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WALKING DEAD Returns Tonight, What Harvey And Adair Want To See.

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Timothy: Hello folks! Weeeee’rrreee Baaaaaaacccckkkk. Yes, it’s Mr. Dustin Adair and my own self, returned to you with a bit of a wish list for AMC’s The Walking Dead, as we prepare to begin this season’s recaps and discussions. And the show is back on the air, in fact, tonight.

Dustin: So it is. It’s been a while, but they do like that “just before Halloween” thing they’ve been doing. I am filled with anticipation and dread. Anticipation and dread!

Timothy: As am I. So many things we love about this show, so many things that just drive us insane.

Dustin: We have opinions. Many, many opinions. We are not shy about sharing these opinions.

Timothy: I think the folks at home may have noticed that about us by now.

Dustin: Perhaps, perhaps. Now, if this were a recap, I may or may not have predictions about the episode, and you, sir, may or may not recognize my vast and amazing prognosticational powers…

Mmm hmmm.

Hush you. But that is not what we’re doing here. This is what we want to see, or think The Walking Dead should be doing this season, and whether or not we see any of these things we’ll just have to find out with everyone else, but if the writers had consulted us…

Which they didn’t.

More fools they. So without further ado or interjections from the peanut gallery…

Mmm hmmm. 

Onward!

Wait, wait. Ahem. As always, the following contains much that is of an adult nature, like the show itself.
You have been warned. Any wounded sensibilities are your own damned fault.

ANOTHER TIME JUMP.

I would say the whole ‘We wandered around Georgia in the general area of the Prison for about 8 months before we eventually found it’ thing was ridiculous, but that’s not the kind of time jump I’m thinking of.

Time is something of a mess for this show. With the whole of the previous 3 seasons apparently taking place over about a years time, we’ve already had a host of problems with how things play out temporally, from the prison and Woodbury, to the “search” for Sophia.

Since we are established at the Prison and Team Zombie has a bunch of kids and old people to look after, we need another time jump for 2 very important reasons:

  1. There are bound to be growing pains associated with the new occupants of the Prison and learning what everyone’s new roles are. And while that is a necessary and would logically need follow the action of Season 3, it would be dreadfully boring to watch. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to sit through an entire season of Rick reestablishing democracy among Team Zombie, or Carol starting a school, or Hershel finding love with another geriatric. I’d much rather come find them again, a year or 2 down the road, after all the minutia has already happened and when are on our way to rebuilding society. That’s when @#$% really needs to hit the fan.Yeah, that would be actually quite good story-wise, as we’ve added a LOT of new characters, which will, or at least should, change the dynamic of the show quite a bit. Jumping ahead and having the new structure of this expanded group in place, and allowing the audience to explore it in a fresh way is almost a soft reboot, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing after having the Woodbury arc come to an end. In fact, I would almost like to see the new folks be the focus of the season premiere, giving us a fresh look at our main characters through new eyes. Not that I think it’s going to happen like that, but I do like the idea of the dynamic being changed by putting TZ in new roles.
  2. Stupid Idiot Carl. Or more accurately Chandler Riggs, who I do not know for a fact is a Stupid Idiot, but who I do know for a fact is 14 years old. Young Master Riggs has played Carl for the last 3 years and in that time, while Chandler has aged 3 years, Carl has only aged 1. Next year, Chandler will be a 15-year-old young man playing a 10-year-old. This simply will not do. Time needs to catch up to Chandler so he and Carl can be at least in the same age ballpark. As a bonus, Lil’ Asskicker will be a precocious toddler learning how to wield a machete from her Uncle Daryl. And who does not want to see that?
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Carl’s Hat doesn’t like that you called Carl Stupid Idiot Carl. Carl’s Hat will have its revenge. Just you wait.

Well it’s the problem with child actors isn’t it? They grow up, almost always faster than the character they are playing does. And if they don’t do a serious time jump this season, they’re going to have to next, for that very reason. And it adds to the ultimate tragedy of the show if we see that they’ve made the prison into an established and lasting home, because we know that it will all fall apart. 
And yes, we need to see Lil’ Asskicker wielding a machete. Under proper adult supervision, of course.

A FULLY REALIZED ENSEMBLE.

Don’t get me wrong, I “love” Rick, I LOVE Daryl, and my heart BURNS for Michonne, but they are not the only characters on this show. I want meaty stories for Hershel and Daughter Fodder. I want to have a reason to learn Shovel’s name. I want TWD to take a page out of the ER playbook and make our ensemble so self-actualized and real that we can lose main characters without losing our collective fandom’s @#$%. Do you even know how many cast changes happened on ER? Can you even FATHOM IT? No. You cannot. That is because for every principle character that left, there were 10 supplemental characters whose stories were just as compelling waiting to come in and fill the void. Right now all of TWD falls on Rick’s morally dubious shoulders, if he were to share the burden a little, with Michonne and Maggie and Daughter Fodder, we might love them a little more, and we might care a little more.

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… and that guy is such a ass… oh crap. He’s right behind me, isn’t he?


Well, that’s been a real problem with this show from the beginning, and as much as I’d like to see it change, I’m not holding out much hope of that. Love to be wrong, because you’re right. It’s already an ensemble show, but what did the writers do with Theodore? Pretty much nothing. And one of the things the comic does well is, while letting Rick be the main character, exploring the whole group, for good or for ill, because the bodies do drop like flies, and the power of those deaths comes from being invested in the characters. We hated to see Theodore go, because we enjoyed those few moments when they let him do something, but his death lacked real impact, not because he gave a bad performance, and he didn’t, but because T-Dog was never given a chance to be Theodore on-screen.

FEMALE CHARACTERS WHO MAKE SENSE.

Which brings me to the ladies. Season 3 did us a big favor getting rid of Andrea and Lori, who the writers frankly had no idea what to do with. Lori was only useful when she was a third point of a love triangle and poor Andrea was so busy trying to do the right thing that she consistently messed everything up. As much as I hated to see Andrea go by the end of the season, I was glad that both of these ladies were offed. Unfortunately, there are still useless women (and Michonne) still left on this show. Carol, Maggie, Daughter Fodder, Shovel, and more than likely the Uppity lady that survived The Governor’s massacre of the Woodbury militia will all be around stinking up the place next year.

Now, I kind of hate lumping Carol in with all these other women, because I LOVE HER, and I have loved watching her evolve from a mousey victim of spousal abuse to… well.. I’m just gonna call her a sage. My absolute favorite moments of season 3 were Carol absentmindedly going about some arbitrary task while dropping Truth Bombs on fools in a soothing, melodious voice. Carol is the one character that I feel successfully escaped her comic alter ego and has become her own creation. My only complaint about Carol comes from wanting to see more of her. I honestly feel that she deserves a place at the table of leadership. She, Daryl, Rick and Glen are the only survivors of Team Zombie Original Recipe and I want Rick to recognize that. I want the writers to utilize the amazing character Carol CAN BE. I want this for all of our ladies, for that matter.

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Amazingly unsubtle visual metaphor.

Oh I do agree with this, 100%, especially about Carol. She has more than proved herself vital to Team Zombie, and if the writers aren’t highlighting that this season, they’re doing the actress, the character, the fans and themselves a HUGE disservice.

I thought we were going to get something from Maggie this year. She joined a couple of away teams and fought a couple of walkers all up close and personal in her sexy tank top. But as soon as she and Glen were kidnapped and tortured in Woodbury, all of the positive forward motion she was enjoying stopped and all of her interactions became a Very Special Episode level deconstruction of sexual assault and its effects on a couple. I’m not saying that what Maggie and Glen went through wasn’t a great source for drama, but I will say that it became their ONLY source for drama for the duration of the season and that, my friends, ain’t good.

I think we have an example of a character that is defined by her relationships with other characters in Maggie, and that’s a shame. First, she was Hershel’s Daughter (The Older One), then Glenn’s Girlfriend. Not that Lauren Cohen hasn’t played the role extremely well, because I think she has, but it’s just that she hasn’t really been given her own real arc. Yes, the almost-rape and certainly assault should have been dealt with, of course, but it ended up being “why can’t these two even talk to each other”. That’s a perfectly valid story to tell, don’t misunderstand, but it seemed to be the only story they were telling there.  It’s a side effect of a lot of ensemble shows, but that doesn’t stop it being a real missed opportunity here.

Speaking of things ain’t being good, I don’t even know Daughter Fodder or Shovel’s real names. I know that Daughter Fodder sings a mean tune and Shovel gives excellent ‘worried face’ but that’s about it. Both Emily Kinney (Daughter Fodder) and Sonequa Martin-Green (Shovel) were upgraded to Series Regular status as of Season 4 of The Walking Dead, and I would love for that to mean something next year. As for Uppity (the incomparable Mellissa Ponzio from my favorite show Teen Wolf), I have a feeling they are angling to make her Andrea 2.0 and I do not want that to happen. I want the ladies to have some authority and autonomy.

Their names, by the way, would be Beth and Sasha, and Melissa Ponzio plays Karen, a character we know so little about that she doesn’t even have a Wikipedia entry yet. We’ll have to see, but with the cast exploding like it has this season, I’m not holding out hope. And it’s a real issue, since we know that some of these women are going to end up dying over the course of the show, and if we don’t really care about them, because we don’t really know them, their deaths lose a lot of impact.

DARYL NEEDS A GIRLFRIEND… OR BOYFRIEND (He needs a boyfriend.)

You may find this a little hard to believe, but I don’t find Norman Reedus that attractive. He’s kind of a squinty little weirdo looking guy. His beard comes in all patchy. His hair needs to be deep conditioned like a mother@#$%&*. And don’t even get me started on his inability to not wear a rumpled shirt. None of those things work on Norman Reedus, but they combine in a perfect storm with Mr. Reedus’ superb acting abilities to make Daryl Dixon into one sexy mo’fo. Some of my favorite quotes from Norman Reedus are him talking about how he’d like to keep Daryl basically asexual. It has something to do with the fact that Daryl was basically messed up royally as a child and never really getting over it. Well, that’s all well and good for Norman Reedus, but it does exactly NOTHING for me. Daryl needs some action.

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Well hello there.


Even I can agree that Daryl is a pretty sexy character, I’ll grant you that. Carry on.

And I think the action Daryl needs to get is of the man-for-man variety.

Aaaaaaand the Internet exploded.

And this does not have anything to do with a particularly graphic fan fiction I am writing. (Now that Lori’s dead, they can FINALLY BE TOGETHER, YOU GUYS!!)

Of course not.

I have ACTUAL REASONS!

I’m sure you do, in fact I know you do, because you and I have talked about this, but for the folks at home… state your case, sir.

So as I have written a million times, I like that The Walking Dead TV variety and The Walking Dead comics variety are 2 different entities. I like that the stories have diverged and created 2 different worlds that can be enjoyed separately or together without spoilering each other too bad. But again, as I also written a million times, I wish that the TV version would get the parts that the comics version got right too. One of the things that the comic has been great about is inclusion of gay characters. Gay men specifically have played a very important part in the world of The Walking Dead in the comics. The Team Zombie arrives at the Prison in the comics it is discovered that Dexter, the leader of the prisoners and Andrew are lovers. This fact is not used to make either man weaker, in fact, it makes Andrew more dangerous because he lives in fear that Dexter is only ‘Prison Gay’ and now that women have arrived at the Prison, Dexter will abandon him. This was glossed over in the TV version.

I’m thinking you misspelled “ignored completely”. We got such little information about the prison characters before they were all dead that I think “glossed over” is way too kind. The comic gave us a whole series of issues devoted to the inmates and their relationships with each other and Rick’s group, but the show skipped all of that to get us to Woodbury.

Later in the comic, Team Zombie joins the community of other survivors including Eric and Arron, a gay couple who also happen to be the head scouts.

So far The Walking Dead TV version has not introduced a single gay character. And while some would argue that having a gay character would be irrelevant because this show is about survival and not sexuality, I would have to counter with a GIF of Andrea grabbing Shane’s crotch after they fought walkers together.

Well, anyone who has read our reviews from last season will probably say “Hey! Didn’t you write a lot about Milton being gay?” Well, yes, but. We wrote about him that way, because that’s how Milton came across, mostly because his relationship with Andrea, and really, very little to do with anything we learned about the character from the show. Certainly Milton never said he was gay or had any other character comment on that, and really, for as well as Dallas Roberts played the part, he was never part of Team Zombie. The same thing with our, and a LOT of other reviewers, comments on the Michonne/Andrea “relationship”: Smoke enough to make what we hoped were entertaining and humorous comments, but no real fire. And to some extent? Because we were perfectly fine with the idea that Milton might be gay, or that Michonne and Andrea could have had a romantic or sexual relationship.

Look, sexuality IS survival. The ability to form bonds of love and lust are what make us human. Rick and Lori and Shane were terrible to each other because of love and lust. Glenn and Maggie found each other because of love and lust. I think Daryl deserves the same.

But what would it say for the most beloved bad ass on a popular show to find love with someone of the same sex? It would say a lot. It would say that same-sex attraction is not a detriment to strength or manliness. It would say that a man can still be tough and loyal and deserving of a leadership position in the community while going home to another man.

So why Daryl and not introduce a secondary gay character later on? I have reasons for that as well. Daryl grew up in a family where survival of the fittest was the most important thing. He was always the beta brother to Merle’s alpha. And While Merle exhibited his machoness in very conceivable way, Zionism, xenophobia, sexism, and just plain being a jerk-ism. Daryl on the other hand is much more sensitive. He gravitates towards strong men and wants their approval. He bonded with Carol in an amazingly platonic way even though it would make perfect sense for them to hook up.
In other words, I think Norman Reedus is secretly already playing Daryl gay, so why not just make it happen.

Alright, even as someone who is on the side of Daryl and Carol becoming a couple, I really can’t argue with your reasoning here. Yes, it would be a very cool thing to have that kind of character development and a positive, strong, and not at all stereotypical gay male lead in the show, and Daryl could certainly be that. Is there anything that would contradict that in what we’ve seen before? Not really, as what flirting we have seen between Daryl and Carol has been pretty subtle, and could be, in fact, nothing more than playful banter. Do I think it will happen? Probably not. Would it bother me if it did? Not at all, but somehow I really don’t see it, not with this show’s history. We’ve had reason to question The Walking Dead‘s views on race more than once, and I’ll have more on that in a moment, and given the lack of gay or lesbian characters in the show so far, I’d be really surprised to see an existing main character (Good Lord, could I type the word “character” a few thousand more times this article? Geez.) come out. I think it’s much more likely that we could see a new addition to the main cast be gay or lesbian, perhaps even being potentially as strong a character as Daryl.

AFRICAN-AMERICAN CHARACTERS WHO MATTER: MEN EDITION.

What, I hear you say, about Michonne? Surely here we have a strong, capable Black Woman, right? Indeed we do, and we’re happy to have her, because we think Danai Gurira is wonderful. But she showed up in the 3rd season, and for the first two, we had Theodore, or, if we must, T-Dog, as the only black member of Team Zombie. We’ve written before about how much we think IronE Singleton was terribly underused, and sadly underdeveloped as a character, something made worse by the fact that when he was allowed to have his few real moments in the show, he was good, really good. It got to the point that this sort of thing was alllllll over the Internet:

funny-The-Walking-Dead-black-man
Really?
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REALLY?
Sigh.
Sigh.

Because, sadly, Theodore didn’t make it out of Season 3. Nor did any of the other Black male characters who followed, until we got Chad Coleman’s Tyreese. Tyreese, as the readers of the comic know, was one of the main characters for 39 issues, and many of us wondered why on earth the writers wouldn’t include him in the cast when the show first aired. A strong leader, a good friend and father, and yet deeply flawed, Tyreese would have made for a fantastic addition to the show, but, for reasons unclear, The Walking Dead waited until Season 3 to introduce him, and, curiously, exchanged his daughter in the comics for a sister in the television show.

We have great hopes for Chad Coleman, because A) he’s a really good actor, and B) Tyreese should be a great part to play, if he’s handled right. It’s the latter part I’m worried about. And it would be great to have more than one Black male character of consequence on the show, if for no other reason than the fact that 30% of the population of Georgia is Black. Seriously people. What the hell?

I… actually have nothing to add to that. I’ve been very clear in the past about my opinion of how this show treats race, and I could turn this into an article all its own, but you’ve covered it nicely. As in you were very nice. Moving on.

SOMEONE NEEDS TO BUY THE WRITERS A MAP OF GEORGIA.

Seriously. Just buy them a map. Or supply us fans with a map of Georgia as the writers see it. Georgia only covers 59,000 square miles, and I swear, Team Zombie has wandered over all of them. I have real trouble suspending my disbelief when I am realizing that the Prison is about 15 miles away from Woodbury (about a day’s walk) and The Greene farm is maybe that far away too (it loomed in the background of the season 2 finale after they escaped the farm) and neither place is that far away from Atlanta and still none of these lifelong Georgia natives knows about the positioning of any of these items… it all basically makes me have an aneurism.

Oh my Dear and Fuzzy Lord. This. This, this, this. The fact that Rick, a Law Enforcement Officer, seemed to have no idea that there was a prison nearby made absolutely no sense whatsoever. None. Zero. And don’t get me started on the “Search” for Sophia. Or how long it didn’t take for Rick to drive home from the prison. Gah!

And you know what REALLY gets me? I watch a web series called The Most Popular Girls in School made in Los Angeles but SET in Overland Park, Kansas and those guys get more stuff right about Kansas than the writers of The Walking Dead do about Georgia. ‘The Most Popular Girls in School’ is a stop motion animation series that uses Barbie dolls and poop jokes and it has a better grasp on its physical world than The Walking Dead.

Buy the writers a map.

Amen. Well, there you have it folks. What about you? What do you want to see this season? There’s this comment thing below that we would love to have you share your thoughts in, and rest assured, we will have our own thoughts presented in this very space for your reading pleasure as the 4th Season progresses.

We have opinions. Many, many opinions.

Yes we do. And we look forward to sharing them with you, following tonight’s Season Premiere. We’ll chat after, ok? Ok.

______________________________

Timothy Harvey

Timothy Harvey is a Kansas City based writer, director, actor and editor, with something of a passion for film noir movies. He was the art director for the horror films American Maniacs, Blood of Me, and the pilot for the science fiction series Paradox City. His own short films include the Noir Trilogy, 9 1/2 Years, The Statement of Randolph Carter - adapted for the screen by Jason Hunt - and the music video for IAMEVE’s Temptress. He’s a former President and board member for the Independent Filmmakers Coalition of Kansas City, and has served on the board of Film Society KC.

One thought on “WALKING DEAD Returns Tonight, What Harvey And Adair Want To See.

  • I was so excited to see The Walking Dead after a Year, I forgot it was on till I saw this timely post. LOL Thanks for reminding me.

    Reply

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