Monday, February 13, 2012

The Walking Dead - We're Shooting Live People Now, Folks

Woo-hoo! The Walking Dead returned last night and did not disappoint. Of course, that does not mean that it was without flaws (I'm talking to you, Lori), which we will explore. But as far as sustaining the intensity and emotional weight of mid-season episode (Pretty Much Dead Already), this episode, Nebraska, did not miss a beat and continued to move characters and plots forward. At one point, I said outloud "For a show about dead people, it's very emotional." Then I wiped a tear away, because, you know... poor Carol. And everyone.

Continuing with last week's back and forth with Guest Blogger KC, here we go again:

LCT: First impressions: whoa... literally picking up where it left off! Awesome. 

KC: Okay, so at the end of the episode I said  out loud (to my cats), "Fuck yeah, that's an episode of The Walking Dead!" Totally had the same thought as you at the beginning of the episode, whoa... picking up where they left off... and it was incredibly intense, no music, just the hum of insects, the blond woman (Herschel's stepdaughter? I have trouble keeping straight some of the supporting cast) going to her mother's body and boom! not dead!  Only to get a pick axe through the head, courtesy of Andrea.

"My little girl died a long time ago." *sob*

LCT: Poor, poor Carol. My heart breaks for her. I thought she was going to kill herself. Interesting that she didn't.

KC: Yes, poor, poor Carol - how interesting that Shane was the one to comfort her when she came back from the woods.  It was a beautiful scene and helped bring some depth back to Shane who I've found frustratingly one-note lately.

LCT: Hmmmm I think I might have had a different reaction to the Shane/Carol scene... I think it was comforting to him to get all that stuff of his chest and yes, possibly brought some humanity back to his character. But I don't think she necessarily was comforted by any of what he was doing or saying. She really is just letting him do his thing because she's so lost/grief-stricken/ out-of-her-mind. She doesn't give any indication that she is comforted... Well, I guess other than staying there. I think she's numb more than comforted. Also relating to this scene, P says "Is she like Jesus having her hands washed?" Damn. I have to think about that. My initial feeling is that the visual symbolism is more of Shane trying to wash away his deeds. This is more cathartic for him than her. But interesting point... are they going to set up Carol as some sort of leader of faith or something? She'll be the one character who doesn't give up on hope? Right now I think not. She's beyond despair.

KC: Yes, I agree that Carol wasn't actually getting any comfort from Shane during that scene (she almost seems catatonic?), but I appreciated it more for Shane trying to justify his actions and showing that he had doubts/complicated feelings about what he had done.  Love P's thought about the imagery of the scene.

LCT: Daryl.

KC: Daryl... rocks.  Does it get any better than Daryl calling Lori "Olive Oyl"?

Olive Oyl, why you so stupid?

LCT: I hate Lori so much that I was actively rooting for her to die. She's going into town BY HERSELF like an asshole? She deserves whatever is coming at her. Here's the question: better for her to just die in crash or become walker?

KC: Fucking Lori - OF COURSE she goes into town by herself because she's an idiot.  My prediction is that she does not die in the crash, does not become a walker, but does lose the baby.  I wouldn't put it past them if they did something more shocking though.

LCT: I'm pretty sure I want that walker to chomp Lori in the eyeball.

KC: The more I think about Lori driving off by herself, the more I think that it's just bad writing.  Her behavior was beyond ridiculous.  Why didn't she tell anyone?  Why put herself at risk that way?  It seems like the writers needed another dramatic event to happen rather than something the character would actually have done in that situation.  Die, Lori.

New livies spell Trouble with a capital T

LCT: Verrrrrrrry interesting about new livies (<-- what I am calling live people). I mean none of these peeps knew each other before they were thrown together. Not everyone that made up this group was a bag of roses... Carol's hubby? Also, they had gone back for douchebag on the roof (Daryl's bro) in Season 1. This was part of the whole dynamic of Season 1 - you can't really pick and choose with whom you're surviving. But now they are. Picking and choosing. Totally whole new dark awful world these days.

KC: New livies (like that nickname!) - my first reaction was, hey it's that dude who was the killer from Season 1 "True Blood".  Great scene. I thought it was fantastic how there was a growing feeling of menace as Rick starts to sense that these guys are trouble.  I was very surprised with his reaction - he's embraced this new dark awful world order.  I think what pushed him over the edge was hearing from the new livies that Fort Benning was gone.  Was it my imagination or did Herschel give Rick a look of newfound admiration after he did the deed?

LCT: Did I say there was a new Sheriff in town? Dude's even got a badass theme song by Clutch (The Regulator). Fucking shooting people, real life people. Damn. Those troublemakers were asking for it with the marking of their territory/pissing on the floor. Oh, and trying to shoot him. They got him on a really bad day.

The Regulator

KC: One thing we haven't talked about... the funeral scene.  I liked how the final shot was from above, sort of eye of God, as the characters all walked off in different directions.

LCT: This was another scene where I felt it was so emotional in its absolute absence of emotion. This show is amazing in its ability to juxtapose this battle of "are these people or monsters." I thought the shot being from above made it feel more distant/ removed from emotion.  

KC: One more thing, I laughed when the arm fell off the truck and Andrea had to go back for it.  Gallows humor.

LCT: Arm off truck... Hahaha! Here's the beauty of this show, I had to sit and think "can that arm grab her if not attached?" Let's just say I'm on edge when there's a pile of walkers around.

KC Additional Thoughts: 

- If looks could kill: you think Dale will go after Shane at some point?

- Just die, Lori, just DIE ALREADY!!

- My cats are also unhappy with Lori.

LCT Additional Thoughts:

- When new livies showed up I said out loud "Oh please tell me this isn't The Governor... I can't take it this early." Readers of GNs will understand. 

- Another thought on showdown in the bar... this whole thing is bringing to light that the bigger danger is probably NOT walkers, but other people. We know how walkers behave and how to deal with them, but people are unknowns. Danger, danger (*robot arms waving*)

- Will Daryl be Carol's reason for living now?

- Back to your observation last week about characters saying same thing over and over, this is true in spades in the bar with Herschel saying hope is gone. Over and over. And Rick saying yeah, but other peeps have hope still. Over and over. But they are supporting my awesome thesis of last week sort if, so I give it a thumbs up. ;)

Comments? Thoughts? Do you think Lori had any reason to be going into town by herself? What about Maggie and Glen? Have they found love in a hopeless place? Hit the comment section below with your thoughts!

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Walking Dead - Get Ready!

Trying something a little bit new today, folks! In anticipation of The Walking Dead returning on Sunday (yes!this!Sunday!), I have enlisted guest blogger KC to help recap Season 2 thus far and hopefully give some insightful opinions about the season, the amazing mid-season finale and where we think this zombie train is going. This first installment has minimal back and forth, but I imagine going forward there will be more. Here we go! KC kicks things off...

KC: So, LCT, I’m incredibly excited to doing a little back and forth with you over Season 2.0 of “The Walking Dead” in anticipation of the upcoming Season 2.5 (I’m pretty sure this is a continuation of Season 2, right?).  If I may be so bold to get inside your head, I think you’re approaching it from a different point of view than I.  You’re generally happy with the direction of this season has been going in?  While I’ve been a little bit less happy.  Also, you’ve read at least some of the graphic novels and know when the show deviates, while I do not.  I have some strong feelings about this season so far, so lets get this discussion rolling!

LCT: Yeah Yeah Yeah! This will be great, KC! Just to clarify, I was not completely happy with some stuff happening in Season 2.0, but probably less unhappy than you. My gripes were about dumb things like how all of a sudden laying under a car saves you from the undead. I mean, where's the gut necklaces? And just why is Glen in that stupid well? However, as far as pace goes, now having some time to reflect, I can understand a bit more the “why” of certain decisions to slow things down. Also to clarify, I have read most of the graphic novels… truth be told I came to a part where I had to put it down and never went back. Readers of the GNs will probably know what I am talking about. But certainly I have read up through and beyond what we have seen this season, and I imagine well after next season.

I call bullshit

KC: One of the problems I’ve had with Season 2 is that it’s noticeably less action packed than Season 1.  Now, I don’t have a problem with shows slowing down to have more character moments, but in this case, I think it’s revealed how one-dimensional most of them are.  Characters like Shane or Andrea who seemed to have hidden depths have morphed into, respectively, a mustache twirling villain and a trigger-happy hothead.

Haven’t you found all that time spent on the farm almost interminable?  There were too many clunky, two-character conversations that were poorly staged and written.  They seemed to be saying the same things to each other over and over again.

LCT: My love for this show runs deep, man. Way deep. So I will forgive a lot. The first season was as close to perfect as any TV show ever. It was much like the start of Lost, where ultimately it was about survival and learning to live with these people with whom they were thrown into this situation. As unrealistic (mayhaps?) as this situation is, the show makes you believe in it and the actions and dialogue of the characters were absolutely realistic, which is hard to find on TV (see: The River).  However, I was also disappointed with the stagnancy of the beginning of Season 2 as I was watching it. None of this Sophia-has-gone-missing business is in the novels, but here it served to keep everyone in one place and sort of gave everyone one goal, thus leading to this sense of complacency (especially, as you said, compared with Season 1). What bothered me most, was not so much the slowing down, but all the Jesus chats. At the time of watching, I had no explaination for church chats and they were so frustrating, but in hindsight I think all of those scenes were ultimately shown to position the opposing belief systems of Hershell and Rick & Co. By this, I mean sort of tee-ing up the notions of faith, belief and hope vs. what’s happening in this real life. Also, it laid some groundwork for some of these characters to eventually abandon religion and faith. Rick asks for a sign and his kid gets shot. Carol asks to spare Sophia and take her instead and, well, we know what happened there. Looking at the entire season through this lense, they were looking for hope, but in the end, this is a dark, dark world they are living in.

As for time on the farm, I think they did a good job of juxtaposing the temporary relief of Rick & Co at having found a sort of “safe-haven” with “whaaaaaat’s iiiinnnn theee baaaaaarn.” (<-spooky words spoken spookily.)  Or, as I said above, hope (for some normalcy) vs. (terrifying) reality. Again, while watching, it seemed slower paced and frustrating, but in hindsight, it was all necessary in order to set up this power struggle of viewpoints between Rick and Shane, and to some degree, Herschel. Though I totally agree they could have moved it along for sure.

I think this is a good place to point out that in addition to the Sophia missing plotline, the character of (mustache twirling) Shane does not make it this far in the graphic novels. I think this works for the TV show. It gives more depth to Rick’s eminent true rise to leadership. Or at least, it gives his character a bit more to overcome on his way to embracing his role as leader of the pack. Also, Shane is the representation of survival of the fittest, every-man-for himself, kill all them walkers. This is needed for the final showdown.

KC: As the pace as slowed down, some of the actors’ weaknesses have started to reveal themselves.  I just don’t find Sarah Wayne Callies’ Lori at all sympathetic.  Jon Bernthal’s Shane has gotten less interesting as he’s gotten more evil.  I think Andrew Lincoln (as Rick) is the only actor who’s really managed to shine this season (the scene when he finally breaks down after delivering a severely injured Carl to Herschel was pretty fantastic).

LCT: Agreed. I don’t know what the hell they’re trying to do with Lori. I hate her longtime. I feel that the show works very hard to make her seem like a good mom, but she really sucks. This has been a consistent complaint of mine, and one of TWD’s weaker areas: they have Lori say mom things, but her actions are very not mom like. It was not uncommon to hear Lori say things like “stay where I can see you” but then Carl would be wandering off taking knives off of dead guys in cars or something. In a zombie apocalypse my kids are tethered to me, just sayin’. The most blatant example is the barn scene at the end of last episode and Lori is saying to Carl “don’t look” but doesn’t cover his eyes or make him turn away or even take him away. Like, why does she have to be right there? Having said all of this, I am sympathetic to her pregnancy dilemma. I mean, that is a dreary situation. Just the prospect of actually having a baby without an epidural is enough to give anyone pause, never mind zombies. If American Horror Story has taught us anything, it’s that baby birthing ain’t no walk in the park without proper medical support. Also, I’m inclined to believe that Herschel will not be very helpful going forward, you know, since they wasted his family and friends in the barn.

KC: That said, there have a been a couple of things that I’ve liked, and they’ve been enough to keep me following the show, hopeful that it can turn itself around. 

Daryl somehow went from being a character I loathed to my favorite - I almost wish every episode focused on him.  

LCT: Yes! It will be interesting to see what the loss of Sophia does to him. He may go rogue. Or he may make out with Carol. 


KC: And there were a couple of intriguing plotlines and some huge twists that took me by surprise.  Like poor little Sophia!  I didn’t think the show had the courage to go to that dark place.  I look forward to seeing how they follow up on it.

Shane’s transformation into a douche bag (is this a family blog?) isn’t something I thought was well handled, but the motivating event was: Shane shooting Otis and leaving him for dead so that he can escape with Carl’s medicine was chilling. 

I also liked how gracefully Rick took the news that Lori and Shane slept together when they thought Rick was dead (um, way to mourn, Lori).  I was sure they were going straight up soap opera with that storyline (like, Rick finding out at the very worst moment and getting into a big brawl with Shane or something like that).  And it seems like it could still develop into a big “Who’s the father of Lori’s baby?” storyline; but so far, it’s been handled well.

LCT: Yes, they handled this Lori telling Rick scene very well. I also think this scene was pivotal in moving Rick towards leader and sort of changes the balance of power between Shane and Rick. Not like Shane was the man with the power, but up until this point, Rick was the only one who didn’t know about the affair, so Shane sort of had that power of knowledge. Now that’s all changed because Rick is in the know and Shane does NOT know that Shane knows at this time. So if Shane thinks he has this knowledge bomb, he will find it is powerless. Rick’s got  tha powah!

I think Shane's transformation, while I am not in favor of his views, is necessary in order to get to where we are at the end. I actually think they make him a somewhat relatable character, with his sort of militant opposition and kill em all attitude. I can see that survival of the fittest viewpoint happening out in the zombie apocalypse (um, I bet?). Also, being all badass gets you a little nookie in the front seat, evidently.

KC: LCT, my wish for Season 2.5 is more zomb… er… “walker” attacks!  That will go a long way towards turning this ship around, I think.  What do you think? Did you think there was any justification for Hershel keeping his zombie family members in the barn?  Are you about ready to see the crew get off the farm?  

LCT: How are we not dissecting the last episode? I think the mid-season finale made up for everything that frustrated me in the previous episodes. That showdown at the barn was some of the best TV I have ever seen. It was the ultimate power struggle and this one scene was the culmination of everything Shane, Rick and Herschel had been touting the whole season. Here's how I see it from several angles:

Shane: So Shane is representing the kill-all-them-monsters extreme. Which, to be fair, is not so far fetched since it is pretty much what they have been practicing. (Although, historically when it came to people they knew, they were more lenient… anyone remember Jim from Season 1? I believe they left him tied to a tree to feel the breeze. But I think even then Shane wasn’t so happy about that.) So he finds out that there’s a bunch of walkers in the barn and he gets everyone on his side to shoot up all them monsters. But this is a tough line for even Shane to toe when it’s one of his own. So when Sophia walks out and he can’t pull the trigger and truly follow through and do what needs to be done, it’s ultimately Rick that steps up.

Rick: Poor Rick has been trying to balance all the personalities for so long – trying to keep the peace and make everyone happy - and also has been reluctant to assume full leadership and all that it entails. He goes with Herschel to wrangle a walker in order to keep the peace and along the way trying to understand all viewpoints. He is horrified that Shane & Co have taken it upon themselves to get rid of the walkers on Herschel’s property. And I’m not sure on which side he would have ultimately come down on (had he not walked in on this scene but was able to complete his chat with Herschel), but when someone needed to step up, in probably the most powerful scene ever, it was Rick who did the deed. Sheriff’s back in town!

Herschel: I’m convinced that he had to know that Sophia was in the barn, since we now know how they were getting them into the barn. But he kept it all a secret because he wanted the whole barn a secret. With Hershel asking Rick to help him wrangle that walker in the woods, he was working up to getting Rick to see his side. If Shane hadn't gone apeshit, Herschel would have told him about Sophia the minute they got that walker in the barn. This would totally support his view that they are people who are sick, not monsters.

No words

I also think the show made a conscious effort to make Sophia look more “sick” than “monster.” (See above.) The obvious reasoning would be that she hasn’t been undead all that long compared to the other barn dwellers, but in light of Herschel’s POV and Rick’s actions, it was all the more heart wrenching. It’s probably no surprise that I was sobbing, SOBBING, during this scene and for days afterwards. I'm tearing even thinking about it now, all these weeks later. Now that is awesome TV.

As far as what’s next for TWD, having read the graphic novels I think I know where they are headed. But this power struggle is going to be very complicated and they have deviated from the novels a lot. Rick is clearly ready to be the leader of the pack, but I am assuming Herschel is kicking them all to the curb pronto… which leads to many questions: will the team split into Team Shane and Team Rick? Will Maggie go with Glen or will Glen stay on the farm? Does anyone think Carol and Daryl will/should get together (and be Caryl?).

I know this, though… with the death of Sophia, I feel their hope is gone. This is going to be the darkest season of The Walking Dead yet. So KC,  I think you will get your wish for a lot more zombie chompin'.

KC's fave pic of this post, I bet

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

New Girls on New Girl

Quick entry today -  I know, I know... you're saying "impossible!" But I do think I might be capable of a less verbose entry about TV. I'm gonna give it a try. I will try very hard to not get too analytical or deep. I will not talk about how I identify with Jess on so many levels, and I will try to steer clear of any discussion involving how last night's episode shines a bright ray of light on the very complex layers and interwoven fibers of female friendship. I'll try.  But there's thiiiiiiiis, so it will be haaaaaard:


I haven't written about New Girl yet, and yes I could go on for days about how fun, smart, adorkable it is, but I will try to concentrate on just last night's episode. First, how interesting that new character Sadie just appears out of nowhere? No introductions here, folks. Now that my panic attack over possibly having missed (MISSED!) an episode of New Girl has subsided, I am able to recognized the freshness of this. I love that the show felt no need to "introduce" us to her... she's always been there, we're just seeing her for the first time. Interesting! Sadie, a lesbian gynelocogist, is a terrific addition to the gang, especially in the offsetting of Schmidtness.

And then there's our other other new girl, Julia played by Lizzie Caplan. We were introduced to her on  last week's episode as love interest for Nick. (Aside: what's up with Lizzie? She was not looking like herself last week... maybe because I am so used to seeing her in choppy bangs on Party Down? Curious.) Looking more like herself this week, she is the foil to all of Jess' adorkablness.  Julia is (seemingly) everything that Jess is not - high-powered, hard, snarky - and she is threatened by Jess. Meanwhile, Jess is not a fan of Julia either. "I am not a dessert person" says Julia when Jess offers her a cupcake. She might as well have said "I hate goodness and light." These two do not like each other, and in a less smart sitcom, we would all hate Julia and this would be the set up for Jess to tell Nick that Julia is not right for him and then they would confess their feelings for each other. But that doesn't happen here... oh,  Jess tells Nick how she feels, but as a friend and also just as a straightforward heads-up that some girl stuff is a'happenin'. And we don't hate Julia at all. Yes, she's a bit of harshness in our comfy Jess world, but she also allows us to see the group as an outsider would (as we did when Paul came around). And she is also snarky funny. (By the way, we all understand that ultimately we are moving towards a Nick and Jess pairing, and I am actively rooting for it... but the typical sitcom/romcom set ups don't apply here. And yes, I do realize I use a lot of parentheses. Singing: Aaaaa lottt.) After strong words towards each other (including awesomeness such as Julia saying: "I don't like you" and "Your whole thing. With the cupcakes and the I break for birds and bluebirds help me get dressed in the morning" and Jess saying "I hate your pant suit! I wish it had ribbons on it or something to make it just slightly cuter" and "my checks have baby farm animals on them, bitch.")  Julia begins to soften and allows herself to be friendly with Jess and her friends. And in a scene that is totally relatable, while crocheting, Julia has a fit of frustration and says one of my favorite lines of the episode: "this yarn is broken!"

The ongoing secondary storyline of the Schmidt bathroom saga proves to be strong on the funny. We are again humorously reminded of how particular Schmidt is, especially with his hair sculpting chutney ("and once I'm done with my chutney, back in the row it goes"). Upon finding out that his towel is continually damp because Nick is using it, Schmidt's gagging is appropriate and hilarious. The payoff in this final banter with Nick and Schmidt is fantastic:

Schmidt: "Do you wash the towel?"
Nick: "No I don't wash the towel. The towel washes me. What do you want me to do? Wash the shower next?"
Schmidt: *gagging*

Which leads to...

And now this: Poor Winston. What the hell is going on with this character? I miss Coach played by Damon Wayans Jr. Can't he be supremely awesome on both Happy Endings AND New Girl. I have high hopes for this.

I miss him

Aside: Absolutely loving that New Girl is employing Party Down folk (both Julia and Sadie actresses are Party Down alum). I think I may have been the only person in the world watching that show. SO underrated. So fantastic. Find it. Watch it. Love it. Write me.