*****CAUTION: SPOILERS AHEAD*****
I’m a horror lover. I grew up with George A. Romero and his Night, Dawn, and Day of the Dead. Return of the Living Dead was fun. Dead Alive was a trip. When I was younger I would play war with my G.I. Joe action figures and midway through the dead would rise and the survivors would have to band together to fight off the zombie horde. Zombies have been something I’ve loved for many years.
Let me admit that I never read the comics before watching the show. I did try to read the comics but found them to be…less than stellar. They just weren’t for me. I felt the writing was too obvious and shallow. When characters have to spell out every little thing they do, it’s never a good thing.
Imagine my excitement when I learned a new zombie show was coming to TV! And it was being developed by Frank Darabont, who directed the film, The Mist, which I enjoyed. Like many other horror fans, I couldn’t wait. When the show premiered, I drank it in. I loved the look, the feel, and I especially loved the zombies.
The first season was pretty good. Seeing The Walking Dead on the small screen felt like the beginning of something great.
And then they fired Frank Darabont. Imagine having a successful coach and midway through your best year management decides to can them. The team will probably be affected in some capacity. Check out this Screen Rant article for more details: http://screenrant.com/walking-dead-frank-darabont-amc-aco-127783/
Fast forward to season two. What a stagnant mess of a season. The show’s direction pulled a one eighty focusing mainly on character arcs and group dynamic. Gone was the zombie threat (except when they needed to move the plot along) replaced by typical television drama. That would be fine if the show wasn’t called The Walking Dead.
It’s disappointing because the special effects on this show are fantastic. The costume and wardrobe departments aren’t too shabby either. Whenever zombies are on the screen, they are frighteningly dazzling to behold. The problem is they’re utilized more like props rather than valid threats, or the predators they should be.
It seems like a new show runner is ushered in with each new season. There’s little continuity.
The first half of season three was pretty good, but trailed off into mediocrity after it was announced Glen Mazzara would be let go due to a difference of opinion with executives. It was a shame because I thought he struck a good balance of drama, action, and horror, which this show, and season, so badly needed. This Hollywood Reporter article can explain futher: http://movies.yahoo.com/news/walking-dead-cast-bids-glen-mazzara-farewell-050000308.html;_ylt=A0LEV1DBBCdTrBcAuGFXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTEzMGhvY3FxBHNlYwNzcgRwb3MDMgRjb2xvA2JmMQR2dGlkA1ZJUDM1MV8x
Season four gave us yet another new show runner, Scott Gimple, and a few more episodes of the Governor, even though it was clear that whole storyline should have wrapped up by the end of season three. Why the folks running the show felt the need to drag things out is beyond me. Creatively the show suffers. Yet, for some reason, the show gains viewership. The Walking Dead has become the hip show everyone is watching.
Well, almost everyone. When asked to direct an episode, legendary director, George A. Romero, declined. His reason was that he didn’t feel The Walking Dead was a true zombie show. Read more in this Huffington Post article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/01/george-romero-walking-dead-soap-opera_n_4183182.html
After watching last night’s episode (actually, long before that) it’s apparent the writers and producers don’t know what they want. Remember the beginning of season four when that new disease (the one where normal folks turned into zombies after they coughed and their eyes bled) was going to change things? Yeah, that lasted two episodes and was completely forgotten. Remember when the Governor was good, no bad, no really bad, and then took over a group of complete strangers just because he could…and drove a tank to blow up the prison? Why didn’t he do that last season when he had people who would have actually followed him? The constant flip-flopping of character traits and storylines is annoying to say the least.
It’s clear to me that The Walking Dead suffers from a lack of identity. One week it’s a drama, the next it’s horror, and other weeks it’s something else entirely. The characters seem to suffer from the same lack of identity. One week this character acts one way only to act the opposite way shortly after. As a viewer I’m frustrated. As a horror lover I’m torn. I want to like this show. I want to support this show because it’s supposed to be horror. Yet every time I watch, horror seems to be the last thing I see. A couple of gratuitous zombie kills each episode doesn’t make for intelligent horror.
Where does the show go from here? How much longer will fans flock to their televisions despite The Walking Dead’s garish flaws? I don’t think there’s a clear cut answer. All we can do is wait and see.
The new direction of the show seems to have the characters headed toward yet another sanctuary. Apparently they suddenly notice signs for a city that they miraculously never noticed before. Sure, they’ve gone on supply runs all around the prison and for some reason never noticed any signs for a secure city where if you arrive you survive. Nah, they only notice them when the prison is blown to bits and they’re on the run.
You would figure since the safety of the prison is gone a few more characters would have perished. Nope. Even though they may be surrounded by zombies these characters always manage to defy the odds. Even Glenn, when barely conscious after his bout with the mystery sickness and could barely walk, somehow managed to put on riot gear and push his way through hundreds of zombies in the blazing Georgia heat. I could go on and on with some of the ridiculous things these characters do on a weekly basis, which is a shame.
I think many horror fans have grown tired of The Walking Dead’s antics. I stopped watching during the second season only to return after they left the farm. Too bad the show seems to have taken another turn for the worse. Season four has been a huge disappointment for me as a horror lover. I’ve been fooled into coming back once. I won’t be fooled into coming back a second time.
The show has become too safe, the zombies too tame. A zombie show without believable zombies is just a drama. And that’s exactly what The Walking Dead has become, just another drama.
As for me, I’m waiting for FX’s The Strain to hit the small screen this summer. Hopefully predatory vampires will be able to do what AMC’s The Walking Dead has failed to do thus far: Make viewers afraid.