(Editor's note: I am a day late with the column and regret the delay)
It's a given that 'The Walking Dead' is the show to watch if you are a zombie fan. I recently re-watched Merle's Dixon's failed attempt to kill the Governor to the strains of Ted Nugent during the third season and recalled why I enjoyed the show so much in the first place despite the occasionally hokey attempts at soap opera human interest. But let's face it -- the show has gradually descended into a slump despite some interesting highlights in the later seasons. What would it take to breathe more life into the dead?
1. More horror
The zombies themselves have become redundant within their own show. Characters simply dispatch the titular monsters so casually that it has become self-satirical.
Bringing purer horror elements back to the show could bring it a badly needed lift. The Terminus cannibals and the abduction of Beth (by different characters as it turned out) were definitely a step in the right direction.
2. More zombies
The show has danced around why the dead are walking. WD is based off of a comic book with an existing story, but the show has never slavishly followed it. Why not work in possible explanations for the zombies?
Simply having the zombies figure more into the actual plots beyond being the reason for the apocalypse would be nice.
3. More villains
In my opinion, the show arguably hit its peak during the third season with the introduction of the Governor as a central human villain. That season seems to have functioned as a boiler plate for subsequent seasons to a degree and now we are faced with Negan.
But what about Joe and his brigands from the fourth season? Or the rogue cops from season five? These bad guys only appeared in a few episodes but I think made a real impression on the viewer.
Introducing two or three "big bads" instead of one over-arching threat might make the next few seasons more interesting.
4. Where two or three are gathered...
If there is a scientific reason for the dead walking, might there be more than one type? Perhaps other "species" of walking dead could be worked into the plot -- example: a scientist is working on a cure and becomes a thinking zombie; running zombies in the '28 Days Later' mold are created as a natural predator for the walkers.
5. Monster mash
If zombies are real, why not other kinds of monsters? This could depend on whether an explanation is determined for the walkers and I will admit is likelier than not to misfire.