Saturday, November 29, 2014

THE WALKING DEAD: Is someone going to die Sunday night?

After a rock-solid start to the fifth season, The Walking Dead has stalled.

What’s the difference? Well, for starters, the cast was together for the early episodes and separated for the later ones.

After a breathtaking season premiere which saw Carol almost single-handedly taking out the whole of Terminus, and which culminated with Rick and Carl reuniting with Judith, things sped along in the next two episodes as the remaining Terminus inhabitants hunted Rick and Co.

After taking them down in bloody (and justified) fashion, things tumbled when the cast was split again.

Listen, I get why they’re doing it. It’s to save money. The show runners figured they got away with it for the second half of last season – but the difference is, that they could get away with it as a plot device last season.

It’s a lot harder to explain now.

For example, am I really supposed to believe that Maggie would willingly wander off with Glen without looking for Beth even though she knows her sister isn’t dead? Really? Beth is Maggie’s only living blood relative left. There is no way she wouldn’t at least spend a few days looking for her sister.

And, while Carol and Daryl sped off into the night to search for Beth, Abraham’s insistence on fleeing right when the group was grappling with stuff seems so … lame.

Now, I’m glad the truth about Eugene is out and – God help me, I still like the guy – but it’s time for Abraham’s group to back track and join with their friends. Is the group too big? Yes. It’s going to have to be cut, but Rosita and Tara have had fodder written all over them since they were introduced, and try as I might, I’ve never really warmed up to Sasha (or Tyrese, for that matter).

There’s been a lot of talk about a big death happening on Sunday’s episode. And, whenever The Talking Dead (the companion chat show for The Walking Dead) touts a surprise guest, that usually means someone is going to die. They did it the week before Gareth died – and lo-and-behold, the actor who played Gareth showed up on the couch the next week.

That’s not always the case, though.

They did it before last year’s spring finale and Andrew Lincoln was the surprise guest – and we all know Rick didn’t die.

We’ll have to see. However, since we haven’t had a big, core death since Hershel, I’m guessing one of our beloved heroes is going to go – and the odds seem to point directly in Carol or Beth’s direction.

Personally, I have grown to love Carol and will be sad if she’s killed off – but she “fits” the signs that have been showing up, for some reason. The episode that followed her and Daryl before she got hit by the car seemed to be a love letter to her – and whenever an episode like that runs, the person featured in it often dies (just ask Hershel).

I am hard-pressed to believe they’re going to kill Beth off before reuniting her with Maggie. The Walking Dead is cruel – but I don’t know if they’re that cruel. They seemed to have gone through a lot of effort to build Beth up over the second half of last season and the beginning half of this season.

I am not ruling Beth out. I’m just leaning toward Carol – which very well could crush me. I would sacrifice the bulk of our group to keep Carol (Daryl and Rick notwithstanding) – but there’s just “something” in the air.

I don’t think that anyone can argue that we’re going to get a death Sunday. It’s not the “if” but the “who” in question. It would be much too easy for viewers to watch Rosita, Tara or Sasha die – which means it’s probably going to be someone we care about – which means a member of the core group.

Either way, I’ll have the marathon on all day Sunday to revisit the season in anticipation of the big finale – and then I’m sure I’ll be glued to the television for The Walking Dead and The Talking Dead Sunday night (so no one dare call me!).

All I hope is that separating the cast so early in the season means they won’t have to in the second half of the season – because the show tends to lag for me when that happens.

So, what do you think? Who is going to die Sunday night?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

GENERAL HOSPITAL: The cast pruning has officially begun

It seems that General Hospital is finally getting around to trimming the cast.

Unfortunately, I’m starting to suspect it’s so they can afford Billy Miller (Jason), and not because the writers realize the folly of balancing too many characters.

First up, Marc Anthony Samuel (Felix) announced that he has been dropped to recurring. That’s not an outright ouster, but it’s pretty close. Samuel expressed his ambition to move on to other things – so I doubt we’ll be seeing much of Felix.

I’m guessing – and this is just a guess – that Sabrina will be following in upcoming weeks. The character has been written into a corner, and she has no ties to anyone on the canvas. There’s really no reason to keep her.

I am hoping that GH moves Lucas and Brad into a realistic relationship (instead of the cliché threesome), although I still think it would have made more sense to move Milo into their orbit. I am worried that both of them will be gone, too. While I can take or leave Brad, Lucas is a legacy character. He’s Carly and Sam’s brother and Lulu and Maxie’s cousin. He’s important to the canvas.

In addition to Samuel, Kelly Thiebaud (Britt) has voluntarily dropped to recurring. If you believe the
gossip, she’s only staying recurring to finish up Britt’s storyline. While I had high hopes for Britt and Nikolas in the beginning – those were dashed pretty quickly when the writing for her character went from weak to dismal after the baby Rocco reveal. I can’t help but think Thiebaud is better off getting away from the soap.

Since Thiebaud is involved with Bryan Craig (Morgan) in real life, I’m betting he opts to leave when his contract is up next year. While I like Craig’s Morgan, I think he’s one of the few actors who has a chance to hit it big outside of daytime, so it’s only a matter of time before he flees Port Charles.
GH head writer Ron Carlivati has also written several big characters into corners they might not be able to emerge from. Who?

1. Nina Clay: If Michelle Stafford only signed a six-month contract, the disastrous writing for Nina makes sense. She was always intended to be a villain. If that wasn’t the case, the writing for Nina is so atrocious that Stafford must be mortified. There’s no rooting value in the character, and there’s no redeeming her. Once the baby storyline is wrapped up, Nina will either be locked up with Heather Webber or killed.

2. Ava Jerome: I love Maura West, but the second she killed Connie in cold blood, Ava’s die was cast. The best thing to do with the character is to reunite her with her baby and have her flee. I don’t want Kiki or Morgan saddled with a kid – and Sonny has enough kids to field his own ball team.

3. Franco: As much as I applauded his outing of Carly and Sonny – and the truth behind AJ’s murder – there still isn’t any rooting value in the character. Roger Howarth is a tremendous talent – and now a regular on the CW’s The Flash. Maybe it’s time to let him go with dignity. Bringing someone of Howarth’s caliber in as a character as dumb as Franco was just … well … insulting, to both fans and Howarth.

4. Sonny Corinthos: Maurice Benard may be a popular actor, but who can root for Sonny? He killed AJ in cold blood. He lied to his son. He tried to kill Ava. Seriously, how does Sonny think it’s okay to kill Ava for killing Connie but take no personal responsibility for murdering AJ? Sonny and Carly do not work as a couple. In fact, they’re the couple who helped sink Port Charles. Besides that, Laura Wright and Benard have absolutely no chemistry. Send Sonny out of town, give him a happily ever after with Brenda in a non-extradition country, and call it a day.

And, finally, when it comes to cutting dead weight – can someone explain to me why Olivia is still around? I’m sure Lisa Locicero is a wonderful person, but Olivia is completely unnecessary. The cast has to be trimmed, and while it looks like the pruning has started, there’s still a long way to go.

GH's greatest strength lies in its veterans and core families. Let's not lose that.

What do you think? Who should go? Who should stay?