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TV Wasteland: Walking On
The Walking Dead recovers from its sophomore slump in fine fashion
By Rob Vaux
March 11, 2012
This week witnesses a pair of notable season finales, one for The Clone Wars and the other for The Walking Dead. The former has saved the Star Wars franchise in many fans’ eyes, and never suffered for a dip in quality (the odd bout of Jar Jar-ism notwithstanding). The Walking Dead, on the other hand, took a huge blow with the loss of Frank Darabout and stumbled badly in the first half of the season. Multiple episodes spun their wheels as the gang searched fruitlessly for a missing girl and the writers searched equally fruitlessly for an impetus. They finally found it in a barn full of walkers and didn’t look back. Audiences were willing to indulge the hiccup and as the season’s second half got underway, the show experienced the highest ratings in its history.
The trend emphasized the Walking Dead’s resilience – and with plenty of source material from the comics, they won’t struggle for ideas the way other shows might. But a success this big creates huge egos, as well as a need to keep the ball rolling that often ends up destroying the very thing it hopes to maintain. The Walking Dead faced down that scenario, and thankfully escaped it. Hopefully, the powers that be on the show have learned their lesson and can continue the high quality they eventually refound. The audience is clearly inclined to agree… though no one should mistake their indulgence for indifference. Few people can turn on a blown opportunity like fanboys, as plenty of good shows learned to their detriment. The Walking Dead may be the rare case where that lesson sticks.
The season finale runs this Sunday, at 9:00 PM EDT on AMC.
Alcatraz (Fox, 9:00 PM EDT)
An innocent man condemned to Alcatraz re-appears, this time intent on committing the crimes he’s already paid for.
Being Human (Syfy, 9:00 PM EDT)
Aiden tries to save Henry while Sally looks further into the Reaper.
Lost Girl (Syfy, 10:00 PM EDT)
A light fae whose life is in danger needs help patching things up with his brother. Bo steps in to lend a hand.
Face/Off (Cinemax, 10:00 PM EDT)
I’m so glad this is hitting the premium cable rounds because – with the exception of Star Trek II – you will never see a more glorious battle of Ham vs. Ham than Nick Cage and John Travolta.
The X-Files: I Want to Believe (FMC, 8:00 PM EDT)
The second big-screen adventure of Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) succeeded only in driving a stake through the heart of a once-proud franchise.
Twilight (FX, 8:00 PM EDT)
They put a gun to my head and made me mention this. Seriously.
Priest (Starz, 7:30 PM EDT)
Paul Bettany is better than this, but he’s still fun to watch.
Escape from LA (AMC, 8:00 PM EDT)
I so wanted to love this movie. I just can’t.
X-Men: First Class (Cinemax, 10:00 PM EDT)
This one, on the other hand, I can love quite readily.
The Faculty (FMC, 7:00 PM EDT)
This one too. Also, count the number of actors who went on to be somebody here.
The Day after Tomorrow (FMC, 9:00 PM EDT)
Dennis Quaid, how could you?
The Prestige (IFC, 8:00 PM EDT)
I’m gonna say it: this might be Christopher Nolan’s best movie.
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (Starz, 9:00 PM EDT)
The best parts of this film are actually the less prominent ones: a romance between a mermaid and a man of God, and Geoffrey Rush’s always amusing turn as Captain Barbossa. Depp’s not too bad either.
Terminator Salvation (TNT, 8:00 PM EDT)
Sam Worthington is a very nice man, so we’ll forgive him the fact that he really shouldn’t be a star.
Ghost Hunters International (Syfy, 9:00 PM EDT)
The team probes Mayan ruins in Belize, and engages in a ritual designed to contact the dead.
Face Off (Syfy, 10:00 PM EDT)
The season ends with one of the remaining contestants being declared the winner after creating a series of original make-up concepts.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (ABC Family, 7:30 PM EDT)
I missed the magic in this inaugural adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s fantasy series. Thankfully, it gets much better very quickly.
Open Water (IFC, 8:00 PM EDT)
Remember when nihilism was cool? Glad we grew out of that phase…
Tangled (Starz, 9:00 PM EDT)
Disney’s screwball retake on the Rapunzel tale has held up very well over time.
The Vampire Diaries (The CW, 8:00 PM EDT)
New episodes return… and I’m pretty sure no one who reads this column cares. If it matters, this episode involves a series of murders from a century ago that are being reenacted today.
The Secret Circle (The CW, 9:00 PM EDT)
Blackwell aims to put the whammy on the coven with a device that destroys a witch’s powers.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (ABC Family, 7:00 PM EDT)
The series first comes into its own here, even as it bids farewell to Richard Harris, who plays Professor Dumbledore for the last time.
The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lavagirl (Disney, 8:30 PM EDT)
Taylor Lautner got hunkier, but he still can’t act.
Battle: Los Angeles (Starz, 9:00 PM EDT)
I won’t talk it up anymore, I’ll just note that it’s on.
Saw (Syfy, 6:30 PM EDT)
Seriously? This overhyped piece of crap spawned a Halloween staple? Man, I’m glad Paranormal Activity replaced it….
Dawn of the Dead (Syfy, 9:00 PM EDT)
*Checks* Nope, still not the Romero version… and Syfy really needs to freshen up its content.
The Big Bang Theory is off for the NCAA Tournament. And I say verily unto thee, ‘Cuse is in the house.
Nikita (The CW, 8:00 PM EDT)
New episodes return with Amanda asking for Nikita’s help in stopping Percy’s nefarious “kill everyone” plot.
Supernatural (The CW, 9:00 PM EDT)
Cursed ballet slippers. Who doesn’t love ‘em?
Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Cartoon, 8:00 PM EDT)
Obi-Wan finds an unlikely ally in Asajj Ventress as Darth Maul comes for revenge in the Season Four finale. Who can’t get excited about that?
Merlin (Syfy, 10:00 PM EDT)
Morgana enlists the aid of an evil warlord to overthrow Arthur… which I’m guessing is a pretty much a weekly occurrence on this show.
Spartacus: Vengeance (Starz, 10:00 PM EDT)
The gladiators capture a valuable Roman, giving Spartacus a chance for real revenge.
Jason and the Argonauts (TCM, 8:00 PM EDT)
The great Ray Harryhausen gets a double feature of his two best films on TCM, starting with his rousing rendition of the classic Greek myth.
Clash of the Titans (TCM, 10:00 PM EDT)
Harryhausen’s fun-filled swan song beats the stuffing out of the 2010 remake seven days a week and twice on Sundays.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (ABC Family, 8:00 PM EDT)
Alfonso Cuaron’s third entry in the Harry Potter franchise actually engenders a fair amount of controversy, as the director’s vision sometimes gets in the way of J.K. Rowling’s. Regardless, it’s still a rousing effort.
Thinner (AMC, 8:00 PM EDT)
One of Stephen King’s stranger tales concerns a fat man who loses dangerous amounts of weight thanks to a Gypsy curse. It’s not great, but it doesn’t sink to the depths of King’s worst adaptations.
The Shining (BBC America, 9:00 PM EDT)
This King adaptation ranks among the classics, of course… despite the author’s not-entirely-unfounded misgivings.
Hancock (FX, 8:00 PM EDT)
AKA “Superdickery: The Movie.”
Push (Showtime, 9:00 PM EDT)
AKA “X-Men without the Budget.”
We’re pretty sure Grimm is a rerun, though NBC is being rather coy about it.
Being Human (BBC America, 9:00 PM EDT)
A new ghost reappears from the 1970s… hopefully without wide lapels or disco ball in tow.
The Leprechaun Trilogy (Syfy, 2:00 PM EDT, 5:00 PM EDT and 7:00 PM EDT)
Syfy celebrates St. Patrick’s Day with the first three entries in the ridiculous Leprechaun horror series. (On an unrelated note, Leprechaun star Warwick Davis is currently rocking the house as an unpleasant version of himself in the very funny HBO series Life’s Too Short. That’s the one with the “Liam Neeson does comedy” bit.)
Leprechaun’s Revenge (Syfy, 9:00 PM EDT)
Sadly, there’s no Warwick Davis in this new Syfy movie, which involves a leprechaun taking revenge on the descendants of the people who imprisoned him. There is, however, copious use of Billy Zane as way of compensation. Billy Zane!
Green Lantern (HBO, 8:00 PM EDT)
On the one hand, the big screen adventure of Hal Jordan proved a thoroughly disappointing experience. On the other hand, it’s strangely appropriate to schedule it on St. Patrick’s Day.
Drive Angry (Showtime, 10:00 PM EDT)
This came so close to being a great bad movie that it hurts. As it stands, it’s merely bad-bad, which is quite a ways from great bad.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (ABC Family, 5:30 PM EDT and 9:00 PM EDT)
ABC Family delivers a double shot of its ongoing Harry Potter countdown with Parts Four and Five: both of which deftly avoid the creeping franchise fatigue that might have buried them.
The Walking Dead (AMC, 9:00 PM EDT)
Season Two comes to an end as Rick and Carl make it out of the woods only to find bedlam back at the farm. It’s followed by a 30-minute special on the show. See the top of the article for more.
Comic Book Men (AMC, 10:32 PM EDT)
Note the start time, which is 32 minutes later than normal in order to accommodate a new behind-the-scenes special on The Walking Dead.
Once Upon a Time (ABC, 8:00 PM EDT)
Mary Margaret is charged with the murder of her rival, forcing her to turn to Mr. Gold for help. Never a good idea.
Reign of Fire (BBC America, 9:00 PM EDT)
Yes, they lied to us about the whole “dragons vs. gunships” thing, but the rest of the movie is decent fun.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (ABC Family, 8:30 PM EDT)
Now that it’s all said and done, I think this is probably the best of the Harry Potter film series.
X-Men: The Last Stand (FMC, 7:30 PM EDT)
Just because this isn’t bad doesn’t mean that Brett Ratner’s not a douche.
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (FMC, 10:00 PM EDT)
We all knew this was going to suck, but that doesn’t make the tragic waste of the Silver Surfer any easier to bear.
Angels and Demons (Syfy, 8:00 PM EDT)
And again, I scream until I’m blue in the face: how is this sci-fi?!