So The Walking Dead had its second season finale last night, and I remain resolutely unimpressed. It's no surprise to my readers that I don't care for zombies on principle, being the most recent and least imaginative of horror's creatures. But I don't doubt that good zombie stories can be told. Night of the Living Dead was a great one, and one that pretty much did everything this season of The Walking Dead did, right down to isolated farm and the zombie daughter, and in only 90 minutes and better.
I won't bore you with an episode recap; there are enough of those already. I just have a few thoughts.
The Walking Dead seems singularly impressed with itself, as though its deliberate pace were a substitute for profundity. The characters are resolutely as flat as the comic book drawings they are based on, and for the life of me I cannot fathom why the little group of survivors would suddenly take umbrage at having been kept in the dark that they were infected with zombie virus, since it was (a) useless information and (b) somewhat less than compelling considering they had just survived a zombie onslaught and were mourning their dead.
If the show's plot is anemic and its characters lifeless (ironic, I suppose), then what distinguishes The Walking Dead from any other middling genre drama? I guess it's the zombies. Replace them with aliens, and you have Falling Skies with better cinematography. Remove them altogether, and you have the BBC's Survivors with a lobotomy. But special effects are not enough to make art (Star Wars prequels, anyone?). The program needs to bring its character development and plotting up to the level of its special effects and cinematography. Otherwise, it's just production values masquerading as art.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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