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