My measurement of any movie or new TV series is based on my desire to reach for the mouse and skip ahead. That lovely feature that allows the fast jump through boring shows and movies, 45 seconds at a time! I’ll admit my impatience can sometimes get out of control, so when I’m reviewing content, I really try to balance my click ahead impulses with the need to give everything a fair chance….
The original, The Walking Dead, leaves me tortured. I’ve been a fan of the show from the very beginning. But with that has come a long suffering battle between my frustrations as a viewer and my need to be mindlessly entertained. I would sum it up in words, but really, the folks over at Honest Trailers have done a fine job for me… Which brings me to the new spinoff, Fear the Walking Dead. It was an ambitious effort but agonizingly frustrating for people like me.
I cannot stand the lazy, half-ass efforts by network writers to move the plot along with tired, boring cliches – kind of like how this preceding line is also a tired cliche used by critics! It is insulting to viewers. I knew Fear the Walking Dead was already jumping the shark before it got rolling. What do I mean? Let’s start with a few fast examples of weak-ass writing efforts that helped kick off the show:
1) Can we make something clear – when there is an imminent, life threatening danger that could wipe out humanity – when you’re trying to save the lives of the people you love – YOU TELL THEM THEIR LIFE IS IN DANGER! I cannot tell you how frustrating it was to watch a character,desperately try to convince his ex-wife over the phone to bring their son home to keep him safe from the impending zombie, errrr, walker apocalypse. Buuuuuuuuut, he never tells her why he is trying to save their sons life. Or what they danger is. Or why it’s important. Or that every minute counts. But they do spend a minute talking in circles without every relaying the seriousness of whats happening. So silly.
2) When you are a parent on the phone with your kid trying to save the life of your petulant teenage son from an impending zombie, errrr, walker apocalypse – I’m gonna go out on a limb and say the normal parent would TELL THEIR KID WE ALL GONNA DIE! So you need to come home. But again, idiot dad is pleading with him to come home, but never vocalizing what the danger is! Like it’s some grand secret that can’t be uttered over the phone.. because why?? Seriously. The kid blows him off. Even though dad is using his ex-wifes phone to call. And that your divorced parents are waiting for you. Together. But, hey, why would an angst filled teen take that as a sign thaaaat maybe there might be something serious going on? *sigh*
3) When kids are running away to visit teenage crushes during the apocalypse – maybe it’s a good time to tell your kids WHY leaving the house will likely mean IMMINENT DEATH! Who are these people? I certainly don’t know anyone that stupid. Apparently writers in Hollywood do.
…Blah blah blah, writers will say it’s all about the need to quickly establish characters, drama, blah blah blah,… But it’s not. There are so many great examples of character introductions that doesn’t use silly handrails to guide the uncreative plot point along… example: FARGO.
However, after some brutal missteps the show did slowly begin to find its footing. But it is still bogged down with silly relationship dramas and family dynamics that really, who cares. We are all tuned in for one reason – the end of the world. Not the intricate details of the interpersonal dynamics of a group of asshat people and their kids creating false stakes that won’t matter after the collapse of society. The suspense is lost – we know the world is ending. That’s what we want to see – the breakdown of society, not the breakdown of relationships, drug addictions and whiney people. There was so much unused potential, especially around the first moments of the collapse of society. Too much time wasted on other things. That is the same sort of grief we suffered through in the first series. I know how that song plays out. Give me a new perspective.