I’ve watched AMC’s hit show, The Walking Dead, since season one.
The characters grew on me, although only a few of the original cast have survived the zombie apocalypse to date.
But I am losing interest in the show. There was a time where I eagerly looked forward to the new season. I would plant myself in front of the TV at 6:00 PM on Sunday night – thank God for satellite TV, or it would have been 9:00 PM.
Since season three, the story lines have become repetitious: the group, led by Rick Grimes (played by Andrew Lincoln, a Brit who has mastered a pronounced southern accent for his role of former county sheriff in Georgia), would find solace in a relatively safe setting, only to encounter a psychopath heading up another band of survivors, in some ways more organized and efficient than Grimes’ people. A conflict ensues; as many of the living die as the zombies in the violence. In the end, the bad guys are killed and our heroes are forced to move on.
The process repeats with yet an even more perverse villain standing in the way of survival.
Plots are advanced through the stupidity of Grimes and his followers – inexplicably poor judgment considering their experience coping in the zombie-infested world. The main characters will often wander off alone on some misguided mission, only to be captured by the latest gang of heartless miscreants.
Recently concluded season six was built on hype – the meanest, baddest-ass villain would appear and killed a beloved member of our protagonists. Throughout the season, the finale was touted to depict the must violent end to the life of a major character on the show. It lived up to the billing, but it was so anticipated, the shock value was somewhat lost. The viewers did not see the actual death – only the villain bringing his baseball bat down on someone’s head. The crunching sound of the impact and the screaming was all that was necessary to convey the brutality….but it was expected. Fans of the show will not know the name of the victim until the next season.
Next season will undoubtedly be dominated by violent confrontations between the two groups until the bad guys lose again.
The Walking Dead needs an end game.
The first TV series I can recall with a definitive ending was The Fugitive. It wrapped with a two-part finale, which set a ratings record at the time.
Other popular series followed suit, but with longer wind-downs: MASH took almost an entire season to wrap, and Lost required three seasons to conclude its complex story.
I could put up with the regurgitation of plot devices if The Walking Dead was committed to an end game – three, four, five seasons from now, it wouldn’t matter, as long as one could sense progress.
But the producers are in it for the money. As long as they have a hit show, one where major characters can be slowly killed off and whose replacements have time to develop their own fan followings, it is an express train to the bank (something California HSR will never be).
I fear that the show caters to the fans of the graphic comic books that inspired the TV series, the millennials who still live in their parents’ basements and have yet to discover Bernie Sanders as their contemporaries have. Perhaps Hilary Clinton should buy some advertising on the show as a way to cut into Sanders’ lock on that generation. Trump could, but he would be more terrifying than the zombies.
The comic book fans do not like story lines that veer from the written genre.
One of the few departures from the comics could set the stage for a path to an end. In season one, Grimes and company enter the CDC in Atlanta and find a lone, surviving scientist who informs them that the French were making progress on a cure for the zombie virus. He chooses death by an explosion set off by the CDC’s fail-safe destruction system.
The series could cut away from our survivors and depict a resolute effort conducted by a handful of French scientists to develop a vaccine.
Something like this won’t happen until the ratings start to slip, because as long as the cash flows, the zombies will continue to shamble along.
What does this have to do with Los Angeles?
Our city was afflicted by the zombie apocalypse years ago.
80% of the registered voters stay home for local elections. They are effectively the undead. As a result, we are governed by officials who take advantage of the apathy and allow their followers to live off the sweat and blood of the rest of us.
And like Rick Grimes and his band of survivors, too many of us break off on their own to no positive effect, rather than uniting and consolidating with the objective of reviving the walking dead, possibly enough to run the bad guys out of town.
What end game would you prefer?