Review: 'Pretty Little Liars' surprisingly engaging
By April MacIntyre Jun 8, 2010, 2:52 GMT
The "Prettys": Courtesy of ABC Family
ABC Family has a brand new bag, their branding tag now "A new kind of family," which for those not versed in network-ese, means, "we are programming the opposite of what we sold ourselves initially."
Which isn't entirely bad, but moms and dads beware: "Pretty Little Liars" is certainly not family-friendly.
Underage girls in bars getting it on vertically with teachers, dad caught in flagrante delicto with a woman (not mom), moderate amounts of subtle lesbian touches, a bit of the 420; the worldly girls of Rosewood are 16 going on 29.
When someone who prefers gritty, adult-themed series like "Breaking Bad," "Sons of Anarchy," "Justified" and "Dexter" stays with the premiere - curious to see the next installment - it tells you that this would be better marketed to an older set of viewers.
"Pretty Little Liars" (8 p.m. Tuesday) is a hormonally charged mystery-thriller soap set in fictional upscale Rosewood, a bucolic town deceptively like a surface shot of the Gulf of Mexico; it may appear okay to the initial glance, but what lurks beneath is a dense, oily entrapment that snares with conveniently forgotten secrets four pretty girls would like to remember.
They'll have help jogging their supressed memories in the form of now dead Alison, "A," who bedevils them from beyond the grave, ostensibly.
Aria (Lucy Hale) comes back home after being away with her family, and her college professor father (Chad Lowe) has his own secrets to hide, caught by Aria cheating on mom (Holly Marie Combs). When Aria meets a handsome man (Ian Harding) at a bar (she is 16!) a furious vertical heavy sexual grind ends with jailbait Aria finding the object of her lightening bolt lust in the most inconvenient place imaginable.
"Liars" stars Troian Bellisario (TV legend Don Bellisario's daughter) as Spencer, Ashley Benson as Hanna, Lucy Hale as Aria and Shay Mitchell as Emily. These four estranged friends reconnect in the premiere as they each try to piece together what happened one fateful night when their pal "A" disappeared, only to be dug up one year later.
The girls begin getting ultra specific messages from "A," things only Alison could know. This stressful development throws the once tight as a tick group back in each other's orbit.
Like other horror-tinged soap tales, "True Blood" or the "Twilight" series, "Pretty Little Liars" is based on a series of young adult novels by Sara Shepard. There is an air of "Scream", and a dash of "Gossip Girl," but it hooked me.
Written by I. Marlene King ("Just My Luck"), Tuesday's premiere airs 8 p.m. Tuesday, ABC Family.
April MacIntyre is Monsters and Critics' smallscreen and people/celebrity editor who loves to snoop around in makeup trailers when she can. You can follow her on Twitter.