Ok, this is going to be a rant…probably a bit long winded, but I had to put down what I’m feeling about Walking Dead this season…and actually that isn’t 100% true, what I’ve been feeling about Walking Dead for awhile. First off, I do love the show. I’ve been a fan of the comic and watched the series since it first came on. Frank Darabont’s involvement is what sealed the deal for me. He has always taken source material and not only done it justice, but had a realistic take on some of the most fantastical stories, it’s nothing short of a miracle. I LOVED the first season, the very first episode had me riveted in how it took the comic and made that gritty world believable. I do want to take a moment to rant about Frank’s exit…whatever the exact details are, I think it’s complete BS that he had to leave the show. It’s my understanding that he was promised an increased budget if he got the ratings they were asking for, he delivered those ratings but the network producers still wanted to cut the budget…push came to shove and Darabont exited. This is one thing I find highly unethical in general…Darabont put a spin on the show that I honestly believe NO ONE else could have. Once he set the world and the tone, he was replaced by showrunners that are, no offense, just are not as talented or creative as he was, and the show has suffered for it. We keep watching it because we loved it so much when it started. There is a trick that fast food restaurants like to play on their customer base to make more money. They will introduce some new exciting offering, the Triple Tasty Burger, and everyone will go nuts…it’s big, it’s tasty, so much better than the rest of their menu. So people get hooked in it…but a few short months down the road, the Triple Tasty Burger undergoes subtle and unannounced changes. The higher quality beef they may have been using is replaced with the same patties the company uses on everything else. The size of the burger is just slightly scaled back…but you see the thing is people keep buying them. They remember how good the burger was when they first got it, maybe this last one they got was just a bad burger (we all have gotten those)…they keep coming back just to recapture the taste they first came to love, but while they’re doing that they are getting used to the NEW and UN-improved Triple Tasty Burger…in the end they keep eating it and are moderately satisfied. It is easy to take Darabont’s outline for the show and “paint by numbers” using the characters he helped establish (and in some cases create) all the while offering us something that doesn’t quite live up to the promise the show first made to us. This watered down Walking Dead is something I’ve grown to be moderately satisfied with, but it is not living up to what the show could be.
This current season is a prime example. There will be some minor spoilers below! This last season got off to what I think everyone can agree upon, a down note…and it just hasn’t dug itself up from that at all. I’m not saying that the show is supposed to be all flowers and butterflies, but it is so depressing now I hate most episodes. It seems like the showrunners think we need weekly lessons on how “Negan is bad”…just in case we forgot about it from LAST episode. I’m all for establishing characters, but please try to push the story forward while doing so. The snail’s pace this show runs at sometimes is so monumentally frustrating already…having to see a repeat of something we already saw (and was as the pun goes, hit over the head with) is just too much…GET ON WITH IT! We spent the first 90 minute episode of the season, something they used to save up for episodes with a BIG IMPACT on the storyline for Negan going shopping. He decides to show up to the Alexandria Mall early and sample their wares…for an hour and a half. Negan taking furniture, electronics, medicine, guns, and of course beds…because beds are in such short supply in the apocalypse. Total side note here, I’m at a bit of a loss why much of ANYTHING is in short supply. 90% of the population (or more) are gone…seems to me everyone could be driving their pick of Porsches or Lamborghinis while wearing the most fly Nikes while keeping time with a fresh Rolex every week…no one would be at a loss for much of anything. Anyways, let’s buy into the “shit is in short supply” mentality, but furniture, electronics, and stuff like that would NOT be something you should have to worry about. I get it, this is supposed to make us hate Negan even more…like his summary execution of beloved characters isn’t enough to do that already. This is supposed to build us up for that eventual payoff episode where Negan eventually gets his…but my guess is that will be held off for too long and end up being anticlimactic. The funny thing is, early on in the episode we are teased with ANOTHER (alleged) death (which I don’t think anyone is braindead enough to buy) and the details are glossed over…THAT is what I wanted to know about, but of course this episode has to spend it’s full 90 minutes with Negan deciding if these drapes match the rugs he just took. To be fair, they did spend @6 minutes of Michonne seemingly all the sudden being a poor shot and needing some practice. I’m tired of the tease, it’s old and way overused in this show. I’d like to see the episodes split more time amongst several story lines rather than taking an entire hour following someone looking for water.
It boils down to this with me. The current show staff was handed a hit on the back of a very creative individual that was not treated with respect or fairly. At the very least they owe him to honor the integrity of the show he handed them on a silver platter and stop using these same tired formulas and cliffhanger endings to try and make us care. Walking Dead is good, but it could be GREAT. I’d love to see Frank Darabont return, although I doubt that will ever happen considering he is currently suing AMC for profiting sharing (huge surprise that is a big mess). So if we can’t have Frank back, can we ask the writers to get off their asses and try to not just follow in someone’s footsteps, but forge their own path. Sorry if I’m coming off as a bit too opinionated about this, stealing someone else’s creative work is something I just find very low. There is a shortage of original ideas out there, but no shortage of people looking to take yours and use it for their own gain.
photos courtesy of AMC, Scott Garfield, TWD Productions