Well here we are…a handful of episodes into the new season of The Walking Dead. With the season ending cliffhanger of how Negan hit a home run on all the way to now one thing is for certain…Negan did really shakeup the show. It leaves me however and others as well, did the introduction of Negan kill the show?
When the new season premiered it shocked the viewing audience. Some were shocked that their favorites Glenn and Abraham did ultimately get killed by Negan, but also their fearless leader had his spirits crushed and submitted to Negan. Others were appalled by the amount of violence actually shown in the episode as well as the theme of mental torture. Now I’m not getting into if that’s right or wrong, but I do think it has played a part in hurting the show.
Because of all that chatter and disgust surrounding the episode, and the three full slower less action packed episodes showing the aftermath it has been reported the ratings are slipping. Is it because the show has run it’s course for many or is it because it took such a drastic turn that people are really done with the show? TV audiences are picky and yes it is difficult to create a show that will appeal to everyone. The Walking Dead with it’s horror theme, special fx makeup, and compelling characters hooked a huge portion. But the same formula that made The Walking Dead a huge hit I feel has reached the point that it is hurting the show. Let me explain.
Let’s tackle the special fx part first since that is my field of expertise. The Walking Dead uses mostly practical FX. As the seasons progress so do the level of decay in the walkers. You can have the greatest talents in the world behind the FX, but there are still limitations on what can be done with budgets and time. Because we have been spoiled as viewers for so long we are all starting to nitpick everything we see expecting bigger and better each season. We are getting less and less of that in the walkers so they turned to the physical violence with Glenn in this season. The attempted a look that if one element is wrong…from the prosthetic to the blood, to the lighting…it looks cheap. Personally to me I laughed instead of wincing because to me it looked cheap. This is just one small portion though.
Character deaths. What was once a compelling narrative is hurting them. People know that anyone can go at anytime thus I feel that the viewers are not getting a strong enough connection with the new characters introduced this season. Think back to seasons two or three. You used to see comments like “no why him or her” and now with Abraham’s death you saw more….I could care less at least it wasn’t Daryl”. People are not allowing themselves to connect with new characters because they don’t want to be “hurt” when they die. That could be it or the writers are not giving them enough appeal, but I think it’s the viewers themselves.
The build up to Negan coming into play also hurt them. It’s like movies that have awesome trailers and hype. Then you go to the theater just to be let down by the finished product. Not because they are bad, but because they could never live up to the hype and expectations. Now I think Morgan’s portrayal of Negan is a good one, but I think he is not living up to the hype that surrounded him all last season.
All of this combined I think is what is causing the series ratings drop. People don’t want to see the physical and mental torture of their favorite characters. They don’t want to see the hero turned spineless twit. They don’t want three or four shows that are slower and tell an aftermath story. One fine, but that many bores people. The Walking Dead will have to be careful moving forward in order to keep the show strong and interesting for it’s audience. It will always have the core diehard fans, but the outer rim of that core is dropping slowly with each episode. I hope I’m wrong. At least this season did a Tarantino move and gave and old forgotten song a second chance. Whoever is getting royalties on that may now be on “Easy Street”.