Those recent viral videos of cats being spooked by cucumbers remind me of a television show I saw a few years ago in which a woman was petrified of bananas. I don't remember exactly what it was called but it was something along the lines of "Let's Poke Fun at These Freakish People with Daft Phobias". This lady developed her irrational fear after being force-fed the fruit as a child, but it wasn't just the taste that terrified her, even the smell or sight of a banana made her feel so sick, she couldn't bear to be in the same room as one.
While the comically shaped fruit does not make me quiver, spiders and great heights (or falling from a great height into a pit of giant spiders) get my sphincter twitching like a rabbit's nose. I'm just thankful I'm not one of those poor wretches who suffer from turophobia: the fear of cheese, goddammit!
An overwhelming fear of zombies is perhaps more understandable, and unfortunately there're plenty more of the lumbering flesh-munchers fighting for screen time next week, as Fear the Walking Dead (AMC, Monday at 9am, with a 10pm repeat) returns for a second season.
Fear the Walking Dead was contrived as a spin-off prequel to its more famous brother, The Walking Dead. The short, often laboriously paced, first season began with the threat of a zombie apocalypse and finished with an intense action-packed finale as the undead streamed through the streets of Los Angeles. It was a satisfying, if predictable, conclusion to the tension that had been building slowly over the previous five episodes, but in the end it was also what separated the show from the original series. As the main characters began fleeing the city, the fear of the walkers' arrival was almost more of a hindrance to their escape than the actual presence of the undead, the selfish instincts of the human race quickly turning the terrified against one another.
Now, relative calm (at least, for the beginning-of-the-end-of-the-world) has descended, but it isn't long before the premiere gets the heart pumping once again, as the living living take to the open water to avoid the marauding living dead. It's a second season that promises to be less about the chase and more of an exploration of humanity and morality.
Fear the Walking Dead is entertaining enough to temporarily distract you from any irrational fears you may have - unless, that is, you suffer from acute kinemortophobia.
When Boogie Nights was released, in 1997, Dirk Diggler's impressive appendage grabbed the headlines, overshadowing Don Cheadle's praiseworthy performance as porn star Buck Swope. Cheadle deservedly went on to grab an Oscar nomination for his lead role in genocide drama Hotel Rwanda. Throughout his storied career, Cheadle's only true misstep has been the godawful Cockney accent he stuck with throughout Steven Soderbergh's Ocean's trilogy. That accent was so cringeworthy - "Cor blimey guvnor, dinee 'arf talk a load of old Jacksons!" - it gave Dick Van Dyke, who butchered the dialect in the 1964 film Mary Poppins, a run for his money.
Cheadle is wise enough to stick to what he knows best as he returns to his role in the dark comedy House of Lies, the fifth season of which begins on Monday at 10pm, on FX. While the focus will fall once again on Cheadle's manipulative and immoral management consultant, Marty Kaan, the new season sees the old "pod" back together, as Marty wrestles with the idea of selling the firm he founded. Unfortunately, there won't be another wonderful egomaniacal cameo from Matt Damon, but the laughter continues to stem from Cheadle's fine comic acting, and not another unintentionally comical accent.