Thursday, April 06, 2017

Walking Dead - enough is enough

I'm Negan! credit: Andy Westwood
The Walking Dead has become a joke, a TV show that has lost its way, ceased to be allegorical or moral, and worse still, just doesn't really surprise you any more. OK, you have to suspend a certain amount of belief to indulge yourself in a drama series about a dystopian zombie apocalypse. And it isn't that the Walking Dead has got ridiculous overnight, it's that the makers have lost all ability to create tension and drama, while moving a story on at pace.

After a needlessly brutal season opener, Season 7 has been the worst yet.

I was gripped by the books, which have taken the graphic novel form to a new level, and if I'm honest I've really enjoyed a few lost weekends binge watching the earlier series. But this was substandard at best.

The season finale had its moments, as the Independent says here, the battle scene was the culmination of so many sub-plots coming together - Sacha's sacrifice, the return of "badass" Carole and of Morgan finally dropping his sullen pacifism - but the rest of the episode was tedious, drawn out and like much of the 15 episodes that went before, it could all have been done in about a quarter of the time.

The one element that was done well and was genuinely shocking was the betrayal of Alexandria by the garbage pail kids. But it still hasn't tried to add up quite why they went along with the plan for war with little supposed motive to fight Negan, or even a passing curiosity about who he is and what they are all about.

Other unanswered dead ends, for starters.

1 - Where did Gregory go? Just vanished 
2 - How did the Alexandrians not get butchered when they turned on the Saviours
3 - Dwight, friend or foe? - still not clear
4 - Are all three armies the worst shots ever? Was someone firing blanks? Who died?
5 - Why on earth do the garbage pail kids speak so weirdly, who are they, where are they from?
6 - And what next for that Tiger?

My theory since we discovered creepy Jadis and her black clad clan was that they will turn out to be Alpha and the Whisperers from the graphic novels, people who walk among the dead in zombie skin and attack those who trespass and who have reverted to a primitive animal state. The twists and turns in that story line are genuinely shocking.  

But I may never know. I won't be buying a series pass, or subscribing to Fox. If I do catch up it will be long term, on a box set, or if comes back to Netflix. When I do I can fast forward through the lingering unnecessary moping about and find something else. Because what has been exposed by the dire pace of the broadcast series is that the single episode story structure has become stymied by ad bumpers and the mid-season break. Each episode is padded out to reach fake peaks around adverts, stripping the storyline of rhythm and adding false tension. Worse still, each half season is about the build up to the end point, which the showrunners clearly obsess about, to exclusion of caring about the progress of each episode.

Early ratings indicate that the show is rapidly declining in popularity. It needs a major reboot, or this next season must surely be its last.

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