Tag Archives: The Walking Dead

Let’s Get a Few Links Off My Chest

I am usually on top of the major sports and pop culture news and able to comment in a timely fashion, but the past several days have flooded my inbox of disposable time.  Let me try to reconcile…

The final Game of Thrones season four trailer was released yesterday. The devil is inside indeed. Bran needs to make it. Arya must be careful because Brienne is after her. Why have the Gods made Jamie love a hateful woman? Have I ever been more excited for the return of television series? Answer: probably not.

Chris Martin is the new mentor this season on The VoiceInteresting move for the Coldplay frontman with their new album, Ghost Stories, out in May and the “best band in the world” championship belt up for grabs. The Voice has been a wise career move when you are not at the top of your commercial and cultural game, but when you are, it seems a little ill-advised.

Speaking of the “best band in the world championship belt,” first Billboard reports that a new U2 album and tour would be delayed until 2015. Then The Guardian said hold up, 2014 is still in play. Hey Bono, Edge, Larry, and Adam – can we get some intel on this, please? I am trying to figure out my travel plans. In the meantime, Steve Hyden has some great career advice for U2, Lady Gaga, and some other side-stepping musical acts.

Woj feels that the Phil Jackson experiment will only work in Knicks land if James Dolan gets lost.  Fair.

Speaking of Phil, the new fivethirtyeight.com (Nate Silver’s new ESPN statistical journalism platform) uses data to show why Phil Jackson should hire Phil Jackson as coach. His success rate as an NBA head coach is astounding.

There is reason to rejoice! BD Wong and his under-utilized Dr. Henry Wu (a much more interesting character in the original book) will be in the forthcoming Jurassic Park IV.

I am not going to lie. I really wish I had thought of thisRank Everything: Muppet Show Music Numbers.

Seth Meyers spoke to Jason Sudeikis last night on Late Night and announced the “Second Chance Theater,” a compilation of old SNL sketches that were too sketchy to make it to air. Brilliant.

Despite showrunner rationalization, the quality of kid acting performances wasn’t the only disturbing part of this week’s Walking Dead episode.

and finally, Twitter is a force…

TV Tales 2014 – “The Walking Dead” Returns

Last night marked the return of The Walking Dead, AMC’s ratings juggernaut and the at times stand-in for a “bad acting and writing combination” PSA (any scenes that have featured both Rick and the Governor would fall under this category).  My relationship with The Walking Dead began with justified curiosity about what Frank Darabont could do with a television series (my loyalty to The Shawshank Redemption director is as thick as Carl’s chocolate pudding) and those first six episodes that made up the first season were exceptional.  We are now several showrunners, even more lead character deaths, and one too many unnecessary farming diversions away from the early show promise.  The task of maintaining a relationship with this series has not been easy.

The final episode of part one of season four last fall came at a cost: Yes, (SPOILER ALERT!) David Morrissey’s incredibly and increasingly silly Governor finally perished in what can only be seen an act of mercy for the viewing audience.  His destructive walk through this little corner of dystopic Georgia that continues to be the centerpiece of this series (it would be so nice to meet some new people in other parts of the world facing the same inexplicable people eating epidemic) had run its course long ago.  Unfortunately, (SPOILER ALERT!) Hershel’s emotional and tragic death was the cost.  In a world where keeping sane and retaining human dignity is a constant battle (a continual fight for Rick Grimes), Hershel was steadfast and true.  He was impacted like the rest of them and made his share of ill-advised emotional decisions (see: his barn visitors from season two), but his kindness, wisdom, and inspiring pony-tail managed to always step on a higher plane of integrity.  Now that he is gone, where will the stabilizing force of sanity come from on a weekly basis?

Last night’s episode, focused solely on the Grimes duo, Carl and Rick, and the seemingly invincible sword magician, Michonne, put this question, and the future solubility of The Walking Dead to the test.  The “A” story was all about Carl and Rick’s first days separated from the group in the aftermath of the prison bloodbath cliffhanger from last fall.  Spending time with the Grimes family has always been its own kind of horror story for lovers of “acting” and “writing,” but last night thankfully flirted with the idea of a world with one fewer Grimes (sorry Judith, we will wait until you can read dialogue before you can be linked to Mom, Dad, and big brother’s artistic troubles).  Rick took a literal beating back at the prison and then Carl gives him an angsty teenager verbal beating, so he is in really bad shape (the makeup artists were even busier than usual this week with his bloody visage).  We are led to believe, with several clever red herring scenes, that Rick’s elongated nap on the couch may be his own ticket to Walker land.  What if Carl, donning his alien hair, is the only Grimes left?

My initial thoughts on a Rick-less Walking Dead were celebratory.  I cannot recall a “lead character” in a television series who more successfully ostracized viewers with increasingly terrible decisions and a more cringeworthy performance.  I have desired for this day to come for some time, yet, when posed with the potential for a world without Rick and only Carl, I found myself nostalgically changing my tune.  Yes, The Walking Dead has made me feel like Michonne in the scene where she cuts off all of her surrounding walker heads (the mostly depressing “B” story) on many occasion and Rick’s awfulness was often the central reason, but like it or not, the show I began watching all those years ago was really about family and to what lengths you would go to protect it.  The Grimes may infuriate, frustrate, and perplex, but if you were faced with such a unthinkable catastrophe, would you react differently?  For now, Rick, Carl (where’s Judith?!!!), and Michonne have only each other left and for now, we, the audience, must deal with it.1

  1. At least until next week when we see what happened to Daryl’s crew, Glenn, and Maggie. 


When I see a movie in theaters, I will write the five things you need to know about it.

5 Things You Need to Know About… 


1. World War Z is a scintillating and exhilarating professional summer movie experience.  In what appears to be an entire world infected by a nasty zombie bite, Brad Pitt’s character of Gerry Lane declares that “movement is life” and Marc Forster delivers a picture that embodies such a credo.  World War Z is paced like an Olympic relay race with Brad Pitt as the baton passed from country to country on a hunt for potential crumbs of an outbreak containment solution.  Moments to take a breath or to reflect on the magnitude of what has transpired are fleeting and infrequent – any stall could mean death in the world of the play or in the momentum of the movie – but through the lens of the delicate, but strong performance from Pitt, we are able to tune out the wild screams of the pursuant undead and focus on the task at hand.

2. Speaking of Brad Pitt, the power of his obvious visual charisma has never been questioned, but some of his past performances haven’t exactly jumped out of the screen.  Here, he wears his middle age with a wisdom and stature that perhaps he is finally earned. Screenwriters are smart to not cloud his character with too muddy a backstory (there is no clichéd drinking problem or past infidelity). We are given permission to see him affectionately as simply a dad trying to finish a job so he can get back to his family.  He is honorable, courageous, and real.  In a movie centered on the pace and movement of the plot, the stillness and contemplative experience we have with Pitt’s Gerry throughout is what takes World War Z to that next level.

3. In a Zombie nation comparison, World War Z encompasses everything that was successful about the Frank Darabont-led first season of The Walking Dead while avoiding all of the pitfalls and horrible characters that have poisoned the waters of subsequent seasons of the AMC mega-hit.  In World War Z, we do not want moms to die because they are too annoying (Mireille Enos unexpectedly delivers as Brad Pitt’s wife – for anyone who has spent any time in the rain-addled depression pit that is her performance on The Killing – this is a major surprise).  In World War Z, child characters are endearing and sometimes even useful.  In World War Z, we appreciate that it seems like there are people out there who are trying to take meaningful action against the world zombification. In World War Z, there is no governor and there are no governor and Rick standoffs (praise!).  Pitt and other Z characters get that “movement is life” and would never consider hiding out in a prison or a farm for months at a time.  Finally, and perhaps most importantly, World War Z feels like the actual world we are living in in the way people talk, communicate, and feel.  It is a credible vision of the “what if” of such an outbreak and the audience is subsequently riveted from the opening credits.

4. There is an important uncredited performance in the movie (even “uncredited” in the way the camera and actor try not to focus on each other), but, as fan of the actor and the iconic role he recently played, his appearance provides some solace in a most chaotic of worlds, especially when a plane crashes into the climax of the movie.  (If you want to find out about what actually happened with it, read here.  Despite a substantially reduced role, I appreciated his presence.)

5. World War Z is a riveting ride of a summer movie whose production troubles (rewrites, financing) yielded a most satisfying final product.  Cradling the storytelling genre of the moment with a potency and execution yet to be achieved anywhere else on screen or on television, this Brad Pitt star vehicle is very much worth the price of admission.



This week’s aptly titled episode of The Following is oftentimes exactly what I wish this serialized television convention of viewer discretion would let me do.  When I committed to writing weekly “recaps” (it may be a leap at this point to even call them that) back in January, I was optimistic that this journey would deliver me engrossing entertainment and a quality drama series on network television.  Seven weeks in, The Following is a bit of a chore, a necessary evil that I have committed to (at least for season 1, more on that in a bit), and a mixed bag of potential success and writing room narrative drivel.  At its best, The Following is a 2013 lesser-version of an average episode of 24 that through sharp pacing, main character grumbling angst, some computer literate savvy assistance (Mike Weston fills in as a less ironic and more personable Chloe), and “where is this all leading” intrigue provides a fairly watchable program.  At its worst, The Following is a challenging experience, soaked in horrific dialogue, the silliest of character relationships, unmotivated and off-putting gratuitous displays of violence, and a premise that when put under the plausibility diagnostic test fails every time.

Most weeks in which pages of the script had the setting as “the farmhouse” and dialogue from characters like “Jacob” or “Paul” or “Emma” were of this latter, worst case iteration of The Following.  This week’s “Let Me Go” episode was thankfully devoid of Jacob and Paul (at least Joey was concerned about their well-being, Emma/Denise was unfortunately still around for the festivities) and was at least moving the narrative forward in some game changing kind of ways, albeit mostly through the implausible lens that has been the filter we have come to expect and dread.  Yesterday, Fox announced that The Following had been renewed for a second season (New Girl, Raising Hope, and the “you are not doing anything better on Tuesday night at 9:30 so please join in on the fun” The Mindy Project also were picked up) and after careful consideration, I see this as potentially good news.  My hope is that now the writing team led by Kevin Williamson will be able to consider the show more as a Joe Carroll long con and less a series of irritating new follower outbreaks.  It has the airtime to go somewhere, so let’s see where it can take us.

In brief summary of the key plot developments of “Let Me Go” with the farmhouse in our collective (sigh of relief) rear view mirrors, Emma/Denise brings Joey to an auto mechanic, pseudo-follower named Bo who seems to be angry about a lot of things.  On a trip to the little boy’s room, Joey discovers Dana, a young woman locked up in a cage.  Meanwhile in FBI land, through some Olivia Warren attorney dialogue to the warden about torts and 8th Amendment rights (clearly, real lawyers were not consulted on authenticity), Joe Carroll is granted a transfer to a prison in Georgia because he was mistreated by Ryan Hardy and the FBI.  (Quick tangent that I wish The Following went on: wouldn’t it have been great if the prison transfer was curtailed when Joe Carroll’s U.S. Marshall bus ended up somewhere outside of Woodbury in the fictional world of The Walking Dead? Joe Carroll, please meet the Governor!  Or better yet, I would love to see Denise/Emma have a showdown with a field of walkers!  Kevin Williamson, make this happen).  Through some careful detective tactics known as “common sense,” Hardy and sidekick Mike Weston (becoming a more integral and appreciated member of the good guy team) figure out that the warden has been coerced into the Carroll transfer because it turns out that the caged woman in Bo’s shop is actually his daughter (ooh, I didn’t see that one coming).  Naturally, the prison transfer is a rouse, Joe Carroll escapes in the trunk of Olivia Warren’s car, he then strangles her and puts on a suit (in the opposite order), and arrives at a building showcasing a sterile cafeteria environment for professionals.  Ryan Hardy is just one step behind and after a dogged, guns ablaze in a public building pursuit, has a little confrontation with free man Joe Carroll on the stairwell leading up to the roof.  This leads to this speech from Joe: “We have only just concluded the first part of our novel, yes, Ryan.  For nine, long years I have sat in my prison cell outlining this entire story in my mind.  I meticulously planned all of it, with a little help from my friends.  That’s a Beatles reference, by the way…There is so much more to come, Ryan.  I’ll be in touch.”  Carroll leaves Ryan with his lackey, Ryan shoots the lackey in the leg, and hustles to the roof, but it is too late: Carroll is airborne in his getaway helicopter (Hardy decides to shoot bullets at it anyway).  In the episode’s denouement, the FBI team finds Dana alive but Joey’s abduction party has escaped.  As she goes into protective (not even Hardy will no where) custody, Claire Matthews is particularly displeased with the FBI performance in finding her son.  Ryan may have to start bringing out more of his inner Jack Bauer (i.e. stretching the rules even more).  In the final scene that seems to set in motion the second part of the Joe Carroll novel, the Carroll rescue party (welcome to the team, knife-wielding Louise) arrives at a late night gathering at some secluded fraternity-like house where he is met by Denise/Emma, Charlie, a band of new follower extras, and Joey, who was hoping to see Mom, but Dad will have to suffice.

In the true spirit of optimism, now that The Following has a second season mandate, I am hopeful that it will be able to carve out a more engaging narrative strand.  Despite my general difficulties with the premise (especially that Joe Carroll could be considered this awe-inspiring figure), I am game for the developments in “Let Me Go” and could not be happier that we are out of the farmhouse.  At the very least, The Following is a place where (“really?!!,” as in ” Really with Seth Myers”) Beatles references occur in the middle of important speeches, so there’s always that.

David J. Bloom can be reached on twitter @davidbloom7 and writes about pop culture and the NBA for Bishop and Company.