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November 17, 2017
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Q&A with Jessica Keener, Author of Strangers in Budapest
Jessica Keener and John Valeri
Showing posts by: Pritpaul Bains click to see Pritpaul Bains's profile
Mon
Nov 20 2017 5:00pm

The Walking Dead Power Rankings 8.05: “The Big Scary U”

It took us almost a month, but we're finally back at the Sanctuary with Negan and Co. Assuming their fearless leader was zombie food, the hierarchy of the Saviors fell into disarray, making it all the more clear that Negan is el jefe grande. When juxtaposed to Rick, whose leadership has been called into question several times (including the little squabble with Daryl in this episode), Negan is slowly being repainted as the better option at the top. He puts it well when he tells Gabriel that he may kill people, but he doesn't get people killed. Can Rick say the same?

Another decent episode this week, but alas, it seems our prediction about the Garbage People was but a week late. Let's hope the writers get enough stuffing this Thursday and avoid the inevitable filler on Monday.

[See who's “Walking Tall” and who's been “Eaten Alive” this week...]

Mon
Nov 13 2017 5:00pm

The Walking Dead Power Rankings 8.04: “Some Guy”

What's this? Two entertaining episodes in a row? After last week's morality check in “Monsters,” “Some Guy” ramped up the action and brought tragedy to the people of the Kingdom.

And while there was a bit more context to this week's episode (which was strengthened greatly by the decision to focus on smaller stories within the larger war), it also made the prior episodes feel even more like a huge missed opportunity. The stakes would hold so much more weight if the show had decided to give viewers even a little insight into what the hell was going on.

Still, credit where credit is due: this war seems to be moving in the right direction. Can we keep the momentum going? Or will we inevitably end up with an entire episode stinkin' it up with Discount Milla Jovovich & the Garbage People?

[See who's “Walking Tall” and who's been “Eaten Alive” this week...]

Mon
Nov 6 2017 5:30pm

The Walking Dead Power Rankings 8.03: “Monsters”

“Monsters” was by far the best episode of a young Season 8. The apt plurality of the title did a good job of representing the episode's exploration of the characters we view as the “heroes” and “villains.” The discussion between Morales and Rick set it up, and the battle between Morgan and Jesus knock it down.

While we're still missing Negan, Carl, Father Gabriel, Eugene, Dwight, and other major players in this war, this episode seemed to move the plotline forward rather than simply spray bullets for 40 minutes. Also, we were happy to have some zombies again in a, ya know, zombie show.

And while “Monsters” definitely had some questionable scenes (see: several minutes of Gregory's petulant groveling and generally bad acting) and odd artistic direction (why did all of Ezekiel's scenes seem to have a weird tint and strangely timed fade cuts?), the episode felt like a success, all things considered.

[See who's “Walking Tall” and who's been “Eaten Alive” this week...]

Mon
Oct 30 2017 3:30pm

The Walking Dead Power Rankings 8.02: “The Damned”

LLLLLLLLET'S GET READY TO RUUUUMBLEEEEE!

After what felt like an eternity of setup, The Walking Dead finally treated its viewers to the beginning of the big battle against the baddie with back problems. The only problem is they took so long to get there, the general consensus was, “Who cares?” Add to that the disjointed feel of all the individual battles, the “well-0rchestrated” plan we're not privy to, and the lack of some of the more important characters (Negan, Maggie, Carl, Dwight), and this episode just felt like 40 minutes of bullets.

At least we got some action, which at this point is exponentially better than meeting up with Garbage People or spending an hour watching Dwight make a sandwich. I guess beggars can't be choosers in the apocalypse...

[See who's “Walking Tall” and who's been “Eaten Alive” this week...]

Mon
Oct 23 2017 3:00pm

The Walking Dead Power Rankings 8.01: “Mercy”

The last season of The Walking Dead gave us one of the better opening episodes of any season of the show. Granted, the rest of the season was garbage, and we don't just mean the people. But if we were to have any expectations after a lackluster season and an anticlimactic finale, it was for this premiere of Season 8.

And hot diggity dog were we let down again. After more unnecessary attempts at artistic symbolism with the flashforwards, a package of rousing speeches that would give William Wallace himself a war-boner, and effectively nothing happening again, this show continues to schlep along at a zombie's pace. For an episode titled “Mercy,” the viewers ended up being the ones pleading for it to stop.

Alas, here are our power rankings for Episode 8.01: “Mercy”:

[See who's “Walking Tall” and who's been “Eaten Alive” this week...]

Mon
Sep 18 2017 4:30pm

Three Clowns Talk About It

Grab the closest rock. Leave the silver bullets. And cue the New Kids on the Block. It's time to discuss It. Let's start with some background info—how familiar were you with the story coming into the new film?

Adam Wagner: I knew there was a clown. And some kids. And a newspaper boat for some reason. I knew Tim Curry was the original Pennywise. And I knew there was an awkward pre-teen gangbang we were thankfully spared.

Other than that, I hadn't read the book or seen the original until last weekend. I watched the 3-hour miniseries first, then I went and saw the new version a few days later. So I'm coming at this with fresh eyes for both films. No irrational fear of clowns stemming from watching It too early as a kid for me. Just a good ol' rational fear of clowns because they're face-painted murder devils.

[Clowns, kids, and a discussion of It...]

Mon
Apr 3 2017 4:15pm

The Walking Dead Power Rankings 7.16: “The First Day of the Rest of Your Life”

Although last night’s Season 7 finale was ultimately a pretty good episode, it was also a pretty underwhelming finale. Some fun things happened (see: Shiva attack and Sasha zombie), but everyone is still waiting for the big war with the baddie with back problems. They teased us with a few bullets, some dead extras, and a swollen-faced Michonne, but the problem with this “cliffhanger” is that we all already knew what was coming—for literally the whole season. 

With that said, it was a pleasant surprise to Michael Cudlitz again, even in flashback form. The episode was structured surprisingly well from a story perspective, effectively dropping viewers into Sasha's entombed journey without context, then stitching the past and present together fairly seamlessly as the episode progressed leading up to her final, desperate assassination attempt. There was betrayal, sacrifice, heartbreak, and revenge. There were tiger attacks and unintentional fourth-wall-breaking metaphors, as Negan drove away from a cloud of chaos, middle finger high in the air.

But there was no way there was ever going to be enough time in this episode for there to be anywhere near the amount of resolution a season finale should demand, due to the inexorably slow pace of the rest of the season. After all that, we've come full-circle to Rick and his crew gearing up and preparing for the next onslaught, minus a Sasha.

[See who's “Walking Tall” and who's been “Eaten Alive” this week...]

Mon
Mar 27 2017 3:20pm

The Walking Dead Power Rankings 7.15: “Something They Need”

Last night on The Walking Dead: Search for the Fish People, the showrunners finally caught the viewers up with the inevitable. Tara flipped on the Fish People, Sasha's idiotic plan yielded predictable results, and Dwight made a (surprise?) appearance in Alexandria.

Also—rejoice, all ye put-upon viewers hate-watching due to sheer obstinance! The season finale is nigh, and odds are good it'll be about as satisfying as most of the rest of this season has been so far. In most other shows, Rick's crew would've come together a couple of episodes ago, last night would have been about everyone arriving for the final showdown, culminating in a 90-minute battle of ups and downs between the Saviors and Alexandria, et al. But TWD, in all its infinite wisdom, is eschewing convention.

Anyone want to lay odds on whether we even get to see the beginning of this fight next week? We're about 70% convinced the finale is going to end with everyone assembling and staring at each other before the show peaces out for another year. If last season proved anything, it's that TWD is not at all adverse to anti-climactic finales.

[See who's “Walking Tall” and who's been “Eaten Alive” this week...]

Mon
Mar 20 2017 3:30pm

The Walking Dead Power Rankings 7.14: “The Other Side”

In last night's episode of The Walking Dead, we were granted a few characterization moments in an attempt by showrunners to make a wildly unpopular character making stupid choices a little more human, and to make a wildly popular character making stupid choices a little less ... well ... stupid. Daryl's apology and confession to Maggie provided an elegant window into his tortured mindset this season, while Rosita's heart-to-hearts with Sasha helped slightly redee— who are we kidding, she's still Rosita. Meanwhile, Eugene's true colors began to show, tequila stock is up in the apocalypse, and the Hilltop is undergoing an unspoken coup d'etat.

Onward!

[See who's “Walking Tall” and who's been “Eaten Alive” this week...]

Mon
Mar 13 2017 3:45pm

The Walking Dead Power Rankings 7.13: “Bury Me Here”

Last night's episode of The Walking Dead brought us cobblerus interruptus, an extremely poorly hidden cantaloupe, and one of the better episodes of this half-season. Though the writers still seem stuck on staying with one group for whole episodes, at least this episode moved the story forward. 

Through some pretty forced symbolism with the weevils and “royal garden,” it seems like Ezekiel is finally onboard with fighting. Carol and Morgan played house-swap, but they also seemed to drop their collective pacifism for being badass again. It seems like all we need now are the Fish People and their guns. With three episodes left, let's hope all this lead up actually brings us the war it's been leading up to...

[See who's “Walking Tall” and who's been “Eaten Alive” this week...]

Mon
Mar 6 2017 3:30pm

The Walking Dead Power Rankings 7.12: “Say Yes”

In another prime example of how to draw things out, “Say Yes” gave us an entire episode that centered exclusively on Rick and Michonne’s scavenging Adventureland. While Rosita only found a play gun, Rick and Michonne were busy playing find guns, and in the end they didn’t swipe enough for the Garbage People anyway.

It seems we’ve fallen back into the hole of long-winded episodes that feature heavily on a particular storyline, giving us tons of filler and leaving us wondering why each of the last few episodes couldn’t have simply been a quick C or D storyline in an episode with some actual substance. I feel like someone could edit this entire season into one two-hour movie without leaving out anything important. And, after all, isn’t six seasons and a movie the ultimate goal?

[See who's “Walking Tall” and who's been “Eaten Alive” this week...]

Mon
Feb 27 2017 3:30pm

The Walking Dead Power Rankings 7.11: “Hostiles and Calamities”

Last week, after Rick emerged from the Octagon victorious, he made a promise to the Garbage People that he'd go searching for guns. With that, the Garbage People would take their mangy hair and fight alongside Rick's group against The Saviors. 

We're not sure if we should be thankful that we were spared that follow-up episode, but it's completely unsurprising that we diverted and focused on a group of characters not normally used to the attention. Rather than watch Tara inevitably confide in Rick the existence of the Fish Women, we're left watching Dwight play CSI, Negan honor Fat Joe by promising to always serve as the physical embodiment of “Lean Back,” and Eugene found some pickles. Sounds about right.

[See who's “Walking Tall” and who's been “Eaten Alive” this week...]

Mon
Feb 20 2017 3:00pm

The Walking Dead Power Rankings 7.10: “New Best Friends”

This show is rapidly approaching a Game of Thrones level of characters, but not in a good way. We get that it’s building towards an epic showdown with the Saviors, but every week we get a new batch of “Who the hell are they?” We’ve got Fish People, Garbage People, Renaissance Faire People, a Jack-of-Many-Trades Jesus, and more—it’s almost like The Walking Dead took a look at what’s currently successful with television and movies (Marvel Universe, GoT, Mad Max, Hoarders?) and tried to mash it all up into one season. 

Here’s to hoping it’s worth it and the showdown with Negan justifies the hours we’ve invested to get there.

[See who's “Walking Tall” and who's been “Eaten Alive” this week...]

Mon
Feb 13 2017 4:00pm

The Walking Dead Power Rankings 7.09: “Rock in the Road”

Last night's episode of The Walking Dead had more of a familiar feel to it, as a number of our (anti)heroes fell back into their comfort zones and began doing what they do best—in stark contrast to the relentless dread and misery they (and we, the viewers) experienced throughout the entire first half of the season. Rick is wheeling and dealing (hopefully in a more measured way than aggro-Alpha-Rick from last season), Maggie (and the Hilltop) has had enough of Gregory's shit, and the Alexandrians are ready to fight back.

Will this renewed sense of hope and winds of rebellion end up spelling disaster for our heroes? Probably. But until then...

[See who's “Walking Tall” and who's been “Eaten Alive” this week...]

Mon
Dec 12 2016 5:30pm

The Walking Dead Power Rankings 7.08: “Hearts Still Beating”

Last night's midseason finale of The Walking Dead ended on a ... well, we can't quite call it a high note, but at least it was something in the treble clef. For perhaps the first time all season, storylines progressed at a speed beyond glacial, certain fundamental dynamics finally saw some change, and another annoying character found out he didn't quite have the stomach to survive the apocalypse.

On the downside, Negan remains incredibly two-dimensional, Rosita took over the idiocy mantle from Spencer, and Carl continued to mope around glaring impotently at Negan whilst not doing anything of note.

Onward!

[See who's “Walking Tall” and who's been “Eaten Alive” this week...]

Mon
Dec 5 2016 4:00pm

The Walking Dead Power Rankings 7.07: “Sing Me a Song”

Finally an episode that remembered different storylines can be featured in the same hour and a half. While we thankfully returned to the world of competent storytelling, we were still met with a pretty weak episode. You'd think after introducing a brutal new villain and two new societies, we could get some sense of variety. Nope—Daryl's gonna Daryl, Negan's gonna Negan, Jesus's gonna ninja, and everything remains the same.

With shows that follow the weekly format, the audience usually forgets the filler episodes with time, remembering only the crazy scenes rather than the 8 hours of setup it took to get there. So, TWD ... I'ma let you finish—but you better bring your A-game next week or people just might not return after the break.

Ach, who are we kidding? What the hell else are we going to watch?

[See who's “Walking Tall” and who's been “Eaten Alive” this week...]

Mon
Nov 28 2016 4:00pm

The Walking Dead Power Rankings 7.06: “Swear”

Clearly The Walking Dead felt America hadn't eaten enough this Thanksgiving weekend, as it gifted viewers with a turkey of its own last night, accompanied by a heaping side of who the fuck cares?

On last night's episode, Tara washed up on what appeared to be the island from Lost, met a band of survivors hiding from the Others the Saviors, jumped from timeline to timeline unnecessarily, and ... well, that was about it. The showrunners subjected their long-suffering audience to yet another hour-long plotline that would have been best served as a 5-minute C or D storyline in an episode containing actual substance. If it feels like we're repeating ourselves here, it's because being shallow on substance is pretty much the only overarching theme TWD has managed to establish thus far into the season.

At least the title of the episode felt spot on, as we found ourselves swearing a lot this week.

[See who's “Walking Tall” and who's been “Eaten Alive” this week...]

Mon
Nov 21 2016 3:30pm

The Walking Dead Power Rankings 7.05: “Go Getters”

We used to wonder how they stretched The Hobbit into a trilogy of three full-length feature films—now all we can think about is how The Walking Dead has stretched what is essentially one episode into four. Every episode since “The Day Will Come When You Won't Be” could have been told between one of the show's constant commercial breaks. Instead, we get full-hour breakdowns of each camp that tend to induce a zombie-like state of boredom.

We get that a good amount of setup is necessary for a show with so many storylines and subplots, but for every forward-moving plot device, we get a sandwich montage and a roller-disco. Sunday night television has too many good options for The Walking Dead to continuously trot out these clunkers.

[See who's “Walking Tall” and who's been “Eaten Alive” this week...]

Mon
Nov 14 2016 2:30pm

The Walking Dead Power Rankings 7.04: “Service”

Four episodes in, it's becoming apparent that The Walking Dead is starting to suffer either from significant content bloat or the lack of an actual editing team. It's absolutely inexcusable for an episode in which so little actually happened to be 90 minutes long. This is especially bad (and especially noticeable) coming in the wake of episode-long looks at the Kingdom and Daryl stewing in his own guilt.

Granted, this episode was at least a step in the right direction—it just took 90 minutes to make that step. Rick's broken, Negan's an asshole, Dwight desparately wants to be Daryl, and Carl needs a haircut. We get it. Now give us something new.

[See who's “Walking Tall” and who's been “Eaten Alive” this week...]

Mon
Nov 7 2016 2:30pm

The Walking Dead Power Rankings 7.03: “The Cell”

After opening on a full 2-minute montage for a sandwich that would have made Liz Lemon proud, we're finally treated to the all-Daryl, all-grunting-and-brooding 1-hour extravaganza we were promised last week—though, to be fair, Norman Reedus did a great job portraying his suffering.

True, this episode was no “The Well,” but for the second straight week, The Walking Dead left something to be desired. We realize Negan can't bash someone's brains in every episode and Rick can't enact his revenge in Episode 3, but we've also watched enough television to know that it's hard to ask viewers to tune in for an hour every week when you keep giving them 20 minutes of skippable setup and 40 of commercials.

It's become almost formula for The Walking Dead to hook you with a great episode and then give you two or more forgettable ones in a row—like they want to stretch you to the brink of giving up, and then reel you back in from the edge at the very last moment.

Oh god ... they're creating they're own post-apocalyptic human drama and we're the stars!

[See who's “Walking Tall” and who's “Eaten Alive” this week...]