‘Walking Dead’ Explores Bleak Future for humans, with some humor
Published: Sunday, October 14, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
This week brings the start of a brand-new season of the most frustrating drama on television: The Walking Dead. Ever since the aftermath of the AMC show’s incredible pilot, I have hated on it. This ill will toward the series began as a vague uneasiness back in 2010’s mini first season. I remember thinking, “Wow, none of these characters are too interesting, but there have only been six episodes. A full season next year will surely allow the show to grow into greatness.”
Sure enough, season two began in spectacular fashion, with the survivors hiding on a crowded highway from a sea of zombies. With the show’s intensity picking up, anything was possible, so the writers naturally went with … a seemingly never-ending search for a missing girl and a season-long stay at the most boring place in the entire zombie apocalypse: Hershel’s farm. Cue the collective groans of Walking Dead fans.
I weathered through the entire second season, complaining regularly to my friends who watched the show along the way. With the third season just starting, I’m hating on The Walking Dead as much as ever. People have asked me why I keep watching a show that I complain about so much. “You complain about Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, and I’ve never seen you watch that,” my roommate reasoned after my latest Walking Dead rant.
But I’m not watching the show because I enjoy self-torture. I’m watching because The Walking Dead has had the potential to be a great series right from the get-go, and it hasn’t lost this potential yet. The show still has only 19 episodes to its name, and some of my favorite series have had rougher beginnings. With this 16-episode third season, I am, once again, cautiously optimistic that series show-runner Glen Mazzara and crew will use a new setting to finally, set this show on the right track. For this to happen, other aspects of the show will also need a face-lift, such as …
The pacing! A zombie shuffling slowly across the screen is the perfect image to describe how long it takes for anything interesting to happen on The Walking Dead. To bring up a sore point again, Walking Dead writers stranded the characters on a relatively safe farm for virtually the entirety of season two. In a show where the majority of the population is dead and hungry for human flesh, we shouldn’t spend multiple episodes having characters argue about leadership, birth control pills, and whether zombies make good pets. The series seems to be going for a Breaking Bad-style pacing, but unfortunately, it isn’t Breaking Bad. With the season-three setting of a huge prison, Mazzara and company should include more violent interactions and more twists in the plot. Another season of sitting around and talking would only remind viewers that …
Few of the main characters are interesting, up to this point in the series. Leader Rick may finally be manning up, but what about the other characters, who range from mildly annoying to “Please kill this character off. Right. Now.” The writers have made Lori into the most annoying wife and worst mother of the apocalypse. Hershel is too old to be useful, and rarely has words of wisdom. Glen and Maggie spend more time awkwardly interacting with each other than trying to survive. Andrea alternates between bad-ass and mopey, depending on how the writers are feeling that day. Then there’s Carol T-Dog, Carl, and a bunch of other minor characters who can only serve the show by dying. Right. Now. In season three, the writers will hopefully have the sense to purge the cast of all useless characters and to give all the major characters a consistent personality. These actors all seem capable of performing well if given good material. But good material for a show about zombies should involve …
More horror. More comedy. The writers have tried to wring every bit of drama possible from The Walking Dead’s where-does-humanity-go-from-here premise. Unfortunately, their efforts have resulted in melodrama, not compelling television. Let’s all remember that we’re dealing with zombies here, not serial killers. Zombies, by their nature, are the funniest of monsters. By lightening up its somber tone, The Walking Dead will start becoming more enjoyable to watch. Also, a few more legitimate scares per hour mixed in with the drama and comedy should help to make the series unique in a positive way. If the show makes even one of these changes during its third season, I, for one, will be a much happier viewer.
Also, stop calling zombies “walkers.” They are zombies. And someone, please keep an eye on Carl!