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Walking Aimlessly


Last night saw the season 4 premiere of AMC's The Walking Dead. By now, almost everyone knows what the show is about, but in case you don't, it's about people trying to survive during a zombie apocalypse. The series has seen some stellar viewership since it began in October 2010, and I admit to being a regular viewer, despite my better judgment.

What I refer to is how The Walking Dead never leaves me feeling... good. That may sound like an odd qualifier for a television program. After all, I was a stalwart supporter of NBC's Homicide: Life on the Street, and it rarely left me feeling happy about the world. But at least Homicide was a quality program that actually delved into character development, rather than simply pay lip service to it.

Walking Dead is a very gory show, sometimes (in my opinion) just for the sake of it. Zombies are shot, or stabbed through the head. People are bitten and/or disemboweled. Very little is left to the imagination. And the characters who populate The Walking Dead are often angry or depressed (well, you would be, I guess, during a zombie apocalypse). But the tension, bitterness, anger, sorrow, violence, blood and guts can be a tad overwhelming at times.

Why, I hear you ask, do I watch the program, then?

I watch The Walking Dead because it's a show about (or supposed to be about) zombies. And I do a enjoy a good horror movie or television series. They can be fun, exciting, brimming with suspense, and interesting to try and figure out how the protagonists are going to survive. It's the premise and the plot that drives my interest, not (necessarily) the characters.

Contrary to what many folks (including the show runners) say, Walking Dead isn't about the characters. Every TV series has characters, but not everyone watches everything, because not every program interests them. Why? Because programs are about different things. Doctor Who, for example, may have really neat characters, but perhaps you haven't watched it much because science fiction & fantasy isn't really your thing? Deadwood may have cracking-good characters, but you don't dig shows set in the old west.

See what I mean?

So, last night, watching the first new episode of Walking Dead in something like six months, and knowing what the show runners and many of the fans think about it, I began to realize that, perhaps, it wasn't worth the investment. Questions began to arise: We're in year four now, so, how is this going to wrap-up? When will it end? Will we see a cure for the zombie plague? Do the show runners have a plan? Will there be closure, or are they going to milk this cow for all it's worth, and then give us a rough ending like LOST?

I dunno, folks. I'm watching this show because it's a zombie apocalypse, and I'm curious to know how the plot will progress toward a resolution. But, the more it goes on, the less sure I am that such an expectation will be met. So, do I bail now, or keep on chugging?

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