The trailer for Season 4 is out, and I am pumped.
The Walking Dead is not the best show on television, but it is my favorite show on television. Its nerve-racking twists and emotional depth make it one of the most entertaining programs on the small screen and invigorate the tired zombie genre. Still, the show has had its flaws, but we all know that the fastest track to improvement is learning from past mistakes. Here are the top five errors that the show really needs to correct:
SPOILER WARNING: The rest of the article contains major spoilers for the first three seasons of The Walking Dead. If you haven’t gotten all the way through the existing episodes, I recommend you stop reading to avoid colossal disappointment.
1. Avoid a Static Setting
One of the best things about the first season was its exploration of the post-apocalyptic world. The survivors not only had to struggle with the constant threats of death and infection, but also with the horror of living amongst the ruins of their former lives. It was a constant scramble to stay alive.
In more recent installments, however, the writing staff constrained Rick and Co. to the much-maligned farm in Season 2 and the prison/Woodbury in Season 3. While an interesting, dynamic setting is a necessity for any decent show, trapping an entire season within a limited environment makes for boring television. Let’s hope for a more mobile fourth season.
2. Give the Characters Some More Credit
I hate it when people complain about how stupid TV characters always are—they, just like their real-life counterparts—make mistakes and do not always think clearly under pressure. However, the thick-headedness of some characters really detracts from the show. Much of Glenn and Maggie’s inane shouting matches bothered me this past season, but they were hardly the main problem. We’re looking at you, Andrea. Could someone really be so unwilling to hurt anyone in a zombie universe that she would enable a violent sociopath to nearly wipe out two communities? The answer is no, unless she is also sleeping with that sociopath. I hope the writers don’t damage a promising character like this again. At least they were reasonable enough to know that she couldn’t possibly survive the whole ordeal.
3. Don’t Try to Focus on Every Character in Each Episode
When a show like this has such a great cast of characters, it’s easy to try to include everyone in each episode. What the writers have to realize is that their show doesn’t have to be like a fourth grader’s birthday party—not everyone has to be in the mix. My favorite episode from last season was “Clear,” in which Rick, Carl, and Michonne were the only three main characters to appear. It gave the show way more time to focus on evolving character relationships and thematic elements, and less time for Beth to sing. Every character has his or her own story, but trying to present them all at once just results in clunky storytelling. Better to take your time than to cram everything into one 45-minute block. The survivors deserve better than that.
4. Don’t Fear the Climax
The Walking Dead is great for its misdirection and keeps its captivated viewers unable to guess what will happen next. Unfortunately, this technique sometimes spirals off into the dreaded anticlimax, wasting months of carefully constructed rising action. For example, AMC teased the Woodbury Army coming to face the prison group in an all-out battle for the Season 3 finale. Instead, they ended up fleeing from a simple diversion and being massacred by an enraged Governor. Although this ending certainly surprised audiences, it also disappointed them. The show can’t allow itself to spoil the big moments just to keep us guessing.
5. Use the Walkers
For a show about the zombie apocalypse, The Walking Dead doesn’t seem to utilize its eponymous characters very often. I have to give the special effects crew a lot of credit for coming up with fascinating new ways for the undead to appear (Well Walker!) and be killed, but the walkers need to feature more in the actual plotline. Let’s see some more zombie-related casualties and/or transformations, so every walker encounter features into the story, not just giving a quick break for violence sandwiched by two giant halves of dialogue. Flesh-eating monsters should pose more of a threat than just the occasional nuisance. The good news is that the new season is reportedly going to feature smarter zombies, which should certainly make things more interesting. Looks like Darwinism even pertains to zombies.
Any other thoughts on what the show needs to do better? Post them in the comment section (but please, absolutely NO comic spoilers.)