Archive for October, 2013

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Following up with some of the explosive developments in last week’s episode, I suspect that tonight’s will be a slower-paced affair. I’m pretty sure that the Governor story line will be on hiatus for a while, what with Michonne’s injury, and that the survivors will be turning inward as they try to deal with this devastating new illness. Most interesting will be whether or not the dual mysteries of who is feeding the zombies live rats, and who burned Karen and the other sick survivor to death, will be solved this week. The show has at times missed a bit on the pacing of things (such as being stuck on the farm for an entire season, and stretching out the Shane danger-within-the-group arc over two seasons), so I’m hoping that these mysteries don’t get dragged out overly long. They already have the major issue from last season (the Governor), and the so-far major issue of this season (the illness), both of which should have some legs over season four, so having some interim solutions will give the audience a sense of catharsis they might otherwise miss. And all good drama requires a bit of catharsis from time to time that won’t be satisfied by stabbing another hundred sitting-duck walkers through the head with a crowbar.

<<Spoiler Alert: The following review will discuss at length plot points of The Walking Dead S04E03, “Isolation.” Read more at your own risk.>>
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Last week was a high point for the series so far for me. While this is not your typical Whedon, it looks as though the series is beginning to find its form as the actors seem to be filling their skins a bit more comfortably. “Eye-Spy” ended with a teaser suggesting that Coulson discovers Skye’s subterfuge – that she is still working with Rising Tide to infiltrate S.H.I.E.L.D., which hearkens back to week two when she texted, “I’m in” at the end of the episode. So, is she still in?

<<Spoiler Alert: This review of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. S01E05, “Girl in the Flower Dress,” will discuss major plot points and events in the episode – read at your own risk!>>
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The title of tonight’s episode doesn’t hold any great mysteries behind it. Apparently we’re going to learn something more about what killed Carl’s friend Patrick, and likely also killed both Violet and the boar in the woods. My vote is for swine flu, and with the CDC gone, where will Rick and the group go for a cure? It’s not like they can go down to the local pharmacy for a flu shot.

<<Spoiler Alert: The following review will discuss at length plot points of The Walking Dead S04E02, “Infected.” Read more at your own risk.>>

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When I first discovered Naomi Novik’s alternate history, Napoleonic era with dragons, Dragonriders of Pern meets Hornblower series of books, I read them voraciously. The first three were out and available, and if I recall correctly, I read them in the space of about a week while doing all sorts of other things (like school and work). Book four again caught me by surprise – I didn’t note it until it was out in paperback – and then along came Victory of Eagles, the fifth and, to my mind, best since the first book in the series. For a number of reasons, I took some time away from the books, but recently I have decided to give it another crack, as there are now three books out that I have yet to read. Well, two now, as I’ve finished Tongues of Serpents. I can only hope that the two books I have still sitting on my shelf prove to be more exciting than the one I’ve just finished.
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After last week’s return to solid action and superhero (or villain) -esque plotting, the teasers for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s fourth outing in its inaugural season look to continue with more of the same. This time, it’s former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and Coulson protege Akela Amador (Pascale Armand), who not only seems to have gone rogue, but seems to have somehow developed superpowers along the way. While ABC and Joss Whedon have indicated that Agents will focus less on superheroes and super-villains than the big-screen adaptations (primarily due to budget constraints), it is heartening to see that they are doing what they can to remind viewers that this is a pretty amazing universe full of powers far beyond most mortal beings – even those with lesser powers (and a smaller budget) than a Thor or a Hulk can still do a lot of damage. Fortunately for us, then, we have Agent Coulson on our side.

<<Spoiler Alert: This review of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. S01E04, “Eye-Spy,” will discuss major plot points and events in the episode – read at your own risk!>>
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It took me three or four tries to finally get through the first episode of The Walking Dead, after much prompting from my father. It wasn’t so much that it wasn’t good – it was more a combination of other time commitments, having a three-year old son, and having a large queue of other shows to watch. However, once I started watching it, it only took me a couple of weeks to get through all three seasons. Overall, I found Season One excellent, Season Two a bit like treading water, and the third season a return to the excitement and uncertainty of the first, although with a lot of the novelty worn off. The thing about zombies is that we’re always much more interested in what happens in the initial struggle to survive, and much less so in the day-to-day lives of the long-term survivors. This is where The Walking Dead is breaking new ground, and it is in its ability – or inability – to maintain interest, now that there is some sense of a new normal descending on the survivors, that Season Four will either be successful, or not.

<<Spoiler Warning: Season Four, Episode One of The Walking Dead is discussed at some length, and plot points will be revealed. Proceed beyond the break at your own peril!>>
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<Spoiler Alert: This review discusses plot points of the S01E03 “The Asset” episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.>

Due to a series of unforeseen events, I was unable to watch the third episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. until this evening, two days after air. While last week’s “0-8-4” felt a little flat to me, I was left with a good taste in my mouth by the surprise cameo at the very end of the show (done in true Marvel fashion, after the television equivalent of end credits – the final commercial break). That positive feeling was only improved after watching this week’s much more entertaining edition, although for reasons I will go into after the break, I think that “Muscle Memory” would have been a better title than “The Asset.”
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Sleep. We do everything we can to avoid it when we’re young, and embrace it willingly when we’re older. But what if some of us could never sleep again? Adrian Barnes attempts to answer this question in his debut novel from Bluemoose Books, Nod.
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<<Spoiler Alert – This review discusses plot points of the S01E02 “0-8-4” episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.>>

With character back-stories and introductions done in last week’s pilot, my hope going into tonight’s show was that we’d get a whole lot more story. Behind the camera, Whedon gives up the directing reins to David Straiton, a career television director. His SF cred is pretty solid, having directed episodes of Angel (hence his Whedon connection), Star Trek: Enterprise (perhaps the lesser of the ST franchises, but he has solid ratings on his ten episodes), Charmed, and more recently Grimm, Bates Motel, and Hemlock Grove. It doesn’t hurt either that he has been a regular with a quality show like House (sixteen episodes). So how does this episode pan out?
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