The Walking Dead Midseason Premiere Proves it’s Failing

The Walking Dead finally bends to peer pressure

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By Jay Hunter Straight out the gate, I feel I need to state I didn’t dislike this weeks episode of The Walking Dead. In fact, I rather enjoyed it. But it wasn’t the show that we all used to love. Dramatic tension and bite-sized character arcs have been replaced with poorly executed grand narratives and ridiculous set-pieces. Instead of figuring out how to get a zombie out of a well or finding a gas canister, we are now preoccupied with a world – strangely – filled with humans, waging war upon one another.

Unlike a lot of critics, I’ve always been quite fond of The Walking Dead, even if I despise the way it treats it’s more enthusiastic fans. But it’s never been a truly brilliant show. If it ever got close to that statue, it was post-Governor when the show became short stories and arcs set throughout the zombie campaign. In saying that, The Walking Dead’s hardcore fanbase, could simply shrug off criticism by using it’s mammoth ratings as a shield. That is, until season seven’s brutal and divisive premiere, when people tuned out. The coveted 18-49 demographic left in droves as ratings fell by 40 percent.

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After leaving fans hanging for seven months, millions of people tuned in to see who’s brains would be left hanging on warlord Negan’s bat. Billed as an endurance test, the sheer brutality on screen was – for some people – akin to the sadistic Red Wedding episode of Game of Thrones. In a huge miscalculation however, The Walking Dead focused on the antagonist’s glee instead of the pain of the antagonists – like Game of Thrones. The Walking Dead revelled in Negan as the star of the show, stretching over the episodes runtime, the whole episode was executed similar to that of a male power-trip. We lingered on the erotic – brutality as Lucile – Negan’s phallic baseball bat – was shoved in our faces. For nearly forty minutes we focused on low-angled shorts staring up at Negan as he paraded around a group of terrified hostages.

Many people have described The Walking Dead as a ‘bad relationship series’ and the premiere was the epitome of that statement. A show that treats you like dirt for weeks, leading you on and teasing you with good, only to finally deliver it just as you’re about to drop it. Before backing up and repeating the process again.

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Which leads me to the midseason premiere.  For the first time in it’s unwavering punishment of it’s audience, The Walking Dead relented and gave in to fan pressure. In an uncharacteristically wooden episode, Rick and co managed to traverse the universes ‘treacherous’ landscape, in order to visit a multitude of different communities and convince them to fight in one – comparatively – fast paced episode.

After spending half a season deciding whether or not it was a smart movie to rebel against Negan’s iron fist, our ragtag hero’s visit the Kingdom, asking for King Ezekiel’s aid. Naturally, the leader is hesitant about going to war and risking the welfare of his people. Daryl responds – likely because the writers need him to sound like a tough badass every now and then – “You call yourself a damn king! You sure as hell don’t act like one!”.  A ridiculous response to a man who doesn’t want to impulsively rush off to help a dilapidated clan of outsiders wage war on the Saviours.

Clearly The Walking Dead is now a show that has lost any sense of nuance. Consider the scene that surprisingly turns out to be the weeks most fascinating. Rick and friends discover a blocked-off road on a recon mission. The barricade, they discover also doubles up as an explosive trap laid by the Saviors. In need of weapons and explosives, they carefully dismantle it, as a gigantic herd of zombies hurdles toward them.

When it transpires that the group are slowly moving the vehicle’s – just so they can put them back again – the sequence feels like a metaphor for the few seasons. However, we slowly build upon that plot, by adding layers to the scene. First they need to move the cars without alerting the saviours, then they need the bombs without them exploding, then the walkers are getting close, then they need to escape. A clear goal, with escalating pressure. Simple storytelling.

It’s also a segway into an over the top action sequence. Upon fortuitous inspection, Rick and Michonne drive two cars in tandem, with a tensile cable linked between. Dissecting the heard in an explosion of blood and gore. A brilliant set-piece – but one – that betrays all the gritty realism we’ve become accustomed to over the course of it’s seven year runtime.

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Upon their return back to Alexandria, Rick and a handful of others go out to find Gabriel and his plot-device. This leads to the group being surrounded yet again by another community. For a world that was so sparsely populated a few years ago, the human race sure have repopulated fast.

Who knows who they are, odds will be they won’t like Rick either. But it’s okay, in a few more episodes they’ll find a safe haven once again – at least for a while.

 

The 10 Best Soundtracks of 2016

Jump Scare UK counts down the best soundtracks of 2016

By Jay Hunter Either totally overlooked or hugely admired, composers are an integral part in how we watch our favourite shows and movies, whether we realise it or not. In a year where the synths came back with vengeance, Jump Scare counts down the best soundtracks of 2016.

10. Sing Street – Various

John Carney’s upbeat 80s “boy meets girl” story is largely embellished by it’s brilliantly catchy tunes. Original songs nestle in next to The Cure, Duran Duran and Motorhead. The only thing that stopping Sing Street from climbing this list is it’s decent into generic anti-authoritive pop rock with songs like ‘Brown Shoes’.

9. Moana – Various

An absolute barrage of Disney songs littered the Dwayne Johnson led, Moana this year. Although not all of them hit, catchy whimsical tunes like ‘You’re Welcome’ are destined to be drummed into parents eardrums for months to come.

8. Victoria – Nils Frahm

Nils Frahm’s gentile score becomes ever more integral to Sebastian Schipper’s one shot movie. An impressive improvised style allows Frahm to turn time into a malleable tool to further the movies narrative.

7. Captain Fantastic – Alex Somers

Alex Somers was joined by Sigur Rós vocalist Jónsi to compose Matt Ross’ delicate family movie, Captain Fantastic. An aching, melancholic score that furthers the movies tone.

6. Arrival – Jóhann Jóhannsson

Jóhann Jóhannsson has long been a highlight of movies that haven’t fared well critically (Battle: Los Angeles), thankfully this time his beautiful score accompanies a beautiful movie. Experimenting with the human voice, Jóhannsson embellished the movies organic, alien tone perfectly.

5. The Revenant – Ryuichi Sakamoto, Alva Noto & Bryce Dessner

Ineligible for The Academy Awards, the trio behind the movie that finally won Leo the Oscar recycled previous composition into a hybrid of orchestral and electronic sounds. Speaking to Vinyl Factory, Sakamoto stated; “It was always my intention to write something that complements the stark, cold simplicity of nature“. Quite.

4. The Neon Demon – Cliff Martinez

Returning from a career defining score in Drive, Martinez and Nicholas Winding Refn team up once more. A smorgasbord of heart-stopping tunes, the wall of sound goes for creepier tones than previously touched upon by Martinez.

3. Hateful Eight – Ennio Morricone

When QT recruited movie score maestro; the very legend himself Ennio Morricone, to compose an original piece for his nasty western chamber piece where the results ever really in doubt? Of course not, the Tarantino and Morricone marriage is everything you ever wished for, as The Hateful Eight score is a grand and oh so definitively Morricone ode to the bleak nihilism of Tarantino’s blood sprayed snowy vistas. An absolute triumph of classic cinematic music.

2. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – Hans Zimmer & Junkie XL

Whatever your feelings about the movie, there’s no denying Hans Zimmer is at the peak of his powers here. Combining cataclysmic, bombastic tracks with sombre operatic moments, Batman v Superman serves more as a “best of” album for Zimmer who said he is now departing from superhero scores. Oh, and that Wonder Woman theme.

1. Stranger Things – Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein

Dixon and Stein’s brilliant nostalgia-electro score that accompanies the series that took the world by storm. Like Stranger Things itself, the soundtrack is indebted to John Carpenter with its sudden synth shrills, ominous heavy percussion and wild shades of flamboyant neo-gothic tension.

 

 

 

 

The 10 Best Television Series of 2016

Jump Scare UK countdown their top 10 television programs of 2016

By Jay Hunter – 2016 was an incredible year for television, as the small screen inches ever closer to cinema in terms of size and quality it was difficult to select just ten shows. With that being said, here are Jump Scare’s top 10 television series of 2016.

Honourable mention: Black Mirror

10. American Crime Story: The People vs OJ Simpson

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Reviving our obsession with “the trial of the century”, The People vs OJ Simpson manages to retell the story of one America’s most infamous crimes in a revealing, gripping series.

9. Mr. Robot

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As Elliot Alderson comes to terms with his mental health, season two of Mr.Robot pushed further into the abyss. Heightened by it’s sui generis storytelling and lean cast, the Amazon Prime season gathered more momentum in it’s sophomore effort.

8. The Night Manager

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Following an ex-British soldier infiltrating a sprawling crime syndicate, this modern take on the John le Carré novel of the same name shines bright, due to a stellar cast lead by Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie.

7. South Park

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Thanks to a deep pool of cultural material, South Park returned to form in it’s twentieth season. Continuous storytelling proves not beyond Matt Stone and Trey Parker and in 2016 they’re still at their satirical, thought provoking best.

6. The Exorcist

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The shock of the year, Fox’s semi-sequel proved critics and audiences wrong, with an alluring narrative that manages to stand on it’s own with consistent scares and considerable cast performances yet still paying it’s respects to the masterful original source.

5. The Night Of

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Exquisitely executed from HBO/Sky Atlantic once again. The Night Of is a captivating mini-series that manages to keep audiences on the edge of their seats, whilst still having plenty to say about the real world and it’s judicial system.

4. Planet Earth II

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Arguably the greatest cinematography ever seen on the small screen. Planet Earth returned this year with an engrossing look at exotic wildlife, narrated beautifully by celebrated broadcaster David Attenborough.

3. Stranger Things

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The show that took the world by storm. Netflix original series Stranger Things effortlessly slid into pop-culture this year, stealing hearts young and old with it’s warm cast and nostalgic look at 80s Spielberg, King and more.

2. Westworld

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Executed with a level of flawlessness even it’s theme would be proud of, Westworld is an intelligent, absorbing drama hung upon the backdrop of our technological fears. A perfect example of how in 2016, television boasts as much scope as it’s silver screen counterpart.

1. Game of Thrones

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Violent and beautiful as always, Game of Thrones’ number one spot is again cast in iron. Wonderfully acted, incredibly told and a record breaking 38 Emmy Awards under it’s belt, it’s hard to see anything coming close to the HBO classic as it enters it’s twilight.

 

Do you agree with our list? Let us know in the comments below!

19 Things Every Walking Dead Fan Needs

How many of you bought? How many do you plan to buy? Why?

How many of you bought? How many do you plan to buy? Why?

By Beth McConnell The worlds most popular show will be soon to dominate our television screens, so what better way to prepare than to let the show dominate your bank account to!?

Here’s 19 things every Walking Dead fan needs:

19. Walking Dead Monopoly

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Because a regular game of Monopoly just isn’t self destructive enough

18. ‘Don’t Open, Dead Inside’, Decal

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Because every person outside of America just streams the show on their laptop

17. The Walking Dead Coaster Set

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For those season premiere parties

16. A Hilarious Coral Poster

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Just a thing of beauty.

15. A Hilarious Coral T-Shirt

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In all it’s ice-breaking glory.

14. Phone Case

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With the series most beautiful line.

13. The Official Walking Dead Survival Kit

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Because a lot of people will be asking you for advice when it actually happens.

12. Little Ass Kicker Babysuit

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Because it’s never too early to start.

11. A Replica Of Michonne’s Katana

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Just, don’t use it at home.

10. A Pop Vinyl

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Since it’ll be either walkers or these things taking over the world first.

9. A Walker Lamp

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Because you can’t watch those scary episodes in the dark.

8. A Daryl Replica Poncho

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I mean, do I really need to give a reason?

7. All The Seasons On Blu-Ray

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Quick refresher before season 7.

6. This Three Question Mug

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I mean, you’ve got to trust someone before you give them a cup of tea, right?

5. Fan Art Poster

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A work of art, just like Daryl.

4. A Life Sized Daryl

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Just anything, Daryl really.

3. Custom Walking Dead Vans

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Walkers for your walkers!

2. The Walking Dead Graphic Novels

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Where it all began.

1. Halloween Horror Nights Tickets

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Trust us on this one, it’s awesome.

Related – 19 things every Halloween fan needs

The 19 Most Heartbreaking Deaths In The Walking Dead (So Far)

I’m not crying, you’re crying!

Spoilers (obviously)

By Jay Hunter  AMC’s The Walking Dead won’t be winning any prizes for peace any time soon, the majority of episodes are extremely graphic and the series comes second to only Game of Thrones for killing off characters we care dearly about.

This potentially won’t ring more true than in the upcoming season 7 premiere, where we find out which one of the group has met their end at the hands of Negan. But until then, here are the 19 most heartbreaking deaths in The Walking Dead (so far):

19. Amy

Sisterly love. Sisterly love.

18. Otis

What the Hell, Shane!? What the Hell, Shane!?

17. Tomas

Or the death of Rick having any nads... Or the death of Rick having any nads…

16. Merle

I think a piece of us all died when when we saw Daryl cry... I think a piece of us all died when when we saw Daryl cry…

15. Bob

+50 man points +50 man points

14.Gareth

Or the death of Ricks morality Or the death of Ricks morality

13. Nicholas

Thanks for being a human meat shield for Glenn, bruh Thanks for being a human meat shield for Glenn, bruh

12. Jessie, Sam and Ron

dude...dude! DUDE! You just straight up murdered a kid on television! dude…dude! DUDE! You just straight up murdered a kid on television!

11. Dr. Denise Cloyd

#FromOuttaNowhere! #FromOuttaNowhere!

10. Noah

This was just horrific viewing, not going to lie. This was just horrific viewing, not going to lie.

9. Shane

I mean....he did...kind of deserve it... I mean….he did…kind of deserve it…

8. Dale

I feel like everyone was emotionally attached to Dale, but me I feel like everyone was emotionally attached to Dale, but me

7. Sophia

And thus, season 2 had some meaning. And thus, season 2 had some meaning.

6. Andrea

Are we just forgetting the whole Governor thing then? Are we just forgetting the whole Governor thing then?

5. Tyreese

NNNNNOPE! NNNNNOPE!

4. Lizzie

Rumour has it Carol sees in Terminator vision Rumour has it Carol sees in Terminator vision

3. Lori

I mean, she was kind of a douche...but still I mean, she was kind of a douche…but still

2. Hershel

I'm not even showing it. I’m not even showing it.

1. Beth

...rendering the entire first half of season 5 pointless. …rendering the entire first half of season 5 pointless.