You Aren’t the Only One Who’s Sick of TV’s Same Old Shows

At last! A TV critic who says what we’ve all been thinking for way too long:  Every new show we welcome with glorious hopes turns out to be something we’ve seen before. “And,” to quote the last sentence in this refreshingly honest review, “in a world where there are hundreds of channels with thousands of options, that just doesn’t cut it.”

Thanks for being so honest, Michael Idato. TVWriter™ loves you, man:

800 wordsTV Preview: 800 WORDS all looks very familiar
by Michael Idato

Logically, explains Erik Thomson? in the opening scenes of the new drama series 800 Words(Seven, Tuesday, 7.30pm) the best place to start the story of a new beginning is at the beginning. This of course makes perfect sense. Much as the incontrovertible logic that the best place to start reviewing most new television programs is with the television off.

The risk is that if you sit in front of the television for too long, you start to see the same shows spin through the revolving door, just with different names. 800 Words, which launches with much promise, is on thin ice in that regard.

This is the story of a widower, George Turner (Erik Thomson), who decides to take his bruised family back to the New Zealand holiday home of his earlier life. If it seems familiar, that’s probably because it is. Maybe you saw SeaChange. Or Everwood. It’s a well-worn concept.

What elevates any show from the pack though – Sex and the City, for example, above Cashmere Mafia or Lipstick Jungle – is often the intangible. And casting. In that sense, Thomson is a safe bet, a much-loved figure in TV drama. His easy manner and sense of authenticity enhances 800 Words, even if the writing undermines him while he’s trying to serve it.

The weakness is that 800 Words plays too much like a TV show. So we have expositional dialogue overload, wry one-liners, and unnecessarily antagonistic exchanges of the kind you only ever hear in television conversations. There’s also an annoying daughter, Shay (Melina Vidler?), who is so snidely unhelpful you are left, after an hour, less surprised that Erik Thomson packed his bags and changed countries, and more that he bothered to take her with him….

Read it all at The Sydney Morning Herald

Fear The Walking Dead – The Beginning of The End

by Cassandra Hennessey

(The following review has MAJOR SPOILERS, so don’t say I didn’t warn you!)

There are a lot of fans comparing “The Walking Dead” and “Fear The Walking Dead”. It’s natural, of course, to want to find similarities between the two, but that’s not necessarily reasonable. One story takes place in the midst of the global pandemic of zombification, while the other chronicles the contagion from its outset.ftwd-logo

Is there any correlation between the two shows’ main characters (TWD) Rick and (FTWD) Nick (English actor Frank Dillane)?

Well, Rick’s a cop.

Nick’s a teenaged junkie.

Opposite ends of the spectrum, wouldn’t you say?

The only similarity they have is Rick sees the horror of the Zombie Apocalypse in the hospital after awakening from a coma; and Nick sees the horror, tries to flee from it and a minor run-in with a car lands him in the hospital.

No one believes Nick when he says he’s seeing “dead people”. After all, he’s an addict, fresh off a mind-altering high. He’s in restraints on a hospital gurney. He probably hallucinated the whole thing, right?

I mean, it brings to mind the song “Rosetta Stoned” by Tool. All right, maybe Nick wasn’t ranting like that, but the dialog did allude to him sounding irrational to the police and medical staff as he was relaying reality as he saw it– fellow junkie Gloria was nom-nomming some dude’s face like it was seven layer nacho dip.

And when Travis (Cliff Curtis) goes to that horrible husk of a church where the addicts all congregate for “Junkie Communion”, he discovers a BIG pool of blood and gore; however no bodies.

Who wouldn’t doubt Nick’s story?

It’s like Travis said, “Dead bodies don’t get up and walk away.”

The badge of dubiousness is pinned securely to Nick just because he’s an addict and a wayward son; he’s deemed unreliable by — of all people — his own mother.

As Maddie (Kim Dickson) rationalized to Travis as he tried to argue the validity of Nick’s story about the church, “Bad things happen there.” She’s a mother who has been through disappointment and despair time and time again with her son, while working as a guidance counselor, setting teenaged students on the path toward their hopeful futures. Seeing her own child throwing his future away must be gut-wrenching. Kim Dickson’s performance depicts a woman who is about to throw up her hands and walk away from her own flesh and blood.

At first, I didn’t like Maddie (nowhere next to the almost obligatory universal disdain for Lori Grimes, but…) However, I did give consideration to her reactions towards her son. It seems he’s been on a downward spiral for a while; and there’s been a series of interventions, rehabilitation and epic failures. She’s in the midst of another of these cycles, and losing hope. Then I “got” her character, and the seemingly “blasé” exterior. But believe me, it’s only a veneer.

But what about the walkers?! We want more walkers, some viewers were yelling.

Patience is a virtue, my friends.

Character development — when it is done well– does require some time. After all, this is the pilot, the show’s premiere, and it is formally introducing us to new “people”. How else are we going to acquaint and grow to know these characters if they are not fully developed? Why would we care for them if we didn’t feel we “know” them?

The deliberate slow pacing of the show is to be commended and not condemned, for it is realistically depicting the genesis of any outbreak scenario. Trust me, the chaos and collapse of society as we know it is imminent. Imagine it being like turning a faucet; first a few drips and then a mighty gush!

What I found interesting was Nick’s dysfunctional family unit; two previously married adults (Travis and Maddie) in love, trying to merge their families together, while dealing with tumultuous estranged relationships and emotional baggage. (Maddie’s daughter Alicia harbors resentment toward her brother Nick — the Prodigal Son — and yearns to escape the drama when she goes to college after her senior year; and Travis’ estranged son Christopher holds a grudge against his father’s compassion for Nick).

This is a classic example of a “modern-day” family with all its faults and foibles.

I believe we’re going to see some powerful moments with this family; and their struggles to stay together and ALIVE.

The other touches of modern-day tropes of technology were all-too-familiar; Alicia’s (Alycia Debnam Carey) text messages to her artist boyfriend Matt (Maestro Harrell) going unanswered and being miffed but not-yet-concerned; in class watching the viral video via smartphone of a police confrontation with an insanely violent suspect that just wouldn’t stay down, even after being loaded with lead.

Signs of the times, wouldn’t you say?

Both Gloria and the “crazed” guy on the back-board who attacked the EMS worker and was gunned down in the viral video by police were direct references to the “Miami Zombie of 2012”.

I mean, we all look like Zombies during the day, skulking around, head hanging, reading tweets, texting, or checking e-mail.

Think of how often you utilize your own smartphone. A lot, right?

When the “collapse of civilization” does happen, there will be no more tech, no more net, hell, no electricity. The sudden inability to get “information” will definitely be a huge shock to the system for these characters, as it would be for us in real-life.

Anyone who has been through a power outage when neglecting to charge one’s phone before the lights went out will attest to that!

Okay. Time for the section I like to call “Things I Didn’t Like”…

…The “Oo, is this guy a Walker?” teases. Namely, The Student with his head on his desk in Travis’ English class; and Maddie’s POV shot of the back of the Principal as he sat suspiciously motionless, but was merely eavesdropping on classes through the PA system, “evaluating teachers’ performances”. These were not “OMG!” moments; they were unnecessary and annoying anticlimactic moments of manufactured suspense.

Shame! Shame on using this cheap trick! I’m surprised there wasn’t a cat used for a jump-scare in the church scene, then!

And the “Nick Escapes The Hospital Scene”. People expire in the hospital all the time. You mean to tell me there wasn’t one instance of some corpse going “full on Walker” somewhere in that hospital? In the ER? In the morgue? Just saying. I think they missed an opportunity to really freak Nick out and send him running for Cal for his hookup to dull his memories of the horror.

Now, “Little” things I did like: The SOUND of LA. Police sirens. Copters overhead. Anyone who’s ever been there knows these sounds are an authentic Los Angeles experience.

The MUSIC. The Nine Inch Nails inspired despair-and-dystopia soundtrack is unnerving and frenetic. Brings to mind the “Fragile” album of 1999. (By the way, my discerning ear “nailed” it; NIN producer Atticus Ross crafted the music).

Hmm… 1999. Strange. Back in ’99, we were wondering if the world was going to end. Not by a Zombie Apocalypse, but by Y2k. Lest, I digress…

I don’t know. Maybe we TWD fans have been unwittingly bestowed the powers of Nostradamus; seeing what is to come before it actually happens in this tale of contagion and chaos. We’ve witnessed the full-blown effects of a Walker-riddled world before seeing the slow descent into destruction.

“Fear the Walking Dead” is The Beginning of The End.

The trickle of incidentals. Missing persons reports. Strange news stories of irrationally violent suspects attacking innocent civilians. More and more children absent from school. Adults not showing up to work. All precursors to something much more sinister.

This hell wouldn’t suddenly break loose. But when it does… Oh, but when it does, it does so in an exponential, uncontrollable fashion.

I have to say I really liked the Internet conspiracy-theory savvy kid Tobias. I do feel sorry that he’s found himself caught in a real-life Creepy Pasta. I can’t tell you how many kids his age I’ve met who are well-verse of the latest “underground information”. They make Jesse Ventura look like Ryan Seacrest.

The climax of the pilot’s building suspense had a freak-out factor of 10; the freshly-turned Cal getting run over not once but twice by Nick in Travis’ truck, and still moving in his reanimated crumpled-heap state, much to the horror of Maddie and Travis.

The atmosphere of the show is tense, unsettling. The walkers in their “freshly-deceased” state are unnerving, because their previous visages of humanity are still very much there. Hats off to Greg Nicotero for creating the nightmarish vision of “new” walkers.

It’s going to be interesting to discern the method to the madness of a city being plunged into chaos. We as viewers will get to see what happens to LA as opposed to not actually witnessing the fall of Atlanta.

Despite some critics and tweeters complaining about the slow pace of the pilot, 10.1 million viewers tuned in, making “Fear the Walking Dead” the Number 1 all-time pilot premiere in cable history and ensuring a legacy of Walker-driven programming for AMC.

Unlike the harsher critics, I’m just saying give the show a chance. Let it creep up on you. I’m sure once the Zombie Apocalypse hits its full stride in LA, it will be a gripping, nail-biting extravaganza.

Stay tuned.

munchman sees BOJACK HORSEMAN

Whoa! An absolutely atypical BOJACK HORSEMAN flashback frame. Cuz that's how yer friendly neighborhood munchman rolls.

Whoa! An absolutely atypical BOJACK HORSEMAN flashback frame. Cuz that’s how yer friendly neighborhood munchman rolls.

by munchman

Like our Beloved Leader, LB, I’m smitten by Netflix’s BOJACK HORSEMAN series, which has just been picked up for a third season of heavy truth-telling, inventive visual puns, tragedy, and even a little humor.

Wait. Truth to tell, the show is funny as hell if you’re the kinda person who enjoys seeing other people’s deepest, most hidden fears come roaring to the surface to confront well-placed banana peels that you yourself aren’t tripping on.


  • Best depiction of Hollywood people, places, situations and general, all-round life ever. Let me repeat: Ever.
  • In case you aren’t getting it, BOJACK could also be the best written “sitcom” currently in production. Wait, forget the “could be.” It fucking is.
  • Terrific voice acting by a host of luminaries. Munchalito’s fave, of course, is Margo Martindale, who plays Unsung Supporting Actress Margo Martindale.
  • This is one of those shows where Netflix releases every episode at once each season, plus it’s only twenty-something minutes long, which means it’s perfect for binge-watching.


  • Nada.
  • More Nada.
  • Still Nada.


  • Yer munchikins identifies with every single moment of every episode of BOJACK HORSEMAN, but I get an extra good feeling when I see the character of Todd sacked out on Bojack’s couch as a permanent house guest. Reminds me of when I used to crash at LB’s house in the late ’90s. Good times!


Goddammit, you know what the conclusion’s gonna be: Watch this damn thing!


yer friendly neighborhood muncher!

Are People Tired of DOCTOR WHO?

In spite of ratings to the contrary, the following article claims that DOCTOR WHO, one of the most beloved shows on television, with one of the most intense fan bases anywhere, is bleeding viewers. While TVWriter™ believes that’s pure nonsense, we also find ourselves agreeing with much of what the post says about the show, especially the quality of the writing. What do you think?

Ooh, it's the Doctor as a gumpy old man. What else is new?
Ooh, it’s the Doctor as a gumpy old man. What else is new?

by Nick Cannata-Bowman

Doctor Who has been a fixture in science fiction for the better part of the last 50 plus years. It began as a joyful, campy display of some of the most laughably terrible special effects television had to offer. Since then, its status as British cultural icon has led to bigger budgets, scores of fans, and worldwide recognition. Its rebirth began back in 2005, when Russell T. Davies brought the show back after a nine year layoff. Christopher Eccelston was the face of the first new-look Doctor, followed by David Tennant a year later, Matt Smith after him, and most recently Peter Capaldi.

Steven Moffat took over for Davies not too far into the new run, and so the modern Doctor Who continued to evolve. Lately though, things have started to fall flat. Even the most die-hard of fans found themselves losing interest late into Matt Smith’s role on the show, something only exacerbated when Peter Capaldi took over full-time. So what exactly has befallen the once-great sci-fi epic?


Fans familiar with the progression of the Doctor are familiar with the defining personality traits of each modern doctor. Christopher Eccelston was a stripped-down version of a previously flamboyant character, beginning a walk down a decidedly grimmer path for the Doctor’s personality. David Tennant after him was kind yet stern, with sharp features to match. He always carried with him a certain guilt over the burden of being the last of the Time Lords, leading into the reactively younger and more carefree Matt Smith iteration.

Finally, we were left with Peter Capaldi, the more mature and notably older version of the Doctor. It was more than a little jarring to go from the warm, goofy demeanor of Smith to the crotchety and sometimes mean-spirited Capaldi version. This in turn made it hard to adjust for fans, leading many to jump ship mere episodes in to the latest season.


The latest season featuring Capaldi was by far the most convoluted and difficult-to-follow of any we’ve seen in the Davies/Moffat era. A basic rundown: The Doctor is regenerated to kick off the season, and immediately is forced to handle the problem of a dinosaur terrorizing Victorian London. The rest of the season follows the intrigue surrounding brief cuts to minor characters post-death appearing in what looks like a heaven-like white void run by a mysterious woman known only as Missy. Later it turns out that Missy is in fact the Master, the Doctor’s arch-nemesis, in charge of an army of Cybermen set to take over the world as we know it.

If that makes your head-spin a little, don’t worry: You’re not alone. As Moffat has delved into the Doctor Who mythos every season, it’s become more difficult than ever to understand what’s happening….

Read it all at Cheat Sheet

LB: My Favorite Show from Last Season is Returning July 26th

YouTube Preview Image
by Larry Brody

lbwriterbiggerYes, it’s true. My absolute fave current cartoon, RICK AND MORTY, is coming back the last week of this month, and you’re going to love it.

Really. You have my guarantee.

Here’s the latest trailer:



Diana Vaccarelli sees BANSHEE


by Diana Vaccarelli

A coworker and I were discussing television and what shows we love to watch. He highly recommended Banshee on Cinemax. After hearing his enthusiasm and love for the show I decided to sit down and watch a few episodes one afternoon.

The series centers on an ex-­convict and master thief who as he assumes the identity of the new Sheriff of Banshee, Pennsylvania. Calling himself by the sheriff’s name, Lucas Hood, the protagonist continues his criminal activities while bringing his own brand of justice to the small Amish town.

The pilot starts with a man leaving prison. He searches for his lost love, Anna, and finds her  hiding in Banshee, PA, married and with two children. Feeling angry and hurt, he goes to the nearby roadhouse for a drink – well, lots more than one drink – and meets the newly hired Sheriff, Lucas Hood – who hasn’t yet checked in and not only isn’t known by anyone in town but hasn’t ever been seen by anyone.

Before not very long, a group of thugs enter the bar and demand money from the owner. The new sheriff fights them, and our lead tries his best to help, but the sheriff is murdered. In the heat of the moment, our protagonist decides to assume the identity of the deceased, and from that moment on, he is the one and only Sheriff Lucas Hood.

“Lucas Hood” is portrayed with high energy and intense anger by Anthony Starr. Starr’s performance is simply brilliant and has kept me engaged episode after episode. Watching him perform this role, I have felt solidly connected with the character and no matter what’s going on I find myself rooting for him to succeed against all odds.

Now that we’ve talked about our hero, let’s talk about the continuing villain of the series, Kai Proctor, who has everyone in Banshee tightly under his thumb. Ulrich Thomsen portrays Proctor with a kind of grace and elegance not often seen in a baddie. He shows us the character has positive feelings as well as negative ones and is especially impressive when he comes to the aid of a group of Amish people who are being harassed.

TVWriter™’s Beloved Leader, Larry Brody, has talked to me about his problems with Banshee. Particularly problematic for him is the idea of a “mail order sheriff. Not only does that aspect of the series not bother me, I actively like it because what we end up with is a show where not even the viewer knows the true name of our hero. This is a new take for a television series, which already brings it up several notches.

I also like the gritty camerawork and realistic violence. They remind me of old Scorsese films like Mean Streets and Goodfellas. This aspect, combined with the unique hero, brings us 180 degrees away from the typical, Law and Order style police procedural.

If you’re looking for something fresh and often fascinating, I highly recommend Banshee. Lucas Hood is truly a Robin Hood for our times.