Monday, November 08, 2010
I'm not the only one who feels this way. If you're a fan of the genre, you probably have seen the grumblings on Facebook and Twitter about Sunday's show (I know I have) and my friend Charles over at Razored Zen has a great post up about stereotyping and where "The Walking Dead" went wrong.
I'll just make a quick mention here, and try not to be spoilery about the episode, and the subject line that didn't sit well with some viewers. The show is set in Atlanta and, as we all know, one of the most common stereotypes about the South is that of the Southern racist. We all know that people like that exist, but the South is a lot more than some characterization out of "Deliverance." I have family from the South who work in the medical field, and they're justifiably tired of the ignorant hicks that are regularly featured on television shows with their conspicuous Southern twang.
But I wonder if "The Walking Dead" staggered (pun intended) on their second go-around because of a clichéd plot? Or could it be because they switched directors?
I know it's not unusual for television shows to have a revolving door when it comes to directors. Just click on the episode guide of your favorite show on Wikipedia (I did this for "House" and got a page full of different names) and a lot of shows don't suffer a bit in quality or consistency. But the premier of "The Walking Dead" was so good that it's hard for me not to credit that the direction of that episode must have been exceptional. I am somewhat biased toward the direction of Frank Darabont, who was the director of the first episode, because he directed one of my all time favorite movies-- "The Shawshank Redemption." And I did feel that the premier episode of "The Walking Dead" had the same kind of feel. Darabont is the master of quiet intensity. He also wrote the script for the show so there's a good chance that first show was really his baby. And the underwhelming feel of Sunday's episode may be what happens when someone else does the babysitting.
"The Walking Dead" is going to have a few uphill battles. The zombie storyline can get old if it's not finessed properly, and that was another complaint I heard about the last show. The show has so far defined itself as being best when it concentrates on the human story and isn't just about the merry-go-round of killing zombies and trying not to become one yourself. Which is why I think there was such a sense of disappointment about this second effort-- the human story failed to rise above the stereotype and as a result didn't feel real.
On the one hand I'm glad there is a show that has the potential to excite me; on the other hand I hate that a show has such a potential to disappoint me. I also have some trepidation going forward since "The Walking Dead" is slated to have different directors for pretty much every episode. We've all watched new shows and know what it's like to see some growing pains-- and that's what I hope is going on here. If we're lucky we'll see the actors grow into their roles and some of the rough edges go away.
I almost hate myself for becoming so invested, this quickly, in a television show. Shouldn't I know better by now?