The Walking Dead Is Not Breaking Bad. Get Over It, and Soon
I just finished reading Kevin’s criticism of The Walking Dead, and my initial thought is “Give me a break!” Adjust your expectations, sir. First off, I’ve never met a man that is so angry and bored at the same time. THIS ISN’T ENTERTAINING ME. I’M SO MAD! Change the channel if you’re that upset with it. Anyway…I understand his criticisms are not uncommon, as The Walking Dead has become a popular punching bag online and has received more than its fair share of criticism. Honestly, though, I think everyone needs to realize this show is not a masterpiece on the level of Breaking Bad and start appreciating it for what it is. A show where you get to see zombies get killed.
Breaking Bad is one of the best shows currently on television. The two shows share the same network, and once Breaking Bad is done in the summer, The Walking Dead starts right up in the fall. This sets up unfair expectations (not helped by AMC’s marketing) that The Walking Dead will be of the same caliber as Breaking Bad. The problem, however, is that The Walking Dead simply doesn’t have actors who can perform to the same level as Brian Cranston. That’s no more a criticism of The Walking Dead, though, than it is of any other show on television. No other show has an actor as good as Brian Cranston. He’s won three Emmys, been nominated for three more, and won two Golden Globes. Even the great Breaking Bad, however, is prone to slow episodes where seemingly nothing is happening. This isn’t an accident. The slow parts of the show help to build suspense for the high-action climactic scenes. In The Walking Dead, many of the episodes at the farm were slow, but that helped build a connection with the characters and made the shootout/mass murder (depending on if you’re on Team Grimes or Team Shane) seem all that more impactful.
While it sure would be great if we could clone Brian Cranston and have him act in every drama series on television, the whole cloning fad seemed to burn out somewhere between rabbits and sheep. So we’re left with what we have. Which, in my opinion, isn’t half bad. The Walking Dead is a perfectly entertaining show with some interesting storylines, some interesting characters, and, most importantly, awesome zombie deaths. Kevin expressed complete boredom with the show (note, however, that he continued to watch it), but it did give us some rather cool zombie murders. I’m much less concerned with the intricacies of the plot. I just want them to set up cool situations where we get to see people murder zombies! So what if the trip back to town for an EPT is slightly ridiculous–did you see Glenn cut that zombie’s head off with a shelving unit? That was awesome! Who cares if there are four other wells on the farm that were perfectly usable? That giant zombie ripping in half? Badass.
Sure, some of the plot lines are dumb and pointless, but if it means more zombie killing, I’ll sacrifice plot every time. I also refuse to accept that every season 2 episode has been a complete bore to this point. I thought the two episodes involving Shane’s trip to the school were riveting and the midseason finale was great. At the end of the day, I agree that the show is better when there are more zombies around, and the best episodes were clearly the ones where that was the case. I still stand by my point, however, that just because that’s not happening all the time doesn’t make the show terrible. It builds suspense for when the zombies are being killed, and the impact would wear off if it was happening all the time.
I also disagree that the characters all lack a single redeeming quality. Shane’s disintegration into madness has been pretty entertaining to watch (albeit slightly ridiculous). I found myself caring for Glenn and hoping he would be able to win over Maggie. And speaking of Maggie, I thought she was great this season and I hope we see more of her in the second half of the season. Also, I enjoy Darryl and care what happens to him. He’s our most badass zombie killer and I hope he gets to put his considerable skills to use.
Could the show stand to have better character development? Could it use more concise storylines? Of course. But again, this isn’t Breaking Bad. It’s not the best show on television. My advice is that if you’re waiting for the series to live up the promise of the pilot or start challenging for Emmys every year, stop waiting. If you want to watch a show that has moments of greatness and always seems to pay off with one or two sweet zombie killings per show, keep watching. That’s what I’m going to do.