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Zombie Alert

What's coming up in the week ahead

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'You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows,' but these days, a guide through the seemingly endless flurry of pop culture is just what we need.

With that in mind, here is what's on the radar screen in TV, music and film for the coming week.




BIG RELEASES: Resident Evil:

Retribution (Sept. 14)

BIG PICTURE: Don't let the first four films' zombie body count fool you -- this time Alice (Milla Jovovich) is out for "retribution." All that previous dismembering and gunplay was just her "playing nice." Her target in the series' fifth instalment? The headquarters of the benign-sounding Umbrella Corporation, creators of the deadly zombie virus. Alice attacks the bad guys on their home turf -- Jason Bourne style - only to make a shocking discovery that threatens to overturn every conviction she holds dear (I felt the same way the first time I watched Toddlers & Tiaras).

FORECAST: Hey, Milla Jovovich needs to eat -- just as much as any flesh-hungry zombie. The seemingly annual release of another Resident Evil movie will simultaneously put food on her table, please fans and, most importantly, cull the zombie hordes. In many ways, we all win (except for the undead).




BIG EVENT: Go On (Sept. 11, 8 p.m., NBC and Global)

BIG PICTURE: I haven't always been kind to Matthew Perry. I may have once insinuated that he had nothing better to do than eat Doritos, drink Chardonnay and play video games in David Schwimmer's basement. But I was wrong. After a couple of post-Friends misfires (Studio 60 and Mr. Sunshine), Perry may have the last laugh with his new sitcom. Go On finds him playing Ryan King, a sarcastic (shocker!) sports-radio personality forced to attend group therapy after the unexpected loss of his wife.

FORECAST: It's Frasier meets ESPN meets The Bob Newhart Show meets ... the exorcism of Chandler Bing's ghost. Backed by a supporting cast of lovable misfits, Perry seems more comfortable in his new role. The grief therapy sessions will produce a healthy mix of laughter and touching moments, and Perry's innate likability will help him deliver both the witty and wounded moments. Also, you can expect a few amusing, real-world sporting cameos (I'm hoping for a Tim Tebow appearance -- just saying his name out loud makes me crack up).

The only factor that could have increased Go On's chances for success? Setting the show during a zombie apocalypse. The walking dead are hot right now -- and even Schwimmer could have found work as an undead extra. ( "Braaaains . . . Raaaachel! .... braaaains! ... Raaaaachel ... braaaains!. Gunshot. End scene.)

HONOURABLE MENTIONS: The New Normal (Sept. 11, 8:30 p.m., NBC and CTV). If The New Normal were a documentary instead of a sitcom, it could be screened to freak out Republican voters ahead of the U.S. election. A woman looking to build a new life for her daughter is hired to be a surrogate mother for two gay men. Add Ellen Barkin to the mix as a wildly politically-incorrect grandmother, and an unlikely family unit is developing. It's Modern Family meets Will & Grace meets the mind of seemingly inexhaustible showrunner Ryan Murphy (Glee, American Horror Story).

RETURNING SERIES OF THE WEEK: Boardwalk Empire (Sept. 16, HBO)





BIG PICTURE: Wouldn't Bob Dylan make a great "King of the zombies" in the inevitable Resident Evil 6? But for now, fans will have to settle for another brilliant outing from America's weathered poet, philosopher, musical chameleon -- and champion mumbler. Dylan's 35th album (slacker!) continues his recent mastery over America's musical genres. Tempest offers a whirlwind of R&B, swing, country, blues, gospel, jazz and bluegrass. Oddly enough, the most grim album in Dylan's career (the 14-minute title track deals with the Titanic tragedy and Roll On, John is about the assassination of John Lennon) proves the aging icon still has plenty of wind left in his sails.

FORECAST: The ominous title, Tempest, draws obvious comparisons to Shakespeare's final work. A robust piece of musical storytelling, one can only hope this is far from Dylan's last effort. We can't stop the times from a-changin', but I don't want live in a time where Dylan is no longer creating a musical storm.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS: The Dave Matthews Band (Away from this World); The xx (Coexist). The xx are not ONLY the ratings on Charlie Sheen's DVD collection -- they are also the name of one of the finest indie band's recording today. Your ears can coexist with their new recording. Meanwhile, Dave Matthews wants you to do more than "crash" into him on the band's eighth studio album. Borrowing from Dylan's old playbook, social and political messages define the effort.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 9, 2012 ??65526

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