Readers have been e-mailing for a month wondering where the traditional Monday evening TWD disappointment thread is. Here you go. Verdict: I’m disappointed. Thinking back on the last few episodes, the show’s been so dull that I can’t re-create the narrative in my mind. My memories of it are impressionistic. I remember the squirrelly little southern guy getting shot in the head. Merle and Darryl teamed up and struck out on their own for some reason, and now for some other reason they’re back at the prison. Michonne kept glowering at people one-dimensionally but then she had a corny moment with Carl last night and now she’s one-and-a-half-dimensional. Rick had hallucinations about Lori, which is odd because he never seemed to like her much. (For good reason.) Hershel and Glenn got five minutes every hour to emote and then they disappeared. Rick’s group and the Governor’s group ended up locked in a zombified version of the Hatfields and the McCoys because, evidently, the new formula requires three or four episodes of nothing much happening followed by a giant gunfight.
Has there ever been a series that succeeded as wildly on the sheer strength of its premise as “The Walking Dead”? There’s a show on American television about life during the zombie apocalypse. However bad it gets, however many episodes are devoted to 45-minute colloquies between Rick and Hershel about who should be The Leader, I’m going to watch. To complain about the writing seems nitpicky and churlish. But here’s what I’d do if I was in charge: I’d jettison the entire cast and even the entire narrative arc. You don’t need a narrative for this show. All you need is the irresistible, foolproof premise of a world gone zombie. Each weekly episode could be an independent one-act play exploring whatever it is the writers want to explore about zombieworld. In fact, last night’s episode was a strong one precisely because it was relatively light on the recurring characters. You didn’t need Rick and Michonne there to feel sympathy for Morgan going half-mad after losing his wife and son and trying to find purpose in the futility of “clearing” zombies. The bit with the hitchhiker at the beginning and end was more eloquent than any line of dialogue ever written for the show, and also almost wholly incidental to the main cast. But instead of more stuff like that, we’re headed straight back next week to the Battle of the Alpha Males between Rick and the Governor. Disappointing. But not unexpected.