We’re Retiring!

stock-footage-tv-static-with-stereo-white-noiseWe’re incredibly sad to announce that, as of today, Pond Hopping Girls is going on indefinite hiatus.

We’ve been struggling for a while, now, to juggle real life, PHG and our rapidly dwindling social lives. Something had to give. Regretfully, that something is PHG. As we became more and more busy, and as the list of reviews we were late on piled up, we became more guilty and more stressed. We know that, hard as it may be, leaving PHG behind is the only way we can find that work-life balance we hear people talk about so much. And, possibly, the only way for us to retain the last vestiges of our sanity.

But all is not lost, faithful viewers. The sites (pondhoppinggirls.com and pondhoppinggirls.tumblr.com) will remain active in the hopes that, one day, someone will be willing to pay us to review TV and we can quit our day jobs. Our social media sites (Facebook, Twitter) will also stay up and they may actually see some action – we know that, retirement or not, sometimes we’re just not going to be able to restrain ourselves.

In the meantime, thank you to everyone who tuned in to our stuff. Thank you to everyone who commented, followed, liked, shared, retweeted… you name it. And thank you to our regular (and irregular) contributors, J(ohn Carey), Eoghan Dalton and Bridget O’Flynn. It’s been special, guys.

Until next time… – K

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“Infected” – The Walking Dead

tumblr_mvq2bwO4QX1ruwr5go2_500Carol Peletier, remorseless murder machine and domestic violence survivor, has been exiled from the prison. Considering the fact that it’s been two episodes since she cold-bloodedly killed two former friends and burned their bodies, it’s about fucking time. I’d have thought Rick would kill her, but the Sheriff doesn’t seem to have her sociopathic tendencies and, rather, allowed her to trundle off into the sunset in a station wagon, with ample supplies, presumably to find a new group (as Rick suggested) or, far more likely, find a nice hole to die in. A bit too much mercy if you ask me, even if stubbly Rick made it very clear that if it had meant the safety of his children he would have been far less kind.

Meanwhile, Daryl, Michonne, an increasingly unstable Tyreese, and recently-confirmed alcoholic Bob manage to make it to the fabled veterinary college in search of sweet, sweet western medicine. What we learn, chiefly, from this is that, if it suits the plot, zombies only appear once an objective is complete, and that drawing on Daryl is a really bad idea. Bob, in hopes of preserving his looted brandy, made this mistake, and received one of the most cringeworthy stare-downs in television history. Along with the threat of a thorough, hillbilly ass-whooping should he decide to crack said bottle before the group can return to the prison. Great acting by Norman “Feedus More” Reedus in this scene, being pretty bloody intense with arms all a-glistening. And, now that his debilitating illness is out in the open, Bob’s a much more interesting character, and I’m hoping to see him devolve more over coming episodes. I think Daryl will lay a beating on the poor, skinny fuck, even if he can stay on the wagon long enough to make it home.

Voice actress Brina Palencia makes her first and last appearance on this week’s airing, playing Ana, a girl presumably Continue reading

“Isolation” – The Walking Dead

isolation7-710x400What the fuck, Carol?

I know she’s gotten a lot tougher since she lost her (abusive) husband and her adorable daughter, but killing two people in cold blood and burning their corpses is a bit extreme. Wait, did I say a bit? I meant batshit. It’s batshit extreme, and downright out of character. I suppose her reasoning was that, by taking two lives, she might stop the spread of… Well, it was a virus last week, but Herschel sent Daryl, Michonne, Tyresse and Bob ‘Not-Actually-That-Suspicious’ Stookey out for antibiotics. My medical knowledge is limited at best, but I know that viruses aren’t affected by antibiotics. But who am I to doubt a vet with a beard like that? Let’s just call the fucker a plague. Carol thought two grisly murders would stop the plague from spreading. To paraphrase a grief-addled Tyreese, you thought wrong, bitch!

So a plague is running rampant through the prison and is currently being treated with naught more than elderberry tea (real fucking butch there, Herschel) and bed rest. Not exactly what you want when symptoms include hacking up blood. Regardless of what the specifics of the plague are, it’s really nothing more than a maguffin – another threat dropped on the characters in order to Continue reading

“Infected” – The Walking Dead

dead1“Infected”, the second installment in the fourth season of The Walking Dead, was, if nothing else, a lively one. The body count was high. A big chunk of D block, new characters Patrick and Ryan (who leaves behind two little girls), and former Woodbury resident and survivor of the Governors’ ‘army massacre’ among the corpsified. Oh, and pigs. Like, all the pigs. It’s enough to make your Monday feel a bit anxiety-inducing, so here’s a .GIF of puppies.

Feeling a little better? Good, let’s continue. The idea of a plague (illness) during a plague (zombies) seems like bad writing, but I guess it’s at least reasonable. Modern medicine has pushed mortality rates way down and, historically speaking, right now is as good a time as any to be alive in North America. But, once shit hits the fan and hospitals disappear (as you can imagine they might when most medical professionals retrain and become the undead), then, yeah, the flu would be a pretty dangerous thing. I spent this weekend popping pills in a rainbow of colors in order to get over a strep throat. I experienced fever for the first time in my adult life and, after a bit of reflection following my bedridden viewing of “Infected”, solemnly thought to myself that, prior to the invention of antibiotics, that might have been something that could have killed me. Fever isn’t all that bad though… I made a new friend. His name is Eli, and he’s a kung-fu space hooker from the x’aa dimension. *Checks thermometer* Okay, maybe I’ll need a few more days to beat this thing.

I actually liked “Infected” quite a lot, and I generally like the direction the show seems to be taking. But, in typical Walking Dead style, it Continue reading

The Walking Dead – The Story So Far, Why I’m Not 100% on Board, and “30 Days Without an Accident”

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I’ve been reviewing TV for a while now and, up until now, it’s always been stuff I would have watched anyway. This is no longer true, because I agreed to take a crack at The Walking Dead. I’ve never read the comics, never played the games, and my viewing of the show had been spotty at best, until I rectified that by binge-viewing on my couch with 20 bottles of foamy lager. The things I do for you people! As for my opinion on the series… well, it’s not bad, but it has its flaws, which fanboys/girls seem more than eager to ignore.

Let’s begin with the premise. *sigh*. Zombies. Zombies are the basis of the whole series and that’s not something which thrills me greatly. See, I think zombies have been done to death. Every single thing in pop culture seems to also have a zombie mod. From Call of Duty to Pride and Prejudice, society has gone far overboard on zombies, but at least The Walking Dead has the good sense to be a character drama, rather than straight out zombie brawling. A good move, too (in terms of the show’s stunningly mediocre writing), is the decision to never say “zombie”. Geek, Walker, Biter, Deadhead, Infected, Thing… it’s a method of keeping half a vestige of realism. Yes, they’re zombies, but say that word and parody is not far behind.

And The Walking Dead doesn’t do parody. No character is safe, nothing is sacred. The bastards who write this show are loose-cannon types who play by their own rules. It might not be the best-written show on television but, by god, it’s entertaining. Mostly because Continue reading

“Felina” – Breaking Bad

5x16_-_Felina_PROMO_5“Felina” is the last episode of Breaking Bad, quite possibly the best television program of the last few years. As such, there’s always going to be a tendency on the part of the audience to view it as the crux of the series; to look upon it as the series’ glorious magnum opus. This is, sadly, not true. I ran the numbers and, when you take away the hype, “Felina” was excellent, but perhaps not the best episode in the show’s history. If you’d like to see the rough work, I’m sorry, but my dog ate it. Just trust me.

I’d like to take a second to ask the burning question: “How is life going to go on without Breaking Bad?” Well, hopefully, we’ll be able to enjoy the proposed Saul Goodman spinoff, Better Call Saul, but I’m surely not the only one with a secret fear that it will contract spinoff-itis and be cancelled after the first season (like mercy killing a deformed clone in its infancy), just like Friends spinoff Joey. I’m not saying it’s likely, but I’m still concerned. Having the new series feature Lavel Crawford and Bill Burr as Huell and Kuby, respectively, will go a long way to quieting my fears.

Back to “Felina” – something I really loved about this episode was the return of Walt’s MacGuyver-esque persona, a combination of Bill Nye, Rube Goldberg and the Warden from Superjail! (a show that I’d highly recommend). This part of Walt, the most dangerous side to his character, is representative of two things Continue reading

“Ozymandias” – Breaking Bad

br11“Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!”

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare

The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Ozymandias, Percy Bhysshe Shelly

 

I’m rarely, if ever, speechless. I’m something of a loudmouth, and I’ve got an opinion (that I’m more than happy to share) on most everything, but writing this piece is tough. It’s not often that television shocks me, that I’m left at a loss for either praise or criticism, but “Ozymandias” threw me for a very wide loop. So much of the series has changed over the past few episodes, and characters have developed so fast and so drastically that it feels as if it’s an entirely new show. And I’m disappointed. Not with the writers, or the actors, or the producers, but with Walt. The last thing I could ever have imagined him doing was abandoning his family, leaving them so badly in the lurch, near penniless, and traumatized (Walt Jr in particular, but we’ll come back to him) – leaving to begin a new life without them. What a bastard.

I think I’ve said before that Walt has always had the survival instincts of a drowning rat, but I never once would have thought that he had the morals of one. And yet his transformation is complete. No longer is any part of the old Walt – the man who became a criminal to provide for his family – left living. It’s as if all of that, all of the ‘anti-hero’ qualities that I loved about him, was burned away by greed and hate, and now only the cruel, greedy, slimy heart of darkness is left. I’ve stopped rooting for him. Season 5 has no real villain left. It’s just Walt. It’s just Heisenberg.

We never saw Continue reading

“To’hajiilee” – Breaking Bad

breaking-bad-tohajiileeI’ve never needed to pitch a TV show before but, if I had to have a pilot script ready for tomorrow morning in the most unlikely gun-to-your-head scenario imaginable, my title would be Huell & Kuby: Mystery Team. Spin-offs generally suck, with the notable exception of Frasier and Angel, but I think these two characters, with Lavell Crawford and Bill Burr playing their Breaking Bad roles in a more lighthearted buddy-comedy/drama would actually be much more entertaining than most of the dreck being made today. For one thing, it’d be nice to see Crawford on TV more, since I genuinely worry about his career once Breaking Bad ends. But I also want to see that show because both of these men are incredibly funny comedians. Bill Burr is, of course, the much better known of the pair, but I made a point of watching a couple of Lavell Crawford’s stand-up routines, and was pleasantly surprised to have my sides rent in twain by a very large, black gentleman. (And no, not in the way you’re thinking.)

A little something extra filling me with glee this week was the discovery that Todd “Ricky Hitler” Alquist’s ringtone is Thomas Dolby’s 1982 single “She Blinded Me with Science” – in my opinion the second most underrated song of that year, the first being “Da Da Da” by Trio. I have a vague feeling that this may be foreshadowing of some future event, wherein someone, most likely Lydia or Skyler, literally blinds Todd with science, accomplished via a beaker of corrosives to the eyes. I have nothing against Jesse Plemmons, but he does have that sort of face that would make this outcome seem less like a horrific maiming and more like slapstick gold.

And with two paragraphs of fun out of the way, it’s time to move on to the meat-and-potatoes that is the actual review of this week’s episode, “To’hajiilee”, hereafter referred to simply as “Unspellable”. Why? Because it fucking is! I’d prefer to refer to the location using Walt’s oft repeated GPS coordinates than type out “To’hajiilee” repeatedly, checking against my title for spelling errors. I’ve had to do that twice already, and I’m not doing it again.

So “Unspellable” is one of those episodes where Continue reading

“Rabid Dog” – Breaking Bad

3a60694327a35c9e7bf0dd5b1109554f-1Jesse Pinkman is far less street than I thought. Why do I say that? Because he’s clearly not familiar with the cardinal rule of being a gangbanger – ’Live like a snitch, you gon’ die like a bitch’. I call this the Stoolpigeon Axiom of Crime. I’m the sort of lad who’d bet the keys to the kingdom that it holds true, in real life or in New Mexican crime drama. I’m going to call it right now: Jesse will die. Mark my words.

“Rabid Dog” does, however, bring up more interesting points than Jesse’s new role as DEA informant, and I’m going to write about them in no particular order because this is my review and you’re just the plebeian sheep grazing on my ramblings. If you’re still reading now you’re not an easily offended little bitch and we can be friends. To commemorate this wonderful new friendship, let’s talk about Hank.

Hank is, for want of a better word, a bastard. Walt’s murdered people, Skyler is a bitch (again. Her grace period didn’t last very fucking long, eh?), Walt Junior is to breakfast what Bobby Brown was to crack, and Todd is some kind of Aryan chaotic neutral, even more terrifying for his unpredictability. But Hank really is a user. He’s happy as a pig in plop to send Jesse to his death in order to serve his own interest, despite repeatedly ensuring him that the might of the DEA would keep him safe.

Surprisingly, even after this, Jesse still Continue reading

“Confessions” – Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad 5/11Appropriately enough, I’d like to make a small confession before I begin – this is the first time I’ve legally watched an episode of anything before reviewing it. Yeah, I sold out and went straight.

Casting my gangster history aside, it’s good to finally see shit getting real on Breaking Bad. This definitely isn’t the best episode of the show’s run, but it’s in the Top 15, guaranteed. Let us begin by analysing the complex relationship between people and chain restaurants raised in this episode. Or maybe it was just raised in my mind. Whatever. Shut up and listen.

People like chain restaurants because they’re easy and, much like Western movies, they’re all the same. From coast to coast, and sometimes across continents and oceans, you can find pretty much the exact same fare in every outlet of that chain and, sometimes, it doesn’t even taste that bad. But people hate chain restaurants, because chain restaurants suck. Sorry, but generally true. Corporate, cheesy and exactly where a self-respecting human never, ever wants to go. So what do you do when you find yourself somewhere like Gardinios? The sort of Mexican-themed hellhole where no Mexican would dare enter? Well, in this writer’s opinion, you should stab the cheery shit of a waiter (Todd Duffy, playing pretty much the same character as he did in Office Space) right in his pasty, pencil thin neck. Phew… Sorry, this is a touchy subject for me.

So, the restaurant scene. I liked this. I liked the Office Space references. I liked the tension. I liked Continue reading