It’s a fascinating world, the world of The Walking Dead. Based on the successful comic book series of the same name, the AMC action-horror-drama has done a solid job of sticking to source material while venturing into new territory without spoiling the story’s tonality. However, it’s missing a few things: some of them are story related; some are production related. These things need to be addressed in order to right the ship and launch it in a direction that will lead to the best of endings, because it must end before it becomes a network cash cow.
8. Evolution of The Walkers
It is impossible to deny the boredom. There’s nothing scary about these zombies—er, walkers–anymore. For lovers of The Walking Dead comic series, there have been enough departures from the source material that it would be okay to venture a little further. Time to order up a really good story twist. The last few seasons have offered terror through the age old man vs. man conflict, and that has grown a bit cumbersome as well. There are evil people in the zombie-laden world. It’s understood. Give the audience a little something to build off of. Maybe a former track team…everyone became infected at a slumber party, and they’re a talented running dead. No, it doesn’t have to come from such absurdity, but something that makes the walking dead terrors again…? That’s all anyone is really hoping for.
7. Some Semblance of Progress
When it comes to writing a good story, characters have to have substantial goals. Survival is a most obvious goal in a show like The Walking Dead, but it’s old hat. It’s tired. Seeing these characters emote time and time again…? They’re not a little numb to the circumstance at this point? They haven’t surrendered to death? What are they attempting to do? When the character of Eugene Porter (Josh McDermitt) seemed to have a purpose on the show, the levels of character interest and intrigue magnified exponentially. His admission to lying—which is true to source material—and the group’s subsequent stumble through the season toward Alexandria was pretty awful. The next goal of becoming a community in a sweet little housing development, only to be attacked by another group of outsiders and the inevitable walkers? C’mon, writers. Give these characters something to really live for!
6. More Theoretical Science
This is essential in order to more fully address the Eugene Porter story line. As mentioned, it was quite intriguing thinking that this guy was a scientific genius who possessed some knowledge about the cause of the zombie apocalypse because it has never really been addressed. The characters have addressed the “how” a million times. Never have they really addressed the “why.” Sure, there was the easily forgotten about chapter that took place at the Center for Disease Control, but it was surface level. The tack on. The icing on the cake. Fans don’t need more icing. They need some cake. The scenario with Eugene—before he was outed—was exactly what the show needed. It’s looking like The Walking Dead may make the same mistake as so many shows and movie series have made before by waiting to cram everything into a final season/chapter. It never works.
5. Better Seasonal Pacing
Pacing a season is one of the hardest things for an episodic writing team to accomplish. The Walking Dead writing team has a tough job balancing the action sequences that keep audiences engaged in the short term, so they might engage with and begin to care about the characters long-term. This long-term care is what has sustained the show for nearly six seasons, and scored a seventh for producers to begin treating. That deserves a congratulations, but maybe more for the fans who are obsessed with zombies. The season pacing could be a lot better. This has been the show’s biggest shortcoming since the debacle with show creator, Frank Darabont. It’s appreciated that the seasons consistently begin with a bang. A sprint. But the sprint has consistently slowed to a jog, and during a few episodes throughout seasons 3-6 the show hit a complete standstill.
4. Make the Show More Accessible
The Walking Dead buzz has greatly died down. It’s a shame, because season six has provided two or three of the 10 best episodes of the show’s six year run. Sure, the show is accessible via Netflix, and that allows newcomers to engage with the first several seasons and do some binge watching, but if you’re up-to-date and get a couple episodes behind, the window of viewing opportunity is limited at best. It isolates the casual fan from staying in the world. Simply put, it’s taking what should be a network flagship—especially after the series finales of Breaking Bad and Mad Men—and suggesting it’s for an elite club, or only the true bluest of fans. The creative team behind The Walking Dead needs to offer some new universality to fans. Travel those characters to St. Augustine, Florida, or something.
3. Bury The Hatchet With Darabont
The feud/lawsuit between AMC and Frank Darabont has gone on long enough. This is the idiocy of Hollywood. AMC scores a guy who wrote and directed one of the greatest films of all time, The Shawshank Redemption, and the man delivered an incredible first six episodes of The Walking Dead. The show immediately became the new flagship for the network. How did they award Frank, the crew and the cast? By ordering 13 episodes for season two, and… slashing the production budget. Say what!? That’s how it all went down. Frank can get surly when he’s pushed around… his reputation precedes him. AMC knew that going in, and they still tried to pull one over on the guy. It would be nice to see a new understanding—get the original runner in the mix to bring the series to a close, so it could end as strong as it began.
2. Kill Judith
Rick Grimes has lost and found his gourd so many times in the first six seasons of the show it’s a little maddening. It’s become completely necessary to watch Love Actually each holiday season to remember that Andrew Lincoln can do more than cry like a toddler and stumble down a street an inch from death. Rick is in a very predictable yo-yo pattern, and it’s detrimental to story progress. So many great shows deal with this, and that’s when it’s time to throw the main character a curve ball. It would be best if they killed off Judith—like they already should have—but not at the hands/teeth of zombies. It should be someone who becomes obsessed with “saving her” from growing up in the z-world. A woman. Then, Rick offers his revenge killing, and is ostracized from the group once and for all…pulls a #4…goes to St. Augustine, Florida.
1. No More Cop-Outs
The biggest fans of The Walking Dead will remain loyal regardless of what they’re offered from the writers. Sadly, this allows the show to continue with no quality checks and balances. There have been highs and lows throughout the series, but there is nothing as bad as the series cop-outs. Maybe this is more of a plea to The Walking Dead comic creator, Robert Kirkman? It is understood that the goal of a serial is to continue, but what happens when the continuation of a story is akin to treading water? Back to an earlier example: why couldn’t Eugene Porter—regardless of being a science teacher in the comics—have a solid, working theory about the zombies, and a staunch mission to get to Washington D.C. that wasn’t more than a ploy for his own survival? To all writers—comic and series: up the stakes!