AMC’s “The Walking Dead” is now well into its second season, and being a fan of all things zombie, I’m late in giving a review. Warning: contains middlin’ spoilers.
Zombie movies hold a particular place in the pantheon of horror movies, for various reasons. Those people who get involved in horror movies because they like doing the makeup and effects are usually zombie fans, for example. If you watched “Face Off“, you noticed how much fun all of the contestants had doing zombies. (tangent: if you didn’t watch Face Off, and you have any sort of inkling to silly countdown reality shows and/or horror movies, you should watch it in reruns and watch the second season when it launches in January, it was entertaining and fun to watch just for the technical parts).
Of course, there are a *lot* of bad zombie movies. Combine these last two elements together and it happens that people who are fans of zombie movies are usually watching really bad movies with really great effects. This skews one’s impression of what makes a “good” zombie media event. The presence of cool looking undead and the occasional shock outweigh silly plots and bad acting.
Okay. On the grounds of the effects, the Walking Dead is really quite well done. The makeup work is excellent. For location/set design, they get mostly good results. They have a good creepy vibe at least once a show that makes you wonder if, “A zombie is about to jump out right now!?!? Or NOW??? Okay not right… holy crap!” The acting is pretty well done, Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, Sarah Wayne Callies as Lori Grimes, and Steven Yeun as Glenn in particular I think all do quite a great job. There’s a neat little philosophy vibe going on in the last few episodes I’ll write about some day soon, but it’s got politics so that’s front page material. I liked Jon Bernthal as Shane Walsh much better in the first season, I’m not sure if the direction is pushing him to act the way he is this season, or if the actor is just taking the character off in a direction that isn’t working for me. Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon is becoming a much more entertaining character now that they’re giving him room to do stuff. Is it me, or does Laurie Holden look an awful lot like Finn Carter?
So on those merits, I watch the show. Here comes that caveat.
Like The Mentalist, Heroes, Lost (and indeed just about every drama that’s been produced in the last few years except Life), The Walking Dead does that thing wherein at least once an episode something happens that just totally ejects me from the story. It’s jarring, every time it happens. Something occurs on screen, and I have a gut-level visceral response, “That wouldn’t happen like that!” This may seem like an odd objection to a serialized zombie movie, but it’s true nonetheless. Given that Robert Kirkman has something of a background writing zombie literature, this is surprising to me.
This little group of survivors is still running around in t-shirts. On more than one occasion, they’ve gotten involved in long bloody battles with attacking zombies, and they’re covered with scrapes and scratches and zombie blood. Isn’t this a really bad thing? If zombie-ification is a blood-borne disease, wouldn’t these people be freaked by exposure? Why aren’t these people wearing any sort of protective gear? 28 Days Later got this partially right. Hell, Zombie Apocalypse at least took a few minutes of explication to describe the amount of protective gear they were packing, and why.
Two of the main characters are peace officers, and Dale drives an RV. He’s old enough to be a CB nerd. Even if he wasn’t, you can pick up handheld radios at Radio Shack that have a range of a mile. Why isn’t everyone in this merry band packing one? They’ve spent time going into dangerous parts of town for all sorts of reasons, and they haven’t picked up some walkie-talkies yet? Heck, everybody on the planet is dead and they can’t find a working ham radio set or three?
They currently have a missing member and they’re scouring the woods looking for her. Wouldn’t this be a slightly easier task if everyone was carrying some sort of high-tech bread crumbs that they could use to lead rescuers to them? Light sticks? Say, a whistle? I know, the zombies are attracted by sound (thus making guns tricky to use), but you would think that at this point every survivor would have at least found the same sort of contents you can find in any emergency kit you can buy at Target.
Our intrepid band is currently encamped near a farmhouse with oodles of ground-floor windows, all currently unprotected. We know that zombies occasionally walk onto this farm from the last episode. How is this house not hardened, at all? There aren’t even strings set up along the perimeter with tin cans attached to them, for crying out loud?
The fact that this show is as popular as it is, and has as much critical acclaim that it does, actually worries me. This tells me that there’s a large chunk of people out there that have literally no idea whatsoever how to prepare for even a minor emergency.