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Season 1: Hospitals, Zombie Guts, and Disease Control

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It's a long time until season five, and I've started reading my DVRed library from the beginning. 

I remember how apprehensive the opening scene at the gas station made me on first watch. How disturbing the shooting of the little girl was to me. 

But on rewatch, I found myself jaded. I didn't see a little girl; I saw a walker. 

That doesn't mean I didn't find myself bothered by the scene. The fly covered dead I kept expecting to reanimated. The lack of walkers was odd. How long it took the little girl walker to notice Rick seemed very long (and then turn and attack him, too).

But the most bothering - and in ways creepiest - was the little walker girl picking up the toy (for much the same reason Morgan's wife rattling the doorknob later was even creepier on rewatch)  

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I always thought that keeping the walkers with some semblance of their memories intact made them somewhat creepier.  They were also able to use tools (remember the walker trying to break the glass doors in the department store with a brick?) and I vaguely remember them being able to climb a bit.  Season 4 walkers seem more like an annoyance anymore.

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For me, the creepiest thing was Rick waking up at the hospital - just the scene with the dead flowers, the iv bags empty and the door blocked.  I know there are scenes like that in tons of post apocalyptic horror shows, but it still gets me every time.

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I am having withdrawal so I started to watch all over again on Netflix. Watching ep1 this time around made me nitpicky.

When Rick encounters the Dead Inside door, he goes in to a stairwell and lights a match.  Did he have the matchbook inside his hospital gown, or boxers?  Where did it come from?!

When Rick gets the house to look for Lori & Carl, he leaves again in his hospital gown and boxers.  He couldn't have changed his clothes?! I get that maybe he was dumbfounded, but he had enough sense to take the bike and find his way home. :shrug:

Is the opening scene supposed to the scene between Rick driving off from the station, and Rick encountering the house that he took the horse from?

HighMaintenance, In ep2, which I also watched last night, zombies were able to climb fences! When Rick and Glenn make their way to the construction yard to the box truck, and the rain is washing off the zombie goo, they make a run for it and climb over the fence in to the construction yard.  Zombies were climbing the fence, which Rick shot down, but one eventually made it over.  Then of course they swarmed the fence and the fence fell.

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helloagain: Rewatch the scene right before the stairwell, and you'll see Rick reach over the counter at the nurses's station, and get the matches. Which only explains where he got them; it doesn't make any sense. All hospitals are no-smoking areas these days (and have been for years), and if they worried that the lights might go out they would expect to get by with back-up generators, or at least flashlights, they don't go around with candles like Florence Nightingale. He doesn't take too long to find matches either; I would never even expect to see them there. I would be more likely to rifle the pockets or purses of visitors looking for a lighter or keychain light; It only happens because they wanted the tried-and-true horrorshow trope of the precarious flame to just barely see...and then be plunged into darkness...fumble desperately to light another match...rinse and repeat.

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Hospitals around here allow smoking just outside the doors. :-/ Or at least they don't seem to actively prohibit it. (It's funny how I'm so quick to defend. Ha.)

There was some cool stuff on the season one DVDs about the filming of that scene.

Edited by mandolin

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I am having withdrawal so I started to watch all over again on Netflix. Watching ep1 this time around made me nitpicky.

When Rick encounters the Dead Inside door, he goes in to a stairwell and lights a match.  Did he have the matchbook inside his hospital gown, or boxers?  Where did it come from?!

When Rick gets the house to look for Lori & Carl, he leaves again in his hospital gown and boxers.  He couldn't have changed his clothes?! I get that maybe he was dumbfounded, but he had enough sense to take the bike and find his way home. :shrug:

Is the opening scene supposed to the scene between Rick driving off from the station, and Rick encountering the house that he took the horse from?

I noticed nitpicks more, too! I didn't know enough to wonder at walkers able to climb on tanks on first watch!

Matches - they showed him picking them up at the nurses station, I believe. Where he tucked them, I am not sure. 

Clothes - I literally yelled at him to get dressed when at his house. C'mon! No wonder Duane smacked him in the head with a shovel - who shuffles around in a hospital gown and boxers if they aren't undead? I guess Rick had to be "recently awoken injured" Rick until he could Suit Up and be Sheriff! Deputy! Rick! (now with hat).

The opening scene doesn't easily fit with the rest, does it? I figured it must be before stopping at the farmhouse, since the cruiser was abandoned for unlucky horse (let's face it, he was zombie chow at some point, regardless).

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Man, I was all excited for a new episode last night, and the blam! I remembered, nope, nothing until October. :( . So yay for Netflix streaming!

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Clothes - I literally yelled at him to get dressed when at his house. C'mon! No wonder Duane smacked him in the head with a shovel - who shuffles around in a hospital gown and boxers if they aren't undead? I guess Rick had to be "recently awoken injured" Rick until he could Suit Up and be Sheriff! Deputy! Rick! (now with hat).

To be fair, he just woke up from a coma and his brain is probably not altogether together and there is literally no one around that isn't some creepy thing. I think some leeway can be made for him just trying to figure out what the fuck was happening. And get out of the hallway that says "Dead Inside" with creepy fingers trying to get out.  One thing leads to another and he ends up outside. And what does he find? Hundreds of dead bodies and abandoned and crashed helicopters. I'm not sure, finding clothes would be the first thing I'd be thinking of when faced with that kind of nightmare.  Plus once he found his way to his house, he wasn't even sure it was real.  He laid there thinking he was dreaming or hallucinating.

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It's a long time until season five, and I've started reading my DVRed library from the beginning.

I remember how apprehensive the opening scene at the gas station made me on first watch. How disturbing the shooting of the little girl was to me.

 

I just started rewatching too! It'll probably be sporadically, in between all the other dumb crap I watch on tv. But I watched the pilot last night, still one of my favorites. I remember when my husband and I first saw that scene, he turned to me and said - "if there's more of that kind of crap,  I can't watch this". He's VERY sensitive about kids being killed. He just can't handle it. Yet here we are 4 seasons in and he sat through the Grove. Those girls weren't even walkers! It was still a terribly disturbing episode, and he doesn't want to watch again.....but I do feel we become kind of jaded. We're almost like the characters on the show - we get upset, but we can move on. "It just sucks to keep losing people". 

 

One thing I really loved about the pilot, and some others briefly touched on this, was the treatment of walkers. I liked that they retained some of their human elements - the girl picking up the stuffed animal, Morgan's wife trying the knob on the house. There was a real sadness about their plight - they were victims too. Not just annoyances. I still cry every single time Rick tells Bicycle Girl, "I'm sorry this happened to you". GAH. It guts me. 

We don't see too much of that any more, and it's disappointing. 

Edited by ghoulina
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This is probably one of the best pilots for any show. Amazing visuals and an incredibly dense atmosphere.

A shame it was all downhill from here.

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Rick is reunited with Lori and Carl, but soon decides - along with some of the other survivors - to return to the rooftop and rescue Merle. Back at camp, tensions run high between the other survivors. from imdb.com

 

Merle loses his hand. Shane loses his shit. 

Rewatching this episode I look for glimpses of Carol-to-come behind the battered housewife. Daryl's archery awesomeness is already there; but his is an attractiveness that grows as he moves away from the wife-beater clad redneck (not to be confused with Ed, the wife-beater jackass). Shane has always looked like a psychopath to me.

And though I felt like Ed needed it, seeing Shane take him down with a look of actually enjoying the beating was so disturbing. I'm glad he wasn't wearing his sheriff's uniform while doing so; he and Rick had the same job before the ZA, but they came to it from totally different motivations. That is firmly established here by Ep 3.

The loud casualness of their loose tent camp continues to amaze me.

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I agree; Shane always looked like he was on the verge of just losing it. Also, he wears his pants way too high. Interesting observation that Shane never wears the sheriff uniform post-ZA.

Edited by mandolin

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Well, the only other scenes we saw Shane in before CDB were the ones of him and Rick chatting in the cop car - and then the shoot-out on the highway. Shane seemed very normal to me in the car with Rick. Once Rick was back, that changed everything. I always wonder if he had a thing for Lori before the turn. He seemed A LOT more invested in her than she did in him. I think she cared for Shane, but I think she got together with him more out of comfort and protection. Shane, OTOH, seemed to think it was a much more serious relationship than it was.He wanted to be husband and father. He was simply gutted when Rick came back, and probably feeling a plethora of confusing emotions - guilt, resentment, shame, loss, happiness, etc. His reaction to Ed was beyond the pale.....but since Ed was such a prick I didn't care. 

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Has anyone watched the black and white version of the pilot?  It's an extra on my blu-ray and it's trippy to see it that way.  What I found interesting was how sanitized black and white makes bloody graphic scenes.  A bit more stomach-able, but still disturbing of course.

Edited by marinite
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Has anyone watched the black and white version of the pilot?

 

marinate - I saw it when AMC first aired it that way (was it during one of the many marathons I've watched?).  I seem to recall that it had a slightly different vibe, a little creepier.  The world Rick saw outside the hospital looked even bleaker and more hauntingly desolate in black & white.

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I wouldn't mind seeing an episode in sepia tone; as if it were an old documentery fading on a shelf;  an old newsreel of something that really happened.

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I didn't really dig the B&W version myself.  It was great for Romero's Night of the Living Dead, but TWD, not so much.

The one thing to me that is very noticeable is how much Andrew Lincoln has aged.  I don't think it's the scruff - he looks 10 years younger in S1E1 than he does at the end of season 4. 

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I always got the impression that Shane and Lori were doing the dirty deed even before Rick got shot.  They just seemed too relaxed with their sex in the woods routine - as if sneaking around and boning was something they had done frequently.

Watching Shane in this episode always makes me feel something's missing. Then it struck me... this was the pre-head rubbing Shane. His reaction to seeing Rick is such a mixed bag as ghoulina said.  Happy to see Rick, not happy that he's caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

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I agree. It's not just the longer hair and the facial hair. He really does look like this show has aged him. I don't mean that in a bad way, he's still a handsome man. But wow....he's so not the same Rick Grimes. In more ways than one. 

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I don't know if the show did it to him or the Georgia climate; he's used to the UK--they don't have so much heat or bugs!

But he looks more appropriate for meatier roles now. He may have looked fresher before, but he had supporting-role-as-the-sensitive-loser all over him before.

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I watched Love Actually for the first time recently, and then this ep. He looked pretty similar to me there, maybe a bit less baby-faced. He definitely looks like a man who's been through a lot now. Did you all think he looked any younger on Talking Dead versus the show?

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I agree. It's not just the longer hair and the facial hair. He really does look like this show has aged him. I don't mean that in a bad way, he's still a handsome man. But wow....he's so not the same Rick Grimes. In more ways than one.

Norman Reedus has noticeably aged too.

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On another sex related note, when all the women were scrubbing clothes and sharing what they missed - Maytag, espresso machine, etc - I was once again struck by WHY is it they miss their vibrators? Rather, why do they have to miss them? Batteries are still aplenty at this stage of the ZA. Heck, Camp Dinner Bell is still running GENERATORS. Surely the Priscilla McCalls are not picked over as prime looting spots, if they need a new one. They're small and easy to carry. 

A dishwasher is impractical to carry around with you, but this does not need to be a "OMG, I miss and will never have it" sort of thing.

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"Herschel--as long as you're running that shaky old generator, mind if I sit on it? Just to...you know...keep warm."

I like to look back at that "loose casualness" of that camp and see them all so clean and cheerful and stupid. Maybe in this episode they could be said to have an excuse because it was all so new; but when they later get to the CDC and Jenner is saying 90 days since WILDFIRE and we also see later a flashback to the highway with the napalming of Atlanta...I really can't reconcile their naivete at the time of this episode with what had been going on in the world for weeks. Then they are all arguing the risk involved in going back for Merle, yet after that--even after the camp massacre--we will see them let Morales go off with his wife and two little defenseless girls in a jeep with a soft canvas topper. This might be the episode when the TWD Law of Inconsistency began.

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Ah yes, the season of naivete.  Looking back on the attitude of the group, I think they believed the zombie apocalypse was just a temporary situation and that the government/military would be getting everything back to normal in no time. Because...C'mon!  We're 'Merica!  The strongest nation in the world!  We ain't gonna let no undead threat take us down!   Camp Dinner Bell only had to worry about the occasional random walker.  They hadn't yet been exposed first hand to child raping marauders, homicidal tweens or sociopath governors.  Sure they saw the napalming of Atlanta - but it didn't affect them directly.

These people mindlessly keep their stereotypical gender roles because they aren't yet forced to behave differently.  Men control the guns to protect the women folk and children, women wash the dishes and clothes and cook the vittles, children worked on their schoolwork and played . Season 1's camp didn't have enough time/distance from their previous lives to know how they needed to act in this new world.  It IS interesting how the show starts focusing on the group, highlighting the remnants of civilized society unraveling in this episode.  Ed openly berates and intimidates the women/Carol, Shane openly bashes/nearly kills Ed, Shane and Lori pretty much openly boink in the woods...it's just the beginning traces of society falling into primitive behavior.

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"It's day 194 since Wildfire was declared, and 63 days since the disease abruptly went global."
-- Dr. Edwin Jenner, "Wildfire" (S01 Ep05)

 

Just out of, oh I don't know, idle curiosity maybe...  has the show ever made ANY attempt do describe/discuss:

  1. What were the original grounds for the initiation of Wildfire?
  2. Why there was a 131-day discrepancy between the initiation of Wildfire and the inception of the global outbreak?
  3. What happened during those 131 days?

 

... or did TPTB make the decision at some point to pretend the visit to the Atlanta CDC never happened?

 

Enquiring minds want to know.

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These are my own assumptions and not derived from any explanation ever provided by the show:

 

1. Wildfire declared on the discovery and confirmation of at least two disparate clusters of infected with no explanation of how the "desease" jumped from cluster to cluster identified.
2. 131 days of trying to use mainly containment and quarantine protocols to contain the spread
3. T+131 Complete failure of containment measures. Geometric increase in incidences across the globe. Shoot to kill policy initiated.

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These are my own assumptions and not derived from any explanation ever provided by the show:

 

1. Wildfire declared on the discovery and confirmation of at least two disparate clusters of infected with no explanation of how the "desease" jumped from cluster to cluster identified.

2. 131 days of trying to use mainly containment and quarantine protocols to contain the spread

3. T+131 Complete failure of containment measures. Geometric increase in incidences across the globe. Shoot to kill policy initiated.

 

That's what logic and reason tell us - but TWD doesn't tell us shinola.

Would be nice if they revisited this some.

Maybe if they ever do make it to DC, and Fort Detrick.

 

ETA: Just did some calculations.

At their current rate of travel, it will take them about 4-1/2 years to get to DC.

So no breath-holding, anyone.

Edited by Nashville
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I've said this before and I'll say it again: TPTB have chosen to ignore the CDC and all its ramifications, by having the characters do the same. We the audience are to forget about it as well. This is because the CDC is an arc not found in the source material and consequently does not mesh well with it. Hence all the awkward questions we, who have not forgotten the CDC, have. Current showrunner and EPs have stated their willingness to adhere more closely to the comics. Their creator, Kirkman, didn't like the CDC arc for two reasons: it was not source (his) material, and two, he isn't interested in the science behind it, including causation and cure. This is a spiritual journey apparently, if its anything; spiritual warfare and all that entails.

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JBody sums it up, I think. 

 

Because: Kirkman.

 

And I don't hate the guy. I mean, I watch his show religiously, and read the novels, but something went down with Darabont, changes were made, the past is in the past, let it go, etc. I surmise that after the success of those first six eps, Kirkman took the reins a bit more and here we are. I had heard he didn't like the CDC thing also.

 

eta: I do they think have somewhat of a gold mine in the source material. It's 10 years+ worth of comic book and that means not having to come up with their own ideas all the time. That doesn't mean it will all translate well or they can't change things (Daryl), but I think Kirkman thought the CDC was going off track too much. He has said he regrets some things he's written and would change them, and he's done that to a point as well. He's always been clear on the fact that he doesn't care why the ZA happened. He doesn't care about The Time Before.

Edited by mandolin
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TPTB have chosen to ignore the CDC and all its ramifications, by having the characters do the same. We the audience are to forget about it as well. This is because the CDC is an arc not found in the source material and consequently does not mesh well with it. Hence all the awkward questions we, who have not forgotten the CDC, have.

 

I can think of plenty of shows whose viewers complained vocally about the lack of answers: Lost, The Leftovers, Intruders. So somebody (AMC? Darabont?) forced Kirkman to allow the CDC stuff. And it blew up in their faces (pun intended).

Edited by editorgrrl
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Yeah, I suspect the CDC thing was Darabont (love that guy) and even though he was stupidly shitcanned over money (AMC are such cheap bastards) I don't think he and Kirkman got on so well either (the CDC thing is the most visible example, maybe the tip of the iceberg?).

 

Agree that a decades' worth of source material is awesomeness BUT, as we all have seen, the media are very different, and what works in one area doesn't work so well in the other.  To be completely honest here,my all consuming love for this show is starting to flag a bit.  There isn't an end in sight (for our poor characters, for the show, for everyone) and it doesn't appear that TPTB are planning on having an end.  I don't think I can spend another ten years of my life faithfully watching our ragtag band do the same shit over and over.  Maybe that's cool in the comic world, but on TV repetitiveness is the kiss of death.  And yeah, I like knowing the "science" behind it all, for what it's worth.  When I started watching the show in season 1 I totally dug where there were going with it and loved the CDC episodes and was so excited that a season 2 was coming up.  But in that season 2, it became a different show.  Not bad, just different.  It was then reincarnated again in season 3 (which I loved, minus the Woodbury crap.  That season was kind of the emotional high water mark for me).  I still like this show, but...   the thrill is gone?  I don't know.  They ask a LOT of their audience.  6 months between seasons.  2 months in between the season!  I don't know man.  I think they mismanaged the shit out of this show and got lucky it caught on in a huge way.  In my world, Darabont would have been the only showrunner and it would have had a consistent vision the whole way through, maybe a tight 6 season run and that's it (like Breaking Bad - well, 5 seasons was it?  You know what I mean).  This thing is their cash cow and they are going to run it into the ground.

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Agree that a decades' Maybe that's cool in the comic world, but on TV repetitiveness is the kiss of death.  

...

 the thrill is gone?  I don't know.  They ask a LOT of their audience.  6 months between seasons.  2 months in between the season!  I don't know man.  I think they mismanaged the shit out of this show and got lucky it caught on in a huge way.  In my world, Darabont would have been the only showrunner and it would have had a consistent vision the whole way through, maybe a tight 6 season run and that's it (like Breaking Bad - well, 5 seasons was it?  You know what I mean).  This thing is their cash cow and they are going to run it into the ground.

Heck, there are complaints on comic forums of repetitiveness. I think it isn't as noticeable in that format though. I read the first two compendiums over the course of a week or so, and I wasn't sick of it. 

 

I totally agree re: management of the show. Do they think the long break and season split builds anticipation? Maybe so, but not when we get crap like Slabtown after three good episodes. And I realize not everyone feels that way about that episode. Right now, I feel like I'm in a hiatus.

 

I freaking loved seasons 1-3. Not every episode (if they focused solely on Woodbury, I was always itching to get back to CDB), but I can watch the episodes over and over and love/appreciate them. I've picked through some of season 4, but it's almost like a separate entity to me. I don't blame Gimple as showrunner necessarily. Many of my favorite eps were written by him. Or maybe he isn't the best choice at the helm. I hope I'm not experiencing what I was afraid of from the beginning. I love the show and told my husband, "but what if it starts to suck? What if they screw it up?" I don't want that to happen.

 

There are storylines I like that exist in the source material; of course, it may not translate, and they may not even try. I think they might need an endpoint, too. Or I can just pretend they all lived happily ever after at the prison at the end of season 3 and watch the few episodes of 4 I completely enjoy, like "A" as a standalone episode. Man, I feel sad.

Edited by mandolin
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I've said this before and I'll say it again: TPTB have chosen to ignore the CDC and all its ramifications, by having the characters do the same.

This was kinda the core issue I was getting at with my original post. :)

 

I do understand why the arc was concluded.  It was the first season, and at the time nobody knew for certain how the show would be received -  whether there would be additional seasons, or how many.  So Dr. Edwin Jenner gets tabbed to be TWD's Basil Exposition.

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I know.  It was my husband who introduced me to this show way back then.  We both love the postapocalyptic thing (and zombies and scifi horror, so it was a go).  Darabont elevated the material to a cinematic level.  I know not everyone likes him or would agree with me but come on, look at the dude's resume, it's not straight-to-vid stuff.  The pilot had this amazing quality to it...  if only.  AMC should have supported that... anyway, I don't want to keep ranting about it.  I can tell my husband is starting to lose interest too.  I will likely stick around for a good long while yet, might even go down with the ship if it wraps up in my lifetime....  it's like one of those HR questions: "Where do you see yourself in five years?"  "Not watching CDB and friends go around in circles in Georgia, as much as I love those Clutterbucks."

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I think I'll be here, as long as there's a chance for me to see ol' Clutterbuck rip out some guy's throat.

Edited by mandolin
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  So Dr. Edwin Jenner gets tabbed to be TWD's Basil Exposition.

 

Nashville, can you please kindly explain what this means?  I haven't the foggiest.  Thanking you in advance!  

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Basil Exposition is a character from the Austin Powers movies played by Michael York.

 

From TV Tropes:

A character whose purpose is to provide Infodumps and explain the plot. Ostensibly, this is for the benefit of the protagonists, but most of the time their real reason for existing is to provide Exposition to the audience.
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In my world, Darabont would have been the only showrunner and it would have had a consistent vision the whole way through, maybe a tight 6 season run and that's it (like Breaking Bad - well, 5 seasons was it?  You know what I mean).  This thing is their cash cow and they are going to run it into the ground.

 

This is what I'm afraid of. Terrified of, actually. This is the first time I've had a new "favorite" show in years and years. I have loved it so much, but I'm really scared it's going to start slipping (I'm hesitant to say it already has, I'll give it a bit longer) and slipping and slipping and just become an utter pile of crap, produced solely as a slave to ratings. 

 

IMO, one should go into a show with a clear vision for the story that's going to be told - a beginning, a middle, and an end. That's kind of hard to do when you're constantly changing show runners; and the comics are still being written, are they not? I don't know if Darabont had all that in mind, but I FELT like he did. Season one was just absolutely beautiful in its storytelling and I could sense we were going somewhere with it. It almost felt like a movie, not a weekly serial. Now I'm really not so sure, and it scares me....

 

(And, yes, agree on BB. Not to go off topic, but it is one of the few dramas I have watched that I felt concluded on an incredibly high note. It ended at the EXACT right time. Not many shows can say that.)

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I think the show has been incredibly lucky in that multiple showrunner changes haven't torpedoed it. The vision is different from what Darabont started filming, but it's still compelling and still raking in new viewers. I think it's helped that the high body count means they can sweep away elements that aren't working (bye Dale, Lori, and Andrea!), but I'm also generally pretty optimistic whenever I hear Scott Gimple or Gale Anne Hurd talk about their process.

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Don't worry Ghoulina.  I don't mean to be a total bummer.  I just haven't really been into all these bottle eps.  Yes, Gimple is a wicked writer of them, but they're best used sparingly (YMMV) and it's felt disjointed ever since they started using them in abundance.  My example: first 3 eps of this season gave me that old feeling, that *this* is the show I love, and now here we are again with 3 bottle-y eps in a row.  UGH.  That's just me, maybe I bitch about it too much because I still care a lot about this show *sob*

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No, I had the exact same experience as you - except I thought this last episode was a welcome reprieve after the fuckery that was the Beth episode. Bottle ep or no, that one just didn't feel TWD to me. At all. I do wish, like many others, that they would go back and forth between these separate storylines in one episode. I feel things would flow better that way.

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No, I had the exact same experience as you - except I thought this last episode was a welcome reprieve after the fuckery that was the Beth episode. Bottle ep or no, that one just didn't feel TWD to me. At all. I do wish, like many others, that they would go back and forth between these separate storylines in one episode. I feel things would flow better that way.

 

I might feel that way if I hadn't been thrown out of a number of episodes with the split format. I think it was especially damaging to "Killer Within," but also weighed down a few episodes late last season. On paper episodes with a lot of characters should work, but onscreen I end up having memories of things like late season 3, where people mostly just tread water. If they could work this out, then I'd be happier. The season 5 premiere was one of those where they did manage to have a decent group atmosphere, and the second episode did an OK job of it too, so maybe that will keep improving.

 

I don't think that Abraham and company necessarily deserved an episode to themselves, but I think getting through the story in one go was better for the characters, and the show, than having an episode with a bus ride and crash, an episode where they're in the bookstore, an episode where Eugene spills the beans, etc.

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IMO, one should go into a show with a clear vision for the story that's going to be told - a beginning, a middle, and an end. That's kind of hard to do when you're constantly changing show runners; and the comics are still being written, are they not? I don't know if Darabont had all that in mind, but I FELT like he did. Season one was just absolutely beautiful in its storytelling and I could sense we were going somewhere with it. It almost felt like a movie, not a weekly serial. Now I'm really not so sure, and it scares me....

 

I felt like Darabont was about themes, which worked in helping to set up the pilot and the early episodes, which are vital and which I am thankful he was there for. The first 3 episodes are among the show's best, and "Wildfire" is also decent.

 

He just sort of lost me as time passed in that season. I actually groaned out loud during "Vatos," not only from the CBS crimetime drama circa 1987 plotline of our friendly heroes coming to peace with a gang who turned out to be nice guys underneath, but because of poor Jim getting those awful, "IT WAS IN MY DREAM!!" lines to close out the episode. 

 

This happened a number of times with his themes. The idea of someone wanting to commit suicide and being guilted into not doing so is an interesting one, but I don't think the writing had the nuance to make it work, nor did the performances from Holden and DeMunn. Ultimately it damaged both characters - she came across as mean-spirited and he came across as pushy and needy.

 

Then there was the cringey attitude toward racism, whether it be Racist 101 Merle hurling slurs at literally every minority in camp until white savior Rick saves the day, or that scene where a delirious T-Dog talks about how hard it is to be around white people when you're black. I remember how proud TPTB seemed of this scene, and all I kept thinking was - we don't know anything about T-Dog (and we never really did find out anything about him), but we're going to take time to hear him give Important Speeches about race? Is that what the character would do? Is this about the character at all? 

 

I think there was a ponderousness and sense of people being on strings which the show needed to move away from. After the nadir of episodes like "Nebraska," Mazzarra got the balance right at first, but mishandled nearly everything about The Governor and Woodbury. Character development for all but a handful of people withered up and died, there wasn't any real momentum, or even that much interesting gore.

 

Generally I think Gimple does a decent job of straddling the fence with both action and themes/character. Not always, but more often than not. I think the show is so unwieldy at this point that they have decided to try to satisfy fans, but also do what they want to do. I enjoy the cast and most of the characters enough to give them a berth, but I'll admit that it probably wouldn't take much for me to start complaining a lot, or to stop watching. It's just that for now they've earned my good will, which I didn't think was possible after the end of season 3.

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This is what I'm afraid of. Terrified of, actually. This is the first time I've had a new "favorite" show in years and years. I have loved it so much, but I'm really scared it's going to start slipping (I'm hesitant to say it already has, I'll give it a bit longer) and slipping and slipping and just become an utter pile of crap, produced solely as a slave to ratings. 

 

All shows tend to slip, especially within 5 seasons. I think TWD is an odd case in that the CW was that the show was only of value for a few episodes and then sucked from there on out. I tend to disagree with that (I thought the first season was wildly uneven in quality, and it set a pattern for most of what has come since). The show was uneven enough to where fans will have many varied opinions. The critics have repeatedly said that this is (so far) the best season, the show is finally consistently good, etc. yet I know a lot of people here and elsewhere would claim the opposite, that the show is unwatchable, and so forth.

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 I actually groaned out loud during "Vatos," not only from the CBS crimetime drama circa 1987 plotline of our friendly heroes coming to peace with a gang who turned out to be nice guys underneath, but because of poor Jim getting those awful, "IT WAS IN MY DREAM!!" lines to close out the episode. 

 

Then there was the cringey attitude toward racism, whether it be Racist 101 Merle hurling slurs at literally every minority in camp until white savior Rick saves the day, or that scene where a delirious T-Dog talks about how hard it is to be around white people when you're black. I remember how proud TPTB seemed of this scene, and all I kept thinking was - we don't know anything about T-Dog (and we never really did find out anything about him), but we're going to take time to hear him give Important Speeches about race? Is that what the character would do? Is this about the character at all? 

 

I think there was a ponderousness and sense of people being on strings which the show needed to move away from. After the nadir of episodes like "Nebraska," Mazzarra got the balance right at first, but mishandled nearly everything about The Governor and Woodbury. Character development for all but a handful of people withered up and died, there wasn't any real momentum,

 

I've heard it said that it wasn't just the money, or the CDC episode that got Darabont canned. If you watch his films, yes he does get sucked into that ponderousness ( like his prison movie scenes going about 30 minutes too long was a warning that maybe he wouldn't understand television) He does like to wallow and it doesn't work.

The Vatos stuff felt a little "Walker Texas Ranger" to me, and the T-Dawg stuff was like and now here's our diversity badge...annnnnd we're done.

Not that they stopped having a racially mixed cast but it felt like a shoe-horned reference to make a point and not really organic to anything happening on screen.

 

Part of the reason I don't think the first episodes were as perfect as they are praised to be was the really cringey lines like when Merle asked Rick who he was and he did the "I'm Officer Friendly!" (DA-DA-DAAAHHHH!) Or Andrea's wailing "You just got us all killed!" and holds Rick at gunpoint which was so corny and OTT and also made no sense.

"Nebraska", to me, is a mixed bag. All the shit at the farm with Maggie and Glenn and Beth and Lori and Carl and Dale was so half-assed...but I still re-watch because the scene in the bar with Dave-and-Tony is fantastic IMO. I've said before that Michael Raymond James was proof of the old saying there are no small roles only small actors...He got maybe 7 minutes on the show and was more effective and memorable than some of the top-billing cast.

But that was the scene where Rick, Glenn, and Herschel really coalesced. The direction was so subtle of Glenn coming close to saying too much, and Rick just almost imperceptibly shaking him off was so delicate and perfect it seemed like a different show. So I love the ending at least!

Edited by kikismom
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