The Walking Dead rules the world.It’s obvious on every front.Fans,Merchandise,Hype,Storytelling,Daryl(Sigh….Daryl).It’s a seemingly well oiled machine with no end in sight.So, when I first heard about Z-nation I thought pretty much the same thing everyone else did.Syfy, get your frigging ,filthy hands off my gods of the dead!!!.I just KNEW it was going to be second rate garbage.An easy 1 out of 10 in my head.Right out of the gate……Then I watched it.
It was about a 5.I actually found some things it gave me that i always found lacking in TWD. Mobility,(I’ve always hated the fact that TWD never seems to leave Georgia) Jokes,(some lame, some pretty good) and strong female leads( 4 at last count right out of the gate).It even gives a nod to it’s elders in the form of a reference to a “”A former lawman holed up in a prison”.Sound like anyone we know?
The acting was quite stiff in the first few episodes, but there were definitely glimpses of strong characters who can be developed over time.By episode 4, i saw acting improvements with all the actors.Out of the gate,D.J Qualls(Citizen Z.An Oracle of sorts in the frozen Tundra) is the most established”star” with Tom Everett Scott(Charles Garnett, second in command and now reluctant leader) coming in a close second.Harold Perrineau is there…but he is Deep Blue Sea’ed a’la Sam Jackson pretty quick out of the gate
There were a few unknowns to me. Which i like ,as I don’t associate them to other characters I’ve seen them play before.A gent named Doc(played by the Cheech and Chongish Russel Hodgkinson) who has some of the best one liners in the series and introduces us to something TWD never would….Stoner Zombie. 10K(he’s counting his zombie kills to 10 thousand. How else do you stay sane?)is played by an unknown by the name of Nat Zang .Both of these characters,should they survive, have the best shots at being breakouts in the show.(One of them had a close call in episode 4 and I felt badly over losing them so soon.A first for this series so far)
One of my main critiques of the show that does not seem to be getting better is the pacing.Too much… too soon.Where TWD could move at a snails pace, Z-nation tends to take strong ideas and plots and wrap it up in one episode, when they could definitely linger on the idea or plot longer.I know they are on the move across the country, but they need to find a way to take continuing plot threads along with them for the journey.
The zombies themselves vary from Fast movers to “shufflers”.They tried to explain that dynamic in episode 1 and did it in an actually relatively plausable way.So kudos to them for that.They have shown some creativity in how they use their zombies in unique situations which is nice to see.They need to learn how to bring more tension to their human/zombie interactions of which TWD is so good at doing.Do for zombies, what Steven Spielberg did for sharks.
4 shows in, I’m seeing improvements in each episode from acting, to character development, to even the jokes.They now need to find more range in acting ,to a wide variety of emotions they are going to find themselves exposed to.That will be the key to the success or failure of the show.Thanks for reading