A breakup letter to The Walking Dead

As a fan of the comic, when I found out they were making The Walking Dead into a series I was elated and that’s why this breakup is so hard.

It’s not me, it’s THEM.

Seven seasons and I can’t do it anymore, I’m done. I couldn’t even finish. I’ve got three or four episodes just sitting there in my pile of shame and I have no interest in watching them.

It’s been a long time coming too. Like all bad relationships I’ve been sitting in the comfort zone just mindlessly consuming whatever garbage writing and characters they’ve thrown at me.

The Walking Dead makes me feel stupid, it treats me like an idiot. It’s the same formula every season and I know that this is the deal with most, if not all, shows but it feels like they’re not even trying. It drags you along all season towards a major cataclysmic cliff-hanger finale that leaves you waiting rabid for the first episode of a new season where everything is revealed. Cue several more episodes of garbage, maybe the introduction of some new characters just to keep you barely interested, followed by more garbage. At this stage you’re sitting in the waiting room until the mid-season break comes and you know you’re going to get the big cataclysmic cliff-hanger to carry you over to when they start the season up again. Rinse and repeat.

It’s ridiculously predictable, but it would be less of a problem if the story wasn’t in absolute dullsville. Like I said, it’s nothing new under the sun, that’s how most TV series work. But in this case, they’re getting lazy and to me it feels like they are treating us, the viewers, like morons.

Spoiler Alert Banner

Here is where the spoilers start, if you read on and cry foul then you’re part of the problem.

The characters have become so morally corrupt, I couldn’t care less about most of them. When they attacked and slaughtered the Saviours it was intense, I thought I was still enjoying it at that stage but I realised it was the beginning of an end that was a long time coming.

In light of previous atrocities, the murdering of the Saviours seemed to tip them from being civilised to savages and completely severed any connection I had with the characters. I mean it really is the grown-up version of ‘Lord of the Flies’ isn’t it?

By the time Negan arrived and took out Glen and Abraham I was neither shocked nor really cared, I didn’t hold the same values as they did and I couldn’t relate to any of them. What’s worse was during that horrible Negan reveal, their attempt to build tension was achingly over the top and, in my opinion, the lowest point in all 7 seasons. I was more saying “just get on with it” than “oh no, don’t do it”. There was only so much I could stand of shots of the cast looking wide and glassy eyed, Rick’s stunned blubbering and drooling face or Maggie’s open mouthed silent sobbing.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the cast, they’re great. Jeffery Dean Morgan is an awesome actor. I loved him in Watchmen. Another part of the problem. The characters have been let down by poor direction and lazy writing. There. I said it. It feels good.

Prior to this atrocity the episode where Glen came back because he actually didn’t die under the dumpster a few episodes prior because the zombies were eating the corpse of the dude on top of him bullshit was fucking preposterous. They should have just left him dead, it had an impact because it was off script and no one saw it coming, especially fans of the comics like me who think they know everything. To bring him back and bash his brains out a few episodes later was stupid, because we sort of knew it was going. But you what about Abraham’s death?!?!?

Meh. Who cares?

Imagine if that scene played out with Glen already out of the equation? Comic fans would have been in complete disarray, they had an opportunity to put their entire audience in the same boat, level the playing field at the water cooler, but no. The fact that they tried to up the mystery as to who was going to go when Lucille was finally brought down by bombarding us with images of a bloodied baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire and then, during the episode, the seemingly endless game of einie, meenie, minie-moe, was insulting.

It seems like so much dialogue has been adapted straight from the pages of the comic in season 7. Initially I thought was a great idea, but it’s not working. When it’s on a one dimensional piece of paper drawn in black and white it is fine, but putting those words into the mouth of an actual person simply does not work.

“You’ve got some beach ball-sized lady nuts coming in kamikaze like that.”

People don’t talk like that.

And is the fact that they seem to have been walking around the same part of Georgia for years lost on anyone?

And now there’s a tiger, they have a tiger!!! All we need now is for Rick Grimes to strap on some water skis and jump over it.

Remember when it was good? It’s been a while, I didn’t even notice how long. I think it has been on a crescendo to ultimate suckdom since about season two. Looking back, the whole prison season seemed achingly long, combined with the fall of the governor. As soon as Shane was put out of his misery in the second last episode of season two I kept thinking to myself “it should have been Rick” and it has progressively sucked more with every season.

Maybe I’m the one who is ruined? I’ve seen all of the classic Zombie films, I’ve grown up with the genre and I loved how when the series first started when had those same ambling zombies just like the Romero movies instead of the rabid, bolting seemingly superhuman ones of 28 Days Later and the remake of Dawn of The Dead. Zombies don’t run people, they have nowhere to be because they’re already dead, there is no rush. It was good to see zombies going back to being what zombies should be, flesh eating hordes of human husks trying to move towards their next meal while in advanced stages of rigor mortis.

But the zombies are the window dressing for the world the characters inhabit, and the characters are annoying as shit. Lori, Andrea, T-Dog, Morgan, Tyreese, Father Gabriel, Noah, hell even Carol are/were just plain irritating. Jeffery Dean Morgan, who I love as an actor, is probably the worst offender as Negan but I think all of it is a case of good actors with shithouse writing.

In this reviewer’s opinion there have been only two stand-out characters and unfortunately both are no longer with us. Shane, played brilliantly by John Bernthal and Merle Dixon played by the incomparable Michael Rooker. Needless to say both have gone on to bigger and much better things.

A majority of critics attribute the firing of Frank Darabont (who I think was pivotal in bringing Robert Kirkman’s comic to life on the screen) as the catalyst for the show’s decline. I wholeheartedly agree. Darabont seems to have had a vision for the show that did not suit the studios timeline and financial agenda. Bean counters and creatives never play well together.

Darabont dreamed big, but AMC had short arms and deep pockets. Remember the pilot episode that ended with Rick in the tank with another zombie? That tank zombie was played by Sam Witwer best known for his roles as Lt. Crashdown from Battlestar Galactica, Aidan Waite from Being Human and Starkiller in the Star Wars video game The Force Unleashed.

Darabont had a plan in placing Witwer in that tank, and it was to do a prequel story about how the city of Atlanta fell. According to Witwer it was going to be “Blackhawk Down, with zombies”. Imagine that? Atlanta overrun, the military depleted, our hero escapes into his tank after being bitten then, realising the futility of the situation, pulls out a grenade to end it all but dies before he can blow himself up. His path intersects with Rick Grimes in the actual series, when Rick ends up in the same tank, kills the zombie Witwer and uses the grenade to make his escape. That lucky grenade just became infinitely more interesting. I’ve got chills man!!! ACTUAL CHILLS!!!

It’s that kind of attention to detail that makes fans truly love a show. Not just follow along because it’s trending. Style doesn’t last without substance.

I know there are die-hards that still love the show who will vehemently disagree with me. I wish I had the same passion but it is gone. Judging by the drop in ratings it would seem I’m not alone.

Funnily enough, being the idiot I am, I’m trying to binge on Fear The Walking Dead this weekend. Which is like Walking Dead 90210. I’m running into the same issues.

How can the zombie genre that I’ve loved so much become so necrotic and bloated?

What do you think?

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