Let’s make this clear: I enjoy “The Walking Dead”. You can’t beat the dramatic interactions, the plot twists, and the extreme nature of a life in a zombie-filled world, where hope is all you have.
My love of the show is predicated on my having to be able to accept the premise that the world is largely populated with zombies, and that if you let your guard down, even for a minute, one of them might just sneak up and take a bite out of you. Before long, you’ll either be eaten by a horde of them, or turn into one yourself. Without the acceptance of the premise, the show is totally silly. Modern medical science tells us that there is no such thing as a virus or disease which turns people into mindless, flesh-eating zombies. The nightly news tells us that bath salts will do the trick.
I’m okay with embracing the premise, but I have my limits. Anyone who’s ever gone to a horror movie will tell you that you have to accept certain things to be able to enjoy the experience. For example, no one in their right mind would ever go into the haunted house at the end of Creepy Lane, and certainly not at the stroke of midnight on Friday the 13th. No sane person would open that door at the end of the hall when there’s all that scary sound-track music playing. People in horror movies are notoriously stupid when it comes to their choices. If you’re going to enjoy a movie or TV series of this ilk, you simply need to surrender your logic for a few minutes and enjoy the ride.
Fans of the show will tell you that the story isn’t really about the zombies. After all, zombies, or “walkers” as they are also called, are mindless carnivores. There’s no real opportunity for character development when it comes to these hungry guys and gals – it’s just lurch, attack, hiss, and re-lurch. The meat of the Walking Dead story is the interactions between the survivors as they try to stay alive. For the most part, the very human emotions and difficult decisions they are faced with are what make the show compelling. Luckily for the cynical viewer, there are so many zombies that the survivors don’t have to make the typically foolish decisions we’ve grown accustomed to in the horror genre.
Be that as it may, I need to point out a few things about the show which are sticking in my craw like a poorly chewed piece of Hershel’s calf.
Premise: Once infected, every zombie develops incredibly sharp teeth and jaw muscles which allow them to have the destructive biting power of saber toothed tigers.
Bullcrap: Despite hyper-trophic jaws and a disregard for pre-existing dental shortcomings, we are expected to believe that a weak spot has developed in the front of the skull of each zombie, allowing survivors to kill them with the poke of a stick to the middle of the forehead.
Premise: Wild animals don’t run away from people now that most of them are zombies.
Bullcrap: Wild animals are wild, and having the majority of mankind turn into killer-jawed eating machines will not likely make an owl or a deer any less afraid of a human.
Premise: Without an infrastructure, things like gasoline delivery don’t happen anymore. Early episodes showed characters dodging zombies while looking for gas.
Bullcrap: Now that the show appears to have landed a sweet little product placement promotion with Hyundai, the days of looking for fuel are gone. As a bonus, the responsive handling of the Sonata is great for dodging the undead in the middle of the road.
Premise: In the first two seasons, survivors had to be frugal with battery use, as new Duracels were even rarer than gasoline.
Bullcrap: I can’t keep the flashlight in the kitchen from being dead every time there’s a blackout, but in the catacombs of the prison, these guys suddenly have tons of working flashlights.
Premise: Hillbilly Daryl has three arrows in his quiver, and almost always has one loaded and ready to fire in the crossbow.
Bullcrap: He never runs out.
Premise: Zombies are slow, lumbering creatures and are easy to shoot.
Bullcrap: No one with a gun ever misses, except for the one lady, who missed so badly she almost hit Rick in the foot – but after that, she didn’t miss again. Oh and Otis missed the tame deer and shot Carl at the end of season 1.
Premise: Bullets are getting scarce, especially after the survivors shot up the prison grounds killing zombies who could have been dispatched with sharp sticks.
Bullcrap: Bullets won’t be in short supply for long, rumor has it the producers are currently in negotiations with Remmington brand ammunition for a product placement deal for hollow points starting next season.
Premise: Lori is conflicted by her situation. She’s going to be bringing what appears to be Shane’s baby into a hellish world filled with flesh eating ghouls and very few quality daycare centers.
Bullcrap: She’s got a big bun in the oven! Between the swollen ankles and the hemorrhoids, she shouldn’t be able to escape the zombies. Even a mindless walker will be able to identify her as the weakest member of the tribe as well as a two-for-one in the eating department. Can’t she get eaten, please?