Feature: The 5 Cult TV Shows That Deserve A Reboot

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Originally published on Cultastic on 21/05/17 and on Flickering Myth on 26/05/17. 

Despite something of a critical bollocking, Dwayne Johnson’s tongue-in-cheek Baywatchreboot is set to take on a huge portion of the summer box office takings.

And considering that it’s very much following in the footsteps of similar cult TV reboot success stories like 21 Jump Street, it proves that there’s definitely a market for all those other giants of the small screen, quietly waiting in the wings, ready to take that final big leap into blockbuster territory. In fact, there’s so many of these already in active development, that this feature got more and more difficult to research as it went along, with all of the best ideas seemingly already snatched up.

So, from that other well-known Hasselhoff project, to some straight-up risky bids, here’s a collection of potential big money reboots that we could see happening just about any day now.

Knight Rider

Chances are, some executive somewhere is literally reading a script for a Hollywood reboot of this classic Hoff vehicle as we speak. There’s already been numerous follow-ons, from a post-apocalyptic mid-90s TV movie (set in the far-off dystopia of 2010), to the short-lived 2008 mini-series of the same name, but we’re still yet to see an update that does the cheesy 80s detective drama justice. And in a post-Baywatch movie world, why the hell not.

To those still somehow unaware of its set-up, Knight Rider saw a pre-beach body Hoff tackling the forces of evil alongside a hyper-intelligent (and practically indestructible) robot car called K.I.T.T., that, aside from pretty much doing most of the criminal-catching legwork, could speak and sling a one-liner faster than any able-bodied action hero could ever muster too.

If that’s not a great set-up for another self-mocking comedy right there, I don’t know what is. You could even cast Dwayne Johnson again and set up a whole Hasselhoff-centric cinematic universe. With the right script and voice talent, it could be the next big thing. 

Cagney & Lacey

On a totally different, much more progressive note – Cagney & Lacey is the ultimate reboot-waiting-to-happen. With plans already in place for a female-lead Jump Street spin-off, and news hitting even just this week of an apparent Rihanna/Lupita Nyong’o buddy movie, female-focussed cop dramas are inches away from becoming all the rage. So why not give a nod to the 80s TV show that arguably got the ball running all those years ago?

All it takes is the right pairing and a slightly more driven plot than the likes of the otherwise hugely successful The Heat, and we could be onto another winner. It will probably have to beat those other rival projects past the post though, so a quick development is key.

Xena: Warrior Princess

Because there’s only so many buddy cop-comedies the market can manage, why not give new life to a totally different beloved female icon of the 90s instead? No, not Buffy (one exceptional case of a cult TV reboot being a terrible idea). Originally a spin-off of the Sam Raimi-produced, live-action Hercules series, Xena: Warrior Princess developed a totally insane cult following of its own, running for 6 Emmy-award-winning seasons and even earning its star, Lucy Lawless, one of the most memorable Simpsons cameos to date.

Especially with Wonder Woman set to open the door for a totally new breed of female warrior, a Xena movie could be a clever move for a studio looking to find their own way into the new-look swords-and-sandals trend. The lacklustre performance of the last several Hercules movies probably won’t do it any good, but considering just how much the original show totally outshone its male counterpart, there’s nothing stopping the Hollywood movie equivalent doing the exact same.

Airwolf

Albeit a bit of a bold choice, one 80s TV “classic” that could benefit massively from even just a mid-budget movie update, is the bonkers sci-fi drama Airwolf. Starring Rick & Morty fan favourite Jan-Michael Vincent in the midst of his short-lived heyday, it’s very broadly about an expert pilot’s adventures with his ultra-advanced black ops helicopter, pulling off some of the most insane and unusual aerial manoeuvres and dogfights imaginable.

There’s no ignoring the fact that t’s super silly and there’d need to be a lot retooling to the old-school cheesy plotting, but the very basic central idea definitely has a lot of potential.

Fringe

And finally, an extremely recent piece of cult TV; Fringe was always so much bigger than the dwindling platform Fox gave it on the small-screen. Even though it only ended a handful of years ago in 2013, there’s so much room to give it a second-life (and hopefully an even more impressive run) at the movies.

Dealing with some of the densest and most exciting alternate-reality science-fiction, it not only had all the right characters, but all the right writers too, spearheaded by Hollywood hero J.J. Abrams and his then Bad Robot cohorts Alex Kurtzman (who directed the new Mummy) and Roberto Orci (who wrote Star Trek its sequel, and The Amazing Spider-Man 2).

Hell, if a big-money movie follow-up seems like too weird an idea so soon, Abrams and his team could even just chop and change the show’s best bits and muddle them into their growing Cloverfield universe somewhere instead. Either way, it would be great to see more of Fringe, no matter the capacity. 

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Feature: Buffy At 20: All The Greatest Episodes

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Originally published on The National Student on 10/03/17. 

As Joss Whedon’s seminal vampire hit Buffy the Vampire Slayer turns a ridiculous 20 years old, we look back at the show’s most lasting episodes. 

It seems almost painful to admit that Sarah Michelle Gellar’s late-90s star vehicle, the same cheapo network show, a movie spin-off that has since become a total cultural phenomenon, is now over two decades old. Running for seven incredible seasons from 1997 to 2003, it’s an irreplaceable slice of barnstorming TV that totally changed the face of the medium for good. 

As you’d expect there’s obviously been whispers of everything from reunions to reboots in the many years since the show bowed out, and a long-running comic follow-on from Dark Horse, at first fronted by Whedon himself (who later disappeared to work on a cute little indie film called The Avengers) pretty much took its place. But nothing beats original Buffy. 

So without much further ado, to celebrate 20 years of the greatest vampire slaying gang in the history of well, vampire slaying, here are all the best bits to sink back into:

Teacher’s Pet (Season 1, Episode 4)

A testament to just how bonkers early-Buffy was, ‘Teacher’s Pet’ saw one of Sunnydale High’s newest substitute teachers turning out to be a gigantic demonic praying mantis, trapping the loveable Xander with plans to both mate with, and eat him. It’s not exactly high-art, but it’s easily one of the show’s most memorable first season adventures and remains one of the weirdest bits of fantasy-driven TV to date too. 

Prophecy Girl (Season 1, Episode 12)

It’s easy enough to fill a list like this with season finales, but ‘Prophecy Girl’ is a worthy one in many, many ways. Not only is the genuinely freaky-looking Master finally dealt with in both a badass and orderly fashion, but Buffy herself actually dies, introducing one of the show’s longest and most genre-defining themes: mortality and Buffy’s frequent lack of it. 

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Surprise (Season 2, Episode 13)

Whilst Season 2 wasn’t exactly the show’s peak, it did have a few defining moments, the biggest of which coming at the very end of ‘Surprise’. Sure, the episode itself is fairly standard, cut and dry Spike and Drusilla stuff (early Spike is still great though might we add), but the final moments see Buffy and Angel not only finally giving in to their long-term romantic urges, but also their sexual ones too. And in doing so, the Buffy writers actually explore a major part of adolescence that too many other teen-focussed TV shows often shied away from. 

Killed by Death (Season 2, Episode 18)

On the other hand, the second season also provided one of the show’s best bottle episodes and one of its greatest single-serving demons full-stop: the Kindestod, a scary old man-looking entity who strolls around hospitals in an old-school coat and hat combo, sucking the life out of sickly children. Directed by Deran Sarafian, who went on to shoot stuff for both The Strain and Hemlock Grove, it remains one of the eeriest and most unsettling episodes to date, leaning on Buffy’s consistent connection to not just fantasy, but horror too.

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The Zeppo (Season 3, Episode 13) 

More of an exercise in brilliant writing than anything else, ‘The Zeppo’ flips the show’s point of view completely, relegating the usual core Buffy-lead adventure to the (literal) background, and giving Xander the spotlight as he uncovers and solves his own mystery, alone. It’s just familiar enough to still ring true with die hard fans, but still hugely innovative and in many ways, could even be seen as the influence for the likes of Star Wars background adventure Rogue One all these years later. 

Hush (Season 4, Episode 10)

Widely considered by many to be Buffy’s strongest single episode, ‘Hush’ is the best example of a killer premise, executed to perfection. Driven by a ghostly race (simply called The Gentlemen) who steal all of Sunnydale’s voices, the episode is almost completely told in mime, without any speech whatsoever. And yes, it’s exactly as good as it sounds. In fact. ‘Hush’ was so well praised, it alone was nominated for a Primetime Emmy and remains one of Joss Whedon’s finest pieces of work to date. 

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Restless (Season 4, Episode 22)

Another fan favourite in a whole season of series highlights, this one’s arguably one of the oddest finales to any TV season ever. With the exceptionally twisted Frankenstein-esque villain Adam vanquished in the episode before, ‘Restless’ instead taps into the show’s underlying mythos, jumping between the dreams/nightmares of Willow, Xander, Giles and of course, Buffy, and featuring everything from the original Slayer, to a man covered in cheese and a totally spot-on Apocalypse Now parody starring none other than early-season alumnus Principal Snyder. Quite possibly the most accurate interpretation of dreaming ever, too: Inception included. 

The Body (Season 5, Episode 16)

You’ll only ever watch it once, but ‘The Body’ remains the absolute height of the show’s quality and maturity. Few cuts, little score and no demons; it’s a distinctly empty-feeling episode that solely charts Buffy and her friends’ attempts to deal with her mother’s sudden death, a total removal from the usual structure, but one that doesn’t feel even remotely out of place. Not only is it a huge turning point for Buffy in particular, marking her finally as a fully-fledged adult, it’s also a nod to the fact that TV needs to dwell on the moments that matter; connecting with real emotion and real experience and Whedon does that here better than anywhere else. 

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Once More, With Feeling (Season 6, Episode 7)

For many fans though, the most memorable and technically marvellous has always been the 50-minute musical episode ‘Once More, with Feeling’ that not only manages to juggle lasting character arcs – Buffy’s return from Heaven, her doomed romance with Spike, Willow’s pull towards the dark – but also delivers some of the most incredible original music and lyrics ever to grace either stage or screen. It’s a bold and totally insane undertaking, pulled off flawlessly, that represents the very peak of what Buffy had become; much, much more than your average fantasy-driven TV show. 

Tabula Rasa (Season 6, Episode 8)

It’s rare to have two of the show’s best episodes even in the same season, let alone back-to-back, but it just so happens that ‘Tabula Rasa’ picks up the pieces from the entire series’s emotional pinnacle beautifully. A spell gone wrong causes the whole gang to suddenly lose their memories with both hilarious and telling results, not only bringing back the Trio but simultaneously marking the final time the whole gang are together in one adventure. And what a send-off it is.  

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Seeing Red (Season 6, Episode 19)

Joss Whedon’s known for being a bit of a bastard and killing off a whole bunch of much-loved characters, but nothing could quite prepare fans for ‘Seeing Red’s climax. With the Trio’s only real villain Warren on the run – now with a gun because magic can’t solve every problem – Willow’s beloved Tara ends up taking a bullet completely out of the blue, signalling a huge shift in the Buffyverse and the final reveal of Dark Willow, a character who would go on to shape the rest of the show’s (albeit short) lifetime. 

Chosen (Season 7, Episode 22)

And finally we end with the finale to end all finales. Despite taking something of a downturn in quality, Season 7 capped things off with a rather insane farewell, wrapping up the TV-wing of the Buffy world beautifully in a gigantic demonic war at the place where it all started: Sunnydale High School. Now realising that she’s not the only Slayer, ‘Chosen’ saw our favourite vampire-staking-badass teaming up with a bunch of other vampire-staking-badasses to close the Hellmouth once and for all; losing fan-favourites Spike and Anya in the process. 

The end itself was much more of an open book than a fully-fledged finale, but in doing so Whedon opened up his seven seasons of world-building to further life beyond the TV screen. From here onwards it was less about Buffy the vampire slayer, and more about Buffy, leader of the vampire slayers, and considering the direction things then headed in the sequel comic series, it was about time for Buffy and her friends to take the jump beyond the realms of production budgets and practical shooting issues, to a place where none of that really mattered. 

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Complete Seasons 1-7  is available on DVD now. 

Feature: The Five Best Moments from The Walking Dead Season 7 Episode 8 – ‘Hearts Still Beating’

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Originally published on Flickering Myth on 12/12/16.

It was finally mid-season finale week on our favourite post-apocalyptic zombie nightmare, and as those ultra-miserable season 7 dominoes finally started to tumble towards the yet another cliffhanger (albeit, rather slowly), we actually got a half-decent tease for what’s still to come next year. And it’s very, very exciting.

Eight episodes of Rick moping around as Negan’s bitch seem to have actually paid off, as the bearded sheriff and his rather broken crew actually took a giant leap towards the epic standoff we’ve all been waiting for. There was even a significant human death to tie it all together too, so without much further ado, here’s the best bits from our final slice of walker-infested mayhem for 2016.

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1. Family Dinner

What makes Negan such an incredible character isn’t just his penchant for brain smushing. It’s not even Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s note-perfect performance week after week. It’s the fact that he really is, underneath everything, one truly sadistic son of a bitch. We saw quite a few glimpses of his more fucked-up side this week and the first came before the opening credits had even rolled.

It was teased a little in the last episode but there was definitely something innately eerie about the famed torturer/warlord sitting down alongside Rick’s nearest and dearest (and Olivia, because, why the hell not) for a peaceful family meal. The image of it alone was enough to turn your stomach, but when you throw in his little temper-tantrum about Rick being late too, we get an even deeper look at what makes this psycho tick: he’s far too used to getting his own way. Beard or no beard, he’s still imposing as ever.

2. Prison Break

It took him an entire eight episode arc and several failed/humiliating attempts, but badman biker Daryl finally managed to spring a fairly easy escape from Saviour HQ this week, with the help of a certain Mr Jesus, finally ending those long days of chilling in a burlap sack eating dog food and listening to catchy indie pop tune ‘Easy Street’ on repeat.

The actual prison break itself wasn’t anything overly special, but seeing what the weeks in confinement has done to poor Daryl’s mental state, when he mercilessly bludgeons a surrendering Fat Joey (one of Negan’s favourites) to death with a metal pipe, really drives it home. The fan-fave is certainly back in action, but he might not be quite the same as when he left.

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3. A Serious Hole

In classic Walking Dead fashion, pretty much all of this week’s best bits (and hell, the season’s too) seemed to spring up right at the very end, with Rick and Aaron returning home to find a bloodied Negan on their doorstep, demanding vengeance after Rosita’s failed assassination attempt. Of course he seemed more pissed off that the bullet in question defaced his precious baseball bat Lucille, as opposed to the fact that someone was actively trying to shoot him in the face, but I guess what the hell else do you expect from someone with this many screws loose?

Payment for said grievance rather rapidly came in the form of a defenceless Olivia, who ended up taking a bullet instead of Rosita (oh, what a shame, however will we live on, she was so important etc. etc.), before Negan decided to drill down a little deeper into the operation and figure out how the hell the Alexandrians came across some ammo in the first place. And so, for once in his life, Eugene actually manned-up and took the hit, becoming the Saviours’ latest prisoner in the process. Bless him.

4. It’s War

The show’s final mid-season bow actually ended up being arguably its best/most encouraging moment though, when the gang finally found themselves back together again. It’s been a long and pretty damn miserable road that they’ve each struggled down since Glenn and Abraham got the chop, but during the episode’s dying moments, a once-again bloodthirsty Rick and his core council strolled on up to Hilltop, regrouped with Maggie, Sasha and Enid and everything was once again right in the world. Well, sort of. Well, actually not really, but they were smiling so…

Then Daryl and Jesus showed up and things actually got a little teary, before Rick was reunited with his most beloved of all: that super shiny, iconic (but really very unsuitable) silver revolver, and we were all pretty much balling our eyes out. Between all the reunions and cuddles and that incredible closing shot of the team’s sassy march up the hill to make their plan of attack, it was just really, really nice to be happy and excited for once. Rick’s got his mojo back and shit is going to go down.

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5. KILL OF THE WEEK: Spencer’s Got Guts

You wait an entire season for some decent, semi-meaningful character deaths and then three come at once… although it was easily Spencer’s that was both the bloodiest and the most impactful this week. Sure, it was obvious throughout pretty much the whole of ‘Hearts Still Beating’ that Deanna’s last remaining son was ready for the chop; he’s been bitching about Rick all-season long, and any attempt to get chummy with a psychopath like Negan, is highly unlikely to go well.

What did come as a surprise though was just how grim the whole affair ended up being, with Negan slicing open his entire stomach, making some quip about having “guts”, then forcing Spencer to grab at his own intestines as they spilled out of his body. Not only dark as hell, but also another nod towards Negan’s ongoing respect for Rick, killing off a threat to his leadership in one of the goriest ways possible. Still not quite as uncomfortable as Glenn or Abraham’s, but a definite punt in the right direction.

With The Walking Dead now taking a break until the new year, there’s plenty of time to start theorising about Rick and co.’s next steps, and of course, to dream up all the ways in which the show will hopefully speed up from here too. Is Maggie the Hilltop leader now? Will Tara ever spill the beans on Oceanside? Does Carol actually have any idea about what the hell is going on? The groundwork’s been laid, it’s finally time to kickstart the war we’ve all been waiting for. 

Feature: The Five Best Moments from The Walking Dead Season 7 Episode 7 – ‘Sing Me a Song’

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Originally published on Flickering Myth on 05/12/16. 

In a nice change of pace for the show, the penultimate episode before this year’s mid-season break was a jam-packed jumbo-sized version of one of the most memorable comic-book entries, featuring a whole bunch of different and varied characters. It might’ve been Carl and Negan that took us through the large majority, but little nods from Rick, Daryl, Gabriel, Spencer and Michonne certainly helped to keep the drama alive.

It’s no lie that season 7 has slowed to an almost snails’ pace following its (literal) breakneck opening, but The Walking Dead still manages to keep matters entertaining even when the overall plotting is a tad worse for wear. This week for instance, played host to some of Negan’s most horrifying acts to date:

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1.“Kid, I’m not gonna lie, you scare the shit out of me.”

After Carl spent pretty much the entirety of the past two episodes hiding out in the back of a rickety box truck bound for the Saviours’ compound, we might’ve been expecting something a little more explosive than what actually happened: a few nobodies dead and no real consequences. Yet. But the moment Carl found himself reunited with Negan did warrant one of the season’s best lines to date.

It comes as no real surprise that the Saviours’ supposedly fearless leader makes human swiss cheese out of almost anyone who dares to defy him, but Carl seems like a totally different case altogether. Why, you may ask? The key’s in the line – Carl’s one of the only people Negan’s come across throughout the entirety of the attached apocalypse that doesn’t seem to really fear him. As an angsty teen who killed his own mother and watched most of his best friends gradually get picked off one by one by an army of the flesh-eating undead, Carl is pretty much the ultimate emo, and that’s something Negan really doesn’t understand. So of course, he’s scared shitless of the kid.

2. The Wives

We’ve been hearing bits and pieces for a little while now about Negan’s apparent “wives”; a troop of attractive townspeople he keeps locked away to have his wicked way with whenever he so desires. But this week we actually got to meet a few more of them, and it was, as expected, fairly uncomfortable to watch.

Framing the whole thing like he’s some sort of Fury Road-style warlord, the show finally gave us a peak behind the curtain into Lord Negan’s sleeping chambers, where unsurprisingly, the grisly-faced psycho lives like a king, complete with four-poster bed and everything. And with a literal roomful of super terrified women forced to obey his every wish and command, the bastard that is the show’s ultimate antagonist just got a whole lot… bastardierer?

3. Sing Me A Song

The episode’s title, taken from the much famed comic-book scene of the same name, was pretty much a live-action given the very second Carl showed up on Negan’s doorstep. But the reveal itself still set in plenty of shivers down an already icy-cold spine when it started finally playing out for real.

In a targeted effort to well-and-truly break the young sour-puss, Negan cracks out the big (psychological) guns, making Carl remove his eyepatch so he can point and laugh at his gaping wound, before demanding that his edgy little friend break out a verse of his favourite song. Not knowing what else to do, Carl of course whimpers out a few lines of ‘You Are My Sunshine’, giving us all horrific Laurie-based flashbacks and reducing the poor kid to tears. Despite such a blatant spot of emotional humiliation though, Negan hasn’t quite broken Carl just yet.

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4. The Iron

In what quickly became one of the world’s most demented take-offs of the all-American fave “take your kid to work day”, Negan went on to take a stroll around his castle with Carl en-tow, showing off the scenery and letting him watch ‘daddy’ in action, as he punished a wrong-doer in the standard Saviour way: a burning hot iron to the face. Tasty.

And in classic Walking Dead fashion, the crew weren’t particularly quick to pull us away from the central action, throwing in every last detail possible – right down to the molten skin melting off the poor dude’s face. The show’s never been particularly shy around gore but after a bit of a slow first-half to the season, the iron moment does land as a bit of a nasty shock. It’s also actually been a little while since we’ve seen Negan take someone down so physically and brutally, so it comes as a fairly nasty reminder of his capabilities too.

5. KILL OF THE WEEK: A few dispensable Saviours

Yet another fairly dry episode as far as kills go, but with a dash of human blood actually spilled this week, there’s a few more consequences to the deaths in question. The second Carl pops up in the back of the Saviours’ truck, stolen assault rifle in hand, he guns down a nearby henchman, before taking out another Negan uses as a human shield. We might not know who the hell these dudes actually were, but Negan’s treatment of them certainly says enough.

Firstly, to date, Carl still hasn’t been punished. Whether that’s so Negan can break him and turn him against his own nemesis Rick, or just because he’s yet to dream up an idea sick enough is still to be revealed, but it’s certainly telling. And then when you add on the fact that Negan used one of his own kind, and literally had him killed just to defuse the situation quickly reveals just how little the warlord actually cares about the majority of his soldiers. Any chance of a revolution any time soon, guys?

So despite a few other familiar faces popping up this week, it was still Negan and Carl’s tense-as-hell back-and-forths that really drove it all home. Episode 8 marks the show’s mid-season finale, and with Negan currently chilling in Alexandria, and Michonne, Jesus and soon Daryl all loose in the Saviours compound, it’s sure to be an explosive one. We hope.

 

Feature: The Five Best Moments from The Walking Dead Season 7 Episode 6 – ‘Swear’

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Originally published on Flickering Myth on 28/11/16. 

Just when you thought it was safe to head back into the zombie apocalypse, with some genuinely significant ground covered last week, the showrunners have flopped back into their usual world-building ways. This week’s Walking Dead offering took us into yet another new colony, with yet more new characters and another hefty dose of Negan-centric scary stories. So, another week off for Rick and the gang it is, I guess. 

Yep, taking the reigns for episode 6, ’Swear’, was weirdly background hanger-on Tara (y’know, Tara… the err… erm… I think she wore a hat once?) which certainly gave a bit of a shift of perspectives, especially considering that for the large part here, she’s blissfully unaware of Negan and his skull-bashing ways. And despite another week away from the central action, there were plenty of neat moments to keep us all entertained.

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1. Welcome to… Oceanside?

In more not-so-subtle prep for the gradually building war with the Saviours, another civilisation joined the likes of Hilltop and Alexandria this week. The name Oceanside isn’t explicitly said out loud, but it’s fairly obvious that this is the new colony Tara stumbles upon, considering it’s, y’know, by the ocean. Again, it’s an interesting shift for the show, considering we’ve been landlocked for quite some time, and the seaside-come-jungle vibe to their camp is a nice twist on the usual (and by now, pretty stale) abandoned-building shit we’re used to.

Not to mention the fact that Tara gets to show off a fair-amount of badassery when she’s set upon by the camp’s residents, a team of (understandably) super-paranoid women with a lot of decent weaponry. In the space of this fairly short sequence we manage to get almost everything we need to know about the Oceanside crew too: if they’re armed to the teeth, it means a certain Mr Negan is yet to come knocking. As far as intros go, it doesn’t get more effective than this.

2. The Sand Pile

Despite the majority of the episode taking place at Oceanside, we do get some gradually-escalating flashbacks over how Tara ended up on the beach to begin with which helps to tighten things up quite a bit. Plus, it means plenty of Heath, for all you Heath fans out there… wherever you are. If you exist at all.

The best of said flashbacks actually comes fairly early on, when Tara and the H-man end up in an evacuated camp on a bridge, and with the pair being the nonchalant idiots they often are, they quickly disturb a fairly creepy-looking nest of walkers, hidden under a huge fuck-off pile of sand. This obviously means a whole bunch of pissed-off, sand-addled zombies to-ing and fro-ing all over the place, like a herd of ultra-starved Egyptian-mummy types, causing all sorts of problems. We don’t get to see the crux of the problem ’til later, but that grisly image of the walkers awakening from the sound is certainly a season highlight so far.

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3. “Sooner or later you’re gonna need a friend…”

These, the words that Tara uses to basically stop herself from being mindlessly slaughtered by the murderous people of Oceanside, actually resonate a whole lot more than you’d expect. It later becomes a lot more clear as to why these newbies are so delicate about their space and keeping it hidden, but as Tara sits down with their leaders to discuss her place in their compound, we get another little glimpse at the future too.

For now, Oceanside remains fairly closed off from the outside apocalypse, but as Tara rightfully suggests, the only way forward really is for a lot of these civilisations to join forces. It’s always important to have a friend nearby, and whilst the group don’t seem fully convinced now, it’s pretty certain they’ll change their tune soon enough.

4. Home Sweet Home

By the end of this week’s episode it’s pretty safe to say that Tara had grown on me, at least a little bit. Considering up to know she’s been a glorified extra, with only a very occasional stake in the action, it actually proved kinda neat to get to know her quirkiness and actually have a decent amount of humour thrown in amongst the apocalyptic happenings for a change. That, of course, all changed though, when she finally made it home to Alexandria.

Greeted by an openly weeping Eugene at the gate, she seemed to clock on pretty quickly that her girlfriend Denise had bitten the dust in the mean time (don’t worry, it took me a minute to remember back that far too – Tara’s been gone a while), but the additional deaths and fairly dire political situation no doubt added insult to injury. By the episode’s dying moments, all of the perkiness in her character is pretty much drained; an ample and seriously effective nod to the severity of what’s gone down since the season opened.

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5. KILL OF THE WEEK: Sand Walkers on the bridge

Once again, it’s another zombie offering this week with zero human casualties on the roster, despite an ever-so-slightly strange fake-out with a walker that looked kind of like Heath, but later turned out to be a significantly older woman. You got us there… we’d definitely have been sad if Heath died. Definitely. So many strong emotions for that fairly invisible character.

Nope, kill of the week for ‘Swear’ goes to Oceanside’s Cyndie and her totally badass rifle work, covering Tara whilst she made her way back across the bridge, through that dastardly gang of raspy sand-covered walkers from earlier. It’s not overly special as far as kills go (it was a slow week on the whole dying front) but it was a neat little intro to Cyndie’s exceptional shooting skills and definitely helped to bring things full circle.

With now only two episodes left before the long ol’ Christmas break, here’s hoping there’s something a tad more worthwhile coming our way next week. And with Jesus arriving at the Saviour’s compound, on top of Rick and company’s return, the set-ups all there for a more significant penultimate bow.

 

Feature: The Five Best Moments from The Walking Dead Season 7 Episode 5 – ‘Go Getters’

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Originally published on Flickering Myth on 21/11/16. 

Everybody say it with me now: at last, some action! The Walking Dead’s latest season finally, finally, finally took things into an exciting direction with this week’s episode, ditching character introductions and long, vague, massively drawn-out torture scenes for some genuinely clever dialogue, a teeny tiny spot of more world-building and, believe it or not, a drop of humour. Shock horror.

There were still a few ropey moments; Carl’s hissy fits never get any more bearable, and the return of Hershel’s pocket-watch felt a little too heavy-handed as the emotional bookends, but on the whole, there were an awful lot more “fuck yeah” moments in ‘Go Getters’ than expected. Well, a darn sight more than you’d expect from an otherwise meandering season like seven.

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1.Carl to the Rescue

Week after week Carl seems to get more and more mopey and Chandler Riggs’s acting, more and more atrocious, but he at least got one decent moment out of this week’s episode, trading in that emo hard-eyed glare for a heavy-hitting zombie kill when Enid finds herself in a spot of bother. True, he totally wrecks a perfectly good car in the process, but we’ll let him off in favour of that impressive finale.

Okay, the very fact that Enid wanders off from Alexandria, weaponless and on her own is stupid. And the very fact that things get tense when one (yep, one) zombie show up is also pretty damn stupid, but let’s just let Carl have his cute little hero moment for a change. The teen-romance vibe isn’t the show’s best new direction, but it’s different and it gives the one-eyed wonder something to do other than whinge for a change. Hell, why did I even bother with this moment when the next is so much better…

2. Trial By Fire

Maggie’s alive! And more importantly, so is her unborn baby, which comes as a bit of a surprise considering her death’s-door appearance over the last few episodes. Thankfully though, she doesn’t spend the whole of ‘Go Getters’ recovering from numerous ailments, or even mourning her dead husband, kicking things into gear rather nicely when the Saviours decide to screw around with the Hilltop colony, setting a few fires and letting a bunch of Walkers in beyond their walls.

Maggie’s the first to take charge, whilst Sasha and Jesus (oh sweet Jesus) deal out some pretty hefty zombie take-downs, all set to a pretty handsome musical arrangement. With the fire in the background and a neat little glance into Maggie’s future leadership possibilities, it’s easily the episode’s coolest moment, even if it does come a little bit out of nowhere. There’s even a Street Fighter-style flying kick! What more could you want? I know it sounds like I made that last bit up but I honestly didn’t.

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3. “Could I just get a kneel out of you?”

Grand Theft Auto fans will no doubt be impressed with this week’s offering, thanks to a certain Mr Steven Ogg (the game’s psychotic lead Trevor Philips) finally getting his time to shine as Saviour underboss Simon. In a sequence that slowed the mood somewhat amongst all the zombie slaying madness, Simon sits down with Hilltop leader Gregory (y’know, the semi-drunk, entirely useless one) to discuss terms, and throw around a few ample insults, injecting a spot of much-needed humour at long last.

With the foreboding terror of Negan somewhat out of the picture for now, it’s nice to see both Ogg and the writers have some fun with the Saviours, particularly at Gregory’s expense. And when an ever-so-slightly power hungry Simon, pretty politely asks for a quick kneel out of his trade partner; the look on Gregory’s face sells the episode alone. More of this would be nice, please. 

4. Maggie’s Punch

If ‘Go Getters’ reminded us of anything it’s that Maggie is a total badass when she wants to be. And of course, that Gregory is quite the opposite. So when the time comes for the former to finally lose it with the latter over his blatant disregard for even his own community of fighters and well-wishers (you could at least remember a name or two, jeez Gregory), it comes with a pretty hefty standing-ovation.

Tired of his shit and indifferent towards his authority, Maggie thumps Gregory and puts him in his place once and for all, pretty much cementing her residence at the Hilltop for the foreseeable future in the process. There’s even a spot of cuteness thrown in for the observant types too, when she announces herself as “Maggie Rhee”, using Glenn’s surname. N’aww, we miss him too, Mags.

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5. KILL OF THE WEEK: Maggie and the Tractor

Speaking of Maggie’s badass moments, the punching of a high-ranking official wasn’t the only hard-knuckled stand she took this week. After barking a few orders during the earlier zombie attack on Hilltop (see #2), she quickly jumps in a tractor and puts all those years working on her father’s farm to good use, mowing down a whole bunch of walkers without so much as a second thought.

Again, maybe a human death would’ve ranked better, but as far as zombie kills go, crushing them under a gigantic piece of farming machinery definitely wins this week.

With not long left ’til the Christmas break, season 7 has ample time to keep up this pace, especially with Jesus and Carl camped out en-route to the Saviours’ compound. Here’s hoping Rick and co. don’t slow matters down too much as we press into next week and the return of Tara and Heath.   

Feature: The Five Best Moments from The Walking Dead Season 7 Episode 4 – ‘Service’

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Originally published on Flickering Myth on 14/11/16. 

With the now royally infamous season 7 reaching its mid-way point before the Christmas break, it feels like it’s finally time for The Walking Dead crew to actually pick up the pace a tad. They’ve been dragging their knuckles somewhat in the weeks following Negan’s bloody intro, drawing out the misery for as long as possible, but to be honest, the effect has started to waver by this point.

Sadly ‘Service’ isn’t anything massively new. Finally the Alexandrians are back, but it’s still a bit of a slow one. Fear not though, there’s still plenty of exciting moments to recap, with a home base revolution seemingly getting closer and closer by the week and a series-wide revelation coming in the dying minutes.

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1. “Little Pigs…”

We all knew it was coming, but episode four finally sees Negan rattling away on the gates of Alexandria, forcing his way in and taking what he sees to be rightfully his. In fact, we barely get any time for Rick and his leadership team to even tell the community what the hell’s going on, and it’s clear that Alexandria’s former Sheriff is feeling mega uncomfortable with the whole arrangement, refusing to look any of his comrades in the eye as he happily hands over all of their medicine and weaponry.

In the opening minutes alone we get plenty of Negan’s (surely soon-to-be prize-winning) bravado, a smattering more of silent Daryl, along for the ride but distinctly not allowed to chat to his former family, and probably Negan’s biggest dick-move to date: forcing Rick to carry Lucille around the compound for him. It’s a tense moment, but the speed with which Rick gives in is the most painful side to it. After all…

2. “I’m not in charge anymore…”

These are the precise words that come out of Rick’s mouth as he addresses the Alexandrians at their church, the very same place he took control from Deanna, and the very same place he convinced them all that going after the Saviours was a good thing. I’ve said it before but seeing a fiery and massively strong-willed personality like Rick bow before such a blood-boilingly frustrating adversary like Negan is so damn disheartening to watch.

This is the moment where it becomes really clear that Rick has given up. Even without Negan in the room, he tells his followers, his friends, his family that there is no hope; that they’ve already lost. There’s simply just no fight left in him anymore.

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3. Rosita Gets Badass

Having spent most of her screen-time in the past mostly slinking into the background and serving as rarely anything more than Abraham’s arm-candy, Rosita actually gets a chance to shine here, which proves a nice change of pace. Forced to go out into the wilderness and retrieve Daryl’s bike with Spencer, gunless, she finds herself facing off with a whole bunch of undead Saviours, clearing off a hefty amount with just a knife. Impressive.

This also just so happens to kickstart her own subplot, around a mysterious unknown gun stashed in the woods that Negan knows nothing about. If he finds it at any point, she’s easily on the chopping block, so consider this the lighting of a mighty long fuse…

4. Judith Grimes?

Whilst there were certainly a whole lot of other late-in-the-game moments that deserve some love (Spencer vs. Rick anybody?) one that’s frankly unescapable is Rick’s speech to Michonne about how their lives have changed. Just when you think it’s all blood, guts and deluded head-bashing, The Walking Dead wheels out one of its most heartfelt speeches yet, a total emotional sucker punch several seasons in the making, as Rick reveals out loud for the first time, that he knows Judith isn’t his own child.

I mean, we all basically knew, but Rick digging up his past like this, saying Laurie’s and Shane’s names for the first time in what feels like (and probably is) years, and then using it as a way of convincing Michonne to give up the fight, is truly heartbreaking. We’re used to the main gang taking a hit or two every now and then, because they always recover and hit back twice as hard. This time? Not so much.

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5. KILL OF THE WEEK: The candlestick

Again, it wasn’t a great week for character deaths; frankly, there weren’t any. Olivia (who? y’know, Olivia, everybody’s faceless Alexandrian) almost bit the dust but ultimately escaped with her life, so this week’s kill of the week goes to a nameless walker who gets annihilated by Negan with a candlestick of all things.

Whilst the kill itself is pretty neat, it’s more the context of this one that earns it the brownie points. Rick stands barely three feet away, forced to watch, whilst handling Lucille loosely in one hand. And just there, in the episode’s final act, we see a flash of something. A wavering anger; a moment of hope. Rick grasps the handle of the baseball bat and for a split second, genuinely considers taking Negan down whilst his back is to him. It’s the tiniest of glimmers, but one that definitely keeps us on our toes for future weeks.

Four episodes down and the set-up’s now very firmly in place, so we can hopefully just move on with the main bulk of the action now. And with next week promising a return to the Hilltop, with Jesus, Sasha and yes, Maggie popping up again, we’ll hopefully see a little more drive towards a spot of warfare.