Spoiler-Free Review of “The Outsider” on HBO: A Glimmer of Haunting Potential

**This is a spoiler-free review so feel free to read on!**

In the midst of this slow burn crime drama, there is this potential for chilling perfection lurking in the shadows.  Combine that with an extremely talented cast, an intriguing plot, and some supernatural elements, and this could be the formula for a hypnotizing new show.

The Outsider premiered on HBO on January 12th 2020 with two full length back-to-back episodes.  The mini-series will feature 10 episodes (60 minutes in length).  It stars Jason Bateman, Ben Mendelsohn, Cynthia Erivo, and Julianne Nicholson.

Based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, The Outsider follows the investigation behind the horrific murder of a young boy.  After evidence begins to appear quite quickly, things become much more complicated with potential supernatural forces at play, causing the lead investigator to question things further.

This slow burn crime drama has the potential to hook its audience completely, but does it do enough in its first two episodes to keep us coming back for more?  Let’s find out…

The Pros:

The Outsider HBO 1
Images courtesy of HBO

An extremely talented cast.

The performances are so captivating and believable from the opening minutes of the series.  Having an all star cast definitely works in the show’s favor.  The characters are compelling enough and there are still a lot of secrets left to uncover, hooking us in that much more.

Some really creepy and gruesome elements.

There are some graphic images in this show, but it adds to the shock and horror behind the crime.  We also get some really creepy moments that I haven’t quite figured out yet, stirring with disturbing possibility.  The use of discord music to set some of these scenes is actually quite brilliant as well, really creating a world of unexplained mystery.

The Cons:

The Outsider HBO 2
Images courtesy of HBO

The pacing is slow…extremely slow.

I watched the two opening episodes back-to-back and felt like I was sitting there for over three hours.  I even almost fell asleep a few times because of that so I’m not sure that a double episode premiere was wise.

Moving forward, I will only watch one episode at a time.  There is a lot to process, but I am really hoping that the show can pick up some steam because that may be its biggest downfall.

So am I in or out?

The Outsider HBO 3
Images courtesy of HBO

I’m in…at least for now.  Episode 3 will introduce us to Cynthia Erivo’s character, Holly Gibney, and I am truly hoping that she can liven things up and start to make sense of this case.

The unexplained mystery is genuinely intriguing and I want to see this unfold, but things need to pick up so that I don’t lose interest completely.

I hope you enjoyed the review and feel free to post your own thoughts and theories on The Outsider in the comments section below.  Thanks so much for reading and happy viewing!

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

**Do you love television shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Once Upon a Time, Lost, Charmed, The Vampire Diaries, and Supernatural?  Do you enjoy dark fantasy, fairy-tale retellings, paranormal romance, horror, and mystery?  Then you may like my book series, Dreaming of Wonderland…available on Amazon!  Thank you for taking the time to check it out and I appreciate any feedback as well.  I really hope you enjoy!

The Dreaming of Wonderland Book Series is available here!

Free Instant Preview of The Search for Alice is available here!

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My performance of the week ending 1/11/20 on TV goes to…

Marlo Kelly as Beth Cassidy on USA Network’s Dare Me.

There’s a new mean girl in town and she can already give Regina George and Heather Chandler a run for their money.  Throw in some over-competitive cheerleading, dark secrets, obsession, and a possible murder, and she may just be crowned the new Queen Bee.

**Please note spoilers have been left out for your convenience.**

Dare Me has aired two episodes so far and I am already completely captivated by Beth Cassidy, played brilliantly by Marlo Kelly.  While a lot of the other characters have potential as well, there is something almost magnetic about Beth. Her wide eye stares and dangerous actions make her a potential modern day femme fatale, but there’s also several layers beneath this tough appearance.

Beth clearly has a weakness for her best friend, but we all know that obsession can be a deadly game, especially when someone gets in her way.  While the cheesy montages are a little bit much, Marlo nails every scene with unsettling perfection.  This may be her break-out role because she is destined for stardom.

In addition, Beth clearly has some family issues going on.  Her father moved in with his mistress across the street and their daughter is also on the squad, which causes even more drama during games and practice.  Being on top of the pyramid is not just a privilege…it’s a necessity, and Beth is willing to take out the competition while keeping a smile planted on her face.

Beth is already set up to face off against our main protagonist, Coach Colette French (Willa Fitzgerald), but will she be able to put her personal agenda aside for the good of the team?  I personally am looking forward to more interactions between these two because the tension is intense.

Coach Colette French does not initially seem to be intimidated by Beth, but she is not an ordinary teenage girl.  There is clearly this jealousy and rage brewing inside of Beth, but she is able to appear so calm and in control on the surface.  Sometimes, that can be even more dangerous; however, as Beth even keeps certain secrets from her best friend, Addy.  Beth is manipulative and calculating and yet we can’t turn away from her.

Marlo Kelly fearlessly embraces this beautiful dark role with perfect poise.  She is a scene stealer for sure and the main reason why I keep coming back for more every single week.

What’s next for Beth?  Well, there is this mystery unfolding slowly week after week and you have to wonder if Beth is behind a possible crime, but is she the obvious choice?  Beth has already demonstrated that she is not afraid to break the rules to get what she wants, but how far will she go?

I can’t wait to find out!  

Stay tuned for a recognized performance on TV each week!

Have a performance on TV that you think is simply outstanding? Feel free to contact me with your nomination for the week by Friday at midnight! 

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

The Dreaming of Wonderland Book Series is available here!

Dreaming of Wonderland Series Final Chapter Blog

**Do you love television shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Once Upon a Time, Lost, Charmed, The Vampire Diaries, and Supernatural?  Do you enjoy dark fantasy, fairy-tale retellings, paranormal romance, horror, and mystery?  Then you may like my book series, Dreaming of Wonderland…available on Amazon!  Thank you for taking the time to check it out and I appreciate any feedback as well.  I really hope you enjoy!

Free Instant Preview of The Search for Alice is available here!

**If you enjoyed this blog, I would love it if you would click the follow button on your way out to subscribe.  Thanks for your support!

Ranking the top 5 moments from “Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists” season 1 episode 1: A Solid Series Premiere

“Welcome to Beacon Heights University, where excellence is not an option…it’s a requirement.”  After watching Freeform’s Pretty Little Liars:  The Perfectionists season 1 episode 1, I remembered why I fell in love with Pretty Little Liars in the first place.  It’s hard for a spin-off to gives fans that sense of nostalgia, while still creating a unique voice of its own, but I have already been hooked after the first episode and I can’t wait to see the new mystery unfold.  Please note spoilers are ahead if you have not gotten a chance to watch yet.  In last night’s “Pilot” episode, Alison DiLaurentis gets a fresh start and takes on a TA position at Beacon Heights University, but is quickly reunited with our favorite troublemaker, Mona Vanderwaal.  Meanwhile, we meet several of Alison’s new students who may wind up being the prime suspects in a new murder and Alison’s presence here reminds us that nothing is ever a coincidence for a Pretty Little Liar alum.  My top 5 moments from Pretty Little Liars:  The Perfectionists  season 1 episode 1 are:

5

“We are and then we’re not.”

After Alison comes to town and is reunited with Mona, it looks like both of our favorite characters from Pretty Little Liars are in desperate need of a fresh start.  We learn the fate of Alison and Emily’s relationship, as Alison explains that Emily had trouble getting over the past.  Does that mean that Alison and Emily will never get back together?  Not necessarily, as they are tied together by a family, but it looks like this relationship has been put on pause for now.  Alison wants to leave the mean girl behind her and truly wants to help her students and make a difference, but wherever Alison goes, drama is never too far behind.

4

“Is it OK to murder a murderer?”

An interesting question for sure and I have to say that I was actually really digging Alison’s lecture.  Can I sign up for her class?  As Alison gets to know her new students, she asks them to participate in a discussion on Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, which is actually quite fitting if you think about it.  We are introduced to several new characters and quickly learn that everyone is a suspect and that appearances can be very deceiving.  No one really stood out to me just yet, but I’m looking forward to seeing their characters explored further as the series continues.

3

“Try and stay away from him.”

Perhaps the most disliked new character is Nolan Hotchkiss, who seems to be the resident bad boy on campus.  Alison notices that Nolan is a lot like how she used to be, using manipulation and blackmail to get what he wants, but there also seems to be a lot of complicated drama with his family as well.  We learn that his sister, Taylor, apparently committed suicide about a year ago and that Nolan’s mother, Claire, played by the amazing Kelly Rutherford, seems interested in Alison because she reminds her of her daughter.  Mona says that by her calculations, Nolan could be dangerous, but can we really trust Mona here?  What other connections does Alison have to the Hotchkiss family?  I’m not sure, but I’m already intrigued enough to find out more.  I’m loving this setup so far!

2

“I know a little bit about manipulation.”

Maybe way more than a little bit, Alison, but it appears that you have truly changed, but the past has a way of dragging you backwards sometimes.  We soon learn that Taylor is actually alive, as Nolan goes to visit her secretly.  So why did she fake her own death and what is the bigger play here?  There seems to be quite an emphasis on the advanced security system on campus, so have the Hotchkiss siblings uncovered something behind that or is there another mystery yet to be revealed?  Alison also finds a picture of Taylor and the resemblance is striking, so is it possible that Alison could be related to Taylor?  Toward the end of the episode, Alison uncovers a message behind the wallpaper in Taylor’s old room that says, “They’re Watching,” which furthers my theory on the security issue, but there is still a lot to uncover here.

1

“There are no coincidences.”

Alison recognizes that there are definitely no coincidences.  After all, she comes from Rosewood.  Alison asks Mona why she is here, but it looks like this all needs to be put on hold, as we find out that Nolan has been brutally murdered at the end of the episode.  Nolan is found impaled on a fence, as everyone gathers around in horror.  All of his friends quickly become suspects and so our murder mystery begins.  However, we are left with another cliffhanger at the end, as Mona starts talking to herself and asking if this was her fault and has someone in her ear piece.  Is Mona actually working for the FBI or some kind of secret agency?  I mean, we know that Mona is extremely intelligent and qualified so perhaps her recruiter position is just a cover.

Either way, I am already completely hooked and I can’t wait to find out what happens next.  The spin-off series premiere really gave Pretty Little Liar fans exactly what they needed, but I am really enjoying the college campus change of scenery and I think this will give Alison and Mona the chance to shine, while introducing us to some new faces who may surprise us.  Stay tuned!

I hope you enjoyed the list and feel free to post your own thoughts and theories on Pretty Little Liars:  The Perfectionists in the comments section below.  Thanks so much for reading and happy viewing!

**I am so excited to announce that my book, The Search for Alice, is now available!  If you enjoy dark fantasy, fairy-tale retellings, paranormal romance, horror, and mystery, then this might be the book for you or someone you know!  Thank you for taking the time to check it out and I appreciate any feedback as well.  I hope you enjoy!

The Search for Alice is available here!

The Search for Alice Feb 2019

Free Instant Preview of The Search for Alice is available here!

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

@TV_Fanatic_Girl

**If you enjoyed this blog, I would love it if you would click the follow button on your way out to subscribe.  Thanks for your support!

Ranking the top 5 moments from “The Purge” season 1 episode 1 Series Premiere: “Step Into The Invisible”

Happy Wednesday TV fans!  “This is not a test, this is your Emergency Broadcast System. Announcing the commencement of the annual purge sanctioned by the U.S. Government.  Commencing at the siren, any and all crime (including murder) will be legal for 12 continuous hours.”  So you have seen The Purge movies and you are ready to set your alarms once again to find out what happens on this particular purge night.  Only this purge is spread across 10 episodes on television.  After watching the USA network’s The Purge season 1 episode 1 last night, I was introduced to several new characters who are about to experience their very own Purge Night.  While some characters leave something to be desired, others did capture my full attention and I was particularly intrigued by the cult that centers on “stepping into the invisible.”  Please note spoilers are ahead if you have not gotten a chance to watch the latest episode yet.  In last night’s episode, “What Is America?” the countdown to Purge Night has already started and we step into the lives of several new characters only to discover that they each have secrets of their own, which will most likely cause their past to bleed into their present on Purge Night.  My top 5 moments from The Purge season 1 episode 1 are:

5

“Rich people don’t kill each other on Purge Night.”

Two of the new characters we are introduced to are Rick and Jenna, played by Colin Woodell and Hannah Emily Anderson.  We learn that they are a married couple and are on their way to attend an NFFA party.  As a reminder, the NFFA stands for “New Founding Fathers of America.”  Even though we find out it is to negotiate a business deal that could eventually benefit the poor and less fortunate, it doesn’t seem like a great idea to do this on Purge Night, but their potential new partner apparently only conducts important business deals on this particular night.  Against their better judgment, Rick and Jenna travel to the party, reminding themselves that they do not want to join the NFFA.  Something tells me that they are not going to really get a choice in the matter, but I’m willing to somewhat believe that they are good people deep down.  Only we are presented with several flashbacks, which show Rick and Jenna involved in a ménage a trois with Lila.  We find out that Lila is the daughter of their potential new business partner but that she will not be at the party.  Jenna is clearly more nervous and apprehensive about her possible guest appearance than Rick, which has me already wondering what else happened between them.  Clearly the affair or relationship did not end well for someone, but we will have to wait to find out.

4

“You know I’m always watching and listening Jane.”

During the episode, we are also introduced to Jane, played by Amanda Warren.  Jane’s mother is in the hospital and she begs her daughter not to work on Purge Night.  Jane reassures her mother that where she is working is very safe and it seems like she has the respect and approval of most of her employees.  After a briefing about the importance of their business on this particular night from their boss, David, played by William Baldwin, he reminds Jane that he is always watching.  Later in the episode, Jane leaves the only secure floor of the building to meet a stranger by the doorway.  The stranger explains that they need to wait for the purge to begin and once it does, Jane is handed an envelope.  What’s inside?  We’ll have to wait and see, but it looks like Jane may be looking to purge after all.  Is she looking to take out her boss or is there another potential enemy we have not yet detected?

3

“The fear went away.”

The character I was most interested in was Miguel, played by Gabriel Chavarria.  Miguel is a Marine who has been away and is now on a mission to find his sister after he receives a cryptic letter from her.  Out of all of the characters we have met so far, Miguel seems to be the most genuine.  He has the potential to be our very own Leo from The Purge movies, played by Frank Grillo, but he needs to be a little bit rougher around the edges to achieve that level of bad-ass behavior.  Miguel is completely focused on finding his sister and we learn that they both lost their parents on a previous Purge Night.  Even though Miguel will do anything to find his sister, he does take the time to help out a stranger in need, which sets him up to be our moral compass in the midst of the masked monsters that emerge on Purge Night.

2

“Let the fun begin.”

During the NFFA party, the guests are given one last chance to leave before the Purge begins.  Rick and Jenna nervously glance at each other, but neither of them makes a move to the exit.  All of the guests are handed out masks of previous murderers like the Manson family.  They are told, “Commemorate those who paved the way and purged before it was legal.”  While Rick and Jenna do not want to wear the masks, they also don’t want to stick out too much at the party.  Jenna has already bonded with a maid and it’s clear that she has a good heart, but what will she do now that Lila has made her grand entrance into the party, played by the fabulous Lili Simmons.  Lila is decked out in a gorgeous green sequined gown and has not yet spotted Rick and Jenna.  Something tells me that Jenna’s good girl act is about to change now that she is trapped with a potential enemy.

1

“Step into the invisible.”

During the episode, we learn that Miguel’s sister, Penelope, played by Jessica Garza, is involved in some type of cult.  It’s clear that Penelope must have been broken and in need of help, as Miguel initially looks for her in a rehabilitation center.  While we do not yet know the particulars of what happened to their parents, Penelope seems very impressionable.  Miguel desperately tries to find his sister, as the bus takes off in the middle of purge night.  Everyone is wearing ceremonial garments and they continue to chant about the importance of giving and the invisible.  Miguel finds out that giving means “to be purged upon,” and that the invisible is a form of heaven.  When the first cult member steps off the bus, as purge night begins, he initially seems confident and satisfied with his decision.  However, once he begins to glance at the masked strangers in front of him, dangerously clutching their weapons, the fear begins to take over.  He is brutally beaten to death in front of the bus, as Penelope watches in horror.  Does she now realize the fatal consequences of these actions?  Will Miguel be able to get to her before it’s too late?  Stay tuned!

I hope you enjoyed the list and feel free to post your own theories and thoughts on The Purge below in the comments section.  Thanks so much for reading and happy viewing!

Stay up to date on upcoming premieres of horror TV series12nightsofhorror.com/horror-series-coming-soon

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

@TV_Fanatic_Girl

If you enjoyed this blog, I would love it if you would click the follow button on your way out to subscribe.  Thanks for your support! 

I am so excited to announce that my book, The Search for Alice, is now available!  If you enjoy fairy-tale retellings, paranormal romance, horror, and mystery, then this might be the book for you or someone you know!  Thank you for taking the time to check it out and I appreciate any feedback as well.  I hope you enjoy!

When Kallie Bennett, a jaded teenage girl plagued by her alcoholic mother and her peers molded out of sheer bubble gum perfection, chases after Alice in Wonderland herself, she ends up lost in her own version of Wonderland, which forces her to face her utmost fears and introduces her to familiar characters with a dark twist. Among these characters is Ches, a gorgeous vampire with a conflicted conscience, who becomes Kallie’s guide and blossoming love interest. She also crosses paths with Queen Hartley, a manipulative witch who has the power to strip away one’s memories and imagination, which brings a bone chilling new meaning to “off with their heads.” In The Search for Alice, Kallie starts to realize that her Wonderland is just as frightening as her own reality and that she cannot always run away from her problems. She must figure out a way to defeat Queen Hartley and return home before it is too late, but she soon learns that escaping Wonderland means leaving Ches behind forever.

Want to read more?  You can click the link directly below for a free preview.  Thanks for your support!

Free Instant Preview of The Search for Alice is available here!

The Search for Alice is available here!

The Search for Alice Cover