nesting * geeking * critiquing

{geeking}

Talkin’ About the Talking Dead

If you’re a fan of “The Walking Dead” and watch it on initial airing, there’s a good chance you stick around to watch the live show “The Talking Dead” afterwards. The guests sometimes flop (Marilyn Manson, for instance) and host/comedian Chris Hardwick occasionally veers into self-indulgence, but the show is generally a therapeutic way to unwind after TWD and learn some behind-the-scenes tidbits.

Having had the great joy of scoring passes to see the live filming of the mid-season premiere last month, I have some behind-the-scenes tidbits for “The Talking Dead” as well. Hopefully this will also shed some light on what to expect if you, too, luck into General Passes and spend hours scouring the interwebs to try and find out what to expect—I was sorely disappointed in the lack of similar firsthand accounts. So let’s start at the beginning.

You love the show and realize you’ll be in Los Angeles on a Sunday when a new episode is scheduled to air, aka just about any Sunday between late October-early December and mid February-early April. Great! Now make haste and get thyself over to 1iota.com and sign up for an account so you can join the watchlist for your favorite shows and request tickets when they become available. My experience with 1iota is that they open the Talking Dead for you to request tickets within about a week of the date you’d like to attend. We tried to get tickets for the mid-season finale back in December, and the “sign up” opportunity opened early morning on the Monday ahead of that Sunday (11/27 before the 12/3) show. We were probably relatively early in submitting a request but didn’t make the cut, which turned out just fine since I was miserably sick that entire trip. I digress…

I started checking 1iota’s Talking Dead page as soon as we knew what dates we would be in L.A. Early that Monday morning before the taping date, I checked and 1iota still hadn’t opened up for ticket requests. Kept checking throughout the day and around 1pm, it was open. I submitted my request and crossed my fingers.

That Thursday, I got an email saying they couldn’t accommodate my request. Bummer.

The next day, I happened to check on my 1iota account to see if they’d updated the guest appearance list for Jimmy Kimmel and noticed that I suddenly had Talking Dead tickets waiting for me. After I recovered from the shock, I followed the prompts and printed those babies as fast as I could (lest they discover their mistake). On printing the tickets, I learned that they were General Passes, meaning there are Priority Passes that some people manage to get their hands on and the General Pass holders get in on a first-come, first-served basis after those with Priority Passes. The passes also tell you to arrive at least 30 minutes early… I think you’d be tempting fate to arrive that late. Add an extra hour to that for a safer bet.

We tried to arrive 2 hours early but L.A. traffic and parking being what it is, we got in line 90 minutes early. 8 people in line already ahead of us. I’d suggest coughing up the money to park in the garage at The Grove. The $20-whatever is worth the peace of mind to save yourself time and hassle; and you can stop in at The Container Store on your walk to the CBS Studio lot if you need to use the restroom (you won’t get another opportunity until after you go through all of the security protocols).

Enjoy using your cell phone while you wait on the street, as it gets confiscated when you go through security. I totally understand why you can’t use your phone during the early screening of the unaired Walking Dead episode—you’ll watch the new episode commercial-free before it even airs on the East Coast!—but it was pretty frustrating being unable to take photos of the Talking Dead set before filming started. Specifically, it was annoying because there are other audience members (who get in by means other than 1iota) who are allowed to have their phones and it feels rather like a double standard.

Anyway, after going through security screening the group is ushered into a tight little room that’s like a garage or dock area on the lot filled with chairs. That’s where you get to watch the new episode. The few accounts I saw online said that they had to watch on a very small screen; I’m happy to report that they’ve upgraded and now you get to see it projected on a pretty good size screen. Sound isn’t theater quality, but you’re caught up in the episode enough that it doesn’t matter so much.

After the episode, audience members pose questions they might ask on the show. The staff choose a handful of those people (the ones who have the best confidence and stage presence, I think) and they go on a separate track for, presumably, screen prep. At our filming, the question asked live on the show was not any of the questions the audience actually submitted. It was in the same vein, but not the same.

Finally, you’re ushered into the set studio, and it’s pretty dang cool. Much larger than it looks on screen. We couldn’t figure out how they decided where to seat people, but we ended up a lot further back in the crowd than we had been for the screening. It really wasn’t a big deal since there is somewhat tiered seating but we ended up on the end behind the crane camera so it was a little hard to see sometimes.

Chris Hardwick comes out and films the little preview bits (they’re not really live) without any audience interaction; this surprised me, as I kind of imagined he’d address us a bit. Perhaps he was too busy being lint-rolled. Seriously, they had lint rollers on him during every commercial break. How much lint can one guy accumulate while sitting mostly still?!

I couldn’t have been more thrilled with the lineup we had: Greg Nicotero, Khary Payton (King Ezekiel) and DeAngelo Williams from the Pittsburgh Steelers. All 3 were a delight to watch interact during commercial breaks, though we couldn’t always hear what they said. As was alluded to during the show, DeAngelo kept jabbing on Khary being a Falcons fan, and Khary repeatedly got up to walk out (jokingly). I don’t remember if it was during a commercial or actual show but DeAngelo said something about also not liking the Patriots and Khary replied, “because you’re human!” Greg also got up at one point, saying “I’m out” during the football talk. Lots of laughter, much fun.

After the live show wrapped, they filmed several bonus segments for the website (here). We did end up getting audience-giveaway shirts, and I was pleased that we actually got to choose what size we got. All in all, a really enjoyable experience that could only have been better if we’d gotten to take pics.

Advertisements

Gripes, Likes & Theories: Rogue One

If you haven’t seen Rogue One yet, consider yourself warned… ***SPOILERS***

Pardon the stream-of-consciousness post; it may get a bit messy. I’ve seen Rogue One five (yes, 5!) times in the theater now. The latest was on my 13th wedding anniversary (yes, 13th!), which happened to be the same sad day that our favorite Princess passed away.

Though I never had the honor of meeting her, Carrie Fisher always felt like a friend. It never occurred to me as a child that she was old enough to be my mom—she was Princess Leia, and she was my friend. As an adult, of course I appreciate the many facets of her career, advocacy and person. Her biting sarcasm and quick wit balanced with sincerity, something I will always admire. Watching Rogue One hours after learning of her death was harrowing (ironically, my 4th viewing was just hours before her heart attack). The public display of emotion got a bit uglier than I had hoped, what with the heaving shoulders and snot snorting. On the bright side, the Vader bit is impressive even with tear-blurred vision.


Things I loved about R1:

Literally everything in the last hour or so of the film. The battle, the tragic ends*, VADER. Seriously, when the lightsaber illuminates Vader in that dark corridor…ugh, I love it all so hard. That scene is everything I’ve ever wanted from Vader. And it all makes me cry. A. LOT.

*yes, even my Imperial sympathizing heart hurt over that. That said, this should lay to rest rumors of Jyn being Rey’s mom.

For me, the part in which the film really starts feeling like a Star Wars story is as they’re escaping Jedha. From there, I find myself far more engaged in the plot and connecting more with the characters. I really thought at least one of our heroes would make it out, but this ending was much better from an urgency and storytelling angle. That last scene with Jyn and Cassian is soul-crushing in the best way possible. Their chemistry was a brilliant mix of platonic and maybe-could’ve-been-more. I LOVE Cassian! I thought he was as well written as he was acted, which is impressive for a complex character. I would be compelled to watch anything with Diego Luna in it now. Really enjoyed Donnie Yen’s performance as well.

I so appreciate how Gareth Edwards worked it into a piece that’s so layered and nuanced that it feels like a sort of love note to Star Wars. The many thoughtful, lovely references in this feel less nostalgia-gimmicky than TFA (which I also loved but still). It’s a beautiful bridge between the prequels and original trilogy that makes both Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope better.

I think subsequent viewings really do make a big difference for this movie since there just so much to absorb. The first time around, I was delighted to see the original Red Leader and Gold Leader (if you haven’t seen how they made that happen, read this)…though I’m not sure I needed to know how/why Luke inherited the Red Five call sign. I also got a kick out of the complete-fanservice-but-still-fun cameos by Dr. Evazan and Ponda Baba. Took me until the third viewing to finally notice the blue milk in Galen & Lyra Erso’s hovel. I think the CG is also less bothersome after the initial shock. Is ‘shock’ the right word? Whatever.

Except for the vaguely cartoonish mouth movements, I thought the CG on Tarkin & Leia was surprisingly good. My only complaint is that there was perhaps too much full-face Tarkin; it took away the “is it really him?” intrigue and turned it into “oh look, CG!”

K2-SO is probably my favorite droid now (he and BB-8 blow the originals out of the water for me). Not only is K2-SO better than C-3PO, but Alan Tudyk knocks the socks off of Anthony Daniels.


Things I didn’t love about R1:
Saw Gerrera/Forest Whitaker. His existence beyond rescuing Jyn as a child seemed overly contrived and almost entirely unnecessary. Every scene that he’s in makes me eye-roll, and I wasn’t sad when he ‘sacrificed’ himself to the imploding planet. In fact, I would have been glad that he bit it, except that I was eye-rolling so hard from his over-the-top acting that it really just annoyed me. Maybe part of the reason I didn’t like him was the way the character was written, but Whitaker’s melodramatic delivery of the lines didn’t help. His “save the dream” line was arguably the worst in the movie, too—even worse than Vader’s pun about choking on aspirations. And the “truth monster” was just awful. That was definitely the parallel to the rathtars in TFA that should’ve found the cutting room floor.

The score. I will say my frustration with this has diminished a bit with each additional screening. My understanding is that Giacchino had very little time to compose, and for that I am in awe with how relatively good it is. Nevertheless, it lacked a lot of the emotional weight of a John Williams score. It felt particularly lackluster in the title sequence after the prologue.

Speaking of the title sequence, I really missed the opening scroll and classic Star Wars theme. I do understand that Lucasfilm is trying to make it clear that these are not Skywalker-centric stories but I’m not sure how chopping out the expository scroll and iconic strains are supposed to do that.

R2-D2/C-3PO cameo. I guess I didn’t really dislike this, per say, but I think that scene felt really shoehorned on Yavin. Had we seen them on the Tantive cruiser, it would’ve made (more) sense. It seems Threepio has worn out his welcome with me.


Outstanding questions about R1:
Do Death Troopers speak a different language, or were they just suffering from Bane unintelligible syndrome? Friends have speculated they utilize a spy-code that scrambles their transmissions outside of their helmets. I’ll buy that, but I also would’ve liked to hear them speak actual words instead of garbled zombie sounds.

Just how did Evazan & Ponda get off Jedha so we could eventually meet them at the cantina? I assume they were already headed to their departing ship.

Also, why didn’t they show the Mustafar planet ‘tag’ like all of the other planets? Probably just trying to surprise everybody with Vader’s lair but the inconsistency bugged me ever so slightly. Regarding Mustafar, I LOVED seeing Vader’s castle and half expected it to be Hayden Christensen’s head in the bacta tank!

During Jyn’s flashback aboard the U-Wing, we saw her family enjoying drinks with Krennic. Did the view out the apartment windows look like Coruscant to anybody else? Started reading the “Catalyst” novel today and it mentions Galen & Lyra marrying on Coruscant so I think we can assume it was supposed to be.

I want to know more about the relationship between Krennic and Tarkin—I’m currently reading “Catalyst” and hoping to find out more about this. It seems a nice parallel to the dynamic of Kylo Ren and Hux in TFA; almost like a sibling rivalry.

And I guess that about sums it up for the moment…largely because my lunch break is over and I have to get back to work. What say you? Did you love Rogue One, hate it, feel conflicted? Let’s chat in the comments!


Inky

Well, this isn’t new anymore (2.5 months already!) but I hadn’t officially shared it here, so…

I got inked! trooper-ink

My only regret is that I didn’t get it somewhere more noticeable. It’s great that I can cover it up so easily, but it’s also a downer not being able to see and show it off. But I’m already plotting my next addition…the Imperial insignia…much to the chagrin of my husband. Just doing my part to keep balance in the Force with all of the current Rebel Alliance cheerleading that’s happening ahead of Rogue One 🙂


Gripes, Likes & Theories: Batman v Superman

Now that the film is in wide release, I can ignore the advance-screening plea from Zack Snyder not to spoil anything. So be warned, SPOILERS FOLLOW.

As I mentioned before, I went into BvS with super low expectations and liked it pretty well. For me it boiled down to something like Thor: Dark World or Avengers: AoU—not bad to watch once or twice but generally lackluster and forgettable. I also didn’t find it as grim and gritty as everyone is complaining. I mean, yeah, it’s dark but no more than roughly half of everything else that’s come out in cinema over the last decade, including the Nolan trilogy that everyone seems to love (I don’t find it holds up as much more than “meh”).

Biggest misses for me:
1) Batman just gave up his fight because Superman’s mom happened to have the same name?! For the love of Martha, that was some seriously weak writing.
2) Superman’s death lacked ‘gravity’—I don’t think anyone in our screening believed for one minute that he would stay dead. Moreover, I don’t think anyone would have bought into it even had we not all experienced the media hoopla that surrounded the event when it happened in the comics back in the early ’90s. It felt so very emotionally empty and not the least bit cliffhanger-y, which I found incredibly disappointing.
2b) Speaking of media hoopla…SO. MANY. CAMEOS. (I know I already mentioned this before, but it really bothered me.)
3) Lex creating Doomsday inside the Kryptonian ship. I thought it was clever that he cut off Zod’s fingerprints to gain access but otherwise hated the entire scene.
3b) Doomsday was like a bad mashup of Hulk, every Spider-Man movie villain and Hunger Games mutts.
4) Teasers for Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg lacked excitement and depth.
5) Amy Adams. Always Amy Adams.
6) Underutilized Wonder Woman.

I’ll reiterate that I’m genuinely excited for the standalone WW movie now. I wish she hadn’t looked so much like part of the Kardashian klan but Gadot played the fight scenes like she could be a legitimately strong warrior. Expectations shattered.

Still, my favorite part of the movie was spotting TK-421 on Lex Luthor’s prison uniform.

ALSO, I have a BvS/Walking Dead fan theory!
Maggie is Bruce Wayne’s mom, which means that TWD clearly happened in the past…and Maggie either cheated on Glenn or lost that baby and had another later with Mr. Wayne. The “metahumans” are clearly an evolutionary result of surviving the zombie apocalypse. Tell me your mind isn’t blown right now.

 


She Lives! (aka Batman v Superman Happened so I’m Blogging)

I’m still here, believe it or not! Since last post, I’ve made a geeky pilgrimage to San Francisco (pics and details coming soon, I promise), seen TFA a few more times—totaled 8 at the theater—and worked like a fool. The working part is more exhausting than awesome but it helps pay for toys, and we all know you can never have too many toys.

After posting some pics of myself as a little Superman-loving lass, I won tickets to last night’s advance screening of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Side note: If I’m ever tasked with writing something that requires a certain character count, I will be sure to make this film the topic because writing the title alone should satisfy most requirements.

“So how was it?” you ask. Weeeeeelllll…
As someone who loved Man of Steel, I liked it fairly well. There are a couple of really good moments that are balanced by some really cringe-worthy ones, which are all outnumbered by a lot of “just a’ight.”

I’m not in the business of spoilers, and not just because there was a Zack Snyder video plea before the movie started, so I won’t give away any secrets. Except that Batman’s parents die. Oops, surprise!

Okay, one teeny-tiny, not-really spoiler: there’s a fun Star Wars Easter egg. I spotted it straight away and leaned over in the middle of the movie to quote a relevant line. I suspect a lot of fans will pick up on it; comment below if you want a hint.

I digress.

People who have already decided to hate Affleck as Batman won’t be swayed, though I thought he was a suitable host for a character who wasn’t supposed to be altogether likable in this story. His acting wasn’t especially nuanced, though I’m not sure whether that was due to him or the writing. He’s easily as good as, if not better than, either Kilmer or Clooney.

Wonder Woman was not on the list of things I excitedly anticipated for this film, particularly after I learned of Gal Gadot’s casting. I was, to that end, pleasantly surprised! The characterization is far more interesting—and less exploitative—than I expected. I might actually kinda sorta be looking forward to her standalone film now <gasp!>.

Surprisingly, the most eye-rolls of the night came not with Jesse Eisenberg but Amy Adams. Sure, Eisenberg was the same smarmy guy he is in every role (and maybe in real life?), but you saw that one coming from a mile away.
I am decidedly not a fan of Adams’ interpretation of Lois Lane, as you might remember from my reviews of Man of Steel. While she and Henry Cavill demonstrated a bit better chemistry this time around, particularly at the beginning of the film, I can’t help but see her as an annoying hindrance. Maybe that, too, is a consequence of the character more than the actor…it’s not like Margot Kidder wasn’t tiresome…or maybe it would be less frustrating with someone else filling the role. It seems we’ll never know.

To be fair, Adams is unseated by Doomsday as my least favorite character in this movie. That’s not saying much, is it?!

If you loathed the Sears and iHop tie-ins from Man of Steel, be prepared for media personality overload on this one. I understand that Snyder et al. are trying to make us believe that Superman’s universe is one in the same with ours. For me, showing endless cameos of recognizable pundits had the opposite effect, ripping me out of my suspension of disbelief.

Stylistically, this is a pretty slick movie. The fight scenes, in particular, have a more comic-book feel than did Man of Steel; I actually felt like it veered into Amazing Spider-Man territory at times. That’s not a complaint, somehow. There are, however, a lot of flashbacks and dream sequences that tend to feel disjointed. The one thing that tied everything together was Hans Zimmer’s brilliant score with themes from Man of Steel beautifully woven throughout. I’ve grown to appreciate the former as one of the better contemporary theatrical scores and this built on it in intriguing ways. Along with the hopeful and heart-wrenching strains, there was an inescapable undercurrent of tension and conflict. Magnifique!

Overall, this girl feels that Batman v Superman lands squarely in the middle of the pack for modern superhero flicks. It’s generally enjoyable if forgettable, but worth seeing on the big screen if you’re at all inclined to see it.