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Blue Box Blog Sidesteps: The Walking Dead

Posted by emmahyam on December 11, 2010

WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS DETAILED SPOILERS ABOUT THE WALKING DEAD SEASON 1 EPISODES 1-6

With the broadcast of the last episode of The Walking Dead I thought it would be a fun idea to write a post about my thoughts on this series. Overall I was very impressed with some parts of the show and very disappointed with other parts. As an idea, doing a whole show about a zombie apocalypse is incredibly brave, the comic book has a passionate following and doing a whole TV show about it should in theory do the source material more justice than a movie.

Firstly the good stuff. The pilot episode was probably one of the strongest I’ve seen in years, it was tense, eerie and emotionally affecting. The scene where Morgan struggles to shoot his zombified wife brought a tear to my eye, as did Rick’s mercy killing of a particularly pathetic zombie. Rick’s awakening in the hospital, his descent of the stairs lit only by a match was unbearably tense. I could barely watch the screen as I waited for something to loom out of the darkness. The wide-shots of the desolate streets and thousands of bodies outside the hospital sent chills up my spine and the special effects and make-up are second to none.

Now the stuff that annoyed me I have three issues: firstly most of the characters with the exception of Rick and Glenn were intensely despicable and are painted in such broad strokes as to be ludicrous. Shane is a rape attempting troglodyte who apparently thinks women are only good for doing the washing up and sex-on-demand. Daryl and Merle are redneck racists, the only male regular black character is only known as T-Dog(?). The women are nearly all ineffectual, whiny wastes of space except for Jacqui who elects to blow herself up at the CDC rather than put up with this bunch of idiots. The show is choosing to concentrating on emotional impact and group dynamics but if you can’t make me care about the fate of the characters then that’s a failure on the part of the writing. Also it seemed to me they were sacrificing action for Grey’s Anatomy-esque drama, I think they managed to have no zombies in episode 2 IN A SHOW ABOUT THE BLOODY ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE!

Which brings me to my second major gripe with the show, all the decisions made by the group range from idiotic to foolhardy to insane without stopping at rational in the middle. I understand that the show is portraying a group of panicked people trying to survive in appalling conditions but does every single choice made have to be so dumb? My frustrations were best expressed by a forum member from the Television Without Pity website:

“Trapped handcuffed to a thin pole on a roof with a saw? Cut your hand off. Guy gives you an ultimatum while holding your group member hostage? Go in there and stand, clearly outnumbered with guns pointed at you, and just hope for something good to happen. Zombies around in most places in the city that can walk and travel in packs? Set up camp a few miles away and just hope they don’t walk near you. Someone in your crew who works for the zoning office? Don’t bother ever successfully using that knowledge, just have that person do laundry and attend to infected people. Jenner mentioned how there were tons of weapons lying around and he familiarized himself with them? Don’t bother doing the same, just turn around and leave the city, even though it isn’t dark out. Haven’t eaten for days? Don’t bother planning to scavenge any places for goods, just take a slow Sunday drive home. Morales leaving and taking his family? Don’t bother suggesting a place to meet up in a year, or otherwise setting up any kind of system where you could be found if Morales gets to Birmingham and finds a camp with people who have actual, functioning brains.”

Quite! Thirdly the leaps in logic required by the viewer are irritating in the extreme. Rick should have died at the hospital before the events of the pilot half a dozen times over, the zombies behave in a inconsistent manner dependent on what the story requires. We waste time at the CDC learning nothing of use until Jenner whispers something we’re not privy to at Rick? Why are all these people sticking together when it should occur to people like Daryl and Dale that they’d be MUCH better off alone? Why are the group going hungry and running out of fuel when abandoned cars and houses are plentiful and have apparently been left unmolested?

The show has been confirmed for a second season but with a whole new writing staff. In a fit of pique I vowed I wouldn’t be watching the show next season, however I will be watching to see if it improves at all. I’m worried about the sustainability of the show. Theres 78 (and counting) issues of the comic book but I’m aware of a great deal of stuff they are NOT going to be allowed to put on mainstream TV. Despite this the main thing I want to see is a move away from the soap opera elements and the introduction of some new characters to liven up the group dynamic otherwise…

…I’m coming to get you Frank Darabont!

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