Monday, November 07, 2011

"The Walking Dead" and Screeching to a Standstill: A Television Review ("Cherokee Ross")

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Director: Billy Gierhart.

Writers: Evan Reilly, Frank Darabont, and Robert Kirkman.

Episode 4 of "The Walking Dead" called "Cherokee Rose" was another slow burning showing with some added soap opera drama to bore the minutes away. There is a reason that "All My Children" and "One Life to Live" were cancelled this year: they are boring series that deal with potentially real life dramas, although dramatized. "The Walking Dead" is set in a fictional world; yet, this episode was almost entirely devoted to real life melodrama. The plot lines developed in earlier episodes continue here as Carl (Chandler Riggs) recovers from a wound, Sophia (Madison Lintz) is still missing and now the show is sitting back at Herchel's farm with nearly no tension in sight.

Carl has mostly recovered from his gunshot in the woods, but there is still lots of time for Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) and Rick (Andrew Lincoln) to look overly concerned for his welfare. Are there no zombies that need killing in a zombie apocalypse? Glenn heads into town with Maggie to find more medicine, tampons and a pregnancy test. The show has nowhere to go but down from here; however, there is a little chemistry between these two characters and this episode might have best been called "Loneliness and Condoms." Back at the farm, a zombie in a well briefly breaks up the monotony as one of five wells becomes contaminated with zombie ilk. This episode could also have been called "Well Zombie," but the actual title "Cherokee Rose" signals that there will be more (un)meaningful dialogue of spirituality and mysticism. Add in a pregnancy test and this episode could have been straight out of a "Young and the Restless" episode (minus the well zombie).

This zombie fan's attention for the show felt very wilted after this latest episode and much of the wilting involved the lack of thrills and tension. This is zombie apocalypse, but there was one zombie! How come there are not a hundred walkers storming down Herchel's driveway at this point? Instead, the show stutters and stammers around very non-fictional situations e.g. a worried mother, horny twenty-somethings, and a pregnancy. Why not utilize the zombie apocalypse to try new plotlines? Even Rick's tucking away of his uniform has way to much emphasis and the minutes just tick by at a slow pace.

And this leads this review into the main criticism of this show. "Cherokee Rose" shows how the writers have only learned a little from Seas. 1. There just is no forward movement in the show's main storyline, getting to Fort Benning. As well, sub-plots are now being covered over multiple episodes including Sophia's disappearance. No chances are being taken in this episode and this reviewer's impatience for events to get going is starting early this season. The use of cliffhanger endings e.g. Lori's pregnancy and the inclusion of mild action e.g. the well zombie are some plot devices that are added to hopefully create some excitement. However, too much of the show's focus is on dialogue, finding meaning in life or looking longingly at each other when someone needs to be facing the zombie apocalypse in thrilling fashion.

"The Walking Dead" has moved back to its soap opera comfort zone with "Cherokee Rose" and this show is staying conservative to its own detriment. A zombie apocalypse is supposed to be exciting, but this episode is comparable to "All My Children" - something to be cancelled. The AMC's learning curve seems to have taken a dip here with events and forward plot progression forgotten. Hopefully the show improves before viewers abandon the show as a 10% loss in viewership highlights AMC's inability to retain viewers.

Overall: 6.25 out of 10 (ridiculous).

Epis. 4 at the AMC:

Cherokee Rose at the AMC

Info' on "The Walking Dead's" steady decline in viewers:

The Walking Dead at CNN

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