10 Things The Walking Dead Has To Do To Keep Me Watching

Here are some things you should know about me as a viewer of The Walking Dead, before reading any further.

#1. I am a huge fan of the comic book. While it’s not always perfect, it’s regularly very strong, and has been for over 100 issues now – which is incredibly difficult to do. In fact, The Walking Dead was the book that brought me back to reading monthly comics after a long hiatus.

#2. Nobody wants to like a great zombie television show more than I do.

#3. Though I watched all of Season 1 and most of Season 2, I deleted several episodes of Season 2 from my DVR because I just couldn’t get through them. I did, however, see the last two episodes from Season 2, and nearly wept with joy to see, not only the debut of Michonne, but also stuff actually happening on screen.  It left me slightly hopeful for Season 3.  And so here we are.

So what do they need to do this season to keep me watching?  Here’s the list!

[Beware of spoilers for Seasons 1 & 2]

10. KILL LORI

Kill her dead, dead, dead.  And do it as soon as possible.  Lori is deadweight.  While the character in the book was never my favorite, she certainly eclipses (by a good distance) what we have been treated to in the show-- which is one of the stupidest and most annoying characters in the history of television.  What kind of person takes off into a zombie infested landscape by herself with just a single gun in the hopes of rescuing a group far more capable with far more guns, and then manages to be distracted enough to wreck the damn car she’s driving?  An idiot, that’s who. An idiot that deserves to die, in Episode #1 of Season 3!  Sure, we’ve got the potential baby drama as a storyline, but given what they’ve done with it so far, we're just going to get more overly-earnest, boring conversations, rather than any actual drama. And if you read the comics, you know that that storyline doesn’t have much page time anyway. She’s had two seasons to get better and she’s only gotten worse. Get rid of her.

9. MICHONNE IS A STAR, LET HER SHINE

Do not screw Michonne in the same way that Andrea has been screwed.  Andrea, one of the best characters of The Walking Dead (perhaps third only to Michonne and Rick) has been absolutely ruined on the show. She’s a whining, helpless, irrational, bitchy character with little to no value except to screw things up for other more capable characters. She’s imminently unlikable and it’s a damn shame. But this isn’t about Andrea, this is about Michonne. Don’t make the same mistakes with Michonne you did with Andrea. Stay as close to the book as possible when it comes to Michonne. She’s a great, powerful, capable badass and, especially since the women of The Walking Dead television show desperately need to improve across the board, a good Michonne will be worth her weight in gold. The good news is, her first appearance, though not quite as great as her appearance in the comic, was close enough and definitely on the badass side.  This was a great start.

8. GIVE DARYL MORE TO DO (BUT DON’T RUIN HIM)

In fact, let him do everything.  Daryl is the only 100% non-annoying character on the show.  I hope Michonne will join him there, but let’s make sure Daryl continues on his current path of excellence.  If the show stays close to the comic book portrayal of Michonne, it will be interesting because it could mean that the two best characters on the show are the one most accurate to the book (Michonne) and the one that isn’t even from the book (Daryl).

7. DON’T IGNORE THE BEST SOURCE MATERIAL

We’re headed into the “prison season,” which is easily one of the best and most interesting parts of the entire Walking Dead comic series. The prison presents a lot of hurdles, and a few new characters, and eventually introduces us to the most horrific (and thereby magnificent) of villains – The Governor.  So trust the source material.  There are times when The Walking Dead comic has not been at its best, but the prison and the governor storylines are not one of those times. Get it right, the way they got it right in the book.

My biggest concern is that the creators and writers are going to land the cast at the prison and then just have them sit there being dramatic assholes, as they did with the farm last season.  I understand why they feel it’s in their best interests to keep to one location (money) and I get that The Walking Dead is as much about human drama, broken down society, and community as it is about actual zombies. But locking them into one location, limiting zombie attacks, and having them pick at each other is not exciting television. Let’s not do that for a whole other season.  And that bring us to:

6. CUT DOWN ABOUT 70% OF THE SPEECHES AND MONOLOGUES

People don’t talk like this in real life.  You know why?  Because if you tried to monologue every ten minutes, somebody would shoot you in the head – zombie apocalypse or not.  The source material has its share of monologues and “inspiring” speeches, but the writers need to remember that a page or two of a single character speaking (which is a lot for a comic) is still way less than five minutes of reading time and it doesn’t happen repeatedly in a single issue.  It shouldn’t happen repeatedly in a single episode either.  Five minutes is a loooooong time for someone to talk at a camera.  And when it’s done repeatedly it’s just boring.  When we saw a long speech from one character in a church in Season 2 I nearly fainted from boredom. Imagine my horror when a second character walked in and did the same thing immediately after that. WHAT?!?!  Additionally, I'm sorry to say, but thus far these characters have rarely had anything truly insightful to say, and even when they do, they hammer the point home for so long you can’t help but roll your eyes and forget what was good about it.  If we let them say less and act more, I think we’d learn a lot more about their characters.  Think of all the great TV shows you love - Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, pick your poison – how often are you blown away by a long ass monologue? How often do you learn the best and most interesting stuff about these characters by what they say to someone else? It happens, but it’s rare.  It’s far more often actions, plot, interactions, and sometimes even what characters choose not to say that really tells you something. 

5. BRING IN TYRESE

There’s been a lot of complaining (and rightly so) about “T-Dawg.”  Of all the many great reasons to complain – the ridiculous name, the “affirmative action-ness” of the character, the fact that we know nothing about him, the fact that he gets no personality, no skills, and adds nothing to the cast – the reason I most want to complain is because one of the greatest characters of The Walking Dead is Tyrese – a black man that is anything BUT all of the above.  The Tyrese of the comic is a powerful friend and ally of Rick’s, even though they don’t always see eye to eye – sometimes with painful results.  He’s a strong addition to the cast in the book, and would make a huge addition to the television show.  Lose “T-Dawg” (you never should have created him in the first place) and bring in Tyrese, ASAP.

4. LET THE REAL ANDREA STAND UP

I don’t know if there’s a way to rehab this character at this point.  To be honest, I would put a bullet in her and start again with a character that remotely resembles the real Andrea – a smart, savvy, talented young woman that becomes one of the most powerful assets of the group.  Does that sound like the Andrea you know now?  Yeah, I thought not.  There’s a reason for that… the Andrea we’re seeing now in no way shape or form resembles the Andrea of the comic.  Maybe if you don’t want to kill Andrea you could have her take a serious blow to the head and wake up with a different personality?  I’ll take almost any explanation, so long as it gets rid of this blight that is masquerading as Andrea and gives us the real thing - the invaluable sharpshooter that can’t be stopped. 

3.  CARL CAN GO

In the books Carl is important, he really is. Both as a character and as a touchstone for Rick. Carl has his own development and character arc in the book and he makes sense.  In the television show he’s a problem.  He’s constantly used as an excuse – how many times are we going to hear the “Have you seen Carl?!” refrain this season?  And his portrayal thus far has been pretty bad – he’s either acting like a selfish brat of a kid that’s putting everyone at risk, or he’s played for sympathy (Oh my god! What about the children!?), neither of which are particularly interesting. And with the reality of television, he’s also a time bomb.  We all remember Walt from Lost, right?  The actor playing Carl is going to grow, and it’s going to be a problem.  Since they don’t have much use for him as anything other than a plot device at this to keep his parents afraid, I’d say he can go. 

2.  STAY ON BOOK

I get that this is a television show and that any time you adapt something to a new medium you need to be flexible.  I get that this is an expensive show to produce and in a comic you don’t have those limitations, but without fail the worst aspects of the last two seasons have been concepts that had nothing to do with the source material.  The terrible “CDC Safe Zone” story that went nowhere, the “Sophia is missing for a year but hey, turns out she’s been in the barn” idea, as well as silly smaller stuff like, “Let’s get this zombie out of this well so we can drink from it”…WHAT?! All of those were creations of the television show, not the comic.  Meanwhile a lot of spine-tinglingly great stuff from the comic has been thus far left out – including one of my favorites – an early scene where the group finds a gated community and thinks they’ve found paradise – while readers can see that the exterior has been painted with a “Do Not Enter – All Dead Inside” sign. It leads to massive tension and a brutal fight scene in which not everyone makes it out alive.  Great stuff.  Cut so that we could hang out at the farm for an entire season…? Bad decision.

1.  MORE ZOMBIES

At its core, The Walking Dead isn’t really a show about zombies. It’s zombies used as a metaphor for the human condition, right?  We all know this.  And part of what makes The Walking Dead comic books great is the human drama and how much you care for the characters.  But the show still needs zombies in order to keep both the characters and the viewers on the edge of their seats.  Things get too comfortable when we go multiple episodes with nary a peep from the literal walking dead.  Not every episode has to be a siege, but keeping the fear factor constantly at play so we better understand the personal tension and drama that our characters feel would go a long way toward improving the show.  In the books you never forget the world our characters are living in and how it affects every decision they make.  This same tension and raising of stakes needs to be a constant presence on the show.


And if they can do all that – well then, I promise to watch every single episode this season – instead of deleting a couple of them halfway through out of sheer boredom.  What about you?

Image of The Walking Dead Omnibus Volume 1 HC (New Printing)
Author: Robert Kirkman
Price: $58.00
Publisher: Image Comics (2011)
Binding: Hardcover, 560 pages
Image of The Walking Dead Omnibus Volume 2 HC (New Printing)
Author: Robert Kirkman, Cliff Rathburn, Charlie Adlard
Price: $58.00
Publisher: Image Comics (2011)
Binding: Hardcover, 560 pages
Image of The Walking Dead: Season 1 [Blu-ray]
Director: Frank Darabont
Starring: Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Laurie Holden, Sarah Wayne Callies, Emma Bell
Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Kelly Thompson

Column by Kelly Thompson

Kelly Thompson lives in Manhattan and writes the column She Has No Head! for Comics Should Be Good, reviews for Comic Book Resources, and runs the 3 Chicks Review Comics Podcast. Her first novel THE GIRL WHO WOULD BE KING was a Kindle best seller and her new novel STORYKILLER is out now. She's represented by the Irene Goodman Agency and managed by Principato Young.

To leave a comment Login with Facebook or create a free account.

Comments

M.E.Prince's picture
M.E.Prince from Georgia is reading It October 12, 2012 - 12:51pm

10. Oh my God, yes. Lori must die. When she had her little sexist rant at Andrea, well, I went a little blind with rage. Also, Shane and Rick might have reconciled eventually if she hadn't instigated the fight between them. She is a moronic drama queen at best and a sick, demented psychopath at worst. She is the reason for rule #1 on my zombie apocalypse survival list: kill the drama queens. They will only threaten the unity of the group.

9. To be honest (and I seem to be alone in this). I don't like Michonne. She's too gimmicky. She's the kind of character that a twelve-year-old comes up with, and she doesn't make much sense. I find her to be inhuman. I know the book kind of shows that she's got mental issues, but I don't know. She just doesn't come together for me as a character that fits in with the others. No way book-Michonne would fit in with the show versions of the characters.

5. Hell. Yes. I loved the dynamic between Rick and Tyreese, at least early on.

4. I was so annoyed that Andrea got screwed like this. She was probably my favorite character in the book, and I liked the relationship between her and Dale. As soon as I saw the actress, though, I was pretty sure they were going a different direction with her.

 

Kevin Maddox's picture
Kevin Maddox from Melstrand, Mi is reading Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut October 12, 2012 - 12:58pm

That's awesome you mentioned Carl being killed off. I've always thought that would make a wonderful episode. Although if the series held true to portraying the human condition, his mother would most likely kill herself, and his father would become a brooding lunatic with an I-don't-give-a-fuck attitude.

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Lexington, Kentucky is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated October 12, 2012 - 1:01pm

I wish I was saying this as a joke, but I kind of wish they'd give Daryl a spin off.

Tim McCloskey's picture
Tim McCloskey October 12, 2012 - 1:15pm

I agree on all points, except for Carl. While, yes, he's been wasted as a character when compared to the books, I have no idea where this myth of "CARL'S NOT IN THE HOUSE!!!" came from. I just rewatched season 2 back to back and not once--NOT ONCE--does anyone ever utter such a line. The only thing close was in the finale, and it was glossed over because he was with Rick. Also, now that Carl finally killed Shane (oops, sorry, spoiler) he can get on with growing up into the badass that he is in the books.

Also, kill Lori.

1979semifinalist's picture
1979semifinalist from California but living in NYC is reading Joe Hill's NOS4A2 October 12, 2012 - 1:26pm

@Tim:  ?

"Carl's not in the house!!!"? 

I didn't say that's what keeps being said - I said "Have you seen Carl?!" (which I intend to mean some version of "Where's Carl?!")

 

 

Varkko Stush's picture
Varkko Stush October 12, 2012 - 2:14pm

The problem with increasing the zombie count is that they will very quickly lose their threat and become undead cannon fodder; yawn. I thought series two was brilliant. After the lame duck that was series 1, it needed to be to keep me watching.

Also, how can you judge a series if you didn't watch it all?

Joshua Chaplinsky's picture
Joshua Chaplinsky from New York is reading The Bone Clocks October 12, 2012 - 2:28pm

Haven't watched since season 1, and I'm never going back. Since this is on AMC, I thought I was gonna get a show with a quality level of Mad Men or Breaking Bad. That's what this world needs. A zombie show on par with Mad Men.

1979semifinalist's picture
1979semifinalist from California but living in NYC is reading Joe Hill's NOS4A2 October 12, 2012 - 2:57pm

@Varkko:

Well, that's why I put the disclaimer up front, so you can choose to ignore the entire article if you think that missing approximately half of three different episodes makes me incapable of writing about what I need to see change on the show in order to stay interested.

I don't feel that not finishing three episodes that left me bored to tears makes me incapable of pinpointing the problems for me as a viewer.  There's no doubt in my mind that finishing those three episodes would have changed my mind about any of the big picture problems with the show. But you're welcome to your own opinion.

lspieller's picture
lspieller from Los Angeles is reading LEVIATHAN October 12, 2012 - 3:18pm

God I hated Lori in the comics. Almost all of the women in the comic piss me off. Michonne and Andrea are the only ones I can stand. It's like the writers finally realized that 'fainitng princess' and 'evil harpy' aren't the only two options out there for a female character.

 

i hope they do michonne right. i hope what happens to her at the governor's hands is as brutal as it is in the comic, b/c what happens next is SO powerful. 

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Lexington, Kentucky is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated October 12, 2012 - 3:55pm

I kind of like that they had the spine to have women who aren't just horrible people that I don't like. It seems like there is so much emphasis to make complicated sympathic women these days that you seldom see complicated unsympathic women who aren't insane killers (EDIT: or otherwise some kind of rampaging nasty). Sometimes a great guy just has a annoying wife.

Danny Brophy's picture
Danny Brophy from Boston, MA is reading White Teeth; Only Revolutions; A Clash of Kings October 13, 2012 - 6:46pm

Cannot agree more with all these points. But I'm holding out for this season to be what this show should have been sincce episode 2: great.

1979semifinalist's picture
1979semifinalist from California but living in NYC is reading Joe Hill's NOS4A2 October 15, 2012 - 7:06pm

In case any of your are interested, I did a follow up post of sorts on my column She Has No Head!:

http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2012/10/15/she-has-no-head-the-...

Akira Morris's picture
Akira Morris October 28, 2012 - 10:25pm

Thought michonne was asian at first, figured out she wasnt, got pissed, dont like her. She doesn't even match her sword in beauty, and doesnt even have the skill to wield it