Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Miscellaneous Wins; The Walking Dead, Turn of the Screw, Spartacus

Poor horse. . . 
The Walking Dead, created by Frank Darabont.

So Zombies, finally! I hesitated for a very long time in taking on this show, partly because I'm already committed to so fricking many, but partly also because I knew it would scare me (I won't watch 28 Days Later ever again, nor its sequel because I'm chicken). But, This. Was. Amazing. I'm gonna gush now:

1. One of my favorite sort of characters is an able, attractive policeman (coming in just behind an able, attractive firefighter). This show has one, and damn. There is something ridiculously thrilling about a man with authority having to kick ass or prove himself (Clint Eastwood and Sylvester Stallone choose these roles often and play them skillfully)---and here, Sheriff's Deputy Rick Grimes succeeds. Every time he takes a gun out I get giddy. Bonus for the patriotic theme that peppered the first episode----framed artwork (not Jasper Johns, but a cleaner, more Oprah version of something of his) in the Grimes house on the wall, and American flags throughout the police station. Zombies (Godless, flesh-eating, maniacs with no souls) are very un-American, after all, so what better to unite the country than a tribe of Americans taking them out with rifles? I LOVE IT.

2. The first episode opens with a crazy car chase/shootout, and then has Rick regaining consciousness in a hospital apparently long after the zombie apocalypse happens, stumbling around in a mostly empty town. This is like The Twilight Zone's "Where Is Everybody?" but, much more terrifying since instead of the military doing experiments on him, zombies want to eat him and his wife and son are missing. Whether these hell-creatures are off on their own shuffling around or in groups, they're horrid. Thanks for the nightmares.

3. Morgan and Duane, a father/son pair, have to not only hide out from the zombies casing their house but deal with the fact that one of them is their recently departed wife/mother. Duane's crying into a pillow after seeing her through a window was bad enough, but when Morgan plans to take her out from an upstairs window (with a photograph of her in her smiling, human form hung on the ledge as motivation) and sobs as he can't bring himself to pull the trigger . . . Jeez. There always has to be a parent/child aspect in zombie stories, doesn't there? I could be selfish and wish there wouldn't be, but those closeups, those human connections, and all that emotion just wouldn't be there, then, and a lot of the urgency would be lost. Ask a parent what their worst fear is and it will be some variation of losing his or her child(ren); I'd say losing a child and then dealing with the zombie version of them (or becoming a zombie oneself while a child is in one's care) blows that one right out of the water. Yuck.

What a show.

Turn of the Screw (and other short stories), 1898, by Henry James.

I don't know exactly how to describe these stories as "winning," exactly, as I believe it took me nearly an entire year to finish them and it felt like physical labor every step of the way---but they were very much worth the trouble. But make no mistake----he's treacherously difficult to read, this man, and sometimes my head would hurt with all the effort. For instance:

"My perambulations had given me, meanwhile, no glimpse of him, but they had tended to make more public the change taking place in our relation as a consequence of his having at the piano, the day before, kept me, in Flora's interest, so beguiled and befooled."

And it's literally all like that, every story, 90% of the sentences, the entire book. The fucking commas were out of control. But after probably the fourth story (there were eight) I kind of got used to it and could enjoy whatever the Christ he was blathering about, mostly. The Turn of the Screw is clearly the best in the collection, and genius for what it implies (but never actually confirms), which is most likely child abuse or pedophile behavior. The story scared me very much, mostly in how it had its two enemies hovering around here and there, in all sorts of creepy, disquieting ways. This too, felt to me very much like The Twilight Zone, and how sometimes those enemies would be subtle in their threats, just sort of waiting or lingering, but obviously much, much darker in theme.

I recommend the story highly, but you'll need a lot of patience.

My husband has been strangely giddy and optimistic
since Illythia's triumphant return . . . 
3. Spartacus, Vengeance.

The new Spartacus (Liam McIntyre) is a good one, though every fan of the show's thoughts were obviously on Andy Whitfield and being conflicted about accepting the new guy . . . he's going to be just fine. What better way to come back with a bang than to TEAR UP A WHOREHOUSE, uh, during business hours, as it were. Jeez.

Ilythia is pregs; Lucretia is no longer pregs but alive; Oenomaus is hunted with the rest of the gladiators (where is Ashur?) and Crixus wants his girl back. Spartacus and Mira are now a confirmed item (boo!). Aurellia is out (good riddance, I couldn't stand her). Who were those fools in the arena, and how much longer until Gannicus comes back?

Fridays just got hot again.


Unknown said...

Only read the first section of this article! As I'm only a fan of The Walking Dead, I didn't want to spoil anything for Spartacus, etc.

I'm happy you were a fan of the pilot episode! To this day, after seeing more than two and a half seasons worth of episodes, that that particular episode is still my favorite. There's a lot more real emotion in that episode, then anything else that comes later. Sure, friends get ripped apart, relationships are formed, and people get split up; but that's emotion the characters feel more than the viewer. With this pilot episode (perhaps the music had something to do with this) but the viewer feels most of the emotion on their own. I felt very sorry for that crawling half-zombie. Of course we want our main characters to survive and find happy days again. However, in a true zombie apocalypse like this, I would also consider all those millions of lives lost to a horrible plague such as this.

Terrific episode! Also a sweet article, Anna! Gets me contemplating. Thanks for that.