Thursday, December 15, 2011

I Love The Walking Dead

My newest and current television addiction is AMC's The Walking Dead which is in a mid-season hiatus in its second season. Note: I do not have cable or satellite TV but I do watch DVD's on my television. Also, I watch some scattered television at various family and friend's houses on occasion which is how I watch this program. Anywho, the "reimagined" Battlestar Galactica which ran from 2004-2009 had been my previous TV addiction and before that, Farscape. which ran from 2000-2003.

Those who populate modern society seem to increasingly view the future with skepticism and fatalism as opposed to the sort of "futurist" optimism of past generations. There are many reasons for this and that topic deserves its own blog posting which I hope to get around to here at some point. However, I say all this to preface what I'm about to say.

We "moderns" are increasingly haunted by and drawn to themes relating to the End of All Things. Not so much in a Millenarian context although for a minority of religious fanatics it is rooted in religiosity run amok. However, what I refer to is a more general phenomenon that reaches across the divide between various faiths and ideologies and even cultures. There seems to be a growing underlying feeling that we are all "fucked", ergo that our grand global civilization is about to face a day where we all get up one fine morning thinking it is going to be just another day. At some point during that day the wheels come flying off of civilization and nothing is ever the same again. The agent by which this happens varies widely according to the source and the medium and the agenda be it in a book or graphic novel or TV show or movie or wacky website. Take your pick of Nuclear War, Asteroid Impact, Tectonic Upheaval, Climatory Catastrophe, Microbe Epidemic, Zombie Apocalypse, Rise of the Machines, Alien Invasion, Seven Years of Tribulation, Mayan Prophecies, Pole Shift Tomfoolery, ad infinitum.

The Walking Dead is merely a continuation of this theme but in some important respects it breaks new ground. Most fictional (as well as non-fictional) treatments of this topic try too hard and go over-the-top in some respect or another and thus lack any artistry as they play fast and loose with too many plot points to effectively "suspend disbelief" like all effective fiction (and conspiracy theorism and doomsaying) must necessarily accomplish. Another flaw these sorts of fictions often make, particularly when presented in some electronic medium, is that they rely too much upon CGI and the presence of "big name" acting "talent" in an attempt to compensate for the inherent weaknesses in the writing and casting and acting and directing. Not so with The Walking Dead whose actors were unknown to me before the series and who acting performances are top-notch and their casting was perfect and the writing is not merely great but powerful and the use of CGI and other special effects is just perfect: not too much and not too little.

For those of you not familiar with this show I highly recommend you watch it on AMC when the encores are broadcasted on Sunday evenings while the second season is in hiatus and then pick it up when it resumes the remainder of the second season. Below are the two official trailers for the two seasons thus far.


  1. I definitely plan on catching up on this series during the Christmas break of programming, as you are not the first to recommend the AMC offering to me.

    Dystopian literature has always been with us, in one form or another (Ragnarok, etc,), embedded within all cultures, but with the rise of Science Fiction in the Victorian Age, a new twist occurred to the Shakespearean endings often exhibited. Suddenly, the "inner man" was drawn into the plot. And of course, politics was given a thorough shaking (read Thomas More's "Utopian" 1516, for a foreshadowing of this topic).

    Fiction was ripe for the atomic age and since the 1950's, we havent' looked back. In fact, the future has never looked more bleak. Zombie fiction is a relatively new arrival and interpretations by critics are only now gaining the attention of the public.

    But if you think about it, how much of our lives is predetermined? Do we not exist, much like the walking dead? We are told by Madison Avenue what we want, what to buy and how to behave, we take corporate jobs that end in the deconstruction and disconnect of our personalities, and we take drugs in order to fit in with the "norms" of society. Simplicity would demand that those "living" within a zombie dominated society are the rebellious few who think outside the box and live their lives accordingly.

    Back to the present, I can barely stand to wait to see this series and so I'm off this moment to find them.

  2. Lin, I 100% agree with you. However, I would add that there is a new element in the mix that runs even deeper and whose source is not from within Mankind but God Himself witnessing through His Spirit that He is nearly finished watching this train wreck we have created on His Earth and on His time and on His dime. Isaiah 24 comes to mind.

  3. Wow. The author of that passage uses the earth as a metaphor for the humans living on it. We have not only corrupted ourselves, but by an osmotic association, the earth is now us and subsequently suffers the same consequences. Yet the worst of it all is that God is uber pissed off.

    That is an interesting take on the series, and one of the reasons why the writing is so good; there are many ways to interpret TWD and I also had my own comparisons to make.

    The last few episodes, where the former family members-now irreversibly zombied-are kept in a barn. That one act of preserving what was and is no more is not merely denial of the process, but it is what we do ourselves with the members of our family who develop Alzheimer's.

    This latter situation begs the question: at what point do we stop becoming human? Are these people who sit in our own barns (nursing homes), awaiting death without hope of a return to a former state, are they still human? Their frontal and temporal lobes have been affected by the plaques that form and block the impulses of the personality. They look somewhat like the grandmother that used to hold you in her lap and soothe your fears during a thunderstorm, or the father who once took your young hand in traffic in order to protect you. But their voices are strange. They become angry, belligerent, abrasive and abusive--in short, the antithesis of who they were at an earlier date.

    My own grandmother was afflicted with Alzheimer's and spent the last 5 years of her life in a nursing home. And at one point, I had to stop going because she turned against me and totally rejected me in the voice of a randy sailor on shore leave.

    I could not shoot the people in the barn either, in memory of who they were for so long. I could resist based on the years of genuine love and companionship that was so unselfishly given that that cancer of the personality has affected every aspect of her demeanor, there remains a level of protectiveness for the past person.

    I really like your interpretation, and I shall keep it in mind as the series progresses. mark it on your calendar: February 12, 2012 is the next broadcast date. And thanks for listening. :-)