Monday, November 12, 2012


This week's installment of TWD is called "Say The Word." The series invokes a few words. Awful. Stupid. Tedious. Embarrassing. In my reviews, I've used most of them, some until I'm as sick to death of them as I am of the series itself. "Melodrama" particularly wears on me now, the thing and the word. If, as it's said, a picture is worth a thousand words, any given minute of TWD--24 frames per second, at its present level of writing--would exhaust the best-stocked thesaurus in any human language.

Some words on "Say The Word":

Continuity. This week's ep begins right where last's left off. Lori is dead, T-Dog is dead, Carol is believed to be dead and there's a new baby now that needs to be fed. In an hilariously unconvincing effort to portray Rick as having fallen into a veritable abyss of grief over the death of his awful wife, Andrew Lincoln is insanely overacting. Wholly unconcerned with the fate of his newborn daughter, Rick grabs an axe and charges into the prison, intent on working out his misery on the dead still shuffling about within.[1]

Intelligence. With the prison overrun by zombies, all the gates and doors opened by the villainous Andrew presumably still standing wide open for every new creature that shuffles along, their leader out of his mind and Carol missing, Daryl, Glenn and Maggie immediately decide their most pressing priority is to make a run into the outside world to try to find baby formula, leaving their now zombie-infested home in the hands of a child, a baby, a gimp, a lunatic and two unarmed former prisoners they don't even trust. Glenn ultimately stays behind only because Daryl can't fit three people on his motorcycle.[2] Why is it so important to immediately go out and find formula for baby? Well, in nine months of pregnancy, neither Lori nor anyone else has bothered to acquire any.

Grief. Rick is so troubled by the loss of his pernicious paramour--the one he, toward, the end, didn't seem to like any more than did the viewers--that he seems to be hearing voices in his head. They tell him "Play the bad, b-movie ham actor's version of Going Completely Insane" and he simply must obey. Daryl, on the other hand, is so totally unconcerned with the disappearance of his lover that he immediately and enthusiastically elects to undertake the baby-food mission. He and Maggie find a supply, return and he has cutesy moments as he feeds the wee tyke and plies it with baby-talk. He shows no sign of being upset by Carol's possible death. He doesn't even show the slightest interest in her fate until the very last scene of the ep and then only to put a flower on her grave.

Holes. Before that, Glenn was sweating away in the hot sun, digging graves for his fallen comrades. The prisoners elect to give him a break and pitch in and between them, they scratch out the three Glenn says they need. Basic math, it would seem, is a problem for the writers, as our heroes actually only have two bodies to bury. Or do they?

Carol. Beside T-Dog's well-eaten corpse, our heroes found some cloth that was hers. It was bloody and, being the morons that pass for "characters" on TWD, they assumed this meant she was dead. There was no body. No one, not even Daryl, bothers searching for her. They just dig a grave for her then fill it back in with dirt. Or did they find her body and bury it, and the writers just didn't bother to tell the audience?

Baffling. That last wasn't the only example of strikingly incompetent storytelling. During his rampage through the prison, Rick comes upon the room in which Lori died. Her corpse, however, isn't there. Did the others already recover and bury the body? Did Carl fail to effectively brain-blast Lori and she now walks with the living dead? Is the fattened zombie Rick finds in the same room and kills supposed to have eaten Lori's corpse? Who knows? Certainly not TWD's viewers.[3]

Rubbish. I think even those who mistake TWD's storytelling for compelling can figure out this one.



[1] Showrunner Glenn Mazzara continues to throw zombies at the problems, instead of doing anything to address them, banking on concealing them behind a faster pace. Rick goes on this random kill-fest and in the same ep, Michonne, over in Woodbury, finds GINO's stable of zombies and for no real reason at all turns them loose so she can slaughter them. Just as she finishes them off, she's discovered by the fellow coming to feed them. He's carrying a bucket of gore. Zombies only eat the living or the just-dead. Is it fresh human gore in that bucket? We aren't told but when Michonne insists to Andrea they have to leave Woodbury, she once again omits the detail, as she has every piece of evidence she's collected regarding Woodbury, and Andrea stays behind.

ADDENDUM (12 Nov., 2012) - Reading Lebeau, who also reviews TWD each week, reminded me that, on this ep, Andrea specifically says, to Michonne, "you need to give me more to go on." As Lebeau puts it, even at that prompting, "Michonne doesn’t mention any of the mounting evidence." I should probably start making notes during the eps!

ADDENDUM (14 Nov., 2012) - The series has been leaning more and more heavily on CGI gore, which looks awful on its best day, and has been looking really awful on TWD. The practical effects have suffered this season as well. Mazzara's pour-on-the-zombies approach is actually making things worse this season, because the effects crews are trying to do far too much with an inadequate budget and inadequate time. It makes the technical work--one of the only things TWD was still doing mostly right--into just as much a mess as everything else. Rick's rampage could be somewhat justified but Michonne's was entirely gratuitous and was obviously included for no other purpose than to add some zombie action to the episode. Cut out one (or both) and there would have been more time and money to do everything else right but because they're thrown in the mask the inadequacy of everything else, the show without them becomes dull and people would start to notice how awful it is.

[2] In the aftermath of Sophia's death back in season 2, Glenn was given the unenviable task of trying to convince the viewers, after the fact, that Sophia's death hit the group particularly hard. This was the writers' substitute for doing anything to make the viewers feel any attachment to Sophia before or during the time she was missing. This week, Glenn got the duty with T-Dog, revealing that, when the zombie apocalypse first broke, T drove his church's bus around helping out old people. He also tells us that T saved his ass a million times. Perhaps if the creators had shown one or two of those million times or if they had at any point treated T-Dog as more than a token redshirt, this wouldn't be necessary and wouldn't look so pathetic.

[3] UPDATE (12 Nov., 2012) - Actually, TWD's viewers noticed something I apparently didn't--a blood-trail leading from the site of Lori's body to that zombie. There isn't even a trace of Lori, so we're apparently to assume the others dug a grave then made absolutely no effort to recover the body (it was after dark by the time Rick entered the room where Lori died) and that porky zombie ate the whole of her, bones, clothes and all. ADDENDUM (13 Nov., 2012) - The episode's director, Greg Nicotero, has apparently confirmed that the zombie is supposed to have eaten Lori.


  1. *snore*

    Oh, I'm sorry, were you saying something? Must not have been important.

  2. well written article

  3. Okay...Haven't read the entire blog just yet because I want to make some comments on your first few comments.
    Continuity. ((con·ti·nu·i·ty/ˌkäntnˈ(y)o͞oəitē/
    Noun:The unbroken and consistent existence or operation of something over a period of time. Or A state of stability and the absence of disruption. According to week's ep begins right where last's left off. Lori is dead, T-Dog is dead, Carol is believed to be dead, and there's a new baby, now, that needs fed((How is this a bad thing. It is always nice to see the continuation of an episode right where we leave off))

    In an hilariously unconvincing effort to portray Rick as having fallen into a veritable abyss of grief over the death of his awful wife, Andrew Lincoln is insanely overacting ((No I don't think he was over reacting at all. Imagine if you found out you lost someone you have grown up with, when my god mother died I locked myself in my room for days and punched my wall several times because it was unexpected. Have you ever lost someone you are close to? By the amount of time you spend on your blog bashing The Walking Dead I don't think you have anytime for real friends who actually care about you.))Wholly unconcerned with the fate of his newborn daughter ((I'm pretty sure he is convinced the baby is actually Shanes and as far as he is concerned, it killed Lori. Grief makes people do really stupid things)) Rick grabs an axe and charges into the prison, intent on working out his misery on the dead still shuffling about within.((Uhhm yeah...better killing walkers than letting his frustrations out on the group. Everyone has different coping Mechanisms.))

    I am curious to know...are you human at all? Because all of these things are rather human emotions that have been dealt with before The Walking Dead came around.

  4. This show has become completely and laughably retarded. I actually hate all the characters and wish them all dead. What the fuck happened to this show? I watch it now basically to see how horrible they can make the dialogue and how stupid the characters are. Great post.

  5. Oh I also love how we know more about T Dogs back story after hes killed off. Now we find out he was a religious guy that helped a lot of people. Ricks acting was completely over the top. Funny how when they need to find baby supplies they find them remarkably quick but couldn't prepare for that in 9 months. Ugh. This show is so frustrating. I see so much unfulfilled potential down the drain with horrible, head scratching writing.


  7. The dug a grave and filled it back up. Twice, apparently because Lori was still in that zombie last we saw. Quite the stumble from last week, but really just about par for the course overall. I can't wait for the copycat show about the ZA and actually see some decent writing and acting in that scenario. This show is a hot mess.

  8. Great stuff as always. I notice that those that disagree with you rarely take on your actual arguments. That's because your points are irrefutable.

    The show abuses logic on a regular basis. The chacters are portrayed as idiotic to the point where it is impossible to care about them. The only saving grace is that zombie mayhem is fun.

    This episode toned down the mayhem a notch which made the show's many flaws that much harder to ignore. And as you know, I try hard to look past them.

    So many laughable moments. They really waited nine months to pick up even the most basic baby supplies? Births aren't generally a surprise and it was established that Lori carried to term. How are these guys surviving when they fail to prepare for even the most predictable events in life?

    I literally laughed out loud when Hershel said if the baby didn't get formula soon, it wouldn't survive. Like the baby is a ticking time bomb. Really? This is the best the show can due to raise the stakes? The baby is hungry!

    Seriously, I don't give a damn about Carol. But no one even says her name much less looks for her. Two people go on a search for baby formula and no one looks for Carol because her dropped her doo-rag?

    Glenn's eulogy of T-Dog was the most hysterically pathetic thing since his wailing over the loss of Sophia. If Glenn has to talk about how important you were to the group, odds are you didn't matter.

    Easily the worst episode of the season. I was starting to have season 2 flashbacks as Andrea and Michonne rehashed the same argument over and over again.

  9. The only good thing about this episode was the Merle scenes.

    The scene with Daryl and the baby was obv fan service to the female fans his crap character development continues to decline ever since season 2 Like most of the characters on the show.

    Shane was the only character who was really flesh out compare to the other characters.

    I always thought that Andrew Lincoln was a crap actor ever since season 2 or maybe it was the bad dialogue the deer would haunt me forever.

    I know season 1 had bad dialogue but for fuck sake it was a masterpiece compare to season 2 and 3.

    It's a joke to call this show a horror show when only the pilot episode got it right.

    You are right about Mazzara throwing zombies at us because people was complaining about how slow and shit season 2 was.

    Zombies are not going to solve the problems this show has I was hoping for a more balance this season like season 1 had.

  10. Hi Jeremy
    A friend of mine who is a massive Walking Dead fan told me about your blog and said I should take a look.

    First of all I would like to say I totally agree with most your arguments raised. Continuity being TWD's main downfall but it's always going to be hard to please everyone watching a post apocalyptic zombie melodrama.

    I stopped watching TWD after the 2nd series. Lori, Rick & Shane's three way love affair drove me crazy and I really didn't see the point in watching something I wasn't enjoying....This leads me to my main question.
    Why are you still watching something you clearly hate? Are you that bigger fan of the graphic novel? Do you have some morbid obsession with watching something you detest, or do you get off trolling TWD's IMDB board enjoying the attention you get from the shows irate 'fanboys'?

    Having quickly scrolled through your blog I see the majority of your posts are seething weekly reviews of TWD. I could understand maybe one or two bad reviews before you lost interest and moved on. Surely your time could be spend reviewing something you actually enjoy? Do you watch anything else?

    It just puzzles me at the amount of effort your putting in. Sure The Walking Dead is bad but why not just let it die by itself?


  11. I can only second Atom's wish: hopfully someone will "copy" The Walking Dead for their own zombie show and the result will be better.

  12. Hi J. Riddle,

    If you ever get your hands on the blueprint for The Walking Dead prison, please post it on one of your future blogs. I am just having trouble wrapping my head around things that have been happening during season three.

    For example when the group are at the prison and have cleared part of Block C, checked any possible zombie entrances are locked and so on, Rick tells everyone that both Daryl and himself have a set of keys. I am guessing the keys are just for that block, but I could be wrong because I know nothing about prisons. After they are all safe and being careful, the group split up and go into the maze with zombies. They had to unlock the door and then lock it after they went in. Crap happens, zombies were outside the cafeteria and then they weren’t, so they race back to the group, but don’t bother locking up that door again. The zombies are still in there, right? Then when Andrew wreaks havoc, zombies are coming out of the cell area that Lori, Maggie and Carl were going to run into. So either the zombies found themselves in that area because the maze door was left opened or the door on the opposite side of that area had been unlocked. The same door that Rick had checked was locked beforehand and that only he and Daryl had the keys. Are prison doors easy to hack open with an axe? Also did Lori, Maggie and Carl have to run into that maze, couldn’t they just run up the stairs to the tower where Rick found the keys. It was a narrow staircase; they could just continue to push the zombies down like Hershel did with one of the crutches, only with the chair the dead watcher was sitting on or use something in that little room to block the zombies from walking up (I didn’t even know they could walk up stairs). One could be on watch while the other was with Lori, and swap to whoever was needed. Looking at the timing of everyone, she would still die. Maggie could say “I will get help, my dad’s just outside” Carl “There’s no way past them” Maggie “We need to get help!” Lori “There’s no time get my baby out NOW!” . You get the drift. Also how did Rick know where to find Lori? Did someone tell him and I missed it? Or was he running around like a mad hatter looking behind every door?

    I’m sorry if I haven’t explained this properly, there are just so many things running through my head. Also if anyone could answer my questions it would be appreciated.

    Thank you for writing about The Walking Dead.


  13. @Lebeau, I'd slightly disagree with your point that "the show abuses logic on a regular basis," but only insofar as it suggests there's ever a time when the show doesn't abuse logic.

    One of the big reasons I rank "Beside the Dying Fire" as perhaps the absolute worst TWD ep is because it was like a catalog of everything that had gone so terribly wrong in season 2, and the complete lack of any kind of survival prep was one of the issues that loomed large over it. Here, it's the same story: 9 months moving around, scrounging for supplies, and they haven't even gotten any baby formula. Maggie confirms, via dialogue, that they've looked for it, but having failed to find any in all that time, they immediately find it that day.

    @Unknown, I've usually been a lot more lenient on Andrew Lincoln and the other actors. Lincoln's accent has always been laughably awful, but he is a VERY British Brit being asked to play an American southerner. The reason I usually don't hack on the actors is because they're given absolutely nothing to work with when it comes to the dialogue (Lincoln, in his post-TWD projects, will no doubt always be known by his Cherokee nickname, Him What Talks About The Deer). This week, it just became too much, insofar as Lincoln is concerned. WAY over the top, and an absolutely unbearable cliche'.

    @ATOM and Luis, AMC's competitors, which, like all tv outlets, are always looking for something to copy, have been slow to respond to TWD, but I was having the same conversation you guys broached, there, with a friend of mine a few nights ago: eventually, someone else will do a zombie apocalypse show, and it's almost impossible to imagine one worse than TWD even making it to the air. The copies will be almost certainly be not only better but far better, and I'd find it amusing if, ultimately, one of them appeared and knocked TWD right off the air.

    @ronoman, read the comics and you'll get some idea of the magnificent beast TWD could have been. What's happened to it on TV is a crime.

    @Thom (and others with the same "point"), when I write about an ep of TWD, the ep of TWD is the issue. In no case am I the issue. It doesn't matter why I write about it.

    @Iris, zombies on TWD have the power of teleportation, which makes all those doors and locks irrelevant. The writers arbitrarily decree they will be in such-and-such place at such-and-such time without regard to how on earth they would have ever gotten there. We've seen this phenomenon several times on the series. A zombie killed Dale last season by teleporting in behind him. There were other instances of zombie teleportation in "Killer Within" (the group that came up behind Carl outside wasn't there, then suddenly it was).

    Thanks to everyone who has commented.