Lock down Survival Binge-watch Recommendations

I love me some good TV and the longer a series is the better. Call me a character development buff because I am, and seeing as many places all around the globe are facing lock down situations this is a perfect opportunity to kick back and watch some good shows!

Here are my binge watching recommendations for surviving lock down!

For a show that started way back in 1993 you would have thought as a 90’s kid I would be down with the X-files but the truth is (no pun intended), I have only just started watching it!

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Now my Mrs finds the show’s theme a little eerie and vividly remembers being scared by the Simpsons X-files episode (which was awesome too) but I will admit this show is great and even for something on the more retro scale it holds up quite well.

For those who haven’t seen it, here’s my upshot…

‘Fox Mulder’ (A young David Duchovny) plays a ‘believer’ of a Special Agent in the FBI who spends his time investigating the macabre to the paranormal and everything else in between. These investigations are known as the X-files and Agent ‘Dana Scully’ (an even younger Gillian Anderson) is tasked with finding out if the x-files is a viable resource in the FBI while inadvertently being swept up in the storm of belief.

Their on screen chemistry works incredibly well and very early on they become good friends, their partnership carries the show in what follows a monster of the week formula (anything and everything in sci-fi) while also delving into a longer ‘the man is always watching’ type story arc.

The main selling point is that the X-files is available on at least one platform wherever you are in the world and the amount of episodes (8 series worth) is a sure fire way to spend lock down and survive it! 

We’re going to continue with the Sci-fi theme and look at what I consider to be the best ever Robot fiction show and possibly story…

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Westworld ticks nearly every damn box available for a show with such a high quality. I was blown away by the first season which introduces us to a distant future world with a living, breathing and gun toting amusement park; hence the name of the show.

Guests pay money to basically live and stay in a Red Dead Redemption type world; they can befriend people, go on quests and pretty much do what they like. The world is populated by ‘people’ who are in fact very real looking robots and this is where the performances grip you.

Evan Rachel Wood is exceptional in this as ‘Dolores’ and for television it’s an all star cast including James Marsden, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright, Ed Harris and the one and only Anthony Hopkins who brings a master class level of acting to this show that explores the morality of robots in confinement who are forced to do everything over and over again.

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The first season is just the tip of an incredible underbelly with twists and turns but most importantly, revelations! Even for those who think sci fi isn’t their cup of tea, the performances and story will grip you, trust me! 

There are currently 2 seasons available with the 3rd currently being broadcast over the next few weeks!

We’re going to take an almost swerve in another direction now and head into true crime which is a genre if done well that I cannot look away from.

Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes sheds a brand new murderous light over one of the most infamous serial killers of the 20th century. This show also introduces it to a brand new generation of folks like me who was born the year (spoiler alert) Ted Bundy was executed…

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The tapes consist of interviews Bundy did while on death row as he reflects on a life that involved brutally murdering many many women. For a 4 part series it manages to cover in detail his chronology in doing what he did. It’s stylishly cut and put together with archive footage and interviews that make it a chilling but ever so addictive binge watch!

Available on Netflix this one will distract you for a while! 

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Continuing with the Netflix documentary theme this one you’ll find to be absurd and a little bit harrowing because the Devil Next Door is like something from a film but it actually happened. Quoting the google (because this pretty much covers it), a Cleveland Grandfather is brought to Trial in Israel, accused of being the infamous Nazi death camp guard Ivan the Terrible…

Trust me when I say this one is addictive, gripping and of course it pays homage to the so many people who faced atrocities during WW2 who still deserve to be remembered for what they went through. Here’s my full review… 

It’s not all Netflix originals or HBO because here at the Hall of Information we have to give credit where credit is due and AMC have put together some awesome shows over the years. Even if it has fallen out of favor from me The Walking Dead is a binge watch institution and I am going out on a limb to say, just watch the first 5 seasons…

 

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The characters, the setting, the special effects, the story and hell the theme song along with everything else cannot be faulted with the first 5 season of TWD. Considering what’s happening just outside our windows this one will capture your imagination and heart.

Seeing as the amount of time we’re all going to be in lock down may change, you shall probably be seeing more television rec’s quite soon! 

Have you got a binge watching recommendation for lock down?

 

 

 

 

Andrew Lincoln to leave the Walking Dead

Okay so its time we talked… about the very recent news in television because if you are my demographic of reader then you probably know at the very least what the Walking Dead is…

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The breaking news is (which you probably know by now) the show’s lead Andrew Lincoln and it’s main character Rick Grimes will be bowing out of the show by the end of next season (9). Fans of the hardcore persuasion reacted in one of two ways:

A groan and a mutter of ‘this show is properly dead now’, or…

‘Oh god please no why?’.

Most would probably be number 1, kind of including me, but why? 

Let’s face it the previous season (8) of TWD was pretty much a car crash which then the survivors of said wreck tried to stumble away and take the wreckage of that car and try to carry on with the journey. That’s kind of a deep metaphoric analogy but also pretty accurate. As s8 unfolded there came that slow build feeling that perhaps something major was shifting, and then they killed Carl…

Now all of the last series wasn’t bad, there were some gripping Negan v Rick things, a few twists and a continuation of some real good characterization, Morgan comes to mind, who may be one of the finest actors in the show, not to take away anything from the performances which in essence has kept the show running. There were action sequences and a lot of tension but I had this feeling throughout that a dark cloud had began to form over TWD, and maybe just maybe it’s taken things a bridge too far.

I’ve talked about my grievances previously and honestly think the performers and whole show is a victim of terrible management and overly bold writing which has attempted and failed to take the show somewhere different. In fact some places and arcs of the show have failed, whilst others (Father Gabriel and Eugene) have shone brightly, it’s a mess basically, and the fans don’t deserve the ride they have been taken on. I felt as if by the end of the season TWD had been dragged through mud and only just come out the other side. Retribution seemed paper thin, with the underwhelming disarming of Negan, and then the subsequent hint that next season solid alliances may be tested.

And now we hear that the show’s lead has chucked it all in… deep sigh. 

Viewer numbers are down and will be plummeting evermore with the absence of it’s main character. Half of me wants to carry on and see, whilst part of me thinks, is this really worth it? I always imagined the end of TWD to be some plethora of drama and high tension which included Rick and his son Carl, both of which will be gone. They are both synonymous to the story and personally I think neither character works without the other, maybe why Lincoln has come to his decision.

If I could fantasize and book/write the final episode of the TWD the whole show would have moved towards the impending doom of the human race. It was always going to head that way, even without a zombie apocalypse the human race is doomed (light huh?), but with this walker fest it still turns out that way. Rick will probably die dramatically a scene before the end and Carl would have survived with his sister, maybe a few others would be left, like Daryl who finally tells his back story. The whole thing would be wrapped up and maybe even left open for a future revisit.

It is such a shame that partial fantasy is dashed, I don’t think we are going to get a Breaking Bad style ending that all the fans deserve, more like a slow death of a show which not so long ago gripped the world of television.

No doubt Andrew Lincoln has brought a fine performance to TWD but even I think he’s had enough…

 

The Walking Dead Season 8 Finale Review

It’s been a pretty enduring season for The Walking Dead, a roller coaster that many fans will prefer to leave behind, myself included. Opinions are divided and most viewers haven’t been happy with recent decisions for the overall direction of the show. Here’s my review of what was an interesting and important turning point for Rick and the gang…

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They had to do something with Negan…

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No doubt JDM has brought a masterclass of villainy to TWD, his arrival two seasons previous will go down in history and turned the whole story upside down. The original execution and motives of such a big character is probably the sole reason for the show’s downturn. I have covered Negan before but my concern has always been what will they do with such a momentous character, a seemingly indestructible force in a fragile world. His whole deal seemed to grow stale after the past two years, and there were scenes where I honestly thought the show’s writers didn’t know what to do him.

This seasons final episode set in motion a direction which sat somewhere between expected and unexpected. We finally got some level of resolve towards Negan and an indication of where his fate will move to next. You could tell especially in his half of S8 that they were doing something, and the pay off came, eventually.

Clearly the show running powers that be have spoken…

Looking around the internet rumor mill its no secret the show runner position for the walking dead has changed mid season, lets face it, they had to change things. You could tell almost straight away in the mid season premiere it was out with the old and in with the new, of course Carl’s death foreshadowed anything drastic and essentially became the theme of events to follow.

Although I truly believe Carl’s death should never have been, it has given the show an almost refreshing direction, now stay with me here, but the Rick we saw in the last episode of this season has been shaped by the loss of his son and the legacy he left behind.

Mercy is the greatest weapon of all, and a key to character development…

We’ve seen Rick take down the big bad before, we’ve seen the group move from settlement to settlement before, we’ve seen them deal with trust issues before. The decision for Rick not to kill Negan has interrupted the stale routine this show has got itself into, they have broken the cycle and maybe without knowing displayed a huge amount of development for the characters of this show. The take away moment from this episode was Rick showing mercy to a defeated Negan and the saviors. He has taken the high road and showed that people can be better than just killing.

That triple cross though…

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Eugene was playing chess quite simply and to see the moment his manufactured bullets backfired was a huge unexpected twist. Something had to happen and this was the moment the tables turned, for the better.

For the greater good of the group

Let’s face it there have been some wonderful character performances throughout the 8 years of TWD. Many of which were on display in this episode which to me felt like a television special. Jerry and King Ezekiel are wonderfully likable characters with a natural chemistry on full display as the episode opened.

Morgan has always been a favorite for me and the deep psychological issues he faces and tackles is superbly depicted. His character may seem erratic but under the hood he knows what is going on, and even referenced to the ‘bar’ scene him and Rick found themselves in a few episodes previous. Their decision to break the bond of their word didn’t fall on silent ears and was addressed, a pivotal moment which has broken the usual vague style TWD carries.

An unexpected emotional moment came to me through Dwight’s retribution and apology to Daryl. He is a man with nearly nothing left and somehow stands out as someone very relevant in the world where Negan is now a prisoner.

I enjoyed Father Gabriel’s journey toward the light, and again it seems his faith has pulled through. Another example of great emotional acting.

There’s still a long way to go

I know for a fact it wasn’t perfect, but this episode was the first good’un in what seems like a long run of dud episodes. Most of the season was in fact a dud without direction and too spread out. With the dissolution of Negan’s reign there seems to be a new fresh route this show could take.

There are still many open plot points which need to be answered, that will always be TWD’s style, but for the first time in a long time, this show has got itself a win, and we still get to keep Negan, something which I am sure will have some level of resurgence and value in later episodes.

A feel good factor

It feels good for the first time in a long time to watch this show, that whole putting the audience though as much shit as the characters has finally been lifted. Carl’s memory and contribution were memorialized throughout the episode playing on the audiences heart strings and perhaps sub consciously nodding to the fact he probably shouldn’t have died, even though his death may have got the Walking Dead out of this rut.

Overall I liked the episode

From the very open of this episode I could tell it was going to be good. The twists and turns which led to Negan’s defeat were simple and straight to the point. I enjoyed the fact it happened just after the halfway point leaving more time to move towards next season’s plot.

The overall character development of this show has been flexed in this episode and I think the cast have ridden a proverbial shit storm out of a shituation. Full credit to the sheer effort they put in to make this whole deal feel so emotionally real. TWD has always captured the emotion above everything else.

Should they really be divided?

That’s the question most people are asking, and I think its another interesting twist. Was it right to publicly show mercy to Negan in front of the likes of Maggie. If so a civil war could be on the horizon. I’m not sure I fully believe the motives of Jesus and Daryl as they align themselves with Maggie, that may be my only criticism of a decent episode of the Walking Dead and for the first time we have no frustrating cliff hanger!

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The Walking Dead…and buried?

 

This weekend see’s AMC’s the Walking Dead stand on the cusp of maybe the biggest fall from grace in television history. Here we stand in the middle of it’s eight season feeling pretty much underwhelmed and somewhat not bothered about it, well that’s my feeling anyway, and I’m an avid fan.

I don’t usually do debatable pieces but I feel compelled to give you all my two cents…

To begin with, this article will contain spoilers of the Walking Dead, you’ve been warned! 

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I remember some years back spending the month of August binge watching seasons 1 to 4 of the Walking Dead readying myself for the remarkable season 5 and the year after which saw possibly the most gripping moment on television. Season 6’s finale episode.

You can’t not mention the arrival of the notorious big bad known as Negan, and every top story must have the big bad. Soon after his introduction we realized the Governor was a choirboy compared. The S6 finale had us on the edge of our seat, Rick and the gang were on their knees literally and were putty in Negan’s hands. What a huge moment for TV, an introduction like nothing we had ever seen and a monologue sequence by Jeffrey Dean Morgan which put viewers for the first time in a wonderfully weird position, a love to hate position for record breaking viewing figures. Then, we had to wait half a year to see who died. Say what you like about that moment, but that was part 1 of TWD’s peak.

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Season 7 opened where we left off, Rick is a defeated man, his eyes say it all, fantastic acting from everyone in this episode, much like all of the series. That episode did something to the audience which has never been done before. We felt demoralized, down and not wanting to see any more. I didn’t want to watch anymore, seeing such strong characters chopped down.  I have never felt that way about a story before. Two beloved characters fell, Glenn and Abraham, a shocking turn of events and even then it didn’t cheapen the major character death thing that Game of Thrones loves to do, quite well mind. We as an audience were wounded. And that folks was the very peak of this show, it never got better than that.

It just went downhill…

The Walking Dead has never recovered from that moment and the introduction of Negan. I’m not sure the show knew what to do with him next, maybe the greatest thing about the show (him), ended up being its true demise. Looking at the current mood on social media, most people are not happy with the show.

And  S7 had it’s moments, the whole Daryl getting kidnapped easy street thing was good, and the Hilltop seemed intriguing, along with an introduction to King Ezekiel by way of Morgan and Carol. Dwight’s character was perfectly conflicted and full marks for Eugene. All of these ingredients were the perfect recipe for this show to really push forward and move into a whole new chapter, war. Except that didn’t really happen. Season 7 was a sluggish decline all the way to the finale when we finally saw the three ‘good’ communities unite, that was awesome, but was that really enough? We finally saw Negan retreat, just about, and was that enough?

Although the whole long hard season thing worked to an extent, viewers didn’t get anything from it. There was no Negan origins story, no signs of any real fight back and no consistency with how the last seasons dealt with any resolve. Okay, some series are allowed a duff season, I can allow that considering the Walking Dead has a fantastic cast of actors who take their craft seriously. The zombie effects are second to none, but the story; began to show signs of crashing and burning throughout season 7. And then the first half of Season 8 happened.

The opening three episodes opened with a good effort of trying to replace the missing action from the previous season. But it didn’t feel like an ‘all out war’, as advertised. a lot of it just seemed over pushed and over done just to cater for S7. I know this show doesn’t like to explain things and sometimes that’s good for ‘creative scope’ but I began to question what exactly was going on.

Negan looked to be on the back foot but then the resolve of that angle just fizzled away. And again we saw no origins story. We are then led to believe the Saviours are trapped in their own compound but then just got out. The one good thing about S8 was the King, and his epic ‘still I smile’ routine which got dashed and ruined. Don’t get me started on how pointless the tiger turned out to be! Jesus appeared to be a complete flake, a soggy corn flake actually and his confrontation with Morgan was underused.

So the Saviours get out with no real harm and go straight after Alexandria. Quickly they dismantle the place and pretty much level it. We see a brief exchange/fight between Rick and Negan, again not enough. The good guys and characters we have come to love are hidden underground, and then it gets revealed Carl has been bitten.

There’s no real indication as to where Season 8 part two will go. Like many of the seasons they play up to the unpredictable nature of what a zombie apocalypse is but there’s hardly anything left for me to look forward to. I’m not bothered at all about tuning in this monday (sunday for US fans).

If you ask me, there’s something really wrong probably happening underneath the hood of the car as to speak. You can almost sense that in Talking Dead when Scott Gimple sat on the couch. He confirmed Carl will die, a character we all thought would see the finale episode. How many high profile original character deaths can an audience deal with until they call time?

Rumour and induendo suggest that Gimple has been removed from his current position and there have been talks of a ‘shake up’ but again this gives me little faith for S8 part 2. More news has recently surfaced that Lauren Cohan (Maggie) hasnt signed on currently for Season 9. Another top character death will bring the walking dead on the verge of being buried and with no signs of retribution for Glenn’s death by the birth of their child.

My conclusion is simple, if this was a show based off my books, I would have stepped in a long damn time ago and never let this show get to this stage. Negan is slowly becoming a pointless novelty, albeit well portrayed like all of the cast who I imagine work so hard to convince us and immerse us into this world. Time is quickly running out for probably the most watched television in a generation.

Netflix are becoming stronger and stronger, they started out with producing low budget high performance quality shows. Now they are producing high budget, high quality performance shows at an increasingly quick rate. If they were to create a high budget zombie show, then it could be curtains for TWD.

There are some great shows currently streaming; Altered Carbon, Stranger Things, Orange is the New Black, Westworld, Black Mirror to say a few.

Broadcast television has to catch up in terms of quality story. And for the network that brought us Breaking Bad, AMC are a far cry away from those days now.

I will be tuning in, but the Walking Dead currently sits on probation/ last chance saloon for me. In the words of Shrek, it could be ‘all ogre now’…

 

#TWD Season 7 EP1 Review

Disclaimer: Before I begin this blog post you must be warned this post doesn’t contain specific spoilers but they are suggested. Read at your own risk.

Seeing as things have finally settled down after becoming a published author I must look ahead to what’s next. Right now I’m trying to keep an online presence and of course I feel very much compelled to say a few words about the opening episode of the new walking dead season.

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Over the past year this show has become a favourite past time for me, time is of value these days with my shift work patterns, dedication to writing and a semi active social life. And what a way to spend my time. But last night for the first time I felt something in which I have never felt in my entire life towards a show.

I didn’t want to watch it anymore.

To process that above statement it can mean a lot of things. Above all to me it means I didn’t want to watch or endure what was happening to the characters I have come to love. No way was I going to turn the TV off. That suggests this show, which is just entertainment folks means a hell of a lot to me. Hell there are superfans out there who live off every word Daryl says or every action Rick takes.

Their performances throughout the constantly changing landscape have seen some serious character development (stuff which has never really been done right). Last night I was captivated and afraid all at once. For the first time in this seven season series, those characters were put in a position beyond their control.

I think the walking dead has finally reached that pinnacle of having a reason. By that I mean the punch line finally dropped. We have all watched back to the future and eventually you realise the story is not about time travelling but about a kid called Marty who must fight to ensure he is created. TWD isnt about zombies and it never has been, its about life and survival.

As much as last night was the lowest and toughest test for Rick and the group, there is now reason to fight and redeem what has been lost. If you ask for my opinion, maybe they shouldn’t have gone after certain people to begin with.

I am fully committed to seeing this whole thing out now regardless of who dies and who lives, we can all agree on one thing, the walking dead is captivating, gripping and sometimes brutal but it’s also what every great TV show strives to be. As an audience we will get over what has happened and grow like the surviving characters, we have to.