What the zombie show can learn from other, more effective TV dramas
This week's midseason finale, "Pretty Much Dead Already," offered five minutes of solid payoff after seven weeks of wheel-spinning. "Pretty Much Dead Already" revealed that the missing Sophia had been a zombie locked in Hershel Greene's barn all along. It's a good twist to a long-running plotline, and one of the second season's strongest scenes to date.
But then again, it doesn't have much competition. The Walking Dead isn't the worst show on TV, but it's easily the most frustrating, because it continues to have so much unrealized potential. As The Walking Dead gears up for the second half of its second season, there are five lessons the series can learn from other, more effective TV dramas:
1. Stop repeating scenes
Role model: Mad Men
The Walking Dead has terminal case of repetitive plotlines. Shane and Lori argue about their romantic history every time they're alone. Rick and Lori had the same "should we raise a child in this world?" conversation about Carl and their unborn baby. Dale constantly expresses concern for Andrea, and Andrea constantly tells him to back off. Hershel tells anyone who will listen that his priority is protecting his own people. There's a certain amount of repetition that's necessary in any serialized TV series—after all, that's how you keep non-regular viewers up to date—but The Walking Dead's characters reiterate the same talking points so often that it begins to feel like the series is cutting costs by recycling scenes. For inspiration, The Walking Dead should look to sister series Mad Men, which has consistently and believably evolved the web of connections between its characters for four seasons—and with permanent consequences for everyone involved.
More on the Undead
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|How Zombies Conquered Highbrow Fiction|
|The Walking Dead Still Has an Identity Crisis|
|Our Zombies, Ourselves|
|The Enduring Creepiness of Haunted House Films|
2. Embrace the genre