THE WALKING DEAD MARATHON
Starts at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 24
If you haven't been watching the second season of AMC's groundbreaking "The Walking Dead," you're really missing out. The series, based on the graphic novels by Robert Kirkman follows the fortunes of a rag-tag group of refugees as they shamble through the American South following a zombie apocalypse. The disease is spread through bites, with the infected slowly transforming into ravenous undead monsters who hunger only for human flesh. Yes, it's harsh and bleak, with pull-no-punches direction from Frank Darabont ("The Green Mile," "The Shawshank Redemption"), but it's also one of the smartest things on TV right now. Be warned though: as signaled by the first scene of the series, when lead character and former deputy sheriff Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) shoots a zombified girl of about 7 — wearing bunny slippers no less — in the forehead just before she can attack him, this is a show that never cuts away to save the delicate sensibilities of the audience. While the first season of the show focused on the group fighting their way through an urban nightmare full of zombies while trying to seek refuge at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta (which turned out to be no safe haven at all), the second season has focused much more on the interpersonal relationships within the group as they adjust to the new reality. For those who aren't up on the series, AMC has been kind enough to present the entire second season so far back to back on Thanksgiving Day. Might not want to watch it after chowing down on that jellied cranberry sauce and turkeyflesh, but it's definitely one to DVR and then take in small doses over the next few days.
A VERY GAGA THANKSGIVING
8:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 24
While Lady Gaga has clearly been dipping into Madonna's closet and playbook, remaking herself over and over while wearing a wardrobe that looks like something you might see in a fetish club from "Blade Runner," you've got to hand it to her: she's got the singing chops, and people willing to overlook any amount of eccentricity of weirdness if you can break it down and belt it out. So it is with Lady Gaga (born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta). With a soaring vocal range, a next-level sense of style and the ability to play all her own instruments, Gaga seems to have realized what Madonna, Salvador Dali and Mozart realized before her: that weird is good in an artist, that flash gets you noticed, that acting strange can actually make you appeal more to an audience of people who rarely felt like they fit in themselves. Here, in what might most be her most avant-garde public performance yet (Gaga doing a holiday special on network television? MON DIEU!), Mother Monster brings her commanding voice and stage presence to ABC for an after-Thanksgiving treat. Scheduled: performances of all her greatest hits, a few holiday tunes, a duet with her idol Tony Bennett, and an in-depth interview with Katie Couric. Should be a lot of fun.
EDWARD SCISSORHANDS (1990)
New to Netflix Instant
While I think Chris Nolan's contributions to the "Batman" film legacy clearly outweigh those of Tim Burton, I still dearly love Burton's films. From his earliest attempts at movie-making, Burton has distinguished himself as one of our quirkiest directors, tackling fare like resurrected weeniedogs, a world where it's Halloween year round, a loving black-and-white biopic of the worst film director who ever lived, and a detective-story take on the spooky classic "Sleepy Hollow." My favorite of his films, however, is the strangely beautiful "Edward Scissorhands." Starring a very young Johnny Depp, it's odd from the beginning, set in an overly-perfect wasteland of pastel-painted tract houses, with the neighborhood overshadowed — inexplicably — by a looming Frankenstein's castle on a black mountain. Turns out the castle was home to a genuine mad scientist, who made a man named Edward (Depp) from scratch, but died before he was able to create hands for him. In their place, Edward has scissors for fingers. After he is discovered living alone in the castle by an Avon Lady (Dianne Wiest), he's brought down to live among the people below, and manages to change their lives. Written out flat like that, the plot of "Edward Scissorhands," like a lot of Burton's films, sounds absolutely bonkers. Depp and Burton manage to pull it off in spades, however, making a film full of childlike wonder, pain, love and magic. In the end, it's really a kind of extended metaphor for the quirks we all have and yet might ridicule in others. It's still a lovely thing, even after all these years.