1-sentence review of ‘The Walking Dead: Self Help’


The Walking Dead” | Season 5, Episode 6: “Self Help” | Date: Nov. 9, 2014

  1. There was a discussion of haircuts, including Eugene’s (Josh McDermitt) mullet.
  2. Abe (Michael Cudlitz) talked about taking a hard kick “to the sac” after the bus rolled over and caught fire, but was able to “rub some dirt on it and walk it off.”
  3. I’m not kidding; that was actual dialog.
  4. Zombies were killed with a firetruck water cannon and Eugene admitted what we all knew from the start: He’s not a scientist with the cure to the zombies.
  5. On the bright side, there was a commercial for the final half season of “Mad Men” in the spring, so at least there is something to look forward to.

5-sentence review of ‘The Walking Dead: Slabtown’


The Walking Dead” | Season 5, Episode 4: “Slabtown” | Date: Nov. 2, 2014

  1. “The Walking Dead” is really doubling down on the juicy squish this season.
  2. “Slabtown” brought our second amputation of the season — this one an on-screen affair.
  3. And then there’s the stuff that’s simply repellant, like an Atlanta hospital full of rapist cops and deranged doctors.
  4. I could describe the plot, but nobody cares about that.
  5. The ratings are outstanding for basic cable and even though this show is absolutely putrid, millions of people love a show where people hurt other people for their entertainment.

5-sentence review of ‘The Walking Dead: Four Walls and a Roof’


The Walking Dead” | Season 5, Episode 3: “Four Walls and a Roof” | Date: Oct. 26, 2014

  1. I’m becoming immune to the senseless violence of “The Walking Dead.”
  2. By “immune” I mean “desensitized to.”
  3. And by “desensitized to” I mean “bored by.”
  4. After about 30 minutes worth of build-up, the Hunters — survivors who have resorted to cannibalism —  confront Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and his merry band of righteous murderers, who dispatch the Hunters in full splattervision.
  5. I would like to say this skull-stomping session had any kind of emotional resonance or even advanced what passes for a plot on this series, but really it was just more of the same.

5-sentence review of ‘The Walking Dead: Strangers’


The Walking Dead” | Season 5, Episode 2: “Strangers” | Date: Oct. 19, 2014

  1. The word that comes to mind after “The Walking Dead” introduced a band of cannibalistic hunters who eat Bob’s (Lawrence Gilliard, Jr.) leg is “gratuitous.”
  2. It was gratuitous even in the context of a show that is largely about inventive ways to smash zombie skulls.
  3. The obscene violence of the series doesn’t ruffle me too much, but it is a problem as it goes forward.
  4. It comes at the expense of character development and story (which I realize no one cares about because they’re mostly in it for the juicy squish of zombie mayhem) and it forces the series creative team to get grosser and more vile with each episode.
  5. I wonder when it gets to be too much for the audience, but with episode ratings that shatter cable TV records and eclipse most broadcast shows on the same night, maybe blood-spatter cruelty and soggy monsters is what people really want.

5-sentence review of ‘The Walking Dead’ Season 5, Episode 1: ‘No Sanctuary’


The Walking Dead” | Season 5, Episode 1: “No Sanctuary” | Date: Oct. 12, 2014

  1. “The Walking Dead” officially became torture porn Sunday, with its blood-soaked fifth season premiere.
  2. The show once inspired thought about how humanity would face its potential extinction.
  3. Now it’s just humans bashing people’s brains in with aluminum bats and killing slitting throats.
  4. The opening scene in the slaughterhouse reminded me of “Hostel 2″ or one of the umpteen “Saw” movies.
  5. And no, gore lovers, that is not meant as a compliment; “The Walking Dead” has taken a turn for the terrible.

TV Report: ‘The Walking Dead: A’ Season 4 finale


Season 4, Episode 16: “A” | Original air date: March 30, 2014

The Walking Dead” final was the best episode of a weak fourth season. It was stronger in action and drama than the most of the previous 15 episodes. It didn’t make up for the dull, draining and repetitive march to get to this point, but it’s was a rare sign of life in this series about the zombie apocalypse.

Rick (Andrew Lincoln), Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Carl (Chandler Riggs) are surrounded by the gang of rednecks Daryl (Norman Reedus) has been hanging with since Beth (Emily Kinney) was kidnapped … or ran off … or whatever. Rick killed one of the rednecks’ guys while he and his gang were napping at a house early in the second half of the season.

The rednecks decide to go “Deliverance” on Carl and kill everybody else, including Daryl, who stuck up for his pals. Rick kills the lead redneck by biting him in the neck zombie-style. This weirds out Carl. Later Michonne confesses to having done gross things to her stoner friends who let her son get killed. Everybody is a monster these days. It’s a lot of exposition and not particularly revealing given what we’ve already seen on screen.

With Daryl in tow, the group arrive at Terminus. In the words of Admiral Ackbar, “It’s a trap!” Rick spies Glenn’s (Steven Yeun) pocketwatch, a gift from the beheaded Hershel (Scott Wilson), on one of the seemingly friendly types at Terminus, as well as riot gear and a panco that belonged to members of his survivors. They try to shoot their way out, but are led into a trap. They’re locked into a train care with Glenn, Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and most of the rest of the gang.

Rick ends the season with an attempt at a tough guy line: “They’re gonna feel pretty stupid when they found out … they’re messin’ with the wrong people.”

Carol (Melissa McBride) and Tyreese (Chad Coleman), fresh from killing all the children in their care except baby Judith, Rick’s daughter, haven’t showed up at Terminus yet. And then, of course, there’s poor Beth, who disappeared in a car several episodes ago. Perhaps a big team up leads to another shootout with the people of Terminus.

This has not been a very good season of “The Walking Dead.” But this was a good episode and it was enough to sell me on watching the season premier next fall. So at a very basic level, the series did its job. But when it comes to level of entertainment, the series has seen a sharp decline. It will take more than catch phrases and a good cliffhanger to keep me watching.

Then again, maybe it doesn’t. The ratings are the best they’ve ever been and despite my displeasure, I watched every damned episode. Maybe it’s the show that can do no wrong and sets out to prove it.

TV Report: ‘The Walking Dead: Us’


Season 4, Episode 15: “Us” | Original air date: March 23, 2014

The Walking Dead” is out of surprises. This disappointing season has plodded along, especially in the second half, feeling dazed and tired. The show has resorted to low-rent trickery to create faux drama.

This week, Glenn Rhee (Steven Yeun) and Tara (Alanna Masterson) break off from the group of nitwits who think Eugene (Josh McDermitt) is a scientist with the cure for the zombie apocalypse. Glenn and Tara march through a dark tunnel with only a flashlight.

The tunnel is filled with zombies. Surprise. Tara slips and gets her foot caught in rubble. This is possible the second-oldest cliche in the horror genre. The oldest is when a damsel slips and falls when being chased by a monster. Which Tara did earlier in the episode.

Also, Tara is gay. And she has a crush on Alisha (Juliana Harkavy), one of the dopes trying to get Eugene to Washington, D.C. Perhaps “The Walking Dead” is going to incorporate some lesbian love scenes in future episodes. The show has been pretty heteronormative up to this point. Gays need love at the end of the world, too.

Elsewhere, Rick (Andrew Lincoln), Carl (Chandler Riggs) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) walk along train tracks. Michonne loses a bet and is forced to split a candybar with Carol. Look everyone. These three misfits have become a family.

Daryl (Norman Reedus) adjusts to life in his new gang of losers. Their leader tries to convince Daryl he’s still a bad guy by using slogans from the Southern redneck greeting card line. Example: “There’s nothing sadder than an outside cat who thinks its an inside cat.” Or something like that. Maybe it was “Stupid is as stupid does.” I forget. 

Glenn and Tara are rescued in the tunnel by Eugene’s group, who joined up with Maggie (Lauren Cohan), Bob (Lawrence Gilliard, Jr.) and Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green). They shoot a lot of zombies. Glenn and Maggie reunite. It’s a Hallmark moment. Then Maggie burns the picture Glenn took of her while she slept.

She said she did it because he wouldn’t need a picture of her anymore as they would always be together. I think she did it because girls have a weird thing about having their picture taken while they are asleep. At least that’s what I’ve heard. I certainly don’t have any direct knowledge of that.

A conspiracy theorist might suggest that this is foreshadowing and that Maggie is likely doomed because she burned her own photo. It may also be bad voodoo in some ancient Haitian cultures, the same people who created the zombie legends.

I doubt it. Lauren Cohan mentions are the highest getting traffic items on this blog. People like her, or at least looking at her. I do, too.

I really don’t have much to say about this episode. Most of the season seems like a placeholder. But, frankly, I enjoyed it. At this point in the year, I’m happy for any programing that isn’t about broken brackets, squeaking shoes and dimwitted former jocks spouting cliches like a flamethrower of obviousness.

So my standards may be kind of low.