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Nerds Eye View – New Year brings entertainment buzz (Jan. 14, 2015 issue)

Many of the shows I have watched this fall ended their fall seasons with dramatic mid-season finales before the holiday season, leaving fans like me counting down the days until the shows return. I am most anxiously awaiting the return of “The Walking Dead.”
In the previous installment of this column I discussed recent episodes of AMC’s hit series, “The Walking Dead.” At that time I offered up a prediction about how the series would conclude the first half of its fifth season.
(SPOILER’S AHEAD)
Here’s a recap of my last column: The fifth season of “The Walking Dead” picked up right where the fourth left off – with Rick Grimes and his group of zombie apocalypse survivors trapped inside a rail car by the people of Terminus, who turned out to be cannibals. Rick and a few members of his group were going to be the Terminites’ next meal before Carol pulled a MacGyver-meets-Rambo stunt which allows Rick’s group to fight their way to escape.
This put Rick and the gang out on the open road in a world full of walkers. They find shelter at a church, but aren’t there long before the surviving Terminites find them and try to get revenge. One of Rick’s friends, Bob, is kidnapped and one of his legs is used for dinner. Bob is later returned to the church, minus a leg, to scare Rick and his group. After Rick and a few others go to find the surviving Terminites and wipe them out, the Terminites arrive at the church planning to kill all who were left behind. Before they could, Rick returns and, along with his friends, brutally murders the Terminus survivors inside the church, bringing an end to the cannibal story line. At least I think so, though you never know what’s ahead in “The Walking Dead,” so who knows what will happen.
Rick’s group then splits up with – Abraham, Rosita, Eugene, Glenn, Maggie and Tara – leaving for Washington, D.C., so Eugene, who claimed to be a scientist capable of putting an end to the zombie apocalypse, could locate the resources he needed to save the world. While on the road, the group loses their transportation, they encounter a huge herd of walkers and Eugene confesses that he is not a scientist and cannot save the world.
While this group was on the road Rick and the rest of the group wait at the church for Carol and Daryl to return. What Rick doesn’t know is that Carol and Daryl used an abandoned car they found to follow a car bearing a white cross on its back windshield. According to Daryl, the same white cross appeared on the car that kidnapped Beth.
At the end of episode three, Daryl emerges from the woods near the church. Michonne, who was keeping watch, spots him and goes to greet him. She asks about Carol who hadn’t appeared from the woods. Daryl responds by telling someone to come out of the woods, but the third episode ends before we know who it was. A later episode reveals that it was Noah, a new character we meet when we find out where Beth had been since we last saw her near the end of season four. Both Beth and Noah were forced to serve as wards for the officers taking shelter at the Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta. The group there is led by an officer named Dawn.
In my last column I guessed that it was Noah who arrived at the church with Daryl. Thanks to Beth, Noah was able to escape from Grady. I had also guessed that a fight between Daryl and Carol and the officers at Grady led to her capture. I wasn’t exactly correct about this.
We find out in episode six that Carol and Daryl did follow the car with the cross into Atlanta, which we had last seen in the first season, to find Beth. They unfortunately lose track of the car and their car runs out of gas, which forces them to find shelter inside the walker-filled city.
We spend episode six following Carol and Daryl on their rescue mission. This was one of the best episodes of the first half of season five. Not only did we get to see the devastation of Atlanta, we also learned what Carol had done after Rick exiled her from the group’s home at the prison in season four. Turns out, she didn’t go too far away and took shelter in a law office a few miles away from the prison. This allowed her to go back to try to help Rick’s group and look for survivors after the Governor attacked the prison in season four. Those of you who have watched the show up to this point know that Carol found Tyrese, Judith, Lizzie and Mika.
Episode six also brought back Carol’s past before the apocalypse as an abused wife and the death of her daughter, Sophia, in season two. It was interesting to see how she has changed since the world fell apart. She has become a real survivor – the exact opposite of the victim she once was.
For me, this is when “The Walking Dead” is at its best. Yes, the walkers are cool and all that, but what makes the show the success it is are the characters. There is at least one character you can identify with, which makes you ask yourself what kind of survivor you would be. Would you be ruthless and try to protect yourself at any cost? Or, would you be selfless and sacrifice yourself for others? Or would you fall somewhere in between?
Anyway, back to my recap.
Episode six ended with Carol accidentally getting hit by a car driven by Grady officers as she, Noah and Daryl were scouting the hospital for signs of Beth. This led to her appearance in the hospital where she was spotted by Beth.
During the mid-season finale, Rick, using information from Noah and Daryl, leads a group of his survivors to Atlanta to rescue Beth and Carol from Grady. Part of the plan to save their friends included kidnapping Grady officers and exchanging them for Carol and Beth.
Rick and the gang manage to grab a few officers and go to Grady to make the exchange. Things go smoothly at first, with Carol being handed over to be protected by Rick and their friends. Beth remains close to Dawn, who demands Rick and the gang leave Noah at Grady instead of allowing him to leave with the group.
Beth then pulls a small pair of scissors from the cast on her arm and stabs Dawn. Whether it was on purpose or not, Dawn fires her gun and instantly kills Beth to the shock and horror of all her friends.
The finale ended with Daryl carrying the lifeless Beth outside the hospital where her sister, Maggie, collapses to the ground with grief.
(END SPOILERS)
I have enjoyed the first half of “The Walking Dead’s” fifth season. I do think it was probably one episode too long, but, for the most part, it feels like the show is picking up the pace toward something we haven’t seen before.
Previews of the second half of the season show the group living out on the road. As I have previously said, I am happy to see the show go this route (no pun intended). This allows us to see more of the world ruined by the apocalypse.
In the graphic novels, the next destination for the survivors in Alexandria, Va., where they become part of a large community living in a secure, well semi-secure place – it is the apocalypse after all.
The show has deviated from the storyline of the graphic novels before, so who knows where our favorite gang of survivors is headed next. Thank goodness for that.
***
With a new year now in full swing, I would like to point out a few of the “nerdy” things I am looking forward to this year. In no particular order, here they are:
The start of the second half of the first season of ABC’s “How to Get Away With Murder.” Viola Davis is giving a great performance as defense attorney and law school professor Annalise Keating. A murder mystery has been weaved through the first half of the season. We have been given the who, the how and the where, but we are waiting to find out the why. The show is set to return on Jan. 29.
New episodes of “Impractical Jokers” on TruTV. Four friends from Staten Island force each other to do and say embarrassing things all over New York City. This show is often hilarious, so if you need a good laugh check it out. Watching clips from the latest show is a favorite past time when my family gathers at my grandmother’s home for dinner. I’m looking forward to watching clips with them after the show returns on Jan. 29.
This won’t surprise anyone: The start of the second half of the fifth season of “The Walking Dead” on Feb. 9 on AMC.
The second season of “Broadchurch” on BBC America on March 4. The first season of this British show brought David Tennant back to our televisions, this time playing a broken down detective investigating the murder of a young boy in a small seaside town. He’s an outsider and everyone is a suspect. If this premise sounds familiar to any of you it is because a recent American remake called “Gracepoint” aired on Fox. Do me a favor, if you have any interest in this show just watch “Broadchurch” and ignore “Gracepoint.”
April 12 will be a big night for HBO viewers. On that day “Veep” and “Game of Thrones” will return. This is going to be a great night of television! “Veep” is one of the funniest shows in recent memory. Julia Louis-Dreyfus is playing probably her funniest role since Elaine Benes on “Seinfeld.” The new season of “Game of Thrones” is rumored to be the bloodiest yet, which is saying something for the show.
So far, I have only mentioned television shows, so let’s turn to the big screen for a minute. The movie I am most looking forward to is the new installment of the “Star War” franchise. This movie, which is due out in December, is “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” The first teaser trailer sent all fans of the franchise into a frenzy. I just hope this movie recaptures all that made the original trilogy so great and completely ignores all that made the prequels so, so, so terrible.
There are a few other films I hope to check out, such as the “Mad Max” reboot, “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2,” the “Terminator” reboot, the “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” sequel, “Selma,” “American Sniper,” just to name a few.
I don’t know when I will get back to New York City this year, but I have a list of musicals and plays to see just the same. Included on this list are “The Audience,” starring Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II, “Fish In the Dark,” starring Larry David, “A Delicate Balance,” “The Elephant Man,” and “On the Town.”
I also hope to make a big dent in my reading list, which is now over 100 books strong. From classics like “Crime and Punishment,” to religious studies books like “Christianity: The First 3,000 Years” to non-fiction books like “Digging for Richard III,” I have a varied collection of books I need read.
I hope all of you have a safe and happy 2015!
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