Wednesday, 17 November 2010

The Walking Dead 103: Tell It to the Frogs

A television serial is an extended form of storytelling. It bears similarity to the novel in that soon after the beginning there has to be a lull in order for the story to catch up to the plot. Tell it to the Frogs attempts to explain the series subplot: why is Rick Grimes’ wife shagging his best friend?

In professional wrestling the maxim is to hide a performer’s weaknesses whilst accentuating his strengths – that way a man like Hulk Hogan becomes an icon. 103 pulls Rick Grimes out of Atlanta (peril) and into the boondocks (the camp). Here the story weaknesses have no zombies to hide behind.

Mythology is open to adaptation so credit to the program makers for their version and expansion of zombie lore. It was established in Days Gone Bye (101) that the walkers are more active at night. Guts (102) stated they are attracted by “sight, sound and smell”. In this episode the camp lights at least two fires (at night). It defies narrative logic.

Alas the plot demands it. The campfire scene introduces new character Ed. It establishes tension between Ed and camp leader Shane. This takes place after Rick Grimes reunites with his family in what has to be the most signposted and underwhelming scene since Colleen forgave Wayne Rooney1.

The script tries to convince the viewer that Rick’s wife Lori is innocent of adultery ie Shane told her Rick was dead. This begs the question which is worse: a whore or a widow who can’t wait to sleep with her recently deceased husband’s best friend and partner? Lori’s actions do not a sympathetic character make yet she is being painted as one.

Lori is played by a Sarah Wayne Callies2. Her chemistry with lead Andrew Lincoln is remote so the blame is hers and her résumé on IMDb explains why. She is not an actor – she’s a line reader. Her career is TV fodder.

There are more new characters introduced in camp. Juan has a wife and two children with nary a line between them. His small children aren’t as worried about him as the adult Amy is about her sister Andrea. To be sure the people of colour serve as tokens and stereotypes. To be fair they’re not the only ones.

How big is this camp? None of the characters say or indicate how many of them there are. They cannot possibly cover all their parameters and Dale’s daytime standing atop the RV is a writer’s feeble attempt at sentry. Moreover what are they feeding on? It can’t be the land. Nor can it be squirrels and tins of baked beans with frog’s legs to look forward to. There is a reason why zombie films take place in cities. Fiction relies on the suspension of disbelief. Despite Shane’s water source this show has jumped the shark.

The token black female Jacqui has established herself as mammy. T-Dog – him with the gangsta name – insists on risking his own life to save the racist who beat him, spat on him and threatened to kill him. He’s a good slave. Ed is another type of TV stereotype. He’s a white man (but we know he’s a bad man because he’s sexist). He dares to hit her in front of witnesses – only on television – and gets a beatdown from Shane for it. Compare his beating with that of Merle’s in 102. Sexism is worse than racism – but only when directed at a white woman.
The dénouement of this episode was telegraphed in its prologue. Three episodes in The Walking Dead is TV writing at its worst. To be fair television is the worst medium of writing. This is not the only piece of shit to be a major hit. At one time everybody watched Baywatch.

Readers of the comics say the walking dead are the survivors not the zombies. I say they’re the people who watch this show and haven’t got the wherewithal to know they’re being laughed at.

Do you think those nitwits out there in zombieland remember anything? It’s junk food for the brain.
Robert Downey Jr (Wayne Gale)
Natural Born Killers 1994

Read more Thrill Fiction: Re/Made Halloween 2

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