Monday, October 22, 2012


A good title for tonight's installment of THE WALKING DEAD would have been "Shit Happens." The creators of the series chose, instead, one that warned their terminally mainstream audience of what was to come: "Sick." Though one fellow was injured in "Sick," no one was actually sick. Rather, the sickness in question had to do with the decision, by the creators, to import, into their mainstream tale, some of the nastiness routinely found in the comics they're allegedly adapting.

It was a welcome addition. The world of TWD should be a dark, brutal, unforgiving one, and the television version, chasing that middle-American-milquetoast audience, has been marked by a distinct lack of ugliness for far too long. Our hero Rick, in particular, seems to have regrown the testicular tissue arbitrarily razored away from him by the abysmal writing of season 2. Tonight, he had some steel in his spine when he dealt with the antics of a way-over-the-top-of-the-top villain briefly thrown his way. In this case, it was a prison inmate overly fond of pointing guns in people's faces at the least provocation, even when they had weapons trained on him. It's the sort of thing bad filmmakers have, in recent years, mistaken for an intimidating posture, the sort of thing that, in the real world, would pretty much guarantee a continuing lifespan of about 30 more seconds. This clown lasted more than 30 seconds, but, with Iron Rick on the job, not much more than as many minutes--Rick even fed the pistol-waving prick's sissy-boy sidekick to a crowd of zombies after the hard-charging henchman fled right into their midst.

Some good shit. Rick, it should be said, seemed a little more upset than he should have been about this, but that would be a small complaint, indeed, if it had been the only crack in the episode.

Unfortunately, the rest of the episode cracked open and unleashed some shit that was significantly less than good, and significantly closer to the object of the metaphor.

Last week, "Seed" planted some little hope that TWD was about to become something like TWD, rather than wasting its time as the world's most expensive, worst written daytime soap at night. This week, the show mostly collapsed right back into the very bad habits of season 2. In the closing moments of "Seed," a zombie chomped a chunk from Hershel's leg, and Rick, in an effort to short-circuit the zombie infection, grabbed an axe and chopped off the afflicted limb. Hershel spent "Sick" in bed, hovering between life and death as a bad Lifetime soap melodrama played out around him. Lots of time spent on long faces and pointless, redundant, cliché-ridden speeches about the old boy's fate.

Very, very bad shit.

Idiot Plot Syndrome--one of the absolute worst elements of TWD season 2--was back in full force, as well. With Hershel having suffered this horrible injury, any viewer with more than a few functioning brain-cells could be forgiven for thinking the group's immediate concern would be toward locating the prison's infirmary and acquiring things like bandages, antibiotics, painkillers--the things the stricken vet needs so he doesn't die. Those were more brain-cells than the writers employed when assembling "Sick," though, because while the characters speak of the critical need to find the infirmary, they don't do anything toward that end. They've just encountered a group of men who had been incarcerated in the prison, and who would presumably know exactly where to go, but our heroes don't even ask them about it. They choose, instead, to spend their time helping clear a new cell-block, so these fellows can have a place to sleep--an adventure in zombie-killing that could just as easily have been written as necessary to get to the infirmary. It's left to young Carl to slip off on his own--off camera--and find the supplies they need.[1] For his troubles, he's publicly shat upon by his wretched mother, whose own contribution to Hershel's health, up to that point, had amounted to hovering over him and looking Very Concerned (perhaps realizing how this looked, the writers added in, as an apparent afterthought, a moment wherein Hershel stopped breathing, and Lori resuscitated him).

And that's the shit that happened with "Sick"--after a promising start to the season, an ep that, overall, would be best sent to a waste-treatment facility.


[1] It would be virtually impossible to overstate the idiocy of this complete lack of concern for finding the infirmary. The group wasted half of season 2 in the search for a red-shirt non-entity of absolutely no consequence, whereas Hershel, being a medical professional who has shown wizard-like powers in both the healing of the injured and of the conjuring of ammunition, is one of their most important human assets, yet not even his own daughters make any effort to find the infirmary nor demand any action from anyone else to that end. They just stand around with long faces, reciting the clichés of the Lifetime soap melodrama they're playing out. Maggie, rather than doing anything to help her father live, tells him it's all right for him to die.

UPDATE (23 Oct., 2012) - BMF125, a poster on the IMDb's "Walking Dead" board, reminds me of a massive continuity error I meant to mention but forgot when doing my write-up. In "Seed," the group prowled through a corridor that was absolutely crawling with zombies, and had to duck into the cafeteria with a whole horde of them on their trail. It was difficult to hold the doors closed from all the creatures outside. As "Sick" begins, they open that door seconds later, story-time, and there's only one zombie there. Then, they drag Hershel out into the corridor and back to the section of the prison they'd already secured, again failing to run into the zombie horde. They leave the door between the allegedly zombie-infested section and the secured section open so the prisoners they found in the cafeteria can follow. Add a vanishing zombie horde to TWD's many, many problems.

[cross-posted to my comics blog]


  1. Welcome to television drama.
    You should probably stop watching TWD and go watch Zombieland.

  2. the comics are not a gold mine of common sense.and at times "out- stupid" the tv show.

  3. Once again I tahnk you for saving me the pain of enduring this. You are my hero.

    I do believe that a zombie story could work as a TV series, but I doubt a network would be bold enough to truly go there.

  4. Man I love The Walking Dead but you do a funny trolljob on it xD

  5. For someone who is aspiring to be a filmmaker, you obviously don't know the ins and outs of filmmaking. Every episode has hours worth of footage to sift through and only the seemingly important factors make the final cut. Rick leaves Glenn in charge to take care of Hershel and the rest while he takes care of immediate dangers to the rest of the group. Sure, Hershel is needed for the delivery of the baby, but taking care of these prisoners is far more important for the safety of the mass. Sure, I found it disappointing that we only saw Carl come back from exploring and finding the infirmary, but it's something that I'm sure was shot. The whole show was full of necessary action and your nitpicking is ridiculously unnecessary. For the sake of drama, a lot of what happened in last night's episode was thrown into the mix. The show isn't about zombies. They're just thrown into the mix. Any TV show is first and foremost about the characters, with conflict in second. If the viewers care nothing about the characters, then the viewers don't give a damn about the conflict.

  6. I agree completely with the anonymous person that explained how filmmaking works..posted @ 4:26 pm. I dont understand why you are nitpicking the show when it was clearly an encore performance. Everything doesnt have to be explained...its up to the viewers to figure somethings out based on our understanding of the characters.

  7. I honestly felt a good deal of tension during some of the moments that involved the unconscious Hershel. It might have just been me, but I got nervous every time someone would get too close or embrace him.

    I’m usually one for cliffhanger endings (something I think the series has done really well), but the optimistic ending this time around was a pleasant shift.

    I had a little bit of a hard time with some of the soapy drama, too, but I don't think they overdid it.

  8. To explain some things I really shouldn't have to explain, this is a group that wasted half of season 2 on the search for a red-shirt non-entity of absolutely no consequence. Hershel is not only a member of the group but is, by contrast, a critically important member of the group. He isn't just needed for "delivery of the baby." He's the only medical professional they have. There's no way to view the complete lack of concern shown for Hershel re: the infirmary issue as anything other than not only poor writing but embarrassingly poor writing.

    And what are they doing while doing absolutely nothing to locate the infirmary? Their "necessary action" was devoted to helping a group of inmates (whom they don't ask about the infirmary) clear a cell-block so they'll have a different place to sleep. Certainly a very pressing matter, there, particularly with the life of one of their own--and one of their most important human assets--hanging in the balance. Even his own daughters are standing around with long faces, playing out their Lifetime soap melodrama rather than doing a damn thing to find the infirmary, or insisting on immediate action to that end. They don't even raise the issue.

    Writing this off as "ridiculously unnecessary [nitpicking]" betrays a lack of judgment that is very nearly complete.

    This well-worn line that the show "isn't about zombies" doesn't, as those who wield it seem to think, amount to any sort of serious insight or any excuse for the shockingly poor quality of the writing on TWD. Rather, it merely marks its bearers as cluelessly innocent of the subgenre (zombie apocalypse stories are never "about the zombies").

  9. You are spot-on as usual. Having said that, the flaws didn't bother me all that much. I enjoyed the highs (which you also did a good job covering)enough to overlook the poor decision making. Unfortunately, I expect that from horror in general and the zombie subgenre in particular.

    But your points are still valid.

  10. Hey Jriddle, still love the blog even though i don't visit the board or watch the Walto, i mean the Walking Dead anymore. I got a question though, i'm thinking about starting a short story blog and post my own work, i've planned it out great but i'm wondering if blogging platforms have some sort of copyright since i'll be posting my work on their sites?

    Say i start to make money off my stories, selling movie rights (ambitious, i know..) or something like that, would the platform have a right to a part of the money?

  11. Really enjoyed your writings last season they might have been part of what kept me watching. :D

    Good stuff here too, keep it up. :)

    Big Tiny had me fooled for a moment that he might be the Tyreese of the Tv-show being all big and black and wielding the trademark hammer. Fun little nod from the creators.

    Bulging into the cafeteria, shouting, pointing weapons, storming out again leaving behind the severed foot with the stunned inmates was pretty hilarious too.

    Gotta enjoy the little things. :P

  12. You ARE in fact nitpicking here. Would it have really made you feel better if the writers would have included Rick asking them if they knew where the infirmary was and they said no or refused to tell him?

    You want to critcize the fact that they should have been paying more attention to Hershel than thye were to the prisoners, but try and look at it from a different viewpoint. Now I will agree that Hershel is a critical part of the group and his death would certainly hit them hard, but what you have to consider is that these inmates are an IMMEDIATE threat that need to be dealt with NOW. To ignore them and go off in search of the infirmary could have a much bigger impact on the group than the loss of Hershel. For one, thye have to worry about walkers AND the inmates while they are in search of the infirmary instead of just the walkers, the end result by ignoring this group could be the loss of not only Hershel, but many other members of the group if not all of them.

    You don't want to understand this concept because you have tunnel vision and will only look at your viewpoint and how YOU would have written it. The fact that they didn't write it your way and their way is actually on television is testament to the fact that thye know more about how to write and produce a television show then you do.

  13. Well them refusing to help find the infirmary might actually have given some reasonable cause for conflict between the two groups. Now things pretty much just happened because Rick needs to show how tough he has become.

    If they think the new group might be too dangerous they could just lock them up in one of all those cells they have keys for and bring one of the inmates to show the way to the infirmary if one of them wants to help.

    Instead they let the psycho keep his gun, arm the others with dangerous melee weapons and go into a chaotic situation with zombies. Brilliant.

    Of course that decision might even have made sense if they had needed the inmates help rushing to the infirmary.

    As said countless times bad decision are part of the zombie genre but it would be more interesting if they actually showed the dilemmas, instead it just seems they kinda forgot about the infirmary as cinemachalaosits points out.

  14. At the end of S2 the prison lay more or less just over the hill. However,over the entire course of the winter they failed to find it but then discover it during an ad hoc hunting trip while the others are getting water!!
    Where were they all winter? Perhaps they all went into hibernation. This might explain why nothing seems to have happened during this period. Reminds me of Bagpuss

  15. "Well them refusing to help find the infirmary might actually have given some reasonable cause for conflict between the two groups."

    Bingo. The idea that "these inmates are an IMMEDIATE threat that need to be dealt with NOW" is entirely arbitrary. Other than the one with the gun--easily dealt with--they did nothing threatening at all, and even if all of them turned out to be outright hostile--and none but the one gave any indication of such--they're easily dealt with (our heroes greatly outnumber them, and all have guns).

    "Now things pretty much just happened because Rick needs to show how tough he has become."

    And so that we can play out that Lifetime soap melodrama around Hershel in a totally cynical bid to attract female viewers. That's what clueless males--a category into which the TWD creative staff falls--think women want to see, and, because they have the contempt for women about which I've ranted here in the past, they think women want to see it whether it makes any sense or not in the context of the story (women, as they see it, being, by nature, both dumb and totally irrational).

    In what was pimped off for "plotting" in TWD season 2, every bit of forward momentum was made entirely dependent upon all of the characters being complete--and that word "complete" is important--idiots. Nothing in the writing proceeded organically. The writers merely decided they wanted to put something on the screen and did it, without regard for the logic of it. If the established characterizations got in the way of it, they were arbitrarily changed. "Sick" was a return to that sort of "writing," and there's simply no way to excuse it. It's embarrassingly bad.

  16. The point is that the way Rick went about it is NOT unreasonable as you claim it to be. He had a decision to make, and there are many mitigating factors. Hey in hindsight the guy probably wishes that he had locked them in a cell and dealt with them later, but hindsight is 20/20. It's easy for us to sit back and say, I would have done this or that. It's called the monday morning quarterback syndrome. Even if he had said, "we're gonna lock you in a cell until we deal with this, do you think they would have accepted that? Sure Ricks group may outnumber them as far as the number of people go, but Tomas still has a gun and there is a very good chance that at least one of Ricks tema members would be killed in a sudden confrontation like that. Ricks, way, none of his group got killed, Hershel is still alive, and they got food from the commissary, seems to me that Ricks group had a pretty good day and his character made the correct decision.

    I will give you that it would have been nice to see Carl head off to the infirmary to track down the medical supplies, but as another commenter had said, that was probably filmed, just didn't make the cut. That's poor editing, not poor writing

  17. Daryl Is A Badass Motherfucker hunter,And zombieland,that scene where the man killed a fat zombie with a banjo


  18. I'm not gonna nitpick this episode too much. After last season's disaster anything is gonna be an improvement. Why did they not just open interior doors and proceed with the noise to draw the walkers out? Bring them to the fence outside where they can lobotomize them in a leisurely fashion. No ammo wasted. Little energy spent. Hershel doesn't get mauled and all the bodies are already outside for easy disposal. Good luck dragging all of the corpses out of the prison.