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Life Skills for Fanboys:  Zombie Stories Should Still Be About People

written by Tony DiGerolamo, Copyright 2014

To further my goal of helping fellow fanboys, I have included an index of links of previous columns with their topics.  Don’t take it personal, I’m just trying to help.  Previous columns are indexed at the end.

The Walking Dead

“That show may be the first TV show I’ve watched with no redeemable value.”  This is pretty much a direct quote from a film buddy of mine.  We talk TV, movies and other things in “the biz”.  The Walking Dead is, to us, an endlessly fascinating train wreck of a show.

This is, of course, a tragedy for me being a comic book creator.  And although I’m happy for Robert Kirkman, who I assume can now retire, I can’t help but wonder if he watches the show and winces through scene after scene.  “Why, o why did they have to change that?!” he screams his awesomely huge flat TV at his spacious home, I imagine.

The Illogic of it All

Sure, zombies are as illogical as vampires, fairies, goblins and a cable TV company that doesn’t rape you on the bill.  But that narrow irreality we can accept.  Okay, zombies exist.  The problem with the Walking Dead is that it presents itself as the zombie show where people have to scrounge and battle zombies in a grounded reality.  Not Shaun of the Dead reality or Battle of the Damned reality, but our reality plus zombies.

Except for one recent episode called The Grove, The Walking Dead has spent it’s entire run flying in the face of reality, physics and common sense.  First, there’s the idea that humans will still be killing each other pretty readily, despite the fact the zombie horde seems to be everywhere.  Even a homicidal maniac has a sense of self-preservation, yet the show frequently delivered characters bent on killing other people for pretty flimsy reasons.

Defense!  Defense!

My biggest problem with the show’s characters was that no one ever seemed to be interested in preparing a defense.  Like the season when the characters were on the farm.  They were on the farm for weeks, yet no one thought to dig trenches, build fences or at least set up some kind of warning device like the characters seem to do now.  Why not retrieve all the cars from the highway and build a wall around the farm?  They had cars and needed the gas anyway, seems like it would be a good use for big, heavy, metal objects.

And how long were they in the prison before they finally decided to build some extra defense around the front gate?  Seemed like forever and they killed so many zombies, where did the bodies go?  Did they bury them?  Wasn’t the smell something that tended to deter the zombies or trick them?  Wouldn’t it be better just to stack corpses all around the prison?  Not that it was ever all that safe.  I don’t they they ever quite sealed the place off correctly.

My solution to all their problems would’ve been to move onto the roof, destroy the staircases and set up rope ladders everywhere.  You can catch rainwater up there, farm and get down when you needed.  And if a horde came along, well fine.  Just stay on the roof or maybe zip line to an adjoining building or tree.  Zombies can’t climb, so instead of telling Sophia to hide, he probably would’ve been better off telling her to climb a tree and wait.

The Story’s the Thing

But my main problem with The Walking Dead has always been with the stories.  It seems week after week (save for The Grove), the stories become some kind of forced melodrama, punctuated with season finales that go nowhere.  The Governor was a huge waste of time, in my view.  Crazy characters often are.  And rather than explore his craziness or redeem him, it seemed like the show had the characters fight him off and then fight him off again.  And Andrea had to be the stupidest character on two feet.  Her poor life choices just seem to stack up season after season.  No wonder they killed her off.


Contrast that with a low budget movie called Stalled that’s on Netflix right now.  In Stalled, the main character is a janitor that gets stuck in a woman’s bathroom during the zombie apocalypse and the office Christmas party.  Granted, it’s a comedy and the zombie rules are a little loser.  However, I would argue that the movie adheres more to logic and physics than the Walking Dead does in most episodes.

That being said, the real reason I find it superior is that the story has humanity.  The characters aren’t just sitting around bemoaning their fate, they tend to act like people who want to survive.  Dan Palmer, the writer and main character, plays W.C.  Antonia Bernath plays a woman also stuck in the same bathroom, but a different stall.  During the course of being stuck in the bathroom stalls, while zombies choke the rest of the bathroom, they get to know each other.

I guess what I’m saying is, the movie had heart.  Something I’ve found severely lacking in most episodes of the Walking Dead.  And what does heart cost?  Zero, last time I checked.  So how come a low budget movie can have it and not the most popular show on TV?  Stories, in my view, have to be about people first and zombies second.  So when I see a story where Rick has to escape from a house and ends up killing a guy just to do it, I gotta wonder where the heart is in that.


Save for the one episode, it seems to me The Walking Dead has followed it’s audience demo down a rathole.  The two or three episodes of “redeeming the Governor” made me yell at the television more than a guy with a losing bet in the Super Bowl.  I like the comic.  Why not follow that?  Sure there would have to be some changes for the sake of pragmatic television production, but it seems to me the producers left the reservation quite a while ago and now are lost in the wilderness.  Stories need to be about people, not lining up the characters for yet another season finale the promises everything and delivers mostly nothing.

Anyhow, that’s my thoughts on it.

Previous Columns

Obesity at Cons

The Art of Conversation

Grooming The Line Between Fans and Pros

Geek Elitism

Convention Panels

Convention Volunteers

Food Gifts Women and Cons

Get Your Room Party Together

Stop Bringing Your Kids to Cons

The Face of Geek Needs Work

Fixing the Face of Geek

Franchise Worship

Presenting Your Project

The New Image?

Stop Trying to Make Geek Cool

 Rethinking the Comic Book Con