Monday Night Raw #1

It’s been a while since I wrote anything about pro-wrestling. I just haven’t felt compelled to spew out thoughts on the meta-textual, physical performance art that airs weekly on network television. I either say that or “hot people pretending to fight” — You know, I really haven’t settled on a way of describing it yet.

Last night on RAW, the entire McMahon family came out and addressed the WWE fans. They tend to do this once every few years when TV ratings have hit a low, and they need a way of rebooting themselves.

Even though the McMahon’s are still in character, as the real owners of the company they like to come out and tell us that they “haven’t been listening to fans, but we are now” or “you’ve had your intelligence insulted.”

Don’t tell me whose intelligence is being insulted! I watch a show every week without fail that I only enjoy maybe 25% of the time — I know exactly where my intelligence stands, thank you very much…

These announcements are sort-of storyline breaking, but then quickly settle back into the show by transferring all of the potential heat (negative backlash) to one of the on-screen villainous wrestlers.

It’s like when the director of a school play runs out onto stage to deliver lines for the kid who is puking in the dressing room. Everyone stops to look at the teacher, confused as all hell. But as soon as the lines are spoken the teacher looks to one of the other on-stage students and claps enthusiastically, as they slowly back off to the side of stage.

Everyone is pulled out of the story for five minutes, but then we’re back in it with the same old same old.

And that’s the problem with pro-wrestling, especially WWE — You can only rebrand it so much.

Sure, you can add some new faces and change a few rules — But ultimately it’s still larger than life personalities fighting each other in choreographed performances.

It’s like when your friend says they’re “rebranding” and they show up for coffee the next day in a new hat. But they’re still complaining about the exact same things and still said that one word that you’re fairly certain is an offensive slur, but you don’t want to be caught googling it in public.

But hey, at least they have a new hat.

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They opened the show by punishing and humiliating the former on-screen authority figure. The irony of the McMahon’s punishing a guy who is essentially an actor for all of the creative decisions they’ve actually made over the last three months is laughable.

But still, I’m going crazy because Kurt Angle is there, and Heath Slater is getting some justice too. Ah, wrestling.

The commentators then tell us we’ll be seeing a lot of new faces around on Raw and Smackdown in the coming weeks, and the wife and I immediately start fantasy-promoting people from the NXT (development) roster.

Instead, we get video packages for the floundering NXT mid-carders who haven’t really found a place on the “college league” brand, and also Nikki Cross.

I’m being harsh, EC3 and Lars Sullivan are two guys whom I’ve always said are better suited to the bright lights of the main roster. Lacy Evans and Heavy Machinery however, are talents who could never really find a place in NXT, but who also still have a lot to learn.

Who knows though, because I felt the same way about Liv Morgan and Elias and they’ve both proven me to be the incorrect fan I am.

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During a discussion with the former tag-team champions, Shane McMahon established a new and interesting rule. Or rather, he abolished a long-standing one — There will no longer be mandatory rematches for championships.

This is interesting, and definitely the most positive take from the soft rebrand of Raw. For years we’ve had to watch boring, zero-heat feuds go on for longer than they need to due to the “rematch clause” rule.

I’m assuming that if a feud is hot, then we’ll still get some kind of rematch. For example, we all want to see Asuka vs Becky Lynch at some point soon, but we don’t want to see Seth vs Dean agai… oh this no-heat feud for a title is still happening? Okay. Business as usual then.

However despite all of this, the episode did fill the final hour with an eight-woman gauntlet match to crown the number one contender for Ronda Rousey’s championship.

It had some slow spots, sure, but ultimately it was a well-paced match that managed to get most of the competitors over. Natalya was booked like 2009 John Cena and people (including me) went crazy for it.

The only thing this new show was missing was some storyline hook — Some twist in the ongoing narrative that would get people to tune in next week.

I thought for sure it was going to be a Ronda Rousey heel-turn at the end of the night, as she hugged and celebrated with her friend and future opponent. Alas, it did not happen, and it left me feeling that same sense of disappointment I’ve felt for the last three months of Raw.

If Vince McMahon really wanted to shake things up, he would’ve retired on-screen as the chairman, and handed the reigns over to his daughter and son-in-law. Even if he didn’t do it in real life for a few more years, just that on-screen change would’ve given the fans a transitional period, before Triple H takes over for good.

I’ll keep watching, because it’s me, but Smackdown and NXT remain the two brands I would show to first-time viewers. Raw is at best a distraction (last night) and at worst a chore (the last three months), and that’s not something I should be able to say about a brand’s flagship TV show.


Today is Tuesday, December 18th and I can’t believe it’s a week until Christmas. Fill me with cookies and wrap me in bacon.

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The Fix Is In

In a bizarre twist, the thing I’ve missed most about British TV has been the prolific amount of panel shows on the air. I understand that their rise has seen a drop-off in scripted comedy, but in recent years the genre has championed young and alternative comics, and I miss that.

America’s first real panel show is now live on Netflix — The Fix is hosted by panel show veteran Jimmy Carr, and captained by Katherine Ryan and D.L Hughley. The premise is that they discuss a major issue effecting society today, and offer comedic solutions, or “fixes”, to the problem at hand.

Jimmy Carr’s monologue at the top of the show is familiar, as it’s in the same style as his 8 Out of 10 Cats openers. Even the delivery of the questions posed, and the back and forth between captains feels the same — To the point where I’m wondering if they brought a few of the writers Stateside along with the on-screen talent.

There are two elements that give this panel show its unique hook. The first is the to-camera arguments made by the team captains each week. They’re pre-written in an almost Daily Show correspondent-esq way. With the use of on-screen graphics and over the top arguments for ridiculous, tongue-in-cheek solutions.

These segments play into the strengths of D.L Hughley, and has him competing for most laughs with panel show experts like Jimmy and Katherine.

The second hook, and perhaps best part of the show, is the inclusion of Mona Chalabi in a statistics segment each episode.

My concern when reading the premise of The Fix was that it would be an irresponsible, lighthearted, almost dangerously flippant discussion of serious modern issues that effect real people in very real ways.

And it sort of is that, in a way. It definitely would be without the inclusion of Mona, who adds legitimacy to the topic of the week by providing raw data, and her excellent brand of easily digestible, graphics-based presentation.

Check out her credentials and career history, she’s doing great things and is a welcome inclusion on The Fix — And perhaps even the crux of its potential long-term success.

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The guest comics have been a mixed-bag in the four episodes I’ve watched so far, but that’s to be expected of the panel show format. Some people have looked nervous, while others have displayed confidence and competence.

The key thing about the guest choices, whether they landed or not, is that they’re all stand-up comics. When panel shows work well they champion the current stand-up scene and act as a format for promoting new and touring comics.

And who knows, maybe some American comics just need to get used to the format, and they’ll be much more comfortable on a second appearance. Ron Funches, Al Madrigal and Nikki Glaser were the names who felt at home in this new environment.

The Fix also doesn’t shy away from dark, self-aware jokes that would make some of the great “shock” comics of the past blush. It’s clear that both Carr and Ryan haven’t been toned-down in any way. With Jimmy playing the WASP patsy to many jokes, and Katherine playing her usual role of privileged white-woman who’s very aware of that fact.

Netflix has done an excellent job of booking comics from different backgrounds, and I think that’s the only reason they can get away with some of the jokes being made.

With a diverse cast of comics all poking fun at issues surrounding race, sexuality and immigration, it sticks two middle-fingers to all those who say that “You can’t make jokes about anything anymore, everything is so PC and nanny-state.”

No, it turns out if you invite everyone to the table and not just middle-aged white guys, you can pretty much still make jokes about anything.

The Fix might not end up being the greatest panel show of all time, or even the best one produced in America when all is said and done (and by “all” I mean the human race in 2046). But the key thing is that Netflix have put their best possible foot forward in establishing the genre to American audiences.

By taking experienced panel show performers, not straying too far from the British structure, and using (almost exclusively) American comics, Netflix has hopefully secured the first successful show of the genre.

If you’re a fan of panel shows then you won’t be disappointed with The Fix. If you’re new to panel shows then try to watch as much QI and Would I Lie To You? as possible. Cats Does Countdown is also great for championing alternative comics, although I sometimes think it’s too bizarre a premise for a starting point.

I give The Fix, 5/7 or 7/9, but not 8/10. Maybe like a 7.5. I haven’t settled on a ratings scale yet. Just watch the show for an easy, and surprisingly responsible, bit of tele.


Today is Monday, December 17th and women’s wrestling is currently better than men’s wrestling.

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The Ballad of Buster Scruggs — Review

The best thing to come out of the age of the franchise blockbuster is the speed at which “indiewood” movies arrive on streaming platforms. I watched Lady Bird in the springtime, Sorry to Bother You in the fall and now the latest Coen Brother’s outing has arrived on Netflix after a short theatrical run.

I guess they’re no longer worthy of cinema release because nobody is wearing a colourful jumpsuit. Actually, you know what, I think one guy actually was. I should stop my flippant criticisms of the superhero genre — People like them and that’s what matters.

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is a short film collection of six standalone stories, all connected by themes of death, betrayal and expectation, as well as the setting of the Old West.

The stories are tragic, darkly comedic and strangely uplifting, and due to the timed shifts between the narratives, the film is over before you know it.

There’s something to take away from each of the six narratives and I’m going to attempt to briefly explain just what those things are. Spoilers ahead and all that.

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

The opening outing sees the two extremes of the western genre mashed together into one piece — The ultra-violent shoot-a-thon and the prairie musical.

Buster Scruggs is a singing, shooting cowboy who dresses like the Milkybar Kid. He rides around the West yodelling his tune, which leaves his enemies unsuspecting of his violent ways. He dispatches of them in a series of comedically violent methods before engaging in a showdown with a black-clad roamer.

Scruggs is instantly shot and killed, as the tone is set for the entire film — Don’t grow attached to any of the characters we will be presenting to you today, for the protagonists will be slaughtered, no matter which end of the Western book we peruse.

Near Algodones

This story felt like quintessential Coen brothers, with 90s-style gallows humour (quite literally) and comedic, almost slapstick action. Despite this, it was perhaps my least favourite of the stories. There was no intrigue because I felt as though I’d seen it before, in another world at another time, with different players.

Stephen Root puts in a great little performance as a bank teller, but James Franco offers nothing to the lead role that any generic male actor couldn’t bring to the table.

Thankfully it’s the shortest of the stories, and we quickly move onto something with a little more depth.

Meal Ticket 

Perhaps the most tragic of the six stories, Meal Ticket sees Liam Neeson travelling from town to town as he puts his act on for ever-decreasing numbers of spectators. His act is a young man with no arms or legs, named Harrison, who recites classical poetry and famous speeches.

Their profits are dwindling and the winter is cold, and Liam Neeson treats his meal ticket as an object rather than another person. Liam Neeson is then conned, as he purchases a “magic” chicken that can perform basic arithmetic.

Of course, the magic itself is in the contraption, but he only sees that a chicken requires less care than a man with no arms or legs. So he drops Harrison from a high bridge and continues on the road with his chicken.

In this story, nobody wants to see a curiosity — A strange twist on some classical narratives — They’d rather watch a chicken. Is this about modern media?

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All Gold Canyon

We follow an ageing prospector as he looks for a gold ore pocket in the middle of a mountain valley. His struggle is uplifting and his connection with nature is admirable, but by this point in the film I knew he wouldn’t make it out alive.

Whilst I attempted to predict his method of demise, a lone gunman approaches him from behind and shoots. After a two minute pause, as the gunman watches the prospector bleed out, the prospector surprises the gunman and kills him.

The bullet has “gone clean through”, he patches himself up, collects the gold and rides off to the horizon. A happy ending! Our expectations have been subverted in part 4/6, so maybe everything will be okay from here on out.

I mean, he’ll probably die from an infected wound, but we don’t know that for sure. The Coen brothers give us hope before…

The Girl Who Got Rattled

We watch two people fall in love on the Oregon Trail, a series of events occur and “the girl” tragically kills herself when she “needn’t have done that”.

This served well as a thirty-minute narrative, but had this been feature-length with the same outcome, even I (captain misery) wouldn’t have enjoyed it. There’s too much natural chemistry between the leads for it to end this way, but it did and that’s the point.

This story is about an uncertainty for the future, but a calm tranquility in the present. The girl chooses the path of the known, the certainty of the now. But by choosing this route she makes a mistaken decision that costs her everything.

You’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t. Damn you Coen Brothers.

The Mortal Remains

I’ve seen a couple of reviewers brag about how they “understood the deep meaning behind The Mortal Remains”. Mate, this wasn’t a difficult text, the reapers even call themselves reapers.

This final story is about three souls making the journey from death to the afterlife, as they’re taken in a carriage across the plains to “Fort Morgan”. They explain their personal philosophies, musings and perspectives on the nature of man, before one of the reapers vaguely clarifies what it’s all about.

They arrive at their destination, finally sure of where they are, as the book closes for the final time.


Like with all Coen Brother’s outings, it’s the characters that keep these stories ticking along. Just don’t get too attached to them, as they won’t hang around. Such is the nature of the West.

Not their best work, but deeply enjoyable on a cathartic level. Confront death with the Coen Brothers for two hours, set to the tune of a familiar genre that they’ve proven themselves competent with.

8/10 — Probably don’t need to watch it twice, but you should see it once.


Today is Thursday, November 29th and I’ve almost finished the Spyro games already. Oops.

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Reignited and It Feels So Good

I’d say that approximately 9% of my childhood was spent playing Spyro the Dragon games on my Playstation. This past week I beat that record by 91%, by playing Spyro the Dragon games on my Playstation.

The Spyro Reignited Trilogy has finally arrived, after a full year of teasers, trailers and delays. This three-in-one remake is a remaster of the original Spyro trilogy, and sees one of the most innovative 3D platform characters take to the skies once more.

This game has been eagerly anticipated by myself and many since the release of the Crash Bandicoot collection last year — A cartoonish remaster that delivered on graphics, but one where some of the movement mechanics failed to register with the old-school feel.

Spyro does not suffer from these gameplay issues, as this HD purple dragon handles and feels like his limited polygon 90s counterpart. If that’s because the studio, Toys for Bob, decided not to mess with anything beyond the graphics, then they definitely made the right decision.

I began with the first game, as I imagine most players did, and my childhood muscle-memory immediately kicked in. I raced that dragon through levels at lightning speed, before slowing down to take-in some of the upgraded scenery.

Each level has the exact same skeleton and tone as it originally did. The colours are even more vibrant than before and everything has been fleshed-out. Details and props adorn walls, hillsides and backdrops — But none feel out of place. Whoever was in charge of adding textures and more colour to these worlds has done a great job of staying true to the original vision of the games.

The enemies and fodder have been rendered cuter and I’m mad about this, in a good way. I genuinely felt remorse when toasting or charging certain gnorcs, dogs and sheep.

Some of the enemies didn’t feel like enemies, and I started questioning who the good guys were in this narrative. Sure, Gnasty Gnorc has incased all of the other dragons in crystal, but Spyro then goes on a Gnorc massacre, whereas not a single dragon dies. I’m sure there is some allegory for the Israeli—Palestinian conflict hidden in the subtext here. I’m absolutely certain of it.

The first game flew by fast, as there are fewer individual challenges compared to other instalments. It’s all about treasure hunting and dragon collecting.

Speaking of treasure hunting — The gem collection system is as enjoyable as ever. Touching bright colours and watching digits increase to a satisfying, round number was my favourite pastime as a seven year-old, and now apparently is again at twenty-five.

My non-gaming wife and partner in crime picked up the controller to play the first Spyro game and took to it in no time. She found all the treasure in every world she has played so far, so I’d highly recommend this game to parents with younger children looking to play a decent platformer that harkens back to an older generation of gaming.

That’s both a compliment and a burn on my partner and I’m okay with it — “Non-gaming” is the operative word there.

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The second game played even better than the first, as colourful characters and even brighter worlds emerged. This game has more challenging moments, with Spyro having to carry out specific tasks to earn Orbs. I had no “trouble with the trolley, eh?” this time around, but some spark-plug thieves and an angry oxen gave me a run for my money.

They have turned Elora (a fawn, you dork!) and Hunter the Cheetah into complete furry fantasies. But I think it’s probably impossible to design a cartoon anthropomorphic animal these days without adding curves, muscle definition and no pants.

I mean, I bet they could try, but statistics show that furries make up 69% of gaming consumers, so they’re not a demographic you really want to alienate.

Each world in Spyro 2: Gateway to Glimmer (I refuse to call it Ripto’s Rage, as an EU original) feels like it has its own identity. This is helped by individual characters who aid you in each of the worlds.

Highlights of these characters include the Breeze-Builders and the Land-Blubbers — Two sides who can’t find common ground despite sharing many ideologies. They’ve been at war for longer than they can remember and…damn they’ve done it again haven’t they? Another allegory for the conflict in the middle-east. Spyro with the hot-button issues over here.

I’ve just started playing the third instalment, and I’m curious to see what they’ve done with the secondary playable characters — Especially my boy, Agent-9. Already they’ve nailed the colour palette of this third game, which to me always felt like a vibrant celebration of the Year of the Dragon.

For me, the third game is the best game, as it takes the best features of the first two and cuts away some of the issues from both. It’s also the most challenging, in terms of time and difficulty, so I’m curious to see how I handle some of the skateboarding and speedway races.

I’m also curious to find out how they’ve represented Israel and Palestine in this game, seeing as how it’s obviously a thing now. Probably something to do with Sgt. Bird, that warmongering shit.

I can’t recommend this game enough, as it’s more than just a nostalgia trip. If this were released for the first time today, it wouldn’t sell as well, but I’d hope it would still receive critical praise as a platform game.

Parents! Are you sick of your kids asking you for another loot box so they can find that MEGA TIT CANNON in Fortnite? Well, listen to that nonsense no more, by buying them the Spyro Reignited Trilogy this Holiday season.

All of the colours of Fortnite, with none of the additional expenses! Wholesome gameplay that’s fun for the whole family. No longer will you hear your seven-year-old yell that he’s going to plow someone else’s mother, as he’ll be too busy chasing the dragon.

Wait…not that!

Spyro for President! 9/10 — Only loses a point for not being an original game.


Today is Monday, November 26th and I ate my weight in mashed potatoes this Thanksgiving weekend.

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SmackDown 1000

Last night, WWE’s SmackDown celebrated its 1000th episode of television. I was hesitant to hype myself up, after January’s disaster that was the 25th anniversary of Raw. But Vince and company surprised me, proving that perhaps the blue brand has always paid more attention to detail, despite it being the B-show.

Surprisingly, they kick-off the broadcast with the second-ever episode of Truth-TV. This segment serves as platform for the McMahon family to come out and do their schtick, but there’s no denying the loud reactions that all three receive.

As Vince shuffles and glides out of the backstage area, I’m filled with conflicting opinions. This is a man who’s responsible for a lot of negative stereotyping over the years, and the current business deal with Saudi Arabia — and yet without him, none of this would be possible. WWE is what happens when you let an eccentric billionaire spill his unfiltered mind onto screens for several nights a week, and we love it.

AJ Styles and Daniel Bryan team-up to take on The Usos, in a tag-team match that had me a little nervous. One of my least-favourite wrestling tropes is when two top-stars, who have never worked together, beat a team who have been tagging for years — Especially a duo who have won tag-team gold together.

I ate my own thoughts, however, after bouts of shenanigans resulted in Styles and Bryan getting in each other’s way. A perfect opening match that advanced the Styles/Bryan story, as well as allowing the Usos to pin a former world champion.

More nostalgia backstage, in a twenty-second clip of former general managers hanging out with current GM Paige. If this were RAW 25 then they’d take-up a fifteen minute in-ring promo segment, and not involve any of the current stars.

Speaking of fifteen minute in-ring promo segments, Evolution are reunited for one night only! It’s a strange place to do it, given that the stable spent their entire run on Raw, but if Batista wants to come back, are they really going to say no?

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Since leaving WWE for the second time, back in 2014, Batista has found success in a place that The Rock never has — The Marvel Cinematic Universe. For those who don’t know, (Dave) Ba(u)tista plays Drax the Destroyer.

Batista spoke from the heart, praising the three men in the ring with him and repeating his love for the wrestling business. He’s said a lot of controversial (but largely true) things about WWE in the last four years, to the point where I wondered if they’d ever bring him back for anything other than a Hall of Fame induction. However, a quick tease of a match down-the-line with Triple H and all was well. Perhaps this moment flagged-up a potential first match that we can add to the WrestleMania 35 card.

Oh, and many jokes were made about 69-year-old Ric Flair’s party days. An underrated moment of the night was Randy Orton commenting on Flair simply “living vicariously through his daughter’s achievements.” Ric just smiles and nods in a subtle, proud-Dad moment.

In a World Cup qualifier (a tournament that definitely is taking place in Saudi Arabia), The Miz defeats Rusev in under two-minutes, thanks to a distraction from Aiden English. Rusev and Lana then both beat Aiden down, getting some revenge for the whole Milwaukee incident, whilst Miz continues to be the “two-minute man”, which I’m sure we’ll hear about next week.

Edge is out next, to host an episode of The Cutting Edge with Becky Lynch and Charlotte as his guests. Edge is my guy — He was at the top of the food chain when I started watching WWE and I’ll forever mark-out to his entrance music. However, his appearance is the latest in a line of failed attempts to get Becky booed and Charlotte cheered.

Edge tried to tell Becky that he burned every bridge he ever built in the business, by stabbing all of his friends in the back. He said he now sits alone in his house and stares at the championships on his wall. Of course, this didn’t make an ounce of sense, as even in WWE kayfabe it has been acknowledged that he’s married to Beth Phoenix, has two kids and records a podcast/network show with his best buddy Christian.

Fans also cheered Becky for mocking Edge’s career-ending injury. She is unstoppable.

So once again, Becky Lynch is cheered for being a badass who scratched and clawed her way to the top over eighteen months, and Charlotte is booed for being put back in the title scene so quickly. If WWE knew the roles people were supposed to be playing, this could be the hottest feud of the year, instead it’s just great — which is a testament to the talent of those involved.

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The New Day are out to defend their tag-team titles against The Barr. I called a title change here, as WWE are fans of having a championship change hands on anniversary shows. What I didn’t call was a victory for The Barr due to an interference from The Big Show — Who turned heel after returning as a face just last week. The man is a walking meme and I’m kind of okay with it.

The match was the best of the night, with Cesaro taking a disgusting bump on the back of his head, before continuing the match at its high-octane pace. How these two teams manage to have a different-feeling match every time they face each other, I’ll never understand.

The main event of the show saw the returning Rey Mysterio take on Shinsuke Nakamura in another World Cup qualifier. The match does what it’s supposed to, which is to prove that Rey is still healthy and is good to go for the next two years at least. Rey wins and qualifies so we’ll see you in Saudi Arabia Parts Unknown.

I didn’t appreciate the “you’ve still got it” chants from the WWE Universe, as Rey has been wrestling around the world for the last four years. He obviously doesn’t move as fast as he did fifteen years ago, but he looks healthier than The Hardy’s, Big Show and all of the other returning superstars from yesteryear. He doesn’t still have it, he never lost it.

Oh, and The Undertaker came out at the end to grumble and briefly promote his match in Saudi Arabia. I feel sad every time you’re on TV, Undertaker, please retire and enjoy life with your family.

Overall this was a great show that blended old talent with new. It managed to advance existing storylines (unlike Raw 25), whilst paying tribute to the past. More anniversary shows like this please, WWE. Especially with NXT-500 coming up in the not-too-distant future. Where I’m sure people would love to see Rollins vs Ciampa, Cesaro vs Gargano and Becky vs Kairi.


Today is Wednesday, October 17th and we’re all still here.

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WE are the Walking Dead

I’m a big believer in not having guilty pleasures when it comes to media. You like what you like and if you can justify the enjoyment it brings to you, then you should keep on enjoying that thing. People (like me) will reserve the right to say that thing is objectively terrible, but you should continue to defend it, because nobody can argue with subjectivity.

I both objectively and subjectively despise The Walking Dead, and yet I can’t stop watching. Help me.

I watched the season nine premiere yesterday, which made this the third year in a row that I ignored my instinct to stop. I think at this point it has become a form of punishment; You don’t deserve good things, so here you go Matt, watch fifty minutes of crudely constructed television that manages to mess-up despite an inexplicably high budget.

The first season of the show was groundbreaking, next-level television. The tight, six-episode story was refreshing for an American production, and at no point did it waste a single minute of your time. I’d go as far as to say that it’s one of the best “first seasons” in TV history, up there with Breaking Bad.

Season two saw a drop-off in quality, which we can largely assume was due to the departure of Frank Darabont. The show became less focused, but for a few years still managed to tell interesting-enough stories. Half of the characters were two-dimensional beings lifted straight from a serialised, soap-opera-esq graphic novel, but the rest were well-rounded, complex individuals.

Up until the second-half of the sixth season I can still recall story arcs and individual episodes that entertained me. And in a show with sixteen episodes per season (I thought we were done with this 20th century BS), that’s probably the best you can hope for. With season seven and eight, I felt like the zombie — Glued to the screen but completely dead behind the eyes.

I think the only reason I tuned in this year is because of new show-runner, Angela Kang. My hope was that we’d get a completely new direction, and a fresh pair of eyes at the helm. I didn’t think she’d be able to bring TWD back to the glory days of season one, but I hoped for the quality of season four or five.

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Season nine opens with a set-piece, in which most of the main survivors (and a few red-shirts) are at a large museum building, where they’re recovering old pioneering supplies. The biggest object is a covered wagon, which they slowly pull down the steps of the museum. The ground floor of the building is made of glass and, of course, hundreds of Walkers are below.

The group decides to carry-on with their wagon-salvaging attempt, despite it being the least useful of the objects they came to recover. The glass cracks and King Ezekiel is the one to fall. Surprisingly, not a single red-shirt fell into the Walker-filled abyss to build some tension. Ezekiel manages to avoid fifty sets of teeth and nails, to survive without a single scratch.

This opening sequence puts us back in the place we were last year; Zero reason to care emotionally about these characters because they survive the most ridiculous and complex situations. About five minutes after this scene a red-shirt is bit suddenly from behind as he goes to fetch a horse. Go figure.

Sure, protagonists should overcome difficult challenges, but if those challenges are painlessly conquered then I’m not going to care when they eventually succumb to whatever kills them off. The classic TWD example being that Glenn’s impossible survival and fake-out death ruined the emotional impact of his real death.

I did enjoy the small moments between survivors during the museum scene, particularly the scenes with Michonne. She looks to the history displays and sees words like “confederacy” and lots of pictures of old white people. In looks alone we get the sense she has anxieties about building America in the exact same way it was in the beginning. Later this is confirmed when Michonne and Rick are talking privately, and she suggests that they draw-up a charter instead of a constitution.

You can make the argument that race doesn’t really matter in TWD, and that a zombie-apocalypse is the great equaliser for society. However, the best post-apocalyptic fiction reflects contemporary society where it can, and last year the angered far-right went absolutely crazy at the introduction of a Muslim character. So I’d say an understated commentary about race is appropriate.

The second-half of the episode is about Maggie’s leadership of the Hilltop. It’s been a year and a half since the war ended and since then they’ve had an election. Maggie won the vote, against the scheming former-leader, Gregory.

Gregory opportunistically capitalises on the death of a red-shirt from the Hilltop, and convinces the grieving father to assassinate Maggie. This fails and Gregory is found-out, resulting in his execution at Maggie’s command.

I really enjoyed this storyline and I’m interested to see where they go from here. Maggie confronted Rick and showed her power as a leader in this episode, which is more actual character development than we saw from anyone else. I also liked the continuing themes of rebuilding society and the struggles that come along with it.

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Overall, the premiere was average. I’m excited about some things, but also nervous about others. There are far too many characters to truly care about any of them, so I feel as though they need to take an axe to the cast. It worries me that Negan is being kept alive, as that’s a poisonous storyline that should’ve just ended, never to be returned-to.

The previous show-runner once said that TWD could go until the fifteenth season, I hope that idea has died with him. I think I’m with this show for the long-haul now, because I’m a sucker for post-apocalyptic fiction, and I still have fading memories of what once was one of the the strongest season premieres in recent history.

I am a zombie, the seven-million US viewers still watching are also the zombies. We’ve been told our role in this story, I just hope we can witness a few decent moments before we disintegrate into mush.


Today is Tuesday, October 9th and an Evangelical leader said this about Democrats; “The most intolerant people in the country are those that preach tolerance.” I thought the irony there was depressingly hilarious.

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Back to The Good Place

The following jumble of words have been organised into a review of the season three premiere of The Good Place. If you have not seen this episode, or the rest of the show, then come back tomorrow when there’ll be fewer spoilers. I’ll probably write about Trump or Kavanaugh or Brexit — You know, the usual.

Actually before you go, here’s a quick plea — Watch this show. Stop watching whatever you’re currently watching and catch up on The Good Place. The cast are delightful, the writing is near-flawless and it’ll push the limits of what you thought possible of a twenty-two minute sitcom. Also, Ted Danson is better in this than he is in Cheers…okay bye, leave before you can rebut that hot take!

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We’re back with Team Cockroach — Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani and Jason — only this time they’re on Earth. In an attempt to prove to his superiors that supreme beings need to revamp the way in which human’s are treated in the afterlife, Michael, and his assistant Janet, are running a little experiment. Team Cockroach have been placed back on Earth, right before the moment of their death, where they’ll be saved by a passing stranger (Michael). This provides them all with a near-death experience, that will (hopefully) push them to become good people.

The plan works, for a while, as all four humans turn their lives around. However, remaining a “good person” proves to be difficult, and before long they’re back to their old ways. So Michael intervenes again, with some protest from Janet, and nudges them a little closer together — All so that Team Cockroach can meet on Earth and once again help each other to be better.

All of this while they’re being hunted by a pack of demons for breaking the rules of the bad place — Specifically Micheal, for being the demon who went rogue. But you know that, you’ve seen the show!

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The transition from the second to third season went a lot smoother than the first to the second. It appears as though Micheal Schur is set on flipping the script on the premise at the end of each season, by jumbling all the chess pieces into a different order, before moving them in roughly the same direction. This helps to keep the show feeling fresh, and both of the soft resets have made sense within the context of the narrative.

Last season felt a little jarring, and it took a few episodes of season two for the show to really feel like itself again. They haven’t faced the same problem this time around, aided in part by the season two finale giving us a little glimpse into what to expect for the third outing. Also because characters are very much behaving like their lovable, imperfect, archetypal selves from the get-go.

Ted Danson continues to give a career-performance, as he expertly blends his brand of sitcom delivery with heartfelt, uplifting monologues. Which isn’t to say that the rest of the cast don’t perform — because oh boy do they. We didn’t get too much of Janet in this episode, which is always a shame, as her arc as a computerised super-being slowly becoming more human is one of the most compelling on the show. Adam Scott’s character has returned, however, and we always need more Adam Scott on our screens.

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We’re introduced to new character, Simone, a researcher and neuroscientist from Chidi’s university who plans on helping Team Cockroach on their journey to becoming better people, by showing them the science-side of their near-death experiences. Her and Chidi hit it off instantly, leading to an incredibly cute scene inside of an MRI.

Eleanor encourages them to start dating, as she sees the overflowing chemistry between the two — Which is gut-wrenching for us viewers, who know that once Eleanor and Chidi become close in a timeline, they’re a great match for each other.

Still, it’s proof that Eleanor is fundamentally a good person, and I for one can’t wait until she’s promoted to the position of “God” or “Supreme Afterlife Guardian” by the end of the entire show.

Jameela Jamil, who plays the egocentric Tahani, continues to be the biggest surprise of The Good Place. Although at this point, maybe I shouldn’t be surprised anymore. Despite only recently venturing into the world of acting, Jamil was born to play the role of Tahani. Her opening Vogue-style web-interview is one of the best character reintroductions I’ve ever seen, and her celebrity name-drops are already on-form.

The highlight for Jason came as he bore his soul at a harbour in Jacksonville. Being the dimwitted member of Team Cockroach, Jason is quietly and innocently the most good-hearted of the group. We finally see the urban dance-crew he organises and manages, and although they all still resort to a life of crime, he’s genuinely trying to be a good person to the best of his abilities.

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Nearly every element of The Good Place works to perfection, and as long as Schur has a clear ending planned, then this may well go down as one of the greatest cult sitcoms of all time.

It’s an enjoyable ride with a likeable cast, so no matter what happens I’m in for the long-hall. However, once the show comes to a conclusion (whenever that may be, I can think of a premise for season four and five, but any more than that might be pushing it) we’ll be able to fully judge the overall narrative. I’ve been burned by too many shows with a meandering story that eventually lead to nowhere.

It’s the little things that make The Good Place so good…place; The subtle world-building, the forking curse-words, secondary characters for days, genuine philosophical lessons and Schur’s trademark reaction-shots.

The season three opener matched the overall quality of the show, so I can’t wait to see where Team Cockroach will go next.


Today is Tuesday, October 2nd and the days are getting darker. This is both a positive and a negative; Find balance in all things.

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