Tag Archives: Romance

The Walking Dead Kills the Mood

I watch The Walking Dead every Sunday night. I wouldn’t call myself a fan, though; in fact, I kind of hate the show. I’m tired of the characters not really existing outside of what happens during each episode. No one makes any decent survival plans. No one seems to act like normal humans do. Instead, what we have are a bunch of characters who move about as the tragic plot dictates. Basically, no character feels like a living, breathing person that I can relate to.

However, I watch the show because my wife watches it. She watches the show because she writes about it. And I’ve noticed one thing that The Walking Dead almost always does.

It kills the mood.

I’m a married guy in my early 30s. I have two kids. My wife and I work full-time jobs. There isn’t a whole lot of time when it comes to spontaneity in our romantic endeavors.  Sometimes, we mean to get intimate, but we end up just falling asleep from the rigors of our day. It’s not that we lack intimacy. It’s that our time for such things is rather limited.

That 10 o’clock hour on Sunday nights is a great time to just be alone together for some “marital fun time.”

BUT..

The Walking Dead.

Invariably, it will kill any romantic feelings we had before the episode started. Scenes of death, dismemberment, stupidity, children in danger, flesh eating, and brain splattering don’t really put either one of us in the mood. In fact, it makes us actively seek out a different form of entertainment in order to get our mind off the show.

Here’s the thing: there are other dark, terrifying, heavy shows that don’t make me feel this way. The Americans routinely goes into the dark depths of espionage, including murder. Game of Thrones frequently goes to uncomfortable places, as well.

I guess the difference is in how well thought-out everything is. The Walking Dead seems half-baked, including shock for shock’s sake, rather than using it as a storytelling device. The zombies on The Walking Dead (and really, any of the bad guys on the show) are an obstacle to climb over rather than a catalyst for our characters to change and grow.

Michonne finally gets her revenge. Image courtesy of AMC.

These guys will never make it out alive. Sorry. Image courtesy of AMC.

And maybe  what kills the mood is also the fact that things on that show will never change. With Game of Thrones, the book series isn’t finished yet, and it still could end up well. With The Americans, the main characters show remorse for what they have to do. And when they don’t, at least they worry about the consequences of their actions on their family.

But with The Walking Dead, you have no hope for Rick and co. Things aren’t getting better, and they won’t. I’ve always contended that the “The Walking Dead” doesn’t refer to the zombies, but to the main characters of the story. They’re all dead; they just haven’t laid down yet.

And that’s a mood killer.

 

 

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Much Praise for ‘Much Ado’

Prior to seeing Much Ado About Nothing, it had been a couple years since I last sat down with The Bard. For a while, my life was filled with lectures, essays, and Sparknotes dedicated to the plays of Shakespeare. But as semesters passed by, so did my reference bank. I figured my failure to preserve those works would be detrimental to my evaluation of Joss Whedon‘s latest venture. Happily, I was wrong!

Benedick (Alexis Denisof) and Beatrice (Amy Acker) engage in a battle of wits. [Image: The Atlantic Wire]

Much Ado is at once classic and cutting edge, a seamless blend of style and content. Black and white cinematography lends an air of sophistication and makes the amiable cast even more attractive. The film feels indulgent and sensuous, from its dreamy, lounge-room soundtrack to its glistening scenes of revelry. In contrast, the use of Shakespeare’s original dialogue stimulates the mind. (Baz Luhrmann may have done the same in Romeo + Juliet, but Whedon handles his source material with more finesse.) The actors–most of whom are beloved repeats from the director’s previous ventures–deliver their oft recited lines with unparalleled freshness and ease.

Verges (Tom Lenk) and Dogberry (Nathan Fillion) add levity as ne’er-do-well policemen. [Image: Wired.com]

Amy Acker beautifully renders the shrew-like Beatrice into an independent, multi-dimensional woman. Meanwhile, Alexis Denisof adds equal parts swagger and silliness to Benedick, the bullheaded leading man with a sentimental streak. Whether they’re exchanging verbal jabs or tender kisses, the chemistry between these two leads is effortless,. What’s more, supporting players like Clark Gregg, Nathan Fillion, and Tom Lenk contribute more than their fair share of wit and wiles. They prevent the story from drowning in melodrama.

Though the film brims with stylistic and theatrical integrity, perhaps the most impressive achievement is Whedon’s ability to cultivate a sense of familiarity. As I’ve expressed before, Shakespeare can seem a bit intimidating. Accessibility and applicability to the modern viewer is always a gamble. Yet, it seems that sort of uncertainty is what fuels Whedon’s projects. After all, one might also question the relatability of vampire slayers, superheroes, or struggling villains. Whedon asserts that all of these characters have stories to tell, and those stories hold universal appeal. In the case of Much Ado About Nothing, he proves that revisiting Shakespeare is worth the fuss.

 

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