"News is the first rough draft of history."

The Voice of the College at Florham

"News is the first rough draft of history." - The Voice of the College at Florham

‘Scream Queens’ takes a satirical approach to horror

Staff Writer

I can’t do horror. I mute my TV and hide under a pillow if a commercial for a horror movie makes its way into the lineup. When I first heard about the new fall show “Scream Queens” early last summer, I was a little skeptical about it. At first, I wasn’t sure whether or not to mute my TV and hide when its commercial came on. I decided to sit through the commercial. It didn’t seem that scary and it was filled with iconic stars from my childhood. Continue reading

Review: Saying good-bye to Vince Gilligan’s ‘Breaking Bad’

Film Critic

How do you describe perfection?

It’s rather difficult to do so. When you are able to bear witness to something that helped define the age of television and revolutionized the drama genre like no other show before, it is hard to be able to define just how perfect it is. The show in question is AMC’s “Breaking Bad,” which recently wrapped up its series run.
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Review: ‘The Bridge’ surprises with complex characters, stories

News Editor

This July, the channel that produced shows such as “Sons of Anarchy” and “American Horror Story” released its new drama, “The Bridge.” Although the main plot is about law enforcement trying to catch a serial killer, it is not your usual procedural cop show.

For starters it puts two different countries’ police departments together to collaborate on a case involving a body that was placed directly on the border of the bridge separating the U.S. and Mexico.

The show stars Diane Kruger. She plays an unusual, by-the-book detective named Sonya Cross, who has a difficult time relating to others. She normally works alone, as a result of her personality that many of her El Paso PD co-workers find off-putting. It is only her patient and understanding lieutenant who defends her and gives her advice. It is when the body is found that Cross encounters a Mexican detective by the name of Marco Ruiz. Unlike Cross, he is a likeable, married man who shows compassion when dealing with others. This is exemplified right from the start when he allows a woman and her sick husband to cross over the bridge to get to a hospital on the American side. Cross herself had stubbornly told them they couldn’t, as it could disturb the crime scene.
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Review: ‘The Following,’ a thrilling new FOX series

Staff Writer

FOX recently released a new show, “The Following,” which airs on Mondays at 9 p.m.
My first impression of the show was that it would be about a serial killer who escapes prison with the help of several devoted fans.

But I was somewhat mistaken to find that was merely the plot of the first episode, as Joe Carroll, the show’s main antagonist and serial killer, is recaptured soon after his escape.

The plot instead follows multiple different characters.

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Hopes for ‘Revolution’ as an overarching TV series

Staff Writer

I love watching television. Next to films, television is one of my favorite pastimes.

While many like watching crime procedurals like “NCIS” or “Law and Order,” my guilty pleasures are shows that have a huge, overarching question answered by asking smaller tiny questions.

A prime example of the show that started this trend is “Lost,” a show about a group of people that were stranded on a mysterious island.
The big question asked was, “what is the island?” After “Lost” ended, many shows tried to recreate the suspenseful build-up of answering a looming question by piquing the audience’s curiosity week after week.

Some of these shows had a lot of potential but usually have been cancelled after a single season. The newest show in this overarching mythology trend is “Revolution,” airing Mondays at 10 p.m. on NBC.

“Revolution” introduces us to a world where, 15 years prior, the entire world’s electricity was suddenly shut off. Nothing worked and soon, the government fell.
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‘American Horror Story’ continues, gives answers to burning questions

Entertainment Editor

With Halloween part one ending on such a high note, the beginning of the second part of the two-part “American Horror Story” scare-a-thon was less than appealing.

The first episode ended with Violet backing away from the front door on Halloween in fear of a mutated visitor. As she walks we see the man in a black bodysuit behind her. The opening to part two shows Violet turning her head, and the man has disappeared. Fortunately for both the writer and the viewers, this was the dullest moment of the show.

The story quickly shifts to Ben’s rage against the mutated visitor, which is shown through a beautiful camera shot. One detail that made some critics confused was when Violet is shown going up to her room after she believes she is safe from intruders. It is the typical damsel in distress shot, complete with her walking backwards towards her bed, accompanied by a creepy slithering hand reaching out to grab her. She hears stones hitting her window, thrown by Tate, and walks away before the hand reaches her ankle. The problem with this scene is that it’s never mentioned again in the episode, making us wonder if it is something that will be referenced later or it was an error in editing.

The majority of the episode is meant to provide answers to the questions regarding the storylines of Tate and Constance. The episode includes a pseudo solution for Hayden and Ben, but the majority of the episode is focused on Tate.

His past comes to haunt him, literally. These ghouls are mistaken for trick-or treaters, when they are actually teenagers that Tate allegedly shot when he went on a rampage at his high school.

His deep-seated problems with high school have been repeated in many of the episodes, though it was subtle enough for the viewer to think it was just some teen angst.

The first episode shows Tate talking to Ben about his hallucinations, one being him dressed in all black with skeleton paint on his face.

This image comes back again, but it hints at the horrible events of that day instead of simply being shocking.

The dialogue in these scenes is extremely witty, having one of the dead girls actually compare Violet to the fat women that marry men on death row.

Violet doesn’t fully understand what they are, which is brilliantly shown through the back drop of a spooky Halloween night.

Remember, the dead can walk freely, we as viewers know this, but the characters do not.
Even Tate seems disoriented, though it is shaky whether it is real.

The reference to Columbine’s questions of religion gives the viewers a bite of reality, while still keeping it socially relevant to the story. The dialogue works perfectly to create a very hazy line between life and death.

This episode raises the question of if Tate is actually living or dead. Sure, he dresses like he belongs in Seattle, but that is also coming back in fashion. He states his obvious admiration for Kurt Cobain and Quentin Tarantino, who both were significant in the early 90s.

Is he one of those kids that grew up in the wrong decade, or is he reminiscing about what he enjoyed during his time on earth? And there is the obvious question as to if he wasn’t dead, and he did kill five students, wouldn’t he still be in jail?

The most powerful line comes from the girl who tells him she is supposed to be 34, married and with kids. Looking at this detail, and if she was a senior in high school, that puts the time of the shooting to the early 90s, while the show takes place in 2011.

As if this revelation isn’t hard enough to swallow, Constance comes into the picture. When Violet is calling the police about Tate being in danger, we see Constance grab Violet and drag her to her house, admitting that Addie is dead. Then the scene flashes back to Constance in the morgue making Addie a “pretty girl” one last time.

Then it flashes back to the present, where Constance reveals that Tate is her son, and Addie’s brother.

While we are left to mull over these new discoveries, we are thrown back into the ongoing story of Ben and Hayden. We all know she rose from the dead and is running around Ben’s house, terrorizing Vivien and the dog, but somehow the story line isn’t as effective as Tate’s. The only scene that draws any suspense in the house is when Vivien finds the kibble sprawled all over the kitchen floor, then discovers something in the microwave as it blows up and fills the inside of it with red mush.

When hunky Morris Chesnut, the security guard, saves the day and takes Hayden to the police station, he finds his back seat empty.

The episode should have ended with the dawn of All Souls Day, when all of the ghosts from the house’s past are seen wandering down the street from separate journeys, all coming back to their place of eternal rest.

Instead, the episode ends with Ben wearily packing his suitcase, kissing his wife on the forehead, and walking out.

The final shot shows Vivien looking back at him, and the screen fades.

Though it is emotionally dramatic, we would have rather kept watching depressed ghosts walk the streets like zombies.

To view Krenek’s review of the series episode by episode, select the tag “American Horror Story,” or type it into our search.

Two-part ‘American Horror Story’ event in the spirit of Halloween

Entertainment Editor

After the explosive third episode of “American Horror Story,” it is time for the Halloween festivities, a two-part event that starts off slow, but as always, ends with a bang.

As with every episode, the fourth begins with a flashback. Unlike previous episodes, this flashback is not from decades ago, but from 2010. The two characters, or victims, are a gay couple going through some obvious issues of infidelity and insecurity.

Again the camera shots are brilliant, giving the viewer enough foreshadowing to yearn for more. The one man is complaining about the type of apples placed in the tub for apple bobbing. A couple minutes later the camera pans out to a man in a black body suit who proceeds to submerge the man’s head in the tub. After several violent thrashes, the neck is snapped, and the man goes down. His lover walks in to find the intruder, and the camera cuts out.

The man in the black body suit appears in the second episode, simulating a sex scene with Ben’s wife, Vivien. The audience is given a little bit of information on this mysterious character in both these episodes; unfortunately, the picture is still hazy.

Though the show is always filled with the living dead, the writers made sure to let the viewers know that Halloween is the particular time that the living can walk among the dead, as in the ones that really shouldn’t come back.

Of course, the men from the flashback are back, ready to take over the house. They play the roles of potential buyers, and claim that the house needs to get rid of the newly-built gazebo in order to sell.

This makes the audience question whether this is coincidence or if the dead know that Ben buried his lover in that soft soil.

This also hints at whether Ben’s lover will return, and is foreshadowed by his wife revealing his secret of communicating with her.

The sexual tension continues to climb between Violet and Tate. A mix of violence and sensuality is shown when he scares her in the basement wearing the black body suit and leans in to kiss her. This scene is important for two reasons: it shows the violence in sex as well as points to the present relevance of the black body suit to the rest of the story.

If any of the viewers had grown attached to Adelaide’s character, they are in for a shock. This episode especially shows her mother Constance’s hatred for her. This is shown in the scene where Adelaide and her mother’s lover are sitting at a table talking about costumes. Her mother walks in and immediately scolds her, letting her know that they will not share men.

Once he leaves, Adelaide tells Constance that she wants to be a “pretty girl” for Halloween.

Later on in the episode, Constance surprises her with her “pretty girl” costume, which is a mask that covers her entire head.

This serves as a set up and pay off since Adelaide’s inability to see in the mask causes her to run across the street while trick or treating, not being able to see the car driving towards her.

The paramedics arrive to take her away, but Constance just wants to bring her home.

While this action is happening, Vivien and Ben fight over their unwelcome house guests, and Vivien begins to feel a sensation of a kick, even though the baby is eight weeks old, and this is impossible at that stage.

Vivien is rushed to the hospital, only to have a nurse look at the monitor and pass out cold. Both the characters and the viewers can’t help but think about what evil is now growing inside of her.

Because both Vivien and Ben are at the hospital, this means that Violet, their daughter, is home alone on Halloween. The doorbell rings, and she nervously looks through the peephole.

Instead of seeing excited trick-or-treaters, Violet is staring into the face of the grotesquely disfigured previous owner of the house.
In the last couple of episodes, the viewer finds out that the house made him crazy, and he decided to burn the house down and kill the entire family, burning half of himself in the process.

She calls her parents in fear; when they return, the door is open, and both Violet and the half burned stranger are gone.

Ben closes the door, looks around in panic, and hears the doorbell ring again.

Instead of looking through the peephole, for dramatic effect, the director has him open the door. There, standing before him, is Hayden, his dead lover. The camera zooms in on her ghoulish smiling face, and then fades out.

Most viewers are excited to see the second half of the episode, but some may be in for a bigger shock than anything “American Horror Story” can give them.
According to the commercials, Direct TV will no longer be airing FX, which means that many people who have just became obsessed with the show may have to watch it online only.

For FDU students, this might be a blessing, since the reception causes a loud boom during all dialogue. No matter what cable companies try to do, anyone who watches this show for even a second is hooked, especially during this horrifying week.

To view Krenek’s review of the series episode by episode, select the tag “American Horror Story,” or type it into our search.

Review: ‘American Horror Story’ exciting; TV’s newest attempt to scare viewers does not disappoint

Entertainment Editor

Filled with deceiving maids, a Stepford-wife neighbor, a half burned man, and a hunky protagonist, “American Horror Story” may be the most exciting show on TV.
It premiered on Oct. 5, to both skeptical and intrigued viewers.

The show is spawned from the genius behind “Glee” and “Nip/Tuck,” the latter being what gave Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk their initial fan base.

“American Horror Story” follows an average American family, the Harmons, escaping the horrors of their past only to be greeted by new horrors of a haunted house.

Going into the fourth episode, centered on Halloween, this terrifying series has confused, scared, excited and burned itself into the minds of all viewers.

Though the premiere episode might have come off as pure shock value, the next two episodes proved it to be worth watching.

The pilot, like the rest of the episodes, begins with a flashback. Though flashbacks can be cliché and highly unnecessary, “American Horror Story” relies on them, and they never disappoint.

The first episode has a flashback that shows only a glimpse of the existing horror, when twin boys entered an abandoned house in the 1970s, only to never be let out.

The second episode shows a 1960s double homicide with two nurses viciously murdered.

The third episode shows the creepy neighbor, played by Jessica Lange, shooting her husband for having sex with the maid.

Each episode is structured around the flashback, having whatever occurred in the past cause a ripple effect to the present day.

The flashbacks are only one part of why this show is both intriguing and scary. Another big facet is the actors themselves.

Dylan McDermott plays the father, Ben, a wounded psychiatrist trying to get his family back.

Lange’s plastic face, dreamy eyes and cool demeanor make the viewers shiver anytime she tries to be a friendly neighbor.

Kevin Peters plays the sexually troubled teen, Tate, switching between the creepy patient and mysterious male neighbor with obvious ease. The sexual tension between his character and Ben’s daughter, Violet, is a build up that will last all season, especially since he is one of Ben’s most dangerous patients.

The mother, played by Connie Britton, is the matriarch of the family, struggling with a baby on board and an unfaithful husband.

Violet, played by Taissa Farmiga, is the only character that doesn’t pretend to be okay, being fully aware of her parents’ crumbling marriage and her inability to know where she fits in both her family and society.

Many of the characters are at odds with each other, which adds an air of violence without being too bloody.

Ben is in competition with Tate, since he is the closest friend to the one person he can’t understand, his own daughter.

When their home is invaded in episode two by crime scene re-enactors, it is Tate that helps Violet and her mother, while Ben is across the country dealing with his illegitimate child.

The neighbor, Constance, has a problem with everyone, even her own daughter, who is mentally disabled.

The second episode shows the little girl interrupting her mother while with a lover. Instead of yelling at her, Constance throws her into a room filled with mirrors, walking away to a soundtrack of her screams.

The most suspenseful part of the show is not the question of which characters are enemies, but which characters are working together. The second episode closes with Tate, Constance and the maid speaking among themselves in an all too friendly manner over two dead bodies.

The last and most important part of the show is the directing itself.

The camera angles make the audience feel as if they are in the story, and not in a “Blair Witch” shaky camera way.

This is best seen in episode two during the flashback of the 1960s murders.

When an intruder fakes his way into the house, two nurses sit him down on the couch to clean a “wound” that he has.

The camera is looking up from the table at this point, right next to an ashtray.

Once the one nurse realizes there is no wound, the intruder grabs the ashtray and smashes her in the head. When she wakes up she is sitting on the couch with her head facing the ceiling.

Both the camera and audience follow her eyes as she brings her head upright, with the intruder slowly coming into her sight. This build up makes the viewers feel as if they are on the incline of a rollercoaster, and seeing the intruder’s body slowly coming into the shot is the horrifying decline.

The shot of the ashtray works artistically as well as advancing the plot, since it goes from being a normal object to a weapon.

Even though there have only been three episodes, “American Horror Story” is already a hit and leaves many horror shows and movies buried six feet under.

The macabre stew of guilt, sex and isolation makes every character three dimensional, and every scene hard to look away from.

If the rest of the season is as enticing as the first three episodes, viewers will be asking the question “Amityville what?”

To view Krenek’s review of the series episode by episode, select the tag “American Horror Story,” or type it into our search.

Law and Order reaches unlucky 13th season; Stabler out, new detectives join Special Victims Unit in popular show

Entertainment Editor

“Law and Order SVU” has been a staple for NBC since 1999, the lineup changing slightly but never running completely off course.
Going into their 13th season, this premise is shattered.

Though the first episode, which aired on Sept. 21, was a rocky start, the second episode started to shape into something close to the original spark made more than a decade ago.

The two lead detectives, Olivia Benson and Elliot Stabler, part ways for good, a concept that took up too much of the first episode’s air time.

Regardless of the minor flaws in the two episodes, by the last minute of episode two, entitled “Personal Fouls,” the viewer realizes that this season might not be that bad after all.

The season premiere, “Scorched Earth,” introduces the first new detective, Amanda Rollins (Kelli Giddish), who has been transferred from Atlanta, Ga.

When first introduced to the character, the audience assumes she is a rough and tough kind of girl; unfortunately, the audience realizes that she is more like a giddy school girl than anything else.

This is seen during her first conversation with Benson, where she dotes over her and admits to have been following her cases for years.

This obsession is also seen when Rollins makes a big break in their case, and Benson gives her a “Good work, Rollins,” a moment where the camera moves to Rollins having a sheepish smile on her face, as if she had just been asked out on a date.

Though this served as a distraction, nothing distracted the audience more than the interior story of MIA detective Stabler.

The season finale of the 12th season, entitled “Smoked,” shows Stabler shooting an armed teenage girl.

It is understandable to want to tie up the loose ends in the season premiere, but the episode carries more weight on the absent detective’s storyline than the actual case the present detectives are investigating.

Benson is a wreck throughout the episode, gloomily looking in on an empty desk, which the viewer knows is Stabler’s by the picture frame of a blurry man and a child.

The last few minutes of the episode follow Benson into an investigation room where she breaks down and cries by herself, an expected and dull moment.
There was an exterior storyline to the episode, but it was less than satisfactory.

The special victims unit was dealing with a “he said, she said” case, the norm for their squad, this time dealing with an African American maid who claims she was assaulted by an Italian diplomat.

The theme of the powerful versus the powerless has been covered many times on the show, and no matter what curveball was thrown, nothing hit too hard to impress.

It was a meek start to the season, especially since the biggest curve was that the victim lied on legal documents. Crazy.

It is a blessing that the following episode actually packed a punch.

“Personal Fouls” introduced the second new detective, Nick Amaro, played by Danny Pino.

Amaro is a young detective with swag, coming straight out of narcotics.

He is perfect for the case at hand, regarding a basketball coach played by Dan Lauria (“The Wonder Years”), who is accused of sexually molesting his players.
The viewer can’t help but get attached to his accuser, a rising basketball star who turned to drugs after his abuse.

Mehcad Brooks (“Necessary Roughness,” “True Blood”) guest stars as Prince Miller, a famous basketball star who denies his ongoing abuse from the coach when he was younger and hides his sorrow in money and women.

The unraveling of both victims who came from the same team and ended up in two different worlds is what keeps the viewer interested.

Though the first episode’s storyline was boring, it might have been done that way for a reason.

Instead of coming in with a bang, producers focused on tying up loose ends, and because of this did not want the audience to feel distracted by a crazy case.

“SVU” has such a devoted following that they can afford to have a dull opener, as long as the rest of the season does not follow suit.

Hopefully, the season will focus less on Benson’s mourning and more on the victim’s storylines and the advancing of the two new detectives.

Pino has stolen the show so far, while Giddish seems to be there for her looks.

The third episode, “Blood Brothers” premieres Oct. 5, and hopefully will bring back the old spark in “SVU” that viewers have been waiting for.