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Fireside Chat – Zombie Edition

It’s my turn to get in on the fun of discussing anything but hockey. Frequent readers to the blog will be familiar with my…obsession is probably too strong of a word so let’s say, preference for the zombie genre. Nothing gets my juices going quite like being thrust into an apocalyptic world overrun by rotting flesh, no rules, various tribes fighting for survival and creatures looking to munch on your BRAAAAAINS.

Why I don’t I live in St. Louis is perhaps the better question. But that’s not why I called.

I’m here to discuss a couple of shows revolving around these flesh-eating parasites. The first one, of course, is Walking Dead. It’s hard to imagine at one point in our history, this was one of the most unique and creative shows on television. The pilot episode and subsequent 5 other episodes of the first season were edge-of-your-seat, breath into a paper bag type tension. Obviously, it’s hard to maintain that type of intensity throughout a prolonged series run. Particularly when you’re constantly changing who’s in charge of the show but also when its source material (the comic books) is merely an ongoing story of survival with no clear end-game in sight. That’s not exactly a recipe for long-term television success. Alas but I digress.

Today, it’s become more of an example of everything that’s wrong with popular television shows.

Let’s run down the reasons, all of which you’ve probably heard or voiced yourself at some point:

  • A story line that’s basically written for shock value, to drive online clicks and get people “talking” on social media
  • One-dimensional characters that spend their time grunting or humping for no clear reason
  • These same one-dimensional characters making dumbass decisions strictly to move the plot line
  • Using 12 episodes each season to tell a story that can be told in 4 (Season opener, mid-season finale, mid-season premiere, season finale) as nothing really happens in the episodes between
  • And what the hell is with all this mid-season premiere, finale crap?
  • Lastly, but  certainly not least, a post-show show called the “The Talking Dead” which is a complete cancer on society

The disappointing thing, for me, is that I still see the structure and possibility for a really good show. Last week’s tag team highway/high-wire super fatalities with Ricky Grimes and Michonne was outstanding. Any scene with King Ezekiel is always entertaining. So, there’s obviously sometimes, something very memorable-entertaining about to happen.

Unfortunately, getting to that point is a slog and a case study in hate-watching. Also, if they kill that CGI tiger, I may never come back. And I can guarantee they most assuredly will…but only so they can memorialize it with a Facebook post that will generate 54,000 likes and 1,000 shares.

–Now to discuss another zombie show which you have may been hearing about from your cool friends who hate network television and are into super-hip, edgy shows…Santa Clarita Diet playing on Netflix. Yes, reader, I did indeed watch this full season just so I could tell you if it was worth your time.

Drew Barrymore is completely polarizing so I understand if you have zero interest. However, Timothy Olyphant is handsome, beautiful and should be worshipped across the land. I won’t spoil anything if you were planning to watch so please feel free to read on as I discuss this show.

First of all, I totally get why websites like A.V. Club are losing their fucking minds over it. The Barrymore/Olyphant relationship dynamic depicted in the show is very uncommon for a television show. They talk to each other like a couple that’s been together since high school without the cliche nagging, passive aggressive loathing or outright despising of each other. Crazy, right?!?

It’s also a very different spin on the zombie genre. Without giving away too much, there is no mass breakdown of societal rules, no neighborhoods in flames or multiple headshots. It’s essentially the story of a couple both in the midst of a mid-life crisis while one of them is a member of the undead.

My feelings on the show…very mixed. I would say it’s worth a watch if you need something on in the background while you’re working out, cleaning your humbled abode or chasing your kids around the house. If you’re going to sit down expecting to watch a show that’s going to enlighten your mind and make any sense whatsoever, you’d be better off taking a power drill and drain the fluid out of your brain.

Personally, I did both. I watched a few episodes while working out and while laying on the couch. I enjoyed the episodes while working out far more as I was only half paying attention. The show is good for a couple kneeslaps here and there but on the whole, I guess I was a bit underwhelmed. Perhaps if the final episode wasn’t an Ellen DeGeneres fever dream, I would be a bit more enthusiastic.

If you were on the fence about watching, you’ve been warned.

 

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