Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Falling Skies vs. The Walking Dead

Falling Skies vs. The Walking Dead

Why The Walking Dead is so much better than Falling Skies? I have 3 words for you: The Hero's Journey. I watch both of these shows but until I rewatched The Walking Dead Season 1 I couldn't figure out what was wrong with Falling Skies. Looking over my craft of writing books, I discovered it. There is an excellent book for writers, The Hero's Journey by Joseph Campbell. It uses the 12 stages of the hero's journey. The first stage when using the Hero's Journey for writing a novel is The Ordinary World.

This stage is vivid in The Walking Dead. We see Rick Grimes as a deputy sheriff, doing his job. Talking to his buddy, we can see his love for his wife, his child, and his duty. When he is shot pursuing a bad guy his first action is to tell his buddy to not tell his wife about his injury. His first thought is to not worry her. This tells us all we need to know about Rick Grimes and his relationships around him.

The loss of this stage in Falling Skies is glaringly clear. The action opens with an older man and a young man on the run. We learn later that one is the dad. They are running from aliens. The aliens kill grown-ups and capture and enslave young kids. All this is great action but we don't know these people. We don't care they are in danger.

Later we learn Noah Wylie's character was a college professor before the aliens arrived and now he is with the army. The show missed an opportunity to show me this character as a professor. What was the character arc of the nerdy, bookish professor becoming a rebel, resistance fighter? Show me the loss of his middle son to show me his love for his youngest and his oldest. Show me losing his wife. What did that do to him? Was that the moment that drove him to the army to fight the invaders? We don't know. There has been no flashbacks, no dreams of what was, how life used to be.

Falling Skies dropped the ball. The Walking Dead grabbed it and scored a touchdown.

Jill James


Jill James said...

Why does it unformat my paragraphs when I post here? Sorry about that.

Ana Morgan said...

I haven't watched either of those shows yet. This is a good warning which one to invest time in. Good call, Jill.

Jill James said...

Ana, thanks. I really wanted to like Falling Skies. I love alien invasion stuff and Noah Wylie but I felt they threw us into the what is happening right now too fast. I would have liked to see the process of the college professor becoming a rebel fighter.

Josie said...

I'm not familiar with either of these shows but will have to check them out. And, it's an excuse to watch Noah Wylie.

Denise Pattison said...


You are so right about both shows. I keep wanting to know how this happened in Falling Skies, what happened to Noah Wylie and his family but we never get it.

I love The Walking Dead. I missed it when it first came on but caught up with a marathon session several months ago. Totally find Rick Grimes fantastic and I've never liked Shane from the very beginning.

Good call on why one show is better than the other.

Jill James said...

thanks Denise. Hope the writers are trolling the internet and will think about what viewers are saying.

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