by Mike Lunsford, editor
The Walking Dead is not your typical show, nor has it ever been. Few shows have existed in a post-apocalyptic setting such as this and succeeded like Robert Kirkman’s baby. As someone who enjoys viewing modern entertainment, critiquing it, and then attempting to create my own, this was a hard show for me to enjoy. In fact, I fought even watching it. I was tired of the zombie trope. The overzealous fans were obnoxious and to make matters worse, this show thought so much of itself they have a show on after it that does nothing but talk about what you just saw. No thank you. I have better things to do, thank you very much.
Then…I didn’t have better things to do. I finally submitted and started binge watching The Walking Dead, plowing through all the seasons to catch up in a matter of 2 months. While I didn’t become a maniacal fan, I did appreciated the show. You tend to genuinely care about what happens to the survivors and enjoyed the journey they’re on. There were scenes that I really enjoyed. There were favorite characters. I was on board.
It didn’t sit with me well at first because… there is no happy. It’s the most masochistic show I’ve ever watched and as I binged it, I couldn’t stop watching it. What was puzzling to me was why so many people kept coming back for more. I’m one of those people that enjoys a happy ending, or at least SOME ending! This show seems like it could go on endlessly until EVERY CHARACTER IS DEAD.
Maybe Mr. Kirkman is trying to teach us a lesson. He is showing us that life is cruel and that we all need to accept that things die and that we have to keep on living no matter what. Wait no, that’s George R.R. Martin. Is he trying to tell us that as humans, the goal is not to be happy and thrive, it’s just to survive? I mean, this is produced by Frank Darabont, who directed one of the most depressing ending to a movie ever in The Mist.
Either way, I was still on board for where the show was going and then, there was Negan. Let me state this right up front before I bash The Walking Dead: I love Jeffrey Dean Morgan. I love Negan. He’s a douchebag and I absolutely love it. He is the symbol of the 7th season of TWD. So, his character of Negan gets to shoulder the blame.
Here’s my problem with the newest season. We’ve seen this song and dance. This is now the 5th time we’ve seen Rick and crew meet a new enemy, it’s established that this new bad guy is “super scary” and our group of plucky survivors find a way to overcome this adversary. It reminds me of a video game that starts to drag on towards the end. You end up having to do the same menial tasks over and over as some other “boss battle” pops up.
As television evolves in the 21st century, we’re seeing that the traditional way of doing TV shows isn’t necessary. Netflix showed us that their Marvel series can exist with 13 episodes and so can other massive successes like Orange is the New Black (3 less than a standard TWD season). In fact, the runaway hit Stranger Things was only 8 episodes. I think this trimming the amount of episodes in a season would help The Walking Dead. Think over the last 6 seasons and there are at least 2-3 episodes that were unnecessary fluff. I get that TWD is translated from a comic and there is a ton of source material but so is Daredevil, The Punisher, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones…see where I’m going with this?
Get creative with format. Hell, the writers of the show have shown that they aren’t tied to following the characters as they were in the books. For crying out loud there was no Daryl in the comics! Carol, Andrea, and Sophia were all completely different. They changed how Abraham and Glenn’s endings transpired. There really isn’t an excuse for AMC and The Walking Dead creative team to stick to their current format… except for the giant piles of cash that the show makes. In my opinion, the first season was the best by far, and it was only 6 episodes.
My other gripe with the show is that there seems to be no ending in sight. Yes, I know, the comic is still on going and it hasn’t had an actual ending yet either. I want an ending. The idea that it could just continue into perpetuity is maddening. Maybe this is why I don’t like MMORPG’s, but that’s what The Walking Dead has become. It’s just raids, boss battles, and leveling up. No thanks. And as far as I’m concerned, if that doesn’t change then I don’t need to continue. It’s not like I’ll be missing anything, other than being tortured with watching characters I like get bludgeoned to death, eaten, or shot.
I’m not unrealistic either; I don’t expect a happy ending. I don’t expect everyone to survive, I just want some sort of finality to it. For example, Rick and whoever is left of his crew find a place to live, they establish a means of finding/growing food, and begin rebuilding society. The walkers start to decompose to a point where they are no longer a threat, the remaining humans finally band together instead of fighting over the scraps of society and we MOVE FORWARD. No more “baddest mo-fo since the last baddest mo-fo” showing up and imposing their ridiculousness. No more, “we gotta fight another dude/dudette who thinks they’re the king.” Show us that there is something earned for fighting so hard, not just another mountain to climb.
Every great show needs an ending. If AMC believes the hype and considers The Walking Dead one of the best shows of all time, they need to come up with a finale.Or just shorten the seasons and cut out the fluff. Unfortunately, AMC won’t do that. This show simply makes too much money. I’m not saying it needs to be right now, but give us a time table to an ending. “We’re going to finish with season 8.” The writers can do it. You know they can come up with something that this amazing cast deserves. Give us something awesome to remember. Don’t become one of those shows that people roll their eyes when you discuss it and say “is that show still on?” Come on, The Walking Dead…you’re better than this. Make me want to come back.
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