The Walking Dead is a good show. It’s gritty, dark, often times raw, and has that gore factor that you just can’t find on broadcast television. It gets people talking.
But, as all stories, there are imperfections. I’m not here to ask why they have a 2013 Hyundai when the apocalypse happened in 2010 (something has to pay for all that gore and apparently it’s the South Korean car makers).
I also don’t care about certain characters unlocking infinite ammo mode. Let’s just assume they reloaded off camera.
“But, there was no time…”
LET’S JUST ASSUME!
Here, I want to talk about some weird storytelling flaws that you should avoid. (Probably spoilers, but, dude. Netflix.)
1. Almost every episode’s plot is launched by someone doing something stupid.
You didn’t have to be a super genius to survive the apocalypse. The law of averages says that isn’t the case. When The Walking Dead starts, Rick comes out of a coma and is thrust into a world he doesn’t recognize. It’s okay if he makes some mistakes, especially if he’s just going through routine.
“Hark, a monster! I shall shoot it!”
Gunshot brings hordes of zombies. Okay. He didn’t know any better. He learns that shooting them is maybe not the best course of action (if he survives).
In the second season, Sofia, a little girl, goes missing. She was supposed to stay somewhere and wait for Rick. He went back and she was gone. The rest of the season is spent with them living on a farm, sending out search parties. Now, when I was a kid and Mom told me to stay somewhere and wait for her, you better believe I did. When I was separated from her in the grocery store, I knew to not wander around because she would retrace her steps.
Realize I was not surrounded by zombies at the time.
Again, I can forgive an 8 year old for getting scared and running like Hell, but she didn’t even go back to the car. And she wasn’t attacked by a zombie at that point, either. See, when they do find her, she’s a zombie. And, she still looks pretty normal. Which means she was bitten and got away or she died of natural causes and the infection took her. Rick wasn’t gone for very long, so she wasn’t attacked where he left her. He would have heard a scream and the zombies would have lingered.
The real stupid thing that got me, though, was after the massacre of the zombie pets in Herschel’s barn (that’s right, I’m not addressing the stupidity of the zombie pets).
Herschel is in town, drinking away his feelings. Glen and Rick go to find him. They tell everyone before they leave:
“We think Herschel went into town. We’re going to go get him. We’ll be back later.”
Ten minutes later, Lori, Rick’s wife, is running around going “they’ve been gone too long.” Jesus, lady, it hasn’t even been an hour. So, she decides to go into town and find them. She doesn’t tell anyone she’s leaving. On the way into town, she’s looking at a map and crashes into a zombie (flipping the car because…physics?), and she’s lying unconscious as zombies start to close in around her.
Meanwhile, no one at camp has even realized she’s missing. They don’t realize it until nightfall. While I’m sure some people think, “High Drama!” I say, “No. Let the bitch die. If she’s dumb enough to A) go looking for someone before they said they’d be back B) not tell anyone where she’s going in a world populated by zombies and C) not watch the goddamn road, let the zombies eat her.”
When anyone says they like The Walking Dead because of “the characters” I’m forced to ask why. They are TDTL, too dumb to live. You like the show because people are running from zombies and there’s high tension with climatic payoff. Call a spade a spade.
It’s not drama. It’s stupidity. People don’t like dumb characters. If you’re going to get your characters in stupid predicaments, try to give them a smart/unavoidable reason to be there, otherwise, it’s dumb. (more…)
For example, Glee followed up a stellar first season with a lackluster second that lost at least one viewer (me). Even one of my favorites, Fringe, stumbled starting from the second season block, abandoning its direction to maneuver back on a strong course, and why not?
After the first season, you’ve hit your stride. You’ve told a story. You’ve come to a conclusion. More than starting the first time, starting all over again is hard.
In contrast, Once Upon A Time hit season two running. Curse is broken. Things are moving.
Once Upon A Time hit its stumbling point in season one. The show seemed aimless, turning into name dropping, introducing new characters each week while the original narrative spun out of control. By adding some new voices to the team, OUAT was able to turn around and close with an amazing finale.
Did they go full dragon? Yes. Yes, they did.
So, what makes the second season strong?
How about a mob marching on the queen? A few new characters are snuck in, some in our parallel universe. The most curious new character came in at the very beginning. I refuse to conjecture at this point. On top of that, a new Evil is unleashed in the wraith.
But what’s a big source of conflict? A bunch of suddenly self-actualized fairy tale characters are trapped in a town, each individual seeking their own happy ending. It’s a clash of storytelling. Everyone has the potential for conflict, even without being an evil queen or corrupted immortal.
Which brings me to the “bad guys.”
In Regina, our evil queen, Once Upon A Time has given me the villain I want to root for. They muddied those waters by giving her a weepy backstory (I don’t need my evil queens to have backstory; just make them kick ass and I will be pleased). She’s not misunderstood. She’s not trying to simply create her own happy ending. She has power and it has corrupted her. She’s smart and manipulative. Chillingly evil. I love it. She foils those annoying do-gooders and it looks like a team-up is on the way.
By the end of the episode, our smart, spunky modern girl is transported to fairy tale world with her same-age mother. So, like Revolution, we’ve fallen into another commonly used YA trope, but at least we’re dealing with grown-ups this time, right?
While I still think Once Upon A Time is an advertisement for Disney movies (Whistle While You Work is not from the Brothers Grimm; Pongo is an overt reference to 101 Dalmatians), it’s still doing wonderful things for the fantasy genre in making it accessible and acceptable to the masses. If you haven’t seen Season 1, it’s out on DVD and available through Netflix. Catch up and we can talk about it.
Are you watching? What are your thoughts? If not Once Upon A Time, what should I be watching?
As I eyed a 6’0″ axe at the Renaissance Fair last week, I was struck with the thought that maybe I could wait on getting that new computer. My current compy is only four years old and in fair condition, but that’s four years at 2,000 words an hour. Some of the buttons are wearing off, sometimes it just gets obstinate and refuses to load anything, but it’s seen me through my first paid writing gig, a pilot episode, a Big Bang Theory spec script, three novels, two trips to Michigan, and a partridge in a pear tree.
So, I figure I can wait a year. Maybe sell one of those three books…
But, I digress. Back on point.
My perceived need for a new compy put me in another frame of mind. Way back when Lion came out (I’m running Apple; you can read all about my indoctrination here), I tried to update only to find it didn’t run Microsoft 2004. Those three novels disappeared. With hat in hand, biting back the curses on my tongue (I didn’t read the fine print), I shuffled my way to the Apple store and muttered, “Please, sir, may I have my files?”
They were nice it worked out huzzah yeah apple but NOW…the time has come for me to upgrade to Lion.
And do everything else before I move to LA:
Save up money
2. Upgrade the compy
Find homes for my instruments that will not make the journey
3. Meet up and settle friendship communications
4. Acquire boxes
5. Measure how many of said boxes will fit in the car
6. Trial run with packing the boxes
7. Agonize over everything that doesn’t fit
8. Find a place to live
Get a job
10. Have a major freakout, regret the decision, run around in circles, yell at my parents for no reason, talk to my cat about all the opportunities, decide to go anyway.
11. Order Not for Tourists: Los Angeles
Add new categories to blog: TV Nonsense, Movie Nonsense, Los Angeles
So, what? Am I missing anything? Let me know, because I really need to shut it down and get going. I met with a friend, Ben, who used to live in LA working as a writer and as he described this place to me, I could see/hear how much he loved it, how much he missed it, and how much he hoped to go back to it.
While people have been telling my how much I will hate LA, I’ve been answering with “But it’s what must be done”. But, after meeting with Ben, I started to think, “Man, I could really love living there.” He was the first person to say to me “Just get there. You’ll see.” I understand that people are in awe of the choice, or proud that they know someone relentlessly pursuing their dreams, or afraid that something will happen to me. But, I think the profundity of Ben’s fascination with LA burned away the lasts wisps of doubt and fear.
I’m as prepared for culture shock as one can be.
Ben said, “You’ll meet a lot of people like you.”
And that’s interesting.
Because I like me.
I like me a lot.