UPDATE: This is the @SummerBreak Season 2 Cast

Screen Shot 2014-06-10 at 1.52.44 AMYou’re working on catching up with @SummerBreak, right? Season 2 is mere days away, and yet the cast has yet to be announced. The production team has had their casting weekend, and if they’re following the format from last year, they have to have already shot much of their pre-summer prologue. So the cast is set, and if social media trends are any indication, we can be confident that said group will be made up of the names you see here.

There are a couple of pretty easy tells when looking for cast members, first and foremost being that they’ll all be followed by producer Billy Parks. However, unlike other teenagers Parks has followed recently, eight of these nine have also hashtagged their recent Instagram photos with #MySummerBreak and #SummerBreakWith____ (the blank being filled with their name). The season 1 cast did the same before their episodes were posted. It creates content for the audience to consume the second the cast is announced, rather than waiting for the YouTube installments to kick into high gear. Admittedly, this is pure conjecture, but it’s reasoned conjecture, and I’d be shocked if eight of these nine aren’t part of the cast come announcement.

So who’s the ninth? Why, that’d be season 1 cast member Zaq. Strangely, despite tweeting about the show, Zaq hasn’t been labeling any Instagram photos with the appropriate hashtags, yet fellow season 1 player Ray is. Even more intriguingly, Zaq appears to be under contract with Wilhelmina Models. My bet: Zaq’s still in it. That may be anti-wishful thinking – my hope was that they’d bring back Ray and not Zaq – but we’ll see.

Among the other seven, you’ll see at least one familiar face: Whitney! Season 1’s breakout supporting star looks to be returning full-time for season 2. Of the newbies, Josie has the most inconspicuous last name (yes, she is Jose Canseco’s daughter), but I’m placing my bet for breakout star on Dash. He’s a young actor who’s already been in Modern Family and Children’s Hospital, and he seems to have the biggest personality.

Screen Shot 2014-06-17 at 8.57.48 AM

UPDATE: The show’s Tumblr has been updated with the full cast list. All nine mentioned above are in the cast, plus a tenth (one more than the show’s original cast last year). The tenth is Jacob, found on Twitter here and Instagram here.

Still need to catch up on @SummerBreak? Watch the season 1 essential cut below, and follow @kevinpokeeffe for more updates.

Catching Up With @SummerBreak Before Season 2

“Want to do a ride-along with some of the cast members of this series?” It was an innocuous idea pitched to me by my L.A. Weekly editor, Zach, while I was interning there last summer. The series seemed fun enough – a reality series about graduated high school students enjoying their last summer – and it was a good opportunity for my first big feature.

The feature came and went. But my obsession with the show lasted all the way to the finale. That’s the addictive power of @SummerBreak.

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Falling under Kelly Clarkson’s Christmas spell

Photo Credit: RCA Records

Originally published in the Los Angeles Loyolan. For original, please refer to: Falling under Kelly Clarkson’s Christmas spell – The Los Angeles Loyolan.

Kelly Clarkson has turned me into my least favorite type of person: a Christmas-in-October person.

It’s all her fault. I’ve never been a big fan of the celebrity Christmas album – sure, Michael Bublé sounds great on his, and Celine Dion’s version of “O Holy Night” is still one of the best things that’s ever been recorded, but they’re the exceptions to the rule. So when I heard that my favorite Texan vocal powerhouse was releasing a holiday record, I sighed. First she did the greatest hits album, now this – is she retiring at 35 or something?

But then I listened to “Wrapped in Red,” released last Tuesday – Oct. 29, not even close to Christmas – and now I can’t get “Silent Night” out of my head. Or “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” Or “White Christmas.” It’s a serious problem.

Leaping straight to Christmas right after Halloween – er, before Halloween – is a bad idea. It means you’ll burn out of holiday cheer right around Dec. 8. It means you’re ignoring Thanksgiving, the most woefully overlooked holiday. Christmas takes over a whole month anyway – why does it need any more time?

Oh, wait, Clarkson’s new song “Underneath the Tree” just came on and reminded me that Christmas needs more time because it is the best. Just thinking of a fireplace roaring as snow falls outside gives me warm, fuzzy feelings. (“But Kevin, you grew up in Austin, Texas–” Shh, snow is falling outside. It’s very important to my creative vision.) Why wouldn’t you want to play Christmas music all year long?

In the years since Clarkson won “American Idol,” I’ve also forgotten how good she is at big band-style music. It serves her so well here, as she nails even the most tangentially Christmas-related songs – who decided “My Favorite Things” was about the holidays? Quite frankly, there’s not a bad cover song on the record.

But wait, I think, waking from my snowy reverie. The most important part of a Christmas album is the original hit. And an original Christmas song hasn’t become a new standard since Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” I’ll probably get bored with Clarkson’s takes on the classic Christmas songs, right?

Wrong. Because Clarkson’s “Underneath the Tree” is a hit just waiting to happen. “4 Carats” is one of her hottest songs ever, regardless of the holiday theme. And “Winter Dreams (Brandon’s Song)” is an adorable, sweet-hearted tune for her new husband.

That’s it. I’m done resisting. I’m letting the early holiday feels wash over me. After all, if letting Kelly Clarkson make you love early Christmas music is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

The Power Rangers Project – Power Rangers Turbo

SeasonPower Rangers Turbo
Episode: “Cassie’s Best Friend” (Episode 38)

"Wait... Who are we?" - New Rangers

“Wait… Who are we?” – New Rangers

If Power Rangers Zeo failed at keeping my attention because it was too stagnant, Power Rangers Turbo had the exact opposite problem: it was too different. The entire team changed. There was a preteen boy as the Blue Ranger. Zordon was replaced by a highly inquisitive new female mentor. The Rangers’ Zords were cars instead of animals. Lots of change, all very quickly.

While I’m not against some change (I’m a fan of the Thunder Megazord, after all), these changes really upset the balance of things when I was younger – especially Blue Ranger Justin (Blake Foster), a prepubescent charged with saving the world. He was all kinds of irritating. The rest of the new cast, who took over for the old crew midway through the season, were better, but it was tough to hold on without any sense of familiarity. Yet four of these five cast members would go on to become part of the single best Ranger team in any of the early seasons – something I’ll get to in more detail tomorrow.

For now, let’s examine – or at least, try to examine – my favorite of the new cast, Pink Ranger Cassie (Patricia Ja Lee), in her focus episode, “Cassie’s Best Friend.”

"I have the prettiest dog, everyone thinks so." - Cassie

“I have the prettiest dog, everyone thinks so.” – Cassie

Cassie is hanging out with the other Rangers, though blatantly disregarding them for her dog, Jetson. The other Rangers are clearly so jealous of Jetson – Justin would love to catch a Frisbee in his teeth! – but no, Cassie only has eyes for Jetson.

Even Divatox loves Jetson!

Even Divatox loves Jetson!

This is Divatox (Hilary Shepard Turner)! Divatox wants to sabatoge the Rangers’ day of fun (also probably wants to steal Jetson, because who wouldn’t, he’s the best), so she sends a monster. I know you’re shocked that a Power Rangers villain would ever send a monster.

Not all of them are this ugly, though.

Not all of them are this ugly, though.

This particular monster is called Mr. Goo. He uses his, erm, white goo to transform people into animals. Note that he does this by, uh, covering their faces in said white goo. It’s as suggestive as it sounds.

Anyway, Jetson helps fight the monster when he attacks Cassie alone (because Jetson is still the best). This results in both monster and dog rolling down a hill. Mr. Goo slips away. Jetson is nowhere to be found. Cassie panics, because if Jetson’s not around, she’ll have to play with Justin! And that’s the worst thing that can happen.



On Jetson’s leash, however, is this man, going by “Jethro.” Jethro is, of course, Jetson, turned human. I love the casting here: this guy pulls off dog behaviors really well. For some reason, Jethro doesn’t just tell Cassie he’s Jetson – instead, he takes Cassie and the other Rangers on a wild goose (er, I mean dog) chase around Angel Grove. During the search, Cassie and Jetson bond.

That is not normal.

That is not normal sir I would advise you to see a doctor.

Jetson starts slowly turning back into a dog, so he has to bail. Cassie is distraught by this. Literally, she’s known this guy for a couple hours, and she’s calling him one of her best friends. Super strange. Anyway, no time to think about that, because the Rangers have to go beat Mr. Goo once and for all. And you know what that means! It’s Morphi–er, it’s time to, uh, shift into turbo? (God, that’s terrible.)

Note that Justin has to grow into his powers. Can’t mismatch that Sentai footage, after all! (I should probably introduce the other Rangers, too. Red is TJ, Selwyn Ward; Green is Carlos, Roger Velasco; Yellow is Ashley, Tracy Lynn Cruz. Like I said, I like them all a lot better next season.)

They shifted into Turbo! Whatever that means.

They shifted into Turbo! Whatever that means.

The Rangers force Divatox to grow the monster (which she does by firing torpedoes at it), and the Rangers call the Rescue Megazord. Unfortunately, Divatox’s henchman, Elgar, is also operating his own Zord, so they need help from the Blue Senturion, who acts as an extra Ranger this season. Blue Senturion is basically RoboCop. Seriously, look:

We can rebuild him. We have the technology.

We can rebuild him. We have the technology.

His Zord is almost more ridiculous:

BIG Robocop.

BIG Robocop.

They beat the monster by using GIANT CANNONS:



The monster is destroyed and Jetson returns! All is well. Hilariously, Cassie never actually figures what happened out, because… I’m not sure. The end of the episode is really weird. Oh well.

Analysis: Honestly, this whole episode is bizarre. I chose it because I like Cassie, but it doesn’t really tell you anything about her, other than that she makes friends way too easily and loves her dog. Fairly basic. Tomorrow’s episode also features Cassie, and is a much better showcase for why she’s great.

Instead, let me just briefly go over why Turbo as a season doesn’t quite work. Though there’s good moments, on the whole, it suffers from its source material, Gekisou Sentai Carranger, actually being a parody of Sentai. Trying to reconcile goofy footage with a serious plot didn’t quite work. That’s why the season’s best episodes embrace the camp – though this one was kinda campy and still didn’t work. So maybe it’s more accurate to say this season was just a bit of a wash.

Still, much like Zeo before it, it was a necessary transition. The switch got a lot of fan favorite characters (Cassie and TJ especially) introduced before the In Space season, which remains an absolutely beloved season. I certainly love it, and I’m excited to look at one of its best episodes tomorrow.

UP NEXTPower Rangers in Space: “Silence is Golden” (Episode 35)

The Power Rangers Project – Power Rangers Zeo

Season: Power Rangers Zeo
Episode: “Another Song and Dance” (Episode 45)

"Is that my voice?" - Tommy

“Is that my voice?” – Tommy

Ladies and gentlemen, Rangers and villains, we have now exited the Mighty Morphin seasons and are firmly into the one-season series. Near the end of the third Mighty Morphin season, a subplot was introduced involving the Zeo Crystal, a power source that the Rangers needed for new powers – and, for the first time in the franchise, new suits. After retrieving the scattered portions of the Crystal (and Yellow Ranger Aisha, Karan Ashley, swapping places with new Yellow Ranger Tanya, Nakia Burisse), the Rangers were given their new powers and Zords.

The Zeo powers were fine – a little vague and undefined, but still nice – and the male Rangers got new colors: Rocky (Steven Cardenas) went from Red to Blue, Adam (Johnny Young Bosch) went from Black to Green, and Tommy (Jason David Frank) went from White to Red. The team was rounded out by Tanya and my least favorite Pink Ranger, Katherine (Catherine Sutherland).

Zordon still advised the team, along with former Blue Ranger Billy (David Yost), who left midway through this season. At the time, it was assumed to be a financial dispute, but years later, Yost would attribute it to being bullied on set because of his sexuality. Before Yost left, Billy was a candidate for the sixth set of Zeo Ranger powers – the Gold Ranger – but instead, another Mighty Morphin alum was brought back: Jason (Austin St. John), the original Red Ranger.

Whew! I think we’re all caught up. Now let’s get to the fun stuff.

Tommy has to sing for his music class, and thus is practicing by shredding some mad air guitar and lip-synching alone. Tanya walks in on him and makes this face:

Oh Tanya, I'm loving you already.

Oh Tanya, I’m loving you already.

Tanya tells Tommy that “there’s more to singing than looking good,” and also judges him for being so white. (Unintentional point to make: around this time, the series played up Tommy’s Native American heritage so hard, then immediately made him the Red Ranger. Well done, Power Rangers.)

Tommy asks Tanya for voice lessons after she’s done judging him, and she agrees. This gives villainess and ruler of the Machine Empire Queen Machina an idea for a plan.

QUEE–er, sorry, Queen Machina.

QUEE–er, sorry, Queen Machina.

Machina is pinch-hitting while her husband, main villain King Mondo, is, erm, destroyed. Because the villains are machines, they can rebuild themselves, which allowed for a nice mid-season arc where the vacuum of power allowed for other villains to try to fill in. One such villain was Machina’s older son, Prince Gasket, and his wife, Archerina.

They look so dashing in profile.

They look so dashing in profile.

I liked Archerina and Gasket a lot. They were much sleeker villains than Mondo (who always looked a little doddering to me), and Gasket actually had some innovative ideas.

Anyway, Machina casts a spell and forces Tommy and Tanya to sing every single one of their lines. This is just as hilarious as it sounds. It’s helped by the fact that Tommy is a TERRIBLE singer. Plus, they have to sing things in rhyme, so Tommy asking “Are you all right?” is responded to by Tanya belting “Do not make light / I’ve had a fright!” It is wonderful.

The Rangers inform the others of what’s happened to them, leading to Rocky and Adam making these faces:

Precisely my thoughts.

Precisely my thoughts.

Additionally, according to Zordon, Tommy won’t be able to pilot his personal zord, the Red Battlezord, because his singing is ruining his telepathic connection with it. To which Rocky says, rolling his eyes: “The last thing we need is to be down a Zord.” Rocky is such a bitch in this season, and I love it.

Anyway, Angel Grove is under attack, so it’s that time again:

(I so wish the morph from this episode was online – Tommy and Tanya still sing when they morph, and it’s a great little continuity nod.)

Gasket and Archerina launch a full-scale attack with a caterpillar monster, while Machina uses her son’s plans to hit a bigger target – the Zord docking bay. In the Super Zeo Megazord and Red Battlezord (reconfigured so Adam can use it), the Rangers fight the caterpillar in the single most ridiculous looking fight:

Keep punchin' it!

Keep punchin’ it!

Jason goes to the Zord bay and fights the foot soldiers, this season called Cogs, to drive them out. Meanwhile, the caterpillar monster divides, and the Rangers start to lose. Somewhere in here, Archerina, watching the battle, simply asks, “Is that singing?” It’s wonderfully underplayed and so, so funny.

Adam loses his connection to the Red Battlezord. “Reestablish the link / Or we’ll all sink!” Tommy sings. I laugh. This is followed up with both Megazords losing control and being forced to dance. Said dance includes shaking their asses.


This is the most wonderful episode.

The Zords go down, and it really looks like Gasket is going to win. They fight the Rangers on the ground, with Archerina kicking Tommy’s ass (“I’d stop that singing,” she advises. Tommy’s response: “I WISH I COULD!”) and the other Rangers getting knocked around by Gasket. During this scene, the show retains the continuity by having Tommy and Tanya sing their grunts. It is wonderful.

Jason saves the day with his carrier Zord, Pyramidas, and Tommy gets an A on his singing project. Rocky throws some shade on Tommy’s singing voice (alternate character interpretation: Rocky was the first gay Power Ranger), but Kat says she likes it, because Kat is clearly deaf. (She was also with Tommy romantically at this point – Kimberly sent a Dear John letter off-camera because the writers wanted to pair Tommy and Kat and also because life is terrible.)

Guess who's back?

Guess who’s back?

At the end of the episode, we see King Mondo has revived himself! His return sets up the arc for the short remainder of the season – and a return to boredom.

Analysis: Power Rangers Zeo as a season is boring. It bored me as a kid and it bores me now. The heavy reliance on the Choriki Sentai Ohranger stock footage for battles (if not plot) and possibly my least favorite combination of Rangers in the seasons I’ve seen added up to a snooze.

That said, “Another Song and Dance” is one of the most enjoyable episodes of the series ever, and quite enjoyable on its own merits beyond being an episode of Power Rangers. It’s really good, embracing the campy sensibilities of the show in ways that a typical episode would never be able to reach.

Not only is it campy – “Another Song and Dance” is hardly a trifle of an episode. King Mondo’s return at the end was big news for the rest of the season, and seeing Gasket and Archerina get so close to success shows that innovative thinking on villains’ part achieves results. The Rangers are lucky most villains stick to the same tired methods.

Still, one episode does not a season make. While Jason’s return as the Gold Ranger was exciting, and this season did a good job of flushing out Adam, Rocky and Kat’s personalities, it was still a rough season.

In many ways, Zeo was a necessary season. There was no way to sustain continuing to use the Mighty Morphin suits, and the show’s tendency to cut-and-paste footage together (one Season 3 episode had footage from five different sources cut together) was untenable. This was a big ol’ reset button, and set the standard for the rest of the series. However, swapping to the Zeo powers marked a return to the status quo of season 1, and no one on set seemed to be having much fun. That is, no one besides Cardenas as Rocky.

rockyI pointed out Rocky’s bitchy quips above, and they’re really indicative of how much more significant his personality shift was than either Adam’s or Kat’s. Sure, those characters got some new details added to their personas, but Rocky almost became a whole new character – hugely believable for a guy who was forced to take a demotion from Red Ranger to Blue Ranger with the seasonal changeover. In a lot of ways, he brought the fun even amidst the monotony, and the Zeo incarnation of Rocky has a special place in my heart.

Unfortunately, like QUEEN Amy Jo Johnson before him, Cardenas left the series before the rest of his team did the same. Cardenas sustained an injury while shooting Zeo that forced him to leave before the next season, Power Rangers Turbo. To say the solution producers came up with for filling his spot was “disappointing” is an understatement. Still, Turbo wasn’t all bad, and we’ll take a look at possibly its best character next time.

UP NEXT: Power Rangers Turbo: “Cassie’s Best Friend” (Episode 38)