I never bad mouth writers in social media. It's not professional. If I don't like a story, or if I disagree with how the plot plays out or the characters behave, that is a matter of personal preference on the writer's part and should not be criticized by a colleague. I don't even give a bad review on Amazon unless the book is so grammatically unstructured and tedious to read that I feel the need to warn readers not to waste their time and money, and that has happened only twice. However, recently the writers on The Walking Dead have shown a dreadful sloppiness in their craft that I want to bitch about... er, I mean address.
For me, the flawed writing began at the beginning of Season Five. When we last saw Rick at the end of Season Four, he and his people were trapped in a rail car at Terminus, and Rick issued the warning that the Termites were screwing with the wrong people. Season Five opens ("No Sanctuary") with Rick, Daryl, and Glenn (the baddest asses in the group), tied up and bent over a trough, about to Neganized for food. A good writer never makes a plot promise he can't keep. The only reason Rick and his group survived was because Carol showed up in the nick of time and had terminus look at the flowers.
Which brings me to Season Six and the main point of my diatribe. I'm all for being creative as long as you keep the plot steady and strong, but this season the writers' attempts seem amateurish. They have allowed too many major plot flaws to seep into their scripts. If I or any other writer had done the same thing in our novels, we would be savaged on Amazon more brutally than Nicholas was by walkers, and rightfully so. Let me cite the three most glaring examples.
The I'm So Glad Everything Fell Into Place Perfectly Device. There was a
lot to criticize in "Always Accountable" (S6E6), but I'm referring to
the last three minutes after Dwight and Sherry steal Daryl's crossbow and
motorcycle and abandon him in the woods. How fortunate for Daryl that he
happened to stumble across a well-hidden gas truck that happened to be
working, and that he drove his fortunate find to the nearby town where he
happened to track down Abraham and Sasha on the first try (who earlier had happened to
stumble across several rocket launchers), and now they're all driving
back to an Alexandria invaded by walkers. Why do I have a feeling that the gas truck and rocket launchers will be critical to resolving the walker crisis in the latter half of season six?
The Let's Break Up the Action for a Contemplative Moment Device. I admit that "Here's Not Here" (S6E4) is brilliant writing and beautifully tied together all of Morgan's loose plot points and fleshed out the character, and that this episode sets up the inevitable and awesome confrontation between Morgan and Carol. However, there was no justification for placing that episode in the middle of a multi-episode action sequence and interrupting the flow of the action when it could just as easily been placed after Rick's return to Alexandria. That's Writing 101.
Please don't get me wrong. It's easy to be a Monday morning quarterback (or, in my case, a late Sunday night ghost writer). I'm critical of The Walking Dead writers because they are excellent at their craft and have produced some brilliant episodes in the past, and as such they should know better. These are the mistakes a first time writer would make.
What concerns me is that the lapses in writing are merely symptomatic of a much deeper criticism I have with the franchise as a whole. I've watched AMC turn The Walking Dead from a TV phenomenon and cult icon into a cash cow to be milked. In my opinion, AMC created Fear the Walking Dead in the hopes of doubling their profits/viewership, which would be acceptable if the show was of the same quality as The Walking Dead. I am not a fan of Fear the Walking Dead. I think the plot is tedious, the story line drags, and the characters are unlikable. If it was an indie film I had downloaded from Netflix, I never would have sat through it as long as I did. I also think the franchise is taking gross advantage of the fans through the Walker Stalker Conventions. Some of the prices they charge to meet the actors are outrageous. In Atlanta earlier this year, the convention was charging $250 for a photograph with the original TWD cast. At Spooky Empire in Orlando, some of the actors signing autographs were charging $25 for a selfie. What I'm afraid of is that the merchandising of The Walking Dead is taking priority over producing a consistently high quality show.
I really do hope I'm wrong and that these lapses are merely the writers being overworked (how many writers, including myself, have gone back and read one of our own books, and wondered what the Hell we were thinking putting that scene in there). In either case, I urge AMC and The Walking Dead to stop taking the fans for granted. You'll wind up butchering your cash cow, and the fans will wind up losing something very dear to us.