Tag Archives: The Walking Dead

Special Features presents: Farewell……

Yes, that is a very dramatic title isn’t it? Farewell…. Am I saying goodbye to you all? Is this finally the end of Raistlin0903? Nope…it is not. This is going to be a little bit of a different post than you are used to seeing on my blog. It’s meant to hopefully become a bit of a discussion piece about a topic that I think is very interesting. Unless you are not really following the world of television series, I think it’s been very hard to miss that on sunday something very dramatic is going to happen on The Walking Dead. After nine seasons the show’s main star Andrew Lincoln, who played one of the most memorable characters in television history, is going to exit the show. Now let me be clear: I love The Walking Dead. It’s still my number one alltime favorite tv-series. Granted the show isn’t as good as it used to be anymore, but despite that fact I am still looking forward to new episodes every time. A big part of that reason is Andrew Lincoln, or more specifically the character he portrays: Rick Grimes. Over the course of more than a 100 episodes we have seen the world of the zombie apocalypse through Rick’s eyes.

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Rick is definitely in trouble..then again they might just want to say hi to him!

And now on sunday that is going to end. We don’t yet know exactly how Rick is going to be exiting the show, but many think that it’s not going to be pretty. A lot of fans also have been announcing that after Rick’s departure, they will stop watching the show. Forever. Which pretty much gave me the idea for this blogpost. I was thinking today about how the world of television has changed. In the old days, it was very rare for important characters to leave a show, much less die on it. Good always thriumphed over evil, and while there could still be tension in a series, we were never worried too much. Because really, our heroes can’t die right? The first show that really made me change that point of view was 24. The show starring Kiefer Sutherland as special agent Jack Bauer, just did things that I had never seen before up until that point. A good example, and obvious spoiler warning, was the end of the first season: Jack’s wife which he had tried to protect during the entire season ended up getting killed. It was a gut wrenching ending to a roller coaster of a show.

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Jack is always such a nice guy….really….

 

After that, 24’s following seasons continued in this fashion. Important characters just kept getting killed in sometimes very unexpected ways, and in that way that feeling of safety you had from the older television shows was suddenly gone. These days, some of the big names in television especially Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead excel at unsettling viewers in horrific ways. It certainly makes for some compelling television, I won’t deny that. However some characters are just so important to a show, that it will never be the same without them. To again take 24 as an example, after nine seasons Kiefer Sutherland was done with the show. Fox tried to revive the series by doing a kind of reboot with a new character. Needless to say, that attempt failed. While certainly not bad, 24: Legacy just wasn’t as good without the iconic character of Jack Bauer in the lead.

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24 without me?! Over my dead body, damn it!!

Which brings me to the point of this post (Wait…there actually was a point to this post? ). With more and more series killing off characters left and right, is this actually a trend that is a good development? In the case of The Walking Dead, it’s Andrew who has decided to leave the show in order to spent more time with his family. But the show will continue without him. At least that’s what the creators want anyway. Is it actually going to work though? If I look at myself, I will stick with the show regardless. Having invested nine years of my life to it, I would not all of a sudden drop it. Besides, I do want to see how it’s eventually going to end. But even though I’m going to give it a fair chance, it just won’t be the same without Rick. Some characters are just so good, and have such a big impact, that when they aren’t around anymore, it feels like something completely different. Sometimes on very rare occasions that works out, but more often than not, a show fizzles, and then slowly dies out.

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Yes, I am leaving!! And there is nothing you can do to stop me!!

So that brings me to you guys. If an important character in a tv-series leaves a show, is that a reason for you to stop watching it? Or don’t you care about it either way? Are there any examples where you thought a television show didn’t change when a main character left? Or became better because of that character leaving? Yes, a lot of questions, and you don’t have to answer them all, or any at all. But, I would definitely be interested in hearing your opinions. Let me know in the comments! As for me, like most Walking Dead fans the upcoming sunday is probably going to be hard (living in Holland I will see it no sooner than on tuesday). So, that brings me back to the beginning of this post, and it’s title: Farewell…. Farewell Rick, thanks for all the great moments, you will be missed…

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Let’s hope Rick just rides off into the…erm…well can’t really call this a sunset….

 

 

 

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Fear the Walking Dead Season 1, American Tv series (2015)

We all have our favorite television shows. Some of them are obscure and might not even be known by many people. In the brutal climate of television, shows like that are always in danger of cancellation. With sweat forming on your forehead you eagerly await news about a new season. And then two things can happen. One: you finally receive word that your beloved series has been renewed and you happily dance around in your living room (or maybe that is just me). Two: The television Gods have decided the show needs to get the axe, and you spent the rest of your week weeping, expending an entire box of tissues (erm, maybe that’s just me as well). But there are also shows that are juggernauts that are never in that danger, at least not any time soon. One of those shows is The Walking Dead, and it’s still my alltime favorite. When a series is this succesful, the television studios begin to think up ways to expand on that succes. Which usually means that the original show gets a spin off, that takes the established story into different directions.

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Traffic can really be a bitch sometimes. 

Fear the Walking Dead acts as a prequel to the original show, and takes us back to the beginning of the zombie apocalypse. High school guidance councellor Madison Clark has more than her fair share of problems. Her son Nick is a drug addict and his habits weigh heavily upon the rest of her family. One day Nick ends up in the hospital after being hit by a car while he was running in the middle of the street. While visiting him there together with her new boyfriend Travis and her daughter Alicia, Madison tries to find out exactly what has happened. Nick tells a story that makes no sense and is being dismissed as yet another drug induced psychosis. Supposedly he woke up after using his drugs to find the girl he was with that night turned into a flesh eating monster. Travis still decides to investigate anyway, and is beginning to find indications that there might be more to Nick’s story than everybody at first believed. Meanwhile news outlets are showing strange reports about people that brutally attack others for seemingly no reason. Humanity stands at the eve of a total societal collapse and the real horror is about to begin……

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Now doesn’t she look like your ideal prom date? 

Fear the Walking Dead is a completely different show than it’s big brother. At least that was the original plan. When the show first aired a lot of complaints came from fans of The Walking Dead about how this show was incredibly dull and slow, and had so very little to do with the original series. Finally the studios bowed to this pressure and took the series in the direction the fans wanted. And honestly, I think this is a real shame. Why would you want two series that are pretty much exactly the same, only with different characters? What I absolutely loved about this show in the beginning, is how it showed the slow decline of civilisation and the eerie atmosphere. When the first zombies begin to appear people aren’t even worried, thinking it’s just a disease that will eventually get cured. We of course as an audience know how the events will eventually turn out, and how the world is going to fall. One of the creepiest scenes in this first season is when the power begins to fail, and you see entire city blocks turning dark. That event really is the foreshadowing of the beginning of the end, and it was filmed in a truly powerful way.

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Honey, please stay away from me when I am on the phone. 

For me that was one of the show’s greatest strengths. The pacing, especially in the beginning is definitely very slow. I can totally understand how people can be turned off by this, but I think this has also to do with the characters that aren’t all that interesting. Where The Walking Dead has powerful leads such as Rick and Daryl, here we have a normal albeit dysfunctional family that you just don’t really care about. Nick played by Frank Dillane, is a very selfish character whose only goal seems to be looking where he can get his new fix. Actress Kim Dickens in the role of his mother Madison does a good enough job of playing his despairing mother. But in the end she is just, at least in this season, a very dull character. The only character that I at least liked was Travis, played by Cliff Curtis. Here is a man that tries to keep his head above water while his family is being torn apart and society around him is collapsing. He played the part perfectly and was for me one of the shining lights. Later on in the series, his family meets up with another one, that also doesn’t contain very memorable characters.

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Erm, I don’t really think this guy needs a shave right now. 

And that is pretty much this show’s greatest flaw. When a tv series fails to give you characters that you really care for, it’s hard to keep you interested in it. That said, I for one was still very much entertained. I know that in the upcoming seasons, the show is going to change and I heard that some people even say they found it better than it’s big counterpart. (A fact I find very hard to believe). But I loved the way this season showed us how everything started on the road to the zombie apocalypse. I thought it handled this in a very good and believable manner, despite it’s slow pace. Fear the Walking Dead won’t be for everyone, especially not if you are hoping to find full on zombie carnage, of which there is very little here. But for those of you that are interested in seeing what could happen when an unstoppable disease begins to ravage the world, you are hardpressed to find a series that does this in such a realistic way.

I give Fear the Walking Dead season 1 a 8 out of 10 score.

The Walking Dead Season 7, American tv series (2016/2017)

I recently read that one of the executive producers for The Walking Dead can see the show running for about 25-30 more years. Let’s let that sink in for a minute. A television series about a post apocalyptic world where zombies have taken over, could potentially reach a season 30. Now, as much as I am fan of this series (it still ranks as my alltime number one show), even I have trouble believing a statement like that. There are only so many places you can go to with a concept like this and keep it interesting. It’s still a great watch, but from an objective point of view I have to admit it just isn’t as strong as it used to be anymore. Season 7 is a great example of this as the series is now definitely beginning to show a few cracks in it’s otherwise shining armour. But before I’m already going to head into full review mode, let’s just see what the storyline for this season is all about.

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One has to admire a man that gives a name to his baseball bat. 

This season starts where  season 6 ended, right in the middle of a pretty big mess. The new bad guy, Negan, looms thriumphantly over our heroes with his pet bat Lucille promising to bash someone’s brains in. Yes you heard that right, this guy actually gave his bat that has been wrapped in barbed wire a name. And more horrifyingly he really keeps his promise as two people of the main cast don’t survive the encounter. It is the first time we see a truly broken Rick, that comes to the conclusion that he isn’t in charge anymore: Negan is. It is a truly depressing fact, and one that carries over for most of the rest of the season. And Negan really puts the screws on everyone, as he gives orders to find as much supplies as they can for him, or else suffer the consequences. It seems that this time there really is no way out for our heroes as Negan and his army are all but invincible. But there is always hope. Slowly new alliances are formed and plans are being made to take the fight to Negan. But in this world no one can be fully trusted, and Negan’s spies are everywhere. The rebellion against him might just be over, before it even has a chance to start…..

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I smell something rotten…..

The first episode of this season has got to be the most heartpounding, stomache churning and quite frankly most horrible 45 minutes of television that I have ever seen. I went into that episode with a heart rate that must have raised quite a number of alarmbells if it would have been monitored at the time, and left it as a broken man. It was truly and utterly devestating, and that’s what the creators of course went for. One has to wonder though if things did not go too far, as the level of brutality in that episode really was completely off the charts. Whatever your thoughts are on that episode, one can’t deny the fact that it contained a few incredibly tense and nailbiting scenes, that really managed to create a level of fear that all bets are now truly off. The rest of the season however, never even once came close to that level of fear again. It was almost as if the writers did not know how to proceed forward from this point on.

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This season they really went full out to make sure the dead wear the latest trends in fashion.

Most of the cast is seperated from each other throughout this season, and we get episodes that at times focus on a single character, or small groups of them. While this is not a bad thing in itself, the execution for it leaves much to be desired. Some of the episodes in this season are just plain dull, with not much of anything really happening. We get introduced to a couple of new characters, of which the most noteworthy of these is King Ezekiel. Played by the relatively unknown actor Khary Payton, Ezekiel seems to have walked straight out of the Middle Ages into the modern world. And even better he has a tiger that accompanies him. It makes for a great character that unfortunately was a bit underused in my opinion. But that’s pretty much the problem with this entire season: it really serves as a build up to something big and as such really takes things slow, and at times a bit too slow.

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The lions, the tigers, the bears…..oh my…..

But not everything in this season is bad though. The real saving grace is the character of Negan played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Wow, will you grow to hate this man with a vengeance, but at the same time laugh at him as well. Because really, Negan is funny. He is deliciously evil, and some of his (bad) jokes are just seriously funny. You don’t want to laugh at them, but you just can’t help yourself in doing so. Negan really is a terrific villain and the absolute highlight of this season. Most, if not all of the scenes he appears in are a delight to watch. And then there is Rick. Andrew Lincoln has always been a very impressive actor, but this season he plays Rick to the fullest, and some of his scenes will leave you with goosebumps on your arms. He really still is the driving force of this show, and if he were ever to leave the Walking Dead, I would say it’s time to pull the plug.

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25 more seasons? Really? Please somebody just shoot me now! 

This season leaves me with a lot of conflicting emotions. It starts off with a bang, but then seems to fizzle and never can quite rediscover it’s momentum. While there is still enough for me to enjoy being an enormous fan of the series, more casual viewers will probably find the pacing too slow in order for them to really have fun with it. The season’s finale also wasn’t as big as in previous seasons. So one has to wonder what this means for the future of the show. Season 8 has just reached it’s midseason episode (and I have heard it rumored that it again contained quite a shock), and also promises to really start the war between Rick and Negan in earnest. But what then? Where can the show go after that war concludes? As much as I love this series, it is a concept that I think can’t be taken much further than it already has. It was the same problem that 24 eventually faced: the show just became a rehash of things that we had already seen in previous seasons. Still, I will never stop watching it, right up until the end. I just love it too much for that. The score below for this season represents watching it as a fan. If you are a more casual viewer you might want to deduct one or even two points from it.

I give The Walking Dead season 7 a 8 out of 10 score.

Special Features Presents: Merchandise

It has pretty much become a fact of life that whenever a certain franchise becomes popular, the merchandise is never far off. And why not? Certainly for fans it is pretty cool to own something from a beloved movie or tv show. It ofcourse also has a downside, and that is it usually is not very kind to the contents of your wallet. When there is money to be made, they usually know how to cash in on something that is very popular. I’ll be honest, I can be highly influenced by advertisements. Especially if I like a movie franchise or tv show a lot, I pretty much begin to collect stuff from it. Ofcourse there are certain lines that I don’t cross. If I have to cough up an amount of money that I have to work a year for (yes, I like to exaggerate lol), than I say thanks but no thanks. But if it is something that I really like, and the price is right, than I really like to add another piece to my collection. Showcased below, for your enjoyment, are three franchises that I enjoy collecting stuff from.

Star Wars

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Ever since seeing Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, I have been a massive Star Wars fan. I love science fiction, and without a doubt Star Wars will always be my favorite galaxy, far, far away. Over the years my collection has been growing a lot, and it contains novels, action figures, trading cards, artbooks, comics, and games. We are about a month away now from the latest installment hitting the theatres, and I am already looking forward to it immensely. The problem with Star Wars merchandise is that there is so much to buy and collect, that it is almost impossible to keep track of it all. Still, with no end in sight to what is on offer, there is a lot to enjoy for fans.

The Walking Dead

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What can I say, ever since first seeing the first episode of this incredible tv series I have been hooked. After learning it was based on a comic book, I started with collecting those, and when the tv series became popular, the merchandise train got on board as well. The Walking Dead has some truly awesome action figures on offer from McFarlane toys, as well as novels that expand the story, and some very cool boardgames. Though the range is not as wide as Star Wars, there is still enough on offer for fans, to start collecting stuff.

Sword Art Online

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Earlier this year a friend of mine told me to start watching an Anime series called Sword Art Online. Honestly, at the start of the show I did not enjoy it. Sure, the storyline was interesting, the animation looked cool, but I just could not get into it. However I did continue to watch, and I am really glad I did. This series has become one of my alltime favorite Anime shows, and as is usually the case with things I like, I just had to start collecting some stuff. A few months back at the Amsterdam Comic Con (which is pretty much the same as the American version, only smaller) I found some truly cool items, which are on display at the picture above. This collection is at the moment pretty small, and I don’t think it will grow as big as my Star Wars or Walking Dead collection. Still, if I come across something interesting, I will probably add it to the existing pieces.

Final thoughts

Merchandise can be a lot of fun. As long as you can contain yourself and don’t go overboard with spending money, I see absolutely no harm in starting a collection of cool stuff. The biggest problem I think is that whatever you start collecting, there is usually way too much on offer, or too little. Some movies or shows, that are a little bit less popular, have almost no merchandise to collect. That can at times be frustrating, especially if you are a fan. On the other hand, with too much on offer, it usually comes down to what should I buy? You can only spend your money once (duh) and with so many cool items on display, it can become very hard for a fan to make the right decision.

So what are your thoughts on merchandise? Do you like it, hate it? If you are collecting stuff, what are some of your favorite pieces? Let me know in the comments section. As always, thank you for reading, and see you at the next post!

Special Features Presents: Cliffhangers

This weekend the Walking Dead returns to our television screens with it’s seventh season. A lot of people will be sitting in front of their tv screens with a pounding heart (myself included) as we get to see the resolution of the enormous cliffhanger of the last season. I guess everyone who loves television series has had an encounter with this phenomenon. You are watching the final episode of the season of your favorite show. You see the clock ticking down….you know in your heart that something is about to happen. And then: the shock, you stare at the screen not believing your eyes, until finally: “To be continued…….” It can be frustrating, so very, very frustrating. Having watched a lot of seasons of an enormous amount of different tv shows I have seen my share of them. So I thought that this would be a nice opportunity to share some of my favorite “End of Season ones” . There are some (minor) spoilers ahead, so you have been warned.

1.Grimm, Season 2 Episode 22

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This supernatural show reminds me a lot of the good old days of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. There is a lot of humour in it, and that definitely is one of the reasons to watch this show. At the end of the second season, with all the main characters being left in some kind of peril, the words “to be continued” appeared. That in itself is nothing unusual, but it was followed by “Oh come on, you knew this was coming”. A great and fun way to take the frustration away, but also one of the funniest cliffhangers of all-time.

2.24, Season 2 Episode 24

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The realtime tv show 24, has always been a favorite of mine. With it’s shock and awe tactics, the fantastic character of Jack Bauer, this show has so many cliffhangers both during and at the end of a season, that it is hard to pick a favorite. But I think one of the more memorable ones, was at the end of the second season. President Palmer, one of the main and most influential characters of the show, receives a handshake at the end of giving a speech. After that he collapses on stage, and the screen fades to black….classic 24.

3.Robotech, Episode 60

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Robotech still is one of my alltime favorite animated series. Though technically not a Anime show, it is basically a blend of three unrelated Japanese Animeseries, with a rewritten storyline, that spans three generations. At the end of what you could consider the second season, also known as the Robotech Masters, the Earth is left with an uncertain future. In trying to prevent an alien race called the Invid from turning the Earth into a giant Hive, one of the heroes of the show, Zor, made an effort to destroy the one thing that might lead them to the planet. The plan backfired however, and with the Invid on their way, all bets were off…..

4.The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Season 2 Episode 22

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This highly (at least in my opinion) underrated show, was unfortunately cancelled after two seasons. Starring the lovely Summer Glau as the Terminator Cameron, it created a new timeline for the Terminator franchise. In the last episode of the second season a young John Connor was transported far into the future where Skynet ruled supreme. More worrying was the fact that nobody knew who he was. The frustrating thing about this cliffhanger was that we never get to see how it would be resolved, because of the cancellation. A real shame, and a truly horrifying way to leave it like that for fans.

5.The Walking Dead, Season 6 Episode 16

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And ofcourse this last one should not really come as a surprise. My alltime favorite show ended on a truly horrifying cliffhanger at the end of it’s sixth season. Most of the show’s main characters were driven to their knees with new villain Negan looming over them. He promises our heroes one thing: to beat one of them to death. Raising his bat with barbed wire, it comes down on the head on one of our beloved characters, but we don’t see who. Roll credits, see you next season……

The Walking Dead will return on sunday in the States, but living in Holland I will actually have to wait a full day longer to see who will die (and avoid social media sites while doing that lol).

Well, I could go on for a while more, but I’m guessing that five is enough for now. Let me know what you think about cliffhangers. Do you like them? Hate them? Do you have any favorites?

I am going to prepare myself mentally for a tough weekend ahead. For all of you following the Walking Dead, I wish you strength. As for now…..to be continued.

The Walking Dead Season 6, American tv series (2015/2016)

There is such an enormous amount of tv series to choose from these days. Everybody though, has probably got one show that is his or her absolute favorite. For me that used to be 24. That realtime series starring Kiefer Sutherland in the role Jack Bauer, one of the most iconic characters ever, was the greatest thing to ever grace television screens. At least….that was what I used to think. I had never in my wildest dreams thought that a show would ever pass 24 as my personal number one show. But then in 2010, the Walking Dead premiered. A show that tells the story of the world facing a Zombie Apocalypse, and the people who try to survive in that world. After the first episode aired I was hooked, and to date I still am. I am going to apologise in advance. I will try and be as objective as I can with the review of season 6 of this show. And I do mean try, because when it comes to the Walking Dead, I usually lose my objectivity. So once again: my apologies.

Season 6 starts off with a big problem. And I do mean big…an enormous herd of thousands of zombies is threatening the community of Alexendria. Rick, the newly appointed saviour of the town has to come up with an incredible plan, in order to rescue everyone from this latest threat. Ofcourse in The Walking Dead nothing usually goes according to plan, and it is not before long that Rick, his friends, and everyone in the town of Alexendria might have to face the reality that the world truly belongs to the dead……

The thing I love the most about the Walking Dead are the characters. Yes the zombies are cool, the action is fantastic, and ofcourse the horror is terrifying. But the heart of this show is it’s ever expanding cast of characters. As in every season we gain a few new characters, but we also lose a couple of them, usually in totally unexpected and often heartwrenching ways. This season truly has been the most brutal one to date. The lines between good and evil  are beginning to fade, and our beloved cast has to really adapt in order to survive. This leads to certain situations where you begin to question the morality of some of the decisions that are being made. And I often asked myself the question: would I be able to that, if I would find myself in this same predicament.

Ofcourse one of THE most talked about things this season, was the enormous cliffhanger at the end. A lot of people hated it, and felt it went to far to leave people hanging for such a long time with an ending such as this. I honestly did not care about it. Yes, the ending was annoying, and I can’t wait for the season 7 premiere next week to start. But I truly felt it was the only way to end this utterly fantastic season, and any other ending would not have seem right. At least that is how I felt about it. So was this the best season of the Walking Dead to date? Thinking hard and long about it, I would say it probably was. There were so many shocking moments, fantastic action sequences, and terrific character driven storylines, that I wonder what they are going to come up with to top this one. One thing is for sure: episode 1 of season 7 will be a horrible experience no matter how it turns out….but it would take a herd of zombies to stop me from watching it next week.

I give season 6 of the Walking Dead a 9 out of 10 score.