This Is Us Has Returned

The television show, The Paley Center Salutes This Is Us, debuted with much fanfare one week prior to the return of my favorite TV show, This Is Us. The Paley show discussed the many layers of the characters’ lives including the birth of triplets, one of whom was stillborn. The Caucasian parents adoption of an abandoned African American baby who was born the same day makes for many awkward moments in their upbringing.

The time-tripping story takes you throughout their lives, often in the same episode. Viewers must watch carefully for clues to which era is being portrayed. The Paley Center program introduced the creators, writers, directors, and actors of this popular dramatic, multigenerational series. The program revealed insight into how they were able to portray the intertwining of the characters’ complicated lives from childhood to adulthood.

The writers worked diligently to create a believable family drama and allowed the actors to have some input into how their characters evolved. One heart wrenching example involved one actor’s disclosure that his father died when he was ten years old. This allowed the actor to use the impact of his loss in a compelling reaction to the death of his actor father during a significant scene.

The popularity of this series prompted People Magazine to publish an entire issue devoted to the complete guide to the show. Each character is described and featured with beautiful color pictures. Snippets of storylines are explained and hints of scenes to come are revealed. For devoted fans of This Is Us, this magazine is a keeper.

Some fans of the show go online after each episode to discuss the numerous story lines and how they are affected by them. Many people have said they relate to the characters’ problems and are touched by the way characters handle each situation.  

To understand this compelling, multigenerational, multiracial story, watch the series from the beginning. Get a copy of the magazine. Have your tissue handy. If you are already a fan, please tell me how this show affects you.

Video Game Monsters That Scare Me

I am someone who’s grown up watching horror films and I would say I don’t scare easy. I tend to look at movies with a filmmaker’s perspective and appreciate the work it took to bring them to life.

Horror video games are a completely different story, particularly the ones that completely immerse the player within a life-like environment. The atmosphere aside, I get especially terrified when coming face to face with certain video game creatures. Below is my list of monsters I’d rather run from or avoid encounters with than engage in combat.

1) Banshees (Mass Effect 3) – Long-limbed mutant aliens with a distinctive scream, Banshees are one of the most formidable adversaries present in Mass Effect 3. They are capable of teleporting toward you in short bursts and will kill you instantly if they catch you. The downside of Mass Effect 3 is that it is impossible to completely avoid encounters with these creatures. You are forced into a close-quarters fight with one near the end of the game. Even more scary is facing both Banshees and Phantoms – human adversaries who are equally deadly at close range – in the hardest difficulty of multiplayer skirmishes.

2) Deathclaws (Fallout series) – A creature that I had zero knowledge of until very late into my first playthrough of Fallout 3, Deathclaws are large reptilian demonic-looking monsters with long talons. I was too scared to move for several minutes when I first saw one. I have since tried to avoid encounters with the creatures when possible. I am even too chicken to venture into most areas where large groups of Deathclaws can be found.

3) Revenants (Resident Evil: Revelations 2) – Most genetically-engineered monsters in the Resident Evil series are the stuff of nightmares. But those created by a sadistic scientist in Revelations 2 are in a league of their own. For starters, there are the Revenants – creatures comprised of two or more humans that have been stitched together to create a downright terrifying monstrosity. Even more disturbing than their appearance is the way they move – slow jerky movements when standing upright or insanely fast when on all fours. Revenants are so scary that I’m glad they only exist in a video game.

4) Glasps (Resident Evil: Revelations 2) – Like Revenants, Glasps are insect-like monsters that I wouldn’t want to see in the real world. What makes them so scary is that they’re virtually invisible to the naked eye. The only way you can tell they’re close is that they emit a chemical that causes distorted vision in their intended victim. The closer they are, the worse the distortion is. There have been times where I’ve gotten turned around and mistaken where the creature is coming from, which resulted in me running straight at it. Suffice to say, the way they kill you if you let them get too close is not pretty.

5) Mirelurk Queens (Fallout 4) – When I played Fallout 4 for the first time, I did so with very little inkling on what to expect. This game differed from the previous titles in the series in many ways – updated graphics, a central character who actually spoke rather than mutely engaged in conversations, and brand new monsters to combat. The latter worked against me when I encountered an enormous creature known as the Mirelurk Queen. I had gotten used to human-sized Mirelurks – mutant crab-like creatures — in previous Fallout games and didn’t view them as much of a threat anymore. The Queen, however, is ten times bigger and can spit acid at you. During my first battle against said creature, I hid in a stairwell where the Queen couldn’t easily get at me and just sporadically poked my head out to take shots at it.

6) Wendigos (Until Dawn) – It should be noted that I’ve never actually played Until Dawn, but simply watching YouTube videos of someone else’s playthrough got me terrified of Wendigos. The monsters featured in Until Dawn are former humans who fell victim to a curse centered around a remote area in the mountains and turned into banshee-like monsters. Wendigos are particularly vicious and scary. The means to dealing with them is to stand perfectly still – which can be achieved by holding the console controller steady — so they can’t see you. Funny side note – I made the mistake of watching Until Dawn on YouTube one night before bed. When one of the Wendigos unexpectedly jumped out through a trapdoor, I went from barely being able to keep my eyes open to being wide awake.

7) Rams (Dead Island) – Dead Island is a very intense game where you’re trapped on an isle largely populated by zombies. The majority of these zombies are quite deadly and you encounter variants of the creature that possess their own unique forms of attack. The zombies that scare me the most in Dead Island are the Rams – hulking brutes wrapped in strait-jackets that will charge at you and kick you to death if they catch you out in the open. My general tactic is to climb on something – such as a car – to stay out of their reach. During the final segment of the game, however, you are forced to venture through a prison compound where the Rams are out in droves. Extreme caution or running past them is highly advised.

There are many other video game monsters I’d prefer not to tangle with, but the ones on this list really stand out. If you want to share about a game-specific creature you’ve found terrifying, please share in the comments below.