Confessions of a TV Addict #5: Aaron Ruben, Man Behind the Laughter


cracked rear viewer

So what could a Jewish kid from Chicago possibly know about life among rural Southerners or the black experience in Watts? Probably not a whole heck of a lot, but if that kid’s name is Aaron Ruben, there’s one thing he  does know – funny! For Aaron Ruben was the producer/writer behind such classic sitcoms as THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW and SANFORD AND SON, who used his comedic talents behind the scenes keep America laughing while glued to the boob tube for over forty years!

Milton Berle in his radio days

Ruben was born on Chicago’s West Side in 1914, and after service in WWII began his show biz career writing for comic Wally Brown on Dinah Shore’s radio show. He was soon hired by Burns & Allen for their program, and then wrote for Milton Berle alongside Nat Hiken, who would play an important role in Ruben’s later career…

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TV Review: The Walking Dead 8.8 “How It’s Gotta Be” (dir by Michael E. Satrazemis)


SPOILER ALERT!  DO NOT READ THIS REVIEW UNLESS YOU’VE WATCHED THE LATEST EPISODE OF THE WALKING DEAD!  SERIOUSLY, I’M NOT KIDDING!

Right now, I would say that 75% of The Walking Dead fandom is heartbroken.  The end of tonight’s episode has generated some very real angst among some people.

As for me, I’m actually feeling rather proud of myself because I predicted that all this would happen.  I predicted it way back on November 5th and I’ve even got the tweet to prove it.  But, before I go on, I think it might be good to consider the words of a song from 1965.  Here are the Poets with That’s Way It’s Got To Be:

See, it all gets back to what has always been the underlying theme of The Walking Dead.  Nobody is going to get out of this show alive.  It doesn’t matter how good you are.  It doesn’t matter how likable you are.  It doesn’t matter how much the audience loves you.  Everyone on this show is eventually going to die.  The only question is whether someone will be around to keep them from reanimating afterward.  Negan, Rick, Maggie, Carol, Daryl, Michonne, Eugene … none of them are going to get out of this alive.  Death will come for everyone eventually and tonight, it appears that it’s coming for Carl.

As I tweeted on November 5th…

Tonight’s episode featured a lot of Carl.  When Negan and the Saviors showed up at Alexandria and demanded that Rick be given to them, Carl is the one who offered to sacrifice his life so that the rest could live.  (And, of course, we now know why Carl was willing to do that.  He literally had nothing to lose.)  When the Saviors were blowing up Alexandria, we watched as Carl made his way through the flaming wreckage of his former home.  Throughout the show, we got flashbacks of Carl arguing with Rick about Rick’s harsh philosophy.  Tonight, we saw more of Carl then we’ve seen in a while and I spent the whole show assuming that meant that Carl was probably not going to come to a good end…

But still, it’s hard to overstate the emotional impact of seeing Carl there at the end, bitten by a walker and fighting to breathe.  As Chris Hardwick and Khary Payton stated at the start of Talking Dead, Chandler Riggs really did grow up over the past few seasons of The Walking Dead.  It’s always kind of been easy to make jokes at Carl’s expense.  Early on in the show, it always seemed inevitable that he would end up getting lost or picked up the by the wrong people.  Whenever I live tweeted those early seasons of The Walking Dead, I almost always suggested that the ideal solution to almost any problem would be to sacrifice Carl.  But tonight, Chandler Riggs showed why Carl has become a favorite of many fans of this show.  The episode ended with Carl still alive but fading.  Will he die?  I really don’t see how he can’t.  He’s been bitten on his side so it’s not like they can just chop off a limb, like they did with Herschel.  If the show is to have any integrity, Carl has to die and he will be missed.

Up until that final scene with Carl, tonight’s episode could have just as easily been called “Everyone Better Do What Rick Says.”  Darryl took it upon himself to crash that truck into wall of the Sanctuary, which is actually what Rick did not want him to do.  As a result, the Saviors escaped, were able to launch a counter attack, destroy Alexandria, and take over The Kingdom.  Carl, meanwhile, went off on his own, helped out Siddiq, and ended up getting bitten for his trouble.  From now on, everyone better listen to Rick.

Rick got the line of the night when he asked Negan, “Don’t you ever shut the Hell up?”  That’s something that I’ve been wondering for a season and a half now.  Tonight, Negan actually lived up to his fearsome reputation.  As for the other Saviors, Simon made me say, “Oh God, this fucking guy again…” as soon as he got out of that truck and Gavin came across like a teacher trying to control an unruly classroom.  I guess Dwight is officially a part of Rick’s group now.

This was sometimes a hard episode to watch, not because it was bad but because it literally took place in the dark.  All of the action played out at night and the show actually did good job of using the darkness to its advantage.  There was an eerie and horrible beauty to scenes of Alexandria burning to the ground.

But you know what?

In the end, all anyone is going to remember about this episode is that final scene with Carl.

That’s the way it’s got to be.

And with that, The Walking Dead is on hiatus.  Season 8 will resume in 2018 and so will our coverage!

TV Review: The Walking Dead 8.7 “Time For After” (dir by Larry Teng)


This review of the latest episode of The Walking Dead is an example of better late than never.  This episode aired nearly a week ago but I’m only now getting around to watching it.  As I sit here watching and typing this review, it is 2 a.m., Saturday morning.  I’ve just returned from attending two Christmas parties.  I was actually thinking about getting some sleep for once, but then I suddenly realized that I still had an episode of The Walking Dead to watch!

That, of course, wouldn’t have happened in the past.  When The Walking Dead first started, there would have been no way that I would have waited a week to watch the latest episode.  That was before the show settled into its current glacial pace.  At this point, it typically takes this show so long to get from point A to point B that viewers like me spend entire episodes asking, “Are we there yet?”

For example, as I sit here typing this, I am watching Daryl, Michonne, Rosita, and Tara debating about whether or not they should attack the Sanctuary or if they should wait for Rick.  (Rick is currently being held prisoner by the trash people.)  Morgan just walked up and said that he’s tired of talking and he just wants to take action.  YES, MORGAN, YES!  For God’s sake, let’s end the debate and just do something!  No, we don’t need to hear about how Michonne “believes in Rick Grimes.”  We don’t need to hear about how everyone felt when they saw Sasha in that box.  We already know all of this because we’ve spent two seasons listening to everyone have this exact same goddamn conversation over and over again!  Just do something!

The episode is now over and, in all fairness to the show, it should be noted that Daryl did finally do something.  He and Tara crashed a truck through a wall of the Sanctuary, allowing a mass of walkers to enter and chow down on a few Saviors and, even more importantly, it forced the Saviors to waste their bullets defending themselves.  However, since Daryl took this action on his own as opposed to waiting for Rick to get out of the trash prison, the show still had to present it as being some sort of mistake.  The show has too much invested in presenting Rick as being a strategic genius to actually acknowledge that anyone else could actually have a good idea.

Watching the walking dead feast on his new Savior buddies was apparently enough to convince Eugene to (once again) declare his loyalty to Negan.  Despite his recent troubles, Negan still seems to be having fun.  Fortunately, the show’s writers seem to have finally figured out that Negan is more effective the less we see of him.  As for Eugene, well — he’s Eugene.  This episode featured peak Eugene.  If Eugene’s overly convoluted syntax occasionally makes you want to rip your hair out, you were probably bald by the end of this episode.  You have to respect Josh McDermitt’s commitment to the role.  Eugene may be annoying but McDermitt plays the Hell out of him.  Eugene’s ultimate loyalties, of course, still remain questionable.  He knows that Dwight betrayed the Saviors but he still hasn’t told Negan.  He showed some sympathy to Father Gabriel (who is apparently dying because he covered himself with intestines a few episodes ago) but he still declared that he was loyal only to himself.

As for Rick, he did eventually get out of the trash prison and convinced Jadis to join him in his fight against Negan.  Jadis was impressed when Rick killed a walker gladiator.  Jadis also wants to sculpt Rick.  How are the trash people not dead yet?

(Apparently, the trash people prefer to be known as Scavangers.  However, I’m going to continue to call them trash people because they annoy da fug out of me.)

Anyway!  This episode ended with Rick and the trash people rolling up on the Sanctuary.  Oh my God!  There’s a hole in the Sanctuary!  There’s no walkers!  Uh-oh, Daryl did something on his own!  Rick’s never going to let that go…

One more episode before The Walking Dead goes on its mid-season hiatus!  Who will die this Sunday?  My prediction: Father Gabriel.  The show’s never really figured out what to do with Gabriel so now seems like a good time to let him go down as a martyr.

We’ll see what happens!

TV Review: The Walking Dead 8.6 “The King, The Widow, and Rick” (dir by John Polson)


Oh, the world of The Walking Dead.  The more things change, the more they stay the same.

This season started with everyone finally standing up to the Saviors.  For once, Rick and his allies had Negan on the run and, regardless of what you think about season 8 overall, it was certainly satisfying to see the Saviors starting to get a little desperate.  Personally, I don’t think it was necessary to devote five episodes to just one battle but the Saviors are such a loathsome group of people that it’s definitely enjoyable to watch them get their asses kicked.

However, even with Rick and his allies declaring full out war, I knew that the action would eventually have to be interrupted by an episode of mourning.  Every season of The Walking Dead has at least one episode where everyone looks depressed and either thinks about a lost loved one or obsesses on whether or not there’s room for kindness and compassion in a post-apocalyptic world.  When the series started, the mourning episodes were a part of what set The Walking Dead apart from other shows.  (Remember when kindly old Dale Horvath was gruesomely attacked by a zombie?)  But, eight seasons in, it’s become a bit predictable.  Any episode where something big happens is going to be followed by an episode where not much happens at all.

“The King, The Widow, and Rick” is a mourning episode.  Everyone has returned from attacking the Saviors and now, with no bullets flying and several minor characters dead (and SHIVA!  I’m still sad about that…), it’s time to sit around and reflect.  This time, a bit more happened during the reflecting than has happened in previous mourning episodes.  Even if this episode still felt like it stretched things out a bit too much, it wasn’t quite as slow as some of the episodes that aired during season 7.

This episode opened like a Ken Burns documentary, with everyone reading letters about the war against the Saviors.  It ended with Rick naked and locked up in a shipping container and I was definitely okay with that.  Don’t get me wrong about this.  I do like Rick but occasionally, there is an arrogance to him that just strikes me the wrong way.  He’s a lot like Lost‘s Jack Shepherd.  He gives a good speech.  He is trying to do the right thing, even if he sometimes resents having to be the leader.  But Rick is always so sure of his ability to sway everyone over to his side that it was somewhat satisfying to see the Trash People respond to his latest speech by shrugging their shoulders and then locking him up.  I’m not sure why Rick felt the need to, once again, go over to the garbage dump.  The attack on the Saviors was a success without the help of the Trash People.  My theory is that Rick just can’t accept that not everyone wants to be a part of his alliance.

Meanwhile, at Hilltop, we had another one of those patented Walking Dead debates about whether or not people can survive the end of the world without losing their humanity.  Jesus was going out of his way to treat the Savior prisoners humanely.  Gregory said the prisoners should be executed.  Maggie responded by tossing Gregory in with the prisoners and then saying she would keep them alive so that they could be used for prisoner exchanges in the future.  Jesus said he was happy with her decision and … you know what?  I like Tom Payne’s performance as the character but I feel like an idiot whenever I call that guy Jesus.  Yes, he has a beard.  Yes, he’s kind.  BUT HIS NAME IS PAUL!  The whole “They call you Jesus” thing is so heavy-handed and kinda stupid.  Last night, one of the saviors said, “Well, Jesus, I’m no angel,” and I’m glad I didn’t have anything nearby to throw at the TV when he said it.

Anyway, I could have done without all the debate about how to treat the prisoners.  We all know that they’re going to end up dead, regardless.  The only prisoner that Negan might exchange would be Father Gabriel and, honestly, is getting Gabriel back worth the trouble?  Maggie should have just listened to Gregory.

Ezekiel was depressed, as well he should be.  SHIVA’S DEAD, DAMMIT!  Carol told him to stop feeling sorry for himself and to lead his people.  The best part of Ezekiel’s subplot was that Jerry was still standing guard, even though Ezekiel told him to go home.

Carl is apparently not dead.  Or, at least, he’s not dead, yet.  Instead, he ran off and spent some time hanging out with Siddiq, the man who Rick previously chased away.  They killed some walkers and bonded over shared pain.

And, of course, Rosita used a rocket launcher to blow up a savior.  That made me cheer.  Maybe Maggie should step down and let Rosita lead the Hilltop Colony.  There certainly wouldn’t be any debate about what to do with prisoners then!  However, for now, Rosita, Michonne, Daryl, and Tara are just doing their own thing.  Rick probably wouldn’t approve but Rick’s in a shipping container right now.

Anyway, this wasn’t a bad episode.  It may have been a mourning episode but at least it wasn’t just Rick sitting around in a catatonic state while Negan circled around him, giving a speech.  That’s the important thing.

Lisa’s Editorial Corner: 10 Things For Which I Am Thankful In 2017


Well, it’s that time.

Every Thanksgiving, I come up with an even-numbered list of things for which I’m thankful.  I know some people are saying that we shouldn’t be thankful for anything this year.  These are the people who say that, because they’re miserable, it’s somehow offensive that everyone else isn’t miserable.

But you know what?

Fuck that.

No one tells me what to believe or whether or not I can celebrate a holiday.  That freedom is something that I’m very thankful for!  Here’s a few more things that I’ve been thankful for this year:

  1. I’m thankful for this site.  Arleigh Sandoc founded Through the Shattered Lens in December of 2009 and, about four months later, I posted my very first review on this site.  A lot has changed since that first review.  New contributors have added their own unique perspectives to this site and I’d like to think that, on a personal level, I’ve grown as a writer since I wrote that first review.  But one thing that has always remained consistent is just how much I love doing this.  I’ve posted over 4,000 posts on Through the Shattered Lens and I’ve had a blast writing every one of them!

2. I’m thankful for our readers.  Seriously, you are the ones who make all of this worthwhile.  We currently have somewhere around 28,000 subscribers and to each and every one of you, I say, “Thank you.”  Thank you for reading and thank you for commenting.  Just as I hope I’ve introduced some of you to some new movies, quite a few of you have also inspired me to take a second and third look at some of the films I’ve reviewed.

3. I’m thankful for all of the brave women (and men) who have shared their stories in an effort to make this world a safer place.

4. I’m thankful that this was the year of Twin Peaks.  On this site, starting with the original series and extending all the way through the end of the Showtime revival, we shared our thoughts on everything Twin Peaks this year.  Years from now, we’ll still be debating why Laura screamed.

5. I’m thankful that this has been a great year for genre films.  While so many of the year’s “prestige” films fell flat, 2017 will always be remembered as the year of War of the Planet of Apes, Wonder Woman, The Lego Batman Movie, Beauty and the Beast, Split Kong: Skull Island, Get Out, It, Spider-Man, The Big Sick, Logan, and Thor: Ragnorak.

6. I’m thankful for networks like TCM, which introduce classic movies to new viewers.

7. I’m thankful for my friends in the Late Night Movie Gang.  Every Saturday night, we watch a movie.  Sometimes the movie is bad and sometimes, the movie is really bad.  But we always have a blast.

8. I’m thankful that, in just another few weeks, I’ll be able to see The Disaster Artist.

9. I’m thankful for the artists who, in this time of rampant conformity, are still fighting to maintain their own unique and individual vision.

10. I’m thankful for Chinese food.  Seriously, who doesn’t love Chinese food?

Happy thanksgiving!

TV Review: The Walking Dead 8.5 “The Big Scary U” (dir by Michael Strazemis)


Could it be that I just watched a Negan-centric episode of The Walking Dead that wasn’t terrible?

It’s true!  I’ll admit that I rolled my eyes a bit when I saw that tonight’s episode was going to be about Negan and the Saviors.  Last season, though there were a few exceptions (particularly the episode where Eugene was first taken to the Sanctuary), the Savior episodes were my least favorite.  But tonight’s episode was actually pretty good.

That doesn’t mean that it was great, of course.  To be honest, I’m not totally sure that you could ever have a truly great Savior episode.  Whenever I watch the Saviors, I always find myself thinking about The Others on Lost.  One reason why the Others were such a fascinating group was because they weren’t just one-dimensional villains.  Whenever one of the Others would say something like, “We’re the good guys,” you could actually see their point.  There’s never been that type of ambiguity when it comes to the Saviors.  Negan is an asshole.  He has chosen to surround himself with other assholes.  They were all probably assholes before the zombie apocalypse and they’ll continue to be assholes until Sanctuary is eventually overrun by walkers.

With all that in mind though, this was still a pretty good episode.  If nothing else, this episode made it a little bit clearer why people started following Negan in the first place.  Even when Negan was trapped in the trailer with Father Gabriel, he did not allow himself to show any fear.  Instead, he was actually able to persuade Gabriel to make a run with him for the Sanctuary.  Even his confession to Gabriel about his first wife mostly served to reveal that Negan is a master manipulator.  He shared just enough to keep Gabriel intrigued.  After spending almost all of previous season bellowing, Jeffrey Dean Morgan dialed things back just enough to make Negan interesting again.  For that matter, tonight’s episode finally gave Seth Gilliam to show what he’s capable of when he’s actually given a decent line or two.

In the trailer, Negan told Gabriel that the Saviors would undoubtedly end up killing each other if they thought he was dead.  That may have sounded arrogant at the time but it quickly turned out that Negan was correct.  I think that’s also going to be the Saviors’s downfall.  By literally setting himself up as the strongest man in the Sanctuary, Negan has also ensured that the Saviors are lost without his presence and direction.  While all of his lieutenants may go out of their way to imitate Negan’s style, none of them have his leadership skills.  It doesn’t matter how much Simon and Regina insist otherwise.  They may say “I am Negan,” but everyone know that they’re not.  That said, Negan’s sudden appearance after everyone had assumed he was dead will probably leave him in an even more powerful position.  All messiahs return from the dead and Negan even returned with a man of God!

As for the rest of the episode, I didn’t really get the whole point of Rick/Darryl fight.  (It did, of course, remind us of the difference between Rick and Negan.  Rick forgave Darryl, something Negan would view as being a sign of weakness.)  Josh McDermitt is obviously having a blast as Eugene.  Eugene may be a traitor but McDermitt’s performance still makes me smile every week.  And then there was weaselly Gregory, of course.  I think we’re all ready to see a bunch of walkers pounce on Gregory.

As I watched tonight’s episode, I found myself making a few more predictions about the rest of season 8:

  1. There’s no way that Gabriel is still going to be alive at the end of this season.  He is so being set up for martyrdom.
  2. If they get Dr. Carter back to Hilltop, does that mean that Maggie will finally have her baby?
  3. Judging from the flashback/flashforward structure of this season (and the fact that they’re going to have to explain why Carl no longer looks like he’s 13 years old), I’m going to guess that there will be a considerable time jump between season 8 and season 9.  Either that or Zombie Carl’s going to show at some point soon…

As always, we’ll see what happens!

TV Review: The Walking Dead 8.4 “Some Guy” (dir by Dan Liu)


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(YOU GET THE IDEA?)

My heart is broken.

It’s funny.  If Ezekiel had been the one to die, I don’t think it would have upset me as much.  If Carol had died, I would have been sad but tears would not have sprung to my eyes.  Rick?  Hey, Rick should have died a long time ago.  I wouldn’t have gotten upset.  I would have said, “That’s life.  No one’s safe.”

Instead, Shiva died and now my heart is broken.

What’s funny is that TSL co-founder and editor-in-chief Arleigh Sandoc warned me that Shiva was probably not going to survive.  Based on what he had seen in the comic, he told me exactly what was going to happen to her.  So, I can’t say that I was totally surprised.  Even if Arleigh hadn’t warned me, I remember the walkers eating that horse during the first season.  I know that animals aren’t safe in the world of The Walking Dead.

Still, it broke my heart.

Maybe it’s because I’m a cat person.  Maybe it’s because Shiva died protecting her master, which is not exactly typical cat behavior.  Ezekiel was at his weakest when Shiva sacrificed her life for him.  And now that Shiva’s gone, Ezekiel is going to have to learn how to be a leader without her help.  Before she died, he was shouting that he wasn’t a king.  He shouted that he was just some guy who found a cat.  The cat’s gone.  Can Ezekiel prove that he deserves to be known as “your majesty?”

If not, maybe Jerry can step up and lead The Kingdom.  Tonight, I was really impressed with Jerry and the actor who plays him, Cooper Andrews.  They both did a great job.  I know some people would say that Ezekiel should give the keys of the kingdom to Carol but I wouldn’t suggest that.  Carol’s a badass but I still get the feeling that she’s just a day or two from snapping and killing everyone she sees.

As for the rest of tonight’s episode … who cares?  Shiva’s dead…

Okay, okay, I know.  I’m a semi-professional blogger!  I need to get through this post and mourn later.  Okay, just a few observations:

Does everyone just have an unlimited supply of bullets all of the sudden?  One of the few things that I liked about the previous season is that the show did try to realistically deal with the fact that there aren’t many supplies in the post-apocalyptic world.  But this season, everyone just seems to be shooting guns for the Hell of it.  I’m not an expert on firearms but I do know that bullets aren’t like knives or arrows. They can only be used once.

So, I guess Rick is suddenly an action hero!  I’m not complaining.  A Rick who can suddenly jump into a speeding jeep is still preferable to a mopey, indecisive Rick who can’t bring himself to fight back.

Let’s give it up for Khary Payton, who did a great job tonight!  Ezekiel is a character who I’ve sometimes found to be annoying but Payton did a great job.  I think one reason why it was so unsettling to see Ezekiel acting so desperate was because The Kingdom has always provided the grim world of The Walking Dead with a little bit of fantasy.  It’s always served as an escape from all the terrible things going on in the rest of the world.  It’s very existence is a tribute to the power and importance of imagination.  Seeing the fantasy shattered was not easy and that’s something Payton wonderfully captured in his performance.

This season’s flashback structure actually paid off tonight.  I’m occasionally skeptical of shows that do the whole nonlinear timeline thing because I often feel that it’s just a gimmick, as opposed to really necessary storytelling device.  But tonight, seeing the contrast between the confident Ezekiel and the nearly defeated Ezekiel was undeniably powerful.

Speaking of nearly defeated Ezekiel, what about that Savior asshole who was holding him prisoner?  Oh my God, that guy had to be the most annoying bad guy ever!  I was so happy when Jerry split him in two.

Tonight’s episode was not bad.  It was exciting.  The pace didn’t drag.  And it made me cry.

Shiva, R.I.P.