The Outlandish Sunday of The Walking Dead

After Thanksgiving with the family, I headed over to S’s place to watch the season première of The Walking Dead. It’s safe to say what I will say next, and it applies to Outlander, will contain spoilers for both shows. Why write about both? On one hand, it represents two sides of my tastes. I like a good period drama, even those with a twist. Outlander has tension, romance, spicy sex, and a good dose of time travel thrown in for good measure. The Walking Dead also deals with a main character torn away from the world he once knew. No standing stones here, just a mysterious illness and a load of decomposing mobile corpses.

After patiently waiting, The Walking Dead premiered their first block of 8 episodes with a rip-roaring opener, written by showrunner Scott Gimple. Everything suspected about Terminus as too good to be true turned out to be as bad as we thought. The ‘Termites’ (thank you Andrew Lincoln for that term) really did lure people to their sanctuary, kill them, and use them as a food source.

And people thought the walkers were bad. (They still are, but they remind me of mosquitoes now. Flesh eating, entrail-tearing ones swarms to kill via the head.)

We sat watching the episode as characters nearly turned into smoked meant, but viewers also saw a glimpse into a new foil for Rick and his group. The Termites did set up a sort of sanctuary until a group of individual took over, raping and killing their inhabitants. Scott Gimple gives viewers a portrait of tormentors once tormented themselves. Unlike the a group, functioning in the same way as Joe’s ‘claimed’ gang with their chaotic brutality in earlier episodes, Mary and the Termites emerged with protocol and procedure as their underpinning. “Be the butcher,” said the memorable line “or be the cattle.” In one scene, Gareth the ring leader emerges with a book, casually asking the resident butchers for their shell count. One apologized saying it’s his first round-up as if he forget to file paperwork.

After a breathless season opener, it’s time to turn our attention to a mid-season closer-Outlander. While Starz closed out the season two-week ago, Showcase (the channel showing Outlander) just broadcast ‘Both Sides Now’, complete with a raft of commercials as only Canadian television can do.

Rant beginning in 3, 2, 1…

I said it before, people have commented before, and we will say it again in a different way. Canadian stations have to justify their costs by selling advertising. While The Walking Dead breaks for commercials on AMC, the writers can pace the story to allow for such times. They know AMC has commercials breaks therefore plan according. Outlander broadcasts on Starz, a premium channel without commercials. Showcase must have paid a pretty penny for the show as they show commercial after commercial, usually for their network shows. Their breaks disrupt the momentum of a show not given to commercial breaks. Why Outlander was not picked up my Movie Channel, or SuperChannel, sits above my pay grade.

And it’s Thanksgiving Monday today.

I will leave with one other thing, and I have a feeling I am not the only one to say it. Both shows run on 16 episodes, broadcasting in block of 8. Gale Ann Hurd, executive producer of The Walking Dead, revealed the date for the next batch in the new year.

It’s February 8 2015. (Everyone else follows suit on February 9th so most countries will not have to wait.)

Outlander will show its next block on April 4th next year, with Showcase not giving a date for a Canadian première. I can write a whole post about the logistically stupidity of such a move in today’s climate. The shows are largely ‘in the can’ as the industry put it, and the only theory I have makes my blood boil. The only other show premiering in April is Game of Thrones. Chicks dig a little bit of fantasy with lots of romance, someone must be thinking, broads will watch Outlander, while bros will take in Game of Thrones. Seriously, why else for the long wait? When will networks stop putting their viewers in neat little boxes.

I like my walkers, my scots, the strong women, and men standing shoulder to shoulder with them. Pirating, while many do not like it, provides a way for people to call the shots on their programming. Why not? Execs don’t listen anyway unless a dollar sign is attached. Netflix has a target painted on their back for the sole reason its model captures the moment in this new television golden age. Meanwhile people do still turn off the tv and go to where all good ideas come from-books.

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