This week sucks. Not for what it has, but for what it’s lacking.
See friends, for months now, I’ve had my eye on the week of October 16, since it seems like everything I like is becoming available after that date. Many of these things are long awaited and much hyped. Can they possibly survive the weight of expectation? Let’s investigate.
October 16: The Walking Dead, Season 2 Premiere
Partly on account of the woman I live with, partly due to my own fandom, I’ve seen all six episodes of AMC’s zombie apocalypse drama about five times already. To say we’re both excited for Sunday is putting it mildly. Do not call, do not text, do not tweet, do not knock on our door. We will not respond.
But are we just setting ourselves up for disappointment? The show’s already lost original showrunner Frank Darabont under cloudy circumstances [rumours range from being unaccustomed to the grind of weekly TV to budget disputes with the network], and I have my own concerns that a full slate of 13 episodes will likely lead to a bit of bloat and sag around the middle of the season. That said, though, I sat down this weekend and watched Torn Apart, a six episode webseries that explains the origins of Bicycle Girl, the legless zombie from the pilot, and was immediately on board again.
Hype Level: 8/10
Letdown Odds: 35%, likely to ebb and flow as the season progresses.
October 18: Batman: Arkham City releases for the XBox 360 and PS3
2009’s Batman: Arkham Asylum was not only one of that year’s best games, it was one of my all time favourites and hands down the best Batman game ever. This is because developers Rocksteady realized what everyone before them seemed to have missed:
He’s fucking Batman!
How many times have you played a Batman game and ended up getting killed by some mook with a machine gun. Would never happen, he’s fucking Batman. He should have that guy knocked unconscious five different ways before the bad guy even thinks to pull the trigger. This is what Rocksteady realized, so they streamlined the fighting system into the most beautifully elegant combo system I’ve ever played. When you enter a room surrounded by goons, severely outnumbered, it’s never a matter of if you’ll whoop everyone’s ass, but how awesomely you’ll do it. You can do it clumsily, taking the odd punch now and then, or you can eliminate everyone in a seamless combo of limb-breakings and reversals. Either way, you’ll win the fight, which you should, because you’re fucking Batman!
Add to that a the killer stealth elements, a story written by Animated Series scribe Paul Dini and voice acting by the iconic Batman/Joker pair of Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill, and you get a fanboy’s dream.
Arkham City reassembles all of those elements and throws in some Assassin’s Creed-style open world gameplay and sidemissions, a stellar cast of villains only hinted at in the first game, Catwoman as a playable character out of the box, Nightwing and Red Robin as DLC, as well as skins to make Batman look like his Bruce Timm design, and I am willing to just hand over my wallet to Rocksteady now, they can just charge me as new things become available. They will own me.
Hype Level: 10/10
Letdown Odds: 5% [Unless the first batch of discs are defective, that’s the only way I can see it falling short].
October 18: Beats, Rhymes And Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest releases on DVD and BluRay
Double whammy on the 18th as my favourite hip-hop flick of all time gets a home release. I’ve sung the praises of the film previously here, and the DVD is sure to remedy some of my previous criticisms like the skimming over of the group’s later career and including the footage of people who were there at the time, instead of people who grew up as fans. But there’s only so much space on a DVD, and I’m sure to be let down by what footage is still missing, even though the film itself will be as fun and entertaining as it was the two times I saw it in the theatre.
Hype Level: 6/10
Letdown Odds: 84%
October 19: A Commemoration of Some Sort
That we don’t need to talk about here. I imagine there will be considerable time spent pondering my own mortality and the grim spectre of death. I am sure to be disappointed, but that will have everything to do with me.
Hype Level: 3/10
Letdown Odds: 92% [less with the day, and more with myself. Ah-bah-dum, pssssh!]
October 24-25: 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami and Steve Jobs: A Biography by Walter Isaacson both release.
I’ve been a Murakami fan since way back. I actually can’t remember the first book of his I read, it might have been Norwegian Wood. I just remember I bought it because I was in the middle of my Japan-o-philia and finding any novels by Japanese authors at the Windsor Chapters guaranteed I was going to buy it. But I’ve never understood why everyone else seemed to like him so much. I call it the ‘Tragically Hip Paradox,” where a performer or author achieves baffling mainstream success. Like the Tragically Hip. I still have no idea why they’re Canada’s National Band. If any of the guys in the leather-strap MUSKOKA hats can explain to me what the lyrics to ‘Poets‘ means, I’d be delighted to hear it.
Similarly, I find it hard to believe that all the people I see picking up Murakami’s novels are really on board with the talking cats and well sitting and vanishing elephants. I delight in such weirdness, I’m just surprised to see so many other readers are on board with it. At any rate, 1Q84 looks to be a return to the epic weirdness of earlier works like The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and Hard-Boiled Wonderland & The End of the World, after the pleasant but muddled After Dark. And if the recent excerpt in the New Yorker is any indication, cats a’plenty!
The Isaacson book is tragically timely, coming as it does on the heels of Jobs’s death, but for the nerd contingent and the Cult of Mac, it’ll be a fascinating look into the man whose demons and passions sculpted how many of us connect with the people in our lives. Written with Jobs’s cooperation and assembled from over fifty interviews with him, he still never looked to censor what any competitors or employees might have had to say about his behaviour as a businessman and a boss, which could be notoriously surly and totalitarian, but the people who change the world usually are.
Hype Level: 6/10 [Murakami]; 8/10 [Isaacson]
Letdown Odds: 46% [Murakami]; 28% [Isaacson]
Look at that mess, people! Have you seen so much awesome packed into nine days?! The only down side is I won’t have any time to enjoy half of it, since I’ll be in an XBox stupor playing Arkham City until Christmas.