Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Balking Dead!

To be honest, I'm getting a little "zombied out". The avalanche (literally in some cases...I'm looking at you World War Z) of walking dead which has plagued the modern popular cult scene has become sadly tiresome. I'm a zombie fan by and large, I don't immediately hate all things zombie by any means. White Zombie is at the top of my fave Bela Lugosi list, Brother Voodoo and Simon Garth were both hits with me if not with Marvel at large in the 70's, and Night of the Living Dead gets a good watching from yours truly at least every other year. But all that said the world is well full of zombies now and the shock and potential awe they inspired once upon a time has dwindled almost nothing.

Case in point -- the most recent season of The Walking Dead. Now I'm not anxious to leap on the mildewed carcus of this once-great TV show by any means, but I have become downright bored by the last few seasons. They have their moments, but sadly fewer than in previous seasons wrought and there hasn't been a really good surprise since Beth's demise (Sasha's recent turn notwithstanding). The sad truth is the the characters have been reduced to fodder and the emotional center of the show has been washed out by too many close scrapes. We are left with a core group (Rick, Carl, Daryl, Carol, and Michonne) who appear to be unkillable. Those who are left fall outside the perimeter of what constitutes a shocking demise, since we're just waiting for them to croak. The surprise this last season was almost everyone survived. And while the writers likely thought that might be a nifty twist on the usual mayhem, it actually played against the truth of the situations they established.

I'm not saying that The Walking Dead is a bad show, far from it. It's clearly a well-crafted show filled with random interesting events, but sadly the immediacy of the experience is blunted by a lack of the constant anxiety that filled viewers when they watched earlier seasons. I never knew what to expect and each and every unexplored alley and shadow and closet was potentially lethal. And clearly now other humans are more of threat than the dead, which have been reduced quite frankly to a nuisance like cockroaches or rats. Now it's more talk than scares, and that brings us to Neagan. Jeffrey Dean Morgan is one of my favorite actors and I was jazzed when he appeared out of the night to be a part of this show, but after only a few episodes of the series I quickly just wanted his incessantly yammering to stop. Negan seems to be a sadistic killer who enjoys inflicting pain on those he wants to control and he uses his barbed-wired bat named "Lucille" to do just that, when he's not torturing them with his constant blather. God man...shuck the fuck up!

I admit that this season I recorded the series and watched it in a binge, often fast-forwarding to avoid most of Neagan's relentless rants, but all the same the series still stuck me as dull. After gripping seasons and potent episodes (they will never top "The Grove"and they know it I suspect) the series seems to want to tread water and extend the inevitable. Some of the core have to go, to make room for new blood. But it's clear to me that this show is not going there and that's the mark of a show which has forsaken its brand, the absolute dedication to the unexpected.

More's the pity.

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  1. I started watching TWD a couple of years ago and it is as you described. The first few seasons were full of suspense and it was a possibility that anyone in the cast (other than Rick) could die at any minute. Now it seems like there are too many characters and they spend more time trying to find something for them all to do. For all of the buildup last season for Negan, that has been a disappointment, too, with all the jibber jabber he carries on. Simon, his henchman, is more compelling to me.

    The sequel/prequel show, Fear The Walking Dead, has sort of revived that suspenseful feeling, since we realize where things are headed, but honestly, I could care less about ANY of the characters so far and actually would prefer that some of them bite the dust. I'm hoping that this season, things will pick up a bit more.

    1. FtWD was very good for several episodes, especially the early days when the plague was an unknown, but it has been drifting since they got on the boat I think. (Pun intended.)

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