Monday, December 13, 2010

TV Review: Walking Dead

Frank Darabont, why do you this?  Why do you make one great thing, then a bunch of shitty things, then another great thing?

Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead came in with a lot of hype, as it is the biggest non-superhero title in comics today. I have seen it shopped around as a feature and then tv show for the last five or six years, with some nibbles but never a bite. Fortunately, it found a home with Gale Anne Hurd and Darabont.  From there they were able to get AMC to take it on. AMC has been taking some big risks lately and it seems to be paying off for them, which is great to hear. If The Walking Dead's ratings are any indication, they have a bonafide hit on their hands. It was the highest rated premiere on cable television. Ever. And even crazier is that those ratings held over the season (which was only six episodes). And I'm not alone in thinking it is a really well-made.

Only six episodes, the 90 minute pilot is the clear stand-out. Besides having the production value of a feature film (albeit a lower budget film), it sets up a lot for what is to come... but even better for a show to suck you in - leaves you with a lot of questions. I think that the problem is that the remaining five episodes do little to answer those questions or make you care that much about the characters. Although I was along for the ride, it wasn't always smooth.  A few moments here and there that were interesting or exciting was mostly tempered by a lot of nothing.  There are a few characters we have been following since the pilot who enter the pearly gates at the hands of zombies, but they didn't do much other than cry and complain anyway. In fact, I was hoping they were vanquished. That said, the books are great and I'm interested to see where they go with the show, but I can definitely wait for next season.

Bit of a sidenote, it was just announced that Darabont fired the writing staff of the show.  Which means that he'll be writing most of the episodes, along with Kirkman. Or episodes will be farmed out to select writers. I understand the benefits of a writer's room/staff - but I honestly don't understand why more shows don't do this. It is cheaper and makes for more of a consistent voice throughout the show's run/season. A show I think would benefit greatly from this would be Dexter, which just ended it's fifth season with a neatly wrapped bow (nothing like last season which blew this season away).

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