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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Head to head with The Walking Dead

Todd Jepperson

So, AMC’s new original show The Walking Dead is the new Titanic of TV. After only the first three airings of its premier, the show attracted over 8 million breathers, who knows how many undead, and earned a 6.0 household rating along the way. I’ve read some reports which were obviously embellished; but one thing is a fact, it was the most watched show on any cable network so far this year; possibly ever.

Which is why I was surprised to come across an article on called, ‘The Walking Dead’ is the Most Overrated Show on Television. Because I’m a rhetorical person by nature, I thought I’d take a seat and hear them out. Y’know, in the pursuit of civility.

“In the wake of all the hype, however, including a recent Entertainment Weekly cover that read "The Best New Show on TV," I feel as if I should do my part to put the breaks (sic) on. Not only is "The Walking Dead" overrated, but it actually kind of sucks.”

Okay, I see his angle now. You have to be bold when you attack popular opinion. I get that. Go on…

“When the writers do make an attempt to develop character, it can be so stilted and awkward, you want to DVR forward. Two blonde sisters sit in a boat talking about their father taking them fishing, and when one of them gets zombie-bit later you're cheering because you don't have to listen to another maudlin conversation (ack, but the other sister lives...).”

Stilted, awkward, blonde, maudlin, and ack. First, what the hell does maudlin mean, Google? “Self-pityingly or tearfully sentimental, often through drunkenness.” Okay two drunk blondes are sitting in a boat… sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, or a dirty movie.

The author goes on to say it’s pretty much just like Lost, only less interesting and with a weaker talent pool. He then says "’The Walking Dead’ is basically every zombie movie cliché with zero innovation to fill the gaps.” He goes so far as to call Robert Singleton’s character “T-dog” the token black guy. His wraps up by saying a story like this can’t go on without living characters to do all of the work, and you have to be able to attach to them for you to keep watching the show. He calls it “nap-worthy” and quotes a few of his bizarre friends (his words, not mine) who say the show sucks.

Okay, so there’s the challenger. In this corner, we have an article on titled “Why the Walking Dead Works.” (Again, link.) In his opening line, the author comes out strong by saying, “If you’re not watching AMC’s new zombie series The Walking Dead, based on the comic book of the same name, you are doing yourself a great disservice.”

Nice, but why is that, exactly?

“Record-breaking ratings and an overwhelming positive audience response has turned it into the most talked about show of the year… If any story was perfect for serialized television it would be a zombie apocalypse.”

Agreed. Please continue.

“There are several reasons why The Walking Dead deserves high praise: quality special effects, buckets of blood and gore, solid cast, excellent scripting and a terrific music score from composer Bear McCreary are just a few. While all these things make the series watchable, they aren’t what makes it work on a dramatic level. What makes it work is the impending sense of doom that envelops every episode.”

“All good post-apocalyptic stories, be it Battlestar Galactica or The Road Warrior, include the palpable risk of death at every turn. Creating a world consumed with fear and hopelessness maintains tension throughout. There is little room for the characters to breathe. The audience becomes heavily invested in anticipation of when the next attack will occur and which of the core principals will meet an untimely end.”

So, although the cast is solid and well scripted, what really drives the story is the sense of impending doom; the zombie element? Interesting…

“Whatever direction the creators decide to take the plot, the specter of death will never be far behind. It’s rare to find television that’s willing to delve into uncomfortable subject matter. Horror, in particular, has always had trouble translating on the small screen. Vampires, werewolves and demons have made the jump with varying degrees of success, but none of those supernatural incarnations possess the allure of zombies. Needless to say, a series like The Walking Dead has been long overdue.”

Alright, this was never a fair fight. I was planning to jump in all along. In his defense, the first author came in here and stood his ground. He deserves respect for rising to the challenge.

So, zombie nation, what do you think? Is The Walking Dead far better in comic book form, or is it, in fact, one of the greatest shows to ever hit TV. Let us know in the comments below, or send an email to We’ll post a follow up in a week or so when a definitive answer is clear.


  1. I think it is an amazing show. I love it and didn't miss an episode. My husband and I think it was a very neat and modern take on zomibe apocalypse. I think the story showed a more realistic approach, with more believable characters. I'm just bummed that we gotta wait until October for the next season.

  2. well, this discussion has been going on for a while on another forum. i'll plug the link here and let you wade through it.

  3. Thanks for the link. I'll go check it out!

  4. I thought the episodes I've seen so far, are excellent. and I say 'so far' because I unfortunately don't live in America, nor have the only channel over here in the UK that's #officially# showing it, so I've just got around to seeing it on mega video when and where I can. However I think your first review seemed to be going out of his way to slam it. and in all fairness just sounds like a miserable git.
    Besides you cant argue with those viewing figures.


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