The "Shawshank Redemption" director has the "love of the zombie gene."
We are in the midst of a great pop culture zombie apocalypse, with scientists estimating that a new zombie movie is released roughly every seven minutes.
A zombie TV show, on the other hand? Well, that’s a relatively novel thing - and that’s why Oscar-nominated writer/director Frank Darabont (“The Shawshank Redemption”) is so excited by the possibilities of “The Walking Dead,” which debuts on AMC sometime in October.
“The Walking Dead” is adapted from a comic book series by writer Robert Kirkman, in which Kentucky cop Rick Grimes (played in the show by British actor Andrew Lincoln) wakes up from a coma to discover that the world has been overrun by zombies, and sets out in search of the wife and son he hopes are among the handful of human survivors.
Darabont, who says he was born with “the love of zombies gene,” was practically giddy as he discussed how he discovered the comic, the long road to getting it on television, how the TV will differ from the comics, and more. All of that coming up after the jump...
A road trip edition of the podcast with iffy sound but hopefully lotsa funny.
Comic-Con preview: 3:10 - 17:20
Spoiler-free "Mad Men" talk 17:20 - 28:15
Change is good for the Emmy-winning drama.
“They raise you up and they knock you down,” “Mad Men” anti-hero Don Draper observes of the media after he’s the subject of an unflattering news profile.
The press has spent much of the last three years raising “Mad Men” up, and the show is entering the age at which critics’ darlings start to get knocked down. What once felt fresh begins to seem tired, and there’s usually a shiny new toy to distract you from the old reliable one.
The show actually dealt with that somewhat in the third season, which pushed the Draper marriage to the forefront and spent less time at Sterling Cooper. And what little time was spent at the ad agency was primarily spent on Don (Jon Hamm) and his colleagues feeling impotent under the new British ownership, and in some cases on sending away fan favorite characters like Joan (Christina Hendricks) and Salvatore (Bryan Batt). Don’s wife Betty (January Jones) had always been, by design, the series’ most frustrating character - an often childlike woman who, by virtue of her upbringing and then her marriage to the secretive, controlling Don, had no idea of what she wanted nor how to express it if she did - so spending more time with her and less with the witty Roger Sterling (John Slattery) was a trade many fans weren’t happy with.
But the focus on the Drapers’ crumbling marriage led to the incredible “The Gypsy and the Hobo,” in which Betty finally learned the truth about her husband’s background as identity thief Dick Whitman. And Don and Roger’s feelings of powerlessness under British rule had a spectacular payoff in the caper-style season finale, in which Don, Roger, Bert Cooper (Robert Morse) and Lane Pryce (Jared Harris) stole the agency itself - or, at least, its key clients and employees (including Joan making a triumphant return) to start up a new, independent firm.
“Mad Men” in its third season was still one of the best dramas on television, but there’s no question that the new company - and creator Matthew Weiner’s commitment to treat it as exactly that and not, as he puts it, “Sterling Cooper in a new office” - has put a spring into the series’ step as it enters season four Sunday night at 10 on AMC.
(Some very mild spoilers follow, most of them having to do with things that were set in motion at the end of last season.)
Can the show work without Jim Gaffigan?
Over its first three seasons, TBS’ “My Boys” occupied an unusual position in my sitcom tastes, in that I only occasionally found it funny but enjoyed it anyway. The show was so laid-back and charming, and the chemistry among the cast so infectious, that I came to enjoy spending time in the company of sportswriter PJ Franklin (Jordana Spiro) and her (mostly male) friends so much that I was okay with the fact that I spent most of each episode smiling rather than laughing.
But because those occasional laughs usually came courtesy of co-star Jim Gaffigan as PJ’s brother Andy, and because Gaffigan left the show to spend more time on his stand-up career (and those of us who enjoy food-related stand-up can certainly appreciate that), I worried that the fourth season (which debuts Sunday at 10 p.m.) would feel too slight. Amiability only gets you so far, right?
A Birmingham gig has many, many complications.
Got any questions for Charlie Hunnam and company?
So, remember this morning when I wrote that I was curious to see how a very un-Comic-Con show like "Sons of Anarchy" might be received? Well, I'm going to have a much closer view of that than planned, since FX has asked me to moderate that panel on Sunday afternoon.
I know and love the show, and I'm sure I can think up plenty of questions for Charlie Hunnam, Katey Sagal, Ron Perlman and creator Kurt Sutter, but as I did vis-a-vis "Chuck," I'm open to suggestions. If you're not coming to the Con (or are but don't want to go up to the mic to ask a question), what would you want to hear those four discuss? Feel free to throw stuff out in the comments, or else e-mail me at email@example.com
Must-see TV panels include "Chuck," "Community" and "The Walking Dead."
Tomorrow, I fly out to California for my second-ever visit to the San Diego Comic-Con (and then for my umpteenth Television Critics Association summer press tour, but we can discuss that next week).
Last year I was working alone, and confused by my surroundings and the crowds, and I didn’t get to cover half the things I wanted to, but I had a fun time moderating the “Chuck” panel (a job that mainly requires nodding at Zachary Levi and letting him go), I got to see the last “Lost” panel and caught a half-dozen other cool things.
This year, I’m a sorta-veteran, plus I’m now covering the Con as part of Team HitFix(*), which means I can split off from Fienberg to try to cover more ground.
(*) And it’s not too late to enter the contest to win a What’s Alan Watching? t-shirt at the Con. Apparently, Drew McWeeny is wiping the floor with me, so there are definitely shirts still available.
Dan posted his run-down of the most-anticipated TV panels last night, and after the jump, I have some thoughts on some panels I’m looking forward to covering. Keep in mind that our battle plan for the most part is for Dan to stay in Ballroom 20 all day each day for all the big panels while I roam around covering other stuff and doing interviews, so some of the obvious panels (“Dexter,” for instance) will be covered by him.
Adam Baldwin shines as Jayne discovers his outer hero.
Season 3 is starting to drown in extranous subplots.
Another new "True Blood" tonight, and it feels like the season is being overwhelmed by subplots that have no purpose other than to service the show's ever-expanding cast of characters, and to lighten the workload of the leads. So every time the werewolf/vampire union storyline starts to build up steam, we have to take a break for the weird psychodrama between Franklin and Tara, or Sam's issues with his biological family, or Jason giving a shirtless audition for a "Dukes of Hazzard" remake. I'm sure there's a sizable portion of the "True Blood" fanbase who didn't object to that last one (just as another portion would be fine if Jessica ever got anything to do, whether or not it factored into the main story), but overall, how many of this season's subplots are working for you?
UPDATE: Forgot to mention a quick programming note: I may be taking the next few weeks off from these "True Blood" posts, as I'll be in California for a while for Comic-Con and the TV critics press tour and may not have time to watch upcoming episodes until I'm back. If you need an outlet to discuss those shows, Leslie Gornstein's (far lengthier) recaps tend to post to our Monkeys as Critics blog every week not long after the show finishes airing on the West Coast.
Impress all your fanboy/girl friends in San Diego with a bold fashion choice!
As I mentioned on Wednesday, HitFix has printed up a bunch of What's Alan Watching? t-shirts for a lucky 120 of you (plus another 120 for fans of Drew McWeeny's Motion/Captured blog) who may be traveling to Comic-Con. You can see the design on the left, and after the jump, details on how to win a shirt...