Sunday, October 31, 2021

The Walking Deadiversary

Happy Anniversary to The Walking Dead, which premiered a whopping eleven years ago, on October 31, 2010. ELEVEN YEARS! Holy crap. How's that even possible? Over a decade of "Don't Dead, Open Inside" jokes already!

I was a fan of The Walking Dead comic long before it ever became a TV series. I first discovered the comic in 2007, when I bought several collected editions of it at a comic show in Chicago (back in the Before Time). The comic actually came out in 2003, so I got to read four years worth of it all in one go. I was immediately hooked by its dark, bloody and horrific storyline, in which mankind turns out to be far more monstrous than the zombie hordes could ever be.

So I was somewhat excited when I found out the show was being turned into a weekly TV series. I say somewhat, because I was a little concerned they'd have to tone down the gore and violence, since it was airing on television— on AMC yet! I needn't have worried though, as they managed to capture the tone of the comic quite well.

The show turned out to be amazing, and far exceeded my expectations The casting was spot on, as the characters looked like they'd stepped right off the printed page. And the storylines were fairly faithful to the comic as well.

Well, for a while anyway.

Once they got a few seasons under their belts, the producers tried their hand at creating their own original storylines on the show. The Grady Bunch and the Garbage Pail Kids were just a few of their horrible attempts at coming up with their own arcs. These efforts all fell flat, as the series worked best when it followed the road map laid out by the comic.

Sadly, as time went on, more and more cracks began showing in the series' foundation. The comic had several advantages that the series didn't. The Walking Dead comic was a singular vision created by Robert Kirkman, who wrote every single issue. Unfortunately the show wasn't as lucky, as it was produced, written and overseen by a revolving door of creators with varying levels of talent.

And unlike the comic, the series had to deal with numerous other real-world problems— mostly concerning the cast. After a few seasons, many of the actors began quitting the show for various reasons, ranging from pay disputes to simple burnout. This led to some unfortunate instances in which characters who never died in the comic were summarily killed off on the show. 


The most notorious instance of this concerned the character of Carl Grimes. For reasons that still haven't been made totally clear, the producers made the bone-headed decision to kill him off— despite the fact that he does NOT die in the comic, and is still alive and well in the final issue. 

To make things even worse, they offed him right before he was due to feature heavily in several major storylines from the comic. They definitely shot themselves in the foot here, and I'll never understand why the hell they made such a shortsighted and terrible choice.

Sadly, that was the last straw for me. I could deal with their abortive original storylines, questionable writing and idiotic season finales that ruined the flow of the plotlines. But I had to draw the line at Carl's death. I was honestly looking forward to seeing his storylines from the comic come to life on the screen, and now that was impossible.

His death killed my enthusiasm for the show, and I stopped watching and reviewing it shortly afterward, in Season 8. I haven't returned to it yet, and at this point I doubt I ever will.

But hey, that's just me. Happy Eleventh Anniversary Anyway to The Walking Dead!

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