I Demand A Recount!

How The Governor is Bringing The Walking Dead Back to Life

“Live Bait” is by far one of the best episodes in The Walking Dead’s history. Many fans complain because the episode does not contain a Rick/Daryl prison plot. But this episode returns to what made The Walking Dead so good when it began: it focused on drama and character development.

The Walking Dead has had tumultuous existence going through three show runners in four seasons. Sadly none of the following seasons have lived up the status quo set up from Season 1. Season 2 had pace issues. For as slow as the first half of the season was, the second half was just as fast and there was never a middle ground. Season 3 flipped flopped between stories and alienated many members of the cast from each other. As the viewer watches with omnipresence, not all the character knew what was going on. Season 4 attempts to go back to the character development of Season 1, but the writing has been subpar. Season 1 was the best because it focused on the drive and emotions on the people in it. It focused less on the zombies and more n how the zombie apocalypse changed them and those around them.

Season 4 finally found the right path with “Live Bait.” The episode centers on The Governor after his disappearance in Season 3. The plot follows him as he reacts to his own deeds. You’d think The Governor would be laughing and boasting. Instead, he’s a shell; he’s not the man he once was. We see him interact with someone new showing that he could care about people showing a more timid and meek governor that even before he became a villain deranged by grief. The juiciest part? The excitement of finding out if he will succumb to his evil side or if he can truly change?

In fact, it’s very the same kind of tale found in the pilot episode. Lone, bearded man meets a stranger and becomes emotional close to them. He moves on without them, killing poor suffering zombies on his way. Like Rick, this substitute family gives The Governor (now known as Brian) hope.  But unlike Rick, the family sees hope is in this broken man and follows him. The viewers feel that hope as well and ponder if the man can change. The episodes end the same as the pilot with the man facing certain death. Viewers eagerly await what happens next. What worked for Rick clearly works again for The Governor.

More attention to character development and less focus on zombie carnage (don’t worry there is some good, gross stuff) makes “Live Bait” one of the strongest episode by far. The Governor’s arc is setting this Season up as something that creator Frank Darabont would appreciate.

return-of-the-governor

Pretty Much Dead Already

I always have a lot to say about entertainment. I created this blog as an avenue to post reviews and few other fun tidbits. But I have some essays in mind that don’t really fit  the blog. I have set up a Blirt page for these essays (including my defense of Sons of Anarchy post). I’m not sure how I like Blirt but I am going to try it out. You never know, they may just end up living on this blog. So here’s my latest essay to ease you in. Now got to my Blirt page! LoL

Is The Walking Dead ready for its own spin off?

The Walking Dead is highly popular, besting ratings for a basic cable drama. TWD spans the age and gender gap brining in 12.4 million viewers for its Season 3 finale. The source material comes from a long running comic series by Robert Kirkman. Keeping some creative control, Kirkman has helped the show thrive. Now AMC wants to capture that same spirit again and create a spin off about a separate group of survivors with no link to the comic books.

As a fan of both the show and the comic, I think this is premature. Season 1 was a perfect example of using dramatic story telling themes and dressing them up with horror elements. While people complained Season 2 was slow, it stuck with the character developments and the theme that people are the most dangerous aspect of the apocalypse (a big theme from the comics). But Season 3 veers from this quite a bit. Adding more zombies and blood shed may have added more ratings, but it made the characters and story take the back burner thus decreasing the quality of the show. The other major issue with Season 3? The stories of the different groups became more and more segregated separating the prison from Woodbury and breaking up the character development flow and ease of storytelling.

Robert Kirkman
Robert Kirkman (Photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Besides, TWD has been rife with controversy and issues in its three seasons. Season 4 brings yet another shower runner, Scott Gimple whose past credits include being a staff writer. Frank Darabount was fired in the midst of Season 2 and Glenn Mazara took his place for the rest of the season as well as the next. The high rate of show runner turnover is bothersome and indicates that there is incredible tension between AMC and the cast and crew. Season 2 was haunted by rumors that actors wanted out of their contracts because of AMC’s actions. What will happen when current producers Robert Kirkman, Gale Anne Hurd and David Alpert take time to develop this new show? Will the staff be able to maintain a balance that does not injure either show?

Successful spin off have occurred while the current show is still on air. Buffy the Vampire Slayers did not suffer as Joss Wheadon and crew spent time on Angel. Both shows stayed true to the themes and thought provoking look at life Buffy viewers became accustomed to. While Buffy came of age at college, Angel headed down a darker path to redemption. This spin off allowed several of the Buffyverse characters to really expand and become utilized.  Wheadon worked with a trusted team and made the spin off a natural story line expansion for the world he set.

One the flip side, spin offs can go array and cause harm to the original show. One of the most current and notorious examples? Criminal Minds. CBS decided it was time to take Criminal Minds in the same direction of CSI and NCIS, creating another show focusing on another crew of profilers. In setting up the new show, the production company began looking at nonresistant issues and cost cutting efforts for the original show. They essentially fired the two female leads, and replaced them with a different, less costly actress.  Meanwhile, the amazing Kirsten Vangsness was playing double time, appearing in both shows. The story lines faltered as the writers tried to find reasonable ways to remove the current cast members and add the new girl in. These story lines were not in cannon (Seaver questioned Reid and played videogames with Rossi) and the crew purposely styled the new girl’s hair and clothing like that of one of the fired actresses. Fans revolted sending irate letters and refusing to tune in to the spin off. By Season 6’s end, the new girl was fire and the previously released women were brought back-with better pay. And the spin off died.

While The Walking Dead spin off could go either way, I believe the endeavor will take its toll on the original show. The show already suffers from mismanagement, and separating Kirkman, Hurt and Alpert, even for the short time, will quite possibly kill it. While I can’t even speculate on the quality of the spin off, I know it’s a screwdriver to the eye for TWD.

400 Days Later

The Walking Dead: 400 Days

Platforms: PSN, PC, XBLA, iOS

Rated: M

The latest installment of Tell tale Games The Walking Dead acts as a bridge between Season 1 and Season 2. 400 Days connects past actions to the upcoming season. 400 days refers to time at which each story takes places. The stories culminate on Day 400 with Tavia.

The short download is six missives introducing six characters that will really shape the future of the next Season.  Playable in any order,  players get a look at how each character responds to the zombie crisis.  Players follow Bonnie and her two friends as they race through a corn field.  Vince is stuck on a prison bus when the outbreak strikes, while Wyatt is being chased by a psycho path while Russell comes across the same guy while hitchhiking.  The fifth story is of Shel and her younger sister and their road to safety.

The stories are brilliant delving  into the human psyche and how one  reacts to the impending apocalypse. More so than previous installments, your actions truly change the plot. For example, I had two people go with Tavia while my brother just had one. In Season 1, the changes were minimal never truly changing the plot.

The story does succeed at making some connections between the new group of survivors and Lee’s gang.  This is small though. Some of the actions take place at the same mile stones and players finally learn what happened to Vernon and the cancer survivors.

Fun and original, 400 Days leads the way into what is sure to be an amazing new season.

Want to play in chronological order?

The_Walking_Dead__400_Days_13726290899184

Follow this sequence:

Vince

Wyatt

Russell

Bonnie

Shel

Snitch is a Surprisingly Good Film

I am not a fan of The Rock, and I am not a fan of Dwayne Johnson. I can never take him seriously as an actor. But I am a huge fan of The Walking Dead’s Jon Bernthal and have always been impressed by his performances. Bernthal is what got me to sit down and what Snitch. I was glad I did.

Snitch is the story of a father who must do something unthinkable to save his son from prison. His son was on the receiving end of a drug deal gone badly. Because he had no one to tell on, the son has to go to prison for a minimum of 10 years. John (Johnson) strikes a deal with the DA; he will help them bust a local seller and they will reduce his son’s sentence.

John approaches one of his construction workers who have a history of selling narcotics. But Daniel (Bernthal) is trying to keep his nose clean and stay out of the business. When John offers him a large chunk of change for an introduction, Daniel reluctantly agrees. Daniel unfortunately is sucked into John’s transactions and has no idea that John is working for the police. The simple drug transports gets complicated when a cartel contact becomes involved and the DA set her sights on him.

While the movie has been labeled by some as an action movie, it is more of a drama with some action thrown in. The film is character centric and really focuses on fathers’ love for their family. Both John and Daniel are struggling to take care of their sons, one whose son is in prison and the other trying to keep his son off the street. It is their character growth that really fuels the movie.

Johnson proves that he can actually act. Instead of the fake bravado from his wrestling or Fast and Furious persona, Johnson develops with the character showing toughness but also vulnerability and real emotion. He was able to carry the movie and make you care about his character.

Jon-Bernthal-SnitchWith that being said, the best performance comes from Bernthal. You feel the most for Daniel because he is pawn in this game. Bernthal captures in the inner turmoil of a man who wants the best for his family while trying to be a better person. Like any role he tackles, Bernthal becomes the character completely capturing the motivation and emotions of the role you are watching.

The movie is surprisingly deep. It brushes the surface of the controversy of the mandatory drug laws without becoming preachy. It also characterizes the overly ambitious tendency of some DAs with the war on drugs. It gives a truthful look the violence rife in the drug trade. But the main focus is the desire for fathers to take care of their sons and the plot stays centralized around this theme.

Snitch is a moving drama set within the intense world of the drug trade. Powerful performance by Dwayne Johnson and Jon Bernthal make the movie more than just some action thriller. Snitch is actually a fantastic film.

Time for a New Award Show?

Awards show is notorious for movies as “art.” It’s rare to find a film that is a good movie that wins any kind of award. TV has almost the same sordid past. Most things that are mainstream hits are ignored by the academies. The Golden Globe nominations prove this prejudice still exists.
The biggest problem with the movie nominations and this happens a lot. I have not seen or care to see but one of the movies on the list. Unfortunately Silver Linings Playbook is not playing near. The other issues are that, at the nominations, the movies had not even been released. These are mostly docudramas that screw up what really happened for entertainment value. Forget Lincoln, I’d rather watch Tommy Lee Jones in Men in Black 3. In fact, the only movies I have seen are those in the animated category (and this year they are all good competition!).
The Golden Globes are usually not completely against the grain with their television selections. In fact Katey Sagal won Best Actress in a Drama in 2011 for her work in Sons of Anarchy. But the rest of the cast and show gets snubbed. Like The Walking Dead, when it is nominated, it is for technical awards. Charlie Hunnam and Kim Coates have been snubbed just as much as Jon Bernthal was for his work on Season 2 of TWD. The two supporting actors have been ignored for any kind award for the work on their respective shows, and Hunnam can’t catch the attention of the votes even though he is a brilliant actor.
Instead we see shows like American Horror story get around the rules, by submitting as a miniseries though it is an actual TV show. Unlike the Emmy’, it only pulled one nomination in the major categories. There is also a few other odd ball nominations including Connie Britton in Nashville. Laurie Holden and Katey Sagal both kick her ass.
So I have decided to make my own awards and requirements that are the best of TV and movies as good TV and movies. Stay tuned for my take on what deserves an award.

Wizard World Highlights

Wizard World New Orleans brought together nerds from all the country at the recent convention. Featuring a Star Trek the Next Generation reunion, the comic and sci-fi haven let fans get to know some of their favorite writers, creators, artists, and actors.

 Highlights: Eliza Dushku Panel

 eliza3Eliza Dushku has been featured in every medium presented in the convention. She has starred in a variety of science fiction TV shows and movies, her TV characters’ images have graced the pages of comics, and her voices graces both cartoons and video games. At Saturday’s panel, she answered fan questions discussing her various career outlets as well as her philanthropic work.

In response to this author’s questions concerning the video game Wet, Dushku expressed great enthusiasm for the role. She very much enjoyed the video game and the game’s main character Rubi. She also revealed that she had wanted to do a movie based on the game. The biggest hurdle is obtaining the rights to the material and one is not in any kind of production.

Dushku was also on hand for autographs and photo opportunities throughout the day before she had to get back home for a biology class she is taking.

 Highlights: The Waking Dead Panel

 Jon Bernthal, Norman Reedus, and Michael Rooker answered fan question at The Walking Dead panel ontwd16 Sunday. Rooker was in fine form entertaining the crowd with humor and wit. Reedus joined the panel late after photo ops ran late missing Rooker’s hilarious impression of himself. Bernthal had to answer a lot questions “I’m dead” since his character had nothing to do with the current Season 3.

Fans were warned not to ask questions about upcoming episodes but were able to get insight on the actors and their characters. Rooker shared the story of how he got his voice. After an accident as a child, one vocal cord is paralyzed while the other is bowed. Bernthal explained that his unfortunate mustache was for an upcoming role. Reedus informed the audience that the hardest scene to shoot was the scene was he hung from the cliff while envisioning his brother. It seems scorpions were crawling by his head while Rooker ad-libed.

When the panel ran out of time, the cast suggested that the remaining questions be spit out quickly and they would give one word answers. This fast-fire session was humorous with Rooker replying off “Shut up! Next!” often and everyone got to ask their question.

Comic book fans lined up for autographs from their favorite creators, writers, and inkers. Comic Book legend Stan Lee was in attendance signing books for fans. Booths were set up to sell a variety of nerdy goods from Buffy the Vampire Slayer action figure to Doctor Who scarves. Various panels were set up including Q and as with actors, comic book artist spotlights, and psychology of superheroes. The next geek haven in New Orleans will take place in February 2013 and features an appearance by Bruce Campbell.

The Walking Dead Episode 5: No Time Left

PSN, X-Box Live, PC

Contains spoilers

In the final installment of Telltale Games The Walking Dead, Lee’s story comes to a close and Clemtine’s is open to possibilities. The game play is the same. Point, click a button. Very little timing or precision is required. The game, like the other installments, relies on the narrative to propel it forward, but that is slow going. Players start in the “hospital” looking for Clementine and her kidnapper.

Lee’s tale ends with repetition of previous Walking Dead Storylines. This coupled by the fact that your decisions don’t change the plot, make this the least satisfying episode in the series.  In the opening, Lee is affected by his zombie bite and the party wants to remove your arm to save you. What you choose does not affect the events that transpire or how long you live. Who is in your party and whose resolutions depend on past actions but you don’t change Lee’s much. In fact, TWD fans have been presented with the limb chopping idea in every facet of the series whether it is the comic book or TV show.  Once again, fans are presenting the zombie guts theory but by now the gruesomeness has worn off.

In fact, the episode is rather boring. The scares are few and far between. The resolution of Clem’s kidnapper is in left field, and their isn’t a lot of action at all. The best part is when Lee’s storms the hotel and dealing with Lee’s demise. Gamers, who have played previous installments, know how this one ends but there is a wide open facet that is unsatisfying as a conclusion. This open ending suggests what Season 2 will tackle, but that is not certain. After all the time and energy on protecting Clem, you are not rewarded with much.

Sad and poignant at moments, this installment is the slowest and weakest entry in the series. Let’s hope that Season 2 will play more like earlier episodes.

 

 

Thoughts on the New Season of The Walking Dead

This post contains two parts: the first a general review of the premier episode and contains no spoilers. The second part, after the photos, looks the episode in relation to the comic book. This CONTAINS spoilers.

Season 3 starts out with a very different group of survivors. While we know the faces, but the quite, their dedication to Rick’s word are new. The opening sequence is a silent crew taking out zombies in a house. They have to move on and not one word is spoken. It is the Rickatorship.

The changes don’t stop there. The opening title sequence is new reminding us who we’ve lost, and, who we gained. Even those familiar faces have changed some. After making it through the winter Carl looks as if he is becoming a young man, Lori is very, very pregnant, and Hershel has turned into Santa Clause.

The survivors happen upon a prison which they strive to make their home. Now the whole group is pulling their weight wilt Carl, Lori and Carol armed and ready. Meanwhile, Michonne and Andrea have survived the winter though Andrea isn’t doing so well. They are still separated from the group and not much was shown about their current location.

The episode shows Rick in his true comic form. If you thought Shane was aggressive, you ain’t seen nothing yet. On that note, Carol mentions that Shane would have never gotten this far. As a Team Shane member, I find this untrue and mean, especially coming from Carol. While the writers were trying to point out Shane’s death was the best option, coming from Carol it’s cruel because if it weren’t for Shane, she would still stuck on the road with an abusive husband.

While the violence quotient is high, some of the most interesting issues are personal relationship. Is there a budding romantic relationship between Carol and Daryl?  But moreover, what’s going on with Lori and Rick? Why won’t Rick have a conversation about the impending birth of his child? Is the Shane aspect affecting him worse than he ever let on?

Season 3 looks to keep up the zombie action fans are used to, as well as a quickened storyline. As always with TWD, it is the relationship between the survivors and their fight to keep their humanity that makes this show stand out as more than just a monster show. I look forward to seeing them making the prison their home and what becomes of fan favorite Michonne now that she is live on our TV screen.

Reflections on the Episode with the Comic Book in Mind

Contains spoilers

The latest season of The Walking Dead seems very much to mimic the comic than it has. The group has found the prison, emptying the zombies, but still taken by surprise, finding the convicts, and Rick is now the man to reckon with. Though there is a lot that can’t follow the comic (Dale is dead and it seems that Michonne and Andrea will encounter The Governor first), it seems to be a season that will be more faithful to the original material than some of the others.

Case in point: don’t get too attached the Hershel. His zombie bite and first aid puts him in the role of Alan and for those who know the comic book, also know his fate. This does take him from his original arc, but he makes me wonder if they are going to cut off somebody’s hand this season.

Things that I want to see that follows the comic: Lori dies, but I want the baby to live. Lori’s incarnation in the TV show is atrocious, week with bad parenting skills. She is not like the strong female presented in the comics.

I want Tyreese. You gave us Michonne now give me this character. Speaking of characters, I am very happy that they scaled down Hershel’s family because I won’t see two little girls slaughter. But what will this bring for a psychopathic convict?

While I am sure there are many surprises, I look forward to seeing certain themes and events transpire as I struggle to find a new favorite character.

The Walking Dead Episode 4: Around Every Corner

PSN, Xbox Live, PC

The newest episode of Tell Tale Games The Walking Dead comes with less bugs and a tuned up frightening system. In the penultimate installment, Lee and company finally make it to Savannah but find neither Clem’s parents nor a boat. Instead they find streets full of zombies, an underground group of cancer survivors and a mysterious sub-division free from zombies.

The group arrives in Savannah and the first order of business is to find a boat. But their plans are quickly waylaid by the town’s bell ringing brining in hordes of zombies. In the mad dash for shelter, they separated from Chuck, and the remaining survivors find a vacant, but fortified house. At the house they learn that animals don’t turn into zombies, and find a child zombie that really shakes Kenny up. His only concern is finding a boat and getting out. They run into another survivor named Molly (who had been ringing the bells so she could travel the town unperturbed) but get separated when geeks attack. While Lee is looking for safety he runs into Vernon, a doctor, and his cancer survivors support group. Vernon and support member Brie decided to help Lee break in Crawford so they can get medical supplies for Omen and the support group. The sub-division Crawford is zombie free but the survivors have radical ideals about surving. Children, elderly, and the sick are killed or kicked out of the compound. The group finds even more atrocities than they imagined when they break in for supplies.

The fourth installment has improved technically over the last two episodes. While some players have made complaints about saves not carrying over, I have had no issues. Some loading time are lengthy but with no disappearing Ducks or conversation cut offs, this is nothing. I was also excited to see that they made changes to the fighting system. My long complaint that you have to use the same finger to aim and shoot makes for difficult game play has been changed. For PS3 users the fire button is now R1 making the infrequent battles scenario much easier and less frustrating.

I do have one issue with the writing. When Lee finds Crawford full of zombies, an answer does seem fourth coming. But when they find a video of a pregnant woman killing the doctor forcing abortion, the group easily accepts this idea as the cause of the zombie outbreak. This issue with continuity bothers me because since this game is set before the events of the comics, how do they know that when you die you turn into a zombie and therefore an out break occurs? Are the makers assuming that viewers know this information and take for granted that the characters don’t? Or was this simply overlooked by the writers? Or do they know something we shouldn’t?

Overall Around Every Corner plays well and delivers emotional impact. As the characters brace for the final showdown, the conclusion becomes clear. Now if only the voice on the radio was just as clear.

Five Fall Favorites

Sons of Anarchy

Last Season Recap: Last season saw the MC get out of prison and back on the road. Through the course of the season, we lost Piney, Miles, and Kozik, and Clay was removed from power after Jax found out Clay killed his father. Bobby and Otto are behind bars, Opie is MIA, and the development of Charming Heights has been averted.

What to Expect This Season: Tensions are high as loyalties shift with Jax taking the presidential seat. Tara and Gemma both seek peace through mood altering sources. Paris Barclay himself said not to get attached to anyone character. Hmmm…

Season Premier Date: Sept. 11

Criminal Minds

Last Season Recap: The group was re-assembled but at the end of the season Prentiss announcing she’s leaving. JJ and Will finally tie the knot, and Hotch and Rossi have both found love.

What to Expect This Season: More couplings for the BAU team, and Jeanne Tripplehorn comes in as a linguist expert.

Season Premier Date: Sept. 26

Dexter

Last Season Recap: Dexter struggled with the idea of faith while dealing with a religious-mission-orientated serial killer. Quinn goes on bender after bender when Deb breaks up with him, Batista’s sister is dating a homicide intern, and LaGuerta is promoted. The season abruptly comes to an end when Deb caught Dexter killing the aforementioned serial killer.

What to Expect This Season: Changes in the Deb/Dexter relationship as she pieces together his hobby.  Yvonne Strahovski (Chuck, Mass Effect series) guest stars helping Miami Metro with a case.

Season Premier Date: Sept. 30

Gossip Girl

Last Season Recap: Chuck’s daddy isn’t dead! Blair married and divorces Louie! Blair and Dan crashed and burned (well duh)! Serena pulled a scam that was Blair Waldorf worthy! Jack is back and on Chuck’s side!

What to Expect This Season: In this final season, expect past faces to re-emerge including Poppy Lipton and, of course, Georgina Sparks.

Season Premier Date: Oct. 8

The Walking Dead

Last Season Recap: Sophia goes missing. Lori tries to kill her unborn baby. Sophia is a zombie. Rick shoots zombie Sophia. Lori tells Rick to kill Shane. Dale dies. Carl is the idiot that let that zombie loose. Rick kills Shane. Shane is a zombie. Carl shoots zombie Shane. The barn catches on fire. The group runs. Lori gets mad at Rick for killing Shane. The group is now under a Ricktatorship.

What to Expect This Season: More character deaths. Plus two fan favorites (Michonne and the Governor) make appearances.

Season Premier Date: Oct. 14