Hell On Wheels Remains One Of TV’s Top Dramas In Its Third Season

Courtesy:  eOne/AMC

Courtesy: eOne/AMC

eOne will release the third season of AMC’s hit western drama Hell on Wheels next Tuesday, July 15th. It goes without saying that the third season of this standout series is the show’s best yet. And being that the series’ fourth season debuts in just a few weeks, its release is perfectly timed. It gives audiences that have watched the show since the beginning the chance to catch up should they have missed any episodes of this season or the series’ first two seasons. And for those that have not yet seen even the first season, audiences that watch this season will the most important key to its success. That key is the series’ writing. While it is recommended that audiences new to the series watch from Season 1, the show’s writers have done such an expert job that they don’t necessarily need to watch those first two seasons in order to appreciate Season Three. The acting on the part of the cast is just as integral to the success of Hell on Wheels Season Three. The cast has become so accustomed to one another that it has made the acting all the more believable. In turn, it makes suspension of disbelief all the easier, too. And last but not least of all, the bonus material included in this set rounds out the whole package, proving once and for why Hell On Wheels Season Three is one of the year’s best box sets for adults.

Hell on Wheels: The Complete Third Season is one of the best new box sets for adults in 2014. There is so much to like about this set. The most obvious of this season’s positives is the show’s writing. Season Three sees some of the show’s strongest writing to date. That is evident in the character development on the parts of Cullen and especially Eva and Elam. Audiences start to see a much more emotional and human side of Cullen in Season Three. This is especially the case when Cullen is forced to make the choice to hang a young man at one point. The young man’s father tossed him to the proverbial woods after his father had shot the then head of railroad security. Cullen knew he was condemning an innocent boy to death for the sins of his father. The pain in his eyes as the young man was strung up is deeply telling. It shows that Cullen knew that hanging the young man was wrong and that it hurt him badly to see it happen. Such a scene adds to Cullen’s flawed yet sympathetic character. There is another scene shared between Cullen and Elam that shows just as much depth not just of Cullen’s character, but of Elam’s, too. That ties into what is perhaps the most powerful example of the show’s expert writing this season—the extended story arc involving the kidnapping of Elam and Eva’s daughter Rose.

Just as audiences see quite a bit of development in Cullen in each episode this season, so does the story arc involving the kidnapping of Rose help to develop both Elam and Eva. Elam’s softer yet more protective side comes out as he searches for whomever kidnapped his daughter. The story arc does have a positive outcome in the short run. That ending won’t be revealed here for the sake of those that haven’t yet had the chance to see this season. But it’s not all happy for long as things take a painful emotional turn. The turn in question ironically serves to flesh out Elam’s character even more than ever. One can’t help but feel for him in the long-term outcome. That audiences will left feeling so strongly about Elam exhibits once more why the writing in this season is some of the series’ best yet. There is plenty more that could be discussed in terms of how the writing in Season Three makes it a success. But there is neither time nor space enough for that without one losing interest in this review. So on to the next topic.

The second aspect of Hell on Wheels’ third season box set that makes it a success is the acting on the part of the show’s cast. Having worked together on the series’ first two hugely successful seasons, it is obvious that a certain amount of chemistry has developed between the cast members. That chemistry has made the acting even more natural in this season. The end result is acting that allows audiences to completely suspend their disbelief and be pulled into the world crafted collectively by the writers and the actors. There’s even some light humor thrown in for good measure to lighten the tension that runs throughout the town and its people. And people won’t be able to help but laugh at those brief moments of humor. Audiences will agree that this helps to solidify the cast’s acting as an important part of the whole. And together with the solid writing, it puts this season’s set at the tipping point. There is one final part of the whole that puts this box set over that proverbial tipping point—the bonus material.

The bonus material included in Hell on Wheels: The Complete Third Season continues the tradition established by eOne in the box sets containing Seasons One and Two. Audiences are offered a recap of Season Two in order to help viewers catch back up before Season Four starts next month. And as with the previously released box sets, this set also includes companion “Inside the Episodes” featurettes with each episode. And of course, the standard “Behind-The-Scenes” featurettes are there, too. So not only can viewers catch up before Season Four starts next month, but they are given a thorough look behind the cameras once again. They are allowed to see the work that went into bringing Season Three to life. That combination of elements works with the writing and acting in Season Three to put it over the top. Collectively, it shows once and for all why this box set is one of the year’s top new box sets for adults.

Hell on Wheels: The Complete Third Season will be available next Tuesday, July 15th in stores and online. It will be available both on DVD and Blu-ray. More information on Hell on Wheels is available online now at http://www.facebook.com/HellonWheelsAMC, http://www.amc.com/shows/hell-on-wheels, and http://twitter.com/HellonWheelsAMC. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

eOne Announces Release Date, Info For Hell On Wheels Season Three

Courtesy:  eOne/AMC

Courtesy: eOne/AMC

Hell will rise again this summer.

Hell on Wheels: The Complete Third Season will be released on DVD and Blu-ray Tuesday, July 15th. Season Three follows the continuing saga of former Confederate soldier Cullen Bohannon as he works with the Union Pacific on its westward construction. Season Three picks up after the attack by a group of Native Americans on the railroad encampment that closed out Season Two. Also in Season Three, audiences see Cullen make his plans to take over the Union Pacific and get it across the country.

One of AMC’s top series, it has been credited for helping to modernize the once powerhouse Western genre on television. The upcoming complete third season’s release comes only weeks before the premiere of the series’ fourth season on Saturday, August 2nd.

Hell on Wheels: The Complete Third Season comes with its own compliment of bonus features along with every one of Season Three’s episodes. Those bonus features include: An inside look at Season Three, a recap of season two, a set tour with Common, Behind The Music featurettes, and an “Inside The Episode” featurette with each of Season Three’s ten episodes.

Season Four will retail for SRP of $39.98 on DVD and $49.98 on Blu-ray. More information on Hell on Wheels is available online at http://www.facebook.com/HellOnWheelsAMC, http://www.amc.com/shows/hell-on-wheels, and http://twitter.com/HellOnWheelsAMC. More information on this and other releases from eOne is available online via Twitter at http://twitter.com/eOneHomeVideo. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Anchor Bay Announces Release Date For The Walking Dead Season 4

Courtesy:  Anchor Bay Entertainment

Courtesy: Anchor Bay Entertainment

Officials with Anchor Bay Entertainment have announced that the company will release the complete fourth season of AMC’s The Walking Dead this summer.

The Walking Dead: The Complete Fourth Season will be released Tuesday, August 26th. It will be released on DVD, Blu-ray/Ultraviolet combo pack, and Limited Edition “Tree Walker” Blu-ray box set. Each set will be comprised of five discs and present every Season Four episode exactly as they were presented in their original airing. The episodes contained on the Blu-ray/VUDU and Limited Edition “Tree Walker” blu-ray set are presented in full 1080p high-definition and lossless Dolby True HD 7.1 audio. Fans looking for bonuses will also be rewarded as there are hours of bonus features included in the fourth season box sets. All three sets contain never-before-seen production footage, deleted scenes, and audio commentaries. Included on the Blu-ray sets are additional audio commentaries and a number of “extended” episodes that were previously unseen.

Courtesy:  Anchor Bay Entertainment

Courtesy: Anchor Bay Entertainment

The Walking Dead: The Complete Fourth Season will be available on DVD for SRP of $69.98. The Blu-ray/VUDU combo pack will be available for SRP of $79.99. And the special Limited Edition “Tree Walker” Blu-ray set will be available for SRP of $129.99. More information on these upcoming releases and all the latest on The Walking Dead is available online at http://www.facebook.com/TheWalkingDeadAMC and http://www.amc.com/shows/the-walking-dead. More information on this and other releases from Anchor Bay is available online at http://www.facebook.com/AnchorBay, http://www.anchorbayent.com, and http://twitter.com/Anchor_Bay. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Courtesy:  Anchor Bay Entertainment

Courtesy: Anchor Bay Entertainment

Release Date, Product Info Released For Low Winter Sun Box Set

Courtesy:  Anchor Bay Entertainment

Courtesy: Anchor Bay Entertainment

Officials with Anchor Bay Entertainment announced Monday that the company will release AMC’s Low Winter Sun: The Complete Series this summer.

Courtesy:  Anchor Bay Entertainment

Courtesy: Anchor Bay Entertainment

Low Winter Sun: The Complete Series will be released Tuesday, August 12, 2014. It will be released on DVD in a 3-disc set containing all ten episodes from the series. The crime drama, which is based on the 2006 award-winning British mini-series, was written by Simon Donald and produced by Tiger Aspect Productions (an Endemol company). The story opens with the murder of a Detroit police officer by a fellow detective from the city. The detective’s crime is anything but the perfect crime as it leads him ever deeper into Detroit’s underworld. Mark Strong (Zero Dark Thirty, Sherlock Holmes, Robin Hood), Lennie James (The Walking Dead, Snatch), David Canstabile (Breaking Bad, Side Effects), and Athena Karkanis (Saw IV, V, VI) lead the series’ cast.

The upcoming triple disc box set comes with a handful of bonus features to enhance the viewing experience for audiences. Those bonus features include: A Look at “Low Winter Sun”, Detroit Grit, Designing The Precinct, Episode Featurettes, and Deleted Scenes. The box set will retail at SRP of $49.98.

More information on this and other releases from Anchor Bay Entertainment is available online now at http://www.facebook.com/AnchorBay, http://twitter.com/Anchor_Bay, http://www.anchorbayent.com. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Wicked Blood As Solid As Any Big Name Action Flick

Courtesy:  Entertainment One

Courtesy: Entertainment One

EOne’s new thriller Wicked Blood is worth a watch for anyone that is a fan of AMC’s fan favorite series Breaking Bad. The movie, which runs just over an hour and a half is an action packed thriller that despite being an indie flick, will definitely keep audiences on the edge of their seats from start to finish. The movie, which stars Abigail Breslin (Zombieland, Haunter, Little Miss Sunshine), centers on Breslin’s character of Hannah Lee Baker. Hannah and her sister Amber (Alexa Pena Vega) are living alone after having lost both of their parents at a young age. Their uncle Donny (Lew Temple) is the only member of their family that they can trust, despite being running his own drug business. In her attempt to support herself, she ends up getting caught up in the seedy underworld of drug dealing. It all leads up to a finale that no one would have seen coming. Writer/Director Mark Young has crafted a script for this movie that is the first of the factors that makes it worth at least one watch for any fan of the action/thriller genre. The story’s pacing plays directly into the script. Being that the movie comes in below the standard two-hour mark that most major features reach, the story’s pacing is quite impressive. And the acting on the part of the entire cast makes the story all the richer. All three factors noted here work together to make Wicked Blood an underrated action movie worth at least one watch.

Writer/director Mark Young’s script for Wicked Blood is the central point of the success for this independent action flick. On the surface, the concept of an innocent lead character being wrapped up in the seedy world of drug dealing is not exactly anything new. However, Young breaks from the norm with his script. Instead of following the standard formula for such movies, Young adds in an element that could be argued to be a coming-of-age story of sorts for Hannah. Audiences see Hannah go from this fragile, frustrated young woman in a decidedly broken family structure to a more self-confident and determined woman as the story progresses. This is especially noticeable in her reaction to her sister Amber being beaten and left for dead by an assailant who will not be named here. He shows growth in Hannah, too when she enacts a certain plan early on that becomes the crux of the story. It shows growth in that her plan is quite brilliant and just as brave. Young makes this part of the story even more interesting because he actually leaves viewers to believe one thing about what Hannah is doing, only to reveal surprisingly that the opposite was the reality. It is just one of the secrets that makes Young’s script all the better. For that matter, it’s just one of the many aspects of the script that makes the story work.

The various elements used throughout the course of Young’s script are key to the enjoyment of Wicked Blood. In direct connection, the story’s pacing serves to make the movie better. The movie’s run time just does top the ninety-minute mark. That’s actually just below the standard for most major motion pictures. Though there are some rare majors that somehow manage to beat the two-hour mark. Their problem though, is that in doing so, they tend to cram too much into too short a time. This story is the exact opposite. It actually manages to balance everything together at a solid pace in that span of time. In simple terms, audiences won’t be left feeling mentally or visually winded. Young spends just enough time within each scene to keep the story from feeling rushed. That ultimately helps audiences to keep up with everything going on. In the same vein, the scene transitions help with the story’s pacing, too. Audiences aren’t presented with open transitions from one scene to the next. The story actually begins and ends each scene solidly enough that when one scene transitions to the next, audiences aren’t left questioning what had just happened or what is going to happen in the scene to come. This story element makes watching Wicked Blood even easier for viewers and more enjoyable.

The pacing and scene transitions utilized throughout Wicked Blood are both important parts of the whole that makes this movie work. The acting on the part of the movie’s cast is just as important as the aforementioned aspects to its success. The cast is made up of some relatively well-known figures. So it’s no wonder that each member of the cast is so believable in his or her respective role. Breslin leads the cast as Hannah. Her presentation of Hannah’s personal growth is both powerful and eye opening, especially in seeing what she is willing to do to Bobby. There is a certain fire in Hannah’s eyes and in her voice at that particular moment that really makes her somewhat frightening. It shows that while she may be growing as a person, it shows the depths to which she is willing to sink, too. On the opposite side of the coin, so to speak, audiences have Hannah’s uncle Donny, played by Lew Temple. Temple’s depiction of Donny makes him such a sympathetic character. Here is a man that is a drug user and knows it. Yet he doesn’t want his nieces to get embroiled in what he has been doing for so many years. He shows that he genuinely cares about both of them despite being a drug addict. He’s an imperfect character with a heart of gold. That contradiction of personalities and Temple’s depiction of Donny makes a person believe that there is some good in him. It makes audiences really want to root for Donny. Co-stars James Purefoy and Sean Bean hold their own throughout the story, too. But it is really Breslin and Temple that lead the cast. It is their acting that is the *ahem* glue–audiences that have seen the movie will get that bad pun—that holds everything else together. It is the finishing touch on a movie that proves once more that indie flicks can be just as enjoyable as their major motion picture counterparts regardless of genre. It is the final piece that proves this underrated indie action flick is worth at least one watch.

Wicked Blood is available now on DVD and Blu-ray in stores and online. It can be ordered online via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00HI9QDKM/ref=s9_simh_gw_p74_d0_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=04QPHQ5JBMNES46GMXYX&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1688200382&pf_rd_i=507846. More information on this and other releases from Entertainment One is available online at http://us.eonefilms.com/home. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Starz Acquires Rights To Hawkins Brothers’ Directorial Debut

Courtesy:  Starz Media

Courtesy: Starz Media

Kevin Kasha, Head of Acquisitions for Starz, announced this week that the company has acquired the award-winning movie We Gotta Get Out Of This Place.  The movie, which was the directorial debut of the Hawkins Brothers, premiered at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival and won the Audience Award at AFI Fest.  The deal, signed this week, gives Starz Digital Media exclusive rights to the movie in both Canada and the United States.

Kasha was upbeat in discussing acquiring the film from the up-and-coming directing duo.  “I love when our team discovers films by talented new filmmakers,” he said.  “Set in a dead-end Texas town, Zeke and Simon Hawkins offer audiences a gritty thriller that presents a fresh, sometimes surreal take that will appeal to film fans everywhere. We’re excited they’ve partnered with Starz to share their debut film.”

We Gotta Get Out Of This Place is a gritty crime drama that centers on a trio of teens in Texas that gets pulled into the world of organized crime after the young men go partying with some stolen money.  The movie stars Jeremy Allen White (Shameless), Mackenzie Davis (That Awkward Moment, AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire), Mark Pellegrino (Being Human), and William Devane (The Dark Knight).  The story was written by Dutch Southern and produced by Rough & Tumble Films.

More information on new releases from Starz and Starz Digital Media is available online at http://www.starz.com, http://www.facebook.com/Starz, and http://twitter.com/starz_channel.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Kris Jenner Makes Split With Bruce Jenner Official In Us Weekly Interview

Courtesy:  DKC Public Relations/Us Weekly Magazine

Courtesy: DKC Public Relations/Us Weekly Magazine

Kris and Bruce Jenner are through.  This is according to an interview with Kris Jenner in the newest issue of Us Weekly magazine.  She noted in the interview that the couple had split a year ago and that “we are living apart.  But there is no animosity.  We are united and committed to our family.”  She added that while the couple has split, there are no plans at this time for an official divorce and that they remain on good terms.  “We ended a marriage, but that’s not the end of our friendship,” she told Us. “I will always love him, but we are longer a couple in that way.”  The couple had two children together, seventeen-year old Kendall and sixteen year-old Kylie.  Kris is also mother to the famed Kardashian children, Khloe, Kim, Rob, and Kourtney, whom she had with her previous husband Robert Kardashian.  He died in 2003 and had four children from previous relationships including sons Brody and Brandon.  Both are in their thirties now.  More on this story is available online at http://www.usmagazine.com/celebrity-news/news/kris-jenner-bruce-jenner-separate-after-22-years-of-marriage-i-will-always-love-him-2013810#ixzz2hAmn1Um0.

Also featured in the latest issue of Us Weekly is the regular ’25 Things You Didn’t Know About Me’ feature.  The Walking Dead star Norman Reedus shares some interesting things fans might not have known about him in this week’s new issue.  Among the facts that he shares are:

“When I was a kid, 3 was my favorite number because if rotated, it looks like a pair of boobs.”

“Growing up, the Clash’s “Straight to Hell” was always our sing-along song while we washed the dishes. (Hi, Mom!)”

“I think apple pie-flavored gum is a revolutionary concept and I love it.”

“My best friend is my cat.”

More information on this and other stories from Us Weekly is available online at http://www.facebook.com/UsWeekly and http://www.UsMagazine.com.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Haven A Rare Serial Worth Watching In Its Third Season

Courtesy: Entertainment One/Syfy

Courtesy: Entertainment One/Syfy

Syfy used to be one of the greatest networks on cable at one point.  It lived up completely to its name, airing primarily science fiction.  But somewhere along the line, this one great powerhouse of a network fell off and did a total 180, opting instead for really bad modern day B-movies and the like.  But in the last couple of years or so, it has looked like there might be tiny glimmers of hope with the Battlestar Galactica special, “Blood & Chrome” and the introduction of Defiance.  And then, the network took a couple more daring steps, picking up Sanctuary and Haven.  While the prior only lasted four seasons, it was a great mix of fantasy and sci-fi and was a perfect fit for the network.  Haven on the other hand, is more of a sci-fi/supernatural hybrid.  This aside, the show is still a good fit for Syfy.  And currently being in the midst of its fourth season, it will be interesting to see if it can outlast Sanctuary.  While fans take in Season Four, they can now take in every episode from the show’s third season on DVD and Blu-ray.

Things get quite interesting for both Audrey (Emily Rose) and the residents of Haven.  Secrets are finally revealed about Audrey’s past that will change her future forever.  She finds out just who the Colorado Kid is and how he is supposedly connected to her.  That won’t be revealed here for the sake of those trying to catch up with the series.  There is also an evil twin plot with a twist in the two-part episode, “Magic Hour.”  The evil twin plot is a staple of any science fiction program.  And while its execution in this two-part episode has been done before, it’s rarely been done in the format used here.  As Season Three winds down, even more revelations are made in “Last Goodbyes.”  Again, the show’s writers keep the surprises coming; so much so that audiences can’t help but keep watching.  That is the sign of solid writing.  So congratulations are in order for the show’s writers, obviously. 

Writing is key to any television show’s success, regardless of genre.  And if Haven’s third season is any indication, the show’s writing is just as solid as ever, even as a serial.  In the case of a science fiction show, the writing is especially important.  But it’s not the sole factor in the show’s success.  The shooting and special effects are just as key to the show as its writing.  And both were just as expertly pulled off as the writing.  Considering Syfy’s recent track record with a majority of its programming, it would have been so easy for the people behind the cameras to go the cheesy angle.  Rather, the special effects and shooting tied in to the show are just as good as those in NBC’s sci-fi drama, Revolution and even AMC’s The Walking Dead.  That’s some pretty good company in which to sit.  And those that work tirelessly to make the show’s special effects and shooting something special.  Along with its writing, these two factors help to show why exactly why Haven is one of the best dramas on television today.

The writing, special effects, and shooting are all key components to the success of Haven in its third season.  And now that it has been released to DVD and Blu-ray box set, audiences have even more reason to be happy about their favorite show.  That reason is the included bonus features.  Season Three’s box set includes both audio commentary and more than enough bonus features to make any Haven fan squeal with glee.  Fans are treated to the full series of Haven webisodes, and all the standard behind-the-scenes footage and cast interviews.  The full making of featurette is there, too in “The Haunting Truth About Haven:  A Documentary.”    Fans will also appreciate the bonus New York ComicCon Haven panel.  This feature is the real bright spot among the bonus features.  That’s because fans really get to see the cast as themselves, rather than as characters.  The cast and writers discuss what could be expected from the showing in coming episodes and the now fourth season.  Rather than taking questions from the audience, the panel is run by a moderator.  And her questions for the cast are both serious at times and at others worthy of more than their share of riotous laughter.  The responses from the cast members are a just as serious and laugh out loud funny.  It’s one more positive to a box set that any true sci-fi fan will appreciate.  And it is available now on DVD and Blu-ray.  It can be ordered online via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Haven-Complete-Third-Season-Blu-ray/dp/B00DPJEWCK/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_2?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1379621678&sr=1-2-fkmr0&keywords=haven+the+comple+third+season.  More information on this and other releases from SyFy is available online at http://www.syfy.com and http://www.facebook.com/Syfy

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com

Writing, Makeup, More Make The Walking Dead Season Three A Hit For Any Viewer

Courtesy:  Starz/Anchor Bay/AMC

Courtesy: Starz/Anchor Bay/AMC

Serials are big business in today’s television industry.  They are some of the most popular shows on television today.  And one of the most popular of the serials currently populating television today is AMC’s hit series, The Walking Dead.  This hugely popular series, which is based on a comic book, has garnered legions of fans the world over since it first debuted on AMC in 2010.  The question that is still raised by those not so familiar with the series is “what makes it so popular?”  On the surface, it could be easily answered.  It’s violent, bloody, and gory.  That wouldn’t be entirely false.  But it’s not the whole answer to that question.  The full answer to the question is much deeper than that.  On a deeper, more analytical level, what drives the series is its writing, just like any other television series and movie.  Of course one shouldn’t dismiss the work done by the show’s makeup crew, either, as a source of success for The Walking Dead.  Those individuals also deserve full credit for *ahem* bringing the show’s zombies to life.  And yes, that bad joke was entirely intended.  Audiences that might be new to the Walking Dead will see the importance of these factors first hand now that the show’s third season is available in stores and online on Blu-ray and DVD.

The most obvious reason for the success of The Walking Dead three seasons in is the fact that it is violent, bloody, and gory.  Humans have a natural bloodlust.  This is why (as much as they’d love to deny it) they slow down and rubberneck when they go by a bad wreck on an interstate highway.  They secretly hope to see death and destruction.  They can deny it all they want.  But everybody has that bloodlust in them.  And it is that same bloodlust that leads audiences to watch The Walking Dead even in its third season.  It feeds that deep seeded bloodlust that audiences would rather deny having.  It’s all so shocking.  Yet despite the shock value, audiences can’t help but watch.  This is even exhibited within the context of one of the episodes of Season Three when Daryl is captured and forced to fight his own brother in a fight to the death that also involved some very hungry zombies.  The people witnessing the moment even wanted to see it all unfold in its full gruesome details.  There’s not a lot of blood and gore in this sequence.  But there is plenty of violence.  And together with Season Three’s other episodes, there is more than enough of those elements to make any fan of the zombie genre squeal with glee like a kid in a candy store.

The massive gallons of blood that’s shed and the violence doled out through Season Three are the most obvious of reasons for the success of this season.  On a deeper level, the show has maintained its fan base because of its writing.  The show isn’t just about the violence, blood, and gore.  Audiences are kept engaged in the series because of the human drama tied in to the overall story.  Audiences see personal relationships grow between the survivors of the zombie plague (which still receives no explanation as to how it started even three seasons in).  New characters are also introduced this season, adding to each episode’s drama and tension.  Loyalties are tested on both the human level and the family level throughout this season time and again.  Even if a person isn’t big on the whole zombie craze currently sweeping the country, there’s no denying the continued solidity of the show’s writing in its third season.

The writing in the third season of The Walking Dead is quite sold throughout each of the season’s episodes.  The gore and violence this season is just as certain to appease any zombie fan.  Speaking of the zombies, credit where credit is due.  Those responsible for turning ordinary actors into some of the creepiest creatures in the history of film and television history did quite the job.  By the time that the makeup is done, the actors behind the masks and makeup look just as creepy as those in legendary writer/director George A. Romero’s zombie 1968 classic, Night of the Living Dead if not better than them.  That says quite a bit about the talent of the makeup artists.  The convincing work done by the makeup staff, along with the show’s writing and the most obvious of factors, each play their own role in the third season of The Walking Dead’s success.  Together with the commentary included on select episodes of Season Three, it all works in unison to make Season Three one of the series’ best yet.  Season Three of The Walking Dead is available now on Blu-ray and DVD in stores and online.  It can be ordered online direct from the Anchor Bay Entertainment website at http://www.anchorbayentertainment.com/detail.aspx?projectID=04bea624-b064-e211-924c-d4ae527c3b65.

More information on The Walking Dead Season Three and other releases from Anchor Bay Entertainment and Starz is available online at http://www.anchorbayentertainment.com and http://www.facebook.com/AnchorBay.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Hell On Wheels One Of TVs Elite Dramas In Its Second Season

Courtesy:  Entertainment One

Courtesy: Entertainment One

AMC’s hit Western drama, Hell on Wheels is one of the best dramas on television today.  Yes, that’s rather cliché to say, since so many networks try to claim their dramas to be the best this and that.  But the fact of the matter is that few if any of those other shows live up to their hype.  Hell on Wheels on the other hand more than lives up to the hype.  If its first season was its A-game, then its second season was (and is now that it has been released to DVD and Blu-ray) its A Plus-game.  The show’s writers have taken the story started in Season One and stepped it up all the way around the second time out.  Whether one is new to the show or not, all ten of Season Two’s episodes are sure to keep audiences gripped from start to finish.  And yes, there is a slight soap opera aspect mixed in to the primary story line.  But that soap opera element was there in the show’s first season as with all of the other story lines that are present here.  What’s most impressive is that the show’s writers were able to keep all of the story lines separate from one another throughout the season, thus making it all the more enjoyable.  Add in top notch acting on the part of the cast and more equally expert cinematography, and audiences get more proof that drama on cable is just as good as anything on the “Big Four.”

The writers behind Hell on Wheels surprised a lot of people when the show debuted two seasons ago on AMC.  But two seasons in (and a third season preparing to premiere this Saturday night), it has more than proven itself, as have its writers.  The show’s second season is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.  And with Season Two’s home release, Hell on Wheels’ writers have proven yet again why it does in fact live up to the hype of being one of the best dramas on television today.  The show’s writers have taken what they started with in its debut season and stepped it up in big fashion in Season Two.  Audiences find out what became of Cullen Bohannon after he left Hell on Wheels at the end of Season One.  They also see everything that has transpired in the town, too.  The brothers Mcginnes have gone from being two young naïve Irish immigrants to being relatively successful businessmen with their own personal drama.  The relationship between Joseph Black Moon and his “father”, Reverend Nathaniel Cole has become very strained, to say the least.  And the on again/off again romance between Elam Ferguson and his love interest Eva has reached quite the interesting point, even though Eva is married to another man.  Let us also not forget Thor Gundersen (A.K.A. The Swede).  He reaches perhaps the lowest point possible in the show’s climactic final episodes that are sure to have major implications in Season Three.

One would assume just by seeing everything here, that there was an awful lot going on in Season Two.  That would be right.  It would be just as easy to assume that with so many storylines going on, they would end up stepping all over one another.  That assumption is wrong.  Somehow, the show’s writers were able to take each one of the storylines in Season Two, and keep them entirely separate of one another.  At the same time, they also managed to keep each story line tied into the other smoothly.  The connections were so smooth that audiences that have yet to see Season Two will have no trouble following them or how they tie into one another.  This solid writing is the crux of the continued success of Hell on Wheels.  There is much more that continued to make it successful in its second season, though.  Audiences will also find that the acting on the part of the main cast does its own part in making the show believable.        

The writers behind Hell on Wheels Season Two took the success of the show’s first season and amped things up this time out, developing each storyline clearly and at a pace that doesn’t leave viewers scratching their heads.  This is a major positive to Season Two.  It’s not the only positive.  Just as the writing was executed so well, so was the ability of the cast to interpret the scripts.  The cast’s acting was just as believable this season as it was in its debut season.  This is something rare in television’s current era.  Far too often, viewers know that they are watching a show on the screen.  But in the case of Hell on Wheels, the cast’s chemistry and its ability to interpret each episode’s script is at such a level that it makes suspension of disbelief so easy for audiences.  It’s so easy to be pulled in that audiences won’t want to stop watching from one episode to the next, even with this drama being so much less like other serials on TV today.  It’s one more sign of just how impressive Hell on Wheels remains in its second season.

The writing and acting in Hell on Wheels’ are integral parts of the show’s success.  This is just as evident in the show’s second season as it was in its first season.  They can only do so much by themselves, though.  The people charged with capturing the cast on camera and setting the tone in each scene are just as much to thank for the show’s success in its second season.  The cinematography is just important in the success of Hell on Wheels as the writing and acting.  And suffice it to say that the cinematography was just as expert in Season Two as it was in Season One.  The wide shots of the railroad being built set against the backdrop of the plains under clear blue skies were stunning.  The lack of civilization served to make the colors of the plains and sky even lusher.  And the exterior shots, setting the scene within the town created their own emotions.  The contrast of the muddy ground against the buildings and tents does something just as special.  Not only does it illustrate the colors, but it serves as a stark contrast to the scenes showing the railroad being built.  The camera crews did a wonderful job capturing the set shots throughout each episode.  The camera work during each episode’s shootouts and the deeper, more emotional moments were just as powerful as the rest of the camerawork throughout Season Two.  It’s one more factor that along with the drama’s writing and the acting, will fully immerse viewers in the story.  Together, all of these factors make Hell on Wheels Season Two more proof that cable based dramas are as good as the programming that spans the “Big Four” if not better than those shows.  And whether one is new to Hell on Wheels or not, all of these factors make this another must see season.  Season Two is available now on DVD and Blu-ray in stores and online.  It can be ordered online via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0075FF5QM/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=filmsiteorg-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B0075FF5QM.  And fans can get up to speed up Hell on Wheels on the show’s official website, http://www.amctv.com/shows/hell-on-wheels.  Audiences can also keep up with the latest Hell on Wheels developments on the show’s official Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/HellonWheelsAMC

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