Walking Dead – Season 4
From Jackson Lewis
Compared to the rest of the series up to this point, season four of The Walking Dead is largely disappointing. The first five episodes are clearly filler, and many episodes afterwards serve little purpose other than exposition or portraits of characters that the audience has little reason to care about.
On top of it all, the special effects in this season seem markedly worse than they were in the past. Every blood spatter, crowd shot and large scale demolition shot are so obviously computer generated it hurts. Most of the acting is still spot on, but Chandler Riggs, the actor who plays Carl, has outgrown the natural talent many child actors miraculously posses. He has to rely on his own technique now, and watching him adjust ranges from encouraging to painful.
At this point, the plot of the show has taken a clear path away from the plot of the comic book series it is based off of, and most of the good moments in this season are those taken from or closely resembling the original work. Hopefully season five is more true to the comic and more engaging.
Arrow – Season 2
From Dale Price
While season 3 and new spin-off The Flash are both a few episodes deep at this point, Netflix’s recent addition of the second season of Arrow gives us latecomers a chance to catch up.
Green Arrow/Oliver Queen’s back story and rogues gallery will be very familiar to Bat-fans: a billionaire playboy by day, vigilante by night; who comes into contact with Ra’s Al Ghul’s League Of Assassins, Deathstroke (season two’s chief antagonist), The Suicide Squad, Huntress, Black Canary, Merlyn and many others.
As with Nolan’s Dark Knight, Arrow‘s take on Oliver Queen veers towards realism rather than comic pop. Recasting Stephen Amell as Oliver instead of reusing Smallville’s Justin Hartley brings a little more quiet brooding to the role. His team – Emily Bett Rickards as hacker Felicity Smoaks and David Ramsay as bodyguard John Diggle – both bring comic relief and ground him as a person, giving less of a lone warrior vibe than Batman or Superman’s recent incarnations.
Despite the dizzying number of characters and the time-hopping story arcs, the show is easy to follow and well worth a weekend marathon. Pacing in season two is improved over the first, and the characters show logical growth: most notably in the tensions created by Oliver’s new no-kill policy.