Arnold Blumberg is a professor at the University of Baltimore and the author (along with Andrew Hershberger) of "Zombiemania," which, though I've been told is quite good, I haven't yet read. A few days ago, I discovered he also does a regular podcast, "The Doctor of the Dead." It's here, here and, where I found it, here on Youtube. Making my way through the eps, I dropped a few comments on timeline problems with THE WALKING DEAD, which led Blumberg to give this blog a generous plug on his most recent installment. Blumberg and producer and co-host Scott Woodard are, to put it mildly, much bigger fans of TWD than I, but they're hardly uncritical of it. I like their show better than TWD. While it begins with TWD and can seem TWD-centric, it covers a wide range of zombie material, from Italian zombie flicks to zombie literature to Z NATION, covered every week alongside TWD. I discovered the podcast, in fact, while poking around for some Z NATION-related material--came across a very good installment in which Craig Engler, one of ZN's creators, was a guest. Blumberg uses the show to support indie zombie flicks, which sure as hell earns him a place in cinema heaven, but he and Woodard put on a good and interesting show in general, a celebration of the living dead that's sure to warm your innards (before devouring them). If zombies are your thing, check 'em out. They do this for free--if you can spare some, give 'em some love.
(They also do Dr. Who, but I don't, so Whovians will have to decide how well they cover that ground.)
While I'm doing plugs, I'll go ahead and throw in one for AfterBuzz, something else I discovered on the same foraging expedition. The web-based AfterBuzz gang seem to produce an extraordinary amount of material, primarily about many (many, many) and varied tv series, and I can't speak to quality of most of this work. My in with them has been their Z NATION coverage, and whatever else they do, they've managed, throughout this season, to snag as guests a large number of ZN's creators and cast. They even brought on the show's casting director (Nike Imoru). How often do you see that? I definitely approve.
TWD this week featured a fight wherein Daryl was being beaten down between two zombies that, left exposed to the weather, had sort of fused with the pavement of a parking lot. To overcome his foe, Daryl stuck his fingers in the eyes of one of the snapping rotters, ripped off its head, and used it to beat down his attacker. Given how easy zombie heads are shown to squish on TWD, the effectiveness of this tactic would seem rather questionable, but sometimes it's the thought that counts, and this moment was fucking cool.
Unfortunately, little else in the ep lived up to it. "Crossed" turned to the Atlanta hospital storyline, which is an original to the series and had, with "Slabtown," started with some promise, but like a lot of last week's installment (which was also focused on it), a lot of this one turned out to be yet another Mazzara-esque delaying action, padding out an underwritten story so that it won't conclude until the midseason break. Showing a complete contempt for anything resembling an appropriate pace, a ridiculous amount of the ep is spent on redundant and entirely gratuitous scenes featuring the group that had been heading to D.C. Also adding to the running-time was the introduction of a new subplot featuring Father Gabriel. The problem with anything having to do with the tv version of Father Gabriel is that he is, by a galactic margin, both the least interesting and the most annoying character ever introduced into the series. His rollout this season has been nothing short of a disaster. It's absolutely impossible to give one shit about anything that happens to him, and as he stands now, every second spent on him is a second that could have--and should have---been spent on something more interesting.
Aside from this, the ep featured some disjointed storytelling, more of TWD's patented teleporting characters--both dead and, this time, living--and a tremendous amount of time spent on setting up an intelligence-insulting cliché on which to end. The word "shopworn" doesn't even begin to cover it--if you haven't figured it out well before it happens, you'd probably be an exceptionally fine choice for a zombie extra on the show. I watched this scene unfold in disbelief. Sure it's TWD, but are they really going to go there? When they did, I realized that was the answer. Yeah, it's TWD.
A final thought: In a story that's becoming rather familiar, Z NATION once again proved to be the Little Engine That Could, offering another solid ep and once again utterly upstaging TWD.