REVIEW: UGLY BETTY – SEASON 1

Starring

America Ferrera (Real Women Have Curves)
Eric Mabius (Resident Evil)
Alan Dale (Lost)
Tony Plana (Lone Star)
Ana Ortiz (Ralph Breaks the Internet)
Ashley Jensen (Sherlock Gnomes)
Becki Newton (How I Met Your Mother)
Mark Indelicato (Dead of Summer)
Vanessa Williams (Shaft)
Michael Urie (Uptown Girls)
Kevin Sussman (The Big Bang Theory)
Rebecca Romijn (X-Men)

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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Gina Gershon (Bound)
Ava Gaudet (Hunt)
Elizabeth Payne (Minority Report)
Salma Hayek (Dogma)
Sarah Jones (Alcatraz)
Lucy Davis (Wonder Woman)
Rhys Coiro (The Walking Dead)
Ron Canada (Wedding Crashers)
Cleo King (The Hangover)
Nicholas Gonzalez (Sleepy Hollow)
Christopher Gorham (2 Broke Girls)
Patrick Fabian (Better Call Saul)
Jowharah Jones (The Client List)
Judith Light (Transparent)
Debi Mazar (Entourage)
Kevin Alejandro (Arrow)
Brett Cullen (Ghost Rider)
Martha Stewart (2 Broke Girls)
Teddy Sears (the Flash)
Bob Clendenin (That 70s Show)
Mini Anden (Chuck)
Courtney Ford (Legends of Tomorrow)
Kathleen Munroe (Stargate Universe)
Octavia Spencer (Mom)
Nolan North (Young Justice)
Kathy Griffin (The Cable Guy)
Bailey Chase (Buffy: TVS)
Katharine McPhee (Shark Night)
Olga Fonda (The Vampire Diaries)
Lucy Liu (Kill Bill)
Jayma Mays (Heroes)
Jerry O’Connell (The Death of Sueprman)
Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family)
Max Greenfield (Veronica Mars)
Patti LuPone (Summer of Sam)
Ivana Milicevic (Paycheck)
Leslie Jordan (The Help)
AnnaLynne McCord (Excision)
Rebecca Gayheart (Dead Like Me)
Justina Machado (Final Destination 2)
Dale Dickey (Iron Man 3)
Juliette Goglia (Mike & Molly)
Lorraine Toussaint (Any Day Now)
Kristin Chenoweth (Pushing Daisies)

America Ferrera in Ugly Betty (2006)Ugly Betty is a television comedy/drama that airs on ABC. It was produced by Salma Hayek, Silvio Horta, Ben Silverman, Jose Tamez, James Hayman, and Marco Pennette. The show was adapted from the Colombian mini-series “Yo Soy Betty La Fea”. The series is about a plain-old girl who is thrust into the glamorous fashion world and the drama that trails her life and co-workers. It was highly successful during its freshmen season (2006-2007) and nominated eleven times in the 59th Primetime Emmy Awards.Eric Mabius and America Ferrera in Ugly Betty (2006)The primary character is Betty Saurez (America Ferrera). Betty is a normal girl from Queens who aspires to be in the fashion business. In the beginning of the series, she is trying to get a job at a fashion magazine. The problem is that no one will even consider her for a job, which is mostly due to the fact she doesn’t physically fit in with the beautiful people. Her life is changed when Bradford Meade (Alan Dale) makes his playboy son Daniel (Eric Mabius) hire her as his assistant. Daniel was recently inducted as editor-in-chief of “Mode” magazine, Meade Publications’ flagship. Bradford hopes that Daniel’s work at Mode will prepare him to take over the company. Unfortunately Daniel’s frat-boy behavior prevents him from focusing on the job.America Ferrera in Ugly Betty (2006)Betty is hired as his assistant, because she is the one girl in New York City he won’t jump in the sack with.Image result for ugly betty fake plastic snowWhen Betty first comes to Mode, Daniel does everything in his power to get rid of her by embarrassing and demeaning her. He soon learns that despite Betty’s looks, she is very capable, intelligent, determined, and an invaluable asset to the company. She plays a vital role in Daniel succeeding as editor-in-chief. Her unique and real outlook on life saves the day on more than one occasion. Challenging Daniel and Betty is Wilhelmina Slater (Vanessa Williams). Wilhelmina is the creative director, who believes should have been given the position of editor-in-chief. She works with a mysterious woman to dethrone Bradford and Daniel and take over the company.originalOthers in the office include Amanda Tanen (Becki Newton), the Mode receptionist who has an eye of Betty’s job and Daniel’s pants, Marc St. James (Michael Urie), Wilhelmina’s assistant who does all of her dirty work, and Christina McKinney (Ashley Jensen), the Scottish seamstress who is Betty’s one friend in the company. These characters are not as developed as the other main characters, but they still bring quite a lot to the table in drama and comedy. Outside of the office, there are several key characters from Betty’s home life. They include Ignacio (Tony Plana), Betty’s father who has a shady past and several secrets he hopes are never revealed, Hilda (Ana Ortiz), Betty’s older protective sister who sells weight-loss supplements, and Justin (Mark Indelicato), Hilda’s son who is very “different” than other boys and loves fashion just as much as his aunt Betty.ub 1.02The show’s supporting characters include Walter (Kevin Sussman), Betty’s boyfriend and serious love interest who cheated on her, Henry Grubstick (Christopher Gorham), a Mode accountant who develops strong chemistry with Betty, Sofia Reyes (Salma Hayek), a new editor-in-chief at Meade Publications who is a love interest for Daniel, and Claire Meade (Judith Light), Daniel’s mother who is a drunk and a key to the season’s biggest story arc. In Ugly Betty’s first season, there are several storylines that drive it. Even the slightest developments are key and play into a soap opera-worthy story. The writing is done very well and manages to intertwine the storylines to focus on the big picture and character development. This comment is especially worth noting because of the large ensemble cast and the different directions it takes the show. In other words, there is a lot going on, but it is handled and presented in an engaging and entertaining manner that is easy to follow.america-ferrara-ugly-betty-28-1-10-kc-656x357Yet for all of Ugly Betty’s strengths, what really keeps the show afloat is Betty. While this character is an imperfect match to the world of high fashion, she is a great fit for this television show. Most of the people working at Mode are overly superficial and fake. Betty, on the other hand, is sincere and real. She is a strong heroine, despite the fact she is constantly tormented and teased by her attractive peers. Her outlandish personality brings something special to everyone at Mode. She is the real strength that drives this show.Image result for ugly betty icing on the cakeAs an overall series, Ugly Betty does very well with its first season. It offers a very fun show with likable characters, engaging over-the-top drama that feels mature, intricate storylines.

REVIEW: JAWBREAKER

CAST
Rose McGowan (Planet Terror)
Rebecca Gayheart (Urban Legend)
Julie Benz (No Ordinary Family)
Judy Greer (Jurassic World)
Chad Christ (Gattaca)
Ethan Erickson (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Tatyana Ali (Kiss The Girls)
Charlotte Ayanna (Training Day)
Jeff Conaway (Babylon 5)
William Katt (Super)
P.J. Soles (Halloween)
Marilyn Manson (Sons of Anarchy)
Carol Kane (Gotham)
Pam Grier (Jackie Brown)
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The “Flawless Four” are the most beautiful and popular girls in Reagan High School in Los Angeles. The clique consists of Courtney Shayne (Rose McGowan), Marcie Fox (Julie Benz), Julie Freeman (Rebecca Gayheart), and Elizabeth Purr (Charlotte Ayanna), the “Princess Di of Reagan High.” Of the four, only Liz is genuinely kind-hearted to everybody regardless of their social rankings and loved by the entire school; Julie was popular because of her beauty and being best friends with Liz, while cold-blooded queen bee Courtney and her airheaded right-hand girl, Marcie, demanded respect through terror. Courtney, Marcie, and Julie decide to play a mindless prank on Liz the morning of her 17th birthday, by performing a fake kidnapping. They surprise Liz in bed, bind her with ropes, and Courtney rams a jawbreaker into her mouth to gag her, before sealing her mouth with duct tape. The girls then lock Liz in the trunk of a car and drive off, actually planning to take her to a restaurant for breakfast. Upon opening the trunk, however, they are greeted with the grisly sight of Liz dead, having choked on the jawbreaker.
Julie wants to go to the police, but Courtney forbids her. Courtney calls the school pretending to be Liz’s mother and tells them Liz is ill and cannot attend school, then the three go to school as though nothing had happened. When Principal Sherwood (Carol Kane) sends school outcast and ardent admirer of Liz, Fern Mayo (Judy Greer), to deliver Liz’s homework at the end of the day, she stumbles upon the three girls and Liz’s mangled body. Out of jealousy, Courtney fabricates an elaborate story that Liz died at the hands of a rapist, and plots to tarnish Liz’s good reputation by spreading false rumors that she was actually a rebellious, promiscuous girl, who drank and did drugs and was not the perfect angel she made herself out to be.
Fern, who had hero-worshipped Liz, attempts to flee the house. The girls catch her and Courtney buys her silence by accepting her into the clique, telling her to take Liz’s place, despite Julie’s protests. Courtney and Marcie give Fern a makeover, transforming her from plain and awkward to elegant and beautiful. The transformation is so complete, Courtney introduces Fern as the beautiful exchange student “Vylette”.
Julie, overwhelmed by guilt at her part in Liz’s death, breaks away from the clique, only to be tormented by her former friends, and as her popularity dissolves, she becomes a new target for abuse and contempt throughout the school. Her only real friend during this time is her boyfriend and drama student, Zack. As Vylette’s popularity soars, Julie watches in silence as Courtney spins an endless web of lies to cover up the murder and maintain her popularity. Julie threatens to go to the police and tell them the truth, but Courtney retorts that she, Marcie, and now Vylette will claim Julie killed Liz if she attempts to expose them. To her disgust, Julie learns that, after they had returned Liz’s corpse to her house, Courtney went out that same night and seduced a stranger (Marilyn Manson) at a sleazy bar and had sex with him in Liz’s bed, making it seem as though he had raped Liz.
Vylette becomes intoxicated with her new-found popularity, which has eclipsed Courtney’s own. Courtney orders Vylette to learn her place, but Vylette vows that if Courtney does not watch her step, then she will reveal the truth behind Liz’s death. In response, Courtney and Marcie post enlarged yearbook photos of Fern Mayo all over the school with the message “Who is Vylette” written on them, revealing Vylette’s true identity and leaving her humiliated by the entire school. Julie takes pity on Fern and forgives her for being corrupted by Courtney.
Feeling no remorse for the lives she has destroyed, the heartless Courtney attends the senior prom with jock Dane Sanders (Ethan Erickson), Julie is at home going through a bag of Liz’s belongings that were given to her. Upon finding a recordable greeting card she was fiddling with when Courtney was faking Liz’s death scene, Julie discovers it has recorded Courtney’s admission to the killing. Armed with this evidence, Julie, Fern and Zack hurry to the prom.
When Dane and Courtney are announced as Prom King and Queen, Zack sneaks backstage and broadcasts the card’s message over the sound system. Disgusted, Dane quickly abandons Courtney while Marcie hides under a table. Horrified that her scheme has unraveled, Courtney tearfully races for the exit as the rest of the furious students pelt her with corsages and call her a murderer. Julie snaps a picture of her former friend’s anguished face to immortalize the occasion. As Courtney’s photo ends up in the yearbook, the film closes with one of Fern Mayo’s quotes to Detective Vera Cruz: “This is high school, Detective Cruz. What is a friend, anyway?”
A sweet and sour brightly packaged look at youth-filled America where the ugly resonates just as strongly underneath, where fitting into something horrible is everything to survive high school, and that certainly is true of much of America. A great dark comedy not to be missed.

REVIEW: DEAD LIKE ME – SEASON 1

MAIN CAST

Ellen Muth (Hannibal)
Mandy Patinkin (The Princess Bride)
Callum Blue (Smallville)
Jasmine Guy (The Vampire Diaries)
Rebecca Gayheart (Urban Legend)
Laura Harris (Severance)
Greg Kean (Black Xmas)
Britt McKillip (Trick ‘r Treat)
Christine Willes (Red Riding Hood)
Cynthia Stevenson (Tiger Eyes)
Ellen Muth in Dead Like Me (2003)
NOTABLE / RECURRING GUEST CAST

Jodelle Ferland (The Cabin In The Woods)
Blu Mankuma (Robocop: The Series)
Jackie Burroughs (The Dead Zone)
Gary Jones (Stargate – SG.1)
Erica Cerra (Blade: Trinity)
Lorena Gale (Smallville)
Tygh Runyan (Snakes on a Plane)
A.J. Cook (Final Destination 2)
Kevin Durand (Dark Angel)
Susan Saullivan (Castle)
Fulvio Cecere (Valentine)
Ben Bass (Bride of Chucky)
Sarah Lind (Blade: The Series)
Harold Perrineau (Constantine TV)
Ali Liebert (Legends of Tomorrow)
Sonya Salomaa (Andromeda)

Ellen Muth in Dead Like Me (2003)What if life really begins only after you die? Georgia Lass never really lived in her 18 years before being killed by the toilet seat from the de-orbiting space station MIR. Sullen, bored, and apathetic, it is in death that she finds meaning and purpose in her life as she becomes a grim reaper, responsible for the transition of souls from death to their particular afterlife. In this series, death gives people like Georgia who never really lived their life to have a do-over and serve as a grim reaper. Of course they still are visible by the living, have to get jobs to support themselves, and can be stuck as reaper from decades, but this adds to the poetry of the premise. Overall the show is sarcastic,dark and subversive, but makes for highly entertaining television and included any number of laugh out loud moments.

Created by Brian Fuller, the genius behind Wonderfalls, Dead Like Me stars a wonderful cast headed by the note perfect Ellen Muth as Georgia and Mandy Patinken as Rube, the head of a small crew of Grim Reapers working the Seattle area. The supporting cast is solid, including Callum Blue as Mason, Laura Harris as Daisy A’dair, and Jasmine Guy as Roxy. Rebecca Gayheart appeared for a few episodes in the season. So being dead and stuck in a job that she didn’t choose and doesn’t particularly want, Georgia has to find meaning in an existence that is quite different from the one she had. She learns that she has to learn to let go of her family and little sister. She learns that friendship and family can be found in strange places, even the temp agency she works in, and that ultimately death has a purpose and a poetry for everyone, even her. What that purpose is, I don’t quite know yet, but I think it is to learn how to live and do-over the years she was alive. The backstory of reapers and death is explained slowly over the first season, but begins to connect the pieces by season’s end.

Rebecca Gayheart is written out of the show early on, this was because she accidentally hit and killed someone with her in real life, The network did not think it would be a good idea having someone portray a Grim Reaper who killed someone in real life.This is a highly entertaining show that will appeal to fans of shows like Wonderfalls, Hannibal and others that were way too smart to be on TV. This was a cable produced show so there are no restrictions on the language, but that in a way is refreshing. Highly recommended