When The Walking Dead went through the first half of Season Seven, the ratings dipped. Many cited Negan’s brutality as a reason, others suggested that the reason was that the shows problems were becoming more and more evident. Most thought it was a mixture of both. Either way, there are more and more people being critical of The Walking Dead.
Adapted from Robert Kirkman’s popular comic series, where Rick Grimes undergoes trial after trial, heartbreak after heartbreak trying to protect his loved ones during the zombie apocalypse (as well as struggling with his humanity)- the series since early this century, has seen close to 150 issues. Comics- can go on as much as the creator chooses. Marvel and DC know this far too well. There may be financial hurdles, but they don’t have to worry about characters ageing (as the artist has control over the depiction), CGI budgets, and overall- the group of people who work on comics are much, much smaller. The comic format doesn’t have many of the limitations and concerns a television show would have.
It should also be noted that superhero shows- such as Daredevil, or Supergirl, The Flash which have earned praise and acclaim are still starting out. The Flash is on its third season. But even then, have people already called out its repetitiveness of themes and plots. Daredevil still is acclaimed… but that show only has two seasons. The Netflix part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is just starting.
Eventually, that excitement may fade.
Arrow, based on Oliver Queen’s / Green Arrow’s story is far from a perfect show. But in terms of stories to tell, it shows much more variation, even if the adaption isn’t as perfect or sound as it should be. It’s now in its fifth season. How many seasons do CW expect Arrow to go on for?
Well, Smallville went on for ten seasons. Non- comic book series such as Supernatural just got renewed for a 13th season. So I think it is safe to say that the CW won’t let Arrow go so easily- even when its best to just give it three more tight, fast paced seasons so the show would go out strong.
Because all shows do end eventually. Star Trek ended. The X-Files ended. Doctor Who ended. Sure, there may be a reboot down the line, or a ‘revival’ series, but the cast gets older and maybe wants to do other things, the audience experiences ‘fatigue’ and get sick of it, the costs can’t be justified or maybe all the possible stories have been told (although comic book writers will always create more). Contracts expire, and superhero shows / comic book shows are not like Criminal Minds and Law & Order: SVU in the sense that they can afford and change characters. And being like a police procedural show isn’t necessarily a good thing, because they are definitely the most guilty of repetition.
Repetition is extremely annoying. The Flash always seems to have a speedster as its Season Big-Bad, there is always a group in The Walking Dead wanting to spread its toxicity to the world. Rick Grimes will always struggle with morality and priorities (as will Oliver Queen), and The Walking Dead may progress through its plot without ever feeling like its actually moving forward.
All we can hope for is that your favourite comic book show actually improves and gets better, and when it does reach its final stage- that it goes out well. Whether that’s the hero dying- or relaxing, it has to be satisfying. If it has enough seasons, I can see Gotham getting a satisfying ending because of its prequel nature. But shows may struggle to reach their potential if they don’t have a tight, distinct structure. The Walking Dead is boring viewers. It may never recover from the low ratings in Season Seven. Ask yourself this: do you still see yourself watching the show in five years time? As long as it lasts?
Because although the viewers for comic book shows are overall, pretty good there is no guarantee. Television evolves and changes constantly. The television we watch now, could be completely different in ten years time. I don’t think there is much long term thinking with The Walking Dead, beyond introducing Antagonist Group #7. Shows with a plan, like Breaking Bad… are better in the short term and long term. Comic book shows may be doing well now, but in the long term, I’m not so certain. They need to up their game.
Your favourite comic show, will end. Like I said earlier, a different version of it may exist (like Doctor Who for example, has two periods: Classic Who and New Who). Nothing is forever. Those in charge of comic book shows need to learn that, and they need to learn it fast, because them wasting precious screen time on filter or generic big bads is showing. It’s becoming more obvious. Therefore, its much better to stick to a tighter structure and acknowledging an end will come.
Comic book heroes aren’t like The Doctor, who can regenerate and get a new actor in. Grant Gustin will continue to play Barry Allen, and if he ever wants out- recasting him is a huge, huge risk. One I would be very surprised if the CW took. It’s time for shows to start thinking about the strength and overall quality of their series, and one I am literally begging Robert Kirkman to stop screwing over fans with dumb cliffhangers and actually run a decent show.
It’s time to be realistic about comic book shows.