Phillip Thompson

Crime Fiction writer

I like zombies. Well, actually, I like zombie movies. It’s a pretty simple premise: the undead are hungry and they’re after you. All you have to do is kill them (usually with a head shot). Not a lot of hidden messages, or themes, or anything. Just be faster than the zombies and never (ever) run out of ammo.

So when “The Walking Dead” came to AMC, I thought “Good idea,” but I didn’t watch the first season. Frankly, I (somehow) missed the hype andthe buzz, etc., and just didn’t tune in. Plus, I was a little skeptical that zombies would translate very well to the TV screen. Generally, killing zombies is a fairly graphic affair, not to mention their mealtime etiquette.

But I have watched this season’s offerings, and I have tosay, the show is losing me, a little every week. At first, I was really pleased to see that the zombies did in fact carry over to TV – rather well. AMC, more free than broadcast networks, is able to push the envelope
on violence – not gratuitous violence, but the level of violence needed to dispatch your average zombie (that shot to the head). Same with language, but nothing that out of the ordinary (Hershel’s silent F-bomb notwithstanding, but I’m getting ahead of myself). And, clearly, the stars of the show are the zombies. It’s why I watch. And that may be the source of my waning interest.

The characters (the living ones, that is) just don’t interest me. I don’t even like most of them, except for Daryl The Redneck (I know, shocker). The show is loaded up with characters that aren’t very likable. And don’t give me the “well, they all have flaws” argument, because it doesn’t wash here. It’s one thing to be a flawed character. It’s another to be unlikable. These characters are selfish, dishonest, hypocritical, petty and – at least in one instance – disloyal and unfaithful. A brief rundown (without getting into spoiler territory):

Rick: The noble sheriff. Yeah, he’s noble, means well, got shot, stands up for zombie justice and all, but damn he takes his sweet time about it. Still, I at least admire the fact that he’s the least hypocritical of the bunch. He knows what he has to do and plans on doing it, but he’s not closed to alternative ideas (as his relationship with Hershel shows).

Hershel: Arguably the most likable character – and even he’s dishonest. He comes  off as righteous, almost pious, and he saved the boy’s life, no doubt. But he didn’t say jack about that barn full of zombies. And when Rick’s group got wind of that (so to speak), he copped an attitude of “they’re still people, though.” Yeah, maybe but even then he still didn’t tell the full story, until it was too late. He did manage to skirt the FCC censors but mouthing the F-word during The Shootout at the Zombie Corral. Oh, and he’s from Georgia, so the accent’s real.

Lori: Besides the fact that her husband (a) wasn’t dead and (b) even if he was, his body hadn’t even cooled before she’s boinking Shane, the woman is just a pain in the ass. First she hates her husband, then she loves him. She opposes his decisions, then she supports them. Takes the pills, then throws them up. Damn, woman, make up your mind! She’s forever in a state of high drama and at odds with somebody: her son, her husband, Andrea, Hershel, Shane.

Shane: Rick’s deputy, best friend, blah blah. Also boinker of his best friend’s above-mentioned wife. “Thought you was dead.” And a liar. And a cold-blooded sociopath. He’s the kind of guy who played third-string punter and now acts like he won the Super Bowl while playing with a punctured lung. Plays himself off as the moral compass of the group — this best-friend wife-boinking, local-murdering, psycho horn dog. I don’t like him.

Dale: The old guy who, too, wants to be the moral compass, which is like wanting to be the brakes on a sled. Why? Dale acts like he knows more than he does, has shifty eyes and  either preaches to Greg too much, tries to coddle Andrea too much or generally just gets in the damn way. Dale, during the zombie apocalypse, your role is simple: Shut up, reload, fire, repeat. You ain’t a sage, so stop it.

Daryl: I like ol’ Daryl. At least he doesn’t try to be something he’s not. He knows who he is. Hell of a shot with that crossbow, too.

Andrea: God, this girl’s a hot mess. Had to shoot her newly zombified sister. I get it, she’s upset. But not too upset to boink Shane first chance she gets. And not too upset to keep demanding a gun, which Dale won’t give her because he cares for her, is concerned for her and blah blah blah shee-it. And as soon as she does get a gun, you’d think she just sprouted a penis and is trying to get used to carrying it around. Even though she can’t hit a damn thing with it, but when she does … she shoots Daryl. “Thought you was a zombie.” Her “I’m a badass because I now have a pe–er, gun,” gets old quick.

Glenn: Is Asian and is in Georgia, so the deck’s already stacked against him. He lets himself be a doormat to the group way too many times, a fact pointed out to him by new-girlfriend (and cutest girl on TV) Maggie, who mercilessly calls him “walker bait.” Probably the most intelligent one in the bunch and has shown signs of redeeming himself. In other words, the boy’s starting to grow a pair.

The remaining two, T-Dog and Carol, are basically paper cutouts: the brother from the streets and the frantic mother who has lost her daughter. Their roles are predictable.

So, this bunch doesn’t keep me coming back. I’ll watch a few more episodes, just to see the zombies, but as far was watching 58 minutes of dysfunctional drama only to get to a 2-minute cliffhanger, I’ll pass.

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