The Walking Dead may still be one of the biggest shows on TV but it suffered a true creative blow during its seventh season. After a huge build up for the introduction of the show’s newest Big Bad Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), who is a popular character in the comic books, the show’s sixth season left on a cliffhanger that put the majority of the main characters into jeopardy at the hands of Negan and his trusty baseball bat Lucille. Season 7 quickly resolves that revealing who loses their life at Negan’s hands but it also serves to prove that The Walking Dead has come to rely on gimmicks to keep fans hooked.
There’s no denying that the season’s opening episode The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be is thrilling. It proved controversial on its original airing due to the graphic nature of the violence contained in the episode. Personally that didn’t bother me and it had to be that way to stay true to the source material and to really shock the audience. Unfortunately after that point the season descends into a muddled and dare I say boring mess as even more characters are introduced and the show spends its time focusing on individual characters episode-by-episode.
If you’re expecting a big battle between Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and the survivors and Negan and The Saviors, you’re going to be very disappointed. For the majority of the season the group is moping around under the pressure of Negan as he battles to control them. The way in which the show treats its characters begins to make you question everything. The once badass Daryl (Norman Reedus) is pretty much a quivering wreck, Rick is an interminable bore and fan favourite Carol (Melissa McBride) slips back into her battered wife ways from the first season.
With a cast so large it’s hard to care about the wealth of characters. There are some newer ones like Jesus (Tom Payne) who I’d like to learn more about but then there are dull characters like Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam), Tara (Alanna Masterson) and Eugene (Josh McDermitt) who get far too much screentime. I spent a large part of the season wondering what on earth happened to Michonne (Danai Gurira) and for a while I thought maybe she’d left the show and I didn’t remember!
Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who is a fine actor, is given very little to work with as Negan. He’s supposed to be this big bad scary character that has a hold over everyone but the dialogue he is given is so OTT that it comes off ridiculous. I actually found myself laughing the majority of the time he was on the screen and couldn’t understand why the group didn’t just overpower him and get rid of him.
I understand that season 7 is supposed to be one of transition as Rick and the group find out they aren’t always going to be top dog but this season borders on plain boring. Things do start to pick up in the final couple of episodes but a very cheesy ending to the season doesn’t leave me with much hope about season 8. The introduction of yet more groups of survivors adds to the already overly large cast, giving you even more characters to not care about.
The Blu-ray release is packed with special features including several featurettes taking a behind-the-scenes look at the show, audio commentaries and a selection of deleted scenes.
The Walking Dead is a victim of its own success. The cast do themselves no favours by regularly telling the press how ‘insane’ and ‘crazy’ the show is going to be and it never meets expectations. Perhaps if the cast dialled it down a bit, the writers crafted storylines like those from the first season that were engaging, and the cast was significantly culled, The Walking Dead could claw back some of its ratings and once again be the best show on TV. If it wasn’t still getting higher ratings than most other shows, season 7 would have been the end.
Cast: Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Melissa McBride, Lauren Cohan, Steven Yeun, Lennie James, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Chandler Riggs, Danai Gurira, Michael Cudlitz, Sonequa Martin-Green, Josh McDermitt, Christian Serratos, Seth Gilliam, Ross Marquand, Austin Nichols, Tom Payne, Austin Amelio, Xander Berkeley Certificate: 18 Released By: Entertainment One Release Date: 25th September 2017