Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Walking Dead Episode 8 Coda


 Photo: Emily Kinney, from 2014's San Diego Comic Con.  From her Wikipedia page.

I didn't have much to say about last week's episode, so...I didn't say much.  It felt like a transition episode.  Having said that...

--I expected Beth to get it, but I was also surprised because I read somewhere recently that Emily Kinney had just gotten a promotion to full-time status.  You know, her name on the screen with the main actors, not afterwards with the other supporting actors.

--I'm going to miss her a lot because she was the only kind, gentle character.  I mean, the only one.

--Sad to also see Emily Kinney cry on Talking Dead afterwards.  A lot.  Good to see that the show means as much to the actors as it does to the fans.  I don't say this much about celebrities, but Emily Kinney comes across as someone who's most probably a very nice person in real life, too.

--Though Holden Caulfield pointed out that people who cry a lot may also be a harsh, terrible person.

--But I'm guessing that's not true in her case.

--Overall I was more surprised with Rick purposely hitting Bob with the car.  And then telling his corpse to shut up.  I mean, damn.

--What did the guy say on Talking Dead that shocked the hell out of Robert Kirkman and Chris Hardwicke?  It got censored out, and it seemed long.  Takes a lot to throw off a comedian who talks a thousand miles an hour, but that's what happened to Hardwicke.  Anyway, I rewound it and tried to figure out what he said, but I couldn't.  I have a guess, but...If someone can leave a comment and let me know (and use asterisks, etc. if necessary), I'd be much obliged.

--I figured Beth was done because her character had finished her arc.  She went from emotionally shutting down in Season 2 in the prison, to being incredibly positive and kind, to becoming more harsh and in survival mode now.  I mean, there wasn't much of an arc left for her character.  When that happens--and when their death would mean more to the show than being left alive--then their time is up.  The fallout from Darryl and Maggie will dominate for awhile.

--Though, correct me if I'm wrong, but Maggie seems to have largely forgotten about Beth for awhile.

--Robert Kirkman comes across as someone who is all business.  A little like that autistic-like guy with the mullet who lied about being able to save the world.

--Here's to hoping Emily Kinney gets another job real soon.  Some, like Jon Bernthal (Shane) do, and some, like the woman who played Lori, don't.  But I hope Kinney does.

--Surprised to see that the aforementioned liar and the priest made it through this episode.

--Though I'm also pulling for Father Gabriel.  And for a silly reason: Seth Gilliam, who plays him, was an extremely nice, energetic and friendly guy at the Comic Con.  He's been a good actor for a long time, notably in The Wire and a few other things on HBO.  And I just saw him yesterday when I happened to come across a few segments of Starship Troopers.  He looked exactly the same, just much younger.

--Speaking of such things, I also came across a younger Norman Reedus today when I watched Robert Redford's very good The Conspirator, about the U.S.'s puppet show trial of Mary Surratt, a woman who housed the conspirators behind the assassination of Lincoln, and the attempt on Seward.

--Well, that's it until February, 2015.  Thanks for reading this blog.  See you then.

--Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!!!

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Walking Dead Episode 6 Consuming

Really quick, as the hour is getting late:

--Lots of fire in this episode.  Theme alert!  Rising from the ashes.  Re-birth.  And Daryl and Carol are being consumed from within, partly by past abuse.

--So Daryl is reading a book about childhood abuse?  We know his father abused he and his brother regularly, but this new Daryl is ready for self-therapy and coming to terms.  The old Daryl wouldn't have been.

--Remember the previous episode's title: "Self-help."

--Another amazing thing is that there's enough positive thought and self-worth to think that one is worth coming to terms with such a thing even though they can die any moment.  Odd dichotomy.

--No, Carol was not really aiming for Noah's leg.

--And seriously wounding the leg of a guy who's already got a wounded leg is, in fact, killing him.

--No, I'm not sad Daryl and Carol didn't hook up.  Everyone would refer to them as "Daryl and Carol," which would get annoying, fast.  Especially if it was said fast.  And they don't have that kind of chemistry.  They're more like siblings, or close friends.

--Noah and Beth don't have that, either.  He has it more for her than she does for him.

--And I also don't see the Daryl / Beth thing.  And I don't see Rick with anybody at all.

--Really, this isn't that kind of show.  It's not a soap opera.  Well, Season One sort of was.  But that was really, really frustrating to me.  Ugh.

--Legal pads created in 1888.  Umm...Okay.

--Old Judge N172s, amongst the oldest set of baseball cards, came out heavily in 1888.  In poor condition, they're worth about $100 apiece.  In case anyone was wondering what to get me for Xmas.

--Chris Hardwicke makes me feel like I talk in slow motion.  And I talk very, very fast.

--Carol got hit by the only car in motion in all of Atlanta.  Possibly in all of Georgia.

--And Daryl got held back by a guy who couldn't hold back a small child.  Hmmm...

--When did burning bodies become a warm gesture of understanding?

--Poll #3: Nope, too many zombies.  Falling in the van was the way to go.

--But it was predictable.  The second they got in there, you knew they were riding it down.

--Noah couldn't get further away in two days?  There was no evidence in his character that he would've gotten pissed and stayed around to go back for her.  For them to suddenly say so...I don't know.  I would've needed to see more of that in their previous episode.

--I'm with Carol: I would've taken him down.  One does not steal weapons from people, and then leave them surrounded by many camping-out zombies, without expecting some retribution.

--Daryl showed a tremendous amount of understanding and compassion when he prevented her from shooting him.  And then Carol did the same later.  Without knowing his situation previously, I would not have thought him worthy either time.

--Good thing, though, or they would not have had proof that Beth was nearby.

--These aren't the same three people who were said to be on this episode at the end of last week's Talking Dead.  Only the guy who played Noah actually showed up.  The other two were last-second replacements.  What happened?   

The Walking Dead Episode 5 Self-help

Yup, posting this a week late, right before I post this week's episode's comments.  Trying my best here!  Just a little behind...

--Everyone knew Eugene was full of it.  No surprise there.  I haven't read the comics, but you didn't need to be to see this one coming.

--And I'm also not surprised to Abraham's life-purpose was to bring Eugene to D.C.  You knew he was over-compensating for whatever tragic thing happened to him, and you had to know it involved his family, because a) isn't that what happened to everyone else? and b) he never spoke of them.  He was way too militaristically gung-ho; you knew he had nothing else.

--Gale Ann Hurd hasn't gotten as much attention outside the industry as she should.  I mean, she's been producing since at least The Terminator, and she was married to James Cameron.

--Odd Rain Man moment with Eugene creeping on them in the library.

--The episode title was "Self-help," but it could've been "Self-serving."  But that wasn't the section of the library, of course.

--Sodden, super-soaked walkers.

--I think they're recycling a ton of walkers between episodes.  One of the firehose walkers looked exactly like the walker who got the machete in the face in "Consuming," Episode 6.  That was some really bad CGI, by the way.

--Criticism: The CGI has been consistently and badly glaring recently.  Whatever they'd been doing seasons past, they've got to go back to that.

--Poll #1: Was Eugene justified?  Well, I don't know.  Lots of people died protecting him and his lies.

--I needed to watch Talking Dead to know the grocery store bad guys were part of Abraham's traveling band and that they'd raped his family.  That explains the soupcan beatings.

--So Abraham's family gets raped, watches him go berserk and kill a few guys with an assist by Campbell Soup, and then leaves him, just to get annihilated by walkers.  I mean, DAMN.

--Michael Cudlitz has a really odd laugh.

--Eugene / Rain Man is not a bad comparison.  Yeah, they're definitely very similar, definitely very similar.

--Poll #2: Still go to D.C.?  Yeah, I think so.  If anything's to be done, it'll be by the federal government--if the government is still functioning at all.  But that's worth knowing.

--What a waste of water.  In a zombie apocalypse, and for real.  Ebola's spreading in Africa because of a lack of running water, and we're wasting hundreds of gallons of it on this show alone.  I'm not saying shows and movies can't be made with water, just as I know people will still water their lawns when there's a drought elsewhere in the world and tons of people are dying.  I'm just sayin'.  DAMN.

--Poll #3: Eugene's mullet--Hot or Not?  Ummm....Not.

--Supremely awkward moment on Talking Dead: Chris Hardwicke's below-the-belt reference of Cudlitz's red hair.  Hardwicke couldn't hyper-babble about something else fast enough.

--Josh McDermott needs a new fashion designer.  And that's me sayin' this.

--

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Walking Dead Episode 4 Slabtown



Photo: Emily Kinney as Beth in "Slabtown."  From the episode's Wikipedia page.  (Does Kinney look 29 to you?  She is.)

I'm very late getting this entry in--like, almost a week, as the next episode airs in a few hours--so let's get right to it.  And sorry about the delay.

--The hospital is a Marxist Utopia (or, actually, dystopia): Your only worth is what you produce.  Production = worth.  Of course, the hospital is a bastardization of Marx's ideas.  He thought production could also be something abstract, like leadership, or good friendship.  But mostly he preferred physical production.  It's easier to quantify.

--Poll #1: Better leader: Dawn or Gareth?  We don't know enough yet about Dawn to say, but in terms of those they led, I have to say Gareth may have been better.  For everyone else alive, outside of those he led?  Maybe not.  Though they're both dangers to others outside their camp, Dawn at least helped you stay alive.  (These polls, by the way, come from the Talking Dead show afterwards.)

--Who was creepier, Dawn or Gorman?  I'll go with Gorman, though Dawn was more dangerous.  That's my own question, BTW.

--What's Ana Gastmeyer been doing these last many years?

--Poll #2: Yes, in a zombie apocalypse, doctors would be too important to kill.  Though, as we saw in this episode, doctors would be amongst the first to be killed by other doctors.

--Speaking of that, Beth better not tell anyone she has a little medical experience.  (Hershel was a vet, remember?)

--Anyone but me remember Emily Kinney from one episode of last year's The Following?  She was one of the silent followers and got shot dead real fast.

--I'm no prude, but wouldn't Darryl be a little too old for Beth?

--Speaking of Beth's age--which I think on the show is supposed to be early 20s?--the real age of Emily Kinney, who plays her, is 29.  Hard to believe, but true.  She's one of those women who will look 30 when she's 40, and so on.  I'll bet she got carded until she was in her mid-20s.  Maybe she still does, at 29.

--I haven't been carded in a few years now.  I did for a long, long time after I turned 21.  Especially if I was clean-shaven.  No, seriously.  I did.

--And--on the Talking Dead, at least--Kinney turns her head (and blonde ponytail) whiplash fast.  Reminded me of the little girl in the Verizon commercial and the little dog at the end of Coming to America.

--No, I'm not comparing the very pretty Emily Kinney to a little, furry, fluffy dog.  I'm just sayin'.

--Just researched it.  According to her Wikipedia page, Kinney was 25 when she first played 16-year old Beth Greene on this series.  It's possible in the life of the show that Beth is just barely in her early-20s, while Emily Kinney is just barely in her 20s at all.  Now that's messed up.

--I could also play a guy who's 9 years younger than I actually am.

--Or, not.

--Poll #3: Did Carol let herself be caught?  The option never occurred to me until it was offered up on the talkshow afterward, so I'm going to say No.  And I'm guessing she doesn't have any weapons.  I mean, wouldn't they search her, especially if they believe she's unconscious?

--I'm guessing Darryl, in last week's episode, was leading out Noah, who'll tell the Ricktatorship about Beth and the hospital.  And then they'll infiltrate the hospital to get Beth.  And find Carol?

--And all this after the next episode, which is about the D.C. group.

--Being a guest on the Talking Dead is not always the kiss of death--as Beth / Emily Kinney showed--but since two guys from the D.C. group are on the next episode, I'm guessing that at least one of them will get it.

--And I'm guessing it's the "genius," who I think will turn out not to be.

--Or, not. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Walking Dead--Four Walls and A Roof--Episode Three



Photo: From the review of the episode from this Yahoo site.

--We haven't seen someone as cowardly as Father Gabriel since Dorothy went to Oz.

--Or, at least it seems that way.  But we live in a world of seems.

--I liked Gareth, in a strange way.  A well-spoken and charming cannibal.  Even Slash said he was articulate.

--So Martin ends up getting it, anyway.  But he was right about one thing: What was he kept alive for at that cabin?

--It would've been interesting to see if the last of the Terminians would've turned.  Was Bob's leg cooked enough?  Real viruses do die in fire.  (The U.S. Gov't had to bomb that medical research building in Reston, Virginia to kill Ebola Reston.  And when I say bomb, I don't mean like you do for insects.  I'm talking an H-bomb, right on the building.  But it worked.)  So...is that true for the zombie virus as well?

--Scariest person in the episode was Gareth.  He'd logically and lucidly and conversationally defended his position that the world had become "Eat or be eaten."  He was so matter-of-fact about it that there was no turning back for him.  Rick will swing violent, then farm.  But Gareth was all the way gone.

--Andrew J. West deserves another role on something, fast.  He plugged a movie on Talking Dead.

--Gareth monologued (to steal from the Talking Dead host) before killing like Christian Bale did in American Psycho.  True, Bale's character babbled about 80s kitschy pop, but really it's the same thing.

--Yes, Glen and Maggie needed to go to D.C. because

   a) The D.C. storyline needed to continue, so somebody major had to go with them to show it to us.
   b) The core of the group had been together, in whatever fashion, for too long.  Glen goes all the way back to fifth or so episode of Season One.  Time to shake things up.
   c) If they're to be in the spin-off, this would be a logical choice and a good way to start that.

--I agree that Darryl is bringing out Beth at the end.  Maybe Morgan from Season One, but I'm guessing Beth.  It's not Carol.

--Beth (Emily Kinney) is one of the guests in next week's Talking Dead.  That does not bode well for her character.

--Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam), Darryl's brother (Michael Rooker), Herschel (Scot Wilson) and who knows who else will be at Comic Con this Saturday in Providence.  William Shatner and others from Star Trek, and Karen Allen and John Rhys-Davies from Raiders of the Lost Ark (and Davies was Gimli in the Lord of the Rings films), and Michael Biehn from Terminator, The Abyss, Tombstone, and many other films from the 80s and 90s, and--of all people--Anthony Michael Hall, from The Breakfast Club, Edward Scissorhands, The Dead Zone (TV show) and The Dark Knight---yes, Farmer Ted himself---will be there as well.  He was just added yesterday or today.

--Most importantly, I--a legend in my own mind, the movie that keeps on playing--will be there, too.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Walking Dead--Strangers--Episode 2


 Photo: from Variety.com

Okay, so a few thoughts about this episode:

--Talking Dead Poll #1: I say Tyreese is retaining his humanity, and is not too kind for his own good.  Chad Coleman, the guy who plays him, agrees with me.

--Though Bob's leg got eaten at the end (a la the first Dawn of the Dead, the one that takes place underground in a shelter), the joke may be on the surviving Sanctuarians.  Cuz Bob got bitten in the food bank and just didn't show anyone.  So if they consume him, they'll be like him.  Otherwise, why was he so depressed, lonely and crying?  Why'd he go outside?

--I haven't read the comics, but from what I saw of Father Gabriel, I couldn't get him far enough away from me.

--Talking Dead Poll #2: Of course Father Gabriel is dangerous.  Very dangerous.

--I haven't heard the phrase "Church lady," this often since Dana Carvey.  And that's been a looooong time.

--Yes.  Maggie should've forgiven Tara.  Twas an episode of forgiveness, after all.  And they were in a church.

--Ditto for Tyreese and Carol.  Especially since she saved all their butts later.  And when he saw what Carol had to do to the blonde girl.

--Anybody know which of these characters, if any, are the core ones in the spinoff?

--Chad Coleman looks smaller in the show.  He's a big, big dude.  Took up half of the Talking Dead's couch.

--Did anybody catch the quote from the Bible in the church, on the arch above the communion table?  It said: "He who eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood has eternal life."  Perfect for a zombie apocalypse.

--Or, not, depending on your point of view.

--Why was Carol leaving again?  This time, on her own.

--Talking Dead poll #3: Yes, Carol needs to say what happened to the two little sister girls.  I mean, wasn't her fault one had a psychotic break and killed her sister.  Once that happened, what else could you do with her?

--Carl definitely respects Rick more when Rick's in beast mode.  Good call that Carl has become Rick's Jiminy Cricket.

--It is worth going into a basement sewer for food in a zombie apocalypse.  But cover up, especially your cuts and bruises.  Cuz that's a staph infection waiting to happen.

--Movie previews during the episode I want to see: Interstellar and Fury.

--Anybody notice more alcohol commercials during Walking Dead episodes now?  This time: Blue Moon, Dewar's and...something else, I forgot.  I'm just sayin'.

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Walking Dead--No Sanctuary--Episode One



Photos: from The Walking Dead's website via AMC.


The obliteration of peoples in the future might go something like this.

Actually, no.  Let me re-phrase.  This institutional evil has already happened in real history.

When Gareth strolls in with his clipboard and demands an account of bullets fired at Rick's group, he immediately stops the action--which, in this case, was some guy about to slaughter Glen with a hefty-looking aluminum bat, and then cut his throat over a trough.

He asks for the number of bullets fired at Rick's group.  He's got a clipboard and a checklist.  With more time and fewer commercial breaks, might he have asked about the weapons taken from them, or other valuable items?  I think so.  Three swords?  Check.  Six guns?  Check.  No where's that bag?

In World War II Germany, "valuable items" would be defined as paintings, gold (including gold teeth, or haven't you seen the same documentaries I have?), silver, china, art.  Any metal to be melted down to use as bullets, tanks, etc. for the German war effort.  In a Zombie Apocalypse, "valuable items" would be defined as weapons and bullets.

Did a Jew at Auschwitz live a few seconds longer as a soldier answered a superior's similar question?  Did this soldier keep the gun pressed against a prisoner's head as he said, "Five gold teeth and two works of art taken from this prisoner, sir," in German, to his superior officer, who was standing over him at the time with clipboard and pencil in hand?

Yes.  Yes, I believe that could have happened.

But real life isn't TV.  So then the gun would've fired.

Systematically.  Impersonally.  Just taking inventory.

Institutional evil.  I wish I could take credit for that phrase, but I heard it on Talking Dead later.  Probably it's been a phrase widely used, at least since World War II.

I write this because some have already remarked that the people in Sanctuary got more than they deserved.  That Sanctuary Mary (Denise Crosby, from Pet Sematary and other 80s movies, if you're as old as I am) didn't deserve what she got.  This was, in fact, a poll question during Talking Dead.

So this blog entry is written to those 25% to 30% of the viewers who texted in with a "Yes, the Sanctuary People got more than they deserved.  After all, they were a group like Rick's, and they got raped and beaten and killed.  They were just trying to stay alive.  You're either the butcher or you're the cattle, right?"

Because this is exactly what the Germans thought at the end of World War I.  They'd been bombed and obliterated.  Berliners were starving.  Diseased.  Dying.  And a few of them were really pissed off.  They were just trying to stay alive.  They were tired of being the cattle.  Better to be butchers.

And then a butcher walked in the door.  A failed artist who became a butcher, to be more precise.

Gareth and Sanctuary Mary hadn't always been such cold evil automatons.  Maybe she'd been a cook or a cafeteria worker before.  Someone who made food out of other things.  Maybe she saw Texas Chainsaw Massacre too often.  Gareth, opined Conan O'Brien, had maybe worked in a Starbucks and had been a little overzealous giving away Starbucks cups and screwing up the inventory. 

Conan's Starbucks reference got a ton of laughs, but he may have been more right than he realized. 

Comedy often springs from dreadful things.

Bad people often aren't born that way.  They become that way.

Or, they allow themselves to become that way.

And to defend their behavior--perhaps even to themselves--they allow themselves to believe certain self-serving clich├ęs.

You're either the butcher or you're the cattle.

Or, more recently: You're either with us or you're against us.

Tragedy effects people in different ways. 

"Whatever doesn't kill us makes us stronger," said another famous German, Friedrich Nietzsche.  But he didn't mean to slaughter because you've been slaughtered.  To kill because you've been killed.

He meant more of what Glen said, when he told Rick they had to save whoever was in that metal container because that's who we are.  He meant because they're stronger inside--humanely.  Because that's what separates Rick's group from Gareth's: humanity.  The ubermensch.  The Super Man.

What happened to the original Sanctuary Mary and her group, the raping, the beating, the psychological torture, the starving--those are all, of course, terrible and tragic things, such as what the average German saw during and after World War I. 

But that doesn't mean that they can "turn" like they did, into a zombie of a different sort, a living, zombified person who becomes so institutionalized, so regimented, so checklist / inventory focused that they aren't human anymore because they've forgotten what being human is. 

Like another group in real history, Gareth's group sat down and had a meeting and decided upon the machinations of their own version of The Final Solution.  This time it involved harvesting body parts and weapons rather than money, artwork and other saleable or war-usable items.

This time, instead of Jews, Gypsies and other "social undesirables," it was everybody.

But was it really any different?

Nietzsche, that famous German philosopher, had another popular aphorism: Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Gareth's group never learned that. 

Apparently, neither did 25% to 30% of the Talking Dead's poll-answering viewers.

P.S.--This is exactly why we should read.  You can learn a lot from reading.  Novels, graphic novels--anything.  You can learn a lot from artwork.  You really can.  The Walking Dead translates so well to the screen because it's important ideas were already laid out so well in its graphic novels.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Season 5

Just a quick notice that I will have a blog dedicated to Season 5 of The Walking Dead.

There will be more consistent blog entries about it, too.  I decree this because of the tremendous number of people reading my admittedly so-so entries about Season 4, which in my defense seemed sort of so-so to me.

Or maybe I was just tired.

P.S.--There's a free contest tied in with my most recent paid-for and published short story, "Everything's Connected."  It's a very, very short piece. Description: "Everything's Connected," is about a detective who catches a cheating spouse in the act (sort of), solves a kid's disappearance, and proves a little theoretical quantum physics--all in just a few minutes!

It can be read in about five minutes, too. 

Please go to this link to enter the contest and to read the story.  Thanks!