Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Walking Dead, Hit or Miss?

It's been six weeks since we first watched Rick wake up half-dead in his hospital room.  Six weeks since the first zombie had its brains splattered across our TV screens by a shotgun blast.  This past Sunday, the final episode of the AMC series aired and we won't have anymore brains, guts, or shotguns until next October for season two.  That's nearly a whole year to wait to see what is going to happen to our survivors.  I watched the series as someone who has never read the graphic novels so I had no preconceived ideas about what should happen with each character.  The benefit of being new to this universe is that I don't feel any fan frustration when someone who should die, doesn't or when an entirely new character is introduced.  Despite these advantages, I still watched the credits roll on the finale and was a bit disappointed.

If you watch stories about zombies, then you're taking a huge leap into an alternate universe.  There are no such things as zombies (for now) so viewers don't have a real-world set of rules that they must follow in order to be believable.  If the zombies in one story move fast and can talk, but in another they lumber slowly down the street and mumble, most of us can accept that reality.  It's fiction, after all, so who's to say what is right and what is wrong?  The Writer.  And as long as the universe the writer creates is consistent in it's rules for something that doesn't exist, most people will happily go along for the ride.  I had no problem believing the zombies in The Walking Dead.  The way they looked and acted worked.  It may have differed from other version of zombies, but, again, this is fiction.  Who's to say what is right? My disappointment came from the real-world bits that just didn't seem genuine.

I complained a few posts back about how the blood and guts that the zombies ate looked like they were a prop purchased for $5 at the local party store.  Unfortunately, this type of problem stuck with the show right to the end.  When the Winnebago breaks down and needs a new hose, it appears to suddenly work again a few moments later.  No one ever fixed it, the Winnebago just worked.  In the real world we have Winnebagos and when they break down it takes time to fix.  Since I know this, this small detail took me right out of the show.  The finale had moments like this, too, most notably when everyone is locked into the deathtrap formerly know as the CDC with only minutes to escape.  The building is in full on lock down, the kind of thing that we've been told is designed to protect against terrorists and the like from breaking in and stealing the nasty viruses.  Our survivors pound on steel reinforced doors and shoot at bulletproof windows. Then, one pulls out a grenade, which when placed by the window shatters it into a zillion bits so everyone can escape.  Wow.  So, apparently the fortress that  is the CDC is safe against attacks unless the attackers are, you know, armed with more than a shotgun.

I know, it may sound picky, but it's the attention to details that makes a story feel genuine and believable.  Did I like the series?  Yes.  Will I watch it when it returns next year?  Yes.  But I am really hoping that the writers pay as much attention to the details of the real world as they do to the ones they invent.  Also, I have to know what the Dr. whispered to Rick as they fled the building.  Any ideas?

5 comments:

  1. I think it's a zombie Winnebago since it died, but came back to life. My complaint about the gore effects is that gunshots are obvious CGI not squibs. But I'm liking the series and I'm okay with it being its own thing -- which doesn't mean I won't be disappointed if some of my favorite characters don't show up.

    And my guess is the doc told Rick Lori's pregnant.

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  2. Apparently, the CDC doesn't believe in reinforced concrete. That building came down like it was made of egg shells and packing foam. I blame Mythbusters for ruining TV/Movie explosions for me. The bigger the boom, the less fireball, the more devastation.

    Also, I think Terry is right.

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  3. I think Terry is right, too, but there is still some debate out there and I've loved the conspiracy-like theories as to what it might be if they don't make Lori pregnant like in the comic.

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  4. As long as its not a zombie baby, I'll be ok with it. That's one line I don't like crossed when it comes to zombie fiction.

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  5. I got caught up in the show from the moment Rick opens the door to his hospital room until he gets out in the loading area and sees all those "pacified" bodies. Brilliant directing, acting and filming!

    I enjoyed the show enough to plunk down $60.00 on the "compendium" of the graphic novel.

    Is it perfect? No. Are there holes? Yes (heck, there are zombies to start with...start picking things apart and you have to start with that...). But it is a lot better than most of the other stuff on television these days.

    I think I finally came to a realization of what zombie tales are about. They are not about the zombies (the zombies would work equally as well as sparkly vampires, werewolves or aliens). The zombies stories are about the survivors and I think the show has done a good job there.

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