9.08.2013

The Walking Dead Season 4 Preview

***Warning:  Spoilers ahead for seasons three and four.***


I know that The Walking Dead is Amaya's baby here on TBGC, but after seeing the preview for the upcoming season, I felt compelled to write something.  I've got to say...it looks like season four may very well finally live up to the potential I saw in the first season.  And after the disappointing second half of season three (barring the excellent episode "Clear") and the woeful season finale, that's saying something.

The back half of season three (and some would argue all of season three although I mostly enjoyed the first half) was at times nonsensical, directionless, and just plain badly written. 

Characters were often portrayed as idiots based almost solely on a lack of basic communication skills, the Rick's-gone-batshit-crazy storyline was dragged out way too long to be palatable, and the season-long Prison vs. Woodbury arc that was supposed to pay off in an epic showdown during the finale never happened.  Instead, we got a laughable "face-off" that lasted about as long a typical commercial break.  We got some gunfire, a rocket launcher (okay, that part was kind of cool) and some running and screaming, but it wasn't at all satisfying. 

The showdown-that-wasn't ended with the Governor still alive and on the run and a prison full of new mouths to feed residents in the form of the former Woodbury townspeople.

Sigh.

As usual, the action sequences and zombie special effects were top-notch, but the characters left a lot to be desired.  One of the biggest complaints about this show from the beginning has been the nearly nonexistent characterization and unfortunately, it's still a huge problem.

Take one of my favorite characters, for example.  Viewers were up in arms the entire season about how thoroughly the writers were ruining Michonne.  As one of the graphic novel's most beloved characters, fans were abuzz with excitement when it was announced that she was finally going to join the cast.  Yet somehow, the writers managed to make a mess of what should have been an effortless transition.

How does one go about ruining a katana-wielding badass zombie killer?  Give her three lines of dialogue an episode, make her default facial expression a scowl no matter what emotion the scene calls for and screw up her integration into Team Prison due to answers one and two. 

Danai Gurira
From what I've read on various sites and heard on many TWD podcasts, people were aching to care about Michonne as a character, but found it difficult because they weren't being given anything to work with.  She didn't talk, she didn't emote, she didn't communicate the simplest things that could have made Andrea everyone look a lot less stupid than they ended up looking. 

Admittedly, it got a bit better by the end of the season, but they still have a massive repair job ahead of them. 

(Though I have to say that the writer's didn't do the Andrea character any favors either.  Given what I've heard about how much of a great character she is in the graphic novel, watching her downfall was almost painful.  And annoying.  So much so, that by the time she died in the finale, I didn't care.  Actually, I was glad to see her go.)

Another complaint about the show--one that has turned into a running joke amongst the fandom--is what appears to be an unwritten two-black-character-minimum rule.  Morgan disappeared after the pilot episode, T-Dog was up next.  When T-Dog bit the big one, Oscar was already waiting on deck.  Oscar died, and Tyreese was right there, ready to step into his shoes. 

The showrunners are either really tone deaf or just don't give a damn.  To be honest, I fear for Tyreese's sister Sasha since we all know that Michonne isn't going anywhere any time soon, if at all (better not).

Thankfully, fan outcry may have won the day.  According to recent interviews, the showrunners might have finally gotten it.  Chad Coleman, Sonequa Martin-Green and Larry Gilliard Jr. (who will be playing new character Bob Stookey) will become series regulars next season alongside Danai Gurira, and both Tyreese and Michonne will be given more of a spotlight.  The show will also be giving more of a focus to some real characterization.
Changes are coming to the fourth season of AMC's The Walking Dead. With its third showrunner in as many years, the zombie drama will take a more character-focused approach to storytelling, with an eye on "remixing" executive producer Robert Kirkman's comics that serve as the source material for the record-breaking drama.

Under new showrunner, Scott Gimple, who has been reading the comics since their start 10 years ago, Kirkman tells The Hollywood Reporter that the show will focus more on characters while still setting up the scare-you-to-death moments that have become the show's trademark.

[snip]

THR: The series took a major departure from the comics with Andrea's death. How will we see her death impact everyone?

Kirkman: That death is going to loom large over the entire cast. Everyone is still reeling from it. Michonne (Danai Gurira) in particular is going to have quite a bit going on with her because of that loss. As we meet Michonne coming back this season, she's on a mission to hunt down the Governor. It's something she's very obsessed with. It's big part of her character this season. She did lose Andrea and she lost her because of the Governor. She's not willing to let that guy go or be out there. It's something that might possibly be to her detriment, the fact that she's so dedicated to finding this person. That's something that very much informs her character this season. (source)
On Tyreese and the ongoing zombie threat:
Really get to know Tyreese
In the comics, Tyreese becomes Rick's right-hand man and now that he's part of the prison community, producers say the character will take center stage after Chad Coleman was promoted to series regular. "You meet a Tyreese you haven't seen before on many different levels -- it's some jaw-dropping stuff and there are other opportunities to make different characters face harrowing situations that expose so much more about who this man really is or what he's wrestling with," [executive producer Dave] Alpert says.

[snip]

The zombies will be more threatening.
[Executive producer Greg] Nicotero says season four will feature walkers that aren't as manageable as they became in season three. "Our group became very proficient at killing walkers, so one of the things that Scott and I talked about after season three was we wanted that threat to be ever constant and ever present," he said of the group's ability to swiftly eliminate a horde of the undead. "We've devised ways to put our characters in instantaneous jeopardy without them being prepared for it. Danger could come from anywhere, and it was really important that we re-establish the rules of our world." (source)
As happy as I am that Michonne will finally be getting her due, it's hard to get worked up over the fact that she wants vengeance for Andrea when we were never shown exactly why they were so close to begin with.  We were only ever told about what good friends they'd become, but because I saw no evidence of it, I could never fully buy into that relationship. 

Sonequa Martin-Green
They never seemed particularly close to me, and I blame that on the writing.  Especially given that Andrea was so keen to throw such a good friend over for a stranger.  But whatever.  Anything that will keep the BAMF with the big ass samurai sword on my screen as they flesh out her character more will be good enough to hold my interest.  Up to a point that is.  Because if Michonne is killed in a quest for vengeance over a character that in no way deserves it, the show and I are going to have to part ways.

Let's all just hope that some lessons were learned and they fix what was broken and leave the good stuff alone.  So far, the show continues to pull in the ratings, but they've got to do better next season if they want this juggernaut to continue. 

There are too many good shows out there for them to continue to insult our intelligence week after week.  The fans have given the writers a lot of rope over the past three seasons, but patience is starting to wear thin.  There are only so many effs to give before people start running out of them.  I don't know about anyone else, but I'm about down to my last one.

But I'll admit, after seeing this preview, AMC has managed to do something I didn't think they'd be able to after that lackluster finale:  get me excited for season four.  Or cautiously optimistic.  I'm not quite sure which yet.

8 comments:

  1. I've skimmed the comics and know that a few of the main characters do bite the dust. Of course I know that the tv show does not have to follow the comics to the letter. So I'm just waiting to see where it heads.

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  2. I stopped watching this past season because it started pissing me off on how they were doing Michonne character, so I won't be watching the new season.

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  3. Perhaps this is relevant to what was so utterly lacking last season: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5nCwsBRWF0

    I stopped watching last season after they turned Michonne into a silent slave that took abuse and assuaged the actions and guilt of the white male characters.

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  4. The comics aren't perfect either and I have not read them religiously but I just can't with this show. Just no. I am trying to cut as much bullshit media out of my system for my personal health as possible.

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  5. I've never watched this series, but hopefully the producers and writers seemed to adhere to their fans,but only time will tell.Hopefully, the people behind Twisted will do the same.

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  6. The preview seems to suggest that Tyrese will bite the dust and the other black guy will replace him. If you follow-up on the new season I will check in to confirm this.

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  7. A spin-off is in the works for 2015.

    http://tv.msn.com/tv/article.aspx?news=827541

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  8. As happy as I am that Michonne will finally be getting her due, it's hard to get worked up over the fact that she wants vengeance for Andrea when we were never shown exactly why they were so close to begin with. We were only ever told about what good friends they'd become, but because I saw no evidence of it, I could never fully buy into that relationship.

    Same here. They didn't show me shit, so I couldn't understand or give a slice of a fuck about Michonne needing to be next to Andrea's dumb ass when she bit the dust. I was like, "SO? That bitch chose a stiff dick over your so-called "friendship" and you still consider her your friend? Bitch, please."

    They never seemed particularly close to me, and I blame that on the writing. Especially given that Andrea was so keen to throw such a good friend over for a stranger. But whatever. Anything that will keep the BAMF with the big ass samurai sword on my screen as they flesh out her character more will be good enough to hold my interest. Up to a point that is. Because if Michonne is killed in a quest for vengeance over a character that in no way deserves it, the show and I are going to have to part ways.

    Agreed.

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