Archive for October, 2012

The Walking Dead Kills It

October 15, 2012

The Walking Dead’s Season 3 premiere rocked, especially the silent beginning of the well-organized, finely-tuned zombie killing machine that has become Rick’s group since we last saw them, and the last five minutes or so of the show that saw Hershel get bit, his leg hacked off by Rick who showed no hesitation in doing so, and a group of prisoner survivors. Check out this article that talks about this premiere shattering the old ratings and thereby making ratings history.

The premiere also confirmed for me what I have been pondering to do since I watched the premiere of Revolution.  I have officially cancelled the series recording of Revolution on my DVR.  I just don’t have the time to watch a show that at best, is a very pale version of TWD.

With that being said, I wonder what TWD and its rating bonanza says about our society.  Are we really going the way of Ancient Rome, becoming more and more desensitized to violence, demanding it more and more, which then is happily supplied to us so that we are essentially pacified and not a threat to the government?  Or does the popularity of TWD have more to do with the unease we as a society feel in our current times rather than a genuine craving for graphic violence?  I vote for the former.

Everything’s Better With Zombies

October 14, 2012

The Walking Dead is finally back tonight!  As I count down the hours to the premiere by watching the marathon of Season 2, I finally realized what’s wrong with that new show Revolution-it has no zombies.  Zombies, after all, make everything better.  If only Revolution added some zombies to the show, I’d be a fan for life.  The Walking Dead, though, works not only because it has zombies, but because it is a modern day “Heart of Darkness”-you know the descent of humanity into the darkest part of its soul.  In order to survive, then, those folks on TWD are faced with decisions that weigh humanity against survival.  Is it worth it to survive if it means forsaking your humanity and turning into a monster yourself?  The tagline of this season’s TWD says it all-“Fight the Dead. Fear the Living.”  In this vein, then, TWD becomes much more than just another zombie show, transcending into the realm of metaphor and commentary on the very state of what it means to be human, and how easy it can be to regress into what humans supposed left behind in its own march to civilization.

That other show, Revolution, wants to be that-it wants to be able to make a dark commentary on the state of humanity.  But so far, it hasn’t succeeded.  It’s early yes-only 4 episodes so far, but it’s too caught up in conspiracy theories, soap opera dramas, and good looking people.  Throw in some zombies, and the show would be taken to a whole new level.  It probably would still be lacking in the metaphor and commentary department, but at least it would have zombies.  Everything’s better with zombies.  

I’m hard on a show like Revolution not only because it’s attempting to copycat the success of a post-Apocalyptic show like TWD.  It’s also because I read a phenomenal book called “One Second After” by William Forstchen that tells the story of a town trying to survive an EMP attack that crippled the U.S.  The EMP attack makes much more sense in explaining why things no longer work (anything with a computer in it got fried) while also allowing for the fact that some things do still work-anything old, before computers took over, still work like cars from the 50s.  But the book it’s just logical in what caused the Apocalypse, it is also a brutal look at how HARD it is to survive with no running water, no food shipped to you, no medicine, no sanitation.  Revolution, on the other hand, makes living in a post-apocalypse world look easy.  And here’s what’s truly irritating about a show like Revolution which is set 15 years after the lights went out-that they still haven’t PROGRESSED enough to realize that they still have a lot of other energy options available to them-like solar, wind, water, hell they could even make a steam engine.  Why are they so concerned then with trying to turn the lights back on?  What the hell have they been doing in the past 15 years anyway?  Now, if the answer to that was that for the past 15 years they’ve been eliminating the zombie threat, and it’s only now that the zombies have been destroyed and they can now concentrate on other matters, well now, that would make things a whole lot more interesting.  

Commit to Revolution?

October 3, 2012

The first time I saw a preview for NBC’s new show, Revolution, I couldn’t wait for September to come.  After all, I was in the midst of The Walking Dead withdrawals, and since I basically gave up on Falling Skies a while ago (hey, I did ATTEMPT to watch this season but it bored me so much that I turned the channel and started watching Ice Road Truckers…if a reality show about flawed, sometimes total pricks, other times totally likeable guys risking their lives to make money to support their families gives you way more likeable characters than Falling Skies, then something is definitely wrong with the writers writing for Falling Skies), I had such high hopes for Revolution.  I marked when the Revolution would begin on my calendar (of course, though, I had marked The Walking Dead first).  But any show about living in a post-apocalypic world totally gets me hooked even BEFORE it actually premieres.  That, though, makes for a huge problem-can the show actually live up to my expectations?

Revolution so far has failed to live up to them.  The first episode played like a cross between Falling Skies and Jericho trying to be the next Lost or The Walking Dead.  To give it credit, though, I never watched Jericho when it first came out.  I had tried, but Jericho just moved too slowly.  This summer I bought the series and became a total Jericho fan.  I know though that much of my like for Jericho had to do with the fact that I had nothing else to watch with it being the summer season.

But back to Revolution.  Watching it makes me realize just how much I miss The Walking Dead, with all of its flawed, always dirty, characters.  Like seriously, Revolution, make your characters STOP looking like they take a bath twice a day!  Make them dirty and gritty.  And make them skinny!  If you really live in a world with no electricity, where you WALK everywhere, how is it that everyone looks like they smell like roses and some of them are still obese?  Lost had that same problem with the character of Hurley, but at least Lost didn’t attempt to be FIFTEEN years in the future (and Hurley did have that secret stash of Dharma food).  It takes time to lose weight, but NOT that long when you no longer have access to processed foods.

The Walking Dead characters are not always totally likeable BUT you always are scared for them.  You care if they make it out alive.  Because you never know if they may die.  On a show like Revolution, I don’t care if the characters live or die.  In fact, maybe they should just kill off some of them so that the show can focus more on those interesting ones…like Captain Neville, Monroe, and “Juliet” from Lost.

I haven’t lost all hope for Revolution.  But it being on a major network shows its difference from a show on cable.  Cable shows are so much darker and grittier, with flawed characters you end up rooting for even though they do bad things, or asshole characters that you would never want to invite to dinner but still command respect.  Take Darrell for example…he’s become one of the heroes of The Walking Dead even though he started out as a redneck asshole.  And Merlye, that racist bastard, definitely not a hero on the show, but everyone is drooling over his return because his character is interesting-like seriously, if you have the balls to cut your hand off to survive, you are definitely the ultimate survivor in this zombie-infested world.  And you gotta respect that in some messed up way.

So that’s what Revolution is not.  It has yet to create truly gritty characters.  Think the grittiest character so far is Juliet from Lost when she showed what she’s made off and killed that guy trying to steal their food.  Her husband was a wimp, but Juliet-she channeled her inner protective mama bear and commanded respect.  It’s horrible what she did, but we understand why she did it.  And we respect her for it.  But she’s an underutilized character and her being stuck in house arrest is just dumb.

As I ponder if watching Episode 3 is worth it-my DVR failed to record it, think that’s a sign?-check out this review of the show.  It captures the pros/cons perfectly.