Friday, December 10

The Walking Dead Friday - "TS-19."

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Season 1 – Episode 6: ‘TS-19.

The final Walking Dead Friday of the season is upon us. We have much to discuss.

Well, that went by quick, didn’t it? As a general rule, I find 6-10 episode seasons of television sort of a rip-off; a hipster tactic used by premium channels to increase DVD sales and generate rabid off-season yammering and/or longing within the pages of Entertainment Weekly. From a marketability standpoint, it’s a good, albeit annoying business model (you have to enjoy making people hate you). From a supply-and-demand standpoint, it’s drug dealer-esque bullshit. Short TV seasons are the McRib of televised entertainment.

That being said, The Walking Dead doesn’t necessarily fall into that category. AMC knew that they were taking a huge risk with a zombie TV show, and the 6-episode order was all they were willing to write the check for. Understandable, considering that the product was a niche, gruesome, apocalyptic horror story that had no ending and was based on a comic book. AMC had every right to be hesitant; this could have easily been the biggest flop of the year (even bigger than My Generation and whatever Joss Wheadon's working on for 2011).

Fortunately for fans of new and interesting programming (along with fans of the comic), Frank Darabont and company nailed it. Not only was The Walking Dead the biggest hit in AMC history (bigger than Emmy/critical powerhouses Mad Men and Breaking Bad combined, based on some projections), it was pretty damn good to boot. No more than two episodes into the truncated, 6-episode season, a 13-episode second season was ordered right proper. All was right with the world again. The Walking Dead isn’t going anywhere, and neither are we.

Today, however, we have no idea when Season 2 will even begin filming, let alone premiere on AMC. Nope, today we can only look back at our 6th and (sadly) final episode of Season 1, and wait patiently for word as to when we can expect Rick, Carl, Squarehead, Bignose, Beardhat, Susan Powter, Old Andrea, Mute Sophia, Crossbow Redneck, D-Von Dudley and Generic Baseball Team Glenn to continue in their wacky misadventures.

Let’s go. Bring on THE THICK & MEATY!

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In a flashback sequence, we see Shane attempting to free Rick from the hospital during the outbreak. As it turns out, he really did think that Rick was dead, but still barricaded the door as a way to keep him from getting munched and reanimated.

Back at the CDC, Dr. Jenner lets the survivors in, only if they submit to a blood test. We find out that he might be the only person left in the tri-state area, if not the entire nation. During a drunken, celebratory dinner, Jenner explains that everyone else essentially fled or committed suicide once the outbreak got heavy. He opted to stick around in an attempt to ‘do some good,’ which we saw go up in flames the week prior. Jenner really looks like Biff from Back To The Future, but it turns out that he was Jim Carrey’s fake best friend in The Truman Show. Now you know.

That evening, the crew drunkenly showers and stumbles to their sleeping quarters (the scene of Shane chugging from a whiskey bottle in the bathroom looked all-too-familiar to yours truly). Dale comforts an existential Andrea, certain that there’s nothing left on Earth, which seems like a safe bet at this point. Look on the bright side: Courtney Love is almost assuredly dead, and Roller Derby is back in the PBR can-littered grave where it belongs.

Rick runs into Jenner, admitting that he was running out of hope before he found the CDC. Jenner tells him that everything’s going to be okay, then laughs maniacally and rubs his palms together. Not sure what that meant. Jenner also tells Rick that the French were the last to hold out for an answer when the outbreak hit, which has to be a lie, right? I get the feeling they surrendered as soon as they saw the news bulletin.

Shane corners Lori in the Rec Room for a bit of a confessional. ‘How can you treat me like this?’ he asks, insisting he didn’t lie to her about Rick being dead. He drunkenly makes a move on Lori (more like a dry thrust, really), who then scratches him up and causes him to seriously re-think his pick up strategy. He leaves in a huff.

This should be how every commercial for Southern Comfort should go.

The next morning at breakfast, Jenner leads the crew into the research center, where he explains the outbreak a bit further. Turns out, the virus infects the brain. Well, I’ll be damned. More importantly, we see that Jenner knows something the survivors don’t: This is a suicide mission. Jenner knows that the generators will power down in a couple hours, causing the building to self-destruct. Umm, is this really how the CDC looks or operates? The place runs on gasoline, but they have a HAL-like robot that responds flawlessly to every voice command?

As power starts to shut off, the crew scrambles to fix it. Jenner seems content on exploding. TS-19 was his wife, and he’s pretty much ready to join her at this point. Shane wants to kill him, but Rick intervenes and clocks him in the snoot. Shane, may I suggest taking out your frustrations by writing a song? How about ‘I got punched in the nose for sticking my face in other people's business.’

After some swift negotiations, Jenner allows the survivors to escape to the ground level, but he tells him that they won’t be able to get through the secure doors. Jacqui stays behind with Jenner, tired of running. Just as the rest of the crew begins to run out, Andrea announces that she’s giving up, too.

In the CDC lobby, they’re struggling to find a way out, when Carol remembers that she pilfered a grenade from Rick on the day he arrived. They detonate it, which blasts out one of the windows. Freedom, yo.

Back in the basement, Dale pleads with Andrea to leave with him. She eventually gives in, with seconds to spare. Jacqui and Dr. Jenner accept their fate. As the CDC explodes, the survivors marvel at the rubble for a few brief seconds, before once again leading their convoy into the unknown.

Hope everyone went to the bathroom, because they’re not stopping until DISNEY WORLD!

Smash cut, Season over.

You know, when this episode started, I was extremely worried at what might transpire. I didn’t want things to get too technical or, um…bleep-bloop oriented, and the futuristic CDC represented almost everything I hate about modern Science Fiction. Fortunately, things settled in for the better, the place blew up and our crew is back on the road.

As merciless as it may seem, the only way The Walking Dead can stay good is if our survivors are never safe. I don't want to see a scene where a zombie peeks into the window of the Grimes household, only to have Rick casually draw the blinds and return to the game of Scattergories on the coffee table. I don't think that will captivate six million people a week.

Enough jibber-jabber, it’s time to PICK YOUR BRAIN!

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1 - So, Shane really did think that Rick was dead, which seems like a real game-changer concerning what kind of a person he is. Sure, he’s deviant, troubled and dealing with his frustration in woefully incorrect ways, yet he’s more sympathetic now than ever. I mean, think about it. The only bright side to having all of this shit go down was that he somehow ended up with the woman he always wanted, only to have her almost immediately taken away from him. It’s a mixed blessing to say the least.

2 - There was a real ‘Lost Season 2’ quality to this episode, with the underground bunker and the lone man keeping the world safe and whatnot. The unfortunate appearance of the ‘All-Seeing Eye Computer’ really bothered me with its cheesiness, although the climax sort of made up for it. The difference between the two is that the Lost technology made sense. The hatch computer was old, rickety, made mistakes and could have actually existed (even if everything else on that stupid Island was impossible). For the CDC to have a HAL-9000 running the show seems like a good way to waste taxpayer money.

3 - Quote of the night: ‘The world runs on fossil fuels. How stupid is that?’ Even though The Walking Dead isn’t a George Romero production, the longing to make political statements in Zombie entertainment always shines through.

4 - I hope I can accurately explain this to you without A) Sounding misogynist, or B) Sounding insane. It’s a little something I call the ‘Kari Byron Paradox,’ and how it relates to The Walking Dead season finale.

Amy was easily the cutest character on the show. There was no comparison, really. However, now that she’s dead, I found myself strangely attracted to Andrea, even though nothing had changed with her look or overall character. I wanted to know why this was, and I started to realize that I always seem to make an involuntary decision about one particular female I want (or need) to be attracted to in a TV show or film, even if I wouldn’t normally find this person attractive in real life or outside of the show/film in question.

Kris Williams was easily the cutest member of Ghost Hunters, although I’d be the first to agree that she’s not astoundingly cute (or even really ‘TV Cute,’ if there is such a thing). Nonetheless, I became attracted to her whenever I’d watch Ghost Hunters, because nobody else on the show came close. It’s sort of a hormonal Stockholm Syndrome. So once Kris left to join Ghost Hunters International, I suddenly (and frighteningly) became attracted to Amy Bruni, because she was the only woman left. Had she not been there, I would have had to choose the most attractive man (which in this case was Britt Griffith). I couldn’t simply not have someone to be attracted to; the decision is always made for me, whether I like it or not.

Kari Byron is sort of cute, she’s a good artist and she stars on Mythbusters, one of my favorite television shows. However, she’s attained Geek Goddess status over the last few years, simply because there aren’t any other women on Mythbusters to pay attention to. In the light of day, she’d be just another face in the crowd; men wouldn’t bat an eyelash if she made a living in dishwashing detergent commercials instead of a Discovery channel juggernaut. But since she’s the only eye candy in town with no competition (besides Jamie Hyneman), our infantile male brains play tricks on us. We think she’s a lot more awesome than she really is, and the Kari Byron Paradox just accidentally explained nearly every bewildering crush I've ever had on someone.

So anyway, I like Andrea now. And if she disappears, I guess I’ll start to subconsciously like Lori or T-Dawg. I’ve accepted this, and understand there’s nothing I can do about it. Part of becoming Wise is accepting the things you cannot change about yourself.

5 - Season 2 will be 13 episodes, and early projections indicate a premiere date of October 2011. That’s a long-ass time from now, so you may have to face facts that this might be the last Walking Dead Friday ever. It was fun while it lasted, kids, and I thank you very much for reading along with me.

Well, that’s it for now. Sound off in the comments section, enjoy your weekend and catch up on the entire First Season of The Walking Dead by checking out the links below. Be sure to come back all next week, as we count down our FAVORITE ALBUMS OF 2010. See you then.

Season 1 - Episode 1 Review.
Season 1 - Episode 2 Review.
Season 1 - Episode 3 Review.
Season 1 - Episode 4 Review.
Season 1 - Episode 5 Review.
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Comments:
What do we think Jenner whispered to Rick at the end? I think he told him that Shane was trying to do it with Lori.

I used to like Kari Byron, then she got pregnant and lost interest in her. Speaking of the Kari Byron paradox, I think Lori is kinda hot.
 
I think Jenner said, "I know you ate all the ribs last night, but I'll take the secret to my grave for the good of your group."
 
THANK YOU for explaining the Kari Byron Paradox. I have had a similar idea regarding my husband's taste in women in the media simmering for a long time. We work on a college campus, in Florida, so we are literally surrounded by young, attractive women who have apparently been brought up to believe that they are the epitome of desirability and should wear as little clothing as possible to advertise this point to the fullest. It's a small campus, but there are a number of students here that make *MY* head turn. :P But the women on tv & in movies that my husband will comment on run the gamut, and include Kari. I think she's kind of middling - more so if you took away the funky hair and the blowtorch.

Anyway...I hated this episode. I was on the fence about the show overall (too much of it felt very...unoriginal, to be honest, and I could never develop a sympathetic feeling toward any of the principal characters); this episode pushed me over the edge.

I think that Jenner told Rick that the government (or even the CDC itself) was responsible for 'Wildfire'. Or something similar.
 
I think Jenner told Rick "Listen, your wife is NOT worth fighting for. Seriously."
 
The general consensus is that The Walking Dead will return during AMC's annual Halloween Scarefest, so October, 2011. I hope not.

I think Kari Bryon is very pretty, actually, and not by default.
 

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