Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Walking Dead Grown Old and Tiresome

After my daughter and I watched a great movie together---The  Heart is a Lonely Hunter---I went about resuming some house chores while she did the same. As she often does while doing housework, she muted the sound after I had switched from the DVD player to television mode. And in my travels around the house, I stopped long enough to see on television a black woman in dreads cautiously making her way from room to room in a house; her hand hovering just above her samurai sword that was slung over her back. The way she walked and looked the place over and made ready to spring into action at an instant's notice was obviously intended to be 'cool' if nothing else. Hollywood knows how to make violence---especially the mounting suspence of impending violence---look totally cool. It's what they do, because Americans eat it up like it's apple pie.
That scene suggested that I must be watching the latest episode of The Walking Dead. And the following scene with two characters that I recognized confirmed it---the Asian guy and the veterinarian's daughter, who were walking down the road with several other characters I didn't recognize. I watched in TV silence as the Asian guy punched a young, large, muscle-bound white guy in the face and then turned his back to the man and walked away. Nobody in that situation in real life would be that stupid. The white guy recovered and ran after and attacked the unsuspecting Asian from behind. Typical TV plot device.
While the Asian feebly tried to defend himself, the guard back at the truck tried to warn the rest of the gang of approaching zombies, but, they were too caught up in trying to stop the brawl. Only after the guard finally got his machine gun unjammed and started firing at the zombies did the others respond and run back to the truck. And that's when the zombie gore-fest started as heads exploded and limbs flew off as the guns blazed. It was then that I realized that The Walking Dead isn't a story---it's a video game with dialogue. And it took me watching it in 'mute' mode to realize it. Without the sound, I wasn't drawn into the thinnest veneer of a plot that manages to keep viewers thinking they're watching an actual story, when they're merely watching a video game being played without their participation, and which probably accounts for its popularity with a generation weaned on video games.
I had walked away from The Walking Dead after watching the first two seasons in matter of months on Netflix, when there was still actual story-lines as the core characters were still developing, and as I could have guessed, the series has since been watered down to nothing more than a thinly veiled excuse to have a show about nothing other than gratuitous violence and gun worship.
Every TV series outgrows its characters and plot and even its usefulness, and that's when it's time to pack-it-in. The producers of the long-running Gunsmoke knew this; so did the producers of Seinfeld; The King of Queens; Cheers; Frazier, and many others. I think it's probably time for the producers of The Walking Dead to ponder the future of their show---unless they hold on to enough viewers who don't mind watching a video game that pretends to be a story.
And in dumbed-down, gun-worshiping, violence-obsessed America, The Walking Dead will probably stalk us for years to come.

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