Warning, spoilers are very likely
We’re now several episodes into the third season of The Walking Dead and I am now officially off the fence. I believe I have put in my fair share of time to give the show the benefit of a doubt. I really wanted to like it. I really, truly did. I am a fan of zombies, a fan of AMC, a fan of horror in general. But most of all, I am a fan of storytelling, and this show epically fails in that department. This is like writing a shitty story and trying to pass it off as “for kids” just because you didn’t give enough of a shit about it to make it deep or interesting.
Where should I even start? Well, let me start with the obvious, and the least of the offenders. The show only very loosely follows the story in the books. There are several characters who are in one media, and not in the other. This isn’t really a bad thing to be honest, and I actually welcome a change like this here and there. It would be super boring if everything were exactly the same in translating the comic to the screen. This can make for some new and interesting story arches, and it could add new depth where the book just couldn’t, or didn’t originally go. Have you ever written a story and then go back a couple years later and think to yourself, “Wow, I could have changed this or that”? Well, Robert Kirkman, this was your chance. I get it. Things can be different, but only if different adds something that wasn’t there to begin with.
I also understand that this is television, and they’re probably going to change a few things here and there because comic book media is allowed to push the envelope way more than television ever will. Kids will probably never have to kill people in cold blood on TV because the last thing AMC needs is for Grandma to start a petition to get the show taken off the air.
In all fairness, this story isn’t a “classic” by any means, and I’m not going to be upset if they change some things here and there. This isn’t by any means The Phantom of the Opera, or The Lord of the Rings. Changes are inevitable; welcome even.
However, other than giving us Norman Reedus to look at on a regular basis, the TV show doesn’t add anything at all to the story. Not one single thing that doesn’t pan out to moot in the end. I won’t go into every single difference, I’ll leave it up to you to decide.
My second issue is the half hazard character development. We’re given these characters, and basically told how we should feel about them. One of the greatest things about the comics is that they would willingly kill off key individuals who you had grown to love over several issues. In the show however, they make you hate a character so much that you are actually relieved when they finally bite it. For instance let’s look at old Dale. Comic book Dale is a sweet old man who was wise but also kind. He knew what was going on long before others in the group caught on. He told Rick what was up between Shane and his old lady. Dale was always there to be not the voice of reason, but someone trustworthy. TV Dale, was an annoying, “holier than thou” type, who whined and cried until he got his way. There was a whole 2 episodes where Dale was all like, “Don’t kill that kid you brought here, it’s not what people do.” So all of a sudden you give a rat’s ass about some kid who you didn’t care about 2 minutes earlier just so they can write shallow drama around the situation, and make us hate Dale, an otherwise loveable character, just so they can kill him off at the end there without any backlash? I cried when comic book Dale died. He had lived through so much. He loved Andrea, and they had a slightly weird but genuine love for each other so much so that when the end finally came for Dale, Andrea wore his fishing hat for months afterwards. Comic book Dale gave his life for the group, he didn’t randomly die in a field because he was being stupid out alone in the dark in an unfamiliar area staring at a corpseified cow for no reason.
Don’t even get me started on Andrea. One of THE BEST and most useful characters in the book, one of the most retarded characters in the show. Don’t you just want her sex crazed idiotic ass to run blindly into a field of zombies? Nothing good can come of her character being in Woodberry. Really, unless they’re purposely writing this show into the ground, I see no reason for her to be there at all.
Speaking of Woodberry… Who the FUCK is this Karen chick? Really. Who the fuck is she? And why is she having trouble putting a bitten wounded man out of his misery, and then 5 minutes later standing guard over the protective wall picking off walkers like she does this every day?
None of the characters make any sense. They’re either stupid, batshit crazy, broody and emo as hell, or old. Try to describe any character without saying what they look like, what kind of costume they wear, or what their role or profession is in the story. In other words, describe their personality.
They completely wrote out a lot of essential secondary characters whose sole purpose was to help grow the story of our main characters. Where are Hershell’s two younger daughters who get murdered by Tomas? They’re not there. So we have no reason whatsoever to actually hate Tomas other than the fact that he is at odds with Rick for really no reason in particular. And Andrea will never get that scar on her face that helps her tough it up and be a man. Where are Ben and Billy, who are Alan and Donna’s twin boys. They witness so much death and destruction that Ben ends up killing Billy and no one knows what to do about a psychotic little boy, so only 8 year old Carl has the balls enough to do what needs to be done and kills Ben for the safety of the rest of the group. This is a huge growing point for Carl. This will sadly never happen.
MOTHER FUCKING TYRESE! A fan favorite character. TV Tyrese is in Woodberry. A lot of good that does anyone. Comic book Tyrese was a great leader, who had a daughter, who he lost. Then he went batshit insane and took out a gymnasium full of zombies all by himself. Tyrese was also the catalyst for the end of Carol, a useless woman who could barely do laundry.
Basically every single character is forgotten, NERFed, or just replaced by someone else who could never compare. Ask yourself, “Who do I like in the show?” if your answer is the Governor, the main antagonist, and or Daryl, a character who is only in the show because he’s the fantastic Norman Reedus, then there is a huge problem with the writing.
Also, what about Morgan? Who’s Morgan? Well, he’s that black guy who was in Rick’s old neighborhood just after Rick woke up from the coma. Do you think the show will ever pick up on that story arch?
Another thing that bugs me to no end is build up with no pay off. Does the tea in Woodberry ring any bells for you? Well tons of you were swearing up and down that there was something in it making people compliant. This may be the case, but we’ll never know because no one drinks tea there anymore. Really, writers, don’t make something so obviously the object of your attention if the tea is just indeed harmless tea.
By the way, what did Jenner say to Rick at the CDC? Anyone who reads the comic could guess one of two things, but neither of these things was ever revealed in the show. I guess we’ll never know.
What about all those children’s names in The Governor’s notebook. The last one is Penny, and she’s his little zombie princess. But who are the other children? Why are there only slashes after her name? It doesn’t make sense, and it’s just creepy for the sake of being creepy. Was she able to write these names each day before she turned full on zombie? Why the other names then? Were these Philip’s other kids? If so I doubt he’s be so upset with Penny’s final death.
My final peeve is drama for the sake of drama, and not for the sake of story. You know what would solve this Woodberry vs. Prison issue? Simply a good bout of dialogue between main characters. Michonne knows more than she lets on, Andrea knows more than she lets on, Merle and Daryl know more than some of the others. They just need to sit down together and hash it out instead of withholding vital information.
One word. Pacing. Season 1, pretty good. Season 2, so slow it felt like watching grass grow. Season 3, too fast for anyone to keep up, or for characters to become characters.
There’s just so much that this story lacks in depth. I honestly attribute it to a lack of respect for comics. People think it’s a kid’s medium, so it doesn’t require a lot of thought. Dead wrong. This show is just a huge disappointment for people like me. AMC, really, you were given the story on a silver platter. It was already written. Just go with it. Add some things here and there, make up all new stuff, but don’t assume your viewers are stupid. I mean Jesus! you gave us Breaking Bad and Mad Men. We’ve come to expect more from you.
I’ve honestly given up any hope that this show will ever be more interesting to watch than it is frustrating. Now I’m going to go watch The Phantom Menace, because even that is more exciting.