Sinister Cinema: The Walking Dead, Spookified or Pookified?

Halloween again, and I ought to be deep in the midst of The Walking Dead mania — watching the new episode as soon as it airs, then The Talking Dead, then maybe a repeat of the new episode later on (or at least the better Daryl Dixon vs. the zombies scenes).

In the glory days of Season 2 through most of Season 3, that’s what I’d do, and I surfed the web for news updates and even read a lot of the commentary. I got digital files of the comic book, the first 60 or 70 issues, and read those to see how the show differed. I was deep into the whole experience.

The high point must have been one weekend when I was knocked down by the flu, unable to do anything except fall on the couch and think about dying, drifting in and out of consciousness while watching entire seasons, practically zombified. It was great.

And then somehow they lost my flashfire enthusiasm during the last episodes of Season 3, not long after I posted about the episode titled “Clear,” which someone online opined was equal to the best episode ever (that would be the pilot), and I wouldn’t disagree, even if it didn’t feature my favorite characters. Other than the Dixon brothers drama, the season wound down to nothing much (count me among the people who didn’t care for David Morrissey as the Governor), though I suppose you could have won me back with the next season’s opener.

And I came close to hating the opener — the rapid set-up of no less than three or four romantic entanglements in about two minutes, where the writers tried to cover it by giving Norman Reedus as Daryl a line something like “What is this, a damn romance novel?” (No, that didn’t cover it, sorry, though having some of the romance ended quickly via death-by-zombie was satisfactory.)

And as part of that set-up Carol called Daryl “pooki” (or “pookey” — I only heard it, I didn’t see what passed for a script). Very different vibe for the show, perfunctory scenes for established characters and less for new ones.

Pooki???

Certainly, I liked parts of it — the zombies and helicopter on the roof of the big box store starting to fall through the rotted ceiling, that was cool enough (though I like it more because it seems to be a tribute to the original Dawn of the Dead, with the zombies left on the roof of the shopping center as the copter flies away — just watched Dawn again, since it is Halloween).

The second episode kept me wary, but I almost liked the latest one (the scene with the massive zombie swarm is an instant classic, and the characters seem to be getting back to that more rounded state set up in previous seasons). But I’m not watching The Talking Dead, I’m not looking up news stories, and unless they get a really hot episode, I’m not eager to see the same scenes over again to savor the details.

Don’t get me wrong, I plan on watching the show till the end, bitter or Wild Bunch-blazing. They’ve got the best zombie effects done to date, so as long as they have Daryl Dixon and Michonne and other characters as yet unseen scrambling around trying not to be eaten, I can take it. It could get really, really bad and still be better than the majority of zombie movies, after all.

But it is kind of sad when you feel that edge of excitement disappear. It has happened before — first season of Heroes was great, then the second season began to spin out of artistic control, with two more painful seasons left before cancellation. It will happen again.

And now to man the door against the incursions of spooks and goblins. . . .

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