The Walking Dead Week – in case you missed it

So, the first episode of season 8 of The Walking Dead has landed and it was a stonker.

Yes, you may say that it’s impossible to keep the pace up without finishing the whole story this season. That’s not the point. Let us have our moment. Our moment of suspended disbelief that we aren’t going to have two episodes dedicated to a character that, right now, we’ve never seen before.

In case you missed the build up, here are a handful of articles from the last week covering all things The Walking Dead:

Surprising appearances of The Walking Dead stars

Weird and Wonderful Merchandise – Part 2

Video Game Review – The Walking Dead: Michonne (Telltale Games, 2016)

All the trailers

The Walking Dead: The Board Game (Z-Man Games)

The Walking Dead: The Game – Season One (Telltale Games, 2012)

The Walking Dead: Road To Survival (Scopely, 2015)

Top Moments of The Walking Dead TV Show

The Music of The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead: Weird and Wonderful Merchandise

Fear The Walking Dead: Series 1, Episode 1 (Scott Dow, 2015)

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Details of Walking Dead miniseries finale announced

The end of The Walking Dead television series is nigh. It has had a good run but the production companies involved have decided to stop whilst the going is good and call it a day.

Skybound, AMC Studios and Valhalla Entertainment released the following joint statement:

“The series has been going for many years, growing in popularity as time goes on. However, we recognise that the interest peaked at the start of Season 7 and when we put out yet another episode of a secondary character going away on a little side-quest whilst Rick, Michonne and Daryl had another week off, the fan reaction was positively, erm, negative.

“As such, we will be digressing from the comic somewhat and when the show comes back for the four-part miniseries in October 2017, we will have an ending that is going to really satisfy the fans of the show. We don’t want to ruin the plot, but suffice to say that we have sacked 80% of the cast and the result is that the remaining characters have focus and time to get rid of the pesky bad guys in the first episode before finding a cure for the walkers in the second. The final shot will be of a paradise-like world where Rick, Michonne, Carl, Daryl, Rick’s baby daughter (whatever her name is), Sasha, Carol, Morgan and Maggie are sat eating a roast dinner and cake, before Rick breaks the fourth wall and says  “This is how you do it J.J.”. 

We are aware that this might go against the carefully crafted world we have worked so hard to create, with our survivors finding scraps of hope in a hopeless world, never giving up in one of the most unexpectedly profound explorations of human nature and survival in an apocalyptic scenario. We are also aware that the have been bringing it to life with top-level deliveries of our watertight scripts for almost a decade. However, we decided instead to listen to the small number of bloggers and chat room frequenters that haven’t even got the patience to sit through the total sequences without fast-forwarding, let alone pay attention for an entire ten series, and call it quits now lest they stop illegally downloading our art from Pirate Bay.”

There you have it! I’m as shocked as you are. Glad we can finally see the end in sight.

Have a great 1st April guys.

Why AMC allowing mobile phone usage is short-sighted 

The news of the AMC chain of multiplex cinemas in USA announcing plans to allow cinema-goers to text during films is probably the worst film-related news I’ve heard in a long time. AMC chief executive Adam Aron has shown himself to be completely out-of-touch with the paying cinema-goers to a level that is beyond my comprehension.

There are still many great reasons to go to the cinema. Watching the latest films on the best available format is an experience that continues to be unrivalled in the home cinema market. No matter how much you spend on your setup at home, you can’t replicate sitting down and watching at a huge 4K huge screening with Dolby surround sound in a perfectly dark cinema. Being transported into a different world with no distractions for a couple of hours is the whole point of going to the cinema.

Whilst it is an almost perfect experience for me, there are a number of things that have crept in in recent times that have marred my experience as a cinema-goer. The primary things I get infuriated about going to the cinema are as follows:

· People talking

· People eating overly-pungent or crunchy food

· People using their mobile phones

· The cinema management and employees doing nothing to prevent any of the above

I think most or all of the above issues are annoyances shared with all other cinephiles around the world. They are also wholly avoidable by having strict policies at the cinema.
The generalisation from Aron that he wants to allow texting to encourage millennials is a short-sighted statement that indicates he hasn’t actually been to the cinema recently. A 50-year-old man who has just left his office is just as likely to text as a 16-year-old out with their friends.

One generalisation I will make is that the kinds of people who text during films are the kinds of people who will also be happy to talk through films. Neither group really care about the film they’re supposed to be watching, they’re just going through the motions. Let’s face it, if you’re on your phone, you aren’t watching a film.

If Aron is happy to drive away a large amount of AMC’s market share with this tactic then that’s fine, as long as other cinemas don’t follow suit. Unfortunately, for cinema purists seeing this kind of attitude just encourages us to stay away.

The only solution is to have a blanket ban on texting and phone use during films. If anyone uses their phone, they should be ejected with no second chances. Doing this and guaranteeing the purity of a trip to the cinema will protect the current revenue in cinemas. If tickets are being charged at £8 or more for a standard ticket then a trip to the cinema is a luxury night out and this should be reflected on the experience. 

Guaranteeing a good and hassle free experience will encourage the current customers to go back again after the slow decline due to this very issue. 

Allowing mobile phone usage will just be another nail in the coffin for cinemas.

Fear The Walking Dead – Series 1, Episode 1 (Scott Dow, 2015)

It’s an interesting prospect, this new series. The Walking Dead itself wasn’t spectacularly popular on its original debut run, though thankfully AMC stuck with it and had faith in the comic to the point where it was given a lot of breathing space and has become one of the biggest sleeper success stories on TV this decade. Plenty of people who would never watch a zombie film have tried out an episode and found it to be much more than a gore-fest, with characters afforded the time to develop without the two-hour constraint a movie imposes on them.

When this series was announced many months ago, it seemed like an odd choice. Everyone was happy to follow Rick Grimes and his band of merry survivors as they loosely followed a path set out by the comics. This would be a new series, following a completely different set of survivors in a completely different area of the same country. Why should we care about them? Doesn’t Rick eventually jus any other group anyway, so the fate of anyone we see is ultimately sealed anyway? As the plot and approach were slowly revealed, mega-fans were somewhat appeased and given hope that the new series would actually be able to survive on its own two feet.In this first feature length episode, we are introduced to a highly dysfunctional family living on the wrong side of Los Angeles. School councillor Madison Clark (Kim Dickens) lives with her two children: over-archiving Alicia (Alycia Debnam Carey) and drug-addict Nick (Frank Dillane). Also living with them is Madison’s boyfriend Travis Manawa (Cliff Curtis), a teacher at her school. The episode opens with Nick waking from a drug comedown and seeing what we know is an early sign of the oncoming zombie apocalypse. Running outside, he is panicked and quickly finds himself run over and ends up in hospital. However, given his frame of mind, nobody believes him, least of all his family, who all think he is going insane.

One of the big promises made by the series creators in the early days of the promotional material was that it would provide a cause of the zombie apocalypse. That is hinted at in the first episode and will no doubt be looked at further in the future.

Did it live up to the hype? Honesty, it’s too hard to say at this point. They’ve laid the groundwork for what could be an excellent series, or it could be seen as a slow start to a series that won’t speed up too much as it needs to stretch out the five weeks between the start of the apocalypse and where the main Walking Dead series started in earnest. The dynamics between the four main characters were on show already and it has to grow quickly to retain the attention of the many millions of viewers that have already tuned in.

AMC’s Fear The Walking Dead will continue next week at 9pm.

The Walking Dead: Weird and Wonderful Merchandise

As with any hugely popular TV series, there’s always a big attempt to get its fans to part with their hard earned money by any means necessary. The Walking Dead is no exception. Check out these weird and wonderful items that could be yours if you have more money than sense.

Bland Officially Licensed Socks

Why wouldn’t you want to put some cool images from The Walking Dead on your feet? Imagine the heads of zombies exploding as a bullet impacted on their undead skulls. What about the mixture of fear and anger Michonne has when seeking revenge on The Governor? Or, maybe you’d prefer a picture of Andrew Lincoln portraying Rick Grimes pensively looking out into the distance whilst crouching in the middle of nowhere? No? Oh… Pick them up here.

Shit socks? Yes please.

Shit socks? Yes please.

The Walking Dead Comic-Con Exclusive Zombie Burst Guitar

Yours for just £329 plus shipping, this guitar will make you the envy of all your friends who will sit back and think “I wish I was so rich that I could blow so much money on a terrible-looking guitar and think it was a good idea.”

“This would look great alongside my CSI: Miami saxophone”

Michonne Sword Letter Opener

If you’re asking yourself “Why?”, I say to you “Why not?”. Then I laugh and say “No seriously, why?”

Available for just $89.99.

His success had gone to his head.

His success had gone to his head.

Rick Grimes Resin Deluxe Boxed Statue

Clearly the $350 asking price on the official website didn’t put many people off. It has to be said, this looks spectacular. It’s a lot of money to spend on something like this, but of all of the comic book range of toys and collectibles, this is up there with the best.

A collectible as bad-ass as the man it portrays.

A collectible as bad-ass as the man it portrays.

The Walking Dead Plain Logo T-Shirt

Another stylish piece of merchandise is this, a nice, plain and simple logo t-shirt that really works in the charcoal grey colour. There are plenty of other options with catchphrases and other gimmicks, but if you want something more subtle then this is what you need. It will set you back $19.99.

Simple and stylish clothing for fans of the comic.

Simple and stylish clothing for fans of the comic.

Stern Pinball Machine

Not much to say here, but if you’re sitting in the middle of a Venn Diagram that consists of the categories “Loves The Walking Dead”, “Loves Pinball”, “Has too much money” and “Had no sense” then this is the product for you.

Yours for just $7495. I would if I could.

SUCH A SUPPLE WRIIIIIST!

SUCH A SUPPLE WRIIIIIST!

The Walking Dead Battle Scene Wallet

This may be more within your price range. A mere $20 will get you this stylish wallet inspired by the All Out War story arc of the comic book series. It will be cool to get hold of it now and then when the story kicks in early next year in the television show you can say “It was much better in the comics” as you whip out your cool wallet and pay for a mug of smug.

Both cool and practical.

Both cool and practical.

Check back tomorrow for a review of the first episode of Fear The Walking Dead, the new series that premieres on the BT-exclusive AMC channel.

The Music of the Walking Dead

One of the standout elements of The Walking Dead throughout the every series has been the music. Whether it is incidental orchestral music or one of the eclectic choices of alternative rock, there is ample scope to discover new music by keeping your ears out whilst watching.

Jamie N Commons – “Take Me Home”

Perhaps the most memorable track is the Jamie N Commons song “Lead Me Home”. It played over the end of episode 12 of season 3 – “Clear” – as Michone and Rick drive back to the prison after a failed attempt at taking Morgan back there with them. This is quality blues music and the raspy vocals perfectly fit the scene.

Nine Inch Nails – “Somewhat Damaged”

The perfect song for an angry family mourning the death of a beloved relative whilst deciding whether or not to seek revenge for the death, Nine Inch Nails track “Somewhat Damaged” was a genius choice. It featured at the start of the penultimate episode of season 5 – “Try” – and completely altered the mood of the episode. If you aren’t having a great day, why not try to listen to this on full blast?

Emily Kinney – “Hold On”

Wait, is The Walking Dead actually a musical? For this brief moment, it sort of was. Emily Kinney is a singer in her own right and this brief scene allowed her to showcase her talent. Admittedly, it does feel a little wedged in, a platform to promote her album, but when it sounds this good do we care? It’s a beautiful rendition of an excellent Tom Waits song, which fades out to let the main man perform the end of the song over the end credits.

How to Buy

There are a few official The Walking Dead CDs out there, the best of which is titled The Walking Dead Original Soundtrack Vol. 1. Before you rush off to buy it, however, it’s worth noting there are only eight songs on it. You may consider the second release The Walking Dead Original Soundtrack Vol. 2, but that is even worse with just five songs on it. Or you could try the Global Stage Orchestra doing covers of The Walking Dead songs, though they don’t seem overly accurate. My recommendation is that you seek out the individual artists’ respective releases and see if you like other tracks by them before buying.

The Walking Dead Week at Cinema Etc.

This week sees the start of the new spin-off/prequel/companion series to The Walking Dead. Titled Fear The Walking Dead, it gets its UK premiere on Monday 31st August on the new BT-exclusive channel AMC. At first it may seem like a bit of a cash-in on the main show’s popularity, but I’m not so sure. There have been endless tie-ins to the comic (yes, the TV series is really just a tie-in to the comic) that have been great successes. I’m dedicating this week to revealing the best places to go to get your Walking Dead fix. First up? The Walking Dead board game.