SPOILER ALERT: I MIGHT SPOIL SOMETHING IF YOU'RE NOT CAUGHT UP ON WALKING DEAD (TV OR COMIC). I was obsessed with LOST. Remember that TV show, the one that became a cautionary tale for bad endings? Since the finale, there has been a LOST-shaped hole in my heart that all the primetime comedies and Daily Show episodes just couldn't fill. I need geeked-out drama for regular consumption. WALKING DEAD came at the right time. It didn't hurt that I also adore the comic book series.
What the series does right:
* It follows the comic book, but is not overly obligated to the comic book. The characters are all there, with a few additions and a few omissions. Can we all agree that Daryl makes every episode better? He's the "chaotic neutral" rogue in this ensemble. And unlike Sawyer in LOST, we don't have to deal with any tortured lovelorn annoyances. Daryl's a bad ass, and everyone's first pick for zombie hunting. Other changes: Shane is still alive, which I think is a smart move on behalf of the TV show. We're at Hershel's Farm, so we're still (more or less) on track. I don't want simply a panel-for-panel reproduction of the comic. It worked for SIN CITY, but with a television series I want to see the story try something new. Only one time did the show get a little too far off the beaten path with the episode TS-19. They started journeying into dangerous LOST-territory, i.e. season finales where we see behind the curtain with some completely new setting. Fortunately, CDC has been vaporized and we can pretend it never happened.
* No mystery, only survival and emigration. With LOST, yes, we were all interested in that stupid hatch. The hatch lead to more mysteries, which lead to more mysteries, which lead to more mysteries, which lead to an awful series finale and the show creators desperately trying to rationalize their decisions. WALKING DEAD writing staff take note. We don't care where the zombies came from nor do we care about a cure. Leave that storyline alone (*cough* TS-19). LOST was a lot of fun when they were trying to hunt boar, build shelters, find water, and not kill each other. Could it have lasted like that for six seasons? Probably not. However, with WALKING DEAD, the show can go beyond mere survival to explore how people adjust to settling in a new world (read my essay in TRIUMPH OF THE WALKING DEAD for more insight on this topic). By the nature of this genre, I don't think WALKING DEAD viewers are optimistic about their fate. There's no need to candy coat the series with a happy ending and a miracle zombie cure.
What the series should be careful about:
* Go light on the speeches and monologues. We're only a few episodes into season two, and I start rolling my eyes when they dive into another "hope in a desolate world" speech. I feel like these moments are huge wastes of time. I'd rather know how Carl is doing or how Shane got back with the medical supplies in one piece. The writers are stalling. Speeches and monologues become crutches for characterization and "growth." In actuality, actions-speak-louder and show-don't-tell should be kept in mind at all times. I don't mind the occasional soliloquy into the walkie-talkie at the beginning of an episode. However, then coupled with TWO monologues to Jesus in the church at the end of the episode, the writers are pushing our tolerance for character rambling.
* There needs to be a balance between the brutal and the sweet. In LOST, the smoke monster and the Others are a continual threat. Everyone is desperate for food, water, shelter, and protection. Yet they found time for golf. Even during the more brutal episodes, there were moments of sweetness -- human interactions, a smile and a laugh. OK, the WALKING DEAD is about the zombie apocalypse. The world they knew is over. Everyone is dying and suffering. The show gets bleak. Let's hope the writer give the audience a few moments to enjoy the humanity of these characters, their charm.
What are your thoughts on WALKING DEAD, thus far?