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The Walking Dead

You can't cancel a smile like that

FOX (the network) has finally decided to give up on the struggling Terra Nova, while FOX (the studio) remains optimistic for an afterlife, continuing to shop the series around town, according to TVbytheNumbers.

Reports have surfaced that the late Cretaceous period (that’s just fancy dinosaur talk for ya’) may still find an amicable TV home in the future. Netflix has shown interest in adding the newly defunct series to its original content master plan. Currently the streaming service features the lonely Norwegian American drama Lilyhammer, which seems appreciated by critics more for its innovative delivery than what it offers content-wise (a lackluster tagline reads “a New York mobster in Norway” but really just says ‘we had to start somewhere, shrug‘).

Netflix’s prospective programming becomes a bit more ambitious with upcoming additions of a Kevin Spacey starred political drama, House of Cards, and the alleged return of comedic golden child, Arrested Development (forever a skeptic until I see the return of the guy in the $4,000 suit… Come on!) The future promises television sprouting freely from the interwebs and the reanimation of network cadavers on a variety of screen sizes. Small screen purist may be a bit distrustful of the new kid on the block. But it seems, at least now, that there’s an undeniable benefit here. Terra Nova is still cancelled without the need for a half-hearted rescue campaign. Netflix has the resources and apparent willingness to house the tired, poor, huddled masses seeking refuge from the Nielsen box despotism of “real” television.

The primary impetus for the production of TV properties remains the same, altruism and charity and artistic expression, clearly, but the times call for using resources available to expand in new and inventive ways, not just hashtags for #everything, but some consideration for the conversations going on surrounding the hashtags. Terra Nova was a relative beast with the DVR numbers, that’s something traditional television metrics may not be ready or willing to embrace and consider, despite the tweets and likes on Facebook. So Netflix and similarly ambitious ventures, tossing the old model, potentially represent an expansion of TV as a whole into a more genuinely interactive spaceā€¦ almost like the WebTV devices of the 1990s, except not at all and Netflix actually doesn’t suck. Ha! Remember WebTV?!

  • In other news, The Walking Dead has arguably reached its meme zenith (or nadir, depending on where you stand). via Reddit
  • The crew of Alcatraz saved a woman’s life in the Bay, but surely no one was watching. via EW.com

  • And watch The Finder simply because you like Bones but it’s not on – FOX

Sarah Wayne Callies (Lori)

It’s almost par for course that a television series, after a certain number of episodes, after a certain number of typical start to finish storylines, will eventually go all in media res on us, thrusting the viewer right into the thick of the action, early, and then explaining as the story progresses. So it’s no surprise that The Walking Dead in the midst of its second season dusted off the trick and put it to work this past week for the opening scene of “18 Miles Out”. Glen Mazzara, the Brit who replaced the show’s creator, Frank Darabont, as showrunner this past July, has refreshingly decided to heighten the action and seemingly (if not actually) quicken the pace of the series, utilizing the tools at a writer’s disposal to the benefit of the viewer- our bloodlust and waning attention spans.

The teaser before the opening credits starts with zombies chasing folk; reminding everyone why ‘zombie apocalypse’ as a premise was appealing enough for AMC to remake Lost without any of the original’s selling points (no island, no time travel, and despite how hard Shane tries to Sawyer it up each episode, no Sawyer), and hypnotic enough to have record-breaking cable viewership each outing. While so much time has been spent up to this point closely examining the contrasting ideologies of the good cop and the bad cop, thoroughly dissecting what defines humanity and community in an allegorically bleak America, and other thematic bores, this episode, for the first time in an embarrassingly long time, brings the visceral image of zombies to the forefront, literally.

The zombies, like star pupils in a college writing workshop, show instead of tell and allow for more compelling story progression. The establishment of an A-plot that bears a resemblance to what the series once promised us, even makes the B-plot, and characters therein, flourish in ways the previous glacial pace hadn’t allowed. Did we know that the show had female characters before this episode? Maybe. Did we know that they were more than simply mothers, daughters, sisters, and liabilities? We do now.

While the boys were out expelling tension with fisticuffs (as men sometimes do) and piercing zombie skulls (as Lori claims men should always do), the girls discuss suicide and the role of women in a zombie-riddled society. The first ladies of The Walking Dead, Andrea and Lori, have understandably conflicting views and get at each other’s throats in a way that has all the perks of a cat fight while maintaining or even establishing these characters as dynamic female leads. Andrea stands on her own without clamoring to be simply Shane’s female counterpart, and Lori almost has us forget that she’s the worst person on the show. Sounds like progress.

The Black guy, the redneck, the Asian, the old guys, and the kid who got shot weren’t in this episode, but they’re still alive, so diversity for diversity’s sake is still preserved. This episode seemed to be more about moving away from being a “cul-de-sac” of narrative or The Talking Dead as some critics have written, and many viewers have lamented. It seems like at some point the show stood completely still on AMC, questioning if it could be the Mad Men that viewers actually watched or the zombie story that was about something more. Interestingly, in rolling out a trope of televised fiction (if I remember correctly, The Flinstones always teased in media res before the theme song), “18 Miles Out” was a confident step in the direction of setting the series apart from every other cable drama, if only for reminding us we have a show about zombies on television, something invariably special.

Zombies.

Zombies eating flesh and zombies getting their brains bashed in. Zombies slowly chasing people as they inexplicably trip. Close calls. Blood and guts. Why wouldn’t the first few pages of every The Walking Dead script look just like that?