Because my wife likes to watch it and because I used to like to watch it, we viewed the season premiere of The Walking Dead last night. Just kill me now.
This show is a ratings monster for AMC, which of course means a ton of money for the cable network. Heck, I would even bet that The Talking Dead draws decent ratings. But it has to be one of the most brain-dead shows on television right now, shambling along like its subject matter, mumbling incoherently and once in a while becoming incredibly violent. And then we’re back to brain-dead shambling.
Last night they were herding an enormous herd of zombies off to some undetermined place. See there were hundreds of the undead in a quarry and our determined band of heroes decided that the thing to do would be drive this herd like cattle across the Virginia landscape to somewhere else. Where that end was they never really said. It didn’t matter. Because what the writers needed was a giant crisis to trigger the only plot this show knows. Build a community safe against zombies and then have it overrun while encountering someone SUPERBAD. They’ve did this the last three seasons and given the show’s success have little reason to do anything different this season. So they put this army of undead on the road and surprise, something nefarious is done by someone SUPERBAD and whoops, now the community of Alexandria is about to be overrun. So the rest of this season can be spent battling zombies overruning the town, getting back out on the run, and combating someone SUPERBAD. Lather, rinse, repeat.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this show is just Gilligan’s Island with zombies. They’re never going to get off the island, they’ll never find a way to adapt to this new reality despite all their bluster, they’ll never cease running into someone SUPERBAD. Robert Kirkman has basically one idea and by god, he’s never ashamed to repeat it again and again.
You can pontificate how ever much you want about this show being a metaphor about keeping your humanity, about the fragility of civilization, etc. That dog was taken to a nice farm in the country a long time ago. Trust me, he’s happy there. This show is about supplying gory deaths and careers to some writers, producers, and directors whose talents were maxed out a long time ago.
The one I feel sorry for is Chris Hardwick. His show @Midnight actually won an Emmy this year. That’s something The Walking Dead will never do in any category other than makeup (certainly not in special effects, the CGI in the quarry last night was amateurish at best). But on every episode of Talking Dead our buddy Chris has to ladle on the superlatives onto which ever behind-the-scenes cretin that shambles onto the couch. Then they discuss the episode with the intensity of discussing a nuclear treaty, albeit with more gore and laughs. I’ve been following Hardwick’s Nerdist site for years now. He’s no dummy and he understands what makes great genre…stuff work. So I feel that somewhere deep down inside he knows he’s dealing with a show that’s not even worthy of being discussed on the same level as say Arrow or Supernatural, let alone the truly transcendent pieces of genre art. Yet there he is, telling the showrunner, the producers, the writers, just how great they are and man, I hope it’s a nice paycheck because something has to justify pandering to these fools.
I’ll try to hold myself back this season. I won’t write another blog piece about this show until at least the finale. OK, one caveat. If there is something so truly jaw-dropping stupid that it actually makes my brain hurt, I might be tempted. Given this show’s history, what do you think those odds are?