You probably know David Chase best as the creative genius behind The Sopranos. The show may have ended, but Chase’s career not only lives on, he can now add feature film director to his list of credits. His new film, Not Fade Away, screened at the Paramount Theater in Austin Film Festival Thursday.
The film, a love letter to rock n’ roll – music that Chase says “saved my life” – follows a group of friends in 1964 surburban New Jersey whose lives are transformed after seeing the Rolling Stones perform live on television. They form a band and go through the motions of making it big. Thanks to the omniscent narrator — the lead character’s little sister — we know right off the bat they’re not going to make it, but that doesn’t do anything to dampen the journey. The angst, the passion, the tension between bandmembers, the inevitable love story – and yes the music — drive a sweet and compelling narrative that pays homage to both coming of age in the 60’s and to Chase’s own teenage years as a wannabe rock star growing up in New Jersey. Oh, and it also has James Gandolfini.
David Chase was on hand to introduce the film and take questions after the screening. The following are some of the highlights:
Q: What was the inspiration for the film?
A. The inspiration was the music. I was an English major. I learned more from — I probably shouldn’t admit this — but I learned more from rock n’ roll than I ever learned from Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Music turned me around at ages of 17-21. It changed my life. It was an amazing time to be alive. Everytime the Rolling Stones or the Beatles or Bob Dylan put out a new album- which was every six months – it was like quantum leap forward. Between Rubber Soul and Revolver it was like a miracle. It made you feel so good.I thought if that’s what art was, I could do that. You know you see art as a little kid in museums and it’s beautiful but it feels so remote. This was alive.
Q: I saw that Steven Van Zandt was the executive producer. How did he contribute? Did he share his own stories?
A: No, he didn’t share stories, in fact he was was opposed to me doing this. He said “Why don’t you do a crime story? This is going to be hard to sell, hard to market.” He doesn’t understand why these guys [in the film] are scared to play and scared to make it, but he’s one of the ones who made it.
Q: When you introduced the film you said it was semi-autobiographical. The kids in band spend a lot of time spouting quasi-intellectual riffs. Were you and your friends like that?
A: Yeah, kind of. I mean we were so pretentious that we never played for anyone because we were ‘too good’. The guys in the movie, they at least played a couple of dates. We just stayed in the basement and practiced. We only played for ourselves.
Q: Can you talk about the budget? You use a lot period stuff – costumes, music, cars…
A: People say it’s a small movie and I guess it is small but it wasn’t cheap. I couldn’t have gotten an independent production company to make it. The music rights alone…Paramount did, they screamed bloody murder but they did it. Steven [Van Zandt] was helpful because he had relationships with labels, so we got a good deal, but it still cost a fortune.
Q: You got the period dead on. How hard was it to get the 60’s artifacts?
A: The cars were a big part- that guy I’d like to kill, the car guy. It was hard to get stuff and then it never seemed like things worked – the trunk didn’t open when you needed it to or the car wouldn’t start.
We spent a lot of time – a lot of time - getting the right instruments, the guitars and the drums. Sometimes I think it’s easier to make a film set in 1863 than 1963. In 1863 you don’t have the real streets, you have to recreate a set. Here you can use the real streets and dress them, but reality always intrudes somehow. You know, all of a sudden, a Fed Ex truck drives by. I always say I won’t make another period piece but I don’t know of that’s true.
Q: Can you talk about the music — I saw in the credits you wrote song with Steven Van Zandt — how was the experience of choosing music for the film?
A: Stevie and I wrote the medical jingle (audience laughs here — see the film and you’ll get it) Steve wrote the song that they use when they master the audition. At one point I was frustrated and wanted to quit writing and Steve sent me a demo with that song and it kept me going.
Q: It was an interesting choice using the sister as a narrative device. Can you talk about why you did that and what point in the process you decided to use her?
A: I decided to do it in post production. I had shown the film to some people and they didn’t get that the band never went anywhere. They spent the whole film trying to figure out who they were. some people thought they were supposed to be the Rolling Stones. I also got the Byrds. I realized that I needed to state up front that they never became anybody, so that the audience could just relax into it and be with the story.
Q: I noticed you use the holidays to anchor the story…why?
A: That’s how I remember it going when I was that age, coming home at holidays and life revolving around those times. I was frustrated with the process at one point and ready to give up Stevie Van Zandt sent a demoof one of the main songs and the progression of the lyrics went from holiday to holiday – I thought it was a sign.
Chase introduced the film by invoking Buddy Holly:
“I found out earlier that today is Buddy Holly’s birthday. As you know he wrote the song ‘Don’t Fade Away’ that the film is named for. I can’t even wrap my mind around the fact that this film is having is screening here on his birthday. So Buddy this is for you, I hope you enjoy the movie.”
Erin Essenmacher blogs at The Film Panel Notetaker.
Chevy Chase reportedly shouted the N-word on the set of “Community,” objecting to how his “Community” character is portrayed as racist and asking if "Pierce Hawthorne" would say the n-word on the show next, according to TVLine.
The cause of the rant? Chase was reportedly complaining that his character has become more and more racially insensitive as the show has continued.
According to TVLine, production stopped briefly, then Chase apologized to the cast and crew.
Earlier this year, a voicemail that Chase left for former “Community” creator Dan Harmon was leaked. At the show’s wrap party, Harmon had mentioned Chase walking off the set during production, and Chase later left an angry voicemail on Harmon’s phone insulting Harmon. “I don't get talked to like that by anyone,” Chase said in the voicemail, according to the New York Daily News.
Because the history of the racial epithet Chase used is so loaded, the irony is of course that Chase was doubtless more offensive to people with his rant than his character has ever been on the show. Pierce is often portrayed as being clueless about pop culture and what is currently acceptable to say because of his age, once saying on the show, “I do have a young African-American friend now” when referring to Donald Glover’s character "Troy Barnes."
Disagreement over whether it is ever acceptable to use the racial term that Chase employed has been going on in the entertainment industry for decades. Talk show mogul Oprah Winfrey called out rapper Jay-Z, who often uses the word in his songs, in a 2009 interview.
“I was once at a Jay-Z concert, and there was a moment when everybody – including white people – was screaming the N-word,” she told him. “I got to tell you, it didn't make me feel good… but it didn't seem to affect you. You were having a good time up there onstage.”
"When I hear the N-word, I still think about every black man who was lynched—and the N word was the last thing he heard," said Oprah.
“It’s a generational thing,” Jay-Z replied. And in a video clip of the interview, Jay-Z added "We took the power out of the word. We took a word that was ugly and hateful and turned it into a term of endearment."
Today, NBC announced their first cancellation of the season by giving Animal Practice the axe after the ratings didn’t impress executives enough to keep it around. Whitney will air in the now vacant Wednesday time slot at 8pm starting on Wednesday, November 14th.
This isn’t immensely surprising as we previously predicted that a canceled show might allow for Whitney and/or Community to escape their dreaded Friday night time slots. After all, NBC did say, “When we have a better idea of viewing patterns in the next few weeks, we will announce new season premieres of ‘Whitney’ and ‘Community.’”
But we’re still not sure what this means for Community. Now the series – coming into a shortened 15-episode season 4 – might be all by itself on Friday unless Guys with Kids, NBC’s other low-rated freshman comedy series, gets canceled, too.
Honestly, I think the best option would be to put Community on Tuesdays with Go On and toss The New Normal over to the Thursday night line-up when 30 Rock finishes its 15-episode final season. That means we’d have to wait a little bit longer for the return of Community, but it might be worth it so the show has a fighting chance at surviving.
Either way, this game NBC seems to be playing with Community fans isn’t good for the show as the average viewer doesn’t know what’s going on behind the scenes. If anything, this shows that NBC doesn’t care about Community, and I’m not sure they’re invested in the series lasting, even through a full season 4.
Ethan Anderton blogs at Screen Rant.
As someone who enjoyed watching, but wasn’t exactly over the moon with season 1 of American Horror Story, I must admit considerable interest to hearing that its creators, Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, had set the series up to be an anthology – the second helping of which would, of course, become American Horror Story: Asylum. And while the revelation that the Harmon family’s story had reached its conclusion was arguably more interesting than the story surrounding the actual Harmon family, it did offer a clue about what to expect from a narrative stand point, once season 2 got underway.
Season 1 was chock-full of every little bit of madness Murphy and Falchuk could scrounge up; there were whiffs of various film influences – both in and out of the horror genre – and enough gore, violence and jump scares to consider the series aptly named. Still, as the series trudged on, there was the overwhelming sense that it was burning the candle at both ends, so to speak – which was followed by the disclosure that American Horror Story was (and always had been?) intended to be an anthology series. This is important because, while season 1 ran at a breakneck pace for 13 episodes, the audience was left wondering just how it would all come together at the end, and what that would mean for the future of the series. Viewers entered into the series unaware that watching a dead family gather around a Christmas tree would not just be the end of the season, but the end of that particular story, as well.
As Asylum kicks off, it does so with the audience prepared for whatever storyline may be awaiting them to likely come to an actual conclusion. Therefore, the normal sense of exhilaration that comes from watching a television season reach its finale, and all that entails for the continuation of the story, is no longer an issue for AHS; the audience knows that once it’s done, it’s done. That will pose an interesting set of challenges for Murphy and Falchuk as they enter season 2.
And so, with the premiere episode, ‘Welcome to Briarcliff,’ the first thing most viewers will notice is how the writers have chosen to display their lunacy in a much more controlled fashion. That’s not to say the show has suddenly learned some manners, or bothered to look up the definition of the word “subtle,” but it just feels more like everyone is in on the joke now, everyone gets that the writers will ride this thing as hard as they can until its heart explodes, and then we’ll all just continue on with our business.
In season 1, it felt as though the madness was random, and a little rushed – which likely increased its appeal with some viewers. The storyline was largely an indiscriminate collection of horror movie tropes and freaky circumstances with equally unusual denouements that all danced around a central theme of a broken family who had unwittingly moved into a haunted house. In Asylum, Murphy and Falchuk are still inviting a whole host of bizarre images into a single structure, but this time is seems for a far more precise purpose. Perhaps that’s because they’re not burdened with making Jessica Lange’s character more central to the story after the fact, but mostly it’s because the writers have apparently had the proper time to arrange and organize the proceedings into a more cohesive whole.
Asylum begins with a twist on the kind of cold open that began season 1. Instead of beginning in the past, witnessing a gruesome even and then flashing forward, the open starts off with newlyweds Leo (Adam Levine) and Theresa (Jenna Dewan-Tatum) stopping off at Briarcliff in the midst of their tour of supposedly haunted places in America. After things get off to a good start, they quickly turn sour and the two wind up facing the institution’s most endearing legend in the deranged serial killer, Bloody Face. The storyline then jumps back to 1964, and quickly introduces us to its characters, paying particular attention to Kit Walker (Evan Peters) and Lana Winters (Sarah Paulson), as they’re really the only two who need to find their way into the confines of the Briarcliff sanitarium and the clutches of its professed director, Sister Jude (Jessica Lange). Through Sister Jude, the episode manages to spell out the majority of the relationships at Briarcliff, which include Jude’s put-upon and callow fellow nun, Sister Mary Eunice (Lily Rabe), the brilliant, but demented Dr. Arthur Arden (James Cromwell) and the object of Sister Jude’s lust, Monsignor Timothy Howard (Joseph Fiennes). There’s also a trio of more-or-less permanent guests at the facility played by Chloe Sevigny, Mark Consuelos and Lizzie Brocheré. That’s a lot of characters, and we still won’t see Zachary Quinto until episode 2.
As Murphy and Falchuk stated, season 1 was a family drama. As such, Asylum is very much all about the workplace, and all the interesting relationships that can arise from that kind of setting. Here, though, the characters feel wholly about their own personal journey, as it relates to them and to the larger question of the season – which, apparently, is about aliens, mutants, demons and the aforementioned Bloody Face. They have aspirations and dreams, and often those don’t mesh to well with their environment, or the other people around them – whichever side of the locked door they happen to be on – and that goes a long way in making them interesting.
Perhaps it’s even more surprising then that Asylum is also concerned with societal shifts and the changing worldview of the time.
And in typical Murphy and Falchuk fashion, those concerns are made apparent through incredibly broad statements that have all the inspired flare of a high-school textbook. But still, bluntly shining the spotlight on things like interracial marriages, homosexual relationships, the conflict of science vs. faith, and, as the season progresses, likely a whole lot more, is the kind of thing these guys do, and it provides a much sturdier groundwork for the season than what was presented in the first few episodes of season 1.
Besides, American Horror Story isn’t about the careful and considered study of its otherwise wacky characters – the show gleefully (no pun intended) doesn’t have time for that; it’s too busy filling each episode with a series of ecstatic jump scares, gore and hilariously inane, over-the-top antics that are the real attraction of the series. It’s just intended to be a fun ride. While there’s no telling if it’ll stay on the course it has plotted, Asylum looks ready to gallop through even the craziest bits – all the way to the bitter end.
Kevin Yeoman blogs at Screen Rant.
You doubtless know the classic beginning line, "Call me Ishmael," and the Herman Melville book details that follow: the main character, sailor Ishmael; the ship he travels on, the boat known as the Pequod; the mysterious Captain Ahab and his obsession with capturing a whale known as Moby Dick.
With much of the story taking place on the ocean, a massive whale serving as one of the main characters and a whirlpool featuring as part of the story's dramatic conclusion, "Moby-Dick" doesn't exactly scream "movie adaptation," but that hasn't stopped Hollywood directors from trying.
The story's first appearance in theaters came in 1926 with the silent movie "The Sea Beast," a story which bore similarities to Herman Melville's tale but was in fact a loose adaptation. In "Beast," Ahab, played by Shakespeare legend John Barrymore, falls in love with a girl named Esther who is later repulsed by his peg leg when Ahab's right leg is lost after he falls into the ocean with Moby-Dick. To those familiar with the novel, "Beast" would feature a surprise twist ending – unlike Melville's story, Ahab returns safe from his quest. Barrymore returned for a 1930 version of the story titled "Moby Dick," which remade the story with sound but follows the same plot as "Beast."
A 1956 version of the story appeared next, starring "To Kill a Mockingbird" actor Gregory Peck as the vengeful Ahab and directed by John Huston, who was also behind the movies "The Maltese Falcon and the African Queen." Huston collaborated on the screenplay with legendary sci-fi author Ray Bradbury and the relationship between the two during production was apparently not good. According to an interview Bradbury did with the Paris Review, Bradbury told Huston that he had "never been able to read the... thing" – meaning Melville's novel. And, Bradbury apparently felt that Huston bossed him around too much.
A massive prop whale was built for the production, clocking in at 85-feet long and weighing 12 tons. However, during production, it drifted away on the ocean, breaking free of its line, and was lost in the fog covering the sea at the time. The prop was substituted by attaching whale body parts such as a tail to a barge and filming miniatures of a whale as well as using a life-size version of the whale's head, complete with moving eyes, for close-ups, according to a Turner Classic Movies feature.
The relationship between Huston and his lead actor, Peck, was also reportedly less than cordial after Peck found out he wasn't Huston's first choice for the part of Ahab, and the two stopped speaking in later years. The production went over budget and, though it was a fairly faithful adaptation of Melville's novel and kept the original ending, the movie was considered a financial disappointment at the box office. Still, some reviews were positive, with the New York Times calling the film "one of the great motion pictures of our time."
A 1965 film moved Captain Ahab to the present day and retitled the story "The Bedford Incident," swapping in an American destroyer called the USS Bedford for the famous Pequod. In 1998, "Star Trek" actor Patrick Stewart appeared as Ahab in a made-for-TV movie which also featured Gregory Peck playing Father Mapple. In 2010, "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" actor Barry Bostwick took on the role of Ahab for an adaptation titled "Moby Dick" which also updated the story – this time, to 1965 – and was released on video. The movie was criticized for giving the whale Moby-Dick unlikely powers, including the ability to crawl on land, and citing the whale as 500 feet, an unrealistic size.
Haven't read the book, but you're familiar with the details of the story anyway? Cartoon fans may have absorbed the story unconsciously by now, with every animated series from "Tom and Jerry" to "The Simpsons" referencing Melville's novel.
In the 1957 short "Woody Woodpecker: Dopey Dick the Pink Whale," Woody is brought onto a boat by a character, Dapper Denver Dooley, to help Dooley pursue a whale that bit him.
"Tom and Jerry: Dicky Moe," the 1962 cartoon, follows Tom as a hapless sailor who serves under the command of an unnamed captain with a peg leg who's obsessed with hunting a whale named Dicky Moe.
In "The Flintstones," a 1964 episode featured Fred sighting a creature he calls a "whaleasaurus." In 1967, the famous whale got his own show with the Hanna-Barbera series "Moby Dick and Mighty Mightor" as well as a personality makeover – in that version, the creature sometimes viewed as villainous rescues two young boys who ran into danger on the ocean.
Meanwhile, a little more recently, the Comedy Central series "Futurama" aired an episode in 2011 titled "Möbius Dick" in which the spaceship crew encounters a space whale that eats their engine, causing heroine Leela to swear revenge on the creature.
Sanchez, who came in second behind “Idol” winner Phillip Phillips in season 11 of the show this past May, will appear on multiple episodes of the show later in the season, and some fans are wondering if the singer will play a love interest for high school graduate Finn (Cory Monteith).
“With voices like Jessica, Lea, Naya, Melissa, Amber, and Jenna… Streisand episode?” Murphy wrote on Twitter.
Sanchez isn’t the first “Idol” runner-up to parlay her appearances on the hit Fox singing contest into success in other areas of entertainment.
Former season 3 contestant Jennifer Hudson went on to star in the 2006 film version of “Dreamgirls” and won an Oscar for her role, while season 2 runner-up Clay Aiken appeared on Broadway in “Monty Python’s Spamalot.”
Another Season 3 runner-up, Diana DeGarmo, made her Broadway debut in “Hairspray” and later starred in “Hair,” while Constantine Maroulis of season 4 starred in “The Wedding Singer” and “Rock of Ages” on the Great White Way. And Season 5’s Katharine McPhee is currently starring on the NBC behind-the-scenes Broadway drama “Smash.”
It was the moment of The Avengers that fans never saw coming, and won’t soon forget. But while director Joss Whedon may have had Clark Gregg’s S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Phil Coulson pay the ultimate price to have the Avengers assemble, Whedon will be giving him a second life. Marvel announced at New York Comic-Con that Coulson will be returning in the pilot of the upcoming ABC series, S.H.I.E.L.D.
Details are slim beyond a presence in the first episode of the show, but that’s all fans need to have their faith in the surprise star of Marvel’s ‘Phase One’ restored.
We won’t presume to question the decision to kill off one of the most beloved characters that Marvel had stumbled upon, since the scene served its purpose in uniting the Avengers with a dose of poignancy and genuine sadness. But what made the choice so strange was how Whedon’s “man crush” on Clark Gregg was cut so short, just as it was showing the most promise. Originally the embodiment of S.H.I.E.L.D. – a personality-less ‘man in black’ operating in secrecy – Coulson’s character had evolved into much, much more through Thor, Iron Man 2 and The Avengers, showing childlike adoration for Captain America, and romance with an unnamed cellist (Marvel Comics Easter egg alert!).
That character growth proved too good to say goodbye to just yet, as Clark Gregg made a surprise appearance during Marvel’s NYCC panel to discuss his work on the Ultimate Spider-Man animated TV show. A video was then shown in which Joss Whedon and Marvel studio head Kevin Feige announced that Gregg would be reprising his role in S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s pilot episode, previously confirmed to be written and directed by Whedon.
Exactly how the death and return of Coulson will be explained is still unclear. Nick Fury bent the truth of his passing at the hands of Loki to provide the extra “push” that Captain America and Iron Man needed to work as a team. Given that, it’s possible he was lying about the entire thing. If Agent Coulson were re-introduced under those circumstances (whether he was in on Fury’s plan or not) we’re confident that Gregg’s deadpan sense of humor and Whedon’s writing could make it believable. It would undercut the impact of his death scene in Avengers, but that’s a price fans would be happy to pay.
Of course, there is the possibility that Agent Coulson’s role in the S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot takes place before the events of Avengers, with the rest of the new agents and cast left to carry on the series. A longer look at the events leading up to Gregg’s demise would be a bittersweet story to see told, but would help legitimize the TV show as a canonical extension of the film universe, directly tied to the most successful Marvel movie to date.
In all honesty, we’d be fine with his death being explained away if it meant a continued role for the character in Marvel’s films and television shows. Gregg hasn’t just provided comic relief, but has shown he’s willing to back the studio in all its endeavors, and embrace the fan community. The affection he’s earned among hardcore Marvel fanboys and casual audiences is a powerful tool, but unfortunately, it also makes him the kind of character Whedon loves to kill. But will Marvel really let Whedon take that piece off the board this early?
Either way, fans haven’t seen the last of Phil Coulson. At least one more Whedon-spun story exists to be told about the enigmatic agent, but beyond that, who knows? The working relationship between Whedon and Gregg is just beginning (next demonstrated in Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing), so only time will tell.
Andrew Dyce blogs at Screen Rant.
No BONES about it, we’re not exactly happy that Fox is benching their popular long-running “crimedy” until November 5th to make room for the annual Fall Classic better known as the MLB playoffs. Which is precisely why we thought now might be as good a time as any to spend a little one-on-one time with star Tamara Taylor. Who was only too happy to spend a few minutes at a recent Television Critics Association Press Tour Party to preview the exciting new journey that awaits Cam throughout BONES season eight.
Full disclosure: I thought that your character Cam a bit short-shifted last season in terms of screen time. Thankfully, in a recent interview Hart Hanson alluded to some big stuff in store for Cam this season. Anything you can tease?
Tamara Taylor: Well i know for sure she’s got a new love interest which is very fun. apparently someone that we already know. so it could be anyone.
Do you have a preference of any of the available bachelors on BONES?
It would be so hard to choose because I love them all. They all have their individual quirks and charms, so I guess thank God for the writers… they’ll choose for me.
Much has already been made about this season’s decidedly darker tone. Do you have a preference between BONES lighter and darker toned episodes?
I enjoy both. You know because there is gold to be minded on both sides and even when things are dark there is still that weird gallows humor that we get to sort of infuse into the episodes so I think it’s going to be an interesting season.
What would you say if I told you that Hart Hanson thinks BONES should run for a solid ten seasons?
WOW! I think all of us would be down as long as the writers kept on cranking out really great stuff.
And finally, aside from the obvious pay check (!) what keeps you excited going to work playing the same character day in and day out?
Do you know honestly, it’s the fact that I don’t know who my love interest is, I don’t know what my story lines are for this season, I have no clue and the writers do such a brilliant job of surprising us. They handle really really difficult issues with such a delicate finesse. We’ve hit a couple of walls. things that have been potentially dangerous and the writers have hurdled right over them and I think that’s what keeps us, as actors, excited.
The TV Addict staff blogs at The TV Addict.
After 2 seasons of watching Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) struggle to keep a petulant group of survivors alive in The Walking Dead, things are finally looking up for him from a leadership point of view – but decidedly down everywhere else.
So, in an effort to guide the remaining ensemble down the long road to ruin, season 3 kicks off ‘Seed’ by loosening the narrative’s grip on just how serialized the series needs to be, and by moving the episode along at a much more deliberate pace. This solves two of the show’s bigger problems, in that more progression is allowed to happen off-screen, and the things that are presented in the episode are considerably more interesting. There were glimpses of this in the last half of season 2, which was largely a march toward change for the better. The increasingly burdensome conflict between Shane (Jon Bernthal) and Rick was finally resolved, and the farm where the plot went to die was overrun by walkers and destroyed by fire.
As much as Hershel’s farm had drained the plot of its excitement, perhaps it had been designed as a means by which the audience could get to know and eventually care about these characters. It didn’t really work out that way, however, and by the end of season 2, all we really knew was that this group had a hard time getting along and that they were, more or less, looking for someone to lead them. But despite Rick’s best efforts, the group had largely decided Shane was the way to go. That, of course, was undone with Rick killing his former best friend, and adopting a no-nonsense attitude toward keeping these folks alive. Now, the season premiere sets out to show whether or not the whole Rick’s-way-or-the-highway approach worked out.
‘Seed’ gets underway by establishing that even though the prison was revealed to the audience at the end of ‘Beside the Dying Fire,’ the group has spent all winter jumping from house to house, more or less tending to the everyday requirements of survival. The jump in time works by granting the assumption that everyone has had sufficient time to process Shane’s death and to work out whatever problems may still linger between them – at least to the point that their squabbles are no longer as big a threat to the group as the walkers. It also makes Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) being pregnant a far more immediate issue to deal with, and helps explain why Carl (Chandler Riggs) appears to be two inches taller and can gun down walkers as efficiently as his father. Most importantly though, whatever happened during the winter made the group a far more cohesive unit, which is conveyed only by the fact that they’re still alive, but also by how quickly they make use of the prison.
The clearing of the prison yard and cell block, followed by the search for supplies, are the most substantial set pieces that ‘Seed’ has to offer, and they manage to provide plenty of gruesome moments and jump scares to keep things thrilling. The episode also establishes that the state of Rick and Lori’s relationship has been taxed to the point that he barely speaks to her, and when he does, it’s in a terse, matter-of-fact tone. Rick hasn’t gone off the deep end like he seemed he was about to while addressing everyone at the end of last season, but whatever transpired over the winter has earned him enough recognition that even Carol (Melissa McBride) mentions to Daryl (Norman Reedus) the group wouldn’t have survived as long under the guidance of Shane. It shows that although time has passed, the influence of Shane is still significant beyond more than the unasked questions about Lori’s pregnancy, and it also serves as a small victory for Rick, setting up a new direction for the series under his leadership that will hopefully consist of more than watching every argument as it unfolds amongst the survivors.
There are also a few moments that grant a clearer view of the characters’ state of mind, like the comfortable way Maggie (Lauren Cohen) and Glenn (Steven Yeun) look after one another during a rare moment of solace, and Lori’s feelings of regret about Shane and her husband, which are amplified by the fear that she’ll have to deal with a zombified baby, or worse, the group will be forced to put her down if she were to die giving birth. They’re short moments that flesh out where these characters have been, and how those events have shaped them into who they are now. It’s also a good starting off point for whatever drama is to come.
‘Seed’ also offers something the series hasn’t really done before; it’s allowed the main story to splinter off. At the end of last season, Andrea (Laurie Holden) was presumed dead, even though Michonne (Danai Gurira) had saved her in rather grand fashion. Here again, Michonne’s entrance grants the series some excitement and suspense, as she deftly deals with a store full of walkers in search of some aspirin to give to an ailing Andrea. Even though the episode doesn’t spend too much time with them, it establishes the pair has come to rely on one another, and the lack of medical supplies has begun to take its toll on the survivors. Most importantly, however, Andrea and Michonne’s storyline – though it will likely converge with Rick’s group soon enough – is a welcome break from the blow-by-blow account of what everyone else is up to.
This gives season 3 two distinct storylines to follow, which, if nothing else, should provide plenty of opportunities to keep the tempo from relaxing to the degree it has before. And with 16 episodes in this third season, the worry is that the prison will become as much of drag on the plot as Hershel’s farm was. So, in what appears to be another effort to combat the temptation of comfort that the prison represents, it turns out not all of the prisoners have succumbed to the walkers – and as far as introductions go, hacking off Hershel’s (Scott Wilson) infected leg is about as memorable as Rick & Co. can probably hope to get.
It may be too soon to say that ‘Seed’ is the episode Walking Dead fans have been waiting for since the pilot, but it certainly offered plenty of visceral excitement and intrigue to back that notion up. At any rate, since much of season 3 is supposed to deal with the threat humanity poses to the living, the surviving prisoners and the Governor (David Morrissey) will likely help keep the suspense above the threat of being kicked off a farm.
Kevin Yeoman blogs at Screen Rant.
Tom Hooper’s Les Misérables stands apart from other movie musicals not only in terms of how grounded and tangible the setting feels, but also how the ensemble cast performed the original Broadway show’s tunes during filming – as opposed to either well-ahead of shooting or during post-production. The teaser trailer hinted at the results, with Anne Hathaway delivering an untraditional rendition of lyricists Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel’s song “I Dreamed a Dream.”
A new “extended look” at Hooper’s Les Miz highlights that aspect of the production via interviews with central cast members – Hathaway, Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe – as well as supporting players such as Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, and Samantha Barks.
Hooper’s approach with Les Misérables may prove somewhat divisive for musical theater lovers. On the one hand, as Jackman illustrates in the featurette, singing live does allow for more spontaneity in terms of performance; thus, the characters can behave in a more instinctive manner than they would striving to match pre-recorded vocals.
On the other hand, some hardcore Broadway fans prefer stage musicals that feature the talents of dedicated singers, rather than performers who are actors first and singers second. It’s for that reason that some music specialists take issue with films like Sweeney Todd and Mamma Mia!, where celebrities and acclaimed stars were cast over people with proven professional musician chops.
Les Misérables, however, has the advantage of a cast that includes a Tony-winner (Jackman) and a part-time professional musician with nearly three decades of experience (Crowe), as well someone who actually appeared in the original stage show (Barks). The majority of the rest of the cast has already demonstrated some musical prowess either onstage or onscreen, so they too seem worthy to tackle the challenge Hooper has set before them.
Sandy Schaefer blogs at Screen Rant.