The Walking Dead, Now the thing it Mocks?

Walking Dead 130

Robert Kirkman/Tony Moore/Charlie Adlard’s mega-smash hit The Walking Dead has spawned toys, video games, and three TV shows. One of them is the most watched comic-book on television, as well as prime-time drama. But with the show’s success, has it strayed too far from the book’s message?

The back cover of the trade-paper back asks “How many hours are in a day, when you don’t spend them watching TV?”, but doesn’t ask what if that TV is AMC’s The Walking Dead. The show will begin its 6th season this Fall, but an executive once said he thought it could last 20. While hypothetically possible, that is still an incredibly lofty goal for a show to reach.That kind of thinking is present all over the show’s presentation, from its production team to the characters and their overarching storylines.

The comic series the show is based on is published at Image Comics, whose main mission statement is that each creator would own the work they create. Image is meant to be a haven for comics creators. However, Frank Darabont, who brought The Walking Dead to AMC  and made it a hit was fired for refusing the Network’s “suggestions” to save money on production. From that point on, the show had a creative downturn in direction as it tried to regain its footing. Every long-running show has slumps that occur, but its hard not to attribute Season 2’s to the loss of Darabont’s vision.

Nonetheless, the show continues to be AMC’s most watched program meaning millions tune in to. Regularly, millions of people are veging  out on their sofas to watch what happens when people don’t have modern luxuries in a zombie apocalypse. The show is so popular, it has its own spinoff which is also breaking records in views.  The Walking Dead‘s success only seems to grow larger as time goes on. There’s even a show called Talking Dead that is about The Walking Dead.

All of that would be fine and dandy, if the storytelling  of the main show were a little better.  Yet, it’s full of shaky character motivations, wasteful deaths for minority characters and an absence of substance. When it started (under Darabont’s super vision), the show was about retaining humanity in a world that was literally eating itself alive. Now, its about how horrible can characters act before people stop rooting for them. While it still takes cues from the storylines of the comics, the adaptation feels lacking.

Fear The Walking Dead - Fear The Walking Dead _ Season 1, Key Art - Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC

With Fear the Walking Dead, my main problem is with the premise. The parent show is about what happens AFTER a Zombie movie ends, so why does the prequel go over well-trodden ground in showing the start of a zombie apocalypse?  A zombie apocalypse hhich has got to be the calmest end to society I’ve ever seen, when you can sleep under a bridge and face no danger at all. Is it meant to satisfy those fans who constantly complain on the lack of zombie killing in The Walking Dead, a cash-grab, or a half-hearted attempt to recapture something that was lost?

After all its success, has The Walking Dead become an undead version of itself that we can’t get enough  of?


8 thoughts on “The Walking Dead, Now the thing it Mocks?”

  1. I think the Walking Dead show started off mediocre at best compared to almost anything coming out of HBO, Showtime, FX and even the new STARZ. I think it was handicapped under Darabont specifically because of his loyalty to some mediocre actors

    1. Frankly it’s probably such a popular show because many characters have southern origins or accents and that has given the huge population of Americans who rarely see shows about Southereners something to watch. I don’t know what else could explain its universal popularity. If the new show is about Cali people, I don’t see the numbers lasting.

      1. I don’t think Andrea was played by a bad actor, but that her character was badly written 80-90% of the time.

        As for the rest of the characters, a fair amount of criticism has been about the lack of people of color with the setting being near Atlanta, Georgia. While I can’t personally attest to that, I think the location of a Zombie story is sort of incidental. Los Angeles or rural Georgia, either one can provide potential for good storytelling.

        1. Well, you or I may not care where the characters are from but I’m sure a vast portion of The Walking Dead’s audience does and that translates to ratings.

          Let me clarify that I now like the show where at one point early in the series I was considering dropping it. It still only rates as pretty good in my opinion but it’s now worth watching. This is all colored by my love of the comic of which I purchased from issue 1 right off the comic shop rack and which I think is much better than the show. Now that Kirkman is more involved the show and comic are starting to show parity.

          1. I maintain that Season 1 is the best in quality overall, but I like some of the later seasons. None of them I think are perfect tho.

            The comic is on a whole other level, which makes sense because it has “no budget”. It’s still damn compelling after 120+ issues straight, and I wish the show was able to replicate that more.

  2. I think this new show is already better. They had a budget for casting this time around and picked 2 established leads.

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