Monday, December 9, 2013

TWD: Just a horror soap opera?


"A soap opera, often referred to simply as a soap, is a serial drama, on television or radio, that features multiple related story lines dealing with the lives of multiple characters. The stories in these series typically focus heavily on emotional relationships to the point of melodrama." (Courtesy Wikipedia)

A soap opera has continuing characters that are constantly being placed into dramatic story arc regarding love, marriage, murder, comas, fights, confrontations, hard decisions, and the usual overly exaggerated daily problems that we all share. TWD has had it all from the jump: cop drama, comas, cheating, pregnancy, betrayals, murders, love blossoms with two young lovers from different backgrounds, madness, death, a bad guy, a good guy, shocking twists & turns...all of the stuff that makes a soap opera!

You know you have to admit that TWD is just a soap opera...with zombies. Now, I'm a fan, don't get me wrong, but it's true. I have to agree with George Romero with this one. The similarities are way too close to really call the difference, if you really examine the episodes of TWD objectively. The characters, with the exception of two, have all been unsympathetic in nature. You really can't get to totally like most of them before they do something that makes you like them less! 

 I  recently read an article where Gale Ann Hurd stated that she didn't want TWD to be a "Run & Gun" TV show because there are a lot of those out there already. However, the very premise that TWD sets up certainly ensures  that it will always end up being a "run & gun" due to the very environment they are in. The difference is that TWD slowly sets up to the one climatic episode that is pure "run & gun" - and those have been the best episodes! TWD is setting itself up into a corner that'll be difficult to get out of. I mean, if every single character could be killed off at any time, who'll fill the slots? Yet again, we get the "Red Shirt Syndrome"! How can the viewer relate to newly introduced characters so often and not lose interest? There has to be a focus, a central character that must remain throughout the entire run for it to even retain viewership. Hell, at least soap operas have their characters "go on trips to Europe" or "get killed in plane crashes", only to have them show back up later! Why? Because viewers can relate to loss, but the loss of main characters will alienate them- so they find ways to bring them back. Loss without loss. TWD does it too. How many times have we heard "If Daryl dies, we riot"? Heh heh- see? Viewer attachment has to be considered regarding the series longevity and, more importantly, it's ability to grow (not expand, grow! The spin-off is another whole blog!) How can the audience measure character growth without having a base-line character in which to gauge the change?

Here's the thing: TWD needs to be more "run & gun"! As I addressed last blog, the episodes of the Governor leading up to the mid-season finale (a "run & gun" episode, BTW) was really unnecessarily dramatic and did not move any part of the TWD TV Canon forward at all! Like I said, it was like someone said "I've got some good zombie gags, let's pad some shit around it!"

Although not all of his movies have been great, at least Romero tries to add some sort of commentary and metaphorical meanings to his "Dead Series". There's a good balance of drama & "run & gun" in each of the installments. That's what I like about it. 

In my opinion, TWD is absolutely a soap opera. No doubt in my mind. The difference to me and will be my main reason to watch it is that it's a soap opera with zombies! That's it. I like zombies. I like people surviving in the ZA. I never thought I'd like a soap opera until "The Walking Dead" came around!


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