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TV Reviews

MPAA Rating
Drama, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Nicole Gale Anderson as Miranda; Tyler Blackburn as Caleb Rivers; Britne Oldford as Remy Beaumont; Steven Cabral as Raymond Collins; Brett Dier as Luke Matheson; Merritt Patterson as Olivia Matheson; Haley Lu Richardson as Tess Hamilton
ABC Family
Paul Asay


You might call Ravenswood a ghost town.

It's not that people don't live there. They do. But in this quaint little ABC Family hamlet, the dead seem to outnumber the living at times—and often have more to say.

Take Miranda, for example. This telegenic teen came to Ravenswood to track down her uncle—the girl's last living relative—to get some information about her family. But before she can settle in, Boom! She dies in a mysterious car crash caused by a restless spirit. And what do you know, Miranda's now one too.

Because in Ravenswood, dying is more of an inconvenience, really. Despite her significant loss of weight, Miranda is still very much a part of the in crowd, glibly scheming with her Ravenswood cohorts to learn why, in fact, she's dead—and speculate as to how Ravenswood got so creepy. Is there a secret pact at work? Is it the machinations of one evil soul? Or could there be even more inconceivable forces they don't understand—forces, perhaps, that loiter in the ABC Family studio offices—that are manipulating them somehow, encouraging them to explore ever more strange and barely believable things?

When Miranda's not stalking her scary uncle or having touching family reunions with dearly departed family members or complaining about how she can never, ever change her shoes, she's wistfully wishing she could have a relationship with Caleb Rivers, one of Ravenwood's resident hunks—who, incidentally, is having a long-distance relationship of his own with Hanna Marin, one of ABC Family's Pretty Little Liars. For his part, despite having a girlfriend who's still actually alive, Caleb does sometimes wonder whether he and Miranda would have a ghost of a chance together.

They might, because someone seems dead set on offing Caleb and the rest of his meddlesome cohorts: good girl Olivia Matheson; her sulky and brooding brother, Luke; and intrepid psychic blogger Remy Beaumont. All of them, we're led to believe, were meant to die in the same crash that claimed Miranda, which makes them doubly determined to uncover Ravenswood's dark secrets before they all wind up walking into the white light together.

All of that makes Ravenswood feel like a mash-up of a Nancy Drew book with the movies Ghost and Final Destination. It's even more outlandish than its parent show Pretty Little Liars, and that's saying something. Its makers seem to want this show to appeal to viewers younger than its young protagonists, willing the plots to drip with puppy love, melodrama and Goosebumps-level chills.

Obtusely, this actually gives us a wisp of good news. The scripts seem to at least curb (if not completely squelch) profanity. And the young stars are always in peril, but actual violence is rarer.

Ravenswood is haunted by other specters, though, not the least of which are occult themes. (Among other things, characters conduct séances and play with makeshift Ouija boards.) Guys and gals are also prone to bat their eyes and commence smooching at the slightest provocation, and we're privy to a few ribald asides. Moreover, the few authority figures we see here are positively ghoulish.

Ravenswood, we're constantly told, is a dangerous place to visit—so dangerous that Miranda and Caleb often wish they'd never set foot in the place. Your family might want to heed their warnings, should you have a yen to stop by. Because while Ravenswood's content certainly isn't extreme by 21st-century TV standards, the problems here are still rather grave.

Episode Reviews

"The Devil Has a Face"

Still shaken from the séance of the last episode, Ravenswood's cadre of comely youth continue to try to uncover what mystery haunts their little town. Remy sees a vision of blood in her kitchen—the stuff filling her glass and cascading down the refrigerator door. Luke's bike crashes when a bird slams into its front wheel. (We see the dead and mauled bird, and Luke suffers a small wound on his knee.) Caleb shoves Luke out of the way when something jagged falls from a theater ceiling. A menacing adult coddles a shiny knife. Hands push through a plastic grave covering. A gravestone is mysteriously hacked in half.

Miranda and Caleb half express feelings for each other. Luke and Remy kinda break up (after Luke smooches another girl as part of a play and discovers he has feelings for her). A girl recalls her embarrassment at pronouncing "honey roasted peanuts" as "honey roasted penis." (The phrase, we hear, became her nickname for years.) Miranda walks in on Caleb when he's wearing a towel. Someone jokes about maxi-pads.

Olivia asks Miranda what the afterlife is like, but since Miranda is "stuck" in Ravenswood, she doesn't really know. Miranda is reunited in death with her mother, and the two walk through a door and into a bright light. We see evidence of a Ouija board and séance. We hear "h‑‑‑" once and a misuse of God's name.