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9 July 2016

I like Z Nation better than The Walking Dead...

"I like Z Nation better than The Walking Dead... and I'm prepared to fight any man who says otherwise" ~ King Uke
Them's brave words indeed and some might say, a little foolish. I've been absent from the Blog for a while now. It's not that I've given up... I've just been busy with real life. Time for a quick update.

This past month or so has been a bit of a milestone for me in as much as I've now officially joined the on-line revolution by adding Spotify to my monthly bill for Mrs Uke, and Netflix for my kids. So far, the experience has been costly, but good. I'll no doubt share more details with you in some later post. Today I'll share a few thoughts on a programme I happened across on Netflix called Z Nation.

It's all fun and laughter until somebody gets "piked" ~ Z Nation 

You might remember that I started watching AMC's Walking Dead a couple of years ago. I was patient enough to wait for it to be released on DVD and eagerly threw myself into the Zombie series with gay abandon. I'd heard lots of praise for the series and was keen to enjoy it for myself. I wasn't disappointed by the show. Go read my reviews of The Walking Dead Season 1 and The Walking Dead Season 2 if you'd like a more detailed run-down. A funny thing happened then though... I just got bored of it and I've never watched another show since. I think they might be up to season 300 by now, but I dropped out at the end of 2. What on earth went wrong?

Perhaps I just got bored of zombies?


Fast-forward to about a week ago and my discovery of Z Nation.

This is exactly what it seems to be

I've only watched about 5 shows from the the first series of Z Nation, but so far, I'm enjoying the ride.

The show tracks a group of survivors, three years after the zombie apocalypse has started. It's been caused by some sort of virus and we get all the same old themes and stereotypes, but get this... this is absolutely fine. What I'm going to call out is the way that producer Karl Schaefer has put this all together.

The programme was made for the American Cable channel SyFy. I don't know too much about SyFy other than they have a reputation for churning out cheap shit. I'm not sure they deserve that reputation.

This picture is from the pretty shocking Cockneys versus Zombies. I've discovered the hard way that any DVD that feels the need to reference "Shaun of the Dead" is usually one to be avoided.

I mention CvZ only because of a point I want to make about the Walking Dead which thankfully is absent from Z Nation. As I watched the Walking Dead it progressed evermore from being a programme about zombies to becoming a sort of American EastEnders that just happened to have zombies in it.

As a side note: Regrettably, I'll admit that I watched the first ever episode of EastEnders on the 19th of Feb 1985. I was ambivalent at the time, but these days I hate it with a passion; What a depressing show! Yep, and I love the post-apocalypse... Go figure.

One of the strengths of Z Nation is its writing. If the writers can keep this fresh, we'll be onto a winner. Burn quick... burn bright... and finish with an explosion. This should be the motto of any good zombie show.

I'm not going to spoil the plot for you, but I'll say that I've laughed and flinched my way through the first handful of shows. What more could you ask for?

All good shows need good characters. I'll come clean and say that at times, the acting is pretty poor in Z Nation. Actually, that's quite a lot of the time. Ha ha. But this doesn't detract from the fun... It's not that type of programme.

I want to call out a gem in the cast in the form of DJ Qualls, who is the glue that holds everything together. His part is fundamental to the show and one that if  it hadn't been delivered properly, could have spelled disaster.

I'm reminded of a similar statement I made after watching the outstanding Pontypool. In fact, there are parallels to be drawn here: DJ Quall's wonderful performance in Z Nation reminds me a lot of Stephen McHattie's outstanding performance in Pontypool: two DJs talking to themselves.

My son happened to wander into the room as DJ Qualls was on screen. "Wow... Zombie Bilbo," he said. Ha ha. DJ does look a little bit like Martin Freeman. He has one of those faces that seems to pop up all over the place. The casting for Z Nation took a gamble on him here and I can report back that the gamble paid off. Well done!

Z Nation has the feel of being produced on a budget, but to be honest it doesn't feel cheap. The zombies and practical effects are great. The bits that have made me laugh the most are the digital effects; There have been some wonderfully ambitious special effects. Some of these have been absolutely shocking! Ha ha.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that the digital effects are more akin to the sort of thing that you'll see with with the brilliant "Big Tits Zombie". It's either something that you're going to love or something you're going to hate. I love it! There... no sitting on the fence for me.

I'll end it here with Mr Potato head.

It should be pretty clear now why Z Nation is better than The Walking Dead. You got a problem with that? Give me two barrels in the comments.

I dare you ;-)

One last thing before I head off into the rain...

I'm pleased to announce that the new comic "Locus Solus" is almost through proof reading. This might just be my best comic yet! I can't wait to get it published.

Is that a golden scarab I see before me?

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