If you haven’t watched the entirety of Season 7 of AMC’s The Walking Dead, don’t bother. The season premiere and season finale are worth watching, but, in my humble opinion, the rest is essentially filler. If you really want to get bogged down in watching the various groups of survivors whipped like subservient dogs under Negan’s thumb or checking out Greg Nicotero‘s prestige walker of the week, feel free to do so, but casual viewers have been left wondering why one of TV’s most popular shows is dragging its feet when it should be skipping along.
Some have expressed a concern that the plodding pace of The Walking Dead has to do with plans to stay a safe distance behind the current storyline in the comics. For comparison, HBO’s wildly popular Game of Thrones series has gone ahead with George R.R. Martin‘s blessing to write the final seasons of the TV show instead of waiting for the author to finish the books himself; ain’t nobody got time for that. Luckily, The Walking Dead comics are still well ahead of its own TV adaptation, so we’ll have to look for another reason to explain the show’s drooping ratings.
Chatting with THR was The Walking Dead creative team, including showrunner Scott M. Gimple, executive producer David Alpert, and comics co-creator Robert Kirkman. The recent season covered, roughly, issues 103 to 114 in the comics, which are currently at issue 166. So is there any chance that the show will overtake the comics anytime soon?
“With some plans we have for the future, I don’t think so,” says Gimple. “I think it’s unlikely, but it depends where the book stops.”
“When we get to season 20, then I think we’ll be caught up,” added Alpert. “And at that point, we’ll have to have Robert really pick up the pace [with the comics].”
A bit tongue-in-cheek, perhaps, but there is a lot of story to cover on the TV show yet. The comics encompass a resolution to the current/upcoming war, a bit of a time jump, a whole new brand of mysterious villains, and, yes, more war to come. Still, as Kirkman himself admits, the task of publishing comic books moves just a bit more slowly than that of producing full seasons of a TV show:
“I don’t know if anyone sat down to do the math, but if the show is gaining on the comic book, it’s at a very slow pace. We’re expanding storylines so every now and then we zip through the comic book, and then we slow down for a while and add a bunch of stuff that’s not in the comics. There’s not any danger of that happening in any way … If we say season 20 too often around Andrew Lincoln, he will murder us, and then you won’t have to worry about anything!”
This is, perhaps, the best point made here: the show has the benefit of being able to modify and shape Kirkman’s story in whatever way the see fit. For example, you can compress a multi-issue arc down into an episode or two, or stretch a brief stay at a farm into an entire season; either way, it’s flexible. The upside is that the show can take the time to explore some fan-favorite moments more deeply and to bring forth original stories from Kirkman & Co. that never made it to the pages in the first place. The downside is that, sometimes, seasons will drag out dry source material for the sake of maintaining pace … and milking ad revenue and merchandise sales. AMC doesn’t care; they know we’ll keep watching either way.
Are you still watching The Walking Dead? Let us know in the comments below!