Sunday, October 2, 2011

Soft Focus On The Zombie Apocalypse...

I just got done watching the final episode of the first season of 'The Walking Dead'.
Overall I'm feeling kind of, "Meh" about the series and I'm not entirely sure why.

Maybe it's just a general overdose of zombies over the past few years.
As a little kid I stayed up late and watched 'Night of the Living Dead' and became an instant (though sleepless) zombie fan. I then had to wait years until another zombie film came on my radar (I was still underage when my friend and I tricked my mom into taking us to see 'Dawn of the Dead'). After that we knew there would be more... but we still had to wait years before seeing the various Italian ripoffs. 'Day of the Dead' was only a vague rumor.
Nowadays you can't swing a cricket bat without hitting a new zombie movie... they've even crossed over into comedy (always the sign of excess). Add in all the not-zombie stuff like 'Rec', '28 Days Later', 'The Crazies'... and we are in an age of total zombie movie infestation.
Yet I still love them!
So... why don't I love 'The Walking Dead'?
Maybe it's because of the format? Maybe zombies are best when they hit and run... as opposed to sticking around for multiple episodes.
I mean, once the zombie apocalypse hits... either everyone gets eaten or... hmmm... I'm trying to remember a zombie film that ended with anything more than a dying pen-light's ray of hope ('Shaun of the Dead' doesn't count). At worst you're only going to have to suffer through one, maybe two, heartfelt conversations while the characters discuss those they've left behind. 'The Walking Dead' has those tender moments every week.

But really, I think it's the characters on 'The Walking Dead' that are helping me to suspend my lack of enthusiasm.
I'm fine with the sheriff... he's not a purely goody-goody, you can see it in his eyes. Sooner or later he's gonna go dark. He's got a bit of complexity going on.
The Asian kid and the redneck? I like them too... stereotypes, yeah, but they're fun and don't whine a lot. They don't stink of 'thespian'.
The rest of them though? Let the zombies eat 'em. The sheriff's wife is annoying she's got all of 2 different facial expressions... worry/concern and shocked indignation. The little kids are barely there except for reaction shots and (I assume) to be placed in danger later on. The 'wise old man' is chock full of corn. The blond woman belongs on a soap opera. I'm not sure what the skinny/scared looking woman is going to be up to now that her husband isn't around to beat on her... mostly she is just for reaction shots too.
Oh, and the deputy guy... I disliked him from his first scene, mostly because that actor's pretending-to-eat mannerisms during food breakfast/lunch/dinner scenes, along with his bogus accent, makes me want to scream... but also because he's such a glaring non-entity except for his position as 'impending storm'... and I much prefer the 'Merle' character in that role, despite him only appearing in one episode so far.

Maybe it didn't matter that most of the un-undead folks in previous zombie movies weren't all that fleshed out... but they only had to last for about 90 minutes. We've had six 45-minute episodes of these people and I'm NOT getting any fonder of them. They're the same two-dimensional twinks they were at the start.

It's not that I want more action, more flesh-eating, more gore... all that stuff is great so far. The problem is that when that stuff isn't happening the show becomes very ordinary... and dull. The show needs to be about something more than just running away from the monsters.

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