From the show’s IMDB.com page citation:
“Maggie finds Negan and they travel to Manhattan, meeting a quiet young girl named Ginny. A marshal named Armstrong follows Negan.”
Honestly, folks, I’ve had a love/hate relationship with just about all of The Walking Dead’s spinoff shows, and I think it’s safe to say that I lean very strongly more toward the ‘hate’ column than I do the ‘love.’ In my defense, I can say some of this is owed to the fact that I think the handlers of the entire franchise have engaged far too often in a bit of … erm … let’s just call it selective disinformation about each of these incarnations. And, yes, I think that’s hurt the overall brand, to the point wherein most of fandom can painfully see that TWD – as a one-time television juggernaut that was about as ‘must-see’ as anything – continues to die a slow death.
Since I brought it up, here’s an example or two. Prior to the airing of The Walking Dead: Fear The Walking Dead premiering on television, the producers had promised on multiple occasions that the central focus was to serve as a bit of a prequel to The Walking Dead, fleshing out some of the answers to questions about when and where this plague came from and how it all may’ve led up to the End Times as depicted in this universe. Once the show got here, though, it turned out very quickly to be nothing of the sort, instead going down the same narrative roads already covered in great detail in TWD, so I tuned out of it after its second blood season.
Next up: The Walking Dead: World Beyond promised to try to deliver a bit of freshness to the wide, wide world of the Zombie Apocalypse by exploring what life would be like for a band of youngsters who grew up never knowing what existence was like before our televised demise. Again, the showrunners gave those of us who enjoyed this franchise a bit of hope that this would deliver a something that didn’t look so much like what came before … only to let us down with some of the blandest character creations in all of television essentially just racing against time to avoid being eaten alive. Nothing new. Nothing different.
Lastly: Tales Of The Walking Dead was reportedly engineered (once again) to tell audiences some stand-alone adventures set within the established universe involving both known and unknown characters we’d come to (hopefully) know and love in new, innovative ways. Once its episodes were broadcast, however, there were no proven commodities: what they did deliver were some big-name talent clearly looking for a one-off experience within TWD – nothing wrong with that – but the writing was, at best, a mixed bad of curious misfires, sometimes even oddly comical if not tonally inconsistent with the franchise.
Did these folks even care any longer about the Dead … or were they just cashing their paychecks?
Well … this last Sunday brought yet one more highly-touted addition to TWD Universe as The Walking Dead: Dead City made its small screen premiere on AMC. To the program’s benefit, the showrunners have not gone to any lengths (at least, none that I’m aware of) to promise that Dead City would be anything different, which is good because after digesting all of its first hour – appropriately named “Old Acquaintances” – I can attest that there’s absolutely nothing new here.
Fan favorite character Maggie Rhee (played by Lauren Cohan) is finally ready for her close-up. Though she’s sharing the limelight with the equally popular character Negan Smith (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) in much the same way Cagney & Lacey, Starsky & Hutch, and Abbott & Costello did in their respective eras, the inaugural outing felt well-balanced, giving both stars just enough leg room to do what they do best … which apparently shapes up very quickly to be little more than what they’ve done before across multiple seasons of TWD. Yes, they’re still working together yet scholastically at odds – those unaware of the death of Maggie’s husband at the end of Negan’s bat Lucille might wanna do some Googling to be brought up to speed – and the Dead are still out-and-about as audiences expect. But, hey, this one’s got the Big Apple as the backdrop instead of rural America, so that’s got to count for somethin’, am I right?
What’s changed? Erm … Maggie’s still not a great parent: her only child Herschel has been abducted by a baddie who’s known only as ‘The Croat’ in response to her community’s failure to provide ‘The Croat’ and his minions with the necessary tribute of food and supplies. (Wasn’t this largely a plot behind multiple enemies faced already on TWD?) Now, just what ‘The Croat’ and company were doing heading so far down from New York City to Alexandria or The Hilltop or wherever else Maggie had disappeared to in her sabbatical from that show is never quite explained; suffice it to say, ‘The Croat’ did, and now Maggie’s hell bent to get her boy back. Thankfully, ‘The Croat’ is apparently an old friend of Negan’s, meaning that the she and he will have to set aside their differences again to – cough cough – save the day.
Erm … haven’t we been here before?
Once again, I find myself heartily disappointed with the next iteration of the Dead universe. While I certainly can understand and appreciate why structuring a program around the nostalgic appeal of seeing two heroes back in action was a good idea, it just isn’t all that long ago that they ended their still impressive run on AMC. In fact, it was only months back, so the mere suggestion that it’s been some time and things are the same kinda/sorta works against the whole narrative unless showrunners just wanted to slim down the cast and continue churning out narrative drivel. There’s absolutely nothing different to Dead City – certainly nothing we’ve not seen before – and I’m having a hard time imagining where they might take these two veterans that won’t tarnish their reputations and/or cheapen their legacy.
Granted, this was only the pilot episode. From what I’ve read, there are five more in the pipeline, giving this the feel of a limited series event – not such a bad idea, now that I think about it. While I’m willing to give them a bit of time to come up with something unique, I learned long ago with this franchise – and this creative crew – not to hold my breath.
In the interests of fairness, I’m thrilled to disclose that – like so many of you – I’ve simply recorded and watched The Walking Dead: Dead City’s “Old Acquaintances” as it aired on AMC, so I’m beholden to no one to provide a review other than myself.