A bit ago, I announced that I had officially stopped watching The Walking Dead, right in the middle of the first episode of season 4. In fact, I had really stopped caring about it a long time ago, probably sometime during season 2 and I just kept going through season 3, more out of habit than anything else. I guess I kept hoping it would become a better show instead of the opposite, which was the reality.
So what went wrong? Let’s see.
There are a certain amount of personal biases at work here, I admit. First, I am not a big fan of zombies, which have become “the hotness” of late, but which I find really pointless, absurd and ultimately self-defeating in nature. I’ve written about this before so I’ll leave you to go read it if you’re interested. Secondly, I also have a strong dislike for post-apocalyptic and dystopian stories. I want the situation to improve, not constantly devolve as in The Walking Dead. They set up a situation whereby the characters are essentially biding their time until they die, not where they have any real chance of getting back to the way things used to be. These two situations alone really meant that The Walking Dead would never stand the test of time for me and I acknowledge that freely.
However, those are not, by any means, the reason I dropped it. The biggest, I suppose, are the characters. All of them suck. There is not one character on the show that I’d want to know in real life, not one that I’d respect or admire or even trust farther than I could throw them. Even given the horrible situation they find themselves in, they’re not getting better, they’re getting worse. Why would I want to spend my time watching a bunch of misfits?
They’re not just misfits, they’re two-dimensional misfits. None of these people are complete characters. We know very little about them. Tell me, what was any of these characters like before the zombie apocalypse? Take Rick for example. We know he was a cop. Tell me three other things that we know about him. What were his hobbies? What were his aspirations? What about Carl? What did Carl like to do before the zombies showed up? Was he good in school? We just know nothing, it’s like they were a blank slate that started in episode one and that’s it. Maybe they don’t think telling us what they used to be like matters because we’ll never get back to normal, but again, that kills a major reason to watch the show for me.
Another problem, and this seems to be an issue in a lot of shows these days, is that The Walking Dead, no matter how many episodes it has, only seems to have plot for about half of them. A 16 episode season only has enough generally interesting bits to fill 7-8 episodes, if that. The rest is filler and it’s not even good filler, it’s boring, obnoxious, generally stupid stuff that they shoehorn into the show so the writers don’t have to actually come up with anything worthwhile. A lot of this is just gore for the sake of gore, things done for shock-value, not plot, people sitting around in farms for a long time, people sitting around in prisons for a long time, etc. These things aren’t designed to advance the plot, but to fill screen time. Now maybe I’m being naive, but as a writer, if I was running a TV show, I’d make every episode of a season count, I’d come up with my overarching story and then split it up among all of the episodes so that every episode moved the story along. In fact, I’d have a very good idea where my story is going to go, no matter how many seasons it lasts, before the first episode was ever put to “film”. Most series get cancelled before their first season finishes so most show runners don’t care what might happen down the road, but I see that as complete laziness and the sign of someone who shouldn’t be in control of a TV series.
And let’s be honest, this isn’t even a zombie show anymore. Granted, it never really was, the name “The Walking Dead” really refers to the living humans who are dead inside, but the zombies have really become largely passe. Oh look, some shambling corpse? So what, go kill it and get back to the drama! This show is really just a bad drama show that happens to include zombies, not a zombie show that happens to include bad drama. I don’t care if AMC wants to make s spin-off, you just cannot recapture that fear that the first zombies caused, the show is about the minor inconvenience of the walkers, not the horror of the end of the world.
So I bid a not-so-fond adieu to The Walking Dead. It joins a number of shows, like Heroes, that were really great in their first season and then fell apart entirely when the coolness factor of the CGI wore off. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised because I stopped reading the comics a long time ago too. In fact, I had the first 14 volumes of the trade paperback, loaned them to a friend about 18 months ago and haven’t bothered to ask for it back. I also own the first two seasons on DVD. I don’t think the second one has even had the plastic removed. I’m not going to continue. Hopefully there are better shows on the horizon, this one just isn’t worth my time or effort.