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“The Walking Dead”: Where exactly is everyone walking?

I know vampires seem to be the in-thing to like right now, but I myself don’t really fancy television shows like “True Blood” and movies like “Twilight”. I despise them to tell you the truth. I tend to enjoy a much different sub-genre of horror; in fact, I’d like to consider myself a connoisseur of all things zombie. Give me “Diary of the Dead” or “The New Dead” over any of the current vampire offerings today. To say I love zombies would be an understatement. When it comes to popular culture, zombies had seemed to have been on the backburner, albeit still maintaining a strong cult following. Recently though, zombies have been shuffling into mainstream culture, due in no small part to a show by the name of “The Walking Dead.”

“The Walking Dead” is based off a comic book written by Robert Kirkman which chronicles the struggles of a group of survivors. AMC greenlit the show for an initial offering of six episodes and after its’ premiere last October, AMC found themselves with a huge hit on their hands. This past week at Comic-Con, fans were treated to a glimpse of the second season along with many other things “Walking Dead” related. In case you haven’t seen the trailer for the second season, here it is:

This trailer has myself and other fans amped up for the show’s upcoming season. I could sit here and rave about the success of the first season or my building anticipation for the second season. But I have a different discussion in mind; and that is the direction of the show going forward. How can I bring something up like this when the show is still gaining steam and in its infancy, you ask? Well, as I had mentioned before, “The Walking Dead” is based off of a comic book which is still running new issues to this day. I’ve read a few of the beginning issues but have held back a bit for fear of spoiling the television show. But for anyone that has read the comics and watched the first season of the show and has watched interviews with the producers, the show isn’t necessarily going to match up with the comics. In fact it seems as if the show wants to blaze its own path so to speak. But this mindset has gotten me thinking; just where will this path lead?

That’s just the thing with a zombie outbreak; they go on forever. Sometimes it seems as if the ‘end of the world’ doesn’t seem to want to, well end. Most times, as seen in “Walking Dead”, the name of the game is survival and not necessarily finding the answers, but rather just doing the best you can to carry on with life. That’s where my worries about this epic show come into play. Just how long can “The Walking Dead” carry on and keep audiences interested? Is there an end result when it comes to this show? Will people decide to continue to watch a show that may not be fully resolved?

TV audiences, as in human nature, have an obsession with closure. Everyone seems to want a television show to have a clear cut purpose and when it comes to the end, to have everything tied up together and explained and put in a little box with a bow and presented to them. Take two television shows that ended their runs somewhat recently, “The Sopranos” and “Lost”. There seemed to be a general upheaval about the way these two television shows ended. “The Sopranos” ended with a cut to black scene that left the viewers wondering what happened to our main characters. “Lost” ended its run with a play on entering into the afterlife. And for some reason this threw viewers into a tizzy. People complained that David Chase took the easy way out by not giving us a clear cut ending and letting us know what happened to Tony Soprano and his family in that diner. At the other end of the spectrum, you had viewers throwing up their hands in regards to “Lost” and complaining that there was no point if there were all dead in the end and that Lindelof and Cuse had given them an elaborate run around to get to that ending. But people failed to remember the amazing experiences along the way.

I’m afraid that “The Walking Dead” may face some of these same worries someday, if not this coming season. Given the theme of the show, are viewers going to continue watching despite the lack of tangible direction for the survivors? I fear, unfortunately the answer to this is no. We, being the audience, don’t want to have to over think things. We want everything placed in front of us on a silver platter nice and neat when it’s all said and done. But I think in the case of “The Walking Dead” that’s something that can’t happen; life just doesn’t work that way, let alone a zombie outbreak. The whispers already seem to be starting, people are beginning to wonder just how long this can go on.

“The Sopranos” and “Lost” were two of the defining television shows of this era. The storytelling devices that these shows used were impeccable. Each week, viewers across the world brought the Sopranos into their living room and felt like they too were a part of the Soprano family. Each episode of Lost made us feel like we were on the island alongside Jack and Kate and the Others, struggling to survive and cope. But isn’t that the point of a television show or movie; to deliver us to another place and time, to provide an escape from reality and whisk us away on a journey? Unfortunately it seems as if people place more stock into the end result than the journey itself. We as viewers become so engrossed with the end result that we forget about the exhilarating journey that a great television show can take us on week after week. Ultimately, I think, that is what “The Walking Dead” is going to provide us with, one hell of a journey. When it comes to it this show is about human survival and the struggle to continue with no end in sight, against all odds. Many people don’t want any part of this; they don’t want to invest their time and emotion into something in which the end result could be messy and undefined. I, for one, am going to sit back and enjoy the journey, as murky as it may seem, that “The Walking Dead” has us primed for as viewers. This journey seems set to deliver just as much satisfaction as any neatly wrapped finale ever could.

Editor’s Note: The evening, news broke that Frank Darabont, chief writer/producer of “The Walking Dead” is stepping down from the show. In my eyes, this was disappointing news to hear as Darabont was the driving force behind the success and direction of the first season of the show. Rumours are flying around as to why this decision has been made but nothing has been confirmed thus far. Keeping with theme of the entry that I wrote and posted last night, I think this adds some murkiness to the future and the direction of the show. The journey in which “The Walking Dead” is supposed to take us may now be leading us down a much different path, but nevertheless, it’s a journey I will still partake in.

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  1. Pingback: Frank Darabont Walks Out of The Walking Dead | Wizbang Pop! - July 27, 2011

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