Chris Schulz is an entertainment feature writer for the New Zealand Herald.

TV review: Why I'm bailing on The Walking Dead

Zombie lover Chris Schulz explains why he's hatewatched The Walking Dead for the last time.
Rick Grimes, played by Andrew Lincoln, in a scene from The Walking Dead's lacklustre fourth season.
Rick Grimes, played by Andrew Lincoln, in a scene from The Walking Dead's lacklustre fourth season.

I'm done. I'm out. I'm finished. This is it - it's over. I am tuning out of The Walking Dead for good. I have hatewatched this show for the last time.

It shouldn't be this way. I love zombies. Even if The Walking Dead hasn't come close to fulfilling the promise that now-axed showrunner Frank Darabont delivered in season one, it's still the only zombie show on TV right now.

Bad zombies are better than no zombies, right?

Wrong. Here's the problem - The Walking Dead (TV2, Tuesday, 9.30pm) doesn't have any zombies. Yes, they're there in the background, shuffling about, groaning and moaning occasionally, causing a nuisance of themselves.

Every now and then - approximately once every three episodes - there might even be a decent zombie attack, gratuitous melee, mutilation scene or animated head looking for its torso.

In season four's best scene, zombies started falling through the floorboards onto survivors scoping out an abandoned underground supermarket, before a helicopter crashed through the roof.

But that was a very rare moment of excitement. Zombies have become secondary to some of the worst storytelling currently on our screens. The Walking Dead's characterisation is appalling, the scriptwriting has become ponderous, and the plot twists are handwringingly slow.

The show's fourth season has spent 70 per cent of its time focusing on deadly serious characters talking about deadly serious things, just to get across how deadly serious their situation is.

They mope about in their prison confines, then they go mope about in some paddocks. Occasionally, they'll get in a car and go look for supplies, moping about in an abandoned building. To make matters worse, prison survivors started dying from a non-zombie related disease, giving everyone more reasons to look mournful.

I can't take another seven-minute scene in which Rick Grimes (played by Andrew Lincoln) explains to his son Carl (Chandler Riggs) why, post zombie apocalypse, things are how they are now. I don't want to sit through any more pathetic attempts at character development, like how they tried to make Carol evil this season. Melissa McBride couldn't act tough if she tried.

And if I had to hear Hershel's (Scott Wilson) stupid opinion every day, I'd pray for the moment he turned into a beautifully bearded zombie just so I could stick a knife in the back of his head.

The final straw for me came during last night's episode - the second in a row to focus solely on The Governor (David Morrissey). We know he's bad - they set that up in the show's third season when he sat surveying his collection of zombie heads, occasionally fed his zombified daughter in a cupboard, and massacred most of his minions with a machinegun.

So why spend two entire episodes building up the backstory of a character most people want to see dead? We get it, he's the baddie. He kills people randomly. He's even got a freaking eye patch to prove it.

Get to his showdown with Rick already so we can all just move on.

Phew. Or should that be, urrgh. The thing is, it wouldn't take much to improve The Walking Dead. Stop stranding the survivors in farms and prisons. Get them on the road again, like in season one, when danger lurked at every corner. Focus on the interesting characters that people actually care about, like bad boy-turned good Daryl (Norman Reedus), or the mean-faced sword-weilding Michonne (Danai Gurira in a star-in-the-making role).

And, for God's sake, give us more action. This doesn't necessarily mean more zombies and a bigger budget. Zombie movie World War Z mostly sucked, but when they paired Brad Pitt up with one inquisitive zombie in a medical lab with just a door between them, it was the sweaty palmed movie moment of the year.

If new showrunner Scott Gimple wants me to start watching The Walking Dead again, here's what he'll have to do (major spoilers coming - do not read if you aren't up to date with The Walking Dead comic book series): End season four like the comics. Burn the prison to the ground. Kill off nearly all of the main characters - including the Governor. Cut off Rick's hand - just cos. Give us more Michonne and Daryl.

And make me love zombies again. After all, even zombies need some love.

* The mid-season finale of The Walking Dead screens on TV2 next Tuesday at 9.30pm.

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