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A very good television show that could be a lot better

The Walking Dead is shockingly popular for a scripted cable series; the mid-season return scored more viewers than American Idol that week. As a fan of scripted television, I’m happy to see AMC getting favorable return on their investment; hopefully it will help encourage cable networks to try to build compelling scripted television. We’ve seen excellent television before; shows like Breaking Bad, Mad Men and The Wire (the holy trinity of television) have proven that the small screen is an excellent medium for drama. However, those prestigious shows never seemed to strike enough of a chord with the viewing public to rake in the obscene ratings that now seem commonplace for The Walking Dead.

The show has been successful. I like the show. And yet at the same time, I am frequently frustrated by inconsistencies in character development and the rules of the universe that the characters live in.

At times, the behavior of characters seems to be driven by the need to create conflict. The most obvious and frequently cited example is that of Michonne. Clearly, the writers wish to convey that Michonne reluctant to trust anyone. However, there are times in which she withholds information from other characters despite the information 1) the sharing of that information would greatly improve her situation and 2) the information can’t harm her. Why would Michonne not tell Andrea that she saw blood and bullet holes all over the National Guard trucks brought back to Woodbury? Why would Michonne not tell Andrea that the Governor was holding her friends hostage and had previously ordered Merle and associates to kill her during their confrontation in the Governor’s apartment?

Then there is the world these characters inhabit. We are told (and see) that when people die, regardless of cause, they reanimate. Yet we see countless corpses in cars… During the pilot (an amazing hour of television) Morgan describes that the zombies are more active at night. Yet, we routinely see zombies active during the day.  It’s completely understandable that Morgan could have been incorrect, but it would be nice see these survivors learn the world as we do.

Anyway, it’s a very good show. I enjoy it a great deal; I hope that in the future conflict arises organically from the characters interacting rather than being driven by the need to get survivor A to fight with survivor B.

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