ZOMBPOCALYPSE NOW: FEAR THE WALKING DEAD Is Actually Good. Huh.

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Is this the best episode yet of Fear the Walking Dead? Rubén Blades returns and Team Zombie has thoughts. It’s Zombpocalypse Now!

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Season 3, Episode 4 “100”
Written by Alan Page
Directed by Alex Garcia Lopez

Ruben Blades as Daniel Salazar (Richard Foreman, Jr/AMC)

Timothy: So here’s what concerns me…

Dustin: That Fear the Walking Dead has actually become a well-written show that we’re enjoying, and it’s going to get our hopes up and then crush them beneath a return to the awfulness that we have endured lo these previous two seasons?

Curtis: “Lo”? Really?

Dustin: I am waxing poetic.

Mindy: This is a legitimate concern, at least based on what you two have been saying. Of course, I have just started watching this show, so I haven’t had to suffer the way you two have. Or at least the way you two say you have. Repeatedly.

Dustin: It’s been a terrible burden to bear. 

Mindy: Mmm hmmm.

Dustin: IT IS A TERRIBLE BURDEN, MINDY.

Curtis: So what’s this concern, Tim?

Timothy: Well, I’ve been looking at the viewing numbers. When the show debuted, it had about 10 million viewers, which fell to a little less than 7 million by the end of the first season.

Dustin: This does not surprise me. At all.

Timothy: The second season started with about 6.5 million viewers, and ended with about 3 million.

Curtis: Ouch. 

Dustin: At all surprised, I am not.

Mindy: And this season?

Timothy: This season kicked off with just over 5 million, which became 4.8 million by the second episode. We don’t have the +3 and +7 numbers for the 3rd and 4th episode yet, but their live numbers have fallen every episode. 

Dustin: Wait, we’ve only had three Fear the Walking Dead nights… oh. 

Curtis: They were losing viewers on the first night the show came back, between the first and second episodes. That aired back to back.

Timothy: Yeah. Fear the Walking Dead has had four well-written, well-acted, actually good episodes this season…

Mindy: And fewer and fewer viewers.

Timothy: Exactly.

Dustin: I’m not sure how I feel about being in the position of defending this show, but we are, and we do, and here is the podcast thing we do. Listen while we say nice things about a show we’ve hated while it’s good and we’re hoping it stays that way. LISTEN!

 

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H2O #157: In Which We Finally, Reluctantly Discuss Politics

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“You two need to do the political episode. Yes, it’s time. You both have enough opposing views, but you also have the utmost respect for each other. There’s no way that this could get out of hand.”

OK. Our discussions of politics have generally been brief, mainly because we disagree on a great many things. But that doesn’t stop us from being friends and colleagues. Naturally, the conversations sometimes tend to get a little … energetic, let’s say? But ultimately it comes down to having enough respect for each other to at least listen to what the other one says, even if he’s wrong.

Now it appears that’s caught up with us…

Programming note: H2O is now on a bi-weekly schedule, so every other Saturday is when you’ll get a new episode.

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ZOMBPOCALYPSE NOW: FEAR THE WALKING DEAD Still Isn’t Entirely Awful

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Mr. Smith and the Intern From the Future join Mssrs. Adair and Harvey for more Fear the Walking Dead on Zombpocalypse Now!

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Season 3, Episode 3 “TEOTWAWKI”
Written by Ryan Scott
Directed by Deborah Chow

Kim Dickens as Madison Clark, Daniel Sharman as Troy Otto – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 3, Episode 3 – Photo Credit: Michael Desmond/AMC

Dustin: Curtis is back!

Curtis: Hi guys.

Dustin: Mindy is back!

Mindy: Hi guys.

Dustin: Tim is… still here!

Timothy: Wow. That was enthusiastic.

Dustin: I see you every week. We don’t see Curtis as much as we used to, so it’s special when he’s here. And Mindy still laughs at my jokes.

Curtis: Thanks, Dustin. It’s good to be here. Although I came here more to hang out with my friends than watch whatever this show is.

Mindy: I’ve never watched Fear the Walking Dead before, and to be honest, watching you two watch the show is as entertaining as the show is, if not more. You make the most interesting faces.

Timothy: This show does inspire reactions. Although, we aren’t hating it as much as we thought we would, based on the previous seasons.

Dustin: All twelve thousand seasons of this show. 

Timothy: Two seasons. This is season three.

Dustin: TWELVE THOUSAND SEASONS, TIM.

Mindy: You can kind of see Dustin aging in real-time as he watches it.

Dustin: And that’s with me not hating everything that happens.

Timothy: Heh. Yeah, it says something that not hating the show is the baseline we’re going with here. Anyway, sit back and listen as we talk about all the things happening on the third episode of Fear the Walking Dead’s third season…

Curtis: Sit back and listen to us laugh a lot.

Mindy: Sit back and listen to Tim bleep out all the swearing a lot.

Dustin: AND check out our other podcasts, and our new Twitch channel, and do that YouTube thing that gets us more cool YouTube things.

Timothy: Follow us on YouTube! We’re aiming to get over 1000 followers on YouTube. It would be cool if you could help us do that.

 

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ROGUES GALLERY #56: All the World Has Been Waiting on WONDER WOMAN

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For many, it’s the moment of truth. For Wonder Woman, it’s a moment 75 years in the making, and we were all watching the box office numbers to see if

  1. DC and Warner Bros. could deliver a solid for-real superhero movie that respected the source material, and
  2. Audiences would go see a superhero movie with a woman in the lead role

The answer to both, thankfully, is “yes” — although we had very little doubt about the second item on the list. The first? Not so much faith in that one.

The Rogues gather ’round the table to discuss Wonder Woman, complete with spoilers, and we take a look at not only the execution of the idea on the part of Gal Gadot and Patty Jenkins, but also the idea itself. A modern-era superheroine movie, one that could set the stage for other superheroine movies (Black Widow, anyone?) besides Marvel’s Captain Marvel.

From the story to the cinematography to the visual effects to the acting, and even the controversy surrounding the social reception the movie has received, we take a look at all of it.

 

The panel: Mindy Inlow, Maria Foss, Jeff Hackworth, Dan Handley, Tim Harvey, Jason Hunt

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ZOMBPOCALYPSE NOW: FEAR THE WALKING DEAD Returns And Team Zombie Actually Enjoyed It

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Fear the Walking Dead is back on Sunday night, and #TeamZombie find themselves in the odd position of actually enjoying it. It’s Zombpocalypse Now!

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Season 3, Episode 1 “Eye of the Beholder”
Written by Dave Erickson
Directed by Adam Bernstein

Season 3, Episode 2 “The New Frontier”
Written by Mark Richard
Directed by Stefan Schwartz

The decision to change the format to all singing/all dancing was, oddly enough, surprisingly successful.

Dustin: Ross McCall is the actor who played Steven.

Timothy: Aaaaaand who is Steven?

Dustin: The soldier guy you thought was the crazy soldier guy from the Fear the Walking Dead webisodes. I told you it wasn’t him.

Timothy: So you did. You do have to admit though, he did kinda look like the crazy guy.

Dustin: The crazy guy was Colton, played by Michael Mosley. They only kind of look alike, but considering both of them are buried under dirt and scruff, I suppose if you squint real hard.

Timothy: I just figured it was the the crossover bit for the two. Like the 30 seconds between the second season and the kids from the airplane webisodes.

Dustin: That was pretty stupid. Surprisingly, these episodes weren’t. They were actually good. I was engaged. I WAS ENGAGED.

Timothy: I know, it’s… confusing. We’ve been so used to hating this show, that having two episodes back to back that we liked was pretty unexpected. There’s still the chance they could screw it up, but I’m not actually complaining that we enjoyed the premiere.

Dustin: There were a few moments of the stupid, but overall, we did.

Timothy: Weird.

Dustin: Weird and scary.

Timothy: But we do weird and scary here, so that’s OK too. And for more weird and scary, and also fun and informative, check out all our other podcasts on SciFi4MeRadio…

Dustin: AND our YouTube videos! We have lots of YouTube videos!

Timothy: We do. And you, gentle listeners, can help us get to YouTube 1000 subscribers, which helps us do more on the video side of things, which would be cool.

Dustin: SUBSCRIBE TO EVERYTHING WE DO!

 

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H2O #156: In Which We Discuss Shows We Need to Watch to Get Caught Up

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Back to our regular (ish) schedule this week with a discussion of some of the shows we’ve missed and/or fell behind watching, and the need to catch up in order to be the well-rounded, totally informed information brokers we claim to be. From Wynonna Earp to Game of Thrones to 12 Monkeys, there are plenty of shows we need to binge-watch in order to get current.

But first: answering listener e-mail on why the new format for this show is the new format for this show.

Programming note: H2O is now on a bi-weekly schedule, so every other Saturday is when you’ll get a new episode.

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ROGUES GALLERY #55: Tis the Season for Finales

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For a lot of the shows, it’s season finale time, and for some of the shows, it couldn’t come at a better time. Because more than a few of these story lines are drifting into “oh, please” territory, and we have concerns that if they continue on their present trajectory…. well, maybe one more season for some.

Arrow ended with another burning, because it’s the season finale and something has to burn. Supergirl ended with a big thud named Mon-El, and The Flash ends … without the Flash?

 

The panel: Ann Laabs, Jeff Hackworth, Thomas Townley, Tim Harvey, Jason Hunt

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ZOMBPOCALYPSE NOW: Team Zombie Reviews ALIEN: COVENANT

Alien: Covenant (2017)
Screenplay by John Logan and Dante Harper
Story by Jack Paglen and Michael Green

Directed by Ridley Scott
Scott Free Productions/Brandywine Productions/20th Century Fox
122 minutes, rated R

Team Zombie got a chance to attend a press screener of Ridley Scott’s latest foray into the universe he created over 30 years ago, and Mr. Adair and Mr. Harvey sit down with Miss Inlow to have a chat about it. It… isn’t pretty.

Timothy: “Science Lady” is Karine Oram, played by Carmen Ejogo.

Dustin: I can’t remember names, you know that.

Timothy: “Capable Pilot Lady/Tennessee’s Wife” is Maggie Farris, played by Amy Seimetz.

Dustin: I liked her, but nope. Not going to stick.

Timothy: She was good in Wristcutters: A Love Story and Upstream Color, and she’s a director and writer in her own right.

Dustin: What are you doing here, with this?

Timothy: Well, considering one of the problems with this film is how it is crap at establishing relationships between characters, or even defining most of the characters outside of the jobs they do, making them either interchangeable or making some people – you, for example – have to use nicknames like “Science Lady” to remember what they actually do in the film…

Dustin: You decided to try and help me by telling me their names and who played them. You know this doesn’t work, right? Beth from The Walking Dead was “Daughter-Fodder” for two years, Tim. Two years.

Timothy: I continue to hold out hope. Demián Bichir played Sergeant Lope, the head of security. His character was married to the security guy who got sick and, well, spoilers, I suppose. That guy was Nathaniel Dean, playing Hallett, who we know was married to Lope because the Wikipedia page says so.

Dustin: I do know who played the young couple I liked, who did the things on the ship and stuff. That was Jussie Smollett and Callie Hernandez. I don’t remember the names of their characters because the film doesn’t care about that stuff either.

Mindy: So are you two going to sit here and throw shade at the film or just let people cut the chase and hear what you really think about Alien: Covenant? Sheesh. Hey Folks-at-Home? Listen to these two tell me all about the movie they saw, here on this special movie edition of Zombpocalypse Now. Then tell us what you think and we’ll be back with more undead things next week.

 




AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. Hits Us Over and Over with Emotion Hammers — LEVEL ELEVENTY-SEVEN #118

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Episode 422 “World’s End”
Written by Jeffrey Bell
Directed by Billy Gierhart

It’s the season finale of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. — and we have got confirmation that the show will be back next season, only on Friday nights (more on that later).

Aida/Ophelia takes crazy to the extreme with her Scorched Earth policy, and it looks very much that Jemma… wait, what just happened? Fitz is still broken a bit, and we have to wait to learn the fate of Philinda. While Coulson and May do get to have a few moments about the bottle and what led to drinking it, we don’t get everything we’d like to see between the two of them.

Plus: the return of the Ghost Rider! Chasing the Darkhold, and all the terrible that comes with it, including the organic body Aida inhabits. Because it comes from a very bad place.

What happens next? Where are our heroes being held? Will this be the introduction of S.W.O.R.D.?

 

Next season, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. makes way for Inhumans, which will have an 8-episode running following Once Upon a Time on Friday nights.

The panel: Mindy Inlow, Sam Sentman, Dan Handley, Timothy Harvey

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ZOMBPOCALYPSE NOW: The SANTA CLARITA DIET Season Finale!

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With The Walking Dead done for the season, #TeamZombie turn their attention to the first season finale of the darkly comedic feast that is Santa Clarita Diet! It’s Zombpocalypse Now!


Season 1, Episode 10 “Baka, Bile and Baseball Bats”

Written by Clay Graham, Directed by Dean Parisot

Timothy: Could you cough a bit more? And maybe tap on the table a few more times?

Dustin: I was sick, and you know it. And I… tap on things. Sometimes. Not all the time.

Timothy: Mmmm hmmm. You know I can’t cut all of those out, right?

Dustin: You know I don’t think about that at all, right?

Mindy: While these two descend into petty bickering, as is their wont, I would just like to point out that we did get the podcast back under 35 minutes for the first time in weeks, which would be even more impressive if the actual episode of Santa Clarita Diet we were talking about was actually over 30 minutes itself, but hey. We take our victories where we can. Also, for whatever reason, we again have a lot of air noise in the recording that fiendishly resisted removal, so maybe Mr. Harvey needs to check on the recording gear and see what the issue there is. We’ll keep you apprised, because we do want the listening part of this thing to be as pleasant as possible. 

Stay tuned for a special Movie Review edition of Zombpocalypse Now, out later this week, where Tweedledee and Tweedledum over here will explain to me what went wrong with the latest film in the Alien franchise, Alien: Covenant. Be advised that they swear a lot, so bleeping will be plentiful. They really are not meant to be out among the civilized peoples. 

Dustin: Hey…

Mindy: ALSO, if you enjoy this podcast, please rate and review us on iTunes and Podcasts.com, because that helps new listeners find us, and that’s always nice. If you don’t enjoy this podcast, it’s Tim and Dustin’s fault.

Timothy: Hang on…

Mindy: AND, please listen to all the other great podcasts we have on SciFi4MeRadio, because very few of them have as many squabbling children as this one.

Timothy: Lady has a point.

Dustin: It’s a fair cop. 

Mindy: We’ll see you all next week, where we’ll talk about things and stuff, and probably American Gods. Thanks for listening!

 

 




H2O #155: In Which We Discuss Planet Comicon 2017

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It’s over for another year.

Planet Comicon has come and gone, and this year we got a great opportunity to repeat what we did at Worldcon: broadcast live online from the event floor. With the help of our friends at TV25.tv, we were able to stream interviews and live coverage from PCC pretty much all weekend.

In this episode, we take a look at how things came together and how the weekend went. Our post-Planet analysis continues, and we’re still posting video to SciFi4Me TV, so check back frequently for updates. We think we may have an angle on this live video thing, but we’re still getting a feel for what the equipment can do, should do, and what our team is able to deliver — which is a lot!

Programming note: H2O is now on a bi-weekly schedule, so every other Saturday is when you’ll get a new episode.

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ALIEN: COVENANT Is All About The Missed Opportunities

Alien: Covenant (2017)
Screenplay by John Logan and Dante Harper
Story by Jack Paglen and Michael Green

Directed by Ridley Scott
Scott Free Productions/Brandywine Productions/20th Century Fox
122 minutes, rated R

Well, Alien: Covenant sure is pretty.

That’s not actually a compliment.

First of all, this is as much of a spoiler-free review as I can make it, which means this is something of a shortish dive into the issues in Ridley Scott’s latest return to one of the worlds that both defined and influenced genre film for decades. For a in-depth and likely quite entertainingly spoiler-rich review, stay tuned for a special Zombpocalypse Now podcast, where Dustin Adair and I will hold forth at length about what went wrong here.

Because there is so much that went wrong.

This would also be a thing that is going wrong, but for different reasons.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a damn shame, because it is a great looking film, and there is a much better story hiding inside Alien: Covenant, one we get but glimpses of throughout. And it’s also a shame because we have a really fine cast here, who one has to think spent a lot of time developing and portraying some interesting and complex characters, only to find most of their work lying on some cutting-room floor.

It is the cutting aspect that ultimately is the biggest offender here, and if there is not some future director’s cut coming where this film works a helluva lot better – at least in pacing – I’d be surprised. No, I take that back. I’d be disappointed. Surprised is more or less the state overall I was in watching this film, but not for the right reasons.

I was surprised how poorly edited this film was.

I was surprised how much the cast was wasted.

I was surprised how much the big story ideas that Prometheus set up were just tossed out the window.

I was surprised how dull it all was.

The edit, oh ye gods, the edit. I am an editor, and one of the ways I describe editing film is to think of it as a musical piece. The best films have an internal rhythm that you can actually feel, just like a song, with repeated motifs, crescendos and refrains, counterpoints and diminuendos. Alien: Covenant is just over two hours long, and most of an hour goes by before the story really starts. Oh, things happen the first hour, but where there should be the kind of character development that gives you a reason to care about these people when the chest-bursting starts, there’s just… things happening. And there’s no rhythm to it. No sense of build, no sense of tension, and no release or respite required because of it.

If you can remember the names of more than three of these people after the movie ends, you win a herd of unicorns.

On the plus side, the crew of the Covenant isn’t quite as mind-numbingly stupid as the crew of the Prometheus. They aren’t always terribly bright, though, so it’s not the greatest of praise. It does make one yearn for a film where the kind of people these missions would by necessity require got to go through these kinds of situations, but apparently that would just mean watching the original Alien again. At least there the characters had a believable sense of self-preservation.

On the minus side though, all that promising camaraderie we saw in the preview clips that came out with the trailers is almost completely absent in the actual film. There is all kinds of information about the characters that – if you are watching the film itself – you simply will never know. That all the crew is made up of married couples, strait and gay? Not actually in the film, and quite frankly, aside from a very few lines and scenes, the relationships between most of the human characters in the film are rather vague. This may have something to do with those preview clips not being in the actual film for some reason.

Details about those relationships are introduced in a throwaway manner and ignored later, when they should matter later. Or they are brought back in a critical scene, but because they weren’t fleshed out when they should have been, they simply fall flat. Billy Crudup gets the worst of that particular sin thrust upon him, as a man forced to become captain without the confidence one needs to actually lead. This would be an interesting story thread to follow, as would his devout religious faith and his perceptions of how his fellow crew members perceive that faith. In this universe of creator-aliens, godlike beings and xenomorphs that have a bit of the demon about them, a character of faith should be an interesting one to follow, but again, the cutting-room floor seems to be where most of that ended up.

And this matters. There is a scene, late in the film, where Crudup’s character faces a moment where, if we knew just a bit more about the man, the impact would have been actually powerful. A scene at the beginning – where, spoiler-of-a-kind, James Franco spends about his entire 2-3 minutes in this film – should have devastating emotional impact for Katherine Waterston’s Daniels, but because we see so little of what necessarily must precede it, falls thuddingly flat. And it isn’t her fault, or Crudup’s fault, or Danny McBride’s, or any of the rest of the cast’s fault. They all act their hearts out – pun kind of intended – but it feels like they’ve had the context that their parts should have inhabited chopped out. It especially hurts in Waterston’s case, because here we have another strong female genre character – something Alien pioneered – whose role as the lead character in the film would have considerably more impact if we actually spent real time with getting to know her.

(Yes, by the way, Michael Fassbender is, in fact, one of the best parts of the film. But without diving into spoilers it’s hard to tell you why that is also an issue. And it is an issue. For the reasons above. And below.)

Guy Pearce has more dialogue than about half of the rest of the cast. For… Reasons.

Then again, there is the chance it was the script itself letting them down. If the first half of the film just sort of happens, the second half happens in a way that is all too predictable. Not in the details so much – there are a few quite interesting details that the film doesn’t develop anywhere near enough – but in the broad actions of character and story. Characters wander off to die stupidly because the script tells them to, not because it makes any sense. Characters trust explanations that are questionable on their face, and fail to ask questions when staying alive would demand it. And – and especially after Prometheus and the many valid criticisms applied to it – one shouldn’t have to point out that none of this would have happened this way if people would just put the damn environmental suits on and keep them on when in an alien environment.

Most importantly though, Alien: Covenant is just dull. Yes, there are action sequences, and some of them are quite good, but around them are long stretches where, again, things just happen. Where dread should be building, it doesn’t. Grand discussions about fate, free will and the dynamic between creator and the created tease at big ideas that just aren’t there. Admittedly beautiful production design gives glimpses of alien wonders and horrors that lie unexplored. It’s a movie that is more wasted potential than anything else, because there is a much better movie trapped inside it. A movie about gods and monsters and madness and creation and faith and family… instead of a film that is not bad so much as terribly, terribly disappointing.

 

 

 




AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. Marks a Return With Whedon Banter — LEVEL ELEVENTY-SEVEN #117

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Episode 421 “The Return”
Written by Maurisa Tancharoen & Jed Whedon
Directed by Kevin Tancharoen

Our intrepid Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are back in the real world, and it’s not without its hangups. What with Mack still being in the Framework and May trying to shoot Ophelia and Fitz getting in the way and the two of them whisking out BAMF-style and Coulson not wanting to admit he cracked open the bottle and oh, how many robot copies of the Russian are there now?…

But at least it appears that Fitz won’t be the villain of next season (is there a next season?), at least not yet. He again demonstrates just how good a heart he has, even in the face of utter sociopathic murderous rage from his wanna-be girlfriend who suddenly finds that she’s… not? uh-oh. What was that about a woman scorned?…

Next week: the Ghost Rider returns!

The panel: Mindy Inlow, Sam Sentman, Timothy Harvey, Jason Hunt

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ZOMBPOCALYPSE NOW: A Little Salt For The SANTA CLARITA DIET

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With The Walking Dead done for the season, #TeamZombie turn their attention to the final episodes of the darkly comedic feast that is Santa Clarita Diet! It’s Zombpocalypse Now!


Season 1, Episode 8 
“How Much Vomit?”
Written by Aaron Brownstein & Simon Ganz, Directed by Steve Pink

Season 1, Episode 9 “The Book!”
Written by Sarah Walker, Directed by Tamra Davis

Zombpocalypse Now: Santa Clarita Diet

Dustin: I really don’t remember recording this episode. My sinuses are trying to kill me.

Mindy: You did. We were there.

Dustin: I’m not sure I believe you. 

Timothy: Dude. Your voice is right there. You use the words and everything.

Dustin: You could have constructed it out of pieces of previous episodes. 

Timothy: I so don’t have the time for that. Are you insane?

Dustin: Mindy is a cyborg now. She could have… used her cyborg powers.

Mindy: This is true. I do have the vast and terrible cyborg powers.

Timothy: Uh huh. Sure you do. Anyway, I would like to apologize to the folks at home for some weirdness with the audio. The levels are off, so it jumps up and down a bit on the volume in places.

Mindy: You can understand us though. Well, as much as anyone can ever understand us.

Timothy: We do make sense at least some of the time.

Dustin: Do we though? Eh. Maybe. I still don’t remember recording this. My sinuses are trying to kill me. Have I mentioned that?

Mindy: You have. And I’ll just mention that we have a lot of other podcasts you can listen to on iTunes and Podcasts.com, and we would love it if you’d rate and comment on this podcast. It helps people find it and build our audience.

Timothy: That would be great, yes. Thanks for listening folks, and we’ll be back next week with more Zombpocalypse Now!

 




AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. Is Back in the Real World, and Yikes! — LEVEL ELEVENTY-SEVEN #116

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Episode 420 “Farewell, Cruel World”
Written by Brent Fletcher
Directed by Vincent Misiano

Back to our regular programming as the gang gathers in the post-convention bunker to discuss the latest really tough to watch episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. — and not because it was badly written, but because there was plenty of emotionally-charged scenes that really worked. It’s a really solid episode with a lot of moments that build to a few gut-wrenching final minutes. As we predicted, Fitz looks like he’s going to have some … issues. And our intrepid heroes inside the Framework will have to live with the knowledge that they’re not “real” in the traditional sense, but then what are they?

And now that most of the team is out of the Framework, what does it mean for everyone? How does Fitz cope with the monster he became inside? How does everyone process Mack’s decision? What will happen to PhilLinda?

The panel: Maia Ades, Mindy Inlow, Sam Sentman, Timothy Harvey, Jason Hunt

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