My Angry Angry Review of The Walking Dead 2014 Premiere

Written by Tony DiGerolamo

Copyright 2014

Okay, let me start by saying that my anger is not directed at any particular person involved in the show.  The creator of the comic, Robert Kirkman, is very talented and I have enjoyed the comics of his that I have read.  The various television people and cast members are also very talented, so this isn’t some kind of slam against them either.

The problem with The Walking Dead and shows like it, to me, seems to be this:  Whoever makes the decisions regarding the direction and tone of the series seems to think that only through constantly melodrama, will fans continue to watch.

Now as a writer and a guy who doesn’t particularly like most of the episodes of the show (but I’ve seen them all), you’d have to ask, why do I watch?  It’s not the melodrama.  I like zombies.  Half the episodes during the run of the Governor storyline, I found myself watching the zombie action and then going to the fridge during the rest.  If you like soda and there’s only one guy in your town that sells it, you might still buy even if his soda isn’t very good.  Or if he sells a bottle of soda only with a really terrible slice of pizza, you might just toss the pizza and drink the soda.

In my opinion, most of the melodrama in The Walking Dead isn’t just bad, it’s asinine.  First, there was Lori, the annoying woman who couldn’t keep track of her kid.  Then Shane, who became weirdly obsessed with her, despite the ample amount of other women around.  And Andrea, who seemed to be attracted to every awful character on the show.  Oh, and let’s not forget the psychotic Governor, who has it together enough to put together a town, but not enough to talk to people he doesn’t like.

That Crazy Gov

One of the highlights of idiocy on the show for me was when the Governor and his guys massacred a group of army guys.  This is stupid for a couple of reasons.  First, these guys no longer had any authority beyond their guns, so it was unlikely they would’ve entered the Woodbury to take it over.  In fact, the implication was, they were all stuck in the middle of nowhere wondering what their next move would be.

Second, these soldiers had a tremendous amount training, weapons and equipment.  That all would’ve been very useful for the Governor and the protection of Woodbury.  No way Rick and crew sneak into Woodbury with actual trained soldiers guarding the place.

Third, the characters didn’t even seem all that smart, as evidenced by the fact the Governor’s guys could surround them and kill them so easily.  It would’ve been likely this group would be quickly absorbed into Woodbury.

So logic dictates that the “smart” Governor, even if psychotic, would see the logic in snowing these soldiers as he had snowed everyone else.  One could argue that the Army guys would always be vulnerable to orders from Army superiors should more arrive and that the Governor would lose control.  However, there was no evidence that any Army had survived anywhere in the series up until this point.  One could also argue that it was a matter of survival and the number of soldiers was too great to absorb, but again, no evidence is given to the contrary.  It’s just assumed, well, the Governor is crazy so he kills them.

If that’s the case, why do his guys follow him?  And on and on.  Logic in the Walking Dead is fluid.  This is probably the result of the various shake ups creatively and directors and writers coming in and out.  Episodes follow a certain logic within that episode, perhaps a whole season, but invariably you’re watching and it’s like someone just forgot what happened way back in episode 5 or whatever.  There’s another media that sometimes uses that fluid kind of logic and physics.

Comic books.

Y’see, when a new creative team walks onto, say, Green Arrow, he might go from grim and gritty to using trick arrows again.  Another thing that happens is that characters return after long periods of hiatus.  Even when this is a terrible character or a terrible version of that character, the return has weight because the character has been around long enough.

Television adds the extra element of the time limit.  “There’s no time to sit here and process what’s happened!  We have to move!”  Rich and crew spent almost an entire season in the prison, but it seemed like it took weeks before they finally started working on the defenses.  Back on the farm, during the previous season, they hadn’t even bothered to make any even though that was the season where they discovered the “herds” of zombies.

You know what zombies can’t climb?  Ladders.  Rope ladders.  Ropes.  Staircases that have been cut out with an axe.  If Rick and the gang just found one group of houses close together with second floors, gutted all the stairs, sealed the first floor, they could live on the second floor and build bridges between.  All these bridges could be removeable in the event that one herd of zombies took over a house.  At the prison, all that was needed was to lock the right doors.  No way the zombies bust through that.  With collecting rainwater, growing crops and the occasional raid into town, their base would be pretty secure from zombies.

The Real Problem

But that’s not the “real” threat from the show, right?  It’s supposed to be the people, who, for some reason, just can’t get along long enough to wipe out the millions of flesh eating ghouls.  You know humans, right.  Bad people.  Except that doesn’t make any sense either in the show’s context.

Now if the zombies are so easy to beat, I understand it.  That means, you’re done with the zombies and if you’re one of these asshole characters, well time to go to town.  Unfortunately, you don’t really get much by doing that.  Sure, you can kill whoever you want and you could do all sorts of other horrible things—  But very few people just do horrible things for no reason.  Most do it for money.  Money is gone in The Walking Dead.  There’s power, but only the Governor had it and he obviously couldn’t handle it.  There’s sex, but that’s not really a problem either.  There aren’t many people left, so whoever is left really isn’t going to be all that picky.  So where’s the motivation here?

The Governor had everything and he fucked it up for…what?  Tonight’s latest villains had slightly more motivation, but ultimately that too was presented as “They snapped!  Went nuts!  That’s why they do all this!”  There are plenty of people that go through terrible things and don’t snap, although they might change their tactics.

The characters in the Walking Dead just don’t react like normal people.  Normal people are going to ban together and wipe out the zombies.  Yeah, one might leave you in the dust if you get injured because they’re too scared, but Shane’s cowardly act in the early season?  It was Shane and an overweight EMT.  All Shane had to do was out run the EMT and leave him for the zombies.  With the Governor’s superior numbers, adding more people to those numbers still leaves him in charge.  He seemed to run Woodbury pretty good.  Even those two jerks from Philadelphia Rick shot in the bar.  What was their motivation to kill Rick?  To take his gun?  Find a gun store, they’re not being guarded anymore.  To get the booze at the bar?  There are a million abandoned bars with top shelf booze collecting dust.  There’s no money, only places to scrounge for canned goods, gas and other supplies.  Why would you even waste the bullets?

I have no doubt that if a zombie apocalypse happened, the remaining humans would make short work of them in the U.S.  We have tons of guns here and literally more food than we can eat.

The Melodrama

But TV needs melodrama to drive you to watch next week.  But over melodrama creates a continuity that no longer makes any sense.  Sons of Anarchy suffers from the same problem.  Instead of keeping the intrigue within the gang to a minimum, it seems that every week someone betrays the bikers.  The Sopranos headed in that direction too.  One of the episodes even made mention of the fact that so much shit had happened to the Sopranos, that it was too much the New York Families to tolerate.

There’s no reason you can’t have a well crafted zombie apocalypse story about people who basically stay together to fight the zombies.  Yeah, there’s some tension, competition and even betrayal, but not at the epic levels of the Walking Dead.  (A tank?  Really?)  And while the premiere episode this season was actually one of the better ones, it still suffers from a kind of inevitable TV baggage that will drive it to illogic.

I’ll probably keep watching, mostly because I like to watch TV on Sundays and my friends and I love to endlessly tear open the massive logic holes in the plot and character development.  But there is no way I’m watching the spin off show.  That would be like watching Enterprise after suffering through Star Trek: Voyager.