Regarding AMC’s “The Walking Dead”

I’ve been a fan of horror — and specifically zombie stories — since I was a young child. I grew up on George A. Romero’s revelatory “Dead” trilogy through my older brother. 28 Days Later is one of my earliest memories of going to the movie theater. Capcom’s Resident Evil series is partly responsible for my love of video games. As a nine-year-old, my first foray into the comic industry wasn’t with Spider-Man or Superman, but with the first two volumes of Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead.

Robert Kirkman’s initial pitch for The Walking Dead was that it would focus entirely on the life of one man — Rick Grimes — as he tries to survive in a world overrun by the undead. Almost 150 issues and eleven years since our first exposure to Rick Grimes and Co., The Walking Dead is still going strong, still offering up some of the most interesting content the series has had since its conception. The comic has had its fair share of bad and/or boring story arcs, but for the most part it has stayed consistently interesting since the first issue, and I always recommend it to anyone interested in graphic novels.

When it was announced that AMC had actually ordered a full season of a television adaptation of The Walking Dead back in 2010, I was ecstatic. Robert Kirkman was on-board with it, and Frank Darabont — responsible for adapting Stephen King novels The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, and The Mist into fantastic movies — was also announced as the main showrunner, so I felt that the project was in good hands. The show has been going strong for five years now, and is breaking records left and right with the amount of viewers it gets, with it being the highest-rated cable television series of all time. Thing is, I don’t think it deserves the acclaim and viewership that it gets.

I don’t say this because I’m some sort of elitist who thinks the comic is way better and doesn’t want to give the show a chance (though in reality, the comic is incredibly better). I have been watching the show since the day it first aired on Halloween night in 2010, but after season four, I gave up. The show has had some incredible highs, but much of every season is filler.

For example: season two takes a storyline from two (TWO!) issues of the comic (THAT’S 48 PAGES) and stretches it into a thirteen-episode season. That’s what I’m talking about when I say filler. I understand why this happens, since I assume that with the huge success, AMC has been making a lot of money on the show and they want to make the seasons longer and longer to make even more money. So now, each season is sixteen episodes long and that’s just too much for the minimal plots, which results in many episodes being inconsequential and boring.

This past September, season five appeared on Netflix, and I binge-watched it in the span of like three or four days. It was the best the show had probably ever been. However, though I did like the season as I watched it and was completely hooked — especially due to having every following episode at the touch of a button — I think that if I’d watched the season week-by-week, I wouldn’t have liked it as much. Like I said, these plots drag over the course of sixteen weeks (plus a mid-season break of a couple months) and looking back on it, the first half of season five is ridiculous and fairly dumb, and I expect I would have hated watching it week-to-week. The second half of season five makes up for the missteps in the first half, though, making season five one of the better seasons of the entire series.

[SPOILERS FOR SEASON SIX AHEAD, though even if you don’t watch the show you probably already know what I’m going to be talking about]

Coming off of the high that was the second half of season five, I was quite excited for the start of season six. Let me tell you, the first two episodes were really great! It’s since then, though, that the season has become painful to watch. The Walking Dead plays into every terrible convention of television dramas, and that’s why I’m writing this today. Season six premiered a month ago and after two great episodes, the season has become one big “fuck you” to the fans. Episode three of season six, titled “Thank You,” is the main offender, though the two episodes that have aired since haven’t been much better.

The third episode of this season is the epitome of a filler episode, but only until the last fifteen minutes, when Glenn, a mainstay character from season one, is apparently ripped apart by a horde of zombies. Though nothing is for sure, it’s fairly obvious that the writers have pulled a damn bait-and-switch, and all of the fans know it. The worst part of it all? We won’t find out about what has truly happened to Glenn for at least another two weeks. Next week’s episode is going to be about Daryl, Sasha, and Abraham who are off doing their own stuff, so I doubt we’ll see the fate of Glenn in that episode. The episode after that is the seventh of the season, and the mid-season finale follows that, and I believe that they’re going to want to save the reveal of Glenn’s fate for the mid-season finale. If I were a betting man, I’d put my money on us finding out about Glenn during the mid-season finale, a whole five weeks after the episode in which Glenn “died.”

I’ve officially lost faith in this show’s ability to ever be consistently good throughout a season. I’ll keep watching, as I am such a fan of zombie media and the source material itself, but no matter how this Glenn situation plays out, it can’t fix how bad this season has been these past three weeks. The third episode was filler up until that Glenn scene, and even the Glenn scene is handled poorly; the fourth episode focused on the backstory to a character I really couldn’t care any less about right now (Morgan); and the fifth episode would best be forgotten. I hope that the rest of this season is great, but I can’t help but feel like it is only going to get worse from here.  

— Michael Lane, Blog Editor

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