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The Walking Dead: Cute Guy from ‘Love, Actually’ Adjusts to Zombie Apocalypse

There’s plenty to not be excited about on television.  But then there’s The Walking Dead.

The Walking Dead is about as exciting as it gets, if you ask me (which you sort of did by visiting this blog that I haven’t updated since phoning in a post about how I’d gladly share a twin bed with Parks and Recreation’s Chris Pratt). And I haven’t been excited about much on TV in a long while, aside from the rather disappointing third season of Damages or the sustained excellence of 30 Rock.

If you don’t like graphic comic book mayhem, chances are you won’t like The Walking Dead. Shocker. But what I’m trying to say is that it’s not one of those horror shows that’s actually a heady extended metaphor for something political. This is a show about zombies. It’s just a beautifully/grotesquely shot, somewhat soapy series that features unusually well developed characters for a genre that often leans on camp or cheap thrills.

The premise of the show isn’t complicated: basically, the cute guy from Love, Actually (the one who loves Keira Knightley, but she’s married to his best friend and at the end of the movie he does that kind-of-sweet-but-mostly-depressing series of poster board cards like he’s in a hangdog version of INXS’ “Mediate” video) is a cop who wakes up in the hospital after the zombie apocalypse. I’m not going to get worked up over who did it first, The Walking Dead or 28 Days Later, but I recognize the duplication.

Anyway, he ambles out of the deserted hospital, makes friends with a man and his son who get him up to speed on said apocalypse, leaves for Atlanta (where allegedly salvation awaits — we know better than that, though), and eventually gets reunited with his wife and son, who are living on the outskirts of the city with a band of survivors. Also worth noting, his wife is boning his best friend (a fellow cop) because she assumes he’s dead. There seems to be something afoot here about how long this relationship had been going on — that has yet to come out, though.

What I love about The Walking Dead, aside from the endlessly satisfying debraining of the undead, is the idea of a sustained series* about zombies. The traditional zombie movie format has an origin story (“Where did all these zombies come from?”), a hero story (“I’ve got to get away from these zombies. My buxom love interest too.”) and a frequently downbeat conclusion. With this series we’ve the opportunity to see a sustained zombie narrative with emotional ups and downs as well as complex characters. This is a new playing field where the reality is post-apocalypse.

There’s going to be a marathon of the series on Sunday, so you should TiFaux that.

Goodbye TiFaux!  See you in 2011!

*I know, I know — it’s based on a comic book. But I don’t read comic books (I’m barely literate as it stands), so television is really all I’m concerned with here.

1 comment November 30th, 2010

Chris Pratt: Stealth hottie

There’s plenty of hotness on NBC’s Thursday night lineup.

You could relish the sardonic smirk of John Krasinski on The Office. You could fancy the wonderful abdominal muscles of Joel McHale on Community (did you see last night’s underwear pool?). And on 30 Rock… well, there’s not a whole lot going on there, except for when they bring out Jon Hamm and his amazing jaw.

But one highlight of my Thursday night is always Chris Pratt’s portrayal of Andy on Parks and Recreation. Pratt plays Andy as not only doggishly loyal, but also doggishly stupid and doggishly adorable.

From what I understand, Chris used to be on Everwood when he was probably a good 30-40 pounds lighter. In fact, take a look at him when he was everything you’d expect the star of a CW drama to be — mop-topped, supple-skinned and just pretty enough to make it hard to take him seriously.

Now there’s the Chris Pratt I know in love. Essentially, take what you saw on Everwood — add marijuana, subtract a daily treadmill regimine, add scruff and raise the whole thing up to an exponent of earnestness. The current Pratt is a hundred times more appealing, with his approachable and affable personality and bearish physique.

Clearly, I have no point in writing this post other than relaying a fangirl crush, but I’d like to promote Mr. Pratt as one of network television’s most crushworthy actors. And I’d like to state for the record that I’m much more drawn to the simple and charismatic Andy over any gym-toned TV doctor on ABC.

A clip:

March 5th, 2010

Wu-Tang ain’t nothing to f*ck with

January 12th, 2010

Giveaway: A&E Holiday Gift Pack

SLIPCASE no marksConsidering Hannukah is just about over, Jewish TiFaux readers (hi Mom!) may, sadly, be excluded from winning this giveaway in time for the holidays. However, that leaves plenty of opportunity for all you goyish couch potatoes to win this generous prize pack from A&E.

The gang over there has put together a hefty prize package meant to cater to some (very specific) categories on your gift list. The prize package includes the following:

We’re in the middle of a recession, so distributing these valuable gifts will also give off the illusion that you’re prospering in the middle of hardship.

Enter to win by midnight on Monday so we can get these to you in time for big J’s birthday. To enter, e-mail tifaux -at- gmail -dot- com with the subject line “Recession Santa.”

December 20th, 2009

Holy crap: The Dexter season finale

DexterIf you saw Sunday’s season finale of Dexter, chances are you haven’t quite been able to get it out of your head yet.

Do I need to say spoiler alert?  I don’t think so.

The image of Rita’s lifeless body in the bathtub — the final victim of the now-deceased Trinity Killer — was jarring to say the least. Even for me (as someone who had been mildly spoiled via Facebook), I was pretty shocked that they would brutally and abruptly axe a character that they had cultivated for the show’s entire four seasons.

While Rita never earned the title of “beloved fan favorite,” what made her valuable to the viewer was her constant presence. In fact, her presence (if not her actual character) was critical in anchoring Dexter in society. Dexter may be a slightly withdrawn, mumbling, blood tech specialist, but at least he had a cute blonde girlfriend/wife. If he’s with her, he couldn’t be that bad, right?

Now that Rita’s out of the picture, Dexter’s left untethered from respectable society. I mean, I don’t know how they’re going to deal with kid/stepkids situation, but after all the social progress he’s made over the course of the show he’s dangling on the edge of a dark abyss. It appears that next season is going to be incredibly intense, as Dexter’s personal responsibilities will take a backseat to his bloodlust.

As disturbing as that final scene was, I really like Rita’s murder as a way to energize the series. Consider previous season finales. The first two finales essentially wrapped up the preceding season with a nice bow. Last season, the show ended with Dexter’s wedding (if you recall, I thought the whole finale was a bit of a snooze). Considering they had already offed the season’s main villain (Jimmy Smits), the season finale essentially served to tie up a few loose ends (of which there were plenty — it was an off season due to all of its wandering storylines) and marry Dexter off.

At the end of the third season, I really didn’t care what was in store for the fourth season. I wasn’t excited about the idea of seeing Dexter juggle married life with his extracurricular activities (I had visions of some sort of macabre, screwball version of a family sitcom). However, perhaps I owe that season finale a debt. Because the show has invested so much in his relationship with Rita (and exploring Dexter’s confusion over whether his family was a “cover” or if it was for real), Rita’s death means that much more.

What this all boils down to is this: “Well done, writers. Now you’ve got a hell of a task ahead of you.” Everyone’s talking about the finale (which scored record-high ratings for Showtime), so the fifth season premiere will present a variety of dark options for our hero. Rita’s ghost will loom large (as if Dexter needs another one of those following him around).

1 comment December 14th, 2009

Jake Gyllenhaal on Sesame Street

The good thing about this is that I know that Jake will get along great with all of our dozen adopted international babies.

2 comments December 12th, 2009

Giveaway: The Sherlock Holmes Collection

sherlockWow. A&E is all about the synergy.  (SYNERGY!  SHAZAM! BUZZ WORD!)

Before, they were giving away copies of The Prisoner on Blu-Ray to cross-promote their new version (by the way, congrats to Celia from Illinois!). Now, they’re promoting their new DVD collection of classic Sherlock Holmes episodes right as the new movie version is coming out. The one with Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law and what appears to be ample homoerotic tension. And explosions.

So we’re giving away the new DVD collection, which has all five episodes from the 1960s series starring Peter Cushing (better known as the guy from Star Wars who yells at Darth Vader to stop space-choking that officer at the beginning of the first movie).

If you’re curious, the stories are The Hound of the Baskervilles, A Study in Scarlet, The Boscombe Valley Mystery, The Sign of Four and The Blue Carbuncle. Here’s a link to order it.

To win, e-mail tifaux -at- gmail -dot- com with the subject line “Synergy is bigger than all of us.”

December 11th, 2009

Gavin Rossdale on Criminal Minds: Speaking of awkward special guest stars

As if James Franco’s giggle-inducing, suspicion-arousing guest spot on General Hospital wasn’t enough, here’s another weirdly out-of-place guest star. Gavin Rossdale (the singer of crunchy nineties “alternative” band Bush, the dweller of Gwen Stefani’s shadow and possessor of unfashionably long hair) recently did a guest spot on a show you never hear mentioned on this humble blog, Criminal Minds. This happened a couple of weeks ago, but I can’t imagine you’d actually want to watch the show. So no biggie.

On the show, Gavin plays a guy who is possibly a murderer. And possibly a vampire. But definitely some sort of gothic singer for a cover band. It sort of reminds me of a basic cable remake of The Crow.

It’s the nineties plus vampires plus murder minus dignity.

Go over to VideoGum to see him perform Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart.” Do them a favor — they could use the boost in traffic that our link will provide.

November 21st, 2009

Gay or not?: Chris Colfer does the hokey pokey in and out of the closet

Chris ColferYesterday, Glee co-star Chris Colfer gave an interview to USA Today wherein he half-heartedly took a step back into the closet. All at once, Colfer’s comments were confusing, inconsistent and, to me, maddening.

Let me backtrack.

For those unfamiliar, on Glee Colfer plays the designer label-wearing, “Single Ladies”-choreographing, gayer-than-Christmas character Kurt. Kurt is one of the funniest characters on the show — lovingly and sensitively written — and Colfer does a great job playing him. He’s totally flamboyant, but the character doesn’t come across as minstrel-y. All in all, Kurt is a great role model for flamboyant young kids.

So, being that Kurt is the gayest character on the gayest show on network television, one would be tempted to make assumptions about whether the actor playing the role is gay himself. Colfer has been asked about it before and publications like After Elton and The Advocate have matter-of-factly discussed him as being out. He’s said a couple times that he wasn’t out in high school because people are “killed” for it in his hometown.

So, it seemed bizarre and inconsistent that in the USA Today interview he decided to play coy. From the article:

Playing an openly gay kid means fielding questions about his own sexuality, which Colfer doesn’t address.

“I try to keep up a mystery. As much as I give away of my personal life, the less people will believe me as other characters. I try to be private about it. It is what it is,” Colfer says with a shrug.

This drives me nuts.

I don’t want to be too hard on Colfer. Even today, coming out is always hard and you have to remember that he’s basically just a kid (born in 1990, for the love of God). And I certainly can’t imagine coming out to the entire country when I was 19.

Still, this is the latest in a troubling pattern of behavior by gay celebrities. Whether you’re Michelle Rodriguez or Ricky Martin or Sean Hayes or Anderson Cooper, dodging the gay question has been a time-honored tradition. However, the idea of not only dodging the gay question, but actively aspiring to achieve a sort of glass closet mystique strikes me as willfully and actively dishonest.

The most recent high-profile case of this phenomenon was American Idol’s Adam Lambert, who danced around the gay question for ages despite the fact that he was pretty much openly gay before the show. There were photos of him, essentially, shitting glitter and neon glowsticks. No one was fooled, but it kept people talking. And then he had his big Rolling Stone article and the beaten dead horse of Lambert’s sexuality was finally buried.

Now, Colfer’s decision to intentionally obfuscate (and self-contradict) his sexual orientation is both disappointing and aggravating. It’s aggravating because it reinforces the idea that being gay is something that should be hidden. “It’s none of your business” is something you say when you’re caught cheating on your wife or if you’re trying to cover up a blemish with the law. “Yeah, I’m gay. What’s so interesting about that?” is the attitude that Lambert and Colfer should be expressing. No one would ever play coy about their national origin or religion (unless, maybe, you’re a creepy Scientologist).

As for his concern about getting roles — I can understand why actors in particular would be hesitant to discuss their homosexuality. Getting roles is a cut-throat business and casting directors are fickle. But, let’s face it, actors like Chris Colfer and Sean Hayes are never going to be the leads in heterosexual romantic comedies (Other actors like, say, T.R. Knight might be able to get away with it. It’s just a fact). No one is ever going to say “Well, we can’t get Gyllenhaal, somebody get Chris Colfer’s people on the phone.”

It may not feel good to be limited to certain roles and put in a specific box, but that’s all Hollywood is — boxes.  Actors are typecast all the time based on their race, their age or their level of attractiveness. Steve Buscemi might want to get the same roles as George Clooney, but it’s never going to happen. (It’s not the end of the world, though. The rules are definitely bendable. Neil Patrick Harris’ role as Barney on How I Met Your Mother works so well because he isn’t traditionally masculine.) Colfer happens to be baby-faced, wirey and fey. Confirming or denying his sexual orientation isn’t going to change a thing.

I’m not advocating a witch hunt to “out” anyone in Hollywood (politicians, however, are a different story). Beating down an actor’s door to force them out of the closet doesn’t do anything but imply that they’ve been “exposed” as being gay. But as long as there people in Maine voting to strip away the rights of committed couples and a complete ban on gay people in the military, it’s important to for everyone to be out and unashamed.

This coy business isn’t cute. It’s counterproductive.

16 comments November 12th, 2009

Music: The XX

As you begin to circle the drain of 30 (a true “what have you done with yourself” sort of age), a lot of things begin to make you feel old. Rock concerts where you keep anxiously shifting because of your lower back pain. Not recognizing most of the people on the MTV Video Music Awards. Feeling the urge to buy property.

One more thing that will make you feel old is The XX. This British co-ed quartet is all baby fat and smooth skin, but they’ve made one of the most sophisticated albums of the year. Whenever I listen to their self-titled debut I’m in shock that this record was made by kids who have barely entered their twenties. Kids, I tell you.

The XX makes remarkably restrained, darkly sensual songs. Singers Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sims trade verses like morbid pillow talk against the backdrop of mellow beats and clean electric guitars. It’s subdued music, but it’s not suitable for the background — it’s music for a variety of nighttime activities.

This is the video for their song Crystalized.

1 comment November 12th, 2009

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