The Best TV Shows in 2014

I realize I have been AWOL from blogging for the past two weeks, thanks to a busier work schedule, a cold, and getting ready to go on a mini-vacation tomorrow. That said, I’d like to thank everyone who’s taken the time to read the posts I’ve published, as well as who have left comments and feedback. My goal is to get back to my now 200+ feed first thing next week . . . so expect a flurry of likes/comments from me in the upcoming weeks, folks.


Now let’s get back to this post . . . last week I wrote about my favorite books I read in 2014. Now I’m going to mention the best TV shows – some old and some new – that I watched last year.

Best Returning Show

24- Live Another Day

Despite it’s sad and open-ended finale, I totally dug 24‘s (2001-2010) return to the small screen. I think everyone was hoping for some more Jack Bauer, so it was nice to see Keifer Sutherland give in and share some of his alter-ego with us. The idea of the show returning in a mini-series format worked well, offering the same cliff-hanging episodes that kept us on the edge of our seats. Switching the location added to the freshness of the show’s return, and a cast filled with vetted actors and actresses (which included three familiar faces from previous seasons) made longtime fans of the show like myself that much more excited to tune in. And if there’s every a takeaway from 24, it’s that you shouldn’t get close to Jack . . . because you’ll probably end up captured, tortured, dead, or all three.

Best Comedy

While the final season of Arrested Development (2003-2013) arrived on Netflix in 2013, I had never seen a single episode until last year. It’s probably the most off-beat show I’ve ever watched, and yet the writing keeps me coming back for more. Even for a show where multiple characters are unlikable, Arrested Development still knows how to make people laugh. The show runs on a continuous gag reel, forcing new viewers to start from the beginning of the show if they want to appreciate the ongoing jokes. What makes the show work so well is its ability to subtly hint at being funny without announcing the punch line. The fourth season surely received its fair share of criticism for its format, but for me, I felt like the storyline suffered more by not returning to what made everyone laugh about it in the first place. Regardless, I think the first three seasons are worth multiple viewings.

Best Drama

The Killing‘s (2011-2014) final season hit Netflix in 2014, after the streaming service picked up the original AMC show. Perhaps it was all just luck that I discovered the show one day while I was looking through Netflix titles, and I’m so thankful I did. Rarely do crime dramas feel as rough, believable, and original as The Killing. Although it’s based off a Danish show with the same name, this American re-make works as if it was wholly original, at least for American audiences. While I enjoy The Walking Dead (2010-) more than most shows, it was The Killing that had me binge-watching (to my shame) until I completed it. The two leads – played by Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnaman – is what makes The Killing, particularly the latter. It’s certainly some of the most compelling TV I have seen in a long time. If you want to watch a great crime show, check out The Killing. It’s that good.

Best British Show

So there’s a good chance I created this category just to throw a little of Sherlock into the mix. The third series arrived on Americans’ TV screens in January of 2014, a long two-year wait since the previous series. Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat fail to disappoint, attempting to top the series two finale that left everybody’s mouths gaping. There are always shocks and thrills in Sherlock, but never the cheap kind. We find out what’s happened since Sherlock’s fall, and we get to witness Sherlock and Watson’s bromance grow deeper, while yet another one of their major nemeses reveals himself in the third episode. Most everyone is familiar with the show’s lead, Benedict Cumberbatch, who has recreated a modern-day Sherlock whom everyone loves, despite his sociopathic tendencies.

In regards to British shows, I also thoroughly enjoyed the first season of Broadchurch (2013), which appears to have a second season in the works for later this year. I was not the biggest fan of Doctor Who‘s (2005-) latest outing, despite the actors’ best efforts. I am also a newbie to Orphan Black (2013-) this year, so I’ll get to see what all the fuss is about.

Best New-to-Me Show

It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what category Gilmore Girls (2000-2007) ought to go in, given its balanced mix of drama and comedy. So I created a category for this show, because it’s absolutely one of my favorites from 2014. (Note – I’m not finished with the show yet [middle of season 5], so please don’t include any spoilers in the comments.) Where to start? The pop culture references, the offbeat townspeople of Stars Hollow, Kirk?!, Lane’s hilarious bandmates . . . Gilmore Girls seems to have that perfect balance of intertwining multiple storylines while still keeping its focus on the two main girls: Lorelai (Lauren Graham) and Rory (Alexis Bledel). Netflix has given the show a brand new generation of fans just discovering it. I highly recommend Gilmore Girls, especially if you want to see a show that has Alexis Bledel’s, Lauren Graham’s, and Melissa McCarthy’s best roles-to-date.

What were your favorite shows you saw in 2014?

New Year’s Resolutions: Television List for 2015

Since college, I have been a bigger fan of movies than television. But in recent years, it seems like there have been more and more awesome TV shows featuring some of the most talented actors and actresses. With the inception of Netflix and other Internet-streaming sites, TV shows have never been more accessible to people today than ever before.

Last year marked the first time I decided to review a TV show on the site: The Walking Dead (2010-present). The first half of the season is over, and another eight episodes lie ahead. I’m excited to continue reviewing the show, along with hoping to review more shows as my time frees up.

Below are my television resolutions for the year 2015.


 Watch Less TV

Totally contradictory to a new year’s resolution, right? I want to watch less TV to free up more time for the more important things in my life, such as my relationships with family and friends. I also want to spend my time being more productive on projects, hobbies, and work. Thinking back through last year, I realize that I spent more time than necessary in front of a screen. To remind myself of this goal, I included three benefits specifically for All Eyes On Screen I could take away from watching less TV in 2015:

3. Watch more movies

2. Write more posts

1. Be more interactive on friends’ sites


Check Out “Buzzed About” Shows

“Good” is such a subjective word today. I realize everyone forms different opinions on television shows. Some of these have been regarded as critically-acclaimed hits. I mostly want to check these out because they attracted my interest or were recommended to me over the past year. I have yet to see a show that can top AMC‘s The Killing (2011-2014) for me. And whether these shows do that or not, I’m excited to see what all the buzz is about.

5. Orphan BlackBBC America

4. True DetectiveHBO

3. Marco PoloNetflix

2. The Bletchley CircleUTV

1. The FollowingFOX


Finish (or Catch Up on) TV Series I’ve Started

I like to finish things I start, and that includes television shows. Not all are worth finishing, but there are some shows completely worth my time. Some I have to wait until the next season is available on Netflix, and other shows I haven’t managed to finish yet.

4. Gilmore GirlsCW (Netflix)

3. White CollarUSA

2. Melissa & JoeyABC Family

1. The BlacklistNBC


Check Out the “Oldies, But Goodies”

There was a time in my life when TV was completely inaccessible. Now that I have the ability to watch occasionally, I’ve been itching to check out major shows I missed out on when they aired. These shows might not be current, but some of them are still highly regarded.

5. Friends (1994-2004)

4. The O.C. (2003-2007)

3. Lost (2004-2010)

2. Prison Break (2005-2008)

1. Merlin (2008-2012)


Your Recommendations

This time around, I won’t be asking for a list of shows I will plan to watch this year, considering I’m hoping to limit my TV time rather than watch too much of it. However, I’m still very much interested in what TV shows you’re checking out this year, and which ones you would recommend I keep an eye on for future viewing.

Stay tuned for more New Years Resolutions posts this week and next. Following this series, I’ll be posting about the Best and the Worst for books, TV shows, and movies I’ve read and seen in 2014.

What are your television resolutions for 2015?

All Eyes on the SMALL Screen: The Walking Dead, Ep 8

Episode 7 didn’t see a lot happen in Robert Kirkman’s universe for The Walking Dead. So I decided to forgo a review on that episode and wait for the midseason finale, which slowly built to a painful end. Although for most followers of the show, it came as no surprise that a main character would be killed off, considering all of the interviews and warnings that this week’s episode would be “heartbreaking.” So enough chatter, let’s get into the episode.


Plot Breakdown

Back at the Hospital . . . 

Beth is still residing at the Grady Memorial Hospital with Officer Losing Control, otherwise known to us as Lerner, being on the receiving end of about 900 speeches that somehow justifies Lerner’s actions to herself, in her own mind. Carol finally wakes up, despite being taken off life support, thanks to Beth’s sly skills of obtaining medicine. Lerner has connected the dots that Beth knows Carol. Oh, and Beth helps Lerner take down one of her officers after he overhears the two ladies discussing that Beth will be eternally indebted to Lerner for her protection.

Back at the Church . . . 

Michonne, Carl, and Father Gabriel are holding down the fort at the church. Carl has lent Gabriel a knife so he can “defend himself.” Of course, Gabriel uses the machete to break out of the church, go to the school, and discover the remains of what the Termites left, allowing us viewers to revisit Bob’s cooked (and tainted) foot. It’s questionable why this scene would matter, much less make it into this packed episode, aside from the fact that it seems like the writers were trying to be metaphorical. Gareth’s mother, Mary, had apparently left a Bible, which Gabriel discovered. I’m not sure of what the connection there is, but at least the Father’s eyes had finally been opened to the reality of the apocalyptic world they are living in.

When a group of walkers break down a door, Gabriel is forced to retreat back into the woods to get to the church. Again, we get to see the tables turned as he bangs on the door, begging to be let in. We get to see the words scratched on the outside of the church, the place where others died when the Father locked them out. Being the good people they are, Michonne and Carl let him in, and in doing so, lose hold of the stronghold the church has become.

But what better time for the calvary to arrive then now? Abraham, Rosita, Tara, Glenn, and Maggie, along with a bedridden Eugene, return to the church in a firetruck. Michonne breaks the news that Rick & Co. are retrieving Beth and Carol from a hospital in Atlanta, and for the first time in season 5, we get to see Maggie truly care that her sister is, indeed, alive. They quickly decide to join forces with the rest of the team to recover Beth and Carol in Atlanta.

Back in Atlanta . . . 

Rick and his crew have been successful in acquiring a few of Lerner’s police officers in order to organize a friendly exchange with no bullets fired. Simply put, it’s a few of Lerner’s guys for Beth and Carol. It doesn’t get too complicated until after Sasha’s let her guard down, and one of the officers escapes, running for his life. When Rick finds the runner, he hits him with a police car, puts a bullet in his head, and tells the dead body to “shut up.”

Back at their base, the other officers plead for a friendly exchange despite losing one of their men. The plan continues, and we’re finally back in the hospital. Carol is first exchanged with one officer. Next, Beth is exchanged with another officer. And then Officer Lerner, perhaps in an effort to not seem weak in front of her officers, demands that Noah returns to them since he was one of her best workers. Noah doesn’t put up much of a fight, but Rick’s company struggles to stand for this, considering the deal was already made. Emotionally struck by the situation, Beth hugs Noah, faces Lerner, and using the scissors she hid in her cast, strikes Lerner in the shoulder. Sadly, the next action ends in a bang (I couldn’t help myself), and Lerner reacts by shooting Beth in the head. Following suite, Daryl shoots Lerner. An all-out gun fight is about to start, but one of Lerner’s officers puts it to a halt before any more blood is shed.

Of course, the episode has built to a dramatic finale. The rest of the group has just arrived to see Rick leading the group, giving a quick, solemn shake of his head, followed by an emotionally distraught Daryl carrying Beth’s dead body. Cut to one devastated Maggie, who never got to reunite with her sister after the battle at the prison from season 4.

And that, folks, is the end of the first half of season 5. And if that picture below doesn’t kill you inside, then you might have a heart. Just kidding.

Discussion Questions/Thoughts for Episode 508

  • Will Eugene live? It’s a likely possibility this guy will live, but what good is he now?
  • How will Maggie and Daryl deal with Beth’s death? We’ve seen characters, especially Rick, go through every emotion in dealing with a loved one die. Beth’s death hit harder than most, considering the way in which she died, and the fact that she never reunited with her sister or other friends beforehand. Maggie’s been a strong character throughout the show, and she has a husband to lean on. Daryl has lost yet another close friend, yet he seems to box up his emotions whenever necessary.
  • What are the repercussions of Beth’s death? Adding to my previous question, how will the rest of the group’s dynamic and emotional state be affected by Beth’s death? Will it push them to make another decision? The preview for the next half of the season seemed to point to that.
  • What’s next for the gang? Speaking of that preview, Michonne got to talking about a destination, versus their wandering. A lot of people are predicting the next big set will be Alexandria, a safe zone that includes electricity. Yet how will they deal with the idea of a safe zone when the last two included a sociopathic Governor and a herd of cannibals?
  • How does Father Gabriel fit into things? Is there something more to the Father than what we’ve witnessed so far? How will he influence the outcome of the remaining episodes of the season?
  • When will Morgan finally join up with Rick? We got another lovely little tidbit featuring Morgan, who always seems to be just a bit behind Rick. Yet he didn’t know it was Rick until he found the map in the church, which had Abraham’s note including the name “Rick Grimes.” So my question is, when (and where) will they finally meet up?!

 Favorite Moments from the Episode

  • Glenn and Maggie returning to the church to reunite with Michonne
  • Daryl shooting Lerner in the head
  • Morgan’s post-credit scene

We got a lot of answers, a heavy episode that included a major character death, and now some new questions. What did you think of the mid-season finale? Do you think it was too early for Beth to die? (I did.) Sound off below, because I’d love to know your thoughts!

All Eyes on the SMALL Screen: The Walking Dead, Ep. 6

Well, I certainly wanted to write recaps for episodes 4 and 5, but alas, my schedule got too hectic and I just missed out. Regardless, I’ll be keeping the same format for this recap, considering information from the previous episodes as common knowledge for regular viewers of season 5. Now, onto the recap!

Plot Breakdown

A Most Necessary Introduction

Undoubtedly, Carol and Daryl have both become fan favorites over the latest seasons of The Walking Dead. Opening the season, Carol when all crazy cool ninja on us, rescuing the entire Rick and company from Gareth and his man-eating friends. Thus, all ties were reunited, even after her decision to take out flu-infested people inside the prison from last season.

After the entire group made it into a church, led there by mysterious Father Gabriel, we all knew it would be too good to be true for the group to stay together for much more than an episode or two. Abraham, Eugene, and their crew, along with Glenn, Maggie, and Tara, took off for the promised land of Washington to find a cure, using the only mode of transportation – a bus – after Abraham helped take out some feisty cannibals. Bob has since passed away, and we’re still left with a big group. However, the format of season five has changed, adding more flashbacks and switchbacks into the season, making viewers keep track of what happens when. And it certainly works to the show’s advantage by keeping us on our toes.

We know that Carol is possibly AWOL. Although we’re not shown what has happened in between Carol and Daryl following after a vehicle and their return to the church, what we do know is that Daryl returns . . . and Carol isn’t with him. It’s someone else, but the person still hasn’t been revealed.

Episode four finally returned us to Beth, whom we hadn’t seen for several episodes, including the final ones from season four. She’s seemingly in a bad situation, stuck with Dawn Lerner (Christine Woods) and her crew in an upper level Atlanta hospital. Lerner has communicated that Beth must “earn her way” before being allowed to leave. What’s pertinent to this long introduction is that we were introduced to a new character in the hospital with Beth: Noah (Tyler James Williams). He, too, has realized that there will be no escaping Grady Memorial Hospital and the police officer from hell, without a plan. While Noah makes it out alive, Beth is recovered by Lerner’s officers and dragged back into the prison hospital.

But the episode ends with yet another cliffhanger: Carol is rolled in on a gurney, seemingly unconscious.

Power Team: Daryl and Carol

Episode 6 picks up with Daryl and Carol having following the mysterious vehicle in the woods to find Beth. After Daryl recognized the same symbol on the back window of the vehicle, the two pursue the vehicle in hopes of finding Beth.

Consumed is a slower-moving episode, and I don’t fault it for that. It doesn’t offer much reprieve for viewers as it still has its share of scary and sudden moments, but it finally opens the door ever so slightly to the inside of Carol’s head, a place that has had to do ALL kinds of things over the last season. Carol and Daryl share a mutual respect for one another, and it shows in how they communicate. They want to understand each other, but there’s no force to know or understand everything suddenly.

After a stop at a temporary home where Carol once had lived before, the duo continues to edge closer to the hospital as they spot vehicles or people. When they discover a vehicle with a matching symbol across the way, they start to exit when Noah suddenly shows up, stealing their weapons and leaving Daryl and Carol to fend for themselves. Unfortunately for Noah, Daryl and Carol are more than capable of retrieving their weapons, and a second meet with Noah that catches him offguard ends with the weapons back in Carol and Daryl’s hands, and a bookshelf on top of Noah. In a moment of mercy, Carol convinces Daryl to help free Noah.

They learn from Noah that Beth is being held “prisoner” at the hospital, and that Lerner has a lot of people and weapons. A new plan is loosely formed between the three for them to return to the church, gather their people, and possibly rescue Beth. But before even the beginning of this plan can take place, Carol is hit by a moving vehicle driven by some of Officer Lerner’s men. The blank is now filled in for why Carol was rolled into the hospital and why Daryl returned to the church without her. Undoubtedly, Noah must be the secret person following Daryl to the church.

Discussion Questions/Thoughts for Episode 506

  • Who’s with Daryl? OK, so I mostly answered this in the last section. I am 95% sure it’s Noah. But that possible 5% has me guessing it’s someone else, just in case the writers are really trying to throw us viewers for a loop!
  • How are Beth and now Carol going to escape? Carol is great when she’s in good health and has weapons. She’s bright, but with some potentially broken bones, and a crew of crazy police officers surrounding them, will Beth and Carol really be able to escape?
  • Will Rick and Co. rescue Beth and Carol? You’d like to think they have enough loyalty to both women that they’d form some kind of rescue plan. But will they do it in time? And with a baby in tow and being three people down (Glenn, Maggie, and Tara), will they have the means to do so?
  • What’s next for Abraham and his gang? Now that Eugene has finally admitted to not knowing anything about how to solve the whole zombie apocalypse problem, what’s next for Abraham? We finally got a glimpse into his past, and it’s not a pretty one. Will he be able to move past this when it seems like the last shred of hope has been pulled out from under him? And will Glenn and Maggie head back to the church to reunite with Rick?
  • What else is Father Gabriel hiding? I’m keeping this same question up as I think it’s likely to be answered in the next couple episodes. We haven’t had an episode with Rick for the past couple episodes, so we’re going to be seeing what’s been happening lately with that group. Will we find out any more information about Gabriel? Who is he connected to, and what’s his deal?

Favorite Moments from the Episode

  • Getting an episode with two of the best characters in the show: Carol and Daryl

Overall, it wasn’t a plot-heavy episode. We still have some questions, but it was nice to get some answers this time around. Do you think both Beth and Carol will make it out alive? What do you think the deal is with Gabriel? Is it possible Eugene is still breathing? Sound off below, because I’d love to know your thoughts!

Matinee Podcast: Big Hero 6 (2014)

Hello all! Apparently I’ve taken off yet another week from blogging without even having realized it. That said, I haven’t taken a break from my TV and movie-watching, and I have several posts I’m planning to put up over the next several days, so stay tuned for posts on The Shining (1980), Interstellar (2014), Whiplash (2014), and the most recent The Walking Dead episode coming your way soon.

That said, I got to see one of the most fun movies of the year . . . and it happened to be animated. Big Hero 6 was one of those films that totally caught me off-guard. It wasn’t that the trailer didn’t make it look appealing. I just didn’t know a whole lot about it. I have never been a huge fan of animated films, although I do have ones that I love (Beauty and the Beast [1991], Aladdin [1992], Monsters University [2013], How to Train Your Dragon [2010], Toy Story 3 [2010] anyone?). But Big Hero 6 not only won me over; it joins the ranks of the ones I love.

Instead of writing my usual style of review for a film, I’m going to direct you over to a podcast I got to be a guest speaker on, because it really sums up my overall feelings for the film better than how I could put it into words for a post.

The Matinee is one of the best organized movie sites I frequently visit. Ryan McNeil is the brains behind the site, and he’s been podcasting for years. About two and a half years ago, I got to meet the Canadian-native only forty-five minutes away from my hometown in Chicago, where we got to talk film with a group of movie-loving nerds.

If you have yet to visit Ryan’s site, I urge you to take this opportunity to do so. You can listen to the episode I spoke on here.

Overall, Big Hero 6 has been one of my favorite films of 2014 so far. It strikes that balance between action, humor, and drama . . . in a kids film. And yet at the same time, I wouldn’t call Big Hero 6 just a kids film. It’s a great movie. I give Big Hero 6

Eye Art1Eye Art1Eye Art1
1/2 EYES ON SCREEN.

 

It’s your turn now. Have you seen Big Hero 6? If so, what did you think of it? Where do you think it stands on the spectrum for animated films? Please share your thoughts below, because as always, I’d love to know them.

All Eyes on Bloggers, Ed. 3 + Month in Review: October

Hey all! I have VERY much enjoyed a week off from blogging to catch up on other projects. Of course, I’ve watched a few movies and TV shows this week too. Since I’m a little behind in my blogging, I decided to combine two of my newer series, All Eyes on Bloggers, which will feature some of my favorite posts I’ve read over the month of October, as well as Month in Review for the previous month, into one post.


 All Eyes On Bloggers, Ed. 3

There were so many great posts that made it around this month with the premiere of Gone Girl (2014) and Halloween, that I had a difficult time narrowing down which posts to highlight. One post in particular was written by a friend and previous coworker who is a graphic artist in the Chicago area. Doug reviews the movie Fury (2014) from a unique point of view that I would certainly encourage other friends to read on his site, Point of Exquisite Suspension.

I recently started a new TV review series called All Eyes on the Small Screen, featuring currently aired episodes from season 5 of The Walking Dead (2010 – ). One of my favorite sites to follow these days is Girl Meets Cinema, featuring the fantastic writing of Katy Rochelle. Katy recently wrote one of the most interesting posts on the character Beth from the TWD that had me nodding in agreement the whole time!

And while I know the focus ought to be on the October, November seems to be the month of blogathons since I’ve joined two to participate in later this month. Fritzi Kramer is hosting the Fairy Tale Blogathon at Movies Silently, where I’m excited to review Sabrina (1995), a movie with a Cinderella twist. Get the details here, and if there are any movies left, join in on the fun: the blogathon is held November 9-11!

The second blogathon I’m excited to take part in is hosted by Caz at Let’s Go to the Movies. Unlike any other blogathon I’ve participated in previously, Caz’s blogathon allows each participant to write about movies that take place in their hometown, thus naming the series My Hometown Blogathon, taking place November 22 and 23. Having grown up in the suburbs of Chicago, I am incredibly excited to write about some awesome films and famous people associated with the Windy City. This blogathon is a great one to join if you’re interested as there’s still a few weeks left.

There’s some exciting news for those who follow Tyson over at Head in a Vice. He’s recently started a new site that focuses solely on the horror genre, aptly titled Talking Horror. With a slew of slick writers and new ideas, Tyson’s site is sure to attract anyone who particularly or casually enjoys a horror flick or show.

Speaking of horror, there were many posts published on scarier movies in honor of Halloween. Since I just saw The Shining (1980) for the first time a few days ago, I was more drawn to posts that mentioned the film over the week. Ms. Coolsville of Coolsville reviews ten horror movies, one of which is The Shining; one of my favorite movie blogger writers and friends, Tom of Digital Shortbread, reviews The Shining as part of his Throwback Thursday series on the site; and Laura at Film Nerd Blog included a character from The Shining in her post 10 Films that Prove Kids Are Scary.

And that about wraps up All Eyes on Bloggers, Ed. 3! Now to recap the month . . .


Month in Review: October

Here’s the breakdown for the month of October on All Eyes On Screen:

Blogathons

  • One of the most unique blogathons I’ve participated in thus far was a recast-athon that was hosted at Andrew’s site, A Fistful of Films. I recasted Oscar-winning female lead roles in the films Up in the Air (2009), Black Swan (2010), and Silver Linings Playbook (2012).
  • The other blogathon I was a part of was hosted at Tyson’s previous site, Head in a Vice. Titled “Recommended by,” I watched a movie that I was recommended by a fellow movie blogger, and then reviewed it myself on his site. The great part about the blogathon is that it introduced me to the “Before” series by Richard Linklater.

Shame List, From Page to Screen,
and AEOS Reviews

  • A little over a month ago, I came up with my own Shame List that includes 31 must-see-movies-for-any-movie-buff. The first one I was able to cross off my list was Roman Holiday (1953), one of the few movies I awarded a FOUR EYES ON SCREEN review.
  • The second film I was happy to cross off my Shame List was Annie Hall (1977), a film that while I didn’t quite dig, I still enjoyed and did not regret watching.
  • One of the most time-consuming posts I enjoy writing are my From Page to Screen reviews, where I review both the book and film adaptation of a story, and then compare and contrast the two. My heavily debated review certainly raised some eyebrows, but I stand by my thoughts on David Fincher’s film, Gone Girl (2014).
  • An unexpected gem that I will not be revisiting any time in the near future is The Skeleton Twins (2014), a depressing dramadey that stars SNL alumns Kristen Wiig and the wonderful Bill Hader.
  • One of the best movies I’ve seen so far this year starred none other than Keanu Reeves. John Wick (2014) was my must-see film for the month of October.

Lists/Miscellaneous Posts

All Eyes on the SMALL Screen Recaps

  • My newest series for the site is All Eyes on the SMALL Screen, which features detailed recaps for the current season of The Walking Dead. The premiere is killer (pun-intended) and a must-watch for fans of the show.
  • I combined my recaps for episodes 2 and 3 in this nifty post here. Stay tuned for Episode 4’s recap coming soon.

Best Movie [I saw in theaters] This Month

John Wick

Unfortunately, I didn’t make it to the theater as often as I would have liked this month. That being said, John Wick was one of the most solid, unexpectedly awesome thrillers I’ve seen so far this year. From beginning to end, it was a fast-paced ride that showcased some great cinematography as well as complemented Keanu Reeves’s growing filmography.

Worst Movie [I saw in theaters] This Month

Gone Girl

Let it be known that I saw far fewer films in theaters that I was hoping to for the month. Gone Girl was an exceptionally good movie from David Fincher, although I wouldn’t consider it among his top five best films. That being said, I still thoroughly enjoyed Gone Girl, and it makes this spot only for the lack of films I saw in theaters during the month of October.

Looking Forward to November

After looking at my previous month in review, I’m disappointed to say that I saw only half the movies on the list that I was highly anticipating. Some of the films never even made it into a wide enough release to be shown in theaters near me, while other movies received negative enough reviews that I didn’t bother spending the money to see them in theaters. Looking beyond last month, here are the major movies I’m anticipating for the month of November.

Interstellar (11/7)

The movie that makes it highest on my list for Most Anticipated Movie of the Year goes to Interstellar, the latest film Christopher Nolan has made. I’m very excited to see it over the weekend, despite the somewhat mediocre reviews I’ve glimpsed so far.

Big Hero 6 (11/7)

Big Hero 6 is a movie I know relatively little about. In spite of that wrinkle, I’ll be participating in a podcast later next week that’s all about the movie, so stay tuned!

Theory of Everything (11/7)

The big pull for me to see Theory of Everything has everything to do with Eddie Redmayne. Of course, the story seems intriguing as well, but it seems very Oscar-baitish. I’m hoping my instinct is wrong and that it will deliver, but then again, I was rooting for The Judge too, and look how that turned out.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (11/21)

Of course this list would not be complete without the next Hunger Games (2012) movie making the list. Mockingjay Part 1 certainly appears to have potential, aside from the fact that it’s adapting only half a book and making us wait an entire year for the conclusion. Having read the books already, I know what will be happening, but watching it unfold on screen is an entirely other experience. I was a big fan of the first two installments, particularly Catching Fire (2013), so my expectations are high.

The Imitation Game (11/21)

Yet another movie that appears full of Oscar bait, yet appears to deliver having already established itself with some solid reviews from critics. No doubt one of my favorite actors, (who is also recently engaged) Benedict Cumberbatch, will offer one of his best performances yet (or so I hope). I think this movie will be making a hit at February’s Academy Awards, but maybe I shouldn’t be that hopeful this soon.

It’s your turn now. What were the best movies you saw this month? What movies are you anticipating most next month? Please join the conversation below, because I would love to know your thoughts.

All Eyes on the SMALL Screen: The Walking Dead, Eps. 2 and 3 Recap

Hey guys! Because of a hectic schedule last week, I missed out on reviewing last week’s episode of The Walking DeadStrangers. So for this post, I’ll be combining my recap for both episodes. Let’s get started . . .

Plot Breakdown

Nice to meet you too, Father Gabriel!

Last week, a lot happened in a short period of time. Just when we thought we could catch our breath with Carol going all ninja on Terminus, we’re introduced to a brand-new character: Father Gabriel Stokes (Seth Gilliam). The Father certainly is one secretive dude who claims to never have killed a walker or human, yet when he prayed for help, Rick and the gang showed up just in time to rescue him and give him a few nuts for his trouble.

Gabriel then leads Rick’s group to his church, pristine on both the inside and mostly the out. That is, until Carl discovers some disturbing writing etched into the church’s outside wall. What is Father Gabriel going to pay for? We find out in yesterday’s episode that Gabriel locked all of his congregation outside the church, even when they were begging to come in, seeking a haven from the dead. Between sobs, Gabriel exclaims he’s damned because he refused to let any of the people in. Talk about one selfish Father, eh?

Is Beth close by?

After their sweet reunion, Carol and Daryl might not be making many strides in unfolding what’s going on inside Carol’s head. But they might have picked up the trail to where Beth went/was taken/may be hiding. While out in the woods, Daryl spots the vehicle bearing the same symbol that Beth drove away in/was taken in after Daryl and Beth were separated at the funeral home. Strangers ends with Carol and Daryl following the trail.

Episode three, Four Walls and a Roof, ends with Michonne finding Daryl in the woods. Someone’s behind Daryl, but it’s hard to say whether it’s Carol or not.

Bob-b-que

OK, bad choice of title for this section. But the most intriguing, chilling, disturbing part of season 5 arrived at the end of episode two when Gareth, one of Terminus’s leaders and survivors, announced to Bob that not only was he alive, but that Gareth and some of his buddies were feasting on his leg right there, right then, in front of him. Talk about leaving a bad taste in your mouth!

By episode three, we’re right back to Gareth and Co., poor Bob leaning against a log while Gareth rambles on, justifying their cannibalism, claiming they’ll take Rick’s life (and the rest of the group’s) and enjoy eating them too. (Seriously, can the guy get any sicker?). But just as one of the rumors I read announced, Bob started laughing amidst Gareth’s arrogant speech. Bob reaches for his jacket, revealing that he had been bitten and that what they were eating was spoiled.

Church Reunion and Separation

After Sasha discovered Bob went missing, she goes out looking for him. But the Terminus cannibals, terrified they’ve consumed walker-infested human flesh, drop Bob’s body outside the church. Bob relays what’s happened to the group, resulting in a yet another argument that erupts between Abraham and Rick. Abraham wants to leave; Rick wants to wait for Carol and Daryl to return. In order to settle things, Glenn volunteers his and Maggie’s service to helping Abraham deliver Eugene to Washington if they will wait for twelve more hours in order to figure out the situation with the Terminus man-eaters.

In a nail-biting conclusion of the episode, Rick’s plan is successful as they lure Gareth and Co. into the church and take them down, thus ending (hopefully) the whole cannibalism story from the rest of the season. Abraham and Rick part ways, with Glenn, Maggie, and Tara joining Abraham and Eugene.

Discussion Questions/Thoughts for Episodes 502 and 503

  • What else is Father Gabriel hiding? There’s still a mysterious picture of a girl with the father who was zombified in the food bank. Also, is the father connected to the people who took Beth?
  • Who’s with Daryl? My guess? I’m going with Morgan, who we found out at the end of episode one was following Rick’s tracks. It’d be a great time to bring him back.
  • Where did Carol go? The reason I ask this is that she wasn’t revealed at the end of episode three like Daryl. This makes me think that she might have gone rogue, searched for Beth, or possibly even been killed (although I really hope not!). She could be with Daryl, but why would they hide her if she was with him?
  • Who took BethWe finally get some previews that tell us we’ll be seeing some of Beth next week. It looks like they’re supposedly taking good care of her. But there’s a cop and a doctor, and a nice scenic view of a city outside her window that brings you back to season one. How are these people in such good health? Could they possibly be connected to the person/people that kept up the funeral parlor Daryl and Beth were staying before?
  • Where are Rick and Co. gonna go next? It looks like we’ll be getting a somewhat divided season as we follow the two (possibly three?) different groups on their journeys. We have Abraham and Eugene headed to Washington; we have Beth in a new place; and we have Rick’s group still holed up at the church. If they have a lead on Beth, are they going to find her? Abraham left a map with Rick, asking him to join them in the “new world” they hope to create.

Favorite Moments from the Episodes

  • Rick and the gang taking out Gareth and the Terminus survivors
  • Bob dying peacefully (instead of at the mouths of cannibals!), offering advice to Rick that will hopefully affect him
  • Abraham’s apology note to Rick
  • Daryl showing up at the end!

Even with some nice resolution, there’s still a lot to talk about. What were your favorite parts of episodes two and three? Who do you think is with Daryl? How long do you think Beth will be able to stay alive? Sound off below, because I’d love to know your thoughts!

All Eyes On the SMALL Screen: The Walking Dead, Ep. 1

With all the hype leading into The Walking Dead‘s season five premiere, I along with millions of other fans was anticipating this premiere, and for me, probably more than previous seasons. Having just come off a solid fourth series, The Walking Dead seems to be moving only up, having already been renewed for a sixth season before season five even opened.

To amp up the excitement more than where it already was, AMC decided to release the first four minutes of the first episode online the day of the release. If you haven’t already seen it but are interested, check it out below:


Plot Breakdown

As the first four minute preview, along with the next several minutes following proved, the premiere fulfilled its promise to be bloody and gruesome, providing the most horrific footage the show has ever released. Terminus, only a sanctuary in name, a place that offered the promise of relief and help, attracted most of the groups separated from the battle at the prison with the Governor (David Morrissey).

The end of season four left us with Rick’s group, which now included Carl (Chandler Riggs), Michonne (Danai Gurira), and Daryl (Norman Reedus), arriving last. Their lack of trust in others was only confirmed when the folks at Terminus turned on them, forcing them into a train cart, where they were reunited with Glenn, Maggie (Lauren Cohan), and the rest of their new group.

We’re left on a very intense cliffhanger at the end of season four. We’re brought back into the train car as season five opens, but instead, it’s different characters talking, with the caption “THEN.” Gareth (Andrew J. West), recognizable as one of the Terminus prison guards, is in the car, terrified. The episode shifts to the present, and the train’s current occupants are Rick and the gang, gearing up with pieces of wood, belt buckles, anything that can aid their situation to fight back and regain their freedom.

Terminus’s guards decide to gas their victims in order to tie and gag them, leading them into a human butcher shop. It’s exactly what you’d imagine in a haunted house, except they’re butchering humans instead of animals, smashing their heads with baseball bats, slitting their throats with machetes, hanging body parts and limbs from the ceiling, and operating on bodies with chainsaws. There’s no other way to describe the scene other than inhumane. Gruesome. Bloody terrifying.

Rick (Andrew Lincoln), Daryl, and Glenn (Steven Yeun) are in line to have their heads smashed in, when all of a sudden a bomb goes off. Who better to save the day than Carol (Melissa McBride), who earlier was banished from the group for killing humans at the prison who caught the flu and were spreading it to the others. The episode’s name is “No Sanctuary,” but it could be renamed “Carol Saves the Day,” because the show would not have gone on without her.

After the group successfully kills off most of Terminus, it experiences yet another reunion when Carol leads them to the hut with Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman) and Judith, where we see happy tears on the show for possibly the first time ever.


Discussion Questions/Thoughts for Episode 501

  • The Walking Dead has been revisiting characters that have died or disappeared since the beginning of its run. In season one, Merle (Michael Rooker) was left for dead, handcuffed on the roof of a building, yet he made it back into the show in season three as one of the Governor’s cronies. Even after Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) died at the beginning of season three, she still returned in future episodes as a ghost haunting Rick. When the Governor kills Hershel (Scott Wilson) in season four, Hershel shows up later in the season’s finale in flashbacks. Death or disappearance on The Walking Dead doesn’t mean we’re saying goodbye for the last time to a major character. At the very end of this episode, we get an unexpected return when we see Morgan (Lennie James) from both seasons one and three, following Rick. Check it out:
  • Rick is ready to kill after a season of wanting only to plow and garden. He’s recovered (mostly) from his wife’s death, and he’s taking action. But when he and the rest of the victims have fled Terminus and made it to safety, he wants to take anyone else at Terminus out. This leads to arguments between the survivors, but my thought is, isn’t he just trying to cover all the bases? Last time he killed a dude and then ran away, the guy returned with his friends to get his revenge. Is Rick going crazy again, or is he just playing it safe?
  • Where is Beth? We know she’s alive. The season five trailer told us that, but even if it hadn’t, we haven’t seen her death on screen, so we’re expecting her to be alive. Also, if I’m being analytical, Emily Kinney’s name finally made it onto the opening titles alongside Chad Coleman’s. So she’s alive, but the real questions is, where did she go?
  • The people at Terminus were (/are still?) out for blood. But why were they BUTCHERING humans? My personal guess? Cannibalism. Did anyone else wonder what “food” Mary (Denise Crosby) was offering the visitors to Terminus? I’m banking on some kind of human organ or body part. Like both mother and son quoted in the premiere, “You’re either the butcher or the cattle.” Kind of makes you think of this season’s tagline, “Hunt or be hunted.” Is that the new theme of the season? It sparks moral questions the characters have been openly discussing and dealing with last season, especially Carol and Tyreese. It seems that while the disease was the primary “villain” of the show in the beginning, the characters are starting to learn that it’s bad people might be more dangerous than walkers.

  • Are they going to find the cure? We just got introduced to new characters at the end of season four, and it looks like they’re here to stay for now. Eugene (Josh McDermitt), the genius who holds the classified secrets that could supposedly cure the illness, has no fighting skills or ability to defend himself. His bodyguard, Abraham (Michael Cudlitz), protects him at all costs in hopes of leading him to Washington so he can help with the cure. But after the deceit and destruction of both Woodbury and Terminus, how can the characters really rely on the possibility that Washington hasn’t already been corrupted by villainous leaders?

 Favorite Moments from the Episode

  • Every scene Carol was in, especially when she goes all ninja on Mary and takes her out.
  • The reunion of Daryl and Carol. *cue the tears*
  • The reunion of Rick, Carl, and Judith. *cue some more tears*
  • The Morgan reveal at the end of the episode.

Now it’s your turn. What did you think of The Walking Dead season 5 premiere? Where do you think Beth is? What do you think Mary was trying to feed the Terminus visitors? Please join the discussion below, because I would love to know your thoughts.

Blogathon: “Recommended By” + Introducing All Eyes On the SMALL Screen to AEOS

In continuing with his “Recommended by” blogathon, Tyson over at Head in a Vice has graciously included me in the fun by posting my review of Richard Linklater’s first of three films in his “Before” series, Before Sunrise (1995), a modern classic starring Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke.

Of course, I wouldn’t have watched Before Sunrise (yet?) if it weren’t for Caz’s recommendation at Let’s Go to the Movies. As mentioned in a previous post, Tyson created the blogathon to get back into the groove of blogging and reconnect with fellow film bloggers after his hiatus. He opened it up to anyone who read a review by a fellow film blogger, watched the film that was recommended in the post, and then wrote a review on that film to later be published on his site for the blogathon. I’m not going to review Before Sunrise on AEOS since Tyson has already posted my review on his site, but please do check out my post here if you are interested in my thoughts on the film.

I enjoyed Before Sunrise so much, I decided to watch both Before Sunset (2004) and Before Midnight (2013). Out of the three films, I enjoyed the middle offering, Before Sunset, the most (it has a great scene that showcases Julie Delpy’s beautiful singing voice), although I have good things to say about all three movies.

The “Before” series is a trilogy (to become a quartet?) that I’d gladly recommend to anyone, whether you’re a fan of romantic films or not. It’s certainly more than a romantic comedy, stretching itself into both the drama and indie film genres. The trilogy introduces us to interesting, well-thought out characters that begin to challenge each other as well as viewers in testing the dynamics of relationships and how people interact with one another. The series certainly builds, but there’s truly no climax, at least not yet. While the situation these two people find themselves in Before Sunrise seems like one-in-a-million, it’s truly the rich conversation shared between Delpy’s and Hawke’s characters that provides enough sense and realism that by Before Midnight, you imagine it might be your own family members (or yourself) struggling with some of the same issues Jesse and Celine are facing.

So my question to all of you is, if Linklater pens another “Before” movie in the next five or six years, what should he name it? Before Dawn? Before Noon? Before the Solar Eclipse? OK, just kidding on that last one . . . 


All Eyes Small Screen Banner

I’m thrilled to announce the newest series coming to AEOS will be featuring TV episodes of the current season of The Walking Dead (2010-). While All Eyes On Screen has acted solely as movie site, I have been fiddling around with the idea of including occasional television episodes here and there. AEOS will continue to be a site primarily dedicated to movie critique and discussion, but I did want to venture into the small screen realm.

I chose The Walking Dead since it’s a show I’m watching live (or possibly the next day since this blogger doesn’t have cable). If it proves to be a successful choice to feature TV episode reviews for the site, I hope to extend All Eyes On the SMALL Screen with reviews and critiques on more TV shows. But I want to start out small, and I still want to keep the focus of the site on movies.

What are your thoughts on this new series? Are there other shows you’d like to see featured? If you have any suggestions or tips, please share them below, because I would love to know your thoughts.