THE MEANDERING DEAD!on February 21st, 2012
Previously, in my second review of the series, I avoided giving a fully negative review because I didn’t have the heart to knock a show based on a comic book I felt so positively about and I saw seeds of promise in the shit-heap that the show had quickly become.
Having caught up with the series, I can safely say that the show is just bad. It is bad to the point that it is inexcusable. Furthermore, being bad is the only thing that the show is actually consistent in at all.
The other day my friend Keith Bowen likened watching The Walking Dead to being a fan of Nutella, but having to eat it spread microscopically thin across a giant piece of dry Brioche. This is such an apt analogy that I have now given up on the show entirely and do not intend to invest future hours of my time into watching it.
So where did it go wrong? Let’s examine that in a post I’m going to call;
First of all, let’s look at the Nutella in the equation. That accounts for just about everything in the Darabont pilot, the mid-season finale of season two and the occasional scenes where character interaction doesn’t seem geared towards forcing unnatural tension between characters who don’t really have any reason to fight…
Well, that was quick. That’s the good part covered, onto the stale Brioche of the Dead.
Have you ever noticed how the writers of the Walking Dead don’t really know how to write people?
In one of my previous posts I complained about the characterization of Daryl (the Redneck) and how nothing in his apparent reform between seasons was ever earned… and well… that’s virtually everyone in this show. We can see the roles they’re meant to fill, but nobody earned those positions.
Here’s a quick breakdown for the sake of clarity:
Dale is meant to be the father figure of the group right? Well unfortunately he hasn’t really done anything to deserve that title beyond being old. Similarly he’s meant to have some kind of connection with Andrea, but all we see is her being a bitch to him and him trying to control her. No connection was ever established and lost, no real motivation for his obsession with her is ever explained and the audience sure as hell can’t understand it, because she’s not likable.
Then there’s Andrea. Well, I know what she’s meant to be, because I read the comics. She had a very subtle, but compelling character arc wherein she starts as a normal, boring, lucky survivor and slowly becomes a badass worthy of ‘survivor’ status. Unfortunately they made her into a whiney pain in the ass with nothing to recommend her and yet, even after she accidentally shoots a guy in the head because she’s a fucking idiot, people treat her with respect and dignity she simply doesn’t deserve.
Glenn, who is, for the most part, one of the most bearable characters in the show, is often said to be the guy who braves dangerous situations and scouts for food, but we never really see it, other characters just talk about it in shamelessly expository dialogue. As early as his first appearance in episode 2, he’s shown an overwhelming lack of survival skills – and again, hasn’t earned his place at all.
I could go through virtually the entire cast like this, but suffice to say, none of them really have clearly defined characters, none of them are really written well, and none of them act like human beings
Here, I’ll show you what I mean… watch an episode and make a note of the next time you see a character get pissed off about something. Write what it is that pissed them off and why. Then I want you to make a note the next time you see something that would piss you off if you were that character and see how said characters react to it.
Here are some examples of things that people in the Walking Dead TV show get angry about;
*Being talked out of a suicide attempt.
*The leader persisting in searches for a missing child.
*Being expected to share plentiful resources and land with the only other people on earth.
And here is a list of things they are remarkably blasé about;
*Getting shot in the head.
*The death of a young family member.
It’s almost as though the writers have made a pact to literally never show characters reacting in a predictable way, but sometimes predictable just means reasonable and believable. It’s OK to break away from the norm sometimes, the comic has done it a lot, but generally in the comic, the character interactions seemed believable enough that they lose nothing by showing them react in peculiar ways. Enough of the comic’s tension is earned that it’s OK to throw away ripe possibilities for drama, sometimes, whereas the show throws out all realistic drama in favour of contrived attempts to make characters fight… and when I say fight, I mean argue in hushed tones.
Literally the only person in the entire show who ever seems to make any sense, both in terms of actions and reactions is Shane. Yep. The attempted rapist – that guy is the only person on the show who gets angry for the right reasons. He is literally the only person who makes any damn sense. And when the guy you’ve been desperately trying to make into a villain since season one winds up being your hero, you’ve fucked up.
I remember the network running ads during the first season stating that character interaction was the draw rather than horror, but the writers of the show seem to understand neither.
Where are all the fucking Zombies? Maybe the network feels like they made a promise with this picture of a vast empty space with one guy in the middle and they now feel like they need to make good on it?
Or maybe it’s because the show is wasting money on things like pointless car-crashes that they can’t afford to actually feature the hook of the show. But even if that is the case, it’s no excuse. Having a budget never stopped Buffy the Vampire Slayer from featuring vampires, or star-trek from featuring aliens. What do you think the Daleks are? We made that shit with trash-cans and plungers and that should STILL cost more than Zombie make-up. Your monsters are the easiest thing in the world to make. Just slap on some red corn syrup, a little liquid latex and some freaky contact lenses and you’re fucking done.
Now I’m not saying you can’t tell a good Walking Dead story without Zombies, but when your show is called ‘THE WALKING DEAD’, they’re not the sort of things you should only break out on special occasions.
Sure, the show has had one or two good episodes, and one or two good scenes on top of it, but why watch over 20 hours of footage when only 5 percent or so is actually interesting? Hell, I bet I could apply that to any show that bores the fuck out of me; but I don’t watch those shows because they bore the fuck out of me. And this? The Walking Dead? It is BORING. It’s so BORING that it warrants capital letters.
It is also frustrating, annoying, plotless and unrealistic in the most basic ways imaginable. I’m washing my hands of it. I give up.
I strongly suggest the comics for those of you who are similarly frustrated with the show, but haven’t made the move over yet. The comic is consistently intriguing and in those 2-dimensional panels you’ll find more 3-dimensional characters than have ever appeared in the book’s televised counterpart.
OK, I’m done ranting. That’s all folks!