When I first saw the preview trailers for Walking Dead, I was sold. They were effectively put together, gripping, and tense. I was ready to see it, even having no experience with the comics or graphic novels.
After the pilot, I was completely sold. This was something fresh and different; a decent treatment of the zombie apocalypse. The show was being well-written, and I enjoyed the different locations.
Then came the way Frank Darabont was unceremoniously shown the door. It showed a remarkable lack of respect for the man who championed the show and helped make it a spectacular success in it’s debut season. Couple that with AMC’s decision to immediately cut the budget of perhaps the most successful cable TV series in history, and it was clear AMC had little respect for their audience, much less for their talent. I was growing disillusioned.
SPOILER ALERT: SEASON TWO
What iced it for me was the mid-season hiatus episode, “Pretty Much Dead Already”. In that episode, pre-teen girl Sophia has been missing since the first episode of season two. When she finally turns up, it’s as a zombie. For me, this was the perfect note to end on. The ultimate fate of every character in this show will be to become a zombie, unless they are killed via horrendous head trauma. The death of Sophia — a child — was a perfect metaphor for the death of hope.
END SPOILER ALERT
At this point, I was no longer interested in the show. The second season, because of AMC’s counter-intuitive, draconian budget cuts, took place almost entirely at a single location. It lost a lot of its sparkle for me from that point onward. With the event I described in the spoiler section, I felt I had reached a good stopping point. There was a poetic ending, but little joy left in the show for me; the ongoing bleakness was wearing me down — it’s too much like real life right now. I prefer my escapism to actually make me feel better, not worse.
On the other hand, The Walking Dead is enjoying continued success, and is more popular than ever. After a shaky second season, the third season has everyone talking about it, with seemingly everyone I know eagerly anticipating season four. Except me. I feel like I’ve taken that ride and had all the enjoyment out of it I’m going to get. I’ve missed enough episodes that most of the characters I knew are gone, which particularly includes two I cared about: Dale and T-Dog.
Eventually people will tire of a diet of nothing but zombies, so having regular conflicts with other humans adds a little variety to keep things fresh. Still, the whole “man’s inhumanity to man” trope is so close to home in these selfish times that I can’t find that aspect particularly enjoyable.
Walking Dead has been a runaway hit, and I’m happy for AMC that they have an enormous cash cow on hand that will allow them to produce more original programming. My interest in the show may be gone, but clearly I’m in the minority.
I had a great time this past weekend at Odyssey Con in Madison, Wisconsin. I didn’t sell any books, but the panels I was on were successful, and I got a chance to talk to a lot of other writers and fans about everything and anything under the sun. Guests Troy Denning, Richard Lee Byers and Peter Lee were friendly, accessible to their fans, and fun to talk with and be around. Next year’s guests will be Heather Brewer, Matt Forbeck, and Jonathan Maberry. The dates are April 10-12, 2015. For more information, check the OdysseyCon website periodically.