The problem with the drama is that it's walking in circles. Series one saw the motley group of survivors attempting to find somewhere safe to live. Series two found them on a farm which got overrun and they had to leave, getting dispersed in the process; series 3 found them in a prison; and series four sees them overrun, back outside, and dispersed yet again.
Throughout, akin to Game of Thrones, no character is safe, and finds themselves summarily dismissed from their role and free to find somewhere else for their dubious acting talents.
Both the WD and GoT are a godsend for those who make a living as an extra. In the former case, whoever gets killed on the show turns into a zombie, so in order to give them absolute relief, they must be either shot in the head, axed in the head, knifed in the head, or have the head removed entirely, normally by a sword.
In fact the only guaranteed recurring role must be as an extra, because he or she can easily play another zombie. Unlike the main characters who may get a brief return as a mindless walker should they be unfortunate to “turn”, but as the part is limited, the decent thing is to decapitate them and put them out of their misery once and for all.
It is a gore-fest of violent unadulterated murder. It is also a glorification of the gun, be it a state of the art assault rifle, a bog-standard pistol or, as in one of the latest episodes - a tank.
It also panders to the doomsday preppers, who can use the fear of an apocylype scenario to justify their accumulation of weapons. This show is the best free advert the American gun lobby and National Rifle Association could ever have hoped for. The NRA, in conjunction with the 2nd amendment supporters, believe it is the right of every citizen to bear arms in order to protect themselves.
Never mind that mass killings take place with disturbing regularity in the US, be they in schools, the work place or shopping malls, their argument is that if the perpetrators know that teachers, security guards etc had weapons also, they would be less likely to commit the act. Indeed, some advocate allowing schoolchildren to carry guns - that would solve the problem.
That argument is actually extended in The Walking Dead. Children in this show are actually carrying guns, encouraged to do so by their elders, and use them with ruthless accuracy. If this was portrayed in any other drama, there would be uproar - but it's ok in The Walking Dead, because they are not actually killing people - they are killing zombies, and they are already dead. It is this convenient anomaly which permits scenes of extreme and gruesome acts of violence, which even the kids can join in.
"But it's just entertainment" I hear some of you shout. "Lighten up!" Yes, it's entertainment, if that's your idea of it. But this show has followers, millions of them, who are engrossed by it, and voice their approval on social networks, forums, and comment sections of every review article in the online press. The Walking Dead has been adapted from the graphic comic of the same name, with a loyal cult readership - now that it has entered mainstream television, it has been opened to a global audience.
At the beginning of this article I said that the series was walking in circles. The repetitive nature of the threat of a zombie lurking in a house, or a wood, or a store, about to jump out and devour an unsuspecting survivor loses it's suspense factor eventually. We know what's going to happen, and if it doesn't happen then, it will surely happen later. But we don't care about that, we just want to see the inevitable violence which will ensue. It's violent pornography without the sexual abuse, and that, I suspect is what gives the audience it's cheap thrill.
There are of course lengthy periods of emotional dialogue, generally to do with relationships, discussions about finding supplies, and dealing with other groups of survivors who are always regarded with suspicion.
Humanity seems to have taken a back seat to base survival, and perhaps that element is the only thing which holds the tenuous thread of justification for the show. How do we cope in a world where everything normal has collapsed? How do we survive? How do we organise and implement order? Yet, throughout the series, I have not heard anyone discuss these questions: Why did it happen? How did it happen? And nobody has offered a sensible argument about seeking answers.
Indeed, there are no scientists or intellectuals amongst the survivors. With the exception of a Veterinary Surgeon and a cop, every one else is a composite of the average Joe. Where are all the smart folk? Were there any in Atlanta to begin with? Is the zombie apocolypse unique to Georgia? Are there zombies in Alabama, South Carolina and Florida? (Don't answer that!)
Related posts: The Walking Dead..It's OK...they're stateside
If you live in Georgia, how do you feel about your state being represented by mindless creatures wandering aimlessly? I don't mean the zombies!