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.) 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

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.