mr. Mayhem call his wife and have her meet them in San Francisco. Mr. Mayhem says no, since he wants to surprise his wife, then tosses Bailey’s phone out the window.

In Walnut Creek, Mr. Mayhem lurks around the back of a house while Will explains to Bailey that he and his wife are having issues. She’s also a wrestler, and it seems Mr. Mayhem cheated on her with a third wrestler.) Bailey continues panicking about getting off of his schedule. Will tells him to stop being so uptight. Mr. Mayhem announces that he’s going to hoist Bailey up to a balcony to let him in the house, since his wife changed the locks.

Julia goes to see Evan, who has learned to tell jokes. She notices his body language and how he puts a hand on her arm. Evan offers her tickets to a fundraiser ball, which makes Julia uncomfortable until he explains that he’s not going. Cameron tries to talk to Claudia about his website, complaining that Alexa is obsessed with how she looks. Claudia says that she deserves better than being trashed by Gossip Guy. He needs to be himself and be honest with his girlfriend.

Victor uses connections in the theater community to get creepy decorations for the house. Griffin helps out, surprised to hear that Bailey okayed the haunted house. Victor pointedly tells him that Owen said it was okay. While waiting to see a fertility specialist, Kirsten and Charlie overhear two women talk about how the treatments have affected their relationships and finances. Kirsten tries not to freak out.

Mr. Mayhem nervously waits for his wife, Isis, who erupts when she finds him in her house. She reminds him that she mentioned wanting space when they went to their last counseling session. She thinks he recruiting Bailey and Will from the support group she sent him to. Isis kicks Mr. Mayhem out of the house, then tells Bailey and Will that they’re not allowed to leave until Mr. Mayhem goes away. Bailey stands up to her, they wrestle, and Bailey wins.

Julia (dressed as Tippi Hedren from The Birds) goes to the fundraiser with Isabel, surprised to see that Evan’s there after all. He tells her his date backed out of their dinner – also, it wasn’t really a date, it was his cousin. He’s decided to try having fun for once, and he’ll start by dancing with Isabel. But Julia’s not jealous! No, definitely not jealous!

Charlie blasts Kirsten for pushing him to go to the meeting with the doctor without telling him all the possible consequences of fertility treatments. He notes that she’ll probably have to go off her antidepressants and take hormones that will affect her mood. That’s not the small risk she said the treatments would require. Kirsten promises that she’s okay with the risks. Charlie asks why she wasn’t honest with him from the beginning.

Finally out of the house, Bailey tells Will that he’d rather be boring than get involved in marital disputes between crazy people. At the fundraiser, Julia watches Evan and Isabel dance, totally! Not! Jealous! She asks Isabel to keep some distance, since it’s weird for her to see a friend dance with someone she works with. Isabel says she’d love to date a guy like Evan…unless, of course, Julia has dibs? She urges Julia to stop another woman from getting too close to Evan.

Bailey comes home to the haunted house/loud party he wasn’t aware was going on. Instead of saying anything, he checks his messages – and no, Sarah hasn’t called. Victor takes the blame for the party, lying that Owen said that Bailey might object. Owen keeps quiet, and Bailey doesn’t lecture him about consequences, so Victor’s plan backfired. He tells Bailey that Sarah did leave him a message.

Alexa shows up at the party to tell Claudia that Cameron broke up with her, saying he wants to be himself for once. She was surprised by how different he seemed. Charlie and Kirsten, who are also at the party, talk about having their own child, as opposed to adopting. She’s being trying to ignore the reality that she has an illness that may prevent her from doing things others can do. She recognizes that in some ways, her depression was harder on Charlie than on her.

Julia runs into Evan and hurts her hand, so Evan rushes her to the hospital. Bailey listens to Sarah’s message, which says that she’s sorry they keep missing each other. Julia calls the house to tell Charlie she’s at the hospital and needs her insurance info. Bailey stares at his ties, then tells Victor to keep the party going so there can be a little less control in the house for once. He’d attend, but all he has for a costume is one of his dozens of ties he can’t believe he has at the age of 21.

Cameron arrives at the party and gets an earful from Claudia for breaking up with Alexa instead of being honest with her. Instead of explaining himself, he kisses her. Charlie checks on Julia at the hospital (she has a couple of sprained fingers), then leaves her with Evan, who admits that he was worried about her. Julia pulls a Cameron and kisses him. Evan’s not completely comfortable with this but assures her that he’ll chalk it up to Halloween, when no one’s sure what’s real.

Victor has managed to get Bailey to dress up like a woman. Thank you, Victor. Will stops by the house, and Bailey tells him that his biggest talent is fighting off chaos. Meanwhile, everyone around him has fun. He’s realized that he’s devoted his life to the wrong thing. Now he’s scared because he feels like he’s losing people. Will assures him that their friendship will stay strong.

At home, Charlie tells Kirsten that seeing Julia tonight made him remember how much he likes having siblings. He’d like Diana to have some, too, so if Kirsten’s willing to take the risks, he’s on board for fertility treatments.

Thoughts: They had clearly run out of things for Griffin to do by season 6. He serves zero purpose in this episode.

Tyler Mane (Mr. Mayhem) is 6’8″. If I’d been drinking something when I read that, I would have done a spit-take.

How is childless Victor the best parent on this show? And can we fix him up with Ross, wherever he is?

Whoever put together the recording of this episode left in some very ’90s ads:

  • Josie Bissett selling beauty products
  • Payless Shoes, not only with the shoes in ’90s styles but with the models in ’90s clothes
  • The Bachelor (the movie with Renee Zellweger and Chris O’Donnell, not the reality show), scored with the Goo Goo Dolls’ “Black Balloon”
  • A local news story about something related to The Blair Witch Project
  • Jennifer Love Hewitt’s spinoff, Time of Your Life, featuring Jennifer Garner before she was Sydney Bristow

August 2, 2014

Party of Five 5.4, A Mid-Semester’s Night Dream: “Normal Future Freak-Out”

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , , , , at 1:20 pm by Jenn

Everyone's so angsty. Calm down with a seal pup

Everyone’s so angsty. Calm down with a seal pup

Summary: Daphne’s in the hospital after having contractions, but she’s going to be sent home for bed rest. She’s not happy with the idea of having to stay in the house all the time. Her doctor doesn’t care: The baby still has eight weeks to go, and her lungs aren’t developed yet, so if she’s born early, she’ll be in a lot of trouble.

Maggie leaves Julia and Ned alone in their room, not realizing that’s a bad idea. They both regret their kiss, since Julia has now betrayed her new best friend and Ned has cheated on his high school sweetheart. Will shows up in San Francisco for a surprise visit but won’t tell Bailey why he’s there. Charlie and Kirsten tend to a grumpy Daphne, and Kirsten suggests that they throw a baby shower. Daphne doesn’t care what they do.

Claudia also gets a surprise visitor, in the form of Jamie. Parker and Hallie are surprised, too, since they didn’t know Claudia had a boyfriend. Jamie’s hurt that she hasn’t been talking about him. Will has dinner with Bailey and Sarah, telling them he doesn’t like studying accounting. In fact, he doesn’t like school at all. He asks if he can stay with them for a while. Someone named Hannah calls for him, but Will tells Sarah to pretend he’s not there. She’s just a psycho with a crush on him.

Maggie tells Julia that something’s going on with Ned, who’s been moody lately. Josh pops in to ask a question just as Julia gets a message from a secret admirer. Charlie plans the shower, and Daphne complains that he’s not letting her give any input. He reminds her that she didn’t show any interest in the planning before. Daphne’s upset that everything’s about the baby and no one takes her into account.

Julia and Maggie discuss her possible admirers, though Julia thinks that if the guy isn’t brave enough to approach her, he’s not someone she wants to date. She discovers that someone managed to access a paper she’s writing and format her bibliography. Ned’s like, “The guy must be a genius!” Maggie thinks it’s Josh, which Ned finds ridiculous.

Hannah manages to find Will at the restaurant, so Bailey offers to call her and scare her off. Will decides it’s better if he handles it. Jamie wants to go to a haunted house with Claudia (they’re the only people so far to mention that Halloween is coming up), but she clearly doesn’t want him there. She claims it’s because she’s helping to run it and wouldn’t have time to hang out with him.

Julia confronts Ned about her bibliography, having figured out that he formatted it for her. Apparently he’s madly in love with her now and is having trouble keeping it secret. Julia is adamant that they not let Maggie know that there’s something between them. Her solution is for them to stay away from each other.

Will’s awake in the middle of the night, and when Sarah wakes up, she asks him what’s going on with him. He tells her he’s just been thinking a lot about school and his future – a “normal future freak-out.” Charlie has to check Daphne’s vitals every six hours, which means getting up in the middle of the night. She’s very appreciative, and blames herself for her condition – she thinks her previous wishes for the baby to disappear have turned into something real.

Charlie and Kirsten go shopping for baby things, taking pictures for Daphne to look at later. Charlie saw a different side of Daphne the previous night, when she was panicking. He gets a 911 page from her. Will is now working at the restaurant but is proving to be less than trustworthy; he forgot to deposit some money, which led to a bounced check.

Julia and Maggie go shopping for Halloween costumes so they can have a girls’ night out. Apparently Ned broke plans he and Maggie had made. The costume store is mostly sold out and only has Gorbachev masks left. Daphne’s panicking because the baby isn’t moving; Owen suggests that she’s in a coma. Charlie uses candy to wake her up. Then he decides he can’t take Owen trick-or-treating, and suggests that he ask Griffin to go with him.

Maggie and Julia go to a Halloween party, and Maggie tries to play matchmaker for Julia and Josh. Julia’s pretending that she thinks Josh is her secret admirer. Ned’s also at the party, but Julia avoids him. Charlie tries to cheer Daphne up by going on bed rest with her. Will packs to leave Sarah and Bailey’s, telling them he feels horrible for making so many mistakes, including running away from school. Sarah points out that he doesn’t have anywhere else to go.

Jamie shows up at Claudia’s haunted house after all, thinking she’s been cheating on him. He doesn’t know why else she would be acting like she is. She admits that she doesn’t know either. Ned finds who he thinks is Julia and declares his love for her; he doesn’t realize that she and Maggie are wearing the same mask. Maggie, however, doesn’t realize that he didn’t know it was her. Julia publicly tells Josh to stop bugging her and get over her.

Claudia tells Jamie that she’s so in love with her new school that she has trouble thinking about people and things from back home. She doesn’t want to miss him, so she needs to break up with him. “I’m being dumped for a campus?” he asks. Charlie presents a slide show of baby things so Daphne can pick one. There are also childhood pictures of him, which Daphne loves. The two of them share a moment and kiss.

Will’s still out at 1 in the morning, and Sarah presses Bailey to confront him when he comes home and find out what’s going on with him. Bailey thinks they should keep their distance and let him talk when he’s ready. Maggie’s also late getting home, having stayed at the party while Julia left. She tells Julia that she’s too controlling because she’s afraid of getting into another relationship. Julia needs to just kiss someone (read: Josh) and loosen up.

Charlie and Daphne make out, then call her doctor to make sure they’re allowed to be doing things that might elevate her heart rate. Hannah shows up at Bailey and Sarah’s, and Bailey tries to get rid of her. Will attempts to keep up his story about her stalking him, but Hannah busts him by revealing that she’s pregnant with his baby. Even though it’s the middle of the night, Julia goes to Ned’s room to make out with him. Oh, Julia

Thoughts: How mad do you think Kirsten is that people keep getting pregnant without trying?

60 books in a bibliography? Shut up, Julia.

Charlie’s so sweet in this episode. He deserves better than Daphne.

March 25, 2014

SVU Thriller, Kiss of the Vampire: Vampire Journalists Give New Meaning to the Word “Deadline”

Posted in books tagged , , , , , at 6:47 pm by Jenn

Scary for the wrong reasons

Scary for the wrong reasons

Summary: Elizabeth and Tom both apply for a journalism mini-fellowship that will send the winner to New Orleans to help a famous journalist with some research. Tom wins and gets to spend the weekend in the Big Easy with Nicholas des Perdu. Wow, a whole weekend! He and Elizabeth act like he’s going off to war. Of course they’re one of those couples who can’t go ten minutes apart without talking about each other the whole time.

Nicholas is super-rich, with a driver named Fortune and a housekeeper named Marielle. Nicholas is doing a story on Halloween and All Saints’ Day in New Orleans, but I’m not sure how much work actually gets done. As soon as Nicholas sees a picture Tom brought with him of Elizabeth, he’s distracted. We get a flashback to 1788 in France, and what do you know? Nicholas was alive back then. The flashback is to his wedding to a woman named Lisette, who looks like Elizabeth. Seriously, how many lookalikes do the twins have?

Tom and Elizabeth are supposed to talk on the phone while he’s gone, but he forgets to call her the first night he’s in New Orleans, so they have to suffer for, like, 12 hours with no communication. Elizabeth tries to call Tom, but the phone number he gave her doesn’t work, and Nicholas’ number is unlisted. When Tom finally gets around to picking up the phone, he suddenly gets drowsy. Marielle’s lurking around, and the two of them start making out. Marielle tries to bite him, but Tom suddenly realizes that he’s doing something wrong and makes Marielle leave.

Nicholas has another flashback, this time to when he had to leave Lisette to go deal with some pesky peasants. While he’s reminiscing, Elizabeth has a dream about Nicholas, though she’s never met him. The next day, Tom’s supposed to head back to Sweet Valley, but bad weather delays his flight. Oh, no, now he and Elizabeth have to wait even longer to see each other! How ever will they survive?

Tom kills some time by reading about women being killed in New Orleans and found with their blood drained. He goes exploring in Nicholas’ house and discovers a coffin in the basement. Of course. Tom heads back to Sweet Valley, and not long after, Nicholas follows, wanting to meet the woman who looks so much like Lisette.

Back at SVU, the twins are throwing a big Halloween party in an abandoned house on campus. No, I don’t know why there’s an abandoned house on campus. No, I don’t know why it hasn’t been turned into a dorm or a frat/sorority house. No, I don’t know why the administration would leave an empty building there for students to easily throw big parties in. Stop asking me questions! Anyway, the money’s going to charity, so the party is a Nice Thing, because Elizabeth isn’t allowed to just be normal and have some fun.

When Tom gets back to town, he goes to the house (Hollow House – ooh, spooky) to help Elizabeth set up for the party. The lights have been acting up, and when they go out, Tom leaves Liz alone to check the fusebox. Elizabeth thinks he comes back and makes out with her in the dark, but obviously it’s Nicholas.

Eventually Liz meets Nicholas for real, and he tells her he came to Sweet Valley to keep working with Tom on the story. He takes Elizabeth out somewhere, to “talk about Tom,” so now Tom’s confused about why his girlfriend, formerly so clingy that she couldn’t stand to be away from him for two days, is spending time apart from him. Also, Nicholas doesn’t want Liz to tell Tom he’s in town, which should be a major red flag, but we all know Elizabeth has no instincts about that sort of thing. Tom tries to get Elizabeth’s attention back on him, but she’s having too much fun with her new boy.

Jessica spots Elizabeth getting into Nicholas’ car and thinks she’s cheating on Tom. She kind of is, though it doesn’t seem like she’s acting under her own control. There’s another flashback, and we learn that when Nicholas returned home to Lisette, she’d been told that he was dead, so she killed herself. Nicholas starts drinking, and one night he meets Marielle, who turns him into a vampire. Back in the present day, Elizabeth comes to her senses enough to stop making out with Nicholas, who goes to a bar and kills someone else because Elizabeth ditched him.

Tom and Elizabeth finally get some alone time, but they go to a vampire movie and Elizabeth freaks out and bolts. Nicholas isn’t happy that his long-dead non-wife is seeing someone else. He goes to Liz’s dorm and tries to make her jump out her window, but Tom manages to save her. He and Jessica are starting to realize that something weird is going on. Tom also reads in the paper that there have been killings in Sweet Valley similar to the killings in New Orleans, so he wonders if Nicholas is in town. Meanwhile, Nicholas sends Elizabeth flowers – white with one red – and a note saying he’ll see her that night. Then he calls to tell her they’ll be together forever. Ohhhhhkay…

By the way, Jess is now in Theta, and there’s a single room available in the sorority house. Alison also wants the room, and of course, since these two hate each other, there’s going to be a fight to the death to determine who gets it. Jessica tries to claim her territory by moving furniture in, but Alison one-ups her by putting a sleeping bag in there to indicate that she’s spending the night. In fact, both girls end up there overnight, but neither trusts the other enough to fall asleep in the same room.

This subplot is only important because of what happens the night of the Halloween party. Alison locks herself in the room, so Jessica goes outside to taunt her through the window. She yells some threats about wanting Alison to die, so of course that means something bad is going to happen. As Jess is leaving, she sees someone else outside the window but thinks Alison has a gentleman caller.

So: party! It’s awesome. Tom’s not there, since he’s discovering that Nicholas is staying in a hotel in Sweet Valley under the American translation of his French last name. Meanwhile, Denise and Magda find Alison in the sorority house, minus a lot of her blood. Guess who Alison’s visitor was? Go on, guess!

Tom goes to the party to tell Jessica that Nicholas is in town and may have something to do with why Elizabeth’s been acting weird. Jessica tells him about the flowers, which she’s sure were from Nicholas. They hear about Alison, who’s been taken to the hospital, so now they’re pretty sure Nicholas is a vampire. They can’t find Elizabeth, though, since Nicholas has whisked her away, planning to take her to New Orleans, then on to Paris.

So we head back to New Orleans, but Nicholas and Elizabeth get there first since Jessica and Tom can’t get a flight. Nicholas plans to spend the night in his coffin, then consummate things with Elizabeth the next day. At this point the ghostwriter isn’t even trying to pretend the whole story isn’t a metaphor for sex. (Just like Twilight. Ug.) When Elizabeth wakes up, though, her head is clearer and she realizes that she wants to be with Tom. Too late! Nicholas wants her to wear Lisette’s wedding dress and become his eternal bride. I can’t believe I just typed that sentence.

There’s some making out, and now Nicholas makes his move, biting Liz. Of course, that’s just when Jessica and Tom arrive. Tom rescues Elizabeth while Jessica fights Nicholas off with a candelabra. I guess that was the only weapon handy. Meanwhile, Elizabeth has accidentally started a fire, so between that and the vampire, things are getting a little dangerous. Jess has an advantage, though, since Nicholas thinks she’s Elizabeth/Lisette. She uses that as a bit of a distraction, allowing Tom to come in and knock him out. Then Tom and the twins flee the house. Nicholas most likely gets out, too, but they can’t be sure.

Tom and the twins go back to Sweet Valley, and Jessica decides not to move into the sorority house after all. I guess it would be pretty creepy to live in a room where someone almost died. A guy delivers some flowers for Elizabeth, and Jess accepts the delivery, seeing that they’re the same roses Nicholas sent before. Jessica’s smart enough to throw them out.

Thoughts: “[Elizabeth] raised one leg and examined a tiny bleach spot on her jeans. Should she change? No. Not for an evening with Nina.” Sorry, Nina. You don’t warrant clean clothes.

“Maybe I really NEED to go to some club, toss down a couple of diet Cokes, and then flirt outrageously with some good-looking airhead.” Whoa, Liz. Put the brakes on before you get out of control.

Jessica has a wicker dresser, so I automatically question her taste in everything ever. Clearly Alice didn’t pass on her interior-design genes.

Jessica packs a suitcase before she and Tom chase Elizabeth and Nicholas to New Orleans. I’m sure that didn’t make them lose any time. Also, you’re not going there for a vacation, Jess. I don’t think you’ll need a change of clothes.

March 4, 2014

SVT #3, The Haunted House: Lila Was Regina George Before Regina George Existed

Posted in books tagged , , at 10:23 pm by Jenn

I really doubt they were standing that close to Nora when they first saw her

I really doubt they were standing that close to Nora when they first saw her

Summary: Every small town has a big, creepy house that’s either rumored to be haunted or inhabited by scary people. Sweet Valley’s big, creepy house is the Mercandy mansion. The woman who lives there is known as old lady Mercandy; everyone thinks she’s a witch and keeps her husband in the attic. Since Halloween is approaching the kids of Sweet Valley are even more spooked than usual by the mansion.

One day the twins see a girl about their age arriving at the house. Then a little while later, a girl named Nora Mercandy turns up at their school. She explains that “old lady Mercandy” is her grandmother, and she’s living with her grandparents now because her mother recently died. Her father died when she was a baby. Just keep that in mind. This girl is an honest-to-God orphan.

Anyway, everyone at Sweet Valley Middle School is freaked out by Nora because she lives with creepy people. Elizabeth is pretty much the only nice one, as usual, and agrees to show her around. Of course, Nora’s a perfectly nice girl, but the other middle schoolers brand her a witch. Elizabeth and Amy are the only people who treat her normally. Elizabeth even offers to loan her clothes for gym class, since the Mercandys are pretty poor and Nora can’t afford them.

The next day, though, Elizabeth has to stay home from school sick. She asks Jessica (who was out sick the day before) to take the clothes to Nora, but Jessica forgets. Since the other Unicorns are basically spearheading Operation: Make Nora Feel Totally Unwelcome, Jess just ignores the girl.

In gym, Lila and Nora are matched up to play tennis. Lila wants to place a bet, since she thinks she’s better at tennis than Nora is, so she puts up an expensive pen. Nora wins and Lila hands over the pen. But later, Lila lies to their teacher that Nora stole the pen, getting her in trouble with the principal. Lila also swaps out a math quiz for Nora’s so she’ll get a good grade and Nora won’t.

Once Elizabeth is back in school, she tells Nora that the other kids are being jerks because they’re afraid of her grandparents. Nora thinks that if the kids meet her grandmother, they’ll calm down. Elizabeth asks Jessica to spread the word that Nora’s throwing a little get-together, and the popular kids decide they might as well give it a shot. But Nora’s grandfather scares them all away when he comes outside walking stiffly and saying, “Nor…Nor…Nor…”

Now the popular kids want revenge on Nora – they think she planned the whole thing and was trying to scare them. They start in with some mind games, making Nora think they want to befriend her and that she’s invited to Lila’s Halloween party. But it’s just a way to get her out of her house so some guys can TP it. When Nora finds out, she runs home and Elizabeth follows her. Jessica panics because her sister’s going into a possibly haunted house, so she goes as well.

Everyone ends up entering the house, and they see a bunch of posters on the attic walls of a magician named Marvelous Marvin. He’s Nora’s grandfather, and he was once majorly talented. Nora explains that he had a stroke a few years ago, which explains his strange walking and inability to say her name. Nora’s grandmother is super-nice to all the bratty kids who came into her house uninvited and offers to put on a little magic show. Nora does some tricks and wins everyone over.

Thoughts: This book mostly makes me glad that I never have to be a middle-school girl again. They are vicious.

Isn’t Elizabeth a little old to dress as a clown for Halloween?

In the end, no one apologizes to Nora for the way they treated her. Of course. Jerks.

Also, Ned and Alice don’t seem to care if their kids help spread rumors about innocent old people. Of course, again.

January 12, 2014

BH90210 7.7, Fearless: What to Expect When You’re Not Really Expecting

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 12:36 pm by Jenn

I bet the wardrobe person on this show looks back on these episodes and wonders how she kept her job

I bet the wardrobe person on this show looks back on these episodes and wonders how she kept her job

Summary: Donna’s getting an award for saving the baby deer, even though she didn’t really save it…and it almost got her killed…whatever, yay, Donna. Cliff is there, and Donna introduces him to Kelly and Dr. Martin. Then the girls have to run off to help Alpha set up a haunted house for Halloween. Cliff offers to help out. Valerie calls Kenny to invite him to an OB/GYN appointment; she’s been pressuring him to take responsibility now that she’s pregnant. (Allegedly.)

Cliff helps at the haunted house, promising Donna that he’ll be there the next day to see how the kids like it. She’s not going to say no to that. Mark is also present, and he’s brought Kelly two books she should read if she wants to know him better: one is Spoon River Anthology and one is by Charles Bukowski. Kelly mentions that she used to date a guy who liked Bukowski. Mark thinks she means Brandon, and though she doesn’t, she talks about Brandon anyway. Kelly, shhhh. Mark kisses her, possibly so she’ll shut up. (Nice work, Mark.)

Steve and Clare are still fighting over the circumstances of their breakup. He wants to take her to the Halloween party at the After Dark to hear Tony Rich. She tells him she’s already going somewhere with Dick. Steve hates Dick, but his harshest insult is that the guy is a dork. He begs Clare to go to the After Dark, and she says she will – but with Tony. Steve vows to find his own date.

Brandon looks through fan mail the studio’s gotten about Tracy, some of it really weird. Mark mentions that Tracy doesn’t have a date to the concert at the After Dark, and she’s hoping that Brandon will ask her. Brandon thinks he’s playing matchmaker because he feels guilty for going out with Kelly. Despite the fact that he and Tracy have kissed in the past, Brandon insists that he doesn’t want to date someone he works with again.

At the Peach Pit, Steve shares his dateless woes with Valerie and David, saying he wants someone wild and crazy to go out with. Nat suggests an escort, insisting that Steve wouldn’t be hiring a hooker. Mel stops by before he and Erin head to Palm Springs to see David’s grandparents. David doesn’t want to go, even though they’ll be celebrating his grandfather’s birthday. Mel’s annoyed that David’s avoiding his family. David’s just annoyed in general.

Valerie goes to an OB/GYN’s office, chats with some pregnant women, then leaves, saying she never had an appointment. But when she runs into Kenny, she tells him the doctor confirmed that she’s pregnant. She says she loves him and wants to have the baby with him. Kenny resists, but Valerie keeps pressing that they love each other, so maybe this is a sign that it’s time for him to leave his wife.

After her latest CUTV broadcast, Brandon invites Tracy to the After Dark’s Halloween party. She appreciates the offer, but she wanted to go by herself. Elsewhere on campus, the Alpha haunted house is a huge success. Donna tells Kelly that Cliff was in the Navy, but she doesn’t know much else about him. Kelly advises her to ask what book best describes him. Cliff scares a kid and feels bad about it, so he and Donna comfort the boy. Cliff suggests that the kid help behind the scenes instead. Meanwhile, Steve visits Nat’s recommended escort service and picks a date.

Valerie makes dinner for Kenny at their love nest, but he’s only dropping by to admit that he still hasn’t told his wife about his affair. Val threatens to tell Mrs. Bannerman herself. Kenny’s all, “But it’ll hurt my son!” Val notes that she’s having his child, too. He confesses that he’s not 100 sure the baby is his. Either way, Valerie needs to have an abortion. She agrees, but he’ll have to pay for it…and some other things, since she wants $100,000. Kenny says no, threatening to go after the club if Val doesn’t just take the $10,000 and keep quiet.

Donna’s all turned on since Cliff is so good with kids. Mark and Kelly reaffirm their plans to go to the After Dark together. Steve gets ready for his date while Brandon complains that he doesn’t have one. Steve’s enthusiasm over meeting a hot Swedish nuclear scientist quickly disappears when he finds out that he picked the wrong person, and has wound up with a Japanese translator. Eh, he’ll take her.

Kelly, Donna, and Clare talk guys at the beach apartment, Kelly saying that Mark seems to be a mixture of Brandon and Dylan. (Really? I don’t see it.) Donna and Clare worry that she’s moving too fast. Everyone heads to the party at the After Dark, where Tony Rich sings his only hit, “Nobody Knows.” Tracy runs into Brandon and asks him to hang out. He’s understandably confused about why she turned him down when he invited her. Tracy explains that she knew he felt obligated, so she was holding out for someone who actually likes her.

Donna waits for Cliff at the beach apartment, where the lights are flickering. After he arrives, the electricity goes out; Cliff notes (heh) that that means traffic lights are going to go out, too, so they probably shouldn’t go out driving. They talk about childhood fears of the dark, and how Donna’s was cured by her father because she realized he would always be there to look out for her. At the club, Valerie tries to call Kenny but learns that his number has been disconnected. Tracy decides to leave the party early, and Brandon offers to drive her home.

Kelly’s having a great time with Mark, and Clare and Dick seem to be hitting it off. David’s tipsy but agrees to keep an eye on the club while Valerie goes out to take care of something. Clare meets Steve’s date, who says that he’s still in love with her. Clare asks how much Steve paid her to say that. The date misinterprets this and asks how Clare knew that she was an escort. Steve runs into Dick and tells him that Clare’s using him to make Steve jealous. Clare comes up and announces that Steve had to pay to get a date.

Brandon walks Tracy to her dorm room, and there’s some wackiness involving whether he can come in or not. He settles for a kiss good night. Valerie goes to Kenny’s house and gives his wife a bag containing a package of diapers. Kelly spends the night with Mark, but the next day she tells Donna that all they did was talk. The kid Cliff scared comes back to the house to help clean up, introducing Donna to his mother. This is only so the mom can talk about how great Cliff is, and how Donna should go out with him.

Brandon and Steve discuss their love lives, specifically how Steve can’t get Clare to see how great he is. Brandon says that he’s the best Steve he can be, so it’s Clare’s problem if she doesn’t like him. Clare shows up at the house and apologizes for outing Steve for hiring an escort. She’s ready to stop fighting with Steve, but she’s not ready to decide whether they should get back together. She’d rather have an open relationship. Steve doesn’t want to share her, so she calls him immature. Shut up, Clare.

Valerie and Kenny meet up at the love nest, where he blasts her for causing trouble in his marriage. He gives her a check for $100,000 and demands that she have an abortion. She’ll also need to sign some papers stating that he has no responsibilities, and promising to keep things quiet. Valerie’s thrilled that she won the battle. Elsewhere, David’s woken up by a phone call from Mel telling him that his grandfather died.

Thoughts: Valerie, stop using fake tanner.

I’m not going to ask why Nat knows so much about an escort service.

Steve pronounces it “nukular.” Of course he does.

Greg Vaughan in formal wear…holy cow. He never looked this good on General Hospital. Or maybe I just didn’t notice because there were other hot guys, while here, he’s definitely the hottest.

If I were Kenny, I’d ask Val not just for a paternity test, but for a pregnancy test. All he has is her word.

So Valerie’s end game is…what? Is it just revenge at this point? I’m not convinced that she knows what she’s doing.

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