March 29, 2013

TV: The Walking Dead Podcast: "This Sorrowful Life"

Earlier this week, I was thrilled to join the trio of passionate critics on Sound on Sight’s Walking Dead Podcast. We discussed this season’s penultimate episode “This Sorrowful Life” and dug into what’s happening at the prison. Will they go to war with the Governor (David Morrissey) or flee to fight another day? That question will be answered on this Sunday’s season finale but didn’t play a huge role this week. Instead, Merle (Michael Rooker) takes matters into his own hands and nabs Michonne (Danai Gurira). The fallout from his decisions is tragic and sets the stage for an exciting finale. Even so, there are some concerns that the show’s writing still leaves a lot to be desired. I joined Ricky, Simon, and Kate to delve into all these issues, and there were some major disagreements of this episode’s success. You can check out this enjoyable conversation through this link.

I’m a fan of The Walking Dead and have watched since the beginning, but there are some story issues that have existed throughout the series. Characters act inconsistently, and the pace meanders too much during certain stretches. The most prominent example was during the second season, which spent too much time at the farm. Lead characters like Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) grew irritating and were nearly impossible to take. This season began with a stunning group of episodes that represented a high point for the series. The vicious battles in the prison with the hordes of walkers were paced well and frequently surprising. Unfortunately, the recent episodes were a mixed bag and focused too much on Andrea (Laurie Holden) and the Governor. It still could be an exciting finish, but there’s cause for skepticism because of these characters. He’s become a one-note psychotic villain, and her ability to dismiss obvious warning signs has been frustrating. Even so, I’m maintaining hope that we’ll get an exciting conclusion that leads well into the fourth season.

The Walking Dead is immensely popular, and their success grows with each new season. Even so, there’s been a lot of turmoil behind the scenes. These leadership changes are rarely positive because they can dramatically alter the creative direction. There are exceptions to this trend, but it’s generally a sign of greater issues. The fact that the show has reached such heights and built such a fan base is remarkable given these struggles. The zombie storyline doesn’t hurt, but I can’t dismiss the skills of the actors to sell the material. Norman Reedus is the breakout star as Daryl, and Steven Yeun and Lauren Cohan do excellent work as Glenn and Maggie. One of my favorites is easily Scott Wilson as Hershel Greene, who joined the cast in the second season. Even the frustrating characters aren’t the fault of the actors. This group can sell even the more inexplicable moves from the group.

If you check out this podcast, I’d love to hear your thoughts. I’m also interested in your speculation for Sunday’s finale. Who’s going to take out The Governor? Will all the main characters survive? With a title like “Welcome to the Tombs”, the signs aren’t great. Regardless of what happens, I’m sure they’ll be plenty to discuss after a high-flying finale.

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