I have been a huge fan of The Walking Dead comic book for about six years now. Naturally the thought of mixing zombies with a weekly TV show is so amazing there is no reason it hasn’t happened before, mix in Kirkman’s masterpiece and this is the kind of thing that gets Oscars in the nerd world. Somehow they managed to make the experience painful to watch, and have people actively defend everything that is happening. So that is why I made an itemized list of why every episode sucks.
Oddly enough the first episode wasn’t all that terrible. Keep in mind that it wasn’t anything wonderful either. In the grand scheme of things, though, this doesn’t really mean a whole lot as many TV shows have had amazingly terrible pilot episodes– like The Big Bang Theory. This just being very middling and aimless, as odd as it sounds, kind of reflects the direction of the comic as it also felt like it was trying to find itself during the first couple of issues. It is hard to think of one zombie story that doesn’t have a hard time setting up the world where it is plausible for zombies.
The only real terrible moment was when Rick was trapped under a tank and magically finds a hatch beneath it that he can go through. Now I know nothing about real world tanks, so there might be dozens of these things all around every tank in the world– there may even be tanks made of nothing but hatches– that doesn’t matter. A gun to his head is a bad plot device to move him into the tank. Having a main character that close to suicide this early in development is never something that can be erased from the viewers minds, for the rest of the series Rick is always going to be the guy that almost offed himself because he got too near some zombies– which isn’t great for the future of a series where characters are constantly surrounded by the dead..
So in this episode we encounter the world’s biggest redneck who is also racist. Now I might not be the world’s foremost expert in all things racism, but common sense would say that you don’t try take over a group based on being part of the superior race when you are in-fact the minority at the moment. There is even another white person in the group during the tirade and even they don’t seem to be to keen on the idea.
Granted, by the end of the episode he gets hit in the head and chained to a pipe, and ultimately left to die, but his entire character is like someone video taped an angry child who wasn’t getting the candy he thought he should have. After five minutes in time out the guy is a step away from offing sexual favors if they even speak to him.
On the upside Glenn does exactly what I would do if the world ended and I had an awesome car.
It is odd that the worst part of this episode, Rick finding his wife and son perfectly safe and well fed, is lifted almost 100% from the comic. Everyone that I have ever talked to about the comic pretty much feels the same exact way, that this was one the oddest tonal changes the comic ever takes, it also happened in the first handful of issues and is almost entirely forgotten directly after it happens.
There isn’t any one thing in the episode that is standout terrible, but it all feels so sloppy and poorly put together that I came to terms with disliking the series. At one point my wife walked into the room while I was watching women clean clothing and I commented:
“I write better zombie fiction than this.”
Oddly her only reply before leaving was, “Yeah, so do I”
Although the next worst thing, that happens is the fight between the other cop, Shane, and a guy that beats the living hell out of his wife, and presumably child as well, on a near daily basis. For a show that has really good zombie make-up it seems odd that the blood they used for this fight looks more like ketchup than it looks like human jelly. It is true the guy was a dick and kind of had it coming, but it seems odd people in the group who do things that don’t even hurt others are punished thousands of times worse then how they never bring this up ever again.
Ugh. I honestly can’t think of the last time I watched a scene that had more forced writing and sudden, terrible, characterization. Watching this it was clear that either one of those two girls was going to die or the entire show was going to quickly turn into soft core porn. Oddly the more interesting choice, one getting bitten by a zombie, also proved to be the most long and drawn out thing that ever happened in the history crap TV. It is almost like the head writer decided that the older sister was going to spend most of the season mourning her sister, but forgot to tell anyone that she should maybe interact with her before she became annoyingly depressed.
Just for future reference the entire “we are different, but love each other!” sister plot device is only more annoying when it revolves around how they fish. Thanks, proof reading that sentence made my head hurt.
So Glenn gets kidnapped by mexicans. At this point in the show I have honestly come to terms with the fact that one of the writers is a random word generator and everyone just kind of goes along with its ideas. It isn’t enough that this is the second time in two days that Rick’s crew has been in the area making more noise than Paris Hilton while drunk, and while that has attracted more zombies than David Hasslehoff appearing in Germany, the gang knows they are there is because of the random bag of guns on the ground in a nondescript bag.
Oh, the entire gang is also all nurses at an old people’s home. Hopefully that random word writer got a raise for this episode because clearly no one else came up with any ideas this time around. Oh, and somehow Glenn quickly goes from being tortured in public to a step away from drinking a beer, playing scrabble, and being written into the will with of one of the old guys.
Being put into overdrive our star writer of the show must have spit out “Stolen truck,” and “never seen again” because that is exactly what happened when the crew starts to head home. The one man that they came to save has hi-jacked their truck and left for other parts of the world. This wouldn’t seem so odd if the entire episode hadn’t had his brother saying that he was going to head back to camp and kill everyone there.
For a guy that constantly says things like, “we don’t kill the living” and “you need to stop punching him” Rick pulls his gun and threatens to shoot people in the head an awful lot. It is like he was a monkey who only spoke in sign language and he only ever learned how to threaten with ironic death, he holds entire conversations with the survivors by pulling his gun on them.
While the zombie attack happened during the last episode this is the one that all of the characters that had less than 3 lines are shown to be dead. Also it is when the audience gets to start enjoying one sister overly mourning for the other, and a really creepy old man hinting about how much he would like to sex her during it. I am pretty sure that it still counts as robbing the cradle if you are 60 and the chick is in her 30’s.
There is this entire 15 minute scene of this guy seemingly experimenting to find a cure to this entire zombie outbreak thing, you know because when you cut off someone’s head and the thing is still moving it has to have a scientific reason and not at all a supernatural one. Basically it all goes bad, of course, and the guy starts to threaten to kill himself. It is like they are going for the Guinness world record for introducing a character by being told that they are longing for the sweet embrace of death. By this pacing all of season two will be the cast coming across people with guns in their mouths who communicate by carving words into themselves as deeply as possible.
Of course the entire sight of Rick’s group coming up to the gates and demanding to be let in is pretty much what saves this guy, we are led to believe, and the episode ends with everyone staring into an opening door with an amazingly bright light shinning out of it.
If I was to wager a guess I would say that this is where season one was supposed to end, but the pilot was so pants-crappingly popular that they demanded another episode. Hopefully that would explain all of embarrassingly terrible writing that happened next.
When the highlight of any given episode is a near rape scene there has got to be problems with pretty much everything that has come before, and probably everything that will come after. Rick’s wife fights off her attack mostly the same way that someone would fight off a hobo asking for change, with such little interest they are battling the smell more than the person themselves. Add in the would-be rapist to the mix who is acting more confused then anything and you have a rather terrible scene to begin with, and that is as good as the entire episode gets.
So when the show introduces the idea that the guy who has been running the CDC since the zombie outbreak has decided that life would be better if he was dead, and that the only way to do that is to take as many not already dead people with him as he can, it feels more like the end of a bad date when you just agree with the person across the table so make things easier until the check comes and the promise of never seeing them again then must watch TV. That is right, Walking Dead TV has successfully changed a suicidal un-liked character and made them into an attempted multiple murder. Most shows try to play off this kind of thing as them being a villain, Walking Dead on the other hand seems content to just leave him as an important character.
Anything with zombies in them as pretty much hit rock bottom when they try to start explaining why the dead get up and feast on the flesh of the living, also why a bullet to the head is the only thing that will kill them. Seeing this as the last massive hurtle to alienate whatever remaining fan base there was they just go right ahead and make some kind of half-assed attempt at it. Even though nothing is really explained most of the writers probably thought that it was enough to warrant the highest levels of science.
The CDC is rigged to explode if it loses power for even a brief second. Let that sink in.
While the explanation for this is that they have some really nasty stuff stored there, they never really explain why they need to explode the building and all of the research that it, and only it, contains. The show has already proven that they can destroy all of the viruses that it hold within any given room without damaging anything outside of that given room, why they needed to blow up the building is beyond me.
The entire plot point of the group being trapped inside of the building is never really explained either. There is an attempt that he tried to warn them away by speaking ominously around the topic, but regardless of how stupid you believe someone is you don’t honestly defend vagueness as a warning. Add onto that whatever defense he could have was destroyed when he actively shut and locked a door so everyone die with him, an act so poorly written that two children screaming “no you are!” back and forth has more thought put into it.
The show manages to end with the entire building blowing up and everyone just driving away like nothing happened. The only thing that did happen was writing off another expendable character that no one knew the name of and wasting about an episode and a half of time that the writers clearly had no idea what to do to fill.
All I can say is that hopefully season 2 gets canceled.