11 November 2017 | TheLittleSongbird
Very much alive for Seasons 1-5, Season 7 dead
Had heard nothing but great things about 'The Walking Dead' from friends and IMDb reviewers. It took a while to get round to walking, both from being busy and also not being sure whether it would be my cup of tea.
Finally getting round to it a few years ago and slowly working my way through it, 'The Walking Dead' turned out to be very much my cup of tea and as good as the hype made it out to be. Seasons 1-5 of 'The Walking Dead' to me were absolutely brilliant, and it still shocks me at how an intelligent, well-made (so much so that it is easy to mistake it for a film) show about zombies could be made when so many films have tried and failed abysmally to do so. My only complaint about the early seasons actually is the slightly slow start to Season 2.
'The Walking Dead' is incredibly well made in the production values, with gritty and audacious production design, photography of almost cinematic quality, effects that look good, have soul and are not overused or abused and pretty frightening make-up which helps make the already freaky zombies even freakier. The music is haunting and affecting, having presence but never being too intrusive.
For five seasons, the writing was intelligent and thought-provoking, with lots of tension and emotional resonance and improving every time a story and character were expanded and given more complexity. Loved that the stories had multiple layers and felt satisfactorily resolved, while the action is both thrilling and terrifying, the blood-spattering gore uncompromising.
Seasons 3 and 4 are especially good in this regard, and it is the latter where the complexities and nuance of the storytelling and characterisation particularly shine. The pace was a little slow to begin with in Season 2 but thrilling elsewhere while not rushing through important pieces of information. Direction is smart and atmospheric while the show throughout has been strongly acted especially from the two leads playing particularly well-crafted characters.
Which is why it is so sad that Season 7 has been a dead mess on the whole, apart from the production values, some effective world-building and the actors did their best with what they had (an achievement somewhat, admiration is to be had for anybody able to do anything with such poor material). Season 6 did have some slow and pointless moments and the finale was a disappointment but had good things. Can say very little good about Season 7 though.
A season where once interesting, complex characters are no more. Negan was a fascinating villain, now a cartoonish caricature that one wants done away with, don't blame Jeffrey Dean Morgan here, he's great in the role, it's the writing. Pacing has been all over the map, often brutally slow. The season has had too many characters and subplots that are mostly under-explored or completely superfluous. There was heavy reliance on over-convenience, lots of melodrama, very talky sections that add little and feel like padding, little character growth, frustratingly illogical decision making and some convolution. And there were very few thrills or scares thanks to lack of suspense and a sense that everything feels toned down.
Overall, brilliant for about just over two-thirds but Season 7 was a serious disappointment and has left me dubious as to whether to stick with the show for the eighth season. With such a decline lately, there is a sense that a once addictive personal favourite show has run its course. 7.5/10 Bethany Cox