December 6 2010

Reflections On The First Season Of The Walking Dead

The first season of The Walking Dead has come to a close, and … how is this show getting such high ratings?

[Spoiler warning from here on out]

As I said before, the show was diverging wildly from the comic book, and since that time I decided to watch it just as a TV show … and that didn’t help much.  So, going to a hybrid of comic book differences/judging it as a TV show, how did it do?

Moving Away From The Comic

Robert Kirkman, creator of the comic and Executive Producer of the TV series, has stated time and time again we wouldn’t know what caused the plague, but yet we got more answers in episode six than we have in the entire comic.  We also learned that the zombies are worldwide, another thing we haven’t learned in the comic series.  Mr. Kirkman told TV Guide that he approved of the changes, and that we’ll never know the whole story, but he liked what was teased.  Why he felt the need for this is beyond me, but it’s his to do with as he pleases.

The biggest problem I have with the changes plays somewhat into the TV problems also, but characters have had their entire personalities changed.  In the comic, Rick had leadership thrust upon him, and he constantly fights with his need to be a good leader and the fact he really doesn’t want to be.  In the TV series he just seems to be taking it on and not questioning it at all.

Andrea, my favorite character in the comic, seems whinier and just not nearly as interesting.  They also seem to have aged her somewhat which greatly changes some of her motivations and reactions.

The visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta pretty much told me will never see the lengthy prison story arc as it borrowed ideas from that section.  (specifically the quick conversation about all of the books)  I understand that this show is going to interject its own take on the overall story, but cutting the prison is like removing the middle section of a book.  Perhaps things will happen at a different location, but the location was almost like a character for a bit of the series, and I’m not sure how they’ll get around this.  (Plus, if they want to bring in the Woodbury crew, they have to put Rick’s crew in a desirable location)

Kirkman explained to TV Guide:

Nothing in the show is going to go down exactly the same way it does in the comic


One thing that’s very important to me is that no one comes into this television show having read the comic knowing exactly what’s going to happen. We’re always going to change things up and keep people guessing.

Fine, it’s your creation, but remember the comic is what drew us into the show.  Changing everything, especially motivations, makes it a lot less desirable to watch.

Shall I go into Shane/Lori?  No, I won’t bother because it would be an entire essay on how badly you’ve changed these characters.  I never liked Lori in the comic, and I like her even less in the TV series … thanks for that.

The zombies in the comic can’t run or climb, and you know what?  They’re more frightening than the ones in the TV series that can do all that.

As A TV Show: Stop Dumbing Everything Down

The TV show is doing a great disservice to its viewing audience by assuming they need everything spelled out for them.  In the comic book we never met Carol’s abusive husband, and there was no need to meet him in the series.  Talk about the abuse all you want, but seeing him being a jerk served no purpose but to take up time.

On the flip side, you drop in things and don’t explain why they leave.  You added the gang controlled retirement home, which I did actually find intriguing, and after Rick made peace with the leader, it just goes away.  Rick’s crew needs a new home with the destruction of the CDC, will these two bands join up now?  Sure that may be a season two plot point, but I doubt it since that discussion should have happened as soon as they made peace, and definitely before Rick got the idea to head to the CDC.  It was a fairly secure building, and with even more survivors it would have been even more secure.

You are also guilty of building tension and then giving us no pay back for it.  Go back to episode two and the whole sewer system bit.  Why was that there?  Nothing happened … nada … zip … zero.  Oh, wait, there was a zombie on the other side of a gate they couldn’t get through any way.  One or the other would have been fine, but both just felt like you were saying, “Oh, we haven’t shown you a zombie for a bit, here ya go, have one.”

Then you did the unforgivable in the finale … the ear whisper.  As soon as I saw Dr. Jenner whispering in Rick’s ear, I wanted to throw a shoe at the TV.

Talk about a forced tactic to bring viewers back and to try to create buzz. “Oh man, what do you think Jenner said?!? Did you see Rick’s face?!?” Just … stop. For the love of the audience, just stop. You aren’t Lost, we don’t need a bunch of mysteries. (“Where’s Merle?” “What did Jenner say?”) You hooked us, we’re coming back, just tell a good story, don’t force stereotypes down our throats (please leave Merle wherever he is), don’t try going the mystery route, just tell us a decent story about humanity.

Stunt Casting?

If the rumors about Charlie Sheen are true … screw you and your show.

Was It Worth It?

Personally, I can’t decide.  Vacillating between anger over changes to the comic and the audience being treated like third graders, I kept coming back, but it was with less enthusiasm each week.  The season finale set ratings records, so I’m obviously in the minority, but please, you can still save this show, just fix it.

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