The Vampire Diaries

TVD_3It’s safe to say I’ve seen my fair amount of TV shows over the past 10-15 years. But there are very few shows I started around the time its first season debuted on a TV network. Let alone the week the series pilot aired on television. This is why it is very bittersweet to say farewell to The Vampire Diaries (TVD). The Vampire Diaries pilot episode aired on The CW network back in September 10, 2009. The pilot was available on iTunes for free the following day. On random whim, I decided to buy it. I didn’t have much to lose.

Around this time, I was in the early stage of my Twilight phase. The Vampire Diaries series by LJ Smith had been around much longer than The Twilight saga by Stephanie Meyers. Yet it was Twilight saga books and movies that commenced the widespread popularity for vampire genre. The popularity of vampire genre books, movies, and TV shows within pop culture resurged between late 2000s and early 2010s. Otherwise, vampire genre was a very niche market. Up to this point, only aficionados cherished this niche genre. The CW bought the copyrights from Alloy Entertainment to adapt The Vampire Diaries book series into a television series. Most of all, The CW network chose the perfect the time to debut TVD in 2009.

TVD bookThis CW show is loosely based off LJ Smith’s The Vampire Diaries book series. LJ Smith wrote The Vampire Diaries books 1-7. Four books are part of first phase. The Awakening: Volume I. The Struggle: Volume II. The Fury: Volume III. Dark Reunion: Volume IV. These first four novels were written between 1991 and 1992. Many trilogy series continued from The Vampire Diaries series. After more than 10 years, LJ Smith wrote The Return trilogy which consisted of three books. The Return: Nightfall (February 2009). The Return: Shadow Souls (March 2010). The Return: Midnight (March 2011). As part of her original contract, Alloy Entertainment publishers owned copyrights to this book series. The publisher fired LJ Smith in 2011. Ghostwriters have written consecutive books in The Vampire Diaries trilogies. The Hunters trilogy (books 8-10) and The Salvation trilogy (books 11-13) were not written by LJ Smith, the original author.

I’d read the books first before I even know they were adapted into a CW series. Between 10th and 11th grade, a fellow classmate let me borrow her copies of The Vampires Diaries books 1-5. It wasn’t until college I finally got around to read book 6. But I stopped reading after The Return: Shadow Souls. I’d lost interest in the books at this point. This rarely happens to me. But I no long cared enough to continue The Vampire Diaries trilogies.

The books provided me enough background to understand the TV show. I was curious how the books would translate into a television series. Yet, I didn’t want the TV show to be marketed like another Twilight. In comparison, I much prefer LJ Smith’s The Vampire Diaries book series than Twilight saga books. Better character development among major and minor characters. Plus, the plot arcs were more complex and captivating.

There will obviously be changes when a book is adapted into a TV show. In the book series, Bonnie McCullough a young human psychic turn witch. She is a descendant of ancient Celtic Druids. But this character was drastically altered for the TV show adaptation. Bonnie McCollough became Bonnie Bennett. She was still a novice psychic turned full witch. One of Elena’s best friends, Meredith Sulez is completely eliminated from the main cast ensemble. Meredith was one of the few human characters with no extraordinary abilities. She eventually becomes vampire hunter. Meredith merely winds up being a recurring character in TVD season 4. Compared to book versus TV show, Elena Gilbert’s character development and storylines are radically different. Literally day and night. No overlap at all. The TV show took the bare bones of the book series and put their own unique twist on it. By Season 2, the show stopped pretending they were remotely trying to follow the book series at all. This is where I had to mentally detach these two entities. Ironically, I actually ended up loving the TV show’s storylines way more than the books’ storylines.

TVD S1 Promo

Season 1 Promotion Poster

TVD’s pilot aired September 10, 2009 but I didn’t watch it until the next day. I watch it with an open-mind. Halfway through the pilot, I still wasn’t convinced to continue watching The Vampire Diaries television series. Then, Damon Salvatore (played by Ian Somerhalder) appeared on the screen. “Hello brother” was all it took to convinced me to stick with this show. Bad boys aren’t my type. Yet, I cannot help but feel attracted to the bad boy stereotype character(s) in my bias books, TV shows, and movies. I was pleasantly surprised by the plot complexity and dark themes in the pilot episode. Most importantly, the casting for main TVD cast ensemble was perfect! All the actors brilliantly bring out the rich multi-faceted layers of their characters on screen. Off-screen chemistry among the cast ensemble enhances the on-screen chemistry between the characters in the episodes. Damon Salvatore is the main reason I stuck with the show for eight years. But I eventually grew attached to the other main characters within the first few seasons. Some sooner than others.

Also, I love it when a show inserts subtle emotional context without always having dialogue in every scene. Facial expressions or body motions can sometimes convey more than actual conversational dialogue between characters. Music can further enhance this cinematic element. Over the eight seasons, the music soundtrack for TVD beautifully encapsulated the particular scene’s mood.

(Side note: Within Temptation is one of my favorite Dutch symphonic metal bands besides Nightwish. I didn’t realize they’d used a Within Temptation song in The Vampire Diaries. Best of all, “All I Need” song was used in an iconic Delena scene. The Founder’s Day dance scene firmly established the concept of Delena ship.)

TVD_2In the first season, I only recognized three actors out the main cast ensemble. Paul Wesley portrays Stefan Salvatore. Ian Somerhalder portrays Damon Salvatore. It’s funny how actors from other shows surprisingly tie back to Smallville. Paul Wesley had a guest role on Smallville in episode 2.15 as Lucas Luthor. Lucas was Lex Luthor’s half-brother. Also, Paul had a guest role on The OC as Donnie, a kid from Corona who befriends Ryan Atwood (portrayed by Ben McKenzie). Ian Somerhalder had a recurring role in Smallville Season 3 as Adam Knight. Adam Knight was resurrected by Luthor Corp to be a spy in order to learn more about Clark Kent’s true nature by getting close to Lana Lang. Matt Davies portrays Alaric Saltzman. Matt starred in 2001’s Legally Blonde alongside Reese Witherspoon. He portrayed Warner Huntington, Elle Wood’s ex-boyfriend. Now I’ll always associate him as Alaric.

Every TV show has its popular “ships”. “Ship” is the shortened abbreviation for relationship. Ships can be romantic or bromance in nature. CW’s The Vampire Diaries was full of interesting ships. Stelena. Delena. Beremy. Steroline. Bamon. Klaroline. Forwood. Dalaric. Not all ship pairings are confirmed with canon TVD universe. Fans can come up with their own non-canon ships. Even if I didn’t support a canonical ship, every romantic or bromance pairing has its purpose within TVD’s multi-season storylines.

I’m emotionally attached to only few canon ships. Delena (Damon+Elena) was the first ship I threw my full support into all way back in Season 1. The first few seasons revolved a complicated love triangle between Stefan, Damon, and Elena. Nothing against Stelena but it didn’t quite emotionally stir me as much as Delena. In Season 2, we were introduced to the Mikaelson clan. The first vampires ever created. The Originals have the motto of “always and forever”. They had recurring roles in season 2 but became series regulars in seasons 3 and 4. I myself was surprised how the dynamic bond between Caroline Forbes and Klaus Mikaelson really grew on me. Undeniable chemistry. I wholeheartedly support Klaroline. I hope Caroline can eventually transition to The Originals show universe.

Of the two Salvatore brothers, I’m very open about my bias towards Damon Salvatore. He never pretended to be a purely good person unlike Stefan. He will always be one of the my favorite characters on this show. Plus, Damon has some pretty damn epic bromances (literally and metaphorically). Three in particular  Damon non-romantic ships always pull at my heartstrings. Defan (Damon+Stefan). Dalaric (Damon+Alaric). Denzo (Damon+Enzo). Bamon (Bonnie+Damon). At some point, fans realized the show revolved more around the complex, dynamic relationship between the vampire brothers, Damon and Stefan Salvatore. Elena’s relationship with the brothers was not the intended main focus. Despite their tumultuous past history , Damon and Stefan realized they couldn’t live without each other in their lives. Emotionally vulnerable Defan scenes never failed to turn me into a puddle of feels. So many tears shed over the eight seasons. Outside of his brother, Damon considers very few people his dear friends. Alaric Saltzman, Lorenzo (aka Enzo) St. John, and Bonnie Bennett. We saw new depths of Damon’s sensitive side with each of them. I hardly  had a dry eye watching Dalaric, Denzo, or Bamon scenes. Out of the entire main characters. Damon Salvatore had the most drastic evolution since the pilot episode. He became a much better person. Over the eight seasons, he retained aspects of his bad boy personality thankfully .  That would have been a damn shame if Damon was totally tamed in the end. Also, his snarky personality provided many unforgettably awesome one-liners. Damon was one of the most multi-faceted main characters.

I can tell when a long-running TV show is running out of ideas for its storylines. Even my favorite shows. Smallville. Gossip Girl. The end is near when US viewer ratings start to slip below 1.5 million. I give it no more than two seasons before it is cancelled. CW’s The Vampire Diaries began to struggle in US viewership in Season 7. Ratings officially dipped below one million viewers in its final season. The CW has a cruel tactic for when shows enter its final season. They are given what I dub the “graveyard” time slot. Friday nights. TVD firmly held onto the highly coveted Thursday 8 pm time slot until the first half of Season 7. Then, it moved to Friday nights at 8 pm during the second half of Season 7. This was a tell-tale sign that the end was coming. I’ve been watching The CW network since fall of 2006 so I’ve learned their sneaky tactics in terms of scheduling time slots. Ultimately, reach and viewership statistics is how networks determine whether a show gets renewed or cancelled.

When a TV show runs longer than 3-4 seasons, there will certainly be at least one or two seasons with weak overarching plot arcs and sub-plots. I struggled to get through a couple seasons of CW’s The Vampire Dairies. Yet, it’s very rare that I entirely give up on a television show. I’d invest hundreds of hours into TVD so I might as well see it to the end. For better or worse.

Over the past eight years, I’ve cried rivers of tears watching CW’s The Vampire Dairies. Hell it’s probably an ocean at this point. They certainly know how to send the viewers on an emotional rollercoaster of feels. Absolutely no dry eye especially with the season finales. So it wasn’t surprising that I basically balled like a baby watching TVD series finale. Series finale episodes are presented with a daunting challenge. Simultaneously wrap up the final season’s plot arc and any other unresolved storylines in previous seasons. Some shows do a good job of accomplishing this arduous task. Others miserably fail. When this happens, it leaves the fans even more distraught and heartbroken but for a different reason. I know from personal experience.

Thankfully, The Vampires Diaries delivered a satisfactory series finale. It is bittersweet to say goodbye to your beloved TV shows. When you’ve dedicated 8 years, you don’t want it to end. But all TV shows must come to an end eventually.  At least it got a long run to tell many incredible storylines.

It’s worse when your favorite TV show gets prematurely cancelled by the network. I’m still angry at NBC, TV Land, and The CW for prematurely cancelling certain television shows. I’m not a person to hold grudges against people for past wrongs. Nope. I’m the type of person to hold grudges against television networks for how they’ve wronged me. Prematurely cancelled shows never get to live to their full potential.

You gain a better overall perspective once you’ve finished a whole season of show. You see the connection among previous season storylines as well. Season 8 had its valleys and peaks. (I won’t reveal any major spoilers. They’re all over the internet and social media platforms anyway.) I personally felt the siren plot arc dragged on way too long. The final four episodes felt a bit rushed in some ways. I had a nagging feeling TVD would pull a “True Blood”-esque ending. Sadly, my prediction turned out to be fairly accurate for one particular character. Despite its flaws, the show took the main characters on insane plot arcs which directly resulted in dynamic, strong character development. None of the main ensemble characters are the same people they were in the pilot episode. So much heartbreak and loss over eight seasons. Yet, they persevered through those hardships and triumphantly overcame it all. Becoming stronger people in the end. Despite all the supernatural madness, it never ceases to amaze me how Matt Donovan remained human all eight seasons! He is the “normal” human among the Mystic Falls gang. Overall, TVD’s final season was a befitting sendoff.

The CW’s The Vampire Diaries appeared on the television scene during the resurgence of vampire genre around 2008 and 2009. Twilight saga films spawned a worldwide phenomenon from 2008 to 2012. True Blood aired on HBO from 2008 to 2014. Yet, TVD was still airing on television. Its longevity is proof of their immense success. A true testament considering vampire genre’s popularity faded from pop culture relevance.

CW’s The Vampire Diaries is over. But it shall forever live in my fond, nostalgic memories. Thank goodness for FanFiction stories too. Since I was 15, this show has been part of my life. This chapter of my life has closed for good. Cue TVD hangover and withdrawal. I won’t get my Ian Somerhalder fix anymore. I will properly mourn the loss of this beloved show. Then, I shall discover other supernatural genre TV shows. At least, I still have CW’s The Originals, a spin-off of The Vampire Diaries. I’ll be very pissed off if it gets cancelled after its fourth season. I can’t lose both shows in such a short span of time.

I’ll end on a slightly lighter note. In February 2011,  The Hillywood Show released The Vampire Diaries parody. It never fails to make me smile like a dork. I’ve legit lost track how many times I’ve seen it over the past six years. It’s easily one of my all-time favorite Hillywood Show parodies. I will eventually make a blog post about The Hillywood Show.

TV Land Network

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TV Land network officially launched in April 1996. I had no idea it was owned by Viacom Media Networks. Other sister networks include MTV, Spike, Nickelodeon, and TeenNick to name a few. TV Land shows serve up a huge platter of nostalgia to its audience. The intended audience for their shows is the 30-50 age group. Throughout the day, TV Land airs syndicated classic television shows. Bonanza, Gunsmoke, The Andy Griffin Show, Everybody Loves Raymond, The Golden Girls, The Nanny, The King of Queens, Reba, and George Lopez. The network decided to re-brand TV Land in 2015 along with changing their logo. There was a major overhaul of TV Land’s brand. The new intended target audience for their original programming is Gen X age group.

I have never watched any TV Land programming…but that all changed last summer. All my prime-time shows had gone on summer hiatus. This left a huge gaping hole in my TV show schedule. At this point, HBO’s Game of Thrones and The CW’s Beauty and the Beast were my only summer television shows. I randomly stumbled across two new TV Land comedy-dramas thanks to bias actors I knew well from previous TV show projects.

Darren Star’s comedy-drama, Younger, initiated the rebranded TV Land network. Many people might not recognize Darren Star’s name, but you’ll instantly recognized many of his well-known television shows. Sex and the City. Melrose Place. Plus, he was one of the co-creators of Beverly Hills, 90210. Younger revolves Liza Miller, a recently divorced 40 year old, who must afresh in her career at the bottom by posing as a 26 year old assistant at publishing firm, Empirical Press. Liza has relocated from New Jersey suburbs to her best friend’s Brooklyn loft in New York. Maggie is the only person who knows about her double life.

I’m not gunna lie…at first I thought this sounded like a very cliché show. Then, I found out Hilary Duff, my favorite former Disney Channel actress and singer, was returning back to the small screen…lo and behold in a TV show called Younger. She hadn’t played a lead role in a TV show since Disney Channel’s Lizzie McGuire. Lizzie McGuire ran from 2001-2004. Plus, I’ve seen majority of her films between 1998 and 2006. Disney Channel TV shows, movies, and music shaped my pre-teen and early teenage years. This wound up being my reason to check out Younger.  So I was willing to keep an open-mind about this new TV show.

younger-cast

It wasn’t until last summer I actually started to watch Younger. The pilot episode really took me by surprise. I haven’t laughed so hard watching a comedy-drama sitcom since Friends. Being a night owl, I often watched Sex and the City or Friends episodes. I was 11 or 12 around this time. Younger is essentially the modern-day Sex and the City. Darren Star TV shows always emphasize the significance of female friendships with unconventional quirks. Plus, there are dynamic personalities among the major and minor characters. The comedy is unconventionally fresh and simultaneously relevant with present-day pop culture. The entire Younger cast ensemble has an incredible on-screen and off-screen chemistry. This is an important element for any TV show. Chemistry among the cast member makes their characters’ interactions way more convincing. Overall, Younger is a vivacious show full of heart and soul.

Christopher Vane’s dark comedy sitcom, Impastor, is further proof of TV Land’s re-branding strategy. Impastor is about Buddy Dobbs who is a hardcore gambling addict who is deep in debt with loan sharks. He comes up with a solution of getting rid of his financial predicament. Suicide by jumping off a bridge. Jonathan Barlow, a gay Lutheran pastor, driving on the same bridge Buddy plans to jump off. The pastor convinces Buddy suicide is not the answer to his problems. Unfortunately, Pastor Barlow falls off the bridge to his untimely death when pulling Buddy from over the bridge’s railings. Suddenly another solution to this predicament appears right in front of him. Escaping to the small town of Ladner and stealing the identity of deceased Jonathan Barlow. This is a chance at a new life away from his troubled past. Initially, Buddy only plans on impersonating Pastor Barlow long enough to get enough money to pay off his gambling debt and find a new town to settle down. Obviously his plans drastically change the longer he resides in Ladner. The people of this small-town community genuinely care for Buddy as a person. Ladner no longer becomes a means to an end. He really enjoys living in Ladner even though it’s under the false identity of Jonathan Barlow. But Buddy can’t let his guard down as his false identity must still be convincing to Ladner townspeople.

The CW’s Smallville has a very special place in my heart. Michael Rosenbaum played the notorious Lex Luthor. He was hands-down one of the best villains in this science-fiction show. He was part of Smallville’s main cast ensemble from Season 1 to Season 7. As a special guest, Michael reprised his role of Lex Luthor for Smallville’s two-hour series finale in May 2011. Basically, Michael hadn’t been played a main role in Smallville since 2008. I was happy when I Michael’s tweets hinted at his return back to TV. So this was my main reason to check out TV Land’s Impastor. I honestly had no idea what to expect but was willing to give it a chance.

michael-rosenbaum-before-and-after-smallvilleThis was my first time seeing Michael Rosenbaum in a comedic role. Also, he is one of the executive producers. He is full of surprises. (The only thing that took some time getting used to was seeing Michael Rosenbaum with full head of hair. Still to this day, I associate him as Lex Luthor from Smallville. He completely shaved his head for this particular role.)

On random whim, I decided to check out Impastor last summer. All my angsty prime-time shows were on summer hiatus leaving a huge gap in my TV schedule. I try to fill the gap with some comedy genre TV shows. So far I’d only discovered CW’s Significant Mother and TV Land’s Younger. Impastor’s fascinating show concept piqued my curiosity for this dark comedy. I was officially hooked within the first two episodes.

impastor-cast

Impastor is an irreverently hilarious show! The quirky main cast ensemble has incredible chemistry which makes their characters’ interactions more convincing. Also, each character has a unique unconventional quirk. Each of these quirky main characters adds depth to the plot. Dora. Aldean. Alexa. Russell. Buddy forms friendships with each of them. Of course the nature of the each relationship greatly varies and evolves. Over time, Buddy Dobbs grows to love the small town. The townspeople genuinely welcome Pastor Buddy into their small community. He finds a new family. Ladner no longer becomes a means to an end. Obviously, the sentimentality makes it even more difficult for Buddy to conceal his false identity. Overall, Impastor is an addictive dark comedy.

Unfortunately, TV Land network decided to not renew Impastor for a third season. I’m very sad about this news. This show completely took me by surprise. I really grew to love this unconventional comedy. The worst part is season 2 finale left off on a big-ass cliffhanger. It leaves even more unanswered questions! It’s very unlikely Impastor will ever get decent closure at a future date. I hate when this happens to one of my bias TV shows.

There is some good news at least. TV Land network renewed Younger for a fourth season. I’ll take whatever good news wherever I can get it. I’m glad at least one out of the two shows are still ongoing.

I get extremely nervous when it comes time for television networks to determine whether shows get renewed or get axed. My bias TV shows are usually considered “bubble shows”. In general, very few of “bubble” TV shows get early renewals by the network.

 

Reeve Carney

reeve-carneyI don’t easily form a bias toward an actor. This implies their acting skills left a lasting impression on me. Usually these actors have brilliantly portrayed a variety of characters in TV shows and/or movies. It proves how they are a versatile actor. Very few actors join this prestigious club. Now, there is a new member to this club. Reeve Carney.

Recently, I intensely binged all three season of Showtime’s Penny Dreadful. I formed emotional attachments to some characters. Most of all, I grew to really love Dorian Gray. I shouldn’t love him but I do. In my opinion, he was one of the most multifaceted characters in Penny Dreadful. Dorian Gray is a fascinating enigma. Reeve Carney portrays Dorian Gray. This show was my official introduction to Reeve. It formed my appreciation for him.

My appreciation quickly transformed into love. One day, I was looking up Penny Dreadful videos on YouTube. Of course you click on the recommended suggestions. One recommended video after another. It’s never ending lack of productivity. Sometimes I don’t mind it.

Surprisingly, Reeve Carney plays the bad boy love interest in Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble” music video. This is one of the rare occasions I even considered watching a Taylor Swift music video. I’m not exactly a huge fan of her music. But I usually respect her as an artist…unlike majority of female vocalists in the pop industry over the past few years.

At one point, I randomly clicked on “Love Me Chase Me” music video from a band called Carney. I immediately realized Reeve Carney was the frontman of Carney within the first minute of the music video. Reeve Carney’s vocals are very intriguing. Not like the usual tenor male vocals I listen to in my music. There are hints of soulful, bluesy jazz facets in his tenor vocals. You hear these facets in his music as well. It’s quite refreshing considering what you typically hear with indie rock music. I don’t care if it isn’t as dynamic of a vocal range compared to my other bias male musicians. Reeve’s vocals are so soothingly emotive.

My discovery of Reeve Carney’s music somehow led me to the Spider-man fandom. Ten years ago, Spider-man trilogy was my official introduction to the Marvel movie universe. So what’s the connection between Reeve Carney and Marvel’s Spider-man universe? Reeve played as Peter Parker/ Spider-man in Broadway’s Spider-man: Turn off the Dark musical. I vaguely remember this Broadway musical receiving lots of negative press in the media. It had a $75 million budget. The most expensive Broadway musical. Plus, it was the most technically complex production. Investors lost approximately $60 million. Spider-man: Turn Off the Dark was not a profitable Broadway musical. Also, it had the longest preview period in Broadway history. A total of 182 preview performances. Up to this point, the musical faced many delays before getting official opening night date on June 14, 2011. Reeve Carney was part of this production until September 15, 2013. That’s over 900 performances as Peter Parker/ Spider-man. He left the musical to begin preparation for his role as Dorian Grey on Showtime’s Penny Dreadful. It took a couple listens before the Spider-man: Turn Off the Dark musical soundtrack really grew on me. I like how it incorporates rock opera elements into traditional musical theater.

Nowadays, Reeve has been pursuing a solo music career. His debut album, Youth is Wasted, was released on October 14, 2016. I’m sad I didn’t discover his music sooner. Over the past month, I’ve been avidly listening to my Reeve Carney Spotify playlist.  I can’t enough of his music.

Overall, Reeve is well-rounded actor and musician. He is full of surprises. I look forward to his future acting and music projects.

 

 

Penny Dreadful

 

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I’d like to say I’m generally open-minded when it comes to movie and TV show genres. But usually I avoid psychological thriller or horror genres. Just ain’t my cup of tea. Yet, I’ve made few exceptions. This is applicable to more TV shows than movies.

Despite being behind on many of my prime time shows, I decided to start an entirely new TV series. I had no idea what at the time…except that it had to be fairly short. I wasn’t willing to commit to another long-running TV series. Showtime’s Penny Dreadful was one of the options. I’d heard of this show but just never had time to get around it. Plus, my friend gave high praise for Penny Dreadful. This further cemented my selection. In the end, I decided to check out Showtime’s Penny Dreadful.

First, I must give some historical context. There were many social changes during the Victorian era in Britain including increased literacy rates and technological advances in many industries. The working-class readers desired for more affordable popular literature circulated on a larger scale. This gave birth to 19th century publishing phenomenon of penny dreadful literature. Compared to popular serialized novels of the time, penny dreadfuls cost only one penny. These stories would be published in weekly parts. They were printed on cheap wood pulp paper. Penny dreadful literature included over-dramatic and highly sensational subject matters. Often, these stories included criminal or supernatural themes. This particular type of literature mainly appealed to working-class citizens.

I safely assumed Showtime’s Penny Dreadful would have an overall dark, somber tone. So I wasn’t going into this with unrealistic expectations. Beyond this assumption, I had no idea what to expect with this TV series.

After watching enough premium cable network shows, I’ve developed coping mechanism to deal with gory violence, sexual content, nudity, and profanity. I was hooked after watching the pilot episode. Penny Dreadful is an addictively heartbreaking show. The three seasons takes place between 1891 and 1892. Late Victorian era in London, England.

I’m pleasantly surprised that profanity wasn’t much of an issue. Only a total of 15-20 times “fuck” is used over 27 episodes. Of course mainly Ethan Chandler, the only American character, drops the f-bombs. Even scenes involving nudity were mostly tasteful. Scenes with sexual content is far and few throughout the entire series. Although, some sex scenes were pretty intense. Gory violence is  a common theme with this particular show. It can be tough to stomach at times. Yet, I’ve seen enough premium cable network shows to find a way to deal with it.

I love the opening credits and beautifully haunting theme song. The intense imagery used in opening credits brilliantly represents the show’s essence.  The main actors were perfectly cast for their roles. Each of them deliver incredibly powerful performances individually and collectively.

Penny Dreadful explores an overall theme among the characters. Everyone has their inner demons and we all have different coping mechanisms to deal with it. “There is some thing within us all” is Season 1’s promotional tagline. The show features captivatingly complex characters. Sir Malcolm Murray, Vanessa Ives, Victor Frankenstein, Sambene, Lily Frankenstein, The Creature, Ethan Chandler, and Dorian Gray. Of course there are reoccurring characters that play an important role in the seasons’ plot arc. Each character combats the dark forces that pervading their intertwined lives. I was so emotionally invested in these characters.

Over the three seasons, we learn more background story about the main characters except Dorian Gray. Basically we know nothing of his origins. Dorian Gray remains an alluring conundrum up till the series finale. My first impression of him was formed when he set up a private erotic photo shoot with Brona Croft. I found him uber-creepy until halfway through Season 1. Suddenly, I found him stunning beautiful and inexplicably charming. My impression didn’t change so drastically with the other main characters. (Side note: Dorian ain’t picky with whom he chooses as his lovers. Very experimental with both genders. He certainly gets around in three seasons. Basically he is the man whore out of all the Penny Dreadful male characters. Now that speaks volumes. But it makes sense for Dorian Gray’s characterization.He seeks out adventures of extravagant debauchery to make life interesting.)

Detailed and nuanced elements are intricately woven into each episode’s plot and sub-plots. In terms of the settings and costumes, I was vastly impressed by the accuracy of late Victorian era component inserted within the storylines. One of my favorite reoccurring sets was Dorian Gray’s Portrait Gallery. What extravagant detail in that one room alone. Each character had their own unique fashion style. No two main female or male characters had similar outfit concepts. Although, the characters’ costumes usually used darker color palettes. Very rare occasions were the characters in light color clothing. Most of all, the show’s storylines transports the audience to reputable and scandalous areas of London. Penny Dreadful heavily incorporates symbolism into the storylines. Abel Korzeniowski composes the soundtrack music for this show. The music brilliantly captures the dark themes of the show. Plus, the soundtrack music wonderfully captures the mood of the scenes. There are definitely over-the-top theatrical aspects  sprinkled throughout the three seasons. All of these devices exceptionally enhance your viewing experience. It immerses you into this show’s elaborate universe.

Season 1 gives you a feel for what to expect with this horror drama. Penny Dreadful is not for the faint-hearted. That’s safe to say. With every season, the sub-plots brilliantly ties back into to overarching plot arc. Season 1 introduces you to the dark universe of the show. Each character is richly developed through the intense storytelling. You’ll find yourself growing attached to the characters no matter how much you resist the urge. That’s the point of no return. At this point, you’ve got to see the show through the end. For better or worse. Often, plot twists don’t give me a surprised reaction. Usually I see it coming from miles away. Yet, this show threw numerous plot twists that really took me by surprise. Now that is quite impressive.

Season 2 overarching plot with the nightcomers was difficult to get through at times. I’m not a huge fan of witchcraft storylines in my books, TV shows, and movies. Yet some of my fantasy genre shows (ex. True Blood, The Vampire Diaries, and Supernatural) portray it in a manner that doesn’t entirely freak me out. Not the case with Penny Dreadful. Often, I skipped any scenes involving rituals or spells of any nature. Not my cup of tea.

Season 3 decently wrapped up the entire show. I still have mixed emotions over some sub-plots. In the previous two seasons, the overarching plot arcs typically revolve around London. More than half of the final season swaps between New Mexico territory in America and London, England. I felt the Ethan Chandler origin story dragged on too long. Also, I didn’t like how the crew was split up until the last two episodes. I much prefer the whole gang working together to defeat the dark forces. Not separately. Most of the final season, Vanessa battled the dark forces all by herself. She didn’t have anyone to lean on for comfort and emotional support. Poor Miss Ives. Thank goodness I watched the final two episodes by myself. Overwhelmingly tumultuous emotions. Tears and snot everywhere. I was a hot mess…not in a good way either. Very few show series finales have brought me to legit wretch sobs. Congratulations Penny Dreadful. You join this exclusively elite club.

To put this in context, I intensely binged all 27 episodes of Penny Dreadful over 16 days. I cannot even describe the whirlwind of tumultuous emotions I experienced watching all three seasons. This premium cable show has absolutely no chill with its storytelling. (WARNING: Don’t expect happy endings for any of the main characters.) It will put you through the emotional ringer multiple times in each episode. The season finales especially made me ball like a baby. Yet the overwhelming feels were so worth it! I’d highly recommend Showtime’s Penny Dreadful.

I wish I’d started this fantastic cable TV show sooner. Sadly, Penny Dreadful was not renewed for a 4th season. It has officially ended. The series finale didn’t give full closure for almost all the characters. On the bright side, there might be hope for a spin-off series.

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The Last of the High Kings

 

summer-flingI’ve decided to check other Jared Leto movies. I didn’t quite know where to start. Ideally, it would be good to watch his films in chronological order. But I don’t want to waste time on movie that turns out to be awful. So I honestly had no idea where to begin.

Last weekend, I decided to have a Friday night movie. I narrowed down my choices to four movies. Highway, Prefontaine, Lonely Hearts, and The Last of the High Kings. I wasn’t in the mood for anything too serious. This eliminated Prefontaine and Lonely Hearts. My Friday Night movie would be either 2002’s Highway or 1996’s The Last of the High Kings. You’ve probably figured out already which movie I chose solely based this blog post’s title. The Last of the High Kings made its US debut in 1998 under the title of Summer Fling. Honestly, I feel “Summer Fling” gives people the wrong impression of this movie. It should have kept its original movie title for the US release.

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The Last of the High Kings is set in Dublin, Ireland during 1977. [Fun fact: It was shot on location in Howth, a village and outer suburb of Dublin, Ireland.] This movie spans a time period of two to three weeks. So a relatively short time. After finishing his exams, Frankie Gilbert embarks on a journey of self-discovery. Just like any other teenager he wants to make the most out of his summer vacation. Participating in crazy shenanigans with his two best friends. Trying to get onto Romy and Jayne’s radar. Dealing with his quirky, oddball parents and four siblings. A new chapter of his life will soon commence upon receiving his exam results. Frankie contemplates what he wants to do with his life. The film captures a great balance of interaction between his family and friends/school peers.

There were a few surprising curveballs. First, conflicting tension between Catholic and Protestant groups is a prevalent theme. Christianity has played a vital role within Ireland’s history. Most European countries have deep ties to Christianity. Catholic and Protestant groups haven’t always gotten along well. Also, there are plenty of incorrect stereotypes and assumptions revolving around each religious denomination. Throughout the film, religious tensions between the Irish Catholics and Protestants are explored in some sub-plot lines. This element added additional depth to the film’s overall story arc.

Second, the interaction with Frankie and his siblings was very intriguing. From my perspective, it seemed he wasn’t too close to most of his siblings. There’s a functional yet somewhat distant dynamic whenever he interacts with them. Yet there is one exception. He is especially close to his youngest brother, Noelie.  Frankie briefly narrates how his brother isn’t like other kids his age. Noelie is mentally stunted and it will permanently impact the rest of his life. He won’t be able independently take care after himself even as an adult. At one point, Frankie’s youngest sister, Dawn, asked their mother who will look after Noelie when both parents are dead. A young child should not have such dark, depressing thoughts. Unfortunately, this is the reality of Noelie’s fate. Frankie, Maggie, Ray, and Dawn will have to share the responsibility of looking after him.

The scenes with Frankie and Noelie spending time together were truly heartwarming. I actually got a bit emotional during these scenes. Despite all their flaws, Frankie loves his parents and siblings. They don’t pretend to be a normal family. Nope not even close. The Griffins proudly embrace their quirky personalities.

I really enjoyed how the major and minor characters were fleshed out within the overall story arc. In varying degrees, there was dynamic character development. It helped that Frankie Griffin was a multi-faceted character. Basically Frankie’s relationship with the major or minor character determines the nature of the interaction.

Setting is an important element in cinematography. There’s plenty of Irish charm to the village of Howth. The entire movie takes place in this seaside village. The audience sees different parts of Howth throughout the various sub-plots. Howth’s scenery was beautifully incorporated into many scenes throughout the film. This helps immerse the viewer into this world.

American actors don’t always nail non-American accents in their film or TV roles. But I was very impressed with Jared Leto’s Irish accent. It didn’t sound forced at all. Heck I would have thought Jared normally spoke with an Irish accent…if I didn’t already know he is an American actor.

Despite the loosely structured story arcs, The Last of the High Kings a witty, coming-of-age indie film that is full of heart and soul. It invokes a plethora of emotions with its compelling plot lines. I would recommend this film!

Artifact

Between 2007 and 2009, the global economy faced a financial crisis. USA experienced the worst economic recession since the Great Depression. The financial crisis of 2007-2008 had multiple causes. Using business and economic terminology, I could explain the multi-faceted issues surrounding this controversial topic. But I’ll spare you the details. Basically the underlying reason is financial institutions lent out too much money and their borrowers couldn’t pay it all back. That’s the problem with credit.  When poorly implemented, credit can be very catastrophic.

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During the economic recession, the average American had increasingly less discretionary income to spend on luxury goods and services. The financial crisis impacted all industry sectors including the music industry. Also, there was a new player in the music industry. Digital music. It was rapidly gaining widespread popularity. Apple’s iTunes was the dominant distributor of digital music. During 2008, there was a significant drop in the sale of physical CDs. CDs were the main source of revenue for this industry sector. Yet this continued to still be the most popular format of music. With the digital era, it gave rise to a whole new beast. The illegal downloading of music. It prevents artists from being properly compensated for their efforts.

Since their inception in 1998, Thirty Seconds to Mars has experienced their fair share of hardship in the music industry. Their self-titled debut album didn’t garner much mainstream popularity. Thirty Seconds to Mars released their sophomore album in August 2005. A Beautiful Lie was a breakthrough album for them. It essentially launched their music careers.

Let’s put this into perspective in terms of the music industry at that time. Rock music genres had gained mainstream popularity around the mid-2000s. This certainly helped Thirty Seconds to Mars. They joined the ranks of other popular rock bands such as Green Day, Fall Out Boy, Panic! at the Disco, Seether, 3 Doors Down, Nickelback, Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance, and Franz Ferdinand to name a few.

From their sophomore album,  the second single “The Kill” finally put them on the map. The band’s hard work had finally paid off.  They were floating on cloud nine. Also, the band wanted to create a documentary about the production of their upcoming third album.

Sadly, their success was short-lived upon discovering they owed Virgin Records nearly $2.5 million. Up to this point, the sales from their two albums had not generated any profits. Also, the record company hadn’t paid them their due royalties from these albums. They wanted to leave Virgin Records. In mid-2008, the band attempted to sign with a new record label. EMI, parent company of Virgin Records, filed a $30 million lawsuit against Thirty Seconds to Mars. According to EMI, the band had failed to produce three of the five albums obligated within their 1999 contract.

Here is some background information about EMI. In August 2007, Terra Firma Capital Partners Ltd, a UK-based private equity firm, acquired EMI for $4.7 billion. Terra Firma’s takeover implemented an entirely new restructuring plan for EMI along with 1,500 to 2,000 job cuts. The restructuring plan was intended to pay off EMI’s massive debts to Citigroup. Terra Firma’s belligerent business practices quickly deteriorated the relationship between the record label and their artists.

Artifact_2They fought hard for their survival. During this time, the band was recording their third studio album. The record company had absolutely no involvement in this process. In fact, Thirty Seconds to Mars used their own money to hire well-known music producers, Flood and Steve Lillywhite, along with a small staff. Jared, Shannon, and Tomo channeled all the tumultuous emotions of the legal battle into the new songs. This documentary offers intimate, behind-the-scene footage of the band’s recording sessions and legal meetings. Yet, Artifact simultaneously explores the complexity of the modern music industry along with the relationship between record label and their artists. First-hand account interviews from musicians, EMI executive and employees, and music journalists gives eye-opening insight to the much uglier side of this ruthless industry.

The documentary has an overall somber tone. But there are light-hearted, sentimental, and humorous moments sprinkled in throughout the film. You learn more about the upbringings of Tomo and the Leto brothers and how it shaped them into the people they are today. Also, Artifact incorporates beautifully panoramic shots of Los Angeles consistently throughout the documentary.

Between 2008 and 2009, Thirty Seconds to Mars’s financial reserves were stretched very thin. They almost became broke from the mounting costs associated with making the album and paying legal fees. In addition, they funded their documentary, Artifact, on a very limited budget. It is unlikely they’ll even generate much revenue from it. Without a doubt, this time of immense tribulation made Tomo, Shannon, and Jared much stronger people. This explains the heavily emphasized tone of struggle and perseverance in the songs off their third album, This Is War. In 2009, the $30 million lawsuit came to an end. EMI renegotiated a new contract with the band. Both parties wanted to make amends to their previously contentious relationship. The war was over.

Thirty Seconds to Mars fought like hell to pursue their music careers even when the industry didn’t appreciate nor recognize them. This band prefers to stay out of the celebrity limelight which is almost unheard of nowadays. With their hard work and perseverance, Thirty Seconds to Mars have fulfilled their rock star dreams over the years. Their music is well loved by the worldwide community of their Echelon family. Over the past three weeks, I’ve formed a whole new appreciation for Thirty Seconds to Mars.

Artifact was directed by front man, Jared Leto, under his longtime pseudonym  Bartholomew Cubbins. Also, he worked with Emma Ludbrook to produce this film. The documentary premiered at 2012 Toronto International Film Festival. This documentary received favorable reviews from critics and audiences. It would go on to win more awards from other film festivals. Well-deserved accolades!

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I would highly recommend Thirty Seconds to Mars’ Artifact to everyone. You don’t need to be a musician to enjoy this compellingly riveting documentary. It is an emotionally engaging work of cinematography. So worth all 103 minutes of your time!

Thirty Seconds To Mars

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Nowadays people associate Jared Leto from his acting roles in Dallas Buyers Club (2013) and Suicide Squad (2016). Some people aren’t aware Jared is very versatile.  Actor. Singer-songwriter. Director. Producer. Editor. Photographer. Investor. Painter.

I’ve always associated Jared Leto as the lead singer of Thirty Seconds to Mars. Actually Jared Leto and his older brother, Shannon Leto, are co-founders of Thirty Seconds to Mars. Their mother, Constance, encouraged her boys to get involved in the creative arts at a young age. Since childhood, music played an integral role in the Leto brothers’ lives.

I’ll give some background history about this rock band. In 1998, Leto brothers formed Thirty Seconds to Mars in Los Angeles. Jared did some acting roles prior to pursing his passion for music. People magazine named Jared Leto one of the 50 Most Beautiful People in the World in 1996 and 1997. Jared refused to promote the band by flaunting his Hollywood fame. This speaks volumes about his humility. In fact, he has never leveraged his Hollywood fame to garner more attention for the band. Jared has intentionally maintained his acting and music careers as distinct entities. In 1998, Thirty Seconds to Mars sign with Immortal Records. Then, Virgin Records joined this contract in 1999. Their self-titled debut album was released in August 2002.

Since 2006, Jared Leto has directed all of Thirty Seconds to Mars’s music videos. He goes under the pseudonyms of Bartholomew Cubbins and Angakok Panipaq. His directorial filmography includes A Beautiful Lie, From Yesterday, The KillKings and QueensHurricaneCloser to the Edge,  City of AngelsDo or Die, and Up in the Air. Each music video is basically a short film or documentary. Beautiful works of cinematography! [WARNING: Hurricane music video contains some mature content!]

Also, Jared Leto is a savvy business man. He founded an on-demand streaming platform called VyRT. This media company has diversified their services to include digital distribution, social networking, and online shopping. Artists can provide their fans unique virtual social experience through VrYT. Musicians can offer live experiences and broadcast it in real-time on the Internet. This is not his only technology investment. He was an early investor stakeholder in many companies. Nest, Uber, Airbnb, Reddit, and Slack to name a few. Jared has diversified his streams of revenue. But it is safe to say majority of money comes from his music career.

One thing differentiates Thirty Seconds to Mars from other artists or bands in the music industry. All of the band’s music videos and documentaries were produced in collaboration with producing partner, Emma Ludbrook, under their Sisyphus Corporation. They even have their own teams that address the business and marketing functions. They don’t have heavy reliance on their record label. Majority of artists/ bands aren’t quite as self-sufficient as this alternative rock band. My appreciation for Thirty Seconds to Marks keeps exponentially growing.

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[Tomo Milicevic (left), Jared Leto (middle), Shannon Leto (right)]

Thirty Seconds to Mars has consisted of three members since 2006. Jared is the lead singer and rhythm guitarist. Tomo is the lead guitarist but also plays the keyboard and violin as needed. Also, he is responsible for backing vocals. Shannon is the drummer. Yet, he can play other percussion instruments as well. There’s fluidity in the roles within the band. All three members equally contribute to the creative music writing process.

Thirty Seconds to Mars’s music incorporates philosophical and spiritual elements in combination with Leto’s life experiences. All of their songs have deep lyrical content. By the way, Jared Leto is the main songwriter for the band. They certainly aren’t afraid to experiment with different musical styles. Electronica vibes are injected into the band’s alternative rock sound. Each Thirty Seconds to Mars album revolves around a specific concept theme.

Compared to my other bias rock bands, Thirty Seconds to Mars’s music is relatively mellow. But nonetheless their music delivers deep lyrical content. Jared Leto’s vocal tone is rather clean cut. But not too polished.  It still conveys a wide spectrum of raw emotions. Jared Leto is technically a high baritone/low tenor. Until recently, I’ve never heard of this vocal classification.  In my opinion, the only other lead singer with a similar vocal tone is Muse’s Matt Bellamy.

Jared delivers clean cut vocals with sporadic bursts of intense screaming. There was more screaming outburst in the songs on their debut and sophomore albums. Hardly any screaming outbursts featured in the songs on the third and fourth albums. This explains how Jared has maintained his singing vocals over 18 years. Also, he doesn’t smoke or drink which definitely preserved his clean cut vocal tone.

There are some artists or bands I’ve been listening to many years…yet I cannot exactly recall when I discovered their music. Thirty Seconds to Mars falls into this category. I didn’t even know about this alternative rock band until my sophomore or junior year of high school.

Back in 2008 or 2009, I vaguely recall a friend of a friend obsessively ranting about a music video one day in class. The music video in reference was “A Beautiful Lie” by Thirty Seconds to Mars. Lauryn randomly stumbled across that while browsing YouTube. It left a memorable first impression on her. Also, she emphasized the lead singer was stunningly gorgeous. She didn’t have to work too hard to persuade me to check them out.  Thirty Seconds to Mars is an alternative rock band. My music preference usually leans towards the rock genre anyway.

During one of my free weekends, I decided to check out “A Beautiful Lie” music video. Rock genre has varying types of musical styles. I honestly had no idea what to expect with Thirty Seconds to Mars’s music. “A Beautiful Lie” music video concept was quite simple. It addresses the importance of global warming.  Also, the band shot the music video on location in Greenland. 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle. It left a lasting impression on me. I wanted to listen to more of their music. So I checked out Thirty Seconds to Mars’s A Beautiful Lie album from my local library. This album was released back in August 2005…but I only discovered it three or four years later.

One of my all-time favorite Thirty Seconds to Mars music video is “From Yesterday”. This was the third single off of their sophomore album, A Beautiful Lie. To current date, it is the band’s most elaborate music video concept. It was shot on location at the Forbidden City. Thirty Seconds to Mars is the only American artist/ band to shoot an entire music video in the People’s Republic of China. This music video pays tribute to the 1987 film The Last Emperor. More than 300 extras were used in this music video shoot. There are two versions of “From Yesterday” music video. 13 minute short film and edited 7 minute versions. The cinematography and story concept immerses you into China’s rich history and culture.

For the longest time, A Beautiful Lie was the only Thirty Seconds to Mars album I had ever listened to. It wasn’t until a few years ago I checked out their two recent albums. This is War. Love Lust Faith + Dreams. Drastically different music styles from A Beautiful Lie album. There was definitely more experimentation with music styles on those two albums. It took a few listens before I acclimated to this new sound. I’d grown accustomed to darker undercurrents of A Beautiful Lie album.

Also, I recently listened to the band’s debut album for the first time. I thought their sophomore album, A Beautiful Lie, was pretty intense in regards to the sound. Nope. Their debut album is way heavier.

Their sophomore album, A Beautiful Lie, helped the band finally gain mainstream popularity. In March 2006, this album’s second single “The Kill” immensely launched Thirty Seconds to Mar’s music career. Ten years of working their asses off had finally paid off! But the victory was very short-lived. The band was informed they owed $2,500,000 of debt to Virgin Records. Despite selling millions of albums, they hadn’t made any money from the album sales up to this point. Of course this news would be very disheartening to any artist. Thirty Seconds to Mars made the decision to leave Virgin record label in mid-2008.

EMI Records slapped the band with a $30 million lawsuit for breach of their 1999 contract with Virgin Records. EMI is the parent company of Virgin. Between 2008 and 2009, the band simultaneously recorded their third studio album, This is War, and fought their own legal battle with EMI. The band waged war against the music industry’s unethical business practices in their documentary, Artifact. It even includes  in-depth, behind-the-scenes footage of recording sessions and legal meetings. Also, it paints the harsh reality of modern music industry for upcoming and even established artists. Artifact was directed by Jared Leto under his Bartholomew Cubbins pseudonym.

30STM Guinness World RecordsDid you know Thirty Seconds to Mars made it into the Guinness World Records in 2011? Their third album, This is War, was released in December 2009. Into The Wild tour spanned over a two year period. The band traveled to 6 continents performing over 300 shows. In fact, the music video for “Closer to the Edge” features live concert footage from this tour. Thirty Seconds to Mars wanted to break the world record for most live shows during a single album promotion cycle. They made this a reality. Thirty Seconds to Mars set the world record for “Longest Concert Tour by a Rock Band” with a total of 309 live concerts on their Into the Wild worldwide tour.

It has been a little over a year since I last listened to Thirty Seconds to Mars’s albums. I go through various music phases. So I haven’t been in the mood to listen to their music. Within the past two weeks, I’ve seen Suicide Squad twice in theaters. I normally don’t like DC universe films. Yet, Suicide Squad piqued my curiosity. I had two main reasons to see this film. Panic! at the Disco and Jared Leto. There was much hype surrounding Jared Leto portraying a modern-day gangster interpretation of the Joker, the clown prince of Gotham. I was intrigued how Jared would bring this character to life on the big screen. The first DC universe movie I’ve gone to the theater to see. My curiosity paid off. I very much enjoyed this anti-hero summer blockbuster.

Suicide Squad convinced me to re-explore Thirty Seconds to Mars’s music. I’ve intensely binged all four of their albums over the past two weeks. Love Lust Faith + Dreams album has really grown on me. I love Thirty Seconds to Mars even more than I did. Jared, Shannon, and Tomo are all awesome people in their own way. Also, they are incredibly talented artists. Each of their albums demonstrates their growth and maturity as artists. Thirty Seconds to Mars have maintained their presence in the music industry over the past 18 years. Longevity in the constantly changing music industry isn’t easy to achieve.

Love Lust Faith + Dreams album was released back in May 2013. So they haven’t come out with new material in three years. Jared pursued some movie projects during this gap. The wait is finally over! Thirty Seconds to Mars will release their fifth studio album in 2017. There are plenty of YouTube videos verifying Thirty Seconds to Mars is a phenomenal live act.  I’d love to see them live in concert on their tour promoting the new album!

SS Joker[On a somewhat related side-note rant: It is frustrating how close-minded movie goers bashed Leto’s amazing performance as the infamous Joker. Jared Leto put his own unique spin on this multi-faceted villain. I’m pissed how majority of Joker scenes were cut from final theatrical version. I’m well-aware the Joker is only prevalent to Harley Quinn’s backstory arc. So he isn’t the main focus of the film’s plot arc. But the studio heavily emphasized the Joker in Suicide Squad’s promotional marketing campaign. This is extremely deceptive. Jared is disappointed how only few of his scenes actually ended up in the final version of Suicide Squad. There were some minor plot gaps because many Joker scenes were cut out. Most importantly, music is his main passion. So Jared is very selective of which movie projects he chooses to participate in. Any movie project means less time he can devote to working on new Thirty Seconds to Mars material. He won’t take time away from his music for just any movie role. It must be a truly worthy artistic film project. He joined Suicide Squad project because of the artistic premise. DC extended universe films are a major time commitment. So Jared has a valid reason to be angry the Joker only got 15-20 minutes of screen time. Warner Bro Studios were very misleading when bringing him onto this film project. I really hope we see more of Jared Leto’s Joker in future DC extended universe films. I love the charismatic bad-assery of the new Joker.]