South Park Season 17 - recent seasons have seen a dip in quality, or perhaps expectations got in the way. Now though, after a slightly extended hiatus, we've had five good ones in a row - perhaps the apparent tweaks to how the show is written have paid off. Hopefully this upswing is set to continue.
The Walking Dead Season 3 (Blu-Ray) - TWD in HD, yes please. It's a shame there weren't more extras (and why they didn't include the making of featurettes AMC put on YouTube is anyone's guess), although I am yet to listen to the commentaries. There are some issues with the third season, mostly confined to the back half of the season - most specifically episodes 3x11, 3x13 and most especially 3x14, whereby pacing became incredibly mixed (both inside each episode, and across the overall arc of the season). I wrote on Homepage of the Dead about how some of these problems could have been tweaked. Not enough to sink the season by any stretch of the imagination, but they were unfortunate mis-steps in an otherwise satisfying season.
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The Walking Dead Season 4 - three episodes deep and oh good lord yes. I was pleased when it was announced that Scott Gimple was taking over from Glen Mazzara, as he's been involved in some of the best episodes to date, and has a really good sense of pacing as well as balancing the emotional character stuff with the cheer-inducing action bits, while always feeding in plenty of small details about the surrounding world to add extra intrigue. It's only very early yet, but so far so good.
The Newsroom Season 2 - I came into the second season a little bit luke-warm; always enjoying what I was seeing, but somehow feeling a slight lack of connection. However, as the season has worn on, I've found myself getting more and more sucked into the season to the point that I was gagging to see the finale after the penultimate episode drew to a close. The dialogue is still a bit too fast, mind - there's so much information being thrown at you so quickly that you regularly miss things - and not every single character needs to talk like they're Aaron Sorkin. Quibbles aside, the second season has really grown on me in a big way and I'm eager to see a third season come to fruition.
Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee Season 2 - a welcome return to the web-based, laid back, Jerry Seinfeld-hosted interview show which does what it says on the tin. It's a fun watch with a relaxed vibe.
CKY "Carver City"
Badfinger "Baby Blue" - apparently this track shot up the iTunes chart out of nowhere after the finale episode of Breaking Bad. It's a great song to close-out a great drama series - truly, one of the most memorable final moments.
Nirvana "About A Girl", "Dive", "In Bloom", "Come As You Are", and "Lithium".
GTA V "The Score" Soundtrack - I didn't always have the attention to really appreciate the nifty score for GTA V (always occupied in the moment by shooting, driving, or following instructions), but in an isolated form you really get to groove on it.
Trans Europa Express "Sequence 17" - from the giallo film "Watch Me When I Kill".
Age of Consent "Colours"
Battle Tapes "Feel The Same" - one of my most favourite tracks featured on the GTA V soundtrack.
Nite Jewel "Nowhere To Go"
Wavves "Nine Is God"
VIBES & FLAVOURS:
GTA V - well that's that done and dusted, and it was bloody good. Now to just piss about in this gloriously detailed sandbox. However, even with all the greatness, there's still some annoyances that put a smudge on the enjoyment factor.
It's so easy to die in this game. In GTA IV you could jump out of a chopper incredibly high above the city and land in a body of water and survive - not here. If you roll a car violently and hit a rock at the wrong angle it explodes and kills you.
The cops are a bit too aggressive - the 'cone vision' is a welcome tweak, but they're so eager to ram your car off the road and blow out your tyres that I've not got into the sort of malarky that I did in GTA IV (and even then that was diminished somewhat by the quick temper of the in-game cops).
The health bar - why not just have the whole thing regenerative? Why only the first 50%? Also, if you can pick up ammo and weapons from downed enemies, why can't you pick up plates for your bullet proof vest to stock that up? I very quickly grew tired of dropping $2250-a-pop on countless bullet proof vests throughout the entire game - and that's something to remember, this is a GAME afterall, let me have some fun. I want to jump out of a jet plane without a parachute and land in the ocean and survive, I want to crash through a windshield at 100mph and not die, I want to fall down a not-that-steep hill and not take a serious beating - this is supposed to be a game!
Is there any conclusion to a rampage other than death? Even with getting to really blow some shit up when you purchase a tank (which thankfully respawns) it's always the same conclusion - death. In GTA IV I was able to get into long-winded chases with the cops, or mount a siege from a defended position, max out my stars, and then manage to get away clean (if rather beaten up) ... in GTA V there's sod all chance of that happening.
There's a few niggles here and there that make you think 'why did they get so strict here?' when other elements are so much fun ... generally though, it's a full-on masterpiece of a game. For the handful of things they get wrong, they get so much more so very right.
"Brother of Mine" - a new DeadShed short film. It came together pretty quickly as Sean wanted to shoot something new for his acting showreel, and so we came up with this dark tale of familial revenge. I was properly chuffed with how it came together, and finally got to do my own 'boot shot' (or 'trunk shot' for the non-Brits reading this).