If You Don’t Watch “The Walking Dead” This Following Ramble Will Mean Nothing To You

There was a great opportunity missed to kick some serious momentary ass in last night’s mostly comatose and soap-operatic premiere of AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” but given how overwrought and overacted and frankly over-tedious the 90-minute episode was to watch, it isn’t a surprise to me that the chance escaped  the series’ dimwitted block of writers.

The bulk of the decidedly drag-assed second-season starter yielded the above tweet about midway through an episode that went the little girl lost route, centering on a search for a lass who gets lost in the woods after an encounter with an apparently migratory zombie “herd” that — thanks to the crappy writing — literally materializes out of nowhere. Seriously: the extra large group of undead come shuffling up behind the survivors on the highway out of Atlanta they’ve just driven up. What did the ghouls do as the caravan of survivors motored on past a couple minutes earlier, hide? Play dead?

Stoopid. Stoopid. Stoopid. But I digress.

Anyway, the search ultimately brings the group to a church, where –shocker! — they don’t find her.  The girl’s mother then seeks solace in the sanctuary, praying before a statue of crucified Christ, and I was soooooo hoping the scribes might’ve grown a backbone and made it a daring scene, instead of a flat and cliché “please let my daughter be safe” speech. But of course they didn’t.

See if I were the one writing it, I would have given it some shock value. Mom would still be in the church, still desperate and begging for the Lord to spare her daughter’s life. But then I’d have her look up at Jesus on the cross hoping for a sign, followed by a shot from behind Jesus’ head back at her. Then I’d come back from the mom’s POV for a low-angle close up of Jesus’ face… only this time for a split second something’s different. Something’s not quite right. Then — bam! The sonofagawd suddenly rears his head up gape-mouthed and crazy-eyed and hissing at her and straining to free himself. Cut quickly back and forth between close-ups of her eyes going wide with fear and Zombie Jesus struggling crazily. Finally he wrenches a hand free from where it’s nailed and he reaches out grabbing a handful of her hair and woosh: she wakes up. Screaming, if you’d like.

A cliché in its own right of course, but one far more entertaining! Sacrilegious and certain to anger Kirk Cameron followers the country over? Absolutely. But it’s a series about zombies and apparently it’s being written by zombies, too. For Christ’s sake.


Between The Pit Of Mans Fears, And The Summit Of His Knowledge

In the bookcase that constitutes the majority of my analog library resides a trade-paperback-sized volume. To describe it as dog-earred would be a lie. It’s spine is in tatters, its back cover is long gone. To describe it as cherished would also be a lie. Over the years I’ve shed hundreds of pounds of books donated to libraries, but this one will never be one of them while I’m still breathing.

It’s “The Twilight Zone Companion,” by Marc Scott Zicree, and it will be 30 years old in 2012. Being that “The Twilight Zone” is my favorite television series ever and for all eternity, Zicree’s reference book is like a bible to me. Inside is a synopsis of all 158 episodes that ran between the series’ 1959-1964 run on CBS.

If you look at those years and roll your eyes over something soooooo completely and squarely old, it should be noted that the upcoming Hugh Jackman film “Real Steel” is based on The Twilight Zone” Season No. 5 episode “Steel” written by Richard Matheson and starring Lee Marvin.

Open up — carefully, reverently — my copy and flip slooowly through its aged pages, beside the episode title at the top of each of Zicree’s summaries odds are you’ll find a hand-scrawled asterisk, indicating I’ve seen it. In the latter years a few of those asterisks are accompanied by a date, signifying when I saw it. Of all those episodes listed in the book, there are 146 asterisks, all painstakingly accumulated over the decades via summer vacations spent stopping and dropping whatever I might have been doing to watch the two episodes KTLA used to show at noon weekdays, augmented by the various marathons that would air.

You’d think in my glacial quest to see every episode these last few years, I’d’ve picked up the complete series box sets that have become available, but I kind of like my here-and-there haphazardry (coupled to my disposition against owning box sets of anything).

The point of all this — other than I’m a neeeeerd — is that the aforementioned 146th asterisk came today, with me seeing “A World Of Difference.” A wonderful episode in the “who am I, really?” theme also penned by Matheson, which aired 51 years ago during the show’s first season, specifically: March 11, 1960. I didn’t chance upon it on KTLA or the Psigh-Pheye channel (or however lamely they’re spelling “sci-fi” now). Instead, this weekend while slogging through what’s available on Netflix streaming, I stumbled upon the awesomness that I have 138 episodes of The Twilight Zone at my fingertips. No DVDs, no random tuning in of individual episodes or entire marathons. To see “A World Of Difference” I merely flipped the companion to the page of the first episode without an asterisk then scrolled down Netflix’s episode list and there it was.

It’s as simple as just pushing play. Which is just what I did for lunch this afternoon. To think I can now conveniently get closer to that never-before-imagined day where maybe — just maybe — an asterisk will reside next to every single episode? Wow. For a fan like me, that’s like a twilight zone of it’s own.


Follow-up: LA Plays Someplace Else

Back in November on Blogging.la, I posted about a fancy new fully cinematic and futuristic Air Force “It’s Not Science Fiction” commercial I saw on TV that utilized a decidedly disaster-struck  6th Street Viaduct (over a CGI’d full LA River below) upon which a dramatic rescue operation takes place. I paused the TV to get the following still of the wreckage-strewn bridge:

A search upon the internest for an embeddable version of the ad was fruitless — at least until I saw the ad again a couple days ago and so reminded I did another search that was fruitful. Here’s the full spot in its incredible scifitastic entirety (I particularly love the monster medevac jet coming straight over an enhanced downtown LA skyline and coming in for a landing directly upon the derelict span), but I’d highly recommend going to its YouTube page and experiencing it in all its full-screen HD glory.

Ironically, given the projected 70% failure rate of the decaying bridge in the next natural disaster, the footage showing the bridge collapsing is the one bit of reality in an otherwise fantastic fantasy.

“Recount” Bummed Me Out

The Memorial Day weekend was rolling strong and steady. Dodger game Friday. Errands and “Indiana Jones” Saturday. Then Sunday Susan and I rose early to drive out the 5 to the 126 all the way out to San Buenaventura to explore the town a bit and ride bikes along the awesome Ventura River Trail and back. I’m not one to rave about fastfood burgers but on the drive back home we stopped at Burger King and I couldn’t get enough of their new Angus Steakburger. Yumma.

We got back around 4 p.m. and a couple hours later I punched eight-year-old bruises watching Recount on HBO and yesterday was pretty much a bust in that I put out the flag and then was pretty much grumbling and grousing around the house rather than out on my bike riding out to Los Angeles National Cemetery and back as planned.

I managed to be somewhat productive. I got laundry done. I patched a flat on my mountain bike. I broke up and green-binned the quartet of fallen palm fronds that for whatever reason the gardeners didn’t touch. I cleaned up my singlespeeder — I even carved out a patch to plant the sunflower seeds I received last week as part of the Great Sunflower Project. Heck I also managed a late-inning sweep up of the backyard before Susan grilled us up a fine pair of porterhouses and we enjoyed Richard Widmark, Thelma Ritter and Jean Peters (and a young Richard Kiley!) in the highly recommendable 1953 Sam Fuller noir classic Pickup On South Street.

So it’s not like I just sat on my hands in some sort of paralyzed state as the World’s Angriest and Past-Dwelling Democrat, but the movie definitely took the wind out of my sails bringing back some bad memories on yesterday’s Memorial Day.

Bionic Rhymes With Moronic

As with every fall TV season I usually get all revved up about a show. Last year it was “Heroes,” and this time around it was “The Bionic Woman,” which NBC went to such serious lengths to hype. Sure enough the biggity bigbig debut was last night and I bought into the massive build-up enough to discard the third episode of Ken Burns’ mostly riveting (but sometimes not so much) “The War” over on PBS.

I am ashamed.

Already over “The Old Adventures Of The New Jaime” less than a half-hour in but willing to let it come back after one more commercial break for one last chance to redeem itself, we shut it off right after the bionic woman ends up in an alley searching for a mysterious departed rogue blonde and the writers in all their lack of originality reached knuckle-deep into the cliché pool to pull out disposable meaningless Character No. 12, otherwise known as: The Creepy Hoodlum Who Appears From Out Of The Shadows To Open A Switchblade And Confidently Threaten The Seemingly Helpless But Decidedly Not Protagonist With Bodily Harm Only To Be Immediately Disarmed And Have His Ass Short-Order Handed To Him.

Talk about putting the “yawn” in bionic. Zzzzzzzzzz.

Four’s Company

That HBO’s Entourage survived my post-Suckpranos-finale boycott of the network surprised me. Seriously, John From Cinncinnati suffered my dismissive wrath. Debuting immediately after Tony and family and a plate of onion rings left us forever in limbo I couldn’t change the channel fast enough and vowed never to return no matter how rave the reviews.

And Flight Of the Conchords? Please.

But I kept on watching Entourage. Partially because I’m a huge Jeremy Piven and Kevin Dillon fan, but mainly because we had set it up with a season pass on the TiVo. Certainly not because of the ever-weakening story line. Then something happened. There was a brief break and then the show’s new season started and it centered around the trials and tribulations that Vince, E, Johnny, Turtle and agent Ari (with wonderful sidekick Lloyd) had to go through in order to get their dream project — a biopic film of drug kingpin Pablo Escobar — made with little in the way of a safety net and a madmadmadmadmad genius of a director.

Where there’d been wafer-thin episodes about spending thousands of dollars on a pair of sneakers, all of a sudden there was crisp insider intrigue and conflict — not to mention Vince in a silly fatsuit as Escobar.

Well, that all went away with last night’s sex farce episode. Unabashedly titled “Day F***ers” it opened with the general opinion that E can’t have unemotional sex (apparently a bad thing) and then centered around a $5,000 bet between Johnny and Vince that Johnny could get Turtle laid before Vince could do the same for E.

Suffice it to say that by the end of the episode Vince, E and Johnny (substituting for a retiscent Turtle who couldn’t muster up the furry bluster to do it with a Craigslist date while donning a pink bunny costume) all get down, and just like that the show has reverted back to its vapid roots and left me on the verge of deleting its reserved slot from the TiVo’s memory.

But the power of Piven as an actor provided reason for a reprieve via a continuing B-story featuring his Ari resorting to dirty tricks that fail to keep his son from being booted out of the exclusive private school he attends (not for anything the kid’s done but because Ari’s a certified ass who the school despises). After exploring the other educational options (public school, eeek!) he comes home one night with an arm full of children’s books and a desperation plan to be a better father. Sitting with his son to read to him the boy looks at him wide-eyed and asks his dad if he’s going to be able to go to school with his best friend next year. With no way left to spin the truth a heartbroken Ari breaks down in frustration right there and the powerful and honest moment of raw emotion totally caught me by surprise.

Later on, Ari shows up at the school director’s home in the middle of the night and with tears streaming down his face literally begs the man not to make his son suffer the transgressions of his father. And I was choked up right along with him.

Of course, this being Hollywood the headmaster happens to have a “special” son he’d like to see promoted out of the talent agency mailroom he’s in. As Ari can make that happen a deal is brokered that keeps his son in school, but one I’m sure he’ll regret next week.

And I’ll be watching.