Monday, November 8, 2010

"Guts" and Moriarty.

TV Watched Nov 7:
Star Wars Clone Wars: Evil Plans
The Avengers on Disney: 2 episodes
BIO: Captains of the Final Frontier
Clash of the Gods: Medusa, Hercules, Hades
HBO Young Comedians circa 1981
The Walking Dead #2
Sherlock Holmes: The Great Game
The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror
Eastbound & Down: Chapter 13

Wow, we got A LOT of TV in on Sunday.  It was so much that by the end of it, I was too wiped out to write a blog post, so here I am on Monday morning, fresh as a daisy... writing this blog.

I guess the two biggest events on last night's list were The Walking Dead #2 and the last of three installments of Sherlock. Both were excellent.

Let's start with Walking Dead.  This episode was entitled "Guts" for good reason.  Basically, with the help of Glenn (played by Steven Yeun) Rick gets his ass out of the tank and winds up with a bunch of stranded survivors who are revealed to be a part of the "camping group."  They apparently went to Atlanta looking for supplies but only found a bunch of dead assholes. Awww. Anyway, Glenn is ADORABLE and comes very close, multiple times, to completely stealing the show.  The group is pretty much what you'd expect from a bunch of regular people stranded in a Zombie Movie/TV Show.  They're typically diverse and all battling their own inner demons and what have you while trying to get along and work together and not get eaten alive.  They've holed themselves up in a department store but the zombies are getting wise to their whereabouts and soon they're breaking down the doors to get in. 
Black Friday vs The Recession

Anyway, come to find out a racist, redneck jackass is all pissed off and he starts mouthing off, spouting out derogatory phrases specifically geared to rile up the audience and before you know it, our friendly neighborhood sheriff's deputy has him handcuffed to a rusty pipe.  Things progress and eventually they come up with a plan.  

The plan is to smear zombie guts all over yourself and pretend (ala Shawn of the Dead) to be a zombie. It's workin pretty good. And then... wouldn't you know. It just has to fucking rain.  That's when we go to this: 

Since it's a conveniently placed summer shower, the rain only lasts until the Glenn and Rick make it to safety and commence the second part of the plan: "Get the fuck out of Atlanta."

Oh, and also, Rick's wife (who he's DESPERATELY trying to find) is having rough, forest sex with his ex-partner. <sigh>

Ok, I have it on good authority that a lot of people think this episode didn't live up to the awesomeness of the first one but I tend to disagree.  I found the first episode to be pretty run-of-the-mill as far as Zombi-fied things go and I thought this one went a little deeper into how the world works, who is left to inhabit it, and how they survive.  So, I think it may just be a matter of what you, as an individual, are looking for in your zombies.  However, I also thought the tension was WAY better in this episode.  It had a lot more "out of the frying pan, into the fire" type of action that makes this kind of horrific suspense stuff work. 
The only misstep I really got from it was the grenade.  AV CLUB brilliantly paraphrases Chekov's famous quote saying, "If you show me a grenade in the first act, it better explode by the third." I couldn't agree more.  In the first scene, Rick gets hold of a grenade and we even get this nice, close up shot of the little hand-held explosive... so we're all keyed up about it the WHOLE EPISODE.  And then... we never see it again.  I assume it'll come back later but the show really subverted my expectations and... not really in a good way.  
Before last night's episode, S. and I decided that "Guts" would be the deciding factor in whether or not The Walking Dead would be set to record on our DVR.  Now... space on our DVR is like real estate in Hawaii.  So, we don't take actions like, "record all new episodes" lightly. Nevertheless, we've passed judgment and decided that  Yes, we will keep going with this show. 
Good job, Zombies!



Last night was also the final installment of Sherlock.  Which was just... wow.  I mean. Wow.  I can't even tell you how glad I am that men like Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat walk this earth. 

Sherlock was shown in three, two-hour installments. They begin with Holmes meeting Watson and finish up with a final showdown between the two of them and Moriarty. Just typing that gave me cold chills.  The way they've written these characters is astounding.  Moffat and Gattis have kept so much of the original feel of Watson and Holmes, their friendship is beautifully rendered and the characters have heaping loads of depth.  

Stylistically, the show is quite brilliant as well.  I think I read somewhere that it was the director, Paul McGuigan, who came up with the idea of floating text messages onto the screen rather than constantly showing fingers typing out the words. It's really stylish, dark and very British without being overly stylistic.  It's fast paced and the action is driven by Holmes and Watson and their rush to uncover the clues that will lead them to the next and the next steps. 

In the final installment, Holmes is sent on a puzzle quest. His genius is deliberately and cruelly tested as he receives a number of phone calls from victims, who are strapped up with C-4, forced to read words off a phone screen.  They can't relay their position or disclose the nature of the man who set it all up or they'll get a quick sniper shot to the head. I've never seen this done and it's put to rather wonderful use in Sherlock. It's very tense and made more so by the fact that Holmes is more invested in solving the puzzle than saving the victim.  This intense, hardcore focus is one of the things that makes Sherlock so fascinating and it's played to wonderful effect by Cumberbatch.  Throughout the three episode series, Moffat and Gatiss continuously go back to the fact that Sherlock is out of touch and not empathetic; he's an alien among the rest of humanity and this theme really works.

The episode ends with a big, crazy cliffhanger and immediately after it was over, I googled it to see if there'd be more.  Indeed, it looks like Sherlock will return for another three episode series in the fall of next year. Hooray!

If you missed out on Sherlock or if you want more information you can visit PBS to watch the full episodes (for a limited time) and lots of behind the scenes stuff.  I'll be over there... doing that... until next autumn.