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Daily Reads: ‘The Walking Dead’s’ Most Memorable Deaths, The Worst TV of 2014 and More

Daily Reads: 'The Walking Dead's' Most Memorable Deaths, The Worst TV of 2014 and More

Criticwire’s Daily Reads brings today’s essential
news stories and critical pieces to you.

1. “The Walking Dead’s” Most Memorable Deaths. Sunday’s episode of “The Walking Dead” had one of the least surprising deaths in the show’s history. To remember better (read: worse, more horrifying) times, The New York Post’s Elisabeth Vincentelli picked the show’s most memorable deaths.

LoriBy the time Rick’s wife (Sarah Wayne Callies) met her end in Season 3, she was so annoying that her character assassination predated her actual death. Still, Lori went out in a blaze of gory: a bloody C-section followed by an anti-zombiefication bullet in the head at the hand of her own son. Read more.

2. The Best Stand-up Comics Who Directed. Top Five” sees Chris Rock trying to channel his inner-Woody Allen and become a respected comedian-turned-director in his own right. James Rocchi of Rolling Stone took a look at other notable comics who tried their hand behind the camera.

She started out as one half of the pioneering comedy duo Nichols and May — the epitome of “snob and mob appeal” — and ended up becoming one of the more in-demand screenwriters (and script doctors) of the 1970s and 1980s. But Elaine May has also directed four films, each one singularly wonderful, idiosyncratic, left-of-center and offbeat enough to make you wish she’d gotten the chance, or perhaps the leeway, to do more. She’s become one of the great martyrs of the studio system, tussling with her patrons and, courtesy of the underrated “Ishtar” (1987), had her reputation dragged through the mud. But make no mistake: Anyone who’s seen “A New Leaf” (1971) or “Mickey and Nicky” (1976) knows that May is a filmmaking force to be reckoned with. May’s “The Heartbreak Kid” (1972) is both a perfect film and the precursor to today’s cringe comedy, featuring the single best Charles Grodin performance ever — yes, better than “Midnight Run” — and the cinema’s best sunburn gag ever. Read more.

3. The Typography of “Alien.” The monsters and production design of “Alien” were revolutionary, as was the film’s mixture of horror and science-fiction. But Dave Addey thinks that the film’s use of type is just as remarkable, and he wrote about it on his blog Typeset in the Future.

The opening credits for “Alien” are nothing short of a typographic masterpiece. You can watch them in their entirety on the Art Of The Title web site, but here’s the general gist: a slow, progressive disclosure of a disjointed, customized Futura reveals the movie’s central theme over 90 seconds of beautifully-spaced angular lettering. Read more.

4. Why Female-Centric Sex is Everywhere Now. TV is getting more and more adventurous in its depiction of sex, and the most heartening development is the greater focus on sex lives and sex drives of women. Vulture’s Margaret Lyons writes about why now is the time for female-centric sex on television.

The straight and lesbian sex on “Transparent,” for example, is part of creator Jill Soloway’s depiction of the female gaze: The show sees and approaches bodies and sexuality through women’s eyes in ways that tend not to objectify women. Women are still eroticized, certainly, but it’s for their pleasure. We see that again on “Outlander,” with Claire’s desires as a central idea and the hunky Jamie being more of the object. “Orange Is the New Black is the industry leader in female-driven sex scenes, and that’s a show that likes to have it, well, both ways: Some of its nudity can be a little cheesecake and mainstream-porn-y, but other scenes are vividly authentic. Most important, gaze politics aside, across all these shows, naked female bodies are not the backdrop against which we can see how tortured and sad men are. These women are active participants who have sexual agency. Read more.

5. Worst Television of 2014. This year was a particularly strong year for television, but every year has its fair share of duds, and The A.V. Club picked the year’s biggest disasters. Vikram Murthi wrote about “Mixology,” a show that somehow managed to make drinking look boring.

Over the course of its single-season run, “Mixology” committed many, many sins—a premise with laughably low stakes, an asinine structural conceit, casual misogyny, an insistence on making the euphemism “smash” some kind of a catchphrase—but the most curious is its depiction of drinking. A night out at a bar with friends should theoretically be an enjoyable time, but “Mixology” believes that a bar is a battlefield and drinking is a necessary evil in the midst of war. Every character is so desperate to get laid that they spend more time strategizing how to snag their latest conquests than actually having fun. The bar itself never feels like a place where everybody knows your name, and no one in the series’ claustrophobic world is there just to be there. “Mixology” was a sitcom set in a bar; the very least they can do is make drinking and hanging out seem like more than a chore. But alas, that was asking too much. Read more.

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