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TV That Matters: The Following, Community, The Walking Dead

By Matt Ern Columnist

The Following - “Mad Love”

Grade: C

This show now features a pansexual love triangle composed of serial killers. I thought I’d make that the first sentence because putting it anywhere else would seem like burying the lead. Surprisingly enough, that’s not the craziest or the worst part of the episode “Mad Love.”

A larger-than-life, theatrical serial killer with an army of accomplices is a tough pill to swallow. I’ll believe anything, if a show is capable of supporting it in a realistic way. Obviously the more elaborate the premise, like what’s going on in The Following, the harder it is to substantiate it. In this case, the more of this show I see the less I’m able to buy any of what it’s selling. But this is just one of many problems with this show.

I find the flashbacks increasingly tedious.  This week we learn more about Kevin Bacon’s troubled past as a Law Enforcement agent. He drinks too much! He doesn’t take care of himself! There’s a woman in his life who is concerned about him! It’s all stuff we’ve seen a million times before.

This week the serial killers have targeted Kevin Bacon’s hitherto unmentioned sister. It makes for a slightly better story than what I’ve come to love-to-hate from The Following so far. Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the hilarious way the camera zoomed in on Bacon’s eyes right before the first commercial break. I swear, The Following might be the funniest new show on television.

Admittedly, this episode wasn’t nearly the train wreck that the first three were, but it still suffers from many of the series’ biggest faults.


Community - “History 101”

Grade:  B

October 19  has finally come and Community is back, but it’s a mixed blessing. Yes, we get to hang out at Greendale for another season with some beloved characters, but without Dan Harmon at the helm things are noticeably different. One episode in it’s really too early to judge Community 2.0 but the changes are certainly there.

The “Abed TV” conceit really didn’t work for me, which is a shame because it takes up a good chunk of the episode. It makes a lot of sense that Abed would be freaked out about graduating, and the meta commentary on the fact that this is the characters’ last year at Greendale and maybe our last year with the show itself is pretty funny. But things don’t really come together in Abed’s “happy place.”

The “Hunger Games” parody that dominates the other half of the episode also feels a bit out of place, although it’s pretty funny. I don’t remember Community ever doing a genre episode based on a specific movie as recent as “The Hunger Games” and it seems a little forced.

The episode’s two subplots (if they can even be called that) work better than the dominant ones. Britta and Troy attempt to make some first-day-of-school wishes and Annie and Shirley team up to pull a prank on the Dean. They both feel more classic Community than anything that’s going on with Abed or Jeff, and it’s a shame the two women don’t get more screen time.

It’s nice to have Community back in whatever form we can get it, albeit a very different one than we’re used to.  Hopefully things pick up a little as the season continues.


The Walking Dead- “The Suicide...”

Grade:  B

Both Rick’s group and Woodbury have been left fractured by the events of last fall’s mid-season finale. Rick manages to rescue Daryl and Merle from the Governor but he’s unwilling to let Merle come back to the prison, given his history. Understandably, Daryl isn’t able to cut his brother loose so easily and decides to leave the group along with Merle. Michonne is still on the outs with Rick as well, along with Tyreese’s people.

Back in Woodbury there’s been quite the fallout from the attack. With several of their own dead and walkers breaching the perimeter, the citizens are clamoring to leave. But the Governor, now more unstable than before, has his sight set on the prison and going to war with Rick’s people.

“The Suicide King” mostly serves as a table-setting episode, establishing where allegiances lie after the explosive assault on Woodbury. We’ve been promised a war between Rick and the Governor, but also mixed in are the wandering Dixon brothers and the new group led by Tyreese. The pieces are all in place and ready to be maneuvered, which means that the strength of this episode can only really be judged in the context of the season-long arc.

I enjoyed the way the Merle situation was diffused, as well as the way Rick was unwilling to let Tyreese stay because he doesn’t want to feel responsible for more deaths should things go wrong. But by and large I found “The Suicide King” a bit on the dull side. I can appreciate the need to let the show breathe after an episode as good as last fall’s finale, so I expect a return to form next week. This week’s outing seemed more like season two fare and not up to the excellent standard set by the first half of season three.

standard set by the first half of season 3.

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