Monday, March 31, 2014

The Walking Dead - My Take on the Season Finale (Hell, Let's Call it My Take on the Whole Damn Series)

Yes, I've been too damn busy to keep the blog up and running, and yes, The Walking Dead was a big part of my blog, and the fact that I fell out of love with the show probably played into my silence here as well.  Fortunately, I'm back in action, and like many of you I watched last night's big season finale.  So, let's talk about the show.

First off, this season was better than last season.  In my humble opinion, last season was a miserable waste of some truly epic material, so that's not exactly lofty praise.  In truth, the finale was a perfect way to punctuate Season 4.  Why?  Because like the season it closed out, there were moments when it was absolutely perfect, and there were also lots of moments where it was clumsy as hell. 

Yes, AMC nearly redeemed itself for bungling the prison storyline last year by closing that portion of the show out in style in the mid-season finale.  Once our cast of characters was split up, I was actually looking forward to seeing how the show handled their efforts to survive and find one another.  And there were times when that really paid off, particularly when the focus was on Rick and Carl.  And there were times when it was nothing short of awful.  That episode with Daryl and Elizabeth where he couldn't hold his liquor was terrible, maybe the worst episode of this show we've seen, and it was better than a lot of the Glenn and Maggie stuff that followed.  There were moments taken straight from the comics (well, for the most part--generally anything that is plucked straight from the source material has to be watered-down sufficiently before it can be aired on television) and (as always) there were moments that had fans of the comic scratching their heads.  Sometimes I think they do silly little tweaks just to piss people off.

In the end, this season was solid television, though the show will probably never reach the heights it soared to in the first two seasons again.  It was a hell of a lot better than last season, and it ends at a point that could result in a very satisfying fifth season.  Of course, the first time I saw the prison, I thought the show was about to pull out all the stops and become an instant classic, and they pissed all over that opportunity.  Regardless, Andrew Lincoln is superb, and it has been a long time since Rick got his Rick on, but the conclusion of last night's season finale has me hopeful that the show will allow him to return to form as the show continues. 

I try to divorce myself from the comics when I watch the program, and I can't do that, and it certainly has an impact on my ability to enjoy the show.  Calling the television series inferior to the comic series is kind of like saying the new Conan the Barbarian movie wasn't quite as good as the old one.  It's not even close, and it never will be, unless maybe AMC sells the rights to HBO at some point, but that ain't happening, folks.  Additionally, I try to distance myself from those first two seasons when the show was white-hot.  They obviously had a bigger budget to work with in those days, and the show hasn't been able to elevate any of the characters they have introduced since in the same way they were able to elevate Shane. 

So, in the end, we've had two amazing seasons, one truly disappointing season, and one mixed bag where there were incredible moments partnered with a lot of drivel.  I realize the show needs the Glenn and Maggie soap opera, but they handle it so poorly, and the further they stray from suspense and terror, the worse the end result typically winds up being.  AMC is adept at generating tension and providing their audience with a rich atmosphere.  The cast for this show is amazing, and the effects team is great at what they do.  Unfortunately, the action is frequently mishandled and the soap opera elements are poorly executed and often feel totally out of place.  The potential is still there, and unlike the conclusion of Season 4, when I truly felt like I was watching this show get flushed down the toilet, I'm actually somewhat excited for Season 5. 

It will never be the comics, and it will never be what it was once, but The Walking Dead is the best thing going on television so far as the horror genre is concerned.  I'm ready for more and the wait for Season 5 will be a long one.

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