Tuesday, 12 April 2016

More deadly than a ravenous zombie on "The Walking Dead"? Bad writing.

As you can guess, I finally got around to watching The Season Six Finale of "The Walking Dead", and it is absolutely rife with these “what the f%#?!” logic moments, to the point I nearly turned off the TV. It made the reveal of the Saviors and their leader Negan, a potentially terrifying nightmare, a cartoonishly annoying mess.

SPOILERS!!! (obviously)

I hate it when I’m watching something and I literally start yelling at the screen “What are you doing!? Don’t be stupid!! Go back! Just go around the thing and you’re right there…oh forget it!” When the audience starts questioning the logic or intelligence of the characters in your show, especially after they’ve shown themselves to be logical and intelligent, you’re in big trouble as a writer. In fact, shame on you for lazy writing. Just sayin’.

Rick has shown himself to be a cunning leader. He’s become a man of practical resourcefulness, and by all accounts a great tactician in the new world of the zombie apocalypse. The bit in “No Tomorrow Yet”, where Rick finds a decoy Gregory head amongst the zombie herd to trick the Saviors, was genius.

How can this man, after many successful raids and attacks against organized, armed men (Woodbury and the Governor, the Terminus cannibals, the Savior outpost), not come up with a plan to deal with seven dudes blocking the road? Why not fake them out? Back up, park about a mile up, and sneak back through the forest and snipe them? Or jeez, just ram through their blockade with the giant RV?

These questions kept flooding my mind as the episode progressed. Why drive right up to each blockade (I mean, like ten feet away) and then stupidly unload everyone out the RV to investigate? Hello, obvious trap! Why not spot the blockade, reverse, park, and approach it from the forest in stealth? Use the RV as a diversion? Hell, where was Abraham’s RPG? That would’ve worked nicely to clear those jerks off the road.

And as each blockade became successively worse (7 guys, then 15, then a giant pile of burning logs), it became apparent the Saviors knew Rick’s plan to get to the Hilltop. But how? A mole? A network of spies? Satellites? Who knows? And worse, why didn’t Rick just think “Shit, we can take 7 guys, let’s head back that way and snipe them.” Why keep trying different routes (except to fill time and bore us)?

On and on the failed logic of this episode and the inherent dumbness of the main characters continued until I nearly turned it off in disgust. Was it lazy writing? Some network mandate to draw out the show for more ad revenue? What reason this sloggy, logic-impaired mess?

This isn’t the first time I’ve seen a show fall flat on its face as the writing unraveled from a tight plot to a meandering, meaningless mess. I feel any serialized show that can consistently pull off good episodes, week after week, is a rare thing. For every Six Feet Under, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, and Game of Thrones we have Lost (oh Lost, how I wanted you to be cooler than thou turned out to be!), Prison Break, Heroes, Heroes Reborn (ugh, awful from the get go!), Scandal (um, I watch it with my wife…) the Star Wars prequels (haha! sorry, had to add them for their sheer awful affront to screenwriting in general) and numerous other serial shows that seem to lose their way and fall apart. But sadly, most of us have invested so much time in these series that we’re loath to give them up, and therefore hang on to them, waiting for some glimmer of its former glory to wow us again. Sadly, most shows rarely recover and usually end with a whimper, leaving us, the audience, despondent, saddened, and angry.

I’ve always approached the Walking Dead tv series with a hefty skepticism right from the beginning when the writing deviated from the comic book by adding more characters and altering plot lines. I’m all for re-imagining a property in a different medium, but the decisions the writers made here seemed arbitrary and at times confusing. For every Carol, Michonne, Sasha and Daryl there was a Merle, T-dog, Andrea and Dale (sooo much better in the comics) Tyreese (ugh, sucked on tv) Bob…and don’t forget Eugene and Abraham becoming cartoon characters with their awful, awful dialogue mannerisms. Just mixing up characters and plot lines for no good reason is very annoying.

So I’m on the verge of giving up on the Walking Dead TV show, even though I love zombies and this show should be a dream come true. On the other hand, the terrible writing has made me interested in returning to the comics (I stopped reading after issue #90) and see where Kirkman has taken these characters.

 While the comics were at times slow moving, the writing never felt forced and I never got the feeling the plot fell off the tracks. So go ahead kids, turn off your TVs and do some more reading! That’s what I’ll be doing!


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