TV

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By Devlin Francis ’15 | Staff Writer

Now kids, in the fall of 2005 CBS aired a new sitcom titled ‘How I Met Your Mother’ that took hold of millions of fans before ending on a high note nine years later.

When Ted Mosby, played by Josh Radnor, first sat down in the year 2030, he told us this story was going to be a long one; nine years later it definitely was. But it was a journey worth every step. And it’s hard to not be happy with the way it ended in Monday’s series finale.

The actors and actresses have all been great throughout the series as a whole.  Alyson Hannigan, Cobie Smulders, Jason Segel and Neil Patrick Harris all did incredible jobs creating the characters of Lily Aldrin, Robin Scherbatsky, Marshall Eriksen and Barney Stinson, respectively.

One thing that I really enjoyed was the overall progression and maturity of each character individually throughout both the series and the finale. The overall change of each character was evident in the finale, as the young, drinking buddies grew up into spouses and parents.

Along with Radnor as Ted, they brought ‘The Gang’ to life, and made me, and I’m sure millions of other fans, feel like I was with them at MacLaren’s every Monday night.

The symbolism of key moments throughout the series was also a unique twist. I liked how the episode  incorporated motifs from the entire series, as it helped send the series off as a whole, rather than as a final season.

The final episode was very appropriate for the series, and the writers did an excellent job fitting every character’s life, past, present, and future, in just as the pieces of a blue french horn fit in each other.

After the entire final season up to this point was spent taking place during a three day span, the final episode took an interesting turn. Just like the maze of pieces that is a blue french horn, the finale jumped around, going from the current period, to flashbacks from past episodes, to events that supposedly occur in the future of ‘The Gang’s’ lives.

And, just like all those pieces of a blue french horn, everything came together at the end to make something truly beautiful.

However, beautiful is not the right word for the episode. After countless nights spent suiting up, the highest of fives, thousands of pickup plays, daddy jokes, and slaps, the series finale of HIMYM can only be described by one word: Legen-wait for it-dary.

Grade: A+

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Isaac Piecuch ’14 | Staff Writer

“The Walking Dead”, as a series, shares a number of similarities with its namesake. Like a zombie, it is simultaneously formidable and pathetic. It moves carelessly forward, at times making great progress before ultimately tripping over its own feet. “The Walking Dead” was once a show with great promise, a zombie show which focused on the human drama of the apocalypse. But recurrent inconsistencies have left this once fearsome beast a decayed shell of its former self.

The second half of Season 5 began in a time of uncertainty. Having had their home in the prison destroyed by the Governor, the group was splintered. The gang was split up, and different groups of characters were forced to survive on their own. Episodes focused on one group at a time. However, this haphazard approach limited the forward progress of the show. Because one episode may be occurring in a parallel timeline to a previous episode, it felt like the show was not moving forward. The multiple angle approach to storytelling was not handled nearly as well as something like “Game of Thrones”, which masterfully juggles points of view.

Furthermore, “The Walking Dead” continued its tradition of multiple filler episodes. There were many episodes when nothing happened, with time devoted to “character building.” For example, the premise behind one episode featuring Darryl and Beth was a quest to find booze. Seriously? It’s the zombie apocalypse, and you’re going to focus on finding Beth a drink? Of course, this lead to drawn out soul-searching and painful introspection which, unfortunately, was painful to watch. You know it’s bad when I’m annoyed by Darryl, the ultimate cool guy character, because he won’t stop talking about his jerk of a father.

Unfortunately, actors on the show just don’t have the skills to handle some of the shows quieter moments. As hard as they may try, characters on “The Walking Dead” can’t quite handle the emotional scenes that the writers continue to supply. For example, Michonne and Carl were supposed to develop a strong friendship throughout the season. On screen, this translated to the show bluntly saying “these two are friends.” But instead of viewers buying into this relationship, the blunt presentation instead inspires a number of questions: Why are they friends now? How did they become close? Are these jokes about candy bars supposed to signify a strong friendship? You’re left without an answer.

Still, the occasional strong episode inspires a feeble confidence in the show. One particular episode, featuring Carol at both her most emotional and most brutal, was deliciously dark. It showed all the possibilities of what a good zombie show could be, with genuinely heartfelt moments, tense action, and a heartbreaking conclusion. That episode was “The Walking Dead” at its best.

Unfortunately, it was a diamond in the rough. No other episodes come close to reaching that quality, and it’s frustrating. I see episodes like this which make me believe that the show will finally come good, finally realize all of that untapped potential. But I have been continuously disappointed.

This disappointment was compounded by the lackluster ending. The season built towards a showdown at the ominous survivor colony, “Terminus.” Almost every episode mentioned it, and it was the end goal of each separate party. It seemed that the season was primed for an explosive finale featuring “Terminus”, with some big things happening. But when they finally arrived, nothing happened.  Nothing really happened at “Terminus”, and the show left us

“The Walking Dead” is an average show. There, I said it. While not inherently awful, it never reaches the next level. But, like the imminent zombie threat, it’s an average show which I can’t seem to escape. Great episodes hidden in the muck inspire a false sense of hope in viewers; we see how good the show ought to be. As mediocre as it usually is, you keep watching, hoping that some consistency will be reached, but it never will.

It may be time to respond to “The Walking Dead” as you would to any zombie; with a bullet to the brain. Maybe then I can finally move on.

Grade: C-.

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By Isaac Piecuch ’14 | Staff Writer

I feel I ought to begin this review with an apology to Frank Underwood. So well realized is his character, so tangible is his menacing, manipulative form of politics, that a fictitious politician genuinely intimidates me. So for any critiques you may not appreciate, Frank, I’m sorry. Please don’t destroy me.

Anyways, on to the second season of “House of Cards”. The season maintains a marathon pace that absorbs viewers, characterized by a blistering premier that leaves you breathless. Still, though, the season is unable to reach the high pedigree set by the last season due to a distinct lack of engaging storylines and an ambiguous endgame scheme.

The season’s definite highpoint is the premier. It’s an exhilarating whirlwind of events. The show immediately picks up on the threads of the previous season. It’s interesting how quickly the show wraps up what seemed to be major threats to Frank, but this is ultimately a good thing; annoying threads from the first season, for the most part, don’t overstay their welcome. There is a certain character who is doomed from the start and refuses to fade away until halfway through the season, but this is forgivable.

The show’s greatest aspect remains the incredible acting by its leads. Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright still dominate the screen with Emmy deserving performances. Their portrayals of Frank and Claire Underwood are nuanced, believable, and (perhaps most importantly) menacing. Spacey’s Frank comes to life with a set of quirks and tendencies. He may be the only actor capable of making Frank’s seemingly divine ability to manipulate believable. In other, less talented hands, the protagonists most basic skill may have been ridiculous.

The show soars when Spacey and Wright are on screen together. They are the only TV couple who seemingly never have sex yet are completely devoted to each other. They are united by their deviousness, and maintain a complete honesty to self and each other that embraces rather than hides their darker side. When Frank and Claire scheme with each other at their townhouse window, casually smoking a cigarette, their camaraderie humanizes the show. You almost forget that they’re probably planning someone’s political destruction.

The dialogue is sharp when not nonsensical. Frank’s fourth-wall breaking monologues remain fantastic. “You thought I forgot about you, didn’t you?” he asks to viewers in the premier, and one can’t help but feel goose bumps. There are a lot of loaded conversations. Comments dripping with malice are delivered with an off-putting passivity. Claire’s assurance that “I’m willing to watch your baby wither and die… but we don’t want that, do we?” is a particularly awesome display of cruelty.

Still, the dialogue sometimes strays into the realm of jargon. The show creates a smokescreen of political intricacy, throwing out terms like “Super-PAC” and “Back channeling.” This convoluted speech is meant to confuse viewers, and hides some jumps in logic. When characters inexplicably play into Frank’s hand, it’s far easier to blame it on Frank’s wizardry than try to understand why in the world a politician would behave as such.

Also, this season lacks truly compelling storylines. There’s nothing nearly as heartbreaking as the Russo story. Instead, we have a political tango with China, a “why-are-you-doing-this” sexual assault bill, and a former hooker who is dull as can be. The side-stories aren’t as compelling as they could be.

The season also suffers from an unclear endgame. We know Frank wants power… but what exactly does that mean? What is all the political maneuvering and scheming for? For most of the season, we don’t know what specifically Frank is working towards, and this takes away from the shows sense of urgency.

Despite some shortcomings, “House of Cards” remains an incredible political thriller. The acting is great, dialogue is generally sharp, and it tells an interesting main story. If I were Frank Underwood, I’d probably be able to easily manipulate you into this show. But I’m not, and the best I can give is a hearty recommendation. Check this show out; you won’t regret it.

Grade: B

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By Matt Schulte ’15 | Staff Writer

1. Dannon Oikos: “The Spill”

John Stamos is reunited with the cast of “Full House” in Dannon’s laugh out loud ad, “The Spill.” It is easy to say that the shock value in this ad will make the best of us cringe.

Budweiser: “Puppy Love”

It is safe to say that this year’s Budweiser ad will have you holding back tears. At three minutes and 30 seconds, not only is it one of the longest, but also one of the best.

Microsoft: “Empowering”

Microsoft had tremendous success with their first Super Bowl ad, as the software giant conveyed our nation’s dependency on technology in the most honest way possible. Microsoft’s ad truly was “empowering.”

Chrysler: “America’s Import”

Chrysler’s ads have become a staple in the Super Bowl commercial lineup. Narrated by Bob Dylan, Chrysler’s “America’s Import” ad is nothing short of inspiring and patriotically screams “‘Merica!”

Volkswagen: “Wings”

Volkswagen is no stranger to Super Bowl commercials and is regularly a fan favorite. Known for their light dialogue scripts, Volkswagen has constructed an intelligent and humorous ad that is definitely worthy of being in the Top 10.

TurboTax: “Love Hurts”

Sean may not be the best dancer, but all in all, TurboTax’s “Love Hurts” ad is absolutely hilarious.

Cheerios: “Gracie”

Using the same interracial family that sparked controversy during their last Super Bowl ad, Cheerios has delivered a simple and family oriented message that  on the whole is pretty funny.

Chevrolet: “Romance”

Who knew cows could be beautiful? Chevrolet has gone back to its roots, depicting the rural and hard working American and his promiscuous cow. This is a combination that is laugh out loud funny.

Audi: “Doberhuahua”

A cute and entertaining ad depicting the outcome of breeding a Doberman and a Chihuahua, Audi’s Doberhuahua ad is certainly memorable and easily clinches a spot on the Top 10 Super Bowl Commercials.

Doritos: “Time Machine”

As a finalist for the $1 Million Super Bowl ad contest, the Dorito’s “Time Machine” offers viewers with a cute outlook on the complex science of time travel.

By Price Zimmer ’14 | Entertainment Editor

After losing focus with a weak effort the past few weeks, “The Walking Dead” delivered one of the most thrilling and satisfying episodes yet, with the mid-season finale titled “Too Far Gone”.  It is the payoff that seems to have been missing the last season and a half. Despite this episode being rather belated, the fourth season has been an overall improvement which will make the audience hungry for more.

For those who have not heard, “The Walking Dead” is a zombie television series based off the Robert Kirkman comic book series of the same, which follows Rick Grimes and his ever-changing band of post-apocalyptic survivors through what was rural Georgia. Grimes is a former police officer who wakes up from a coma caused by a shoot-out just prior to the apocalypse and sets off to find his missing son and wife, though both series chart mostly his struggle for survival after that point and the tragic consequences of living after the end of the world.

A large part of the success of this series relies on the strength of the performances from the cast because a gruesome zombie apocalypse filled with blood and guts at every turn does not mirror real life. English actor Andrew Lincoln, who plays Grimes, is solid, despite a somewhat limited range of emotions he is able to command the screen and draw out genuine empathy at times.

The powerhouse performance comes from another English actor, David Morissey as The Governor, a charismatic villain that is nuanced a multi-faceted, much like in the tradition of Shakespeare.  Morissey is an excellent foil to Lincoln, he exemplifies one of the main themes of the show: that the zombies aren’t the biggest threat to survival, but it’s the other survivors, those who could help you best are those who can do the most damage; which is why it is safe to say he has been one of the very best aspects of the show for awhile now and the stakes have never been higher for the show or the characters in it.

On the whole, “The Walking Dead” has bounced back from a rough season with good performances, slightly improved pacing, character development, plenty of action and only a few relatively minor plot structure details that can be forgiven.  While the dialogue is mostly filler in between zombie fights, the performances are still pretty good throughout the cast and the series leaves in a perfect spot to pick back up in February.

Grade: B-