The Walking Dead 3.01: "Seed" (2012) directed by Ernest R. Dickerson
I'm still on the Netflix schedule for this show, so I remain a year behind the rest of the world. Works for me. Can't say I care about being spoiled. There's nothing they're ever going to do that will be as remotely shocking as the things that have already gone down in the comic series.
It's a fine start to the season. They finally find the prison and Rick pushes them to dig deeper into the complex before relaxing. There's some stupid character moments -- why venture into the prison before completely exhausting the "rattle the fence, stab the head" trick? -- but I expect those in this show now. Really, it seems like the main reason to continue watching is just for the spectacle of the apocalypse, which, for me, is endlessly fascinating. Also, though I have a feeling the quality will drop way off during the rest of the season, the zombie effects in this episode were superb. Particularly, the limbless/jawless companions to Michone looked awesome.
American Horror Story 1.06: "Piggy Piggy" (2011) directed by Michael Uppendahl
No new prior owner-ghosts visit the house this episode! That alone is a step in the right direction after the drop in quality in the last few eps. I though Taissa Farmiga was excellent in this episode, playing a teen-aged girl who's just found out that ghosts are real, her boyfriend is one of them, and he killed a whole lot of people before dying. She mixes in looks of complete hauntedness, anger, and despair as a reaction to these shocking revelations in an incredibly authentic manner.
What I don't understand: why does Constance think Violet is special? As far as I can tell, everyone in the house can see the ghosts. Violent doesn't appear to be any more sensitive than the security guard who hauled ghost-Hayden away. Are we retconning Violet's importance in the series now?
Tales from the Darkside 1.15: "Answer Me" (1985) directed by Richard Friedman
Finally, after 15 episodes, one that I would actually consider to be from "the darkside." Jean Marsh plays the episode's sole character Joan, who has recently subletted an apartment from a friend. She quickly discovers that the walls are very thin and the neighbor's phone will not stop ringing. There are also occasional bangs on their shared wall, as if something is being slammed against it. Eventually, after a lot of talking to herself (an inevitability in a show with only one character), she musters the courage to go next door and confront the neighbors.
I haven't felt quite this much dread during an older TV show in quite a while. The neighbor's apartment is dimly light and empty. There are dents in the wall from what look like hands. It feels like anything could jump out a Joan. The mood is enhanced when she speaks with a malevolent operator using the offending phone, then further enhanced when she decides to return a second time to the apartment when the ringing continues. There, all of the tension is destroyed in one swift move: the telephone itself attacks in some very badly marionetted moves. Very, very disappointing.