TV Review: ‘The Walking Dead: The Grove’

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Season 1, Episode 14: “The Grove” | Original air date: March 16, 2014

“The Grove” provides the most moral and emotionally resonant moment in the largely disappointing fourth season of “The Walking Dead.” Yet even then it is dipped in repetitive tedium that’s drug the show down, especially in the second half.

Carol (Melissa McBride) travels with Tyreese (Chad Coleman),  Mika (Kyla Kenedy) and her older sister, Lizzie (Brighton Sharbino), and Rick’s infant daughter, Judith.

The group comes across a beautiful, unspoiled house with a fence, pecan trees and deer in the area. They decide to stop traveling along the train tracks and set up a home here. Guess where this is headed. Yeah, it all goes to hell, just like it did for each group of characters who scattered way from the prison after it was destroyed in the mid-season finale.

They keep playing that same note with only slight variation. Everybody is headed toward the much built-up survivor city of Terminis now, with two episodes left in the season. Also, in case you were wondering, everyone is sad, emotionally damaged and probably quite smelly at this point.

Carol continues to preach survival skills to the young girls in her charge, to be hardened killers, just like her. This is parenting in the zombie apocalypse. Kill or be killed is the new golden rule.

Lizzie seems on the verge of mental collapse. She treats the zombies as pets and considers letting one bite her. Then, of course, a horde of scorched zombies waddle out of the woods. , Carol and the girls blast away. Carol is pleased by the way Lizzie pumps out ammo as fast as she can pull the trigger.

Lizzie seems stronger and more well-adjusted after the murder fest. Then she stabs Mika to death in order to turn her into a zombie. It turns out she was the one feed rats to the zombies at the prison, which lead to the weakening of the fence for hordes. She also filleted a rat for fun. If Dr. Phil were still alive, he would suggest young Lizzie has the the markings of a future serial killer.

So Carol, who is good at executing her fellow survivors in the name of survival, takes Lizzie for a walk in the wildflowers, shoots and kills her. Later, Carol confesses to Tyresse that she murdered Karen (Melissa Ponzio), his girlfriend, and David, to stop the spread of the flu.

She slides a gun across the table to Tyreese and says, “Do what you have to do.” Tyreese forgives her in perhaps the most impressive moment of the season.

But it’s also another sign of why the series has run thin. They only way to manufacture drama at this point is to kill characters, whether they be freshly introduced newbies destined to become zombie bait or established characters who are killed for the sake of keeping the body count rising and Chris Hardwick in hashtags.

The concept has played out. They’ve got nothing left to surprise the viewer. People keep watching. The show pulls numbers that puts a lot of network shows to shame. But a lot of people like Peeps, the Easter candy. In neither case does it mean they’re right.

TV Review: ‘The Walking Dead: Alone’

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Season 4, Episode 13: “Alone” | Original air date: March 9, 2014

So “The Walking Dead” is now “The Lord of the Rings.” Most episodes are spent walking around and contemplating life after the zombie apocalypse.

I probably shouldn’t compare the series to “The Lord of the Rings.” There are people who think that stuff is really good, both in print and cinematic forms. I don’t. I find it dull, just as I find “The Walking Dead” dull in this half of a season.

We learn how drunken medic Bob (Lawrence Gilliard, Jr.) came to be with the former prison crew in the cold opening. Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Daryl (Norman Reedus) ask the usual series of questions. How many zombies have you killed? How many people have you killed? Blah. Blah. Blah.

There’s no clear reason why this scene is in the episode, but when you’ve got half an hour worth of plot and an hour to fill, this is the kind of stuff you get.

Daryl and Beth (Emily Kinney) do some walking. The find a funeral home and raid the food stores. Beth gets kidnapped. This would be interesting, but the writers have chosen to show us Bob falling in love with Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green). They kiss. Everybody swoon.

Sasha wants to stop walking (you go, girl!) and set up shop in a nice railroad station. Their walking companion, Maggie (Lauren Cohan), though, wants to keep looking for Glenn. So she walks off on her own.

Bob and Sasha give chase. Sasha decides to stay at a railway station. Bob goes on. Sasha discovers Maggie lying on the ground next to the train tracks. Sasha breaks a window. This alerts the zombies.

It’s not really clear why Maggie was sleeping on the ground or why Sasha is breaking windows. But making sense really isn’t the point of this show. It’s the juicy squish of zombie killing and pretending the rest of the nonsense trimmed around that is a deeper drama than it really is.

Daryl goes looking for Beth. He meets up with a gang of rednecks. He decides to join up. I think they’re trying to tell me that Daryl’s evolution into a good guy is easily undone once he loses the anchor of the more moral characters on the show, like his almost girlfriend, Beth.

But it mostly feels like the writers are introducing us to a bunch of new characters who will be killed in the coming weeks, i.e. red shirts on “Star Trek.”

Maggie, Bob and Sasha decide to go to Terminus, the magic city at the end of the railroad tracks. Elsewhere, Glenn finds a sign to Terminus, too. He’s on his way. Everybody is going to have a reunion.

Yippie.

TV Review: ‘The Walking Dead: Still’

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Season 4, Episode 12: “Still” | Original air date: March 2, 2014

Beth (Emily Kinney) is bored with survival and a mopy Daryl (Norman Reedus) and decides to go get drunk. Daryl, still a good redneck, throws in.

They raid a country club. Beth gets a new golf shirt and a sweater. Daryl insensitively gets zombie blood on the white sweater when he crushes a zombie skull with a good titanium driver.

Eventually, they find the bar, but Daryl refuses to let Beth take her first taste from lowly peach schnapps. So they go to a moonshiner’s shack, where they get drunk and have a domestic dispute, cry and then burn the shack down. This is probably what passes for what a good Southern debutante ball after the zombie apocalypse.

I’ve been pretty rough on “The Walking Dead” this season, but I liked this episode. Not a lot happened and it was low on the juicy squish, but it felt like one of the episodes of “M*A*S*H” when there wasn’t a lot of casualties coming in. People get bored even at the end of the world.

And if you’re Beth, a teetotaling preacher’s daughter, you probably would want to raise a little hell, especially if you saw your father decapitated. I’m surprised the episode didn’t end in her and Daryl having sex. It might have grossed out the puritans, but it would’ve seemed fairly natural given the situation and the booze.

I wouldn’t mind seeing “The Walking Dead” do a few more episodes like this. There are things about the zombie apocalypse that are never addressed. For example, the survivors are always going into old buildings filled with dead bodies and rotten food. Nobody ever mentions how terrible those places must smell. Just once, somebody should throw up.

Speaking of smell, can you imagine the body odor of these people? I mean it’s not like they’re hitting the showers after a hard day of zombie squish.

These are the kinds of things I think about when I watch “The Walking Dead” because the plot doesn’t interest me anymore. I’m supposed to be emotionally moved by the fact Daryl and Beth are all choked up that all their friends and family are dead.

But I’m not. The show has played that note too many times. I’m bored with it. What I enjoyed was Daryl and Beth burning the shack down. There probably aren’t very many good therapists left at the end of the world, but a good shack burning is pretty therapeutic.

TV Review: ‘The Walking Dead: Claimed’

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Season 4, Episode 11: “Claimed” | Original air date: Feb. 23, 2014

The sleepy second half of the fifth season of “The Walking Dead” slogged incrementally forward Sunday, dragging its feet like a the shuffle steps a zombie with a broken ankle.

The writers want me to believe there is deep drama in the personal traumas of the survivors, but it just isn’t working. I’ve become cold and callous to the plights of these people. I just don’t care anymore.

Carl (Chandler Riggs) jokes with Michonne (Danai Gurira) at breakfast. The topic was soy milk. That’s never funny. Carl mentions his sister, Judith, and her formula. He gets sad and walks out of the room. Rick (Andrew Lincoln) still suffers from the effects of the beating the Governor gave him in the mid-season finale.

It feels like the whole show suffers a hangover from the moment the Governor blew up the prison with his tank and was ultimately killed by Michonne. I suppose I can’t expect tank warfare every episode, but I can, at least, hope for some good juicy squish and even that hasn’t been that good this half.

We learn more about Abe Ford (Michael Cudlitz) and his group, who rescued Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Tara (Alanna Masterson). One guy, Dr. Eugene Porter (Josh McDermitt), claims to be a scientist who was in contact with Washington, D.C. until recently. He allegedly knows what caused the zombie apocalypse. I don’t trust him. I’ve never known a scientist with a mullet before.

Rick is napping with a book of Jack London short stories. That will put most people to sleep. A gang raids the house. He hides under the bed, eventually escapes and he, Carl and Michonne start walking along the railroad tracks to the mysterious sanctuary town where Tyreese, Carol and his band were headed last episode.

In other circumstances, I might give this episode the benefit of the doubt of being a “tweener,” one that falls in between major plot points and sort of moves the characters about on the playing field in buildup toward future action. But the action so far this half season has been so sparse, and the anguish of the characters so overplayed, that I’m inclined to believe it’s just dull.

5-paragraph review of ‘The Walking Dead: Inmates’

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Season 4, Episode 10: “Inmates” | Original air date: Feb. 16, 2014

1.) “The Walking Dead” continued its “Where are they now?” narrative following the fall of the prison. Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Hershel’s other daughter, Beth (Emily Kinney), run in the woods. Daryl shoots zombies with his crossbow. She nags Daryl to go looking for the others. He says mean things about faith and her dead daddy. She pouts. They walk more. She stabs a zombie in the head. They find some of their prison pals being eaten by zombies. Beth cries. Daryl walks. That night, they build a fire. Beth vows to keep her father’s faith. I vow not to make a comment about how boring this is. I break it almost immediately.

2.) In other news about characters nobody cares about, Tyreese (Chad Coleman) is now the head of the post-zombie apocalypse elementary school, with the psychotic kids, Lizzie (Brighton Sharbino) and her sister, Mika (Kyla Kenedy). Tyreese also ended up with Rick’s infant daughter, Judith. The kids whimper and whine. Tyreese kills zombies with a hammer, which is cool. Then Carol (Melissa McBride) shows up. Rick banished Carol because she murdered people infected with the flu in hopes of stopping its spread. It didn’t work. One of the people killed was Tyreese’s girlfriend. He doesn’t know Carol killed them. See? There’s real drama here, folks. This isn’t just a show about juicy squish. Somebody engrave a writing Emmy for these people. Or not.

3.) Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and yet more useless characters  — Bob (Lawrence Gilliard, Jr.), the alcoholic medic, and Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green), Tyreese’s sister, find the bus that escaped the compound filled with zombies. Maggie wants to know if her husband, Glenn (Steven Yeun), is one of them. So they let them out and kill them all. Then Maggie cries and laughs. I would have, too, if they hadn’t shown us Glenn was alive in the preview.

4.) Glenn is back at the prison. He cries for a while, too. There’s a lot of crying in this episode. Then he gears up like an action hero complete with armor and a helmet. He charges into a horde of zombies. The inventive director of photography shows viewers what the zombie horde looks like to Glenn through his plastic mask. This is just what this show needed. Cinematography that mimics first-person shooter video games. Now this is Emmy-winning work.

5.) Glenn teams up with Tara (Alanna Masterson), still another useless character. Tara is the sister of the woman who shacked up with the Governor before he attacked the prison. Glenn uses Bob’s whiskey for a Molotov cocktail. Bob risked his life for that booze. Now it’s burning zombies. What a shame. Glenn and Tara fight some zombies. Then a military unit shows up. The end. Of this episode, I mean. This show, unfortunately, goes on.

5-paragraph review of ‘The Walking Dead: After’

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Season 4, Episode 9: “After” | Original air date: Feb. 9, 2014

1.) I’ve decided to watch “The Walking Dead” the same way I watched “American Horror Story: Coven” this year. Instead of trying to glean any kind of story or drama out of this gross-out festival, I’m just going to watch for the juicy squish. More people than ever watch this show, so I’m not going to dissuade anyone by pointing out the plot is dumb and the characters are weaker than ever before. So I’m not doing that. From now on, it’s just zombie mash. No more, even though that’s much less.

2.) The first episode of the second half of the fourth season begins with the prison burning after the events of the mid-season finale. Michonne (Danai Gurira) arrives with her sword. She takes a pair of zombies, cuts off their arms and lower jaws and makes them into her walking buddies. She finds the decapitated head of Hershel (Scott Wilson). She pokes it with her sword the way work-release prisoners stab trash with sticks along the highway.

3.) Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Carl (Chandler Riggs) have a domestic dispute. Carl is mad at his dad. Carl and Rick take shelter in a house. Carl hangs out in a teenager’s bedroom and reads a book. Rick sleeps on the couch by the door. The next morning he is unresponsive after the beating he took at the hands of the Governor (David Morrissey) last episode. Carl decides to play chicken with a group of zombies. This leads to problems. It’s OK. He shoots his way out of it. Then he throws up. Because those three zombies are the ones too gross for him. He yells at his unconscious father that he’s not been a very good leader and he’d be fine if Rick died. It’s true. Carl is pretty tough. Carl’s biggest weakness is Chandler Riggs’ acting.

4.) Michonne has a nightmare about two dudes in her old home where she kept a sword in the knife cozy. There was a child. It probably means something, but no zombies were killed, so forget it. Later she walks in the woods with her new pets. She sees a African-American, now a zombie. It’s nice to see that the color barrier isn’t an issue in the zombie apocalypse. But the zombie has dreadlocks, too. This is too much for the fashion-conscious Michonne. She cuts that zombie’s head off and then all of the other zombies’ heads off, including her new pets. She looks anguished. Later she cries in a cabin and talks to herself.

5.) Carl goes out to forage for supplies. He goes into a house and is overpowered by a zombie. He uses the last of his ammo but doesn’t finish off the zombie. The zombie takes his shoe. Carl gets away. Carl writes on the door with chalk. He’s pleased with himself. He eats pudding out of a giant can on the rooftop with one shoe. If I would think the writers were being funny, but I don’t think they’re that clever. Later, the seriously concussed Rick falls off the couch. Carl thinks he might have died and become a zombie. But he can’t kill him. Apparently, he’s not as tough as previously stated. But Rick survived to give Carl the “you’re a man, now” speech. It’s like a post-apocalyptic bar mitzvah for rednecks. Later Rick may teach him to shave. Michonne walks up to the house where Carl and Rick are staying. Because of course she would. Her sword probably has GPS tracking powered by zombie blood. It makes about as much sense as anything else. Anyway, the band is slowly getting back together. But it feels like 2014 Rolling Stones, not 1966 Rolling Stones.

5-paragraph review of ‘The Walking Dead: Too Far Gone’

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Season 4, Episode 8: “Too Far Gone”

Original air date: Dec. 1, 2013

  1. The fourth season of “The Walking Dead” limped into its midseason finale with another yawner. There was plenty of of action in the last 15 minutes. Some characters we cared about were killed, as were characters we met three episodes ago and were supposed to care about but really didn’t. Nothing happened that was terribly surprising or all that interesting.
  2. The Governor (David Morrissey) storms the prison with his new group of rubes, one of whom has a tank. The Governor apparently captured Hershel (Scott Wilson) and Michonne (Danai Gurira). That might have been shown, but I watched big chunks of the episode on fast-forward to avoid all the blather.
  3. And there was plenty of blather. There were speeches to be made by the Governor about how they need to take the prison and kill everybody because it’s the right thing to do. Hershel made a speech about how they could all live in harmony. Rick (Andrew Lincoln) later made a speech about how everybody could live in harmony. It sounded a lot like the speech Hershel made about 15 minutes earlier. It was like “The Walking Dead: C-SPAN.”
  4. Anyway, about 45 minutes into the episode the Governor and his rubes finally attack the prison. He beheads Hershel. The Governor and Rick have a fistfight. The Governor wins. The Michonne runs him through with her sword. Other people we barely knew died. The Governor’s new girlfriend, whose name I didn’t bother to learn, shot the Governor through the head just so we know he’s dead. Earlier in the episode, the cute little tow-headed blonde girl that is her daughter, also a name I didn’t bother to learn, was bitten by a zombie. I guess she thought that was the Governor’s fault. I don’t know. Women can be fickle.
  5. These eight episodes were the highest rated in the series’ history. I thought they were the eight worst episodes. So there’s no accounting for taste. I don’t know if I will watch the remaining eight episodes of the season when it comes back in February. The series had drug on and stumbled so much that I really don’t care what happens to any of these characters. AMC has one more season of “Mad Men” left and then AMC is out of excellent programming. Well, I guess there’s “Comic Book Men.”

5-paragraph review of ‘The Walking Dead: Dead Weight’

Season 4, Episode 7: “Dead Weight”

Original air date: Nov. 24, 2013

1.) I promised myself I was done with “The Walking Dead.” It’s been dull this season and I had all I could stand and I could stand no more, to paraphrase Popeye. Yet I got home from work and it was there in my DVR queue. My back hurt from an ill-advised effort to move an old tube television. I couldn’t get comfortable in bed. I figured if anything could make me drowsy, it would be “The Walking Dead.” And I was proven right again.the_walking_dead_blood_logo_magnet

2.) The Governor (David Morrissey) plays house with a bunch of boring characters we met last episode about whom I don’t care. The Governor seems to, but he’s crazy. He proceeds to kill Martinez (Jose Pablo Cantillo), the guy from the Governor’s old town, by throwing him into a pit of zombies. I am not sure why one keeps a pit of zombies in your camp. Maybe it is an aesthetic thing, you know some Frank Lloyd Wright stuff. I never understood architecture. The Governor kills another human we met recently and don’t care about. Suddenly he’s in charge of the camp.

3.) The episode closes with the Governor driving up to the prison. Apparently Rick’s (Andrew Lincoln) and Carl (Chandler Riggs) can’t hear the engine of trucks in noisy maelstrom of their garden. The Governor spies Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Hershel (Scott Wilson) having a cheerful chat. He points a gun at them. The episode ends. Oh, cliffhanger.

4.) Except that 1 second later, the narrator introduces the trailer for next week’s episode. The Governor is going to convince his new band of buddies, one of whom has a tank, to attack the prison. I feel like I’ve seen this before. Wait. We did see this before. It was the same plot of the Season 3 finale. Well, now there’s a tank, at least.

5.) I guess it’s not technically plagiarism because they’re only stealing ideas from themselves. But it is awfully lazy. Some fans weren’t happy there wasn’t a big action movie-style showdown between Rick and the Governor last season. Maybe we’ll get that next week. Hey, maybe it will be a lightsaber duel. That sounds like a terrible idea, but trust me, no bad idea I could come up with would be any worse than the ones the Season 4 writers have already put on screen.

5 reasons why I stopped watching ‘The Walking Dead’

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  1. Unbelievable marksmanship: The headshot is exceptionally difficult to pull off even for top sharpshooters. But in the zombie apocalypse that is “The Walking Dead,” even children are able to consistently shoot zombies in the brain.
  2. Soft skulls: I am not an expert in bone density, but it seems like it is awfully easy to smash zombie skulls in “The Walking Dead.” Skulls are getting crushed by boot stomp and punched through by fists. Bones are one of the few things that survive when the flesh rots of bodies. Maybe the skulls could be a little tougher to squish.
  3. Red shirts: The old gag on the original “Star Trek” series was if you saw a character wearing a red shirt that you didn’t already know, they were probably going to die. That’s been the case of “The Walking Dead” Season 4. The audience is introduced to scores of characters, some for less than 5 minutes of screen time, and then asked to care when they die. I don’t. I’m not surprised when they’re dead.
  4. Bad builders: One consistent threat to the survivors’ prison stronghold has been the zombie hordes pushing against the weakening chain-link fences. The survivors’ solution to this is to lean planks and boards against the fence at an angle. The boards aren’t anchored. They’re just kind of wedged in there. I am not an engineer, but this seems like a pretty lousy solution. A better solution might be to dig a trench. It worked for the Governor and his crew. Behind the trench, build a wall out of concrete and brick. If the survivors are already going out on runs for food, medicine and, in Bob’s case, booze, they could pick up some bricks and mortar or sacks of cement and use those two-by-fours to build a real line of defense.
  5. Boring: Most of the above complains are ticky-tack fouls. I would forgive them if the drama or the action were better quality. But they aren’t. They’re poor. I used to look forward to “The Walking Dead” on Sunday nights. I used to bemoan the fact that it got me so excited, I found it difficult to settle down before going to bed. Now I look at the coming of each week’s episode as a chore. I kept writing about the show because it was fun to poke fun at. But now I’m even tired of that. I’m not dead, but I’m walking away from “The Walking Dead.”

5-paragraph review of ‘The Walking Dead: Live Bait’

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Season 4, Episode 6: “Live Bait”

Original air date: Nov. 17, 2013

  1. Memory gets fuzzy with age. I feel like I remember a time when I enjoyed “The Walking Dead,” when I looked forward to it each week and was disappointed when it was over because it always left me wanting more. But this seems inconsistent with recent evidence in which I find myself bored only a few minutes into an episode, easily predicting each turn in the thin plots.
  2. Then I have a flash of revelation. I got bored with the first season, too. I gave up near the end when they were hanging out at the Center for Disease Control. I reconnected in the second season. I liked that season. A lot of fans hated it. This season, though, I don’t like it. And the ratings are excellent. I guess it’s a matter of opinion. Mine is that the fourth season isn’t very good.
  3. The Governor (David Morrissey) returns. He drifts after his defeat at the prison and his own slaughter of his followers. He plays house with a family in an apartment complex. He teaches a young girl, Megan (Meyrick Murphy), to play chess. He smashes her grandfather’s head after he dies of lung cancer and turns into a zombie. He becomes instant daddy to the dead grandpa’s family, including Tara (Alanna Masterson), who claims to have police training, and nurse Lily (Audrey Marie Anderson), mom of Megan and sister to Tara. The group go on a roadtrip in dead grandad’s old delivery truck. While Tara and Megan sleep, the Governor and Lily have sex in the truck. It’s nice to see romance isn’t dead at the end of the world, but I hope Tara and Lily are deep sleepers.
  4. The truck doesn’t work in the morning. They walk. They run into a horde of zombies. Tara twists her ankle to continue the longest running cliche in the history of horror films and television: Women are unable to run while in danger. If Wilma Rudolph were in a horror film, she would twist her damned ankle when being chased by a monster. The Governor does one better and falls in a hole while carrying Megan. He kills three zombies with his bare hands. Then some of his old buddies from the village — you know, the one where he murdered a bunch of people when he lost his mind — show up.
  5. This was the dullest episode in a very dull season. I see the effort to humanize the Governor and try to use Morrissey’s formidable acting skills to make him seem like an anguished man beset by demons. It doesn’t work for me, but, again, the ratings are fabulous. As long as the checks keep cashing, it really doesn’t matter what anybody has to say. There are two episodes left before the mid-season hiatus. Now that’s something I’m looking forward to.

5-paragraph review of ‘The Walking Dead: Internment’

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Season 4, Episode 5: “Internment”

Original air date: Nov. 10, 2013

  1. The “The Walking Dead” version of “ER” ended as you would expect. Hershel (Scott Wilson) keeps hope alive, but people start dying in bunches and he has to, at last, kill some zombies. The fence collapses. Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Carl (Chandler Riggs) team up to blast the horde with machine guns. Before the zombie apocalypse, Rick and Carl probably played catch with a football. Now they shoot zombies together. Greeting card companies take note. This is the father-son bonding moment of the 21st century. It was some good zombie slaughter, but nothing spectacular. You could do just as well to play one of the umpteen zombie games on PlayStation or Xbox and probably be just as entertained, if not more so.
  2. Despite the burst of action, “Internment” was mostly another dull episode. Rick and Hershel have a heart-to-heart talk, because this father-son relationship needed to be reinforced for the viewers who didn’t get they were the moral center of the show from the previous 217 discussions between the characters. Maggie (Lauren Cohan) talks about how competent she is, demonstrates it by hacking off a zombie’s, but then asks Rick for his seal of approval anyway. Feminism is another casualty of the zombie apocalypse.
  3. Daryl (Norman Reedus), Michonne (Danai Gurira) Tyreese (Chad Coleman) and Drunk Bob (Larry Gilliard Jr.) return with the medicine. All the important characters live. A cheerful Hershel goes on a zombie corpse burning run with Michonne. Rick and Carl have a quiet moment eating a snowpea in the garden. The writers will just not let this garden thing go. It’s probably a metaphor for something, maybe hope, but at this point, I really don’t care.
  4. Rick holds off telling Daryl about Carol’s (Melissa McBride) banishment. That’s an important lesson for young writers. Never do in one scene what you can string out for three or four. It creates the illusion the story is moving forward when it really nothing happens at all. For more examples, see every soap opera ever. Also, the Governor (David Morrissey) is lurking in the woods outside the prison. That’s suspenseful. They held out bringing the Governor back for so long I forgot he was a character on the show. The preview promises more of the Governor next week. The good news is there are only three episodes left until the show’s mid-season break. The Governor will only have two episodes to screw around and do nothing rather than the five the rest of the cast has had.
  5. I look at my watch a lot this season. Each time I think, “Isn’t this almost over?” I think there is a reason horror films are two hours or less. There is only so far you can go with this concept. “The Walking Dead” seems to be well past the point of doing anything interesting. The ratings remain staggeringly high despite its mediocre quality. AMC renewed it for a fifth season. But I’m very close to deleting this series from my DVR record list.

1-paragraph review of ‘The Walking Dead: Indifference’

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Season 4, Episode 4: “Indifference”

Original air date: Nov. 3, 2013

Here is how bad “The Walking Dead” has become in my estimation: I was actually thinking about “Talking Dead” during this week’s episode, “Indifference.” I wondered if it is hard for Chris Hardwick to be so enthusiastic about something so mediocre every week. I wonder if he feels a hit to his integrity. He might, but then he gets his direct deposit from AMC and that buys a lot of salve for the ego. This week in brief: Rick (Andrew Lincoln) exiles the murderer Carol (Melissa McBride). Bob (Larry Gilliard Jr.) screws up on a mission. Daryl (Norman Reedus) gets angry. Michonne (Dania Gurira) decapitates some zombies.  Someone named Ana, whom we’ve never seen before, is killed. The audience is supposed to care. I didn’t. Carol drives off alone. Rick drives back to the prison alone. Bob, Michonne and Daryl drive back to the prison. A sad song plays. And I become, just as the title of this week’s episode suggests, more and more indifferent with each passing hour.

5-paragraph review of ‘The Walking Dead: Isolation’

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Season 4, Episode 3: “Isolation”

Original air date: Oct. 27, 2013

  1. Tyreese (Chad Coleman) is angry. His girlfriend and a guy named Dave were murdered and their bodies burned. They have the plague. You know, because “The Walking Dead” is a hospital show now. We’re supposed to care about these dead people. We never met Dave and caught a fleeting glimpse of the girlfriend before she was toasted. Anyway, Tyreese, who was previously too weak-kneed to kill zombies on the fence and too scared to go on supply runs, suddenly has a backbone. Losing a good girlfriend will do that to you. He asks Rick (Andrew Lincoln) to investigate the murder. Rick tries to play psychologist. Tyresse punches Rick.
  2. Rick wakes up from the sedation he’s been under for the first two weeks. He beats up Tyreese. Later, Rick apologizes. Tyreese sneers that Rick has no urgency in his investigation of the murder of characters no one cared about. It’s good to know that even during the apocalypse, there is still race-based tension with law enforcement. Tyreese says it looks like murder is OK now. Let’s hope so. That would be fun to watch compared to “The Walking Dead: ER.”
  3. Maybe it’s “The Walking Dead: Victory Garden.” This week opens with the survivors digging in the dirt again. Of course this time they’re graves instead of gardens as in the season opener. But the theme of the heroic gardener continued. Hershel (Scott Wilson) goes into the woods to gather berries that can help the plague victims. Carl (Chandler Riggs) accompanies him. They have a chat. Carl doesn’t kill anybody, even a couple of zombies in the neighborhood. Ah, our little apocalypse survivor is growing up. Ain’t that sweet. Also, Carol (Melissa McBride) goes outside the gates to get the water supply unclogged as part of “The Walking Dead: Home Improvement” segment.
  4. Daryl (Norman Reedus), Michonne (Danai Gurira), Tyreese and another new guy, Bob (Larry Gilliard, Jr.), go on a road trip to a veterinary clinic in hopes of finding antibiotics for the plague. They run into a zombie horde. Their Dodge Charger has trouble getting traction on a pile of corpses. They should have bought the police suspension package. Anyway, Tyreese starts dicing up zombies as the others make their way to the woods. This feels slightly like “The Walking Dead.” Too bad the episode is almost over. Somebody get Chris Hardwick a hashtag.
  5. Also, Carol murdered the characters nobody cared about except Tyreese. They made that about as obvious as they could with her suicide run on the water. Rick figured it out as part of the “The Walking Dead: CSI” segment. He stared at some char marks on the ground and found some blood on a door jam. Give Andrew Lincoln a pair of shades that he can take off while listening to The Who and he’s ready to replace David Caruso. Carol confesses to Rick. Her punishment is to continue being on the show.

5-paragraph review of ‘The Walking Dead: Infected’

Season 4, Episode 2: “Infected”

Original air date: Oct. 20, 2013

  1. The Walking Dead” picked up from a slow and disappointing (but highly rated) fourth season premiere, but is still fairly weak. “Infected” further defines a new threat to the survivors: an airborne virus. But the writing feels heavy handed and graceless. Maybe it was always this way and the juicy squish made up for it. But the program seems to violate the old saw “show, don’t tell,” assaulting the viewers with plot points delivered through exposition or scenes so obvious as to allow no subtext. Also, the slaughter of newly introduced characters continues. As my friend Skyler Bartels, who knows more about zombies than anyone this side of an 18th century Haitian vodou priest, said, “The last thing the show needed was redshirts.”
  2. Rick’s (Andrew Lincoln) newfound pacifism is mercifully short-lived. Nobody needs more brooding and self-pity. Rick surrenders his fantasy as a humble farmer to prevent a zombie herd from overrunning the fences. Rick slaughters the pigs he raised with son Carl (Chandler Riggs). He throws out the pigs, cutting their tendons so the can’t run and leading the walkers away from the prison. Even zombies can’t resist fresh bacon, apparently. This is quite the episode for animal cruelty. Someone is feeding rats to the zombies at night by flashlight. We’re treated to a zombie biting the head off a rat. Somebody cue the Sarah McLachlan music for those weepy SPCA advertisements.
  3. Carol (Melissa McBride) has taken it upon herself to be den mother and iron monger for the survivors’ children. One of the casualties this week is a father of two girls. The eldest girl wants to put her father down, you know, because this is the kind of thing that should be kept in the family. She can’t do it, so Carol does it. Carol follows with a heart-to-heart with the girl later, explaining that the girl is week and it’s kill-or-be-killed in the zombie apocalypse. The girl comes around and takes her knife back. There weren’t enough mental health counselors to go around before the end of the world. I guess Carol is doing the best she can.
  4. Tyreese (Chad Coleman) continues to be a wuss. Last week, he didn’t want to kill zombies on the fence because it upset him. He went to get supplies. People died and there were mean, nasty zombies everywhere trying to eat him. This upset him too and he announced he didn’t want to go on supply runs anymore. He romances his girlfriend by serenading to her while canoodling in the prison library. He wants her to stay overnight in his cell. She’s not ready yet. Even at the end of the world, women are don’t want to give it away too easily. More likely, she’s still trying to decide whether Tyreese really likes girls or just wants to be a girl. She’ll never know. She gets the plague. They send the plague victims off to an isolated area of the prison to either recover or die and turn into zombies where they can’t hurt anybody. The isolated area is death row. This is the level of subtle writing we’re dealing with here. Somebody kills Tyreese’s redshit girlfriend and somebody else and burns the bodies. Tyreese is mad. He will probably write some very dark poetry after this tragedy.
  5. Finally, we have Michonne (Danai Gurira). She’s a sword-slinging badass who decapitates zombies and hunts the evil Governor (David Morrissey). This week, she sprains her ankle fighting zombies like she’s a victim in a 1980s “Friday the 13th” sequel. Later, she cries while holding a crying baby as if the child were kryptonite. Maybe I wasn’t watching “The Walking Dead” after all. Maybe I was just watching the Halloween-themed episode of HBO’s “Girls.” That’s sure what it felt like.