Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Walking Dead

I think it was back late last winter/early spring that AMC announced that they would be making a six-part first season based on the comic Walking Dead. Seeing that AMC is a basic cable channel, I was not that enthused about this. I have been a HUGE Walking Dead fan since day 1. Have all the single issues up to the mid 30’s when I switched to only buying trades. Great, great series about what happens after the zombie apocalypse and how a group of survivors try to get on with their life with death waiting around every corner. Robert Kirkman deserves each and every award he has ever gotten (or been nominated for) for his outstanding work on this book, along with the artists he has worked with. I think the fact he chose to go black and white for this adds so much to the story. Anyway, love the book, was not looking forward to what I expected to be a water-downed, fairly gore free version that would be showing up on AMC.

This year’s Comic-Con was very Walking Dead heavy. Lots of posters and fliers pushing the show, folks in zombie make-up ambling around outside the convention center, the works. I didn’t get a chance to see the panel on the show, but did get to go to a signing with the cast and creators. All nice people. Got a chance to chat with Kirkman a few times during the Con, VERY cool guy who was obviously very happy with how things were turning out. Once I got home I finally saw the extended trailer for the series. Hmmm…if this is any indication of how the series will be, maybe there was some hope for this after all. In the past decade or so there have been a ton of comic-to-film/TV adaptations. Some really good, some ok, and some leave you feeling like you want to track down the makers and beat them to a bloody pulp. I was starting to get my hopes up for Walking Dead, but at the same time preparing for the disappointment that I was sure would happen.

As I write this, five episodes have been aired. I won’t go into a prolonged breakdown of each episode, I like to keep these reviews as short as possible. But I will say, I LIKE THIS SHOW! Everything I feared was for naught. Let’s make something very clear, it does NOT exactly follow the comics. I have read a lot of online reviews taking them to task for this. Screw them. If you went into this expecting an exact copy, you are an idiot. And I really don’t think I would like it as much. They have introduced new characters and have taken on some different adventures, but the story is basically the same story. I like not knowing exactly what is going to happen next, it helps keep the story fresh for those of us who have read the comics. I read a review yesterday on the Bleeding Cool website (, that just ripped it to shreds. It did a bunch of comparisons to past zombie movies and found Walking Dead lacking because it failed to have an “underlying message”. Pfft…whatever. Sometimes I just like to be entertained, and this does a great job of doing that.

So in closing, if you aren’t watching The Walking Dead, you should be! I am sure you can find the past episodes on your cable’s on-demand service, and if not I am sure they will release a DVD set for season one before too long. It has done great ratings wise, and a second season has already been ordered. The ONLY bad thing, only six episodes in the first season! This series is just another example of what basic cable is capable of.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

How The Real World Tried To Kill TV, and How The Sopranos Helped Save It

The new television is upon us, and I couldn't be less excited. This makes me very sad as I have been a TV-aholic my whole life. It used to be that I couldn't wait for the new season to start, but now it just causes this feeling of dread and fear to creep over me. Fear that I might actually like a show only to see it canceled half way thru the first season. This has happened WAY too many times for shows that I actually liked, while crap that is aimed at complete morons is renewed season after pointless season. And who do I blame for setting this trend in motion (besides the idiot network executives)....MTV's REAL WORLD!

Here is my train of thought on this, follow along. The Real World is what I consider to be the first real reality based show that reached the public in a big way(back in the early 90's). The first two or three seasons were actually interesting and showed that a show like that could actually get decent ratings. Of course network TV saw this and slowly, at first, found that they could show their own reality based shows and draw even bigger ratings, thereby securing higher advertising dollars. Next thing you know, we have Survivor, Amazing Race, and other shows of the sort clogging up the network schedule. Again, decent enough in their first few seasons for what they are (I used to be a huge Survivor addict), but if you keep doing the same thing season after season and just change the cast, IT'S THE SAME DAMN SHOW! Sorry, I require something that holds my attention, something that evolves, AN ACTUAL STORY. Watching people be complete asses to each other is entertaining for a bit (at least to me), but wears thin on repeated viewings.

Meanwhile we see actual shows come and go. It used to be that a show was given a season or two to find their footing and an audience. Now we are lucky if we get half a season before the axe starts coming down on the shows we know and love. This is why I almost don't want to start watching a series until it has at least has a full completed season and has been renewed for the next. Otherwise I find myself getting involved and caught up in a story only to have it just end half way thru a season. I see a few shows in the current season I am interested in on network television, but am afraid to start watching.

So, you ask, how did The Sopranos save television? Now remember, this is just my opinion, but I see The Sopranos as the show that gave the networks the middle finger and showed them that cable channels, pay or otherwise, could produce good, compelling, story driven shows and secure the viewers needed to keep it alive. From there we got shows like Six Feet Under, Sex In The City, Deadwood, Carnivale, and Battlestar Galactica just to name a few. The current crop of cable shows push aside ANYTHING being puked out by the networks. Shows like Mad Men, Breaking Bad, True Blood, Dexter, and Weeds destroy stupid crap like the endless versions of NCIS, CSI, Law and Order, and other garbage the networks try passing off as quality entertainment. Of course there is also the cringe-worthy Glee, but my hate for that show is so extreme I shall save that rant for another day.

And let's not forget the current slate of reality shows. Dancing With The Stars was the number one show last season with American Idol following close behind (or the other way around). REALLY? What redeeming value do either of these shows bring to the table? Nada. My wife watched one episode of Dancing With The Stars and I think I have watched maybe half an episode of American Idol. I am still trying to scrub those memories from my head. My love of Survivor quickly faded when it was found to be the same show season after season. What was once fun just became...boring. The only network shows I have found myself able to tolerate are Bones and Castle, and that's just mainly because I like the cast. But replace the cast and I would probably stop watching them.

So there you have it. Network TV blows and cable puts on the good stuff. I really don't see this trend reversing itself anytime soon. It would take a network executive with balls to stand up in a board meeting and shout "WE SHOW CRAP. LOOK AT WHAT CABLE IS DOING, LET'S GO IN THAT DIRECTION. LET'S ACTUALLY MAKE SHOWS WITH SOME "! But I don't think that will happen anytime soon...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Rise Again: A Zombie Thriller by Ben Tripp

Got a advance copy of the at San Diego Comic Con, and have finally finished it. I can sum up my experience in one word...meh. It was ok, a decent enough zombie book, but after reading so many zombie books, at this point I am looking for a story that brings something new to the table, takes things in a different direction. This is not that story. It's good enough for what it is, but have read many like this before.

3 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Age Of Zeus by James Lovegrove

So after completing my run of 3 Christopher Moore books in a row, I needed something light to read before I dive into whatever my next reading project would be. I like to read a series of books, with one or two single ones in between to clear my head. In wandering around Barnes and Nobles I came across this on the new release shelf. Yes, I can see that the cover looks kinda stupid, but the title interested me enough to pick it up and take a look at the back. It sounded interesting enough so I picked it up. Glad I did! I LOVED this book. It caught my attention from the start and kept me very entertained until the very end. A bit of fantasy, a bit of Greek mythology, quite a bit of action, a tiny bit of hot sweaty sex, and just a lot of plain fun.
Ok, brief story without spoiling anything. Takes place in current times, like now. About 10 or so of the most famous Greek Gods appear and say we fucked up the world enough and they are taking over. After a few shows of power (bye-bye Hong Kong), things settle down and the world is a fairly peaceful place for about 10 years. Wars are a thing of the past, people are fed, and most everyone is fairly happy. The Gods only make a few appearances here and there, but leave behind some minor pets to watch over things. Not everyone is all that happy with rule by force,
but any opposition is quickly squashed. So what would it take to take down a God? And are they actual Gods, or just pretenders? Needless to say, not all is as it seems, but I'll let you find out the rest for yourselves.
In closing, I have no problem recommending this book. It's nothing that will change the world, but it is a very fun read.
I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.