I mostly talk about movies on this blog, but the geek world incorporates so much more than film. I felt it was time for a new category: TV Stuff.
Today on TV Stuff: The Walking Dead.
I like this show—at least, I’ve liked it more in the past five episodes than I have in the first half of second season—but I still think it has a long way to go before it can be called excellent. And I find myself wanting it to be excellent.
Warning: Here be SPOILERS on The Walking Dead, Seasons One and Two
3 Major Problems With The Walking Dead
1. This is a character based drama with superficial and often exceptionally annoying characters. Here are just a few of the more troublesome ones.
Lori is such a nitwit that there have been several memes dedicated to her stupidity. What drives me crazy about her character is that every five episodes or so, she’ll have a small moment of awesome that I’m like, “Yes! Yes! Do THAT for a change!” And then she’ll go back to managing to crash her car when she’s the only person on the road.
I completely gave up on Lori in the Season 2 finale when she was all cool with her husband not telling anybody about the not-so-insignificant fact that everyone’s going to rise from the dead, bitten or not, but freaked the hell out when Rick also confessed that he killed Shane after Shane tried to kill him first. I mean, dude. Shane was fun, but seriously, the guy had it coming. And wasn’t Lori playing Lady Macbeth like, what? Four episodes ago? Coupled with her complete inability to watch her child and her belief that washing dishes is more important than watching the perimeter for zombies (which actually could have been an interesting debate, I suppose, with the whole men’s work versus women’s work thing, if the writers had bothered to construct a well-thought out argument and not just something like, “Washing dishes is important too, Andrea!”) well, I’m convinced that Lori will never understand what priorities are and kind of deserves to have her face eaten off.
How to Fix Lori in Season 3: Honestly, I’m not sure if it’s possible at this point. I think we need to see an actual relationship with her and Carl, prove that she’s not as useless of a mother as she’s proved to be in past seasons. You can have awesome female characters who aren’t badasses with shotguns. Write her a personality. Give her something to do besides scream for Carl and Rick at any given moment.
What the hell happened to this kid? Until about two episodes ago, he was completely fine. (Okay, his wannabe Stand by Me deer moment was kind of dumb, but it wasn’t completely ridiculous, and anyway, he mostly wasn’t a horrible child.) Then all of a sudden, he became a stupid little asshole who’s completely awful to grieving mothers and keeps wandering off by himself. I mean, I get we’re supposed to think he’s traumatized or something by Sophia’s death, but his transition to Annoying Dumb Kid was way too abrupt, and he has about as much actual personality as a block of wood.
How To Fix Carl in Season Three: The writers need to stop thinking of him as an archetype (The Child) and start thinking of him as a character (Carl). He also needs something to do other than get shot and/or wander off.
Oh, this bitch. Honestly, nothing would have made me happier in Season 2 than to have a group of zombies tear Andrea in half. And what really pisses me off is the fact that she’s the only woman who’s particularly pro-active about anything, and I just. Can’t. Stand her. I feel like I should have enjoyed her story arc—lost her sister, became suicidal, was angry when she was denied her suicide, learned how to shoot a gun, became a survivor—but her Tough Girl is less tough than just bitchy. Only the season finale managed to sell me on the idea that Andrea was worth a damn, and even now, I still wouldn’t mind her character being violently torn apart. That whole bullshit with lying to Maggie and leaving Suicidal Beth alone so she could choose if she wanted to live? Ugh. Look, it’s one thing when someone has tried to kill themselves numerous times throughout their life and clearly isn’t getting any better—I mean, at least I can see that argument—but Beth’s been super depressed for, what, two days now? Two days is not the time to let go. I wish Maggie had caved in Andrea’s face with a shovel. I would have, if I’d been in her position.
How To Fix Andrea In Season 3: Try to ignore season 2 ever happened, and seriously cut down on Bitch Face.
. . . right, it took me a second to remember who he was.
Seriously, I was amazed when T-Dog didn’t die in the finale with the rest of the other NPC’s. (Don’t know what an NPC is? You clearly aren’t one of my Galaxy friends following from Facebook. Just think of an NPC as a non-important character who can easily be killed off whenever someone needs to die. A red shirt, if you will.) T-Dog almost completely disappeared from the second half of second season. I was partially convinced that he had been eaten, and I had just forgotten about it. He has no backstory, little personality, and very few relationships with the rest of the gang. He’s just sort of there, and come on now. We should know something about him at the end of season 2.
How to Fix T-Dog in Season 3: Giving him lines would be a BIG step in the right direction.
2. This is a zombie show. Yes, it’s about humanity and survival and all, but come on. ALL zombie stories are about humanity and survival. (Okay, maybe not Zombie Strippers. I haven’t actually seen it, but I’m guessing the filmmakers had other priorities.) A show about zombies needs to have tension. And consistently, too, which is something The Walking Dead has really struggled with. Admittedly, they’ve had some great scenes that I’ve loved. Rick killing Shane, that was awesome. Carl mutely killing Zombie Shane was kind of dumb, but the zombie horde coming up from behind them was great. It was a really good way of ending the episode. And how do they start the next episode?
We get to watch that same zombie horde in Atlanta make their way to this spot. It takes, like, three minutes, and not only is it a complete waste of time, it cuts the tension in half. If the previous episode had just ended on Shane’s dead body and we hadn’t seen the horde, I’d actually get it, but the whole scene is just needless. Likewise, the zombie attack on the farm was tense and exciting, and if they’d stretched that longer and ended the episode with everyone split up, I’d be much more excited to see what Season 3 had in store. As is, I don’t really care. I get that the creators wanted to set up certain elements (like the prison and the mysterious stranger with the sword) but I think those things would have been better left for the premiere. I remind myself, Car, you’re not going to see another episode of The Walking Dead until next fall. And then I shrug and am like, Whatevs. Which is not the response you’re supposed to have when a TV show you watch goes off the air.
How To Fix This In Season 3: The easiest thing to do would be to introduce some cliffhangers. Cliffhangers can be crazy addicting. First seasons of Alias and Prison Break? That shit hooked you good.
3. The writing just isn’t strong enough. Period. The Walking Dead sometimes raises interesting issues about what it means to live versus to survive, about the end of the world and if civilization can be rebuilt, should be rebuilt, but they often talk about these things in the most obvious manner possible. The dialogue needs to be sharper. And the lack of tension I was talking about before, it applies to the characters as well as the zombie action. There’s just not much of an interesting dynamic between anyone. Shane and Rick, well, they were sort of fun. But now Shane’s dead, and who does that really leave us with? Rick and Hershel are boring together. Rick and Lori are boring together. Rick’s dynamic is actually kind of boring with anyone—although maybe that will change next season, with Tyrant Rick rearing his head. I like Glen, but Glen and Maggie are fairly dull as a couple. I’m sort of interested in Daryl and Carol, but their relationship needs a lot more development, and you know, I’m getting a little concerned that all the women in this show are apparently only there to egg their men on. I want to care about these characters. I want them to have interesting conversations. I want there to be awesome sociological debates . . . but so far, it’s just aren’t good enough.
How To Fix This In Season 3: Er . . . steal some writers from better shows?
I think I’m still going to stick around for another season, just to see if things get any better. I do think there’s been improvement, so I’m hoping to see more. I just don’t know if I’m going to make it to Season 4 if things don’t really pick up next year.
And if Daryl Dixon dies, well. Count me the fuck out.