By Darren Johnson
AMC’s “The Walking Dead” ended last season with a ratings low. Last night, the show returned, and it’s obvious now that “Dead” is dying. Here are some observations:
- The show is too loyal to the comic book. There actually is a character named Jesus who looks like Christ. While this may work as abstract art in a black-and-white graphic novel, it just seems silly showing this pious-looking guy between commercials for automakers and fast food restaurants. And why is the priest character still wearing his collar — and it’s still starched and white? Looking at the show now reminds me of some carnival grotesque Mardi Gras parade.
- Too much CGI. The tiger that somehow knows the bad guys from the good guys is just a ridiculous element, and looks fake.
- Even the after show, “Talking Dead,” makes fun of the implausibilities. The actors joke how their mustaches are well groomed and how the Twizzlers still aren’t stale so many years into this show. I mean, shouldn’t at least the actors have some buy-in?
- Too many narrow escapes. Rick fires a machine gun right at Negan, and somehow completely misses.
- Dumb dialogue, backed up by corny music. As my family sat around the TV in earlier seasons, we used to listen intently to what the characters were saying and would even shush each other at certain key crises. Now we roll our eyes and guffaw at some of the trite, cliched writing coming out of that show. And whenever a character like Maggie is about to give us some homespun wisdom, overly inspirational music is cued.
- Too many British actors with over-done Southern US accents.
- The show is no longer about zombies. Enough with these inter-tribe squabbles. The show was cooler when the zombies were the issue, not other humans.
- There’s no science in this science fiction. Is this science fiction or fantasy? Early in the series, we had the crew visit the Center for Disease Control and at least get some rationale for this outbreak. But in the past couple of years we get none of that. The crew has learned nothing new about what’s going on in the world. For example, no one finds a small plane, as happened in other apocalyptic shows like “Falling Skies” or “Jericho,” to see what’s happening in neighboring states. We need context.
Sorry, “Walking Dead,” but you stopped telling a story and instead fell in love with your own special effects silliness. I understand the comic book wants to keep the story going, as it has hooked readers and wants to keep the subscriptions flowing, but this TV show needed to grow beyond that. I talk to former fans — they grudgingly say they watch now because they feel “invested.” But, eventually, people swim away from a zombie home that sinks underwater.