The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

November 16, 2012

Joe Hadsall: If dark is OK, plenty of good TV is on air

By Joe Hadsall

JOPLIN, Mo. — If you don’t mind some darker, not-so-kid-friendly content, there some pretty good TV on right now.

There is also “The Voice,” I guess. The Lovely Paula Hadsall has introduced me to this show, and it is a nice change from other TV talent shows. While the songs themselves are covers, the singers are interesting, the judges are generally more helpful and the show’s feel is so much more supportive than the acidic Nigel Heart O’Hate, nasty British judge feel that runs through every other talent show out there.

Especially “America’s Got Talent.” That show has a mission to slaughter magicians, and I cannot abide.

But I like good storytelling, tense drama and paranormal or sci-fi themes, and TV has several good shows for me right now:

Walking Dead

Easily the best show on all of television right now. In its third season, “The Walking Dead” is the story of Rick and a group of survivors in the zombie apocalypse.

Fortunately, the Walkers in the show are slow. Unfortunately, they are abundant, determined and hungry. But a recurring theme of the show revels that sometimes the humans are the bigger monsters.

The show’s current arc is dancing along this theme in double time.

SPOILER ALERT: Rick is not handling the loss of his wife very well. Instead of attending to his newborn (Lori died during a grisly Cesarean procedure coldly ended by her son), he’s gone kind of nuts and is on a zombie-killing spree.

The Governor, the leader of a peaceful enclave guarded by a tough militia, has revealed a dark side that involves zombies and pit fights.

This season has been so powerful. I almost cried after Lori’s death, and it’s been a long time that a TV show could do that to me. The writers and producers have done an outstanding job of making a zombie apocalypse realistic and relatable — so much so that I can’t wait to see what’s up with that telephone conversation. END SPOILERS.

American Horror Story: Asylum

When producers announced that the second season of “American Horror Story” would pick up an entirely new storyline with several of the same actors, I was intrigued.

The first season dealt with a haunted house and a dysfunctional family that eventually discovers all its secrets. The house eventually brings them all back together — just not in a way they expected. I’d explain further, but I already used up all my capital letters for “SPOILER ALERTS.”

Anyway, the second season happens at Briarcliff Mental Institution circa 1964. There’s plenty of disturbing things going on, including some not so scientific experiments, punishment and more.

Jessica Lange, Zachary Quinto and Evan Peters return to the cast, and are joined by James Cromwell, Lily Rabe, Joseph Fiennes and Chloe Sevigny. It’s a stellar cast that brings a lot of weight and levity to outlandish tortures and situations.

Rabe, in particular, has showed a dynamic range as Sister Mary Eunice. She’s so good that I didn’t even recognize her from her role as Nora Montgomery from the first season.

In fact, that’s the gem. Those actors have made the collection of ghosts, serial killers, behavior modifications, demonic possession, a still-living Anne Frank, Nazis, exorcism and aliens — yes, aliens — seem completely real and commonplace.

Where season 1 featured a lot of unlikable characters that find redemption, I found myself rooting instantly for many of the characters in season two. Even Sister Jude, a high-ranking nun in control of the institution with plenty of her own demons.

Granted, I kinda giggled