Feelin’ TV: October 16-22, 2017

I want to start off this week’s Feelin’ TV with a confession. I don’t really like The Walking Dead anymore. I watch it because I’ve been watching it this long so I might as well finish it. I watch it because people around me watch it and I don’t want to be out of the loop at the water cooler (at my office, it’s an ice machine). I watch it because I hope it will get better, but as I sat down to watch the season eight premiere, I was finding it hard to be optimistic. I say all of this because I want to let you in on my head space when it comes to TWD. It’s currently a show that has to win me back.  And it’s going to take more than one episode to do so. But after watching the premiere, I think it’s on the right track.

The best thing that this week’s episode did was that it jumped right into action. One of TWD’s biggest issues has been pacing and taking a ridiculously long time to work up to inevitable conflict. There have been times, like in season two, where I’ve thought the writers were trying to make the audience feel as miserable as the characters with its plodding pace. So I took the promise of all out war this season with a grain of salt. From the opening minutes though, we see the preparations for war, as Maggie and Ezekiel, leaders of the Hilltop and the Kingdom, respectively, join Rick in giving a (only slightly expository and on the nose) speech before heading off to war against Neegan and his Saviors. Before the episode ends, we see them pull off a well-planned and methodically executed plan to do so. It stands in stark opposition to Rick’s typical reactionary nature. It was something different, and for a show that tends to get stuck in the same rut, anything different is good. It was also fun to see everyone working together again. There was so much segmentation last season that we rarely got to see the shows best characters interact with each other.  But seeing Carol, Daryl and Morgan working together was great, and I hope that can be something that continues over the next few months.

I didn’t love everything about it. Carl still exists. He hasn’t gotten a haircut. Michonne is left back at home and not a part of the action taking down the Saviors. Maybe there’s a plan for her, but I fear that she will continue to be criminally under-utilized as she was in season seven. Much of the dialogue are lines that look way better on paper than they sound spoken out loud. But there’s enough about it to like that I’m cautiously optimistic for the future. If you’re a fan of The Walking Dead and want to dig deeper into its themes from week to week, I’d suggest following Gene Gosewehr’s weekly recaps here at Reel World Theology (He’s also quite a bit more positive about the show than I am. He still likes Carl). Seasons 1-7 of The Walking Dead are currently streaming  on Netflix, and episodes from season 8 can be viewed on the AMC app.

Channel Surfing:

  • Arrow dropped a bombshell this week when Oliver invited John Diggle to take the mantle of the Green Arrow. I’m quite interested to see if they’re able to pull that trigger or whether Oliver will find a way to balance his family, public and nocturnal lives in a way that satisfies his conscience as a father and remain the Green Arrow after all. If he indeed does pass the hood to Dig, I’ll be quite impressed with the show-runners, as having your main character make a change of that magnitude is rare. The first hurdle will be the effects of Diggle’s nerve damage and if he’ll be able to physically pull off the transition. But Ollie doesn’t even know about that yet, so we’ll see. The current season of Arrow can be streamed on The CW app.
  • I had heard enough good things about NBC’s Great News that I decided to give it a watch this week. Created by Tracy Wigfield and produced by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, all of 30 Rock fame (among other things), it definitely has the DNA and frenetic 100-jokes-a-minute pace of 30 Rock. It would be easy to label it as 30 Rock in a newsroom, but I think that’s a bit too dismissive. It stars Briga Heelan as Katie Wendelson, a young producer for a struggling news cast called The Breakdown. Her mother, played perfectly by Andrea Martin, is hired as an intern for the same newscast after being inspired to go back to school to follow her dreams, and as they say, hijinks ensue. John Michael Higgins plays self-absorbed co-anchor Chuck Pierce with all of the flare that you expect from the reliable comedy actor. If you love him as the a capella podcaster extraordinaire in the Pitch Perfect films, and of course you do, you’ll love him here. The biggest surprise to me has been Nicole Richie as Higgins’ co-anchor, Portia Scott-Griffith. Her comedic instincts and timing are nearly perfect as the young, hip (at one point she shares that she spent her weekend seeing The Weeknd at a new club called Weekend) and oblivious yin to Higgins’ old-school, stodgy and oblivious yang. The show takes aim at the ridiculous world of cable news and hits a lot more than it misses. The second season has been especially sharp as Tina Fey joined the cast as the network CEO who takes our main character under her wing as a mentee (ok, maybe it’s an awful lot like 30 Rock). If you’re a 30 Rock fan, I can’t imagine you wouldn’t also very much enjoy this show as well. The first season was only 10 episodes long and the second has only aired 4 so far, so you’re not too far behind if you haven’t started yet. All of Great News can be streamed on Hulu.
  • And we’ll close with your weekly reminder that you should be watching The Good Place. This past week was probably the funniest and sharpest that the show has been as they tackled the classic thought exercise, the trolley problem, with hilarious results. Everyone aspect of this show is currently firing on all cylinders. Get on board now before you’re too far behind. The current season of The Good Place can be streamed on Hulu.That’s all for this week. Next week we get to talk about Stranger Things 2! It’s all happening! As always, if there’s anything you’d like me to check out that we haven’t covered, let me know in the comments or in the Facebook group. Happy viewing!

Jeremy Calcara is a contributing member of the Feelin’ Film team. In addition watching as many movies as he can and writing reviews for Feelin’ Film, Jeremy consumes an unhealthy amount of television and writes about it weekly in his Feelin’ TV column.   Follow him on Facebook and Twitter  to be notified when new content is posted.

What We Learned This Week: June 11-17

LESSON #1: WHEN IMPORTANT DIVERSITY IS IN PLAY, EXTRA HYPE IS WARRANTED— Not understanding the important opportunities for diversity is equivalent to being tone deaf.  Recently some people tried to bash the female empowerment frenzy over the very existence of Wonder Woman, no matter if the film itself was any good.  After its trailer debut, pockets of ostriches with heads in the sand are doing the same with the new trailer for Black Panther and the fervid immediate and early hype from the black audiences.  Let me put it like this when it comes to Wonder Woman and Black Panther: “If you don’t understand why these films are important on principle alone, then you are part of the problem.”  The marketplace doesn’t just need these films, they deserve them.  Their importance assigned by their demographics and fanbases grants them warranted extra hype.

LESSON #2: NEW SOURCES WILL INVADE AWARDS RACES THIS WINTERIndiewire had a nice story recently talking about the Oscar chances of Get Out and Emmy chances of Netflix offerings.  I, for one, am all for it, but early-year films like Jordan Peele’s hit are going to need help coming November and December thanks to good old “out of sight/out of mind” syndrome.  More critics and voters need to keep these films in the conscientiousness of viewers and watchers.

LESSON #3: WHEN STEVEN SPIELBERG CALLS, YOU SAY YES— Speaking of the Oscars, just about everything the legendary Steven Spielberg touches becomes some kind of Oscar nominee or winner.  For his upcoming and fast-tracked December film The Papers (and no, it’s not about supplies from your weed guy), he is multiplying that Midas Touch with having fellow Academy darlings Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep headlining.  If that wasn’t colossal enough, take a gander at the supporting ensemble cast assembled by Spielberg behind Hanks and Streep.  If that’s not an eclectic “Murderer’s Row” of character actors, I don’t know what is.  The Spielberg clout is real.  Get Out and Netflix be damned, but say an early hello to your new Oscar frontrunner.

LESSON #4: STEVEN SPIELBERG APPARENTLY NEEDS TO CALL MORE WOMEN— Well-liked actress and emerging filmmaker Elizabeth Banks attempted to put Steven Spielberg on blast for not ever having directed a film with a female lead.  Her rant, which lead to a public apology, was quickly dispelled when she learned of The Color Purple.  That’s the only film it takes from Spielberg to negate the “never” in Banks’ words, but I think the crux of her argument remains fair.  Even when you add Sugarland Express and the little girl from The BFG, Steven is  more than a shade low in his percentages of female leading roles.  It wouldn’t kill him to rethink that.  Watch him follow in the footsteps of Banks and direct a Pitch Perfect sequel to shut everyone up.

LESSON #5: ARTSY-FARTSY PEOPLE APPARENTLY HATE JARED LETO— Academy Award winner and Suicide Squad actor Jared Leto was recently named the Chief Creative Officer of the film streaming service Fandor, pissing off film snobs everywhere.  Fandor fashions itself as a database for indie films, documentaries, international features and shorts.  Apparently to the high-end cinephiles, Leto has sold out and is not qualified.  People forget before he was Joker, the man won an Oscar and worked with off the beaten path with the likes of Fincher, Aronofsky, Malick, Toback, Mangold, Schumacher, Stone, Niccol, and Villeneuve.  Beyond his work resume, Leto has championed his own broadcast and social platform business VyRt for five years.  Dude, he’s quite qualified.  He’s not going to ruin the place.  In fact, watch it multiple with a driven guy at the helm.


DON SHANAHAN is a Chicago-based film critic writing on his website Every Movie Has a Lesson.  He is also one of the founders and the current directors of the Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle.  As an elementary educator by day, Don writes his movie reviews with life lessons in mind, from the serious to the farcical.  As a contributor here on Feelin’ Film, he’s going to expand those lessons to current movie news and trends.  Find “Every Movie Has a Lesson” on Facebook, Twitter, Medium, and Creators Media.