Let’s Do This…

AMC released the full-length trailer for The Walking Dead season 4 at Comic-Con and whatever you may think of the show as a whole, there’s no denying the awesomeness of their trailers.

Sounds like they may be channeling 28 Days Later with that radio broadcast, which might actually serve the show well.  I have long considered 28 Days Later to be the best zombie flick ever made.  (Some argue that it isn’t a true zombie flick because the zombies became zombies by infection rather than reanimation after death.  Whatever.  Splitting hairs as far as I’m concerned.)

Plus, it appears that Daryl gets loads of screen time and anyone who watches knows that more Daryl = happiness. :)

~N.

Break My Heart And Bare My Soul

Breaking Bad -posterI watched the first two seasons of Breaking Bad more than a year ago on Netflix and became instantly hooked.  Nevertheless, after finishing the second season, I had to walk away from it.  Not forever.  And certainly not because of any defect with the series itself.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  I needed a break from it because of its commitment to realism, which is far superior to any television show or film I’ve ever seen that deals with addiction.  There isn’t the slightest bit of romanticism or glamor.  It is pure, stark addiction in all its ugly glory.  And because of that, it actually got so painful to watch that I had to step back and breathe for a bit.  Thankfully, I’ve never battled addiction (other than a few years spent nursing a nicotine addiction which I’ve long since given up and a current love affair with dependence on caffeine which I believe to be relatively harmless) but I have been close to a few who have and listen, if you know nothing of it, count yourself lucky because it is one of the most grotesque, heartbreaking and utterly useless experiences to have ever plagued humanity.  I’m speaking specifically of drug and/or alcohol addiction which is particularly abundant in Breaking Bad (season 2 especially).  Hence, my year-long respite.  Finally, a couple of weeks ago I returned to the phenomenal series, ready to brave whatever cold truth it had to throw at me.  And folks, let me tell you, it is so worth it.

I am now nearly all caught up.  I have but one more episode to watch before the final eight episodes air this summer and all I can say is that this show is one of the smartest, well-planned and superbly executed shows ever created.  EVER.  No exaggeration; it is nothing short of extraordinary.  The growth and changes (some evolve, some devolve) in every character are stunning and even though some major major major shit happens – I’m talking insanely tense, gripping shit – the show’s pace is expertly managed.  It doesn’t rush anything.  Not in the smallest, slightest way.  Which adds to its realism because it feels like the pace of life.  There are these moments that are kind of slow and calm and at first you think, why are they dwelling on this?  And then you realize – it’s because this is just like life.  Those quiet moments in your life during which you actually get to pause and think about your own problems, recent events, the world around you or even just take stock.  They never last too long and that’s probably a good thing but they do crop up now and again and the writers of Breaking Bad not only perfectly depict them but they carefully weave them throughout to lull you the way those moments do – those brief periods in your life that very slowly enfold and evolve, making you forget just how quickly time is passing and how much of the world is changing and then all of a sudden you’re waist-deep in it and everything’s happening so fast, you barely even understand and suddenly it’s over and you remember to breathe – that is exactly how this show is!  Never have I seen such an eloquently paced series.  The balance they have struck makes Breaking Bad feel more real than anything else on TV, certainly now, maybe ever.

Not that its pace is the only thing that makes it so utterly real.  The characters themselves could be anyone – you, me, your neighbor, your sister, Breaking Badyour brother-in-law, that guy you chat with in the break room every morning.  Watching them as individuals and their relationships to each other progress, change and evolve (or sometimes collapse) over the course of five seasons feels wholly natural, as honest and organic as the memories of your own personal relationships.  The outstanding acting by the entire cast, and the two leads in particular, give their characters a depth that’s far from standard.  Bryan Cranston deserves ALL THE AWARDS.  He and Aaron Paul will blow your mind and break your heart again and again and again.  And again.

Breaking Bad is a dark and heavy series and surely not for everyone.  Nor is it the kind of show you can put on and watch in marathon fashion.  It’s too intense for that.  I can stand only two episodes back to back before I need a break but that speaks more to its merit than anything else.  Because just as if it were real life, the shit they get into will wear you down.  You’ll find your heart racing, your palms sweating, your breath staggering and your chest aching as you watch and more than once, you’ll thank the universe that this isn’t your life.  Simultaneously, you’ll thank it for giving you this show.

~Nikki

Made To Suffer

All right.  Here it is: I like The Walking Dead.  Really, I do.  But every episode is a bit of a struggle for me.  For every five awesome things about it, there is at least one bad thing.  Like, one seriously bad thing.  And lately, the best and worst things all have to do with Michonne.

First, the good things: the feeling of unity in this episode is stronger than it has ever been.  The group pulling together to rescue Glenn and Maggie and Rick’s sturdy leadership throughoDaryl and Merleut the entire intense, dangerous and desperate mission is outstanding.  They really aren’t just a group of random people bound together for a better chance at survival anymore.  They’ve become a family.  And they will risk it all the save a member.  This is the most solid they’ve been as one unified group and I’ve never loved them more.  Further testament to that was Daryl’s choice to stay and fight with them over seeking out his biological brother, Merle.  In all honesty, I kind of like Merle.  Not his actual character so much as the level of conflict he brings to the show.  He’s a damned good antagonist.  And since Shane died, the show needed another antagonist.  I don’t know how Daryl got caught nor do I have any idea how he’ll liberate himself, but it sure would be interesting if he and Merle both escaped and rejoined the group together.  (Note: Daryl had better escape.  While killing him off would be one ballsy move, my heart just couldn’t take it.)

Back at the prison, the addition of Tyrese and his crew adds some excitement to the mix and allows Carl yet another opportunity to behave like the disillusioned, adept, overly mature man-child he’s become.  All remnants of innocence and childhood are gone from Carl; he’s a seasoned, even burdened, veteran of the zombie apocalypse and he does what he has to with a cold kind of sadness that breaks my jaded heart every f**king time.

And finally, Michonne.  Danai Gurira is a complete and total badass and her fight with The Governor was almost too much to take.  Never before have we seen such a cut-throat, balls out, bloodthirsty battle between two people on The Walking Dead.  These two weren’t just defending themselves.  They weren’t trying to subdue or capture one another.  There was no mercy, no hesitation, no semblance of The Governora conscious in either of them.  This was two people trying their absolute hardest to kill each other.  Period.  The fact that she sat in his office and waited, oh so patiently, for him to return shows a cold, calculated determination within her.  Michonne is more than capable of taking care of herself and of killing anyone and everyone who gets in her way – The Governor included.  But not yet.

Which brings me to the things about this episode that did not work.  First of all, you know she had to have put together that this group of people is most likely the very same group to which Andrea used to belong.  Michonne knew that Merle and Andrea knew each other and then when she saw Merle kidnap Glenn and Maggie, she overheard Merle and Glenn reference their shared past.  A woman as sharp as Michonne would not have neglected to put that together.  Yet, at no point did she ask Rick or any of the others if they knew Andrea.  Are we supposed to believe that it simply never came up?  This is lazy writing, pure and simple.  Along the same lines, after Andrea stops Michonne from killing The Governor, not a word is spoken between them.  Seriously?  Why didn’t she say something?  Anything?  “He tried to kill me.”  “He kidnapped Glenn and Maggie and planned to kill them.”  “I found your friends.”  “He had his f**king zombie daughter locked up in a cubby hole.”  Nope.  Instead, they stare at each other for a few long, pregnant moments and then Michonne leaves, allowing another opportunity to close a rather large communication gap to pass idly by.  I just don’t buy it.  I know she isn’t a talker.  I know she’s dark and cryptic and I love her for it.  But this level of silence borders on absurd.  At least, without explanation, it does.  It’s simply bad writing.  And in a show where we’ve some of the best writing currently on television, there’s just no excuse for it.

Also bugging me these days is Andrea’s complete 180 from last season.  At the close of season 2, she was this whip-smart, strong, independent woman who’d taught herself how to use a gun and practiced until her shot could rival that of any of the men around her.  These days, she’s a lovesick girl who does as she’s told.  Did the severed zombie heads in fish tanks send up any red flags?  It seemed so for a minute, but then she stayed with him.  What about seeiThe Walking Deadng Daryl alive again and captured by her new boyfriend – did that feel wrong to her at all?  If so, she chose to stand by in terror, mouth agape but motionless.  Because that’s always better than taking action.  Who is this broad?  Where is the Andrea we got to know during the past two seasons?  My plea to the writers/producers of the show is to return Andrea to the willful soldier she used to be.

The Walking Dead returns Sunday, February 10, 2013.  You know where I’ll be.

~Nikki

I Got, Got, Got, Got No Time

Intertitle from the HBO television program Boa...

Intertitle from the HBO television program Boardwalk Empire (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve discussed before my issue of being overwhelmed by the barrage of media I try to consume, and I’m sad to report, not only has it gotten worse, but I’ve got a new “list” of sorts. The list of shows I wish I watched. I’ve somehow descended into the seventh circle of OCD hell where I now have a list of insignificant things I know I’ll never do, only want to. Medicate me, please.

  1. The Killing (AMC) – AMC is the home of two of my favorite shows, Mad Men and The Walking Dead, and while I heard through the pop culture grapevine that people were outraged over the season 1 finale, I still feel a curiosity about this show. I always get to see the first minute or two after Mad Men, and I’m always sucked right into the atmosphere. Hmmmpppff.
  2. Community (NBC) – I tried, I really did. About halfway through season 1, I abandoned this show, because it just wasn’t hitting my funny bone. Three seasons in, many people I know love the hell out of the adventures of the Greendale students. Every time I see a commercial for one of their insane themed episodes, I feel as if I’ve missed the boat. :( I guess it took longer to hit its stride than most, and shame on me for not giving it a chance. It’s not as if I’m not aware of this phenomenon. Sigh.
  3. Once Upon A Time (ABC) – Many people whose entertainment opinions I value have begged me to watch this fairy tale hour-long drama, and while it doesn’t look like much to me from the advertisements I’ve seen, I admit I’m intrigued. I don’t really care for either Ginnifer Goodwin or Jennifer Morrison, and I used to mix them up constantly. But supposedly there’s swoony romance and several interesting characters, which are key ingredients to television addiction.
  4.  Castle (ABC) – Nathan Fillion is probably one of the most awesome human beings alive, and if not for my mother constantly begging me to watch this, it seriously wouldn’t even be on my radar. From what I’ve gathered, this is one of those shows where the leads have such magnetic, playful chemistry that you can’t help but fall for them. I love that feeling, but the DVR is going to explode. :(
  5. Sons of Anarchy (F/X) – My co-blogger adores this show with every cell in her body, and as I trust her implicitly, I absolutely want to add this to my repertoire. Problem is, I started season 1 on Netflix, got to episode 5, stalled out due to life business, and never got back around to it. This is the kiss of death for me in getting any task done, as now I pretty much forget what I watched, and feel the need to re-watch the first five episodes. This pushes the show even further out on the proverbial back burner, as it feels more time-consuming to my brain to RE-WATCH. Ugh, my idiosyncrasies are destroying me.

    Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club

    Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  6. Bethenny Ever After (Bravo) – I can’t help but enjoy almost every Bravo reality show I’ve ever watched, even for just a few minutes (oh god, several Real Housewives franchises, Top Chef, Interior Therapy with Jeff Lewis, Watch What Happens Live, Million Dollar Listing, the list honestly just goes on and on…), but every time I catch a snippet of Bethenny Frankel, she CRACKS ME UP. I want to hang out with her so bad!! (She can bring her adorably hot hubby as well)
  7. Boardwalk Empire (HBO) – Again, I tried. After episode 3, I missed a few weeks and the backlog was so daunting, as this is not a light show or one that you can watch with any sort of distractions around you, that I put it off. This only made matters worse and created an inversely proportional cycle of doom – the more episodes that piled up in that folder, the more the energy reserves I had stored up to watch dissipated. One day I hit delete and felt a huge weight lift off of my shoulders. I think Steve Buscemi is the man, and I’m also a fan of Kelly Macdonald, but at this point, I have no idea how to muster up the strength to start at the beginning (which, I can any time I want, as HBOGO is amazeballs).

Not sure what I need more: To cancel my DirecTV subscription and be unburdened like a monk, or quit my job and curl up on the couch in a fetal hermit ball and attempt to watch all of the things, for all of eternity.

~Annie

Shaken, Not Stirred

Mad Men

Mad Men (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The past couple of weeks have seen the season premieres of two beloved, critically acclaimed television shows:  Mad Men and Game of Thrones.  I love the shit out of both, and had been looking forward to their new seasons, pretty much since the credits rolled on the previous ones.  They are truly two of the most well-done, high-quality, layered, intelligent, straight-up amazeballs shows on television today.  If you’re not watching them, I question your devotion to both pop culture and things that are wonderful.

Here are my thoughts on the two episodes of Mad Men we’ve seen so far. :)

Mad Men returned after a 17-month hiatus, and upon seeing that familiar silhouette falling through the air, it hit me just how much I had missed this show – especially since I felt it only got stronger with each passing season.  The premiere picks up a few years after the season 4 finale, and the boys are all settled into their roles at SCDP, which is convenient because it sort of seems like the old days.  I mean, they’re in the same building.  Obviously, everything else is different, but at least the environment is stable.

Don and Megan are still married, sort-of happily.  She definitely understands and wants to please Don, but he is full of so much self-loathing, I question whether he’s ever capable of a truly happy and healthy relationship.  She throws him a surprise birthday party that was kind of hilarious, but also awesome, as you get to see all the hippies mixing with the suits.  Megan is a hippy.  A classy, French-Canadian one, but still a definite free-spirit.  Their fight afterwards felt real – the kind of thing that spirals out of control, for seemingly small nothings that are really covering up the deeper somethings.  And oh there are so many deeper somethings on this show.  THE LAYERS!  (And, oh the glorious hate-fuck on the living room floor.  DAMN, amc!  That’s one of the hottest things I’ve seen in a good long while)  It’s only upon reading other recaps and then actually analyzing these episodes in my brain that it hits me how intelligent this show is and what great depths it encompasses .

Christmas Comes But Once a Year (Mad Men)

One thing I so respect are the small scenes displaying actions and plot points that might end up going nowhere – they exist merely to gain further insight into each character.  Example:  Poor old Layne (I’ll never get the image of his father beating him as a damn fully grown man out of my mind), finding that lost wallet in the back of a cab and keeping the picture of the woman that was nestled in with the cash he returned in full.  Why is he keeping this?  Will he meet her?  He did talk to her on the phone…althought that might not have been her, who the hell knows?  We might find out, we might not.  What we do know is the act shows an aspect of Layne’s psyche at this point in the story.  He’s lonely, henpecked, trying to keep things together for his mates at work and his obviously miserable wife.  Was keeping the picture just an act of yearning for an escape?  The fact that I just wrote a paragraph about a dude keeping a tiny Polaroid of someone he’s never met is why this show is amazing.

Pete and his wife are adjusting to being parents and it’s sort of reminding me of Don and Betty, if Betty wasn’t evil.

Speaking of the heinous skanky cold-hearted shrew, to deal with January Jones’ pregnancy, a “fat” storyline has been written in, a tumor on some gland, probably her thyroid.  I’ve read some online animosity towards this story, some think it’s a lazy way to deal with her condition, but I actually really like this occurrence.  Again, with the character development.  In the terrifying days when she’s waiting to hear if it’s benign, we see her freak out internally about leaving behind her family, contemplating her mortality, etc.  Oh, and also, calling Don before anybody else was a nice touch, as we see how deeply ingrained they still are in each other’s lives.  I mean, I really, REALLY hate Betty, but I was glad she’s gonna be okay.  The show would probably be a lot less fun without her.

Joan’s trying to raise Roger’s baby – I loved watching him get to hold the little guy.  Also love watching him begin to hate his new(er) wife, Jane.

Peggy’s still rocking it as a single gal, trying to move upward in the company.  I love her.  What an idol, what a complicated character!!  I always wonder what the hell her kid is up to.  And whatever happened to Colin Hanks’ priest?!?!

The fashion, the sets, it’s all so real and clearly, the amount of effort put into this show to make it appear all so effortless, has got to be painstaking and astronomical.  Looking at just the difference of how each woman dresses, given her age/station in life (which was pointed out to me by Tom and Lorenzo’s AWESOMEEEE recaps), is something I NEVER EVEN NOTICED, and now that I’ve seen it, I can’t look away.

If you have ever considered watching – you absolutely MUST start at season 1.  People always say shit like that but if you don’t, that character development I have mentioned over and over will be lost on you and you’re going to miss out on probably 60% of what a scene is trying to convey to you, if you don’t understand the pasts of these beloved, flawed, realistic people.
Seriously, this show wins awards for a reason.
~Annie

Everyone I Know, Goes Away In The End

OOHH, I am soooooooo happy The Walking Dead has returned!  Two episodes in, I think this season is living up to last – advancing the storyline and taking the characters to new places, which is what I had hoped for.  This is coming from a person who knows nothing about the comic (graphic novel?) on which this is based, other than the fact that it exists.

I am interested to find out more about this family/group who lives in the farmhouse, how they’ve managed to stay safe, and apparently have supplies, like orange juice.  It made me feel hopeful, that there are some places on the planet where you can be clean and have antibiotics if you need them.  I loved the scene where the vet was explaining why surgery is so difficult in a house; how you need the respirator to be put out but if you’re not put out and are writhing around, the operation is impossible.  We take so much for granted, don’t we?!

I think the cast is doing an awesome job.  Some random message boards I frequent like to hate on the show (most of these angry watchers are devotees of the comic), saying it has strayed too far from the source or the writing is cheesy.  I don’t know if my standards are shot, but I don’t find the show cheesy really at all.  It’s not perfect, but it sure as hell brings the thrills/scares every week (this show scares the shit out of me regularly, whereas the new American Horror Story  – advertised as “terrifying” – really kind of doesn’t).  The scene in episode 1 where everybody is laying underneath the cars as the zombie herd passes by had me on the edge of my seat, holding my breath right along with ‘em.  The end of episode 2, with Otis and Shane trapped in that entryway as the zombies are right up in their face, was insanity.

I love Norman Reedus and Sheriff Rick.  I’m really interested to see if Carl lives or dies.  I want to know if they’ll find Sophia.  I want to know if Andrea will gather up the balls to just kill herself already.  And I want the group to  find other survivors, and see if somewhere, somebody is coming up with a cure.  As Hershel says, “Mankind’s been fightin’ plagues since the beginning.”

I think this show roxxx and season 1 is on Netflix instant watch, and is only 6 episodes, (roughly 4.5 hrs of your life) so if you aren’t watching it, quit being stupid!  Or zombies will come eat your face off!! ;)

~Annie

I Can’t Wait (Halloween Series, Part 1)

In honor of the upcoming (and my most beloved) holiday, I thought I’d share with you, my lovelies, the new flicks and television shows that have me writhing in anticipation.  Of course, I will be at the theater or in front of my TV, ready and waiting for the premieres of every one of these spooky thrillers, but if I had to choose, I think I’m most anxious for American Horror Story.  It looks deliciously weird and creepy and unlike anything else on television right now.  Which of these (or any others) are you excited to see?

This seems to be the year of remakes, which usually leads to disappointment, but sometimes can be surprising.  Though no one could replace the eternally adorable Kurt Russell, Ramona Flowers -whoops, I mean Mary Elizabeth Winstead- just might bring something fresh to this flick, which looks like it might be as bad-ass as the 1982 gem.

What can I say?  I’m a sucker for haunted houses.

Even more of a sucker for zombies…

It looks like Micah Sloat isn’t in this prequel and I, for one, am grateful.  Listening to Katie whine “Micah!  Micah!” was enough to make me root for the malicious spirits.

Oh, man – I CANNOT WAIT!!!

~N.