Watching Dead: Season 4 First Half

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So, another half-season of The Walking Dead has come and gone.  The season 4 premiere aired on AMC 8 Sundays ago to the largest audience for any cable TV show ever.  I was one of the millions tuned in, and honestly, despite being thoroughly disappointed in the Season 3 Finale, I have to say I really enjoyed it.  My excitement held up, for the most part, throughout the 8 episodes.  Only one episode could really be called “bad”, and that was a necessary evil.

Obviously, if you continue on to read this, it’s going to be full of both flavours of spoiler, comic & TV.  Don’t read any further unless you’re caught up, or give no fucks.

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Watching Dead: Thoughts on Season 3

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Well, Season 3 of The Walking Dead is over, and I’m actually pretty disappointed in the show again.  This season came out roaring like a lion back in October, and stayed strong until the mid-season finale.  When it came back in February, though, it limped in like a lame lamb and, other than a few notable exceptions, what was supposed to be tension building up to an epic final confrontation, ended up being story stalling of a calibre I haven’t seen since watching Dragonball Z every day after supper in the basement of Joy Kidd House, back in University.

Seriously, Kakarot, How many days does it take to attack a Prison?

Seriously, Kakarot, How many days does it take to attack a Prison?

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Re-Watching Dead: Tell It to the Frogs



Three Down…

Melanie and I have been rewatching AMC’s The Walking Dead, and we’re now halfway done.

Read what we thought of the show’s second episode, “Tell It to the Frogs.” It’s a doozie.  As always, spoilers lie within.  If you can’t handle that, stay out.


I’m pretty confident that this will go down as being the best episode of the series.  It has everything, everything, I look for in a post-zombie-apocalyptic setting.  A racially diverse group of people barely getting along.  Great characters.  A severed head opening its eyes and gurgling.

The acting in this episode is outstanding.  Particularly by the prinicples.  Rick (Andrew Lincoln), Shane (Jon Bernthal), and Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) knock it out of the park.  Dale and Glenn also shine on the sidelines.  The performance of the hour, however, goes to Michael Rooker.  As Merle, Rooker opens the show with a rant so wild, crazy and desperate, you would almost believe he had been locked and handcuffed on a rooftop with the ominous moans and clamouring of zombies nearby.


This whole episode is fantastic.  Even the lulls are interesting.  There’s so much going on just in the eyes of the actors.  Mel and I are in agreement about the greatness of this episode, so instead of dividing what we agreed on versus disagreed, I’ll be pointing out our favourite parts.  


My Favourite Parts:

Aside from the opening sequence, where Merle goes from incoherent mumblings, to shock, to bargaining with God, to finally a self-reliant rage against God, there are several other quality moments to this particular episode.

First is when Rick reunites with his family.  The scene, which I’ve probably seen 4 times now, still gives me goosebumps (even as I write about it now).  I don’t know if it’s because I’m a (relatively) new father myself, or that I’ve always been drawn to Father-Child moments in television, but the love and relief in his eyes as he falls to the ground in joy with Carl in his arms is breathtaking.  It’s as good a piece of art as any film or TV Show I’ve watched, in my opinion.  To repurpose a line from Bill O’Reilly, there’s no words here.  We see everything that Rick, Lori, Shane, Carl and even some of the other survivors are feeling, in their eyes, and their body language.  I fucking love it when this is done, and works, like it does here.

Another favourite moment, or moments really, is the growing bond between Shane and Carl.  It’s something that wasn’t really explored in the early issues of the comic book.  And should the show ever take the same path…  it will work so much better.  Shane’s such an interesting character on the show at this point.  He’s just trying to build the family he wasn’t ever able to have in the old world.  He’s making the right decisions.  Seriously, Comic Book Shane is a fuck-up, constantly making the wrong survival choices, and letting jealousy cloud his judgement.  TV Shane makes responsible choices, and even when he loses his cool near episode’s end… he’s still doing the right thing.  In the world they’re living in, Ed needed to be beaten to within an inch of his life.  He wasn’t going to understand any other language.

I felt like destroying something that was an asshole, beautiful.

Finally, we have Lori.  I think this episode is as interesting as her character is going to get.  She’s a major part of the greatness of the reunion.  We see pretty much every high and low emotion one can have on her face in the span of a few seconds.  Throughout her interactions with Rick, we can see how much she wants to tell him about her mistake.  Then we see her fly into Shane, over his lie about Rick being dead.  At this point, we can’t tell if Shane was right to lie or not, but we do get to see in his eyes just how hurt he is, now that he’s basically lost that family that he always wanted.

Mel’s Favourite Part:

The opening with Merle was quality.  Mel said, “[he] was a fucker and I was glad to see him left up on the roof… but still, watching him writhe around and beg Jesus to show him the way was uncomfortable…”  In other words… fucking awesome.  But that’s still only second place to her high point of the show:  the ending.

The entire sequence cutting back and forth–from the stairwell and rooftop, to the banks of the quarry with Shane showing Ed what being an asshole will get you in the new world order–is fantastic.  The music is perfect, even if it is a soundalike of John Murphy’s song used during Cillian Murphy’s (or Nick Cage’s) rampage from 28 Days Later (or Kick-Ass).  The show peaks at the very end, though, as we slow pan through first the hacksaw, then the severed hand, and then the still clasped handcuffs hanging every so ominously from that random piece of re-bar as Daryl lets out a pained squeal.

In a word:  

Choice.

Final Thoughts:

This particular episode was directed by Gweneth Horder-Payton, who along with some other movies and series, worked as 1st Assistant Director on 36 episodes of The Shield, and directed 5 of them.  One of them being “Of Mice and Lem”, the second last episode of Season 5*.  I can’t praise the work done there enough, and it clearly continues on here.  She obviously knows how to squeeze even more talent out of an already talented cast.

Holy Shit.  That was fucktastic.

*If you’ve seen The Shield you know why everything leading up to the end of Season 5 is amazing.  If you haven’t… go buy the DVDs.  Now..

Re-Watching Dead: Guts



Two Down…

We wrapped up another episode of AMC’s The Walking Dead.  This time, there’s more of everything.  More characters, more gore, more diversity, more shooting stuff in the head, more suspension of disbelief and more frustruating departures from the comics.

Read what we thought of the show’s second episode, “Guts” for a chance to win a free* puppy.

As Rick escapes from his sticky situation with the help of Glen, he fires off a ridiculous amount of gunshots drawing every extra that turned out to spend a hot Atlanta day in sticky makeup.  This greatly upsets Glen’s ethnically diverse group of tagalong co-scavengers.  They spend the rest of the episode sulking while Rick and Glen work their asses off to help them escape.  Particularly upset is a bald and racist Rowdy Burns, who doesn’t much care for anyone but himself.

Meanwhile, back at camp, Shane is making correct decisions based on the situation while coming off looking like a weasely chickenshit.

Things We Agree On:

Mel and I both enjoyed the episode overall.  Despite a few problems here and there, it is very strong.  It does a great job at suspense building.  The story isn’t entirely predictable, especially so if you hadn’t read the comics before watching.  The casting, acting and directing are fantastic.  The pacing of the episode is also great.  There aren’t many lulls in the action that aren’t neccessary or character building.

My guess is that someone in a boardroom looked at the first trade of the comic and said, “Hey… these are almost all white people.”  They likely did this because:
  • It’s true.
  • TV Boardroom types need to worry about this shit.

So, their answer was to, of course, recreate some characters from the comics as people who are other races and draw attention to the fact that their cast was now such an incredibly diverse rainbow of colours by adding a raging racist redneck as a plot device.

You sonofabitch.
You just made me say the “N” word.

The talent makes it work though.  Rick manages to take a punch like a bitch, and then summon his police training powers to difuse the situation with a cool speech and his trusty handcuffs, which surely won’t leave anyone in a Mad Max/Rorschach situation later on.

Another interesting part of the episode is seeing how Shane is ruling the roost over at Camp Dale’s Campertown.  Shane really is making (mostly) the right decisions, in my opinion.  Problem is, in a survival situation like the one these characters are in, the right decisions make you look like a weasel-douche.  They do a great job showing Shane’s relationship with Lori and Carl, though. He’s really developped a new family, which (thanks to last week’s too long car scene) was something you could tell he was really looking for.  It’s clear that the powers that be didn’t want anyone thinking Shane pulls an Anakin Skywalker later on.  They want the pacing and reasons behind his transformations to be perfectly clear.

Thing We Didn’t Agree On:

During the guts scene, Mel thought Rick’s pause was corny. It does seem a bit too reminiscent of Fight Club.  Still, I thought it performed its task well.  It’s there to show us that Rick hasn’t lost his humanity.  He’s really struggling to deal with this new world.  He doesn’t want to let go of the old. And then he hacks a dead dude to fucking pieces.

His name is Robert Paulsen.  His name is Robert Paulsen.

Random Rants:

Rant 1:  I remember reading after this episode aired, that several fans of the show were upset with Glen’s portrayal.  He steps up and makes a plan.  Some argued that this was against his character in the comic.  That he never steps up, and isn’t a planner.  I disagree completely.  Glen is the fucking Scarecrow.  The Wizard of Oz one… not the Batman one.  He comes up with some of the best ideas at any given time, but is constantly down on himself for not being smart, or a leader.  And in this episode, on that point at least, they fucking nail it.

Rant 2:  Mel thought that the zombies in this episode showed us that we’re dealing with a hodgepodge of different style zombies.  They’re slow.  They’re kinda fast.  They’re usin’ rocks.  They’re stumbling up ladders.  They’re climbing fucking fences.  She asked me what I thought of it.  I’m pretty sure she expected me to explode in anger.  But honestly, I’m more into consistency these days.  If this show puts forth a set of Zombie Rules, and it sticks to those Zombie Rules, that’s more what I’m interested in seeing.  At least until they pick up a gun and start firing.  I know Romero loves that shit… but fuck him.

Final Thoughts:

With enough suspension of disbelief, this episode is another great one.  If you can’t suspend enough disbelief to enjoy this…  then, probably, you’ve no business watching this show in the first place.  Despite showing some signs of heading down the wrong path we’ve still got ourselves a fantastic fucking show.

I’m not dead, I’m getting better.

*Free puppy subject to shipping and handling charges, and taxes and surcharges where applicable. Free puppy offer not available to Zombies. Free puppy may cause or contribute to the following illnesses: temporary blindness, permanent blindness, incontinence, outcontenence, supercontenence, mild cough, death, stomach discomfort, hoofenchoof, rabies, or chaffing of the thyroid.

Re-Watching Dead: Days Gone Bye



One Down…

Mel and I just finished watching the pilot episode of AMC’s The Walking Dead. You might remember it from last fall, when it was one of the most successful and talked about new shows of the season. I think it was her 3rd viewing, and my 5th. It was also her first viewing since reading the trades. I’ve read all 14 that have been released, but Mel’s dragged her feet on reading volume 14. We’re working our way through the series again in preparation and excitement for the start of Season 2, on Oct. 16.

Read what we thought of the show’s first episode, “Days Gone Bye”, after the jump…

Fair warning:  This shit is going to get spoilery.  If you haven’t watched the whole first season, or read at least the first trade of the comic books, you may not want to read any further.  And did I just use the term “after the jump”?  Ugh…  Someone slap me.  Don’t ever let me do that again.

Things We Agree On:

This show opens with a bang.  Right from the get-go, the series is telling you, “Look, folks… this shit is serious, and we’re not fucking around.  If you think you’re getting funny zombies, go watch Dead-Alive again.”  One of my major concerns when I heard they were adapting TWD for TV was whether or not they’d have the balls to do what needs to be done.  I’m pretty sure shooting a little girl in the head answers that question pretty fucking quick.

This ain’t Sesame Street.

From there we jump into the opening credits.  Mel is always particularly impressed by them.  They do a great job of setting the tone.  I agree.  It feels very eerie.  True Blood and Gane of Thrones might be the only better credit reels going these days.

Once the credits wrap we come to our first gripe of the season…  The conversation between Shane and Rick in their squad car takes too fucking long.  At least it does the first time you watch it.  After seeing the whole series play out (and reading the comics) this scene becomes much more interesting than the first time you watch it.  It lays a groundwork for the characters that is much needed.  It also shows several ways that this story is going to be different from the comic.  The only problem is it does it too slowly.  Shane’s asshole diatribe isn’t quite interesting enough, and the scene really slows the pacing of the show down to a new viewer.  The same pacing problem appears in other spots throughout the episode, but never quite as bad, and once it really picks up again after Rick and Morgan leave the police station it never really lets up.

On the road again…
Just can’t wait to get back on the road again…

Speaking of after the police station…  I’m pretty sure there are several critics of directors like Zack Snyder that would love to show them the scene where Rick heads back to the zombie he found near the bicycle, or the hospital sequence.  They are fantastic examples of how you can use a comic as a storyboard, and let your audience see each comic frame, without using bullet time effects, or otherwise stopping time. (The Zombiephiles has a neat article showing some side by side character comparisons.)  Of course, the visual effects, zombie make up and acting are all fantastic.  You can clearly see that everyone involved in this show really cares about making it as great as they can.

Another great aspect is how this episode somehow manages to simultaneously stick to the storyline of the source material, but play with it slightly to create some surprises even for the people who have read the comics.  Every change made in this episode, particularly Rick and Lori’s rocky marriage and Shane and Lori clearly having more than just a grief-stricken one night stand,  are all great, and really add to the tensions that should be coming later on.

Things We Didn’t Agree On:

Mel thought that, for the amount of time Morgan spent saying how attracted to sound the zombies are, and how much he beats himself up for firing his gun in the street, neither He nor Rick really seem to give that much of a shit about it.  They both seem to take any and every opportunity to fire off a round into everything they can.  This really bothered her, given that she not that long ago read Abraham’s (a character that comes much later in the comics) tirade on stationary camps and gunfire.  It didn’t bother me that much… I guess I don’t mind it because early Rick is a dumbfuck when it comes to zombie common sense.  And as far as Morgan goes, I kinda thought that TVs Morgan has given up by the time he starts his sniping spree.

Mel also really enjoyed re-watching the end of the episode.  She said that even though she knew how it was going to turn out, it was still really tense.  I don’t really feel the tension of the scene anymore… but I do still think Rick putting the gun to his head and noticing the hole in the tank is awesome.  One of the best moments in the show, really.  That whole scene is one of those new additions that really work for both the fans of the comics and the newcomers, I think.

Random Rants:


I remember a lot of people who didn’t know any better shouting “Ripoff” when the show was first airing, over the fact that Rick wakes up alone in the hospital.  Supposedly the scenes were written independently around the same time, like some kind of crazy zombie Calculus.  I say, “Who gives a fuck?”.  The idea of it goes back much further than 28DL.  The Quiet Earth has an world ending scene involving a guy waking up to a deserted world too.  Not to mention all the various forms “The Last Man on Earth” has taken on screen.  Seeing a Ripoff Card played so quickly, and so poorly researched, drives me up the fucking wall.

Final Thoughts:

Even after 5 viewings, this episode of the show is still strong enough to make both Mel and I excited to watch more of it.  Great acting, great effects, great story and some of the best direction ever on the small screen.  The Walking Dead‘s first episode is definitely some of the best stuff ever shown on television.

I’d give it two thumbs up,
but the other one rotted off.

Re-Watching Dead

“Admit it. You only came back to Atlanta for the hat.”

With the second season of AMC’s amazing The Walking Dead starting in just over a month, it’s finally time for Mel and I to sit back, relax and pace ourselves through a month of revisiting post-Zombie Apocalypse Georgia.

Look to your left… Now look to your right.
Come graduation day, one of you will no longer be with us.


Sure, The Walking Dead‘s short but sweet first season may have wrapped up a while ago.  Mel and I watched it, re-watched it, and I’ve watched it yet again since. But that was months ago.

As I recall… the series is fantastic in its own right. It’s true that die hard fans of the comic, like myself, have often been a bit disappointed in some of the turns that the series has taken; but I remember these twists and turns working (for the most part). Before Season 2 starts I also intend to re-read (at least) the first 3 trade paperbacks of the comic.

Watch this spot in the future, as I intend to post our different feelings on each episode as we revisit the misadventures of Rick Grimes yet again.

In the meantime… here’s a trailer for Season 2 that played at this year’s Comic-Con.