Category Archives: The Walking Dead

What I’m watching: Playing catch-up

The Man Under the Hood

It always feels like a new TV season when “Mad Men” starts up again on AMC. It’s not of course; we’re in the awkward part of the calendar when some shows have completed their seasons, others have a few episodes left and some – “Sleepy Hollow,” in particular – are long gone.

Here’s some thoughts on what I’m watching or watched until just recently.

“The Walking Dead.” This season, after staging a battle at the prison that saw Hershel and the Governor die, seemed to build to a climax in the middle of its year. The last half of the season was made up of really-pretty-good character pieces. The finale, with Rick and the gang playing into the hands of the Terminus cannibals, was shocking in that it was not bombastic. Curiously, it made me look forward to next October more than almost anything else.

“Agents of SHIELD.” This small-screen Marvel flagship series struggled early in the season. I wonder if the “slow build” story the showrunners are maintaining now is really the case – if so, they didn’t do it very effectively – or if, like many other series, it just took them a while to hit a stride. With recent episodes, including tie-ins to “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “SHIELD” is finally clicking. I hope it doesn’t falter again in the final episodes of the season.

“Dallas.” I miss J.R. I miss Larry Hagman. But the series is good, soapy fun.

“Arrow.” It’s possible I’m not enjoying any series on TV more than this take on the classic DC hero. The cast is really good, the stories are fun and the show is stuffed with comics characters. What’s not to like?

“Justified.” One of my favorite series, “Justified” had an uneven series at best. Lawman Raylan and outlaw Boyd and their supporting players were good, but the messy Crowe family story just didn’t do it for me. Next year is the final season and the last scene of this past season forecast the story: Raylan vs. Boyd. Can’t wait.

“The Mindy Project.” This Mindy Kaling comedy is funnier than I ever expected. I wish it would run for 10 years.

“Community” and “Parks and Recreation.” With only one episode left this season – and its future uncertain – “Community” has bounced back this year with the return of controversial creator Dan Harmon. It’s so odd and inside baseball that it’ll never grow in viewership. I just hope it hangs on. And “Park” has grown from a series full of oddballs to a series with characters I really care about.

I’ve probably forgotten something. With “Mad Men” back tonight and “Orphan Black” returning April 19, we’ve got more weeks of good viewing ahead.

sleepy hollow cast

But you know what? I think I miss “Sleepy Hollow” more than anything.


‘The Walking Dead’ – Six things we want to see


When “The Walking Dead” returns tonight for the final eight episodes of season four, your guess is as good as mine as far as what we’ll see.

But I know a few things that we want to see.

Rick and Carl together and strong. The father and son left together, after the devastating loss (?) of Baby Judith, aka “Little Asskicker,” during the Governor’s raid on the prison in the first half of the season. The Grimes boys will probably take a leading role in tonight’s episode and the next couple of episodes. But despite their loss, I want Rick and Carl to pull themselves out of their misery and start making a new life for themselves as quickly as possible. We don’t want Rick, wandering, hallucinating and mumbling to himself, times two for the rest of the season.

Reunions. Daryl is that-a-way and Tyreese is that-a-way and Michonne … well, the only thing we know about Michonne, apparently, is that she ends up – based on a publicity photo – with a couple of zombies on leashes again. We want the core cast reassembled as quickly as possible and moving on to the next big confluence of plot and setting. I’m not sure we’ll get that, however.

Carol. Just when Carol became tough and complex and controversial, Rick cast her out. We want her back, on her own terms.

Some plot points resolved. Who was feeding rats to the walkers at the prison fence?

A good villain. The Governor (David Morrisey) was a great psychopath. We need his equal, someone charming and dangerous.

The big picture. When AMC announced that it was planning a “Walking Dead” spinoff series, I wondered if it would be one set in another part of the world, or if it would be in a remaining center of power. It’s been a long time since the survivors got a few answers at the CDC. It would be great to get some again. What’s the rest of the world like? Who’s working on the problem? What’s happened somewhere besides this little corner of Georgia?

One thing we don’t have to wish for, apparently, is surprises. Cast members speaking cryptically in advance of tonight’s return say the upcoming episodes are dark and eventful, with plot points that will blow our minds.

What a week: ‘Sherlock,’ ‘Arrow,’ ‘SHIELD,’ ‘Walking Dead’

arrow heir to the demon

Like some kind of aligning of planets, the seven or eight days we’re in the middle of here is a heck of a week for episodic TV.

And that doesn’t even count “The Black List,” which didn’t have a new episode this week, but entertained the heck out of me with the episode from last week I finally got around to watching.

Quick impressions (and spoilers if you haven’t seen):

“Sherlock” finished up this year’s three-episode run on “Masterpiece Mystery” with “His Last Vow,” a quirky finale to a quirky season. Over the past three weeks we’ve seen Holmes return from the dead after his rooftop encounter with Moriarty last season, John and Mary get married and Mary exposed as a rather deadly former government operative. In “His Last Vow,” Holmes and Watson run up against a loathsome news magnate who can blackmail Mary. With no other way to save his friend’s wife, Holmes kills the man and Mycroft prepares to send Sherlock off on a nearly-certain-to-be-fatal mission. But then … images of Moriarty appear all over London and Sherlock is called back to investigate. And we wait until next year to see what happens next.

“The Black List” – last week at least – gave us “The Cyprus Agency,” in which the federal agents – with the help of James Spaders’ Red – broke an insidious group that kidnapped women and kept them in comas as well as pregnant to provide babies for adoption. Didn’t we see something like this – with organs instead of babies – in the movie “Coma” 40 years ago? Yeah, but that didn’t have James Spader in it.

“Agents of SHIELD” raised its somewhat low bar again this week with “TRACKS,” a high-stakes adventure that found the agents on – or thrown from – a train as they try to foil the plot of a villain. More good scenes with the agents – even Ward and especially May – some good Marvel movie references (Blonsky’s cryogenic cell is obviously now the holding place for the monster from “The Incredible Hulk”) and the return of Mike Peterson (J. August Richards) as the comic book character Deathlok.

“Justified” upped the stakes also this week with more peril and more bad-assery for Art (Nick Searcy), more misery for Boyd and Ava and more danger from those scumbag bad guys the Crowes. But we gotta have the return of Constable Bob soon.

“Arrow” might have tied “Justified” for my favorite episode of the week. “Heir to the Demon” brought Nyssa, the daughter of Ras al Ghul, to town, seeking … well, not revenge on Black Canary. As a matter of fact, I totally did not see the true nature of their relationship coming. And neither did Oliver Queen. This series, the true TV embodiment of comic book adventure like “Batman,” just gets better all the time.

And then there’s “The Walking Dead,” which returns for the second half of its season this coming Sunday. With the destruction of the prison, the survivors are split up. We want to know what happened to Rick, Carl, Michonne, Daryl and Tyrese as soon as possible. And tell me Carol is coming back. I’ll be watching Sunday.

Heck of a week.

TV catch-up: ‘Sleepy Hollow,’ ‘The Walking Dead,’ ‘SHIELD’ and more

sleepy hollow headless horseman

The highlights of my TV viewing year are the limited runs of “Mad Men” on AMC, “Justified” on FX and “The Walking Dead” on AMC. That’s not to say there aren’t other shows that I’m hooked on.

But they always take a backseat to those three.

This fall, there’s a surprisingly high number of shows that have rapidly become must-see (to coin a phrase) viewing. This doesn’t count “Parks and Recreation,” for example, a charmingly daft sitcom that just keeps chugging along.

Here’s a roundup of what I’m digging right now:

“Sleepy Hollow” – This fantasy adventure series, which has become something of a hit, is one of the greatest pleasures on TV right now. If you haven’t watched the first half of this 13-episode season, go catch up, online or on demand, right now. I’ll wait.

Okay, back? The story of the return of Revolutionary War soldier and spy Ichabod Crane, reborn in modern times more than 200 years after he and the (now) Headless Horseman fought it out on a New York battlefield, is terrific fun. Crane is teamed with a young female cop as they investigate the rebirth of the Horseman, who turns out to be one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse from the Book of Revelations. 

The show has something for everyone: Fish out of water comedy and commentary, monster of the week, creepy thrills, fun special effects and great chemistry among the cast members.

Tonight’s episode found the 21st century characters explaining to Crane the secret relationship between Thomas Jefferson – one of his contemporaries and heroes – and Sally Hemmings, all the while preparing a snare to trap the Headless Horseman with ultraviolet light. You don’t have to ask. Just go with it.

“The Walking Dead” – I was relieved to see the Governor show up at the end of last night’s episode. I was feeling a little claustrophobic with the flu storyline that’s dominated this season so far. I do love the beefed up roles for many in the cast, including Carol. Was anyone else as surprised as I was about Carol’s exile?

“Agents of SHIELD” – I was looking forward to this Marvel spin-off more than any other series this fall, and I’m not alone in my disappointment at the resulting show. Each episode is an improvement on the last, for the most part, but I can’t be the only one that’s impatient with the character development and over-arching plot. I’m still watching, however.

“The Blacklist” – God help me, but I’m enjoying this series more than “SHIELD.” “The Blacklist,” about a mysterious criminal (James Spader) who comes in from the cold to help the FBI catch other criminals, isn’t quite as looney as “Sleepy Hollow,” but almost. Spader is the main reason to watch as he gives a master class in unsettling but entertaining villainy.  I can’t wait to see him as the bad guy in “The Avengers: The Age of Ultron.”

“The Mindy Project” – As fun and kooky as “Parks and Recreation” is, there’s not a more clever sitcom on TV right now than “The Mindy Project,” with Mindy Kaling as a neurotic doc surrounded by neurotic docs in NYC. The second season of the show is even better than the first.

Good time to be a fan

luca parmitano long shot

Those of us who grew up in the 1960s have to be forgiven for occasionally wandering through the world of 2013 and wondering if we’re dreaming.

In the 1960s, comic books and science fiction and horror movies were an almost underground part of the culture, barely more tolerated by adults than eating paste or girlie magazines.

Now, science fiction and fantasy rule TV, from “The Walking Dead” to “Game of Thrones.” Books with sf and fantasy themes like the “Hunger Games” trilogy and the “Harry Potter” books top the best-seller lists.

And at the movies … Marvel’s merry marching movie machine rolls on. The sequel – sequel! – to “Thor” comes out tomorrow. It’s already playing in some theaters. And it’s the latest in a years-long chain of interconnected movies exploring the Marvel universe.

And today Marvel and Netflix announce original series like “Daredevil” and “Luke Cage” are coming, with a “Defenders” team-up series to follow.

If, before “Iron Man” debuted in 2008, anyone thought “The Avengers” was below-the-radar fun only enjoyed by geeks, you can only imagine what a head-snapping development a “Defenders” series would be.

DC is still plugging along with big-screen Batman and Superman movies, but doing impressive work on TV with “Arrow” and other series like “The Flash” still coming.

I sat down and watched an episode of “Arrow” tonight with Green Arrow and Black Canary, for pete’s sake. Tell me who thought that would have been possible a few decades ago.

And the picture above.

On Halloween, Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano, aboard the International Space Station, dressed up like Superman and took advantage of the lack of gravity to fly around.

I don’t care that he looks more like Lex Luthor. He’s flying like Superman!

It’s a good time to be a fan.

Today in Halloween: ‘Sassy’ Rick Grimes costume

sexy rick grimes walking dead halloween costume

Fan of “The Walking Dead?”

Fan of Andrew Lincoln’s portrayal of Rick Grimes, the show’s lead?

Want to go dressed up for Halloween as Rick Grimes?

Have the secondary sexual characteristics of the female of the species?

No problem!

hallow sassy female rick grimes

Yes, folks, here’s the “sassy” Rick Grimes Halloween costume, in honor of tonight’s season premiere of the show.

hallow rick costume

If you don’t want to show off your legs, here’s components of the male version.

Yes, these are the end times.

Today in Halloween: AMC has a little bit of Fear Fest left

amc fear fest

You know, I’m a big fan of today’s AMC. What’s not to like? “The Walking Dead,” “Mad Men,” “Breaking Bad.”

But this time of year I miss the old AMC, the all-movie network that couldn’t really compete with Turner Classic Movies … except for the last couple of weeks of October, when AMC programmed virtually non-stop horror movies.

From the old Universal Monsters classics to Hammer horrors, AMC made me want to sit in front of my TV 24-7.

Well, a lot of the classics have fled elsewhere – I’m guessing TCM – and there’s a preponderance of “Friday the 13th” and “Halloween” movies during the final two weeks of October on AMC now.

But that’s okay. Cause you can never see John Carpenter’s classic “Halloween” too many times. And none of us have seen the offbeat “Halloween 3” often enough.

And yes, I’ll stop and check out a “Friday the 13th” movie, if only long enough to determine if it’s the one with Kevin Bacon.

There are a few schedules online for AMC’s lineup this year. True, too many of the timeslots are filled with inferior stuff.

But beginning with a “Walking Dead” marathon over the weekend leading up to the new season premiere at 9 p.m Sunday and great movies like “Slither” on tap, AMC will still give us some Fear Fest this year.