After a few weeks away, American Horror Story co-creator Brad Falchuk returned to write the show's seventh episode, "Open House," which we suspect is the main reason why this was the weakest outing since the second hour, the last one penned by Falchuk and his partner-in-supernatural-crime, Ryan Murphy. The Harmon clan played only a minor role in "Open House" with the spotlight primarily shining on Constance and Larry, The Burn Victim Guy instead. Turns out that these two were once lovers and Larry even planned to leave his wife for the not-so-good widow next door... that is, until she set their bedroom on fire, killing herself and their two girls and giving her philandering husband those hideous scars. (So much for the original story that Larry had spun to Ben, which positioned him as the arsonist.)
And here we thought American Horror Story was going to keep teasing us about Tate's involvement in that school shooting incident for at least a few more episodes. But no, the show's sixth episode, "Piggy Piggy," opened with an extended recreation of that horrific event, in which the world's creepiest boy next door shot his way into his high school library and proceeded to murder, in extremely cold blood, the five students hiding there. Later that day, Tate was gunned down by the police in his bedroom at the Murder House, where he was living at the time along with his mother Constance and sister Addie. Although we had suspected that Tate had been a ghost all along, it was news to his girlfriend Violet, who understandably freaked out and made another suicide attempt that her phantom paramour saved her from in the nick of time. It's certainly not like her parents were offering their daughter much help -- Vivien's still hung up on the baby (at least, that's what we hope it is...) growing in her uterus, while Ben found himself preoccupied with a new patient (played by Modern Family Emmy winner Eric Stonestreet) and his estranged wife's too-cozy relationship with Morris Chestnut's studly security guard. Not that he has much of a leg to stand on when it comes to maintaining the sanctity of their marriage -- after all, the evidence of his indiscretion is still buried underneath the gazebo in the backyard.
American Horror Story went full-on Shining in the second and concluding chapter of its two-part "Halloween" centerpiece. The various ghosts that have been popping up all season long, from Moira the Maid to Chad the Fluffer, descended on the Murder House en masse last night, causing plenty of headaches for the increasingly unhinged Harmon clan. A few new phantom faces joined in the haunting, most notably Ben's recently deceased ex-lover Hayden and a group of high school students who credit Tate with their ethereal state of being. Speaking of Violet's creepy boyfriend, episode scribe Tim Minear dropped a doozy of a revelation on us concerning his lineage: it turns out that Tate is Constance's son. Though the episode was light on deaths (apart from the folks that are already dead, of course) -- a rarity for a Minear-scripted outing -- story nuggets like that made "Halloween Part II" the most substantive info-dump we've received so far.
Since it premiered on October 5, FX's American Horror Story has steadily grown into one of the network's most popular shows, hovering around the 3 million viewer mark weekly. Last week's episode, the first of a two-part Halloween-themed frightfest, proved particularly popular and so FX wasted little time announcing a second season filled with more thrills, chills, chuckles and dudes in rubber suits. ("Halloween Part 2" airs tonight at 10 PM.) Stars Connie Britton and Dylan McDermott -- who play estranged husband-and-wife Vivien and Ben Harmon who are forced to deal with the bizarre goings-on in their new home, the so-called "Murder House" -- recently spoke with the press about the show's complex mythology, how they balance the humor and horror and the paranormal activity they've encountered in real life.
This show is really starting to click, especially now that the Murphy/Falchuk team are no longer writing the scripts themselves. Last night's first installment in American Horror Story's two-part "Halloween" extravaganza was credited to James "Final Destination" Wong and next week, the marvelous, merciless Tim Minear is on deck for the concluding chapter. (We'll be disappointed if there isn't at least one major character death. Please let it be Ben, please.) Wong gave us some intriguing new backstory about the Murder House (apparently, if you die within its walls, you're unable to move onto the next plane of existence); introduced us to some promising new characters (Zachary Quinto's former owner-turned-fluffer and Morris Chestnut's security specialist that was obviously -- and understandably -- making eyes at the gorgeous Viv. Why did Ben cheat on her again? Oh yeah, because he's an idiot); and devised some of the show's freakiest and funniest moments to date, including...
Welcome to the third installment of American Horror Story and the first one that series creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk aren't credited with writing. Maybe that's why it's the most consistent episode so far, avoiding the wild swings in tone that were present in the pilot. Add in some intriguing backstory about Moira and Constance, the return of Kate Mara and creepy information about the house's first tenants and you've got the best episode of the show so far. We're still not 100 percent certain that American Horror Story won't fall apart in the home (no pun intended) stretch, but we did finally come away feeling that the writers actually do have some idea where they want the show to go.
The second episode of American Horror Story was a far more subdued outing than last week's controversial pilot, which was both good and bad. Good, because it showed that Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk can rein in their flair for excess when they want to. Haunted house stories tend to work best when they're played in a more minor key (although a gonzo classic like the Japanese cult oddity House can also be a blast to watch) and "Home Invasion" -- directed by regular Murphy collaborator Alfonso Gomez-Rejon -- did a nice job emphasizing smaller scares over the bigger (and more ridiculous) gotcha moments on display in the premiere. (We were also happy to see Kate Mara get some work as Dylan McDermott's ex-fling. Made us remember that Rooney isn't the only talented one in that family.) At the same time though, those bigger, more ridiculous gotcha moments were also the ones that generated the most passionate viewer response, both positive and negative. Love it or hate it, the American Horror Story pilot certainly wasn't boring. Episode 2, on the other hand? Kinda dull. Still, we were able to scare up the following freaky and funny moments.
Glee is no longer the only horror show that Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk are foisting on the American viewing public. Last night, the duo premiered their latest series, American Horror Story, the tale of a screwed-up family that moves across the country for a fresh start in Los Angeles, only to pick the exact wrong house to call home. It's clear that Murphy and Falchuk have done their homework for their first foray into out-and-out horror; the pilot referenced everything from The Haunting to The Shining to virtually every single David Lynch head-trip (up to and including Inland Empire). And like all of their collaborations, the show is a mess, but it's a really intriguing one, with just enough promising (and genuinely scary) material to balance out the more ridiculous, unintentionally hilarious stuff. In fact, if Murphy ever decides to stop playing everything to the rafters and look up the word "subtlety" in the dictionary, this could become a really great show. Either way, we'll be sticking with American Horror Story for the duration of its run, if only to see just how terrible it might get... are we talking Season 2 of Glee/Season 5 of Nip/Tuck bad? In the meantime, here are our picks for the freakiest and funniest things about the premiere:
Last night I was watching America's Got Talent, and while I was frustrated that yet another singer won this show (there are a million other shows for that, go on them and give Vegas some more magic and dance acts!), I was appalled by one segment in particular. No, not iLluminate dancing around like back up dancers for Cobra Starship. No, not Stevie Wonder being forced to perform with the obnoxious POPLYFE kids. Rather, it was the amalgam of former rejected contestants who were trotted out to perform "Time of My Life" (at least that's what I think they were trying to singing). It was a visual and auditory nightmare that I didn't understand the point of and couldn't believe was on my television. There was the guy spinning from his hair, the larger gals booty shaking with Nick Cannon, the barely dressed grandma "performing," some terrible singing, Tron Guy and a host of other stuff I'm too shell shocked to remember. Watch the thing for yourself, though I'd recommend not doing it immediately after eating.
We admit that we were more than a little skeptical when we heard that Simon was leaving American Idol and that they'd ousted all of the other judges besides the typically useless Randy Jackson. And we were still skeptical after the first couple of audition episodes in which Steven Tyler was just talking crazy and Jennifer Lopez refused to be mean. But since the first Hollywood week, this season has completely turned around, and instead of hoping that it would fade away after this year, we're totally enjoying it. Well, as much as we can enjoy a glorified karaoke competition. Here's why Idol is now better than it's been in ages:
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