Why Z Nation is better than The Walking Dead

Discussion in 'General Science Fiction Discussion' started by Joelist, Nov 1, 2014.

  1. Joelist

    Joelist I'm showing this for a reason! Staff Member

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    z-nation.png

    I actually have seen a couple of episodes of this now, and cheap as it is (and it is a cheap looking show with a cast that are all unknowns) it is quite a bit better than The Walking Dead.

    Why?

    First, things actually happen. This show moves along and does not wallow in EMO character stuff. Characters die, new ones come and go and so on.

    Second, even with a brisk pace the characters still have some depth. For example, Citizen Z is a classic nerd but last night's episode had him suffering from a touch of isolation dementia. It gave him more depth.

    Third, their zeds follow consistent rules. They tend to move in giant herds and even head for warmer climates in winter. They are viral zombies and they even have a character named Murphy who is immune (sort of) to the virus. The plot at present centers around trying to get Murphy across the country to the last remaining biolab.

    Fourth, just better written. Yesterday's episode both reinforced what a piece of crap Murphy is (showing a zed where to find it's still living but hiding family) but also showing where he did it so he could plunder the family's stores of water to get to his group who were suffering from dehydration. And, because Murphy was infected but did not turn he can walk around the zeds and they sense the virus in him and treat him as one of their own. It's handled well.

    That said, the show screams "I am made on a small budget". And not all the tongue in cheek humor hits its mark. But overall it is way better than TWD - it is pure schlock, it knows it is and it revels in it.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 17, 2015
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  2. shavedape

    shavedape Well Known GateFan Staff Member

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    I definitely agree with your assessment JL. It's kind of funny that for as bad as SyFy is they actually did a good job with this one. Sure it's cheap and schlocky in parts but the writing overall is pretty good and doesn't suffer from the naval gazing problems that TWD does. The pacing alone leaves TWD in the dust.

    I'm still trying to figure out what the point of Citizen Z is to the story though. Is he just supposed to be a narrator/observer? Is he going to somehow join up with the troupe at a later date? Or will he always remain just a "voice from the sky"?

    And yes, the Murphy thing in last nights episode was shocking but also intriguing. Normally I'm not into examining the psychological depths of sociopaths (which TWD does a lousy job of portraying btw) but the writers of this show have done a fairly good job of keeping Murphy interesting. But after the trick he pulled last night he's got to get his comeuppance eventually. That's just a given. I don't see how he can be redeemed after doing something like that.
     
  3. Joelist

    Joelist I'm showing this for a reason! Staff Member

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    I am starting to think that at a certain level in his brain Murphy thinks like a zed. Not to the point where he munches on the living but there is definitely something going on there. Remember he was attacked and has the virus in his system - it just can't turn him. That's why he can move about the zeds and not be attacked and even - it seems - exert a form of dominance over them. They seem to sense him as an "alpha zed".
     
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  4. shavedape

    shavedape Well Known GateFan Staff Member

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    Didn't they make a brief comment last night about someone leading the zeds? That seemed to be Murphy's theme for the whole episode; the set up to him becoming "zombie king" at some point. His "one-eyed man in the kingdom of the blind" comment sort of foreshadowed that possibility I thought. Plus he's clearly having an internal war over which side to take, human or zombie. (If you remember he hugged and cried over that one "dead" zombie in the tornado episode.) So it wouldn't surprise me if the season ended on the cliffhanger of him leaving the humans and joining up with the zombies. I just can't shake the feeling that that's where the writers are headed right now.
     
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  5. Bluce Ree

    Bluce Ree Tech Admin / Council Member

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    On the subject of consistent rules, I discovered another one while catching up on this series today. They deteriorate!

    "Fresh" zombies move fast. As they rot, they tend to move more slowly. The characters will drop comments to that effect when they encounter a fast moving zombie (i.e. "That must have been a fresh one.").

    I'm really liking this show in spite of its crummy budget.
     
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  6. Joelist

    Joelist I'm showing this for a reason! Staff Member

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    Indeed.

    This week was the second one in a row about psychological trauma. In this case it was "Addy" coming to terms with having to dispatch her mother after her mother went zed and killed her sister. Had this been on TWD it would have been a navel gazing borefest - here they actually made it interesting by having the whole thing resolve as a looped series of dreams with each dream symbolically joining into the next dream.

    Yes it is pretty obvious the show was made on a very low budget. But then again the writing and in general the acting make up for it. It brings to mind Sanctuary - another show which was made on the cheap (the low cost was a key selling point) but that in spite of some rough areas had generally good writing and acting.

    High budget does not always equal quality....
     
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  7. shavedape

    shavedape Well Known GateFan Staff Member

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    I didn't care for last nights episode. It was tedious and boring and too introspective. Definitely a filler episode for this show. I hope they get back on track because they were doing a good job of it until now.
     
  8. Joelist

    Joelist I'm showing this for a reason! Staff Member

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    See I didn't mind it. You can't have zero introspection in a show because then the characters aren't humans anymore and become caricatures. You need such moments to give the characters even a little depth.

    The last two episodes made Citizen Z and Addy feel more like rounded people.
     
  9. shavedape

    shavedape Well Known GateFan Staff Member

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    Of course you need introspection and character growth, but I think the writers went overboard with it this time. They could have done it any number of ways with Addy, even inter-splicing her story in with other story lines like they did with Citizen Z. Instead we got an entire psychological episode vomited-up via poor acting. (I'm sorry but the girl who plays Addy was really bad when it came to the final crying scene. It was like watching a high school acting class in session the way she so poorly emoted.)
     
  10. Joelist

    Joelist I'm showing this for a reason! Staff Member

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    She did go overboard a bit there. Actually her boyfriend did a better job of acting even though the whole thing was HER dream. But I still enjoyed it as the "dream within a dream" device was clever.
     
  11. shavedape

    shavedape Well Known GateFan Staff Member

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    See, I got bored with that device. I think a clever writer could have done something better without needing a larger budget.

    At any rate, I do know that it's a low-budget show on SyFy so I'm not too upset about getting what I consider to be a turkey of an episode. As it is they've shown that they can do character examinations without losing the pace or getting too "deep" with it, so chances are things will probably get back on track by next week.

    And yes, this show is still way better than TWD.
     
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  12. Joelist

    Joelist I'm showing this for a reason! Staff Member

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    Looks like next week we get irradiated zeds.... :)
     
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  13. Bluce Ree

    Bluce Ree Tech Admin / Council Member

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    I'm reading some of the comments on Z Nation on various forums that are comparing it to TWD and actually calling TWD "brilliant". :icon_lol:
     
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  14. Joelist

    Joelist I'm showing this for a reason! Staff Member

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    Now that is funny Bluce!

    I'd guess the entire season of Z Nation cost as much as maybe 2 episodes of TWD. And for all that it is a much better show.

    I wouldn't call a show (TWD) "brilliant" that lacks likable characters, moves at the pace of a snail climbing the Matterhorn and has all too many episodes where the main backstory is not advanced at all. Now we're clearly stuck in a multi-episode arc around this dopey group in the hospital in Atlanta. In other words, the show has stalled out again just when it looked like they FINALLY understood the need to speed up the pace.

    Meanwhile Z Nation actually does have likable characters (and some unlikable ones too) and moves at a decent pace, and the backstory even advances too.
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2015
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  15. shavedape

    shavedape Well Known GateFan Staff Member

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    roflbot.jpg
     
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  16. Joelist

    Joelist I'm showing this for a reason! Staff Member

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    Okay, the episode with radioactive zeds was pretty good.

    Pacing was good, we got time with both the main group and Citizen Z and learned more about Murphy and also the young sharpshooter character. Plus they played up a healthy dose of comedy in the episode with Murphy being drunk and his interaction with the woman who turned into a zed and just followed him around.

    TWD would probably have taken three or four installments to do this story and had a lot of people just sitting around talking about everything except the immediate issue.
     
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  17. shavedape

    shavedape Well Known GateFan Staff Member

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    BTW, have you folks ever noticed how TWD doesn't have any intentional humor in it unlike Z Nation? Sure we laugh at how bad TWD is but the writers certainly don't intend for that kind of response.
     
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  18. Bluce Ree

    Bluce Ree Tech Admin / Council Member

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    I fail to find any humor in a show whose goal is to ensure the viewer is in a perpetual state of melodramatic sentiment and crying throughout every episode that was originally touted as a post-apocalyptic horror thriller.
     
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  19. shavedape

    shavedape Well Known GateFan Staff Member

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    You mean you don't enjoy exploring every single character's inner conflicts and laughable mental turmoil every single episode in every single season? WTF is wrong with you? :daniel_new004:
     
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  20. Joelist

    Joelist I'm showing this for a reason! Staff Member

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    Z Nation understands the need for some form of humor in any story, to balance out the tone a bit.

    TWD has their eyes so fixed on their navels that if you looked at the navels of the characters you would see eyeballs embedded in them....
     
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