Skip to main content

The Languid Dead

Last night was episode 6 of Season 2 of AMC's hit series The Walking Dead. It's a show I came to late. Well, after a few episodes, anyway. The program premiered last year on Halloween, and I had little desire to watch yet another depiction of a zombie apocalypse (there's only been, what, 50 million such movies about the subject within the last decade or so?) At any rate, the first episode proved to be a monster success, and I kept hearing good things about the show, so I tuned-in around episode 4 of Season 1, got caught-up with everything during one of the many all-day marathons that AMC aired for it, and was suitably hooked. After 6 episodes, the show went on hiatus until this Autumn. So far, Season 2 has been a pale shadow of its predecessor, and last night's episode was part & parcel of why that is.

"Secrets" was about, well, secrets. Many characters on the program have them. This is one of the more frustrating aspects of Season 2. After firing the showrunner and half the writing staff (for budgetary reasons, mainly) AMC is left with a program that is simply bobbing along, and either boring or insulting most of its audience. I mean, there's nothing more frustrating than the audience knowing something that many characters on the show don't, and then knowing it for a long, long time. After a point, it removes you from the story, and instead of watching characters behaving in a realistic way, you start seeing the wheels turning in a writer's head. There's nothing that could suck the life out of a potential drama more than that.

Unless, of course, it's slowing down the pace of a program to the point that, after viewers have devoted an hour of their day to watching, they're left with the realization that, wow, nothing of substance really happened. Some might balk at such an opinion. I have a friend who considers the monotonous drone of the characters interactions this season to be a "slow burn" that is "building the tension." Perhaps. I look upon it as the slow death of a once-great television drama. It is possible to showcase both talking and action in such a way that they move the story along while still building character development. Season 1 of The Walking Dead was quite masterful at this. Season 2 has decided that a plethora of exposition, and relatively little plot advancement, is the way to go. A shame.

One more big problem with the current season of Walking Dead is that the titular "dead" seem like much less of a threat than they did in Season 1 of the program. Last year, when zombies showed-up, usually someone died (or was bitten, and then died later as a result). Seriously. It was chaos. Deathly chaos. And it's part of what made Season 1 such gripping television. In Season 2, we've seen a lot of zombies, but only very rarely death or serious injury as a result (I can think of one instance -- Otis). Instead, some zombies shuffle on-screen, and are dispatched with such efficiency that nearly all tension is drained from their scenes. Heck, now we're even looking at a developing plotline that might as well be titled: "Hey, Zombies Are People, Too!"  See, the thing is, when your show is about a zombie apocalypse, but then you all but neuter your zombie threat, then that sound you hear is the dread and suspense escaping from the program.

I know what some will say. Heck, the new showrunners are saying it already: 'This is about the characters.' No, I'm sorry, but it's not. Yes, of course a program has to have characters that people can identify with, or react to, but nearly every program has that. Yet not everyone watches the same programs. Why? Because they're drawn to different things for different reasons. Harry's Law is a legal drama. Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman was a gentle frontier story. Hell on Wheels is a tough-as-nails western. Bones is about forensic science mysteries. House is a medical drama. Now, true: They all have characters, and they all focus on them to some extent. But that's not primarily why people watch those shows. They are drawn to them, first and foremost, for the genre that they occupy. Characterization is then an important second.

The Walking Dead used to be be about the dangers encountered during a zombie apocalypse. Now, it's a sexed-up Little House on the Prairie. That's not why people started watching it. Sorry, it's just not. I've no desire to re-watch Season 2 of this series. It's not worth it. Nothing of substance really occurs. And, if it does, you realize it could have been whittled-down into a few episodes, instead of six (so far). For its own sake, I hope that The Walking Dead brings back the danger, the tense pacing, the anything-could-happen-at-any-moment atmosphere. Without it, it's just a nebulous drama. Judging from the readers' comments in this article, I'm not alone in thinking this.


  1. I'm a big fan of Walking Dead, but like you, I find this season disappointing. I've started downloading the original comic books in order to get my fix...

  2. Yeah, I've been investigating the comics more recently, simply to see the plot moving along.

  3. Agree 100%. Didn't realize much of the creative talent left the show after S1 - makes sense now.

  4. AMC is becoming notorious for its... ahem... frugality, of late. They've been either cancelling programs or cutting their budgets.

    According to an article I read, this because, unlike a lot of other cable channels that produce their own shows (TNT, USA, etc.) AMC finances everything on their own, instead of entering into joint partnerships with studios. This is proving to be financially constraining for them.

    So, yeah, they fired Frank Darabont (you know, THE Frank Darabont, Hollywood guy, known to be behind some really good films, and the showrunner for "Walking Dead" season 1. Anyway, AMC couldn't afford to pay him, so he went.

    Now we're seeing the results. :-/


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog


Ok, we're now three-fourths of the way through this year's calendar, so I thought I'd rank the thirty-eight 2017 movies I've seen so far.

Here they are....

1. A Quiet Passion
2. Baby Driver
3. Dunkirk
4. Get Out
5. Kedi
6. A Ghost Story
7. Wonder Woman
8. Columbus
9. Brad's Status
10. Marjorie Prime
11. Maudie
12. Logan
13. Spider-Man: Homecoming
14. Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2
15. Brigsby Bear
16. Atomic Blonde
17. The Big Sick
18. Split
19. Kong: Skull Island
20. It
21. Wind River
22. A Cure for Wellness
23. The Hitman's Bodyguard
24. Norman
25. Kingsman: The Golden Circle
26. Logan Lucky
27. Alien Covenant
28. Ghost In the Shell
29. War for the Planet of the Apes
30. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
31. Life
32. Annabelle: Creation
33. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
34. My Cousin Rachel
35. Baywatch
36. The Bye Bye Man
37. mother!
38. It Comes at Night

It will be interesting to see what the last three months of the year brin…

Walk and Chew Gum

Yesterday marked a touchstone moment in the U.S., as students across the country participated in "walkouts." This was an occasion for students to express an array of thoughts and emotions, ranging from a desire for stricter gun control, to simply sorrow over the loss of so many of their peers to school shootings. They were peaceful protests, but protests nonetheless. Where you're at on the spectrum of agreeing or disagreeing with what they did may vary, though not wanting to get shot in your school seems pretty reasonable to me.
Some folks have taken to sharing a meme on social media platforms this week -- in direct anticipation and response to the walkouts -- that encourages students to "walk up, not out." Following are suggestions provided for the walk ups:

Walk UP to the kid who sits ALONE and ask him to join your groupWalk UP to the kid who never has a voluntary partner and offer to be hersWalk UP to your teachers and thank them!Walk UP to someone and JUST …

The Best Superhero Movies of All-Time, Revisited

We are just a few days away from the North American release of Avengers:Infinity War. While I am dutifully going to see it opening night, it's not a film I'm looking forward to. It is (spoiler) part one of two, which means we can expect plenty of plot threads left dangling when the credits roll. In other words, part two will probably be better, and provide some actual resolution. Also, Thanos looks like a CGI yawn-fest. Hopefully, I'll be proved wrong.
Nevertheless, this is a good opportunity to rank (again) the major superhero movies (Marvel and otherwise) that we've had so far. As you know, I love making a list, and this one is going to be a definitive one! If you don't see a film on here, it's because I haven't seen it (the first two Thors, Iron Man 2, some of the X-Men features, etc.).   Alright, here we go.