For zombies, I break radio silence

Well, now that I seem to be done being sick, I feel I should attempt a little communication with the world once more. What has moved me to this? Oh, I’m sure I’ll come to something reasonable, but for now, I’m going to critically dissect the pilot of The Walking Dead, because Hulu exists and I am silly.

Starts off solid, if uninspired. Lone hero walks around some dead people and stuff. Sees a teddy bear. It’s picked up by a child whose face he cannot see. When she turns around, a large part of that face is missing. Little girls zombify at an immensely greater rate than anyone else (except, in this show, slightly snazzy gentlemen, for some reason), so though this is an awfully, uh, well-traveled road, I’ll allow it. It’s competently shot. I like zombies.

After this introduction, there’s a whiny title sequence. And then some rednecks discuss their personal problems in a revoltingly misogynistic way for five minutes. Really. This happens. Bang! Right from Li’l Susie’s unfortunate headshot to “man, women sure are irrational and hateful, huh?” It went on too long, but at this point, I figured we were establishing our loan hero guy as a flawed character. This did not bear out. This show is deeply, utterly, hatefully nasty. I don’t know the source material, so I have no idea whether this is faithful. I haven’t seen anything beyond the pilot, so maybe it improves. But going by the pilot, the writers of this show are little balled-up masses of anti-vagina fury.

Entirely too much of this show is rednecks having feelings, so you get lots of time to go over how the main character and his handful of sidekicks disdain everything about their wives in particular and every woman on the planet in general. From little asides about how sentimental and impractical women are to pointed dismissal of the only real speaking role a woman had on the pilot, the whole thing could have come right from the American Family Association. I thought for a minute early on that the main character (he has a name, but he’s too bland to deserve it, so fuck him, his name shall be Mr. Blandypants) might have an actual bond with a female he didn’t loathe in the form of his daughter, but it turns out he was saying “Carl’ as opposed to “Cora.” (His fake accent was very silly. ) So nevermind. Remember, guys, your women are crazy and think they’re allowed to do stuff and have opinions, and if it keeps them happy, just nod, because they’re occasionally successful conduits for your male progeny!

Anyway… so that rant is over. In terms of the actual storyline? I’d say the random anti-women ranting only took up about a third of the show. Doing better than Dracula, so far, if only barely. The rest had zombies. Pretty cool zombies, in and of themselves, but this universe has no rules or internal consistency that I can work out. Seems to be industry standard in a lot of ways. Headshot makes zombie stop being a problem. Zombies decompose gradually. Zombies don’t try to eat each other or anyone who’s in a coma, apparently, though in this version they’re happy to eat other animals (more on that later). But there’s no rhyme or reason. It’s like someone just made zombie trope magnetic poetry and went to town. I can’t tell how long the plague has been going on. Some zombies and corpses are looking just spiffy and some look like they’ve had years to rot. These undead seem to have various modes and will hang around carefully imitating actual corpses until a live something walks by, which is pretty clever for zombies, but then they don’t seem to do anything about it. Sometimes they just kind of stand there. Idling.

And for some reason, about half the male zombies the camera focuses on are skinny, slightly shaggy-haired guys in casual suits. Some of them even have those silly pseudo-fedoras with the tiny brims. I think these guys are the real story here. I propose a spinoff about the adventures of the casually dapper zombies. Perhaps they have a band or fight zombie crime. Or maybe they just live, learn and love together and engage in zombie hi-jinks.  I cannot tell you how hard I would watch that show.

Which brings me by way of non-sequitor to how much I want Mr. Blandypants to die. It’s not just his total lack of any redeeming quality, genre-blindness, and clear lack of any discernible right to be alive. Mostly those things. But also I propose he is terrible to horses.

Mr. B in the course of the pilot does every single thing you shouldn’t do. He decides to approach the city where the military said you should go and be safe (ha). On his approach, the highway out of the city is completely packed with abandoned cars. The road in is empty. You don’t need to know about zombies or the end of the world to know you shouldn’t go to that city. He’s always like that. But on his way into Raccoon City (ok, Atlanta, I think, though I can’t understand half of what the fake hicks are saying), he finds a farm where he went to look for gas. Instead he finds a horse.

I don’t know about you, but I would never involve a horse with zombies. When Zombieland answered that question, “what is the worst place to be in the event of zombie apocalypse,” I figured that was the most definitive Don’t ever to be expressed in the genre. Now we know “what is the worst way to get around in the presence of zombies” is also defined forever. To its credit, the horse actually shows the most initiative and intelligence of any character on the show. It notices when the idling zombies dismiss their screen saver and tries to leave. It attempts to run the other direction as Mr. Blandypants lunges into what is clearly going to be a horde. This horse is by far the best individual we have met in the face of the end of the world. And the shithead gets it eaten by zombies. So fuck him.

And now to attempt to relate this post to something less silly than 1000 words on “why I think a TV show is dumb.” According to a cursory google search, The Walking Dead has gotten good reviews and is already in line for a second season. Maybe the show gets much better. There was a bit at the end where a snarky voice on the radio made fun of Mr. Blandypants and there was a deliberately inappropriate pop beat to accompany the snarling, milling horde of really ineffective zombies. Could be it’s looking up. But I’m under the impression the strength of the pilot got the renewal.

This show is awful. It has neat effects and it’s based on a comic that may or may not be good, so I suppose that’s something to say for it, but it’s still drivel. And I say this as someone who enjoys a good end of the world, a sea of shambling, cannibal corpses., a bunch of people with guns and, um, horses. I’m predisposed to like this show, too. But it’s still miserable. And apparently, it’s enough for people anyway. I’m inclined to consider people who are fans of zombies eating rednecks to be my cultural kin, and I would like to think well of my compatriots. I would like to think my people are discerning, that they want to immerse themselves in fully-realized worlds, that they aren’t particularly inclined to sympathize with men who clearly hate their wives for daring to have lady-bits, that story is more important than trendy monsters and cool makeup.

But as far as I can tell, the only thing to do about it is to produce and extol quality. So I guess I’ll go do that.

Also, maybe I should do something about the be-suited fancy zombies. Or anyone else who’d like to, go ahead.


~ by badandfierce on November 19, 2010.

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