Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Where Exactly Are We Walking The Dead?

I came to a realization after watching the latest entry of Zombie Fun in The Walking Dead (2010-present), Home, that I felt as though the creative team had me treading water.  I enjoy seeing the skulls of the living dead axed, knifed, crushed, rolled, squished, split, sliced, shot, severed and exploded as much as the next guy, but I feel like George Jetson exclaiming "Jane, stop this crazy thing!"



It becomes a little routine each week to see these poor souls suffering, surviving and essentially maintaining a pulse in their dismal, miserable existence without a seeming sense of direction at all.

After a while you begin to want some answers or at least be given the hint of some kind of new revelation.  Give us something real to talk about for The Talking Dead The Talking Dead is a great idea, but the subject of Lost (2004-2010) would have given viewers and guests more to chew on than the endless run of hamburger-faced zombies meeting their demise a second time and very minor character discoveries.



Season Two saw Rick's band of happy hunters held up on a farm.  It ended with the two zombies on chains and a new hooded character with a wide shot of the prison, the focus of Season Three.  Though that seemed like a pretty big deal at the time it really hasn't amounted to a hill of beans.  Truthfully, there is very little new information.

Season Three is going through similar motions.  This season is split between the prison and the Others [wink] at the Governor's compound.  There are the occasional shoot 'em ups, some fish tanks with floating heads and the post-apocalyptic version of the gladiator games of Rome, but nothing substantive seems to develop.  Where are we going with this thing?



The One To Be Pitied suggested I read the graphic novel, but I don't want the answers that way.  I want the TV series to reveal the information to me.  Sure, I'll take it slow, but I'll take something.   Mind you, this is the greatest detriment to watching network television where a series can run at an absolute snail's pace.  Perhaps The Walking Dead will be a prime example of why watching a series in succession in a rather densely executed session may work wonders.  DVD and Blu-Ray certainly work for most programs beautifully.

Truthfully, the extremely short six episode Season One offered the most variation regarding locale, substance in plot direction and thrilling action sequences.  Like Lost, it's that first season that remains perfect.  Like Lost, we even received a few brief flashbacks in that first season.  Honestly, I'd settle for a little backstory right now.



Since that season ended we've been on a fairly directionless killing spree and as mind-numbingly fun as that is I do feel The Walking Dead needs to start walking us toward some answers.  Heck, I'll even take some more questions.  But what caused this zombie apocalypse?  Why are some people alive and others unaffected?  Who is responsible?  Does anyone know anything at all?  Is there hope in this hopeless world?

My son, The Boy Wonder and I began having this very discussion at the end of the last entry.  I sparked the discussion, but suddenly he felt the same way and began asking himself a series of questions.  Where exactly are we walking the dead here?  The needle really hasn't moved that much and suddenly zombie fun is becoming zombie dumb.



I'm not that committed to the series.  It doesn't grab me like Lost did, but it's a heck of a lot of fun most of the time.  It just doesn't hold a whole lot of substance and even the character development barometer is minimal in that department.  It is becoming slightly tiresome.

I certainly understand the series as a window into human behavior and how people respond in the most dire of events and amidst seemingly hopeless circumstances, but getting back to moving the story forward would be a nice change of pace.



Sure, these people are under siege, tired, beleaguered, and clearly suffering mental lapses, but at this pace the series could go on forever.  If I wanted a limited engagement of plot I'd purchase a Resident Evil-styled first person shooter. That's what video games are for.

A friend of mine wishes the series had humor ("Zombies are funny and killing them should be hysterical"). I'm okay with the fact that The Walking Dead is positively joyless and played for deadly serious, but I'd like to feel more than a little numb each week.  I'd like my mind to be stimulated by something other than a hunting knife or steel blade.  I'd like something along those lines soon.

5 comments:

Troy L. Foreman said...

SFF,

Normally I give some sort of cournter view to many of your posts, but this time I think I am in total agreement with you.

First let me say, I love this show. Been a fan since day one. Season 1 was exceptional, like the first season of LOST. When season 2 started, I had high expectations for the series. the first half just DRAGGED along, especially with the little girl missing storyline. That just went on far too long. I found myself really invested in the characters in season 1.

Actually, I've been invested in the characters in all the seasons, less for Dale, so glad when he met his demise. he was like the annoying wiseman to me. I enjoyed the buildup to the Rick/Shane showdown. I really like the way Daryl had grown since the first season and so on.

So, there is a lot of stuff to like about the show, but I want to know as you do, what is the end game? They can't find a radio or tv to find out if there are any other survivors? At least in FALLING SKIES they have somewhat of a path that they are pursuing. Certainly not the Walking Dead this season. I thought the prison would be a nice place for them to regroup, catch their breath, get some rest, stock up on supplies and then head out to see if there are any other survivors. Do soemthing? Try and make some sort of contact with someone..anyone?

I am sure the writers have an end game for the series. I haven't read the graphic novels, so I don't know any of the story line from that aspect, but I still do enjoy what I see on the screen even if I don't know where it's heading.

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Amen. Well said too Troy.

Exactly right. Without recapping your third paragraph - exactly.

I too agree that Daryl has had one of the better arcs. The Rick/ Shane showdown had to happen and that worked out pretty well.

But, there are areas in the show where it drags on too long.

I'm enjoying the series and, as you said, those writers more than likely have plans, but throw us a carrot once in awhile.

I joked with my family. Wouldn't it be interesting if this series ended with a cast of characters entirely different than the ones it started with to a man? I'm not saying they can do that or will do that. Expendability is certainly not a problem on The Walking Dead.

It would be interesting to see a series have the balls to do something like that especially with life and death such a precarious line on the show.

Always excellent input.
Thanks Troy.
sff

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

For those who visit this post, tonight's CLEAR was such a welcomed return to something interesting particularly revisiting the Morgan character from Season One.

Brilliant little episode.

I've been tiring of the Governor story, despite looking forward to each episode for its insights on human nature and this one didn't dissapoint.

How stunningly somber to see Rick turn his back on this pedestrian walker pleading for help.

He offers to stay and makes efforts to convince Morgan to return with them to the prison because Morgan saved his life. He remained loyal to his belief in him despite being stabbed even.

Yet Rick fears the unknown and refuses to extend the same courtesy and kindness to a stranger.

How terribly revealing of mankind at this point in the zombie apocalypse that the final moments reveal turning their back on someone in need cost them their life. It's a truly sad commentary on the state of humanity.

Anyway, it looks like we head back to the Governor next week, but this was a welcome departure. It may not have offered revelatory answers or new ideas regarding the status of humankind, but on the intimate level of character there were some great moments between Carl and Michonne, while Rick and Morgan had their moments.

Seeing Carl get that picture and Michonne making a connection with him was a real highlight.

Just a refreshing change of scenery and character.

Troy L. Foreman said...

SFF,

You know I had to chime in on this one. Your observations were spot on, but I'd like to add my two cents as well.

First, you are so correct. I love episodes like this. Many people don't like the slower paced, character driven episodes, but they are truly needed in order to really feel for these characters. The 3 actors in this episode showed why The Walking Dead is probably the best drama on TV right now. They were all excellent with their performance.

I think there are 3 points that the writers wanted to make with this episode:

1) Have Rick look at Morgan..basically putting a mirror in front of himself to see exactly where he is headed if he doesn't get his shit together. The actor who played Morgan was absolutely stellar in his performance..wow.

2) Michonne finally let's her guard down. I have enjoyed her character, but the bad ass, cut off persona was starting to become a little boring. If you want to be part of that group, you are going to have to open up and she did in her own way. It was great to see her with Carl, trying to get the photo and also with her at the end with Rick, the little sense of humor that came across between those two, it was subtle, but important for her character and for Rick to let down his guard with her. The final stamp of approval of course came from Carl. It will be great to see Michonne further take down that wall and interact with the rest of the group. I hope she develops like Daryl has over the past few seasons. His character is my favorite.

3) Rick has to finally realize that even though Carl is a kid, he needs to be treated more like an adult in this world. When he stepped out of nowhere and shot Morgan, the look on both Rick's face and Michonne's was priceless. I have to say, I didn't care much for the Carl character until the end of last season and all of this season. He has really grown, probably the most out of all of the group and the young actor is doing a superb job playing Carl. I still see the scene when Carl shot his mom and he was standing there listening to his father shout no, no and crying while Carl was just stonefaced..ah man, that scene really got to me. Again, brilliant acting.

I knew that things were going to end bad for the hitchhiker. The world they live in now causes one not to trust any strangers. I would have kept going myself with out any hesitation or reservation. SHould they have stopped? In the normal world, yes, in this world, not at all.

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Yes. Amen. Well said.

Despite my grievances The Walking Dead remains appointment TV at the moment. I concur that it is still one of the best but this episode was a much needed shot in the arm.

We think alike my friend.

I thought your first two points are spot on - I could't agree more - real growth there. Glad to see it.

Glad to see Morgan.

Glad to see Michonne stepping out of the box she's remained in.

On point 3, I said those very words to my son. I never cared much for Carl until this season. He has really had a curve as character arcs go. In fact, I wonder if he isn't pleased with some of his father's decisions.

And on point 4, I did think about how ironic Rick's move with the stranger was versus his efforts to save Morgan, a near stranger who stabbed him. Nevertheless, given it some thought about stopping and uncertainty and if I had my son with me. I don't think so. I'm not sure I could do it either without jeopardizing the life and limb of my son.

So, I agree in hindsight.

Cheers pal. Always good to hear your reflections on these things.