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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Is Nia Jax Dangerous?

Becky Lynch vs Ronda Rousey was to be, for many WWE fans, the main event of Survivor Series. Ronda is the shiny new toy, who is improving every week, and Becky is on a hot-streak we haven’t seen since Daniel Bryan’s 2014 run. Becky was going to be Ronda’s first legitimate challenger, in a battle of the arm bars — The two strongest characters in modern women’s wrestling.

Yeah, it’s not happening.

During a brawl between the Smackdown and Raw locker rooms on Monday, Becky received a stiff (real) forearm to the face that shattered her nose into a bloody pulp. According to WWE, Becky has a “broken face” (which always makes me think of that Pixies song) and won’t be able to compete on Sunday.

Less reliable sources have reported a potential concussion, and WWE are known to keep those below the media radar where possible, so those rumours could be truemours.

The perpetrator was Nia Jax, a wrestler with three and a half years experience who is cousin to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. She struck Becky with a real forearm smash, not at all pulling her strike.

“Don’t really hurt your opponent” is one of the basics of professional wrestling — Everyone else is your dancing partner, and without people to dance with, you’re just an insane person swinging your fists in front of 10,000 people.

Nia has developed somewhat of a reputation over the last few years, as the list of people she has legitimate injured mounts up. While she’s a grown woman, who is as capable of learning a craft as much as her colleagues, I’m not entirely sure it’s all her fault.

You see, Vince McMahon has an obsession with big things. He likes them big. Big men, big women; The bigger the better.

Due to this size fetish, he tends to put larger people on his live TV shows before they’ve completed training or gained enough experience. This happened with Big Show and Mark Henry, two super-heavyweights who debuted on WWE television the moment they were signed.

After a terrible couple of years for both men, they were sent back to one of WWE’s developmental territories, which in modern terms is their performance-center brand, NXT. They came back competent workers, and each found their own success, with Big Show becoming the most iconic giant for an entire generation.

Nia’s career has been rushed in a similar fashion, and she’s making the same mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes hurt people, which subsequently hurts the story. But sometimes they’re just basic errors that take audiences out of the body on body narrative that’s being told.

On occasion, a bigger wrestler can have very little training and learn on the job. Braun Strowman is an example of McMahon’s “big guy on TV now” rule working out. He learned fast and improved with each week, to the point where he’s almost unrecognisable when compared to his debut, three years ago.

Given that Nia was promoted a year after Strowman’s rapid rise, we can see why Vince thought he could do the same for the women’s division. He was looking to create a powerhouse, who would provide some depth and variety to his bantamweight-esq division.

It’s clear that Nia isn’t a Strowman, but that’s okay, she might be a Big Show — Someone who needs to revisit their training in order to be the best they can be for themselves and the company.

The list of women she has injured is alarming, given that Charlotte, Alexa and Becky are women WWE have pushed who have been injured by Nia during a hot-streak. These injuries all appear to have been written up as accidents by management, as Nia continues to receive storyline opportunities.

To be clear, I do think they are accidents, I don’t think Nia is trying to hurt these women on purpose in some Hulk Hogan-level politicking antics. Although, they do both use the leg-drop as a finishing move…

But accidents can happen too frequently in the world of wrestling, and WWE needs to ask themselves how many more storylines are worth ruining for the sake of having a heavyweight in the women’s division.

Nia is about to enter into another feud with Ronda Rousey, the chief active ticket-seller of the company right now, besides Brock Lesnar. If Nia hurts their money-maker, then WWE may take a serious look at her competencies, but until then I imagine they’ll continue to bury their billionaire heads in the sand.

Becky Lynch is on the hottest streak of her career, and of the entire year for the company at large. The most anticipated match of her run has been postponed, and maybe it’ll now be at WrestleMania, and it’ll all work out for the best.

It’s hard not to be mad at Nia for making a basic, rookie-level mistake, especially one that effects a wrestler so close to everyone’s hearts at the moment. I’ve suppressed my anger at the situation, but I’ve also seen vicious personal attacks aimed at Nia via social media.

These, obviously, aren’t warranted. You can criticise her performance as a professional in the public sphere, and analyse her effect on the industry, but the personal attacks are entirely uncalled for.

She may not be at the same skill level as her colleagues, but personal attacks only devalue the argument that she’s an unsafe worker who needs more training.

Nia got into the business at the age of 32, so it wasn’t her first-love as it is for many of the performers. However, there should be no shame in going back to training at age 36, especially when you started so late in life.

Six months at the Performance Center can only be a positive for everyone involved. It gives audiences a break from her character, and 90% of the audience would give her a second chance if she returned after a known period of training. She’ll hopefully no longer be injuring top stars, meaning that company-wide storylines won’t be effected either.

Mistakes happen in wrestling, absolutely, but trends and patterns also form. Wrestling is a learned, performed skill and even veterans with 20+ years experience can make mistakes. It could be that this is all a coincidence, but isn’t it better to help someone who clearly needs it, regardless of blame? Instead of just hoping that it won’t happen again.

I suppose with WWE, ignorance is Bliss.


Today is Wednesday, November 14th and WordPress has a Medium-like layout now and that’s cool.

AMC: The ‘M’ stands for ‘Movie’

With announced TV-movies for both The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad, it’s as though some new, young executive at AMC has just discovered that long-form series aren’t the only medium for storytelling.

You get a movie, and you get a movie! All our beloved franchises get a movie!

As far as The Walking Dead goes I think this is the right decision for the brand. Robert Kirkman and co have established his world as the zombie fiction universe. We live in the age of franchises, more content is only a good thing. Hardcore fans will watch everything regardless of quality, and word will get out if a specific film or series has a narrative worth watching.

AMC did their usual bait and switch last Sunday, as they had teased the “departure of Rick Grimes”, declaring episode five of season nine as “Rick Grimes’ final episode”. I’d fallen for their tricks before (Glenn, dumpster), so I knew the character wasn’t going to die. But I was curious to see how they would write him out of a show in which death walks on two legs and is around every corner.

Rick has been taken somewhere else in America, so that Andrew Lincoln can star in three films set in The Walking Dead universe. The latest episode was the best written in some time, in fact, this whole series is the strongest the show has felt since season five.

On top of this, they’ve introduced a major time-jump after Rick’s departure, as a way of soft-rebooting the characters and allowing for completely new narratives. This is, presumably, thanks to new show-runner Angela Kang.

I can imagine a world where the old show-runner remained, and we then had a subsequent twelve episodes of our cast crying about Rick. A (minimum) five year time jump allows for the characters to change, and have moved on from the leadership of Rick Grimes. Although I doubt his memory will be at all forgotten.

These movies can be good if they’re kept to small, personal stories — Reminiscent of the first series of the show. Some of the best narratives in modern fiction have been low-concept, character-driven stories, set in high-concept, often post-apocalyptic worlds.

The Walking Dead is a universe filled with sprawling narratives, hundreds of characters, and plenty of comic books to still be adapted. Making TV-movies as spin-offs, that feature the central protagonist of the entire show, makes perfect sense for the franchise. More of those stories can be told, and the world can grow at a faster pace, ultimately pleasing the content-hungry fans.

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But what about Breaking Bad? A show often, and rightly, cited as the best open and close narrative in TV history. Breaking Bad is the very definition of golden-age television. Vince Gilligan took a simplistic, genius premise and allowed both his story and characters to breathe over the course of sixty episodes.

Breaking Bad wouldn’t have the same effect across a two-hour story. There would be room for all of the big scenes, but entire characters, sub-plots and beautiful, small moments would be lost.

Now, rumours are that the film will be about Jesse Pinkman, following the events of Breaking Bad. Even though I think his character’s eventual fate would be best left to speculation, and that more time spent with Jesse would weaken his characterisation, I also didn’t think an entire show about Saul Goodman was necessary, but it remains compelling television.

My main issue here isn’t Gilligan’s need to return to his established universe, but that we’re to only get a couple more hours in it.

If AMC had announced a Breaking Bad sequel, with Aaron Paul as the lead, following the life of Jesse Pinkman ten years after his escapades with Walter White, then I’d be all-in. Gilligan has proven himself a highly competent storyteller, who has a real gift for long-form television narratives.

I’m worried that a TV-movie, two hours of new content, would either feel too rushed OR be kept small-scale, but leave us wanting more. No matter which it is, the Breaking Bad sequel film likely won’t feel as satisfying as a brand new full series, or it not even happening at all.

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Movies based on TV shows rarely work, and a successful transition in the opposite direction is more common. The fact that AMC are slated to be making them as TV-movies work in favour of the projects, as they will be kept on a smaller-scale and hopefully close to the narratives they blossomed from.

I’d like to see Vince Gilligan eventually work on something that isn’t set in the Breaking Bad universe. He can tell a similar story — Character-driven yet still about the deep world of organised crime — with a similar tone, and nobody would complain.

His ability to create richly unique and compelling characters is enviable, and so, personally, I’d like to see that brain put to use on a new story. However, we live in the age of franchise and bankable property, and unless your name is Stephen King, you aren’t going to get by as a writer on your name alone.

It could be that Gilligan has many ideas for other TV shows or movies, but AMC is throwing enough money at him to continue telling the stories of the people he originally dreamt-up a decade ago.

It’s as though AMC have remembered that the M in their initial stands for Movie, and so now they’ve decide to return to the roots of their original branding without thinking too much about the consequences.

No matter how I feel about them, they’ve peaked my interest enough for me to watch the movies of The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad universes, and that’s all that matters from a business standpoint.

People, like me, complain about the over-reliance on established franchises in modern fiction, but we only have ourselves to blame. We’re the ones who’re still shovelling it all down, like the filthy little content goblins we are.


Today is Thursday, November 8th and bigger things have happened in the last twenty-four hours, I just needed to write about something light. Stay safe, hold on to each other.

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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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Interview with Creed Bratton

You may have seen the “interview” with Drew Barrymore that found its way into an in-flight EgyptAir magazine. It’s a mishmash of misquotes, bundled together in order to resemble a one-on-one interview with the actress. There’s also conjecture and plenty of what appears to be personal opinion thrown onto the voice of the actress.

Apparently it’s that easy to secure an interview with a Hollywood A-Lister so I thought I’d give it a go myself. Now, I couldn’t quite fake-track-down someone of Drew Barrymore’s caliber — A lot of people on her level just aren’t fake-available. But I did manage to secure a fake-interview with TV’s Creed Bratton, known for playing a fictionalised version of himself on beloved sitcom The Office.

He was pretty hard to fake-get-in-touch with, but I fake-managed it. I figured that if EgyptAir are getting more attention for pretending to interview people, then maybe I could do the same for this blog.

Sorry if you were expecting an interview with the real Creed Bratton, Im sure if I’d reached out I would’ve gotten a response of some kind, but that’s not what this is about. This is fake.

So the following interview is obviously fake (because I’ve said it a thousand times to avoid libel), but it was the best fake-interview I could fake-get on such fake-short notice.

No wait, real-short notice.

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I sat down with Creed Bratton, star of The Office, over a public brunch of pastries, gammon and pickled eggs. Mr Bratton also had a side of scampi.

I first asked Mr Bratton what it had been like working on one of America’s most beloved sitcoms?

He responded promptly; Well it was just a blast you know — Being in that place at that time. Never been another decade like it, the sixties, they really were a magical time for all of us. Are you gonna eat that ham?

No — I — Go ahead. I mean, what was it like working on NBC’s The Office? It’s such a beloved sitcom.

Oh that old thing. Well it was what it was. It was great working with Michael, Dwight, the tall one and the woman. They were all great people.

*Nervous laughter* Well sure the characters were fun — But what was it like working with the legendary Steve Carell?

Which one was Steve again?

…Michael Scott?

Oh he was a total clown. Left me to my own devices, which was great for me of course, it meant I could run my own operations. Yep — Couldn’t have asked for a better boss. You have to try these pickled eggs, they’re real next-level stuff.

Hang on a minute, do you think you actually worked at Dunder Mifflin? The paper company in Scranton, Pensilvania?

Of course I did — I’m Creed.

Yeah but — Oh I see — I was actually hoping to get an interview with the real Creed Bratton, not the character from the show.

Well that’s your problem man, you’re inventing all of my words — Even these ones. So if you wanted an interview with the real Creed Bratton, then that’s what you should’ve written. Could you pass the ketchup?

I suppose you’re right. So does that mean I can just suddenly decide that you’re now the real Creed Bratton? In order to salvage this fake-interview.

*Inaudible, his mouth full of eggs*

Yeah that would be cheating I guess. Well, while I have you fake-fake-Creed — I guess I could ask you some questions about your time at Dunder Mifflin. Erm — Oh I know — Why didn’t you join Michael Scott Paper Company?

Too much of a spotlight. If I’d joined Michael with his little — what would you call it? Side Opperation? If I’d done that I’d have had the feds breathing down my neck at every turn. That’s not what I needed back then. Actually, it’s not really what I need now. You’re not with the FBI are you?

No. I mean — You know I’m not.

Oh right, yeah, because I’m you pretending to be Creed, who is in turn pretending to be the fictionalised version of Creed. Real tangle you’ve got yourself in here kid, how are those mental backflips for you? I do five-hundred a day, it’s how I keep my skin looking so youthful, like a god-damn basilisk.

Right. Except you don’t look that young, do you?

How dare you. *Slams ketchup bottle on table and glares intensely into my eyes* How old do you think I am? Go on — Guess.

Seventy-five?

Wrong! I’m ninety-six — Next question.

Okay…Well what’re your plans for the future?

Well after I finish up this little breakfast interview here, I’ll probably head on over to the local college, see if any of the kids there wanna buy any of my home-baked brownies.

Are they pot brownies?

Keep it down!? You narc!

Actually, I probably know if they’re pot brownies or not — Because I’m also you. So all I have to do is think about it, and then decide.

Now you’re getting it kid, feel the force.

I’m going to say they’re not. That’s a twist to the tale, because everyone expects them to be pot brownies. But it turns out they’re just delicious, gooey, chocolate brownies handed down through six generations of Bratton’s.

That’s exactly it! The student has become the teacher. Except — Get this — I’m gonna sell them as pot brownies anyway, to get a higher price. I’ll have skipped town by the time anyone notices a thing.

You’re a genius Creed!

No — You’re me — So you’re the genius! Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to catch the next Ostrich downtown, President Nixon needs me to fix his sink.

What?

I don’t know man, it’s your imagination. *Hops on disgruntled ostrich*

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So yeah, I’ve submitted that interview to EgyptAir and I’m hoping to hear back from them soon. I tried to emulate their style as best I could, so, fingers crossed!

Images are courtesy of absolutely whoever owns them, it’s not like EgyptAir took those photos of Drew Barrymore — There are no rules anymore!


Today is Thursday, October 4th and my cat was sick on my feet immediately after I finished meditating this morning.

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If you like what I write and can spare a dollar, then it’d be a greatly appreciated act of kindness! If you like what I write and can’t spare a dollar then I greatly appreciate you! If you hate what I write and also can’t spare a dollar, then why are you still reading this?

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