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?
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