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The Walking Dead Is More of a Procedural Drama Than You Think

SeattlePI.com Wednesday, 30 November 2016 ()
First thing we have to do is note that the term procedural shouldn't have negative connotations, so please put down the flaming pitchfork. True, television elitists typically dismiss procedurals as being beneath heavily serialized dramas ever since the dawn of the Golden Age of TV, which gave us The Sopranos, Breaking Bad and others that spent seasons (or even longer) on continuing stories and specific arcs. Procedurals remain huge by any standard -- NCIS is still the most-watched scripted program on television, for example -- and TV is such a vast landscape now that there's always room for the "comfort TV" that procedurals provide, particularly after the waves of mediocre dramas that tried to emulate Breaking Bad and others. For most, the term "procedural" conjures up visions of acronym-titled shows (CSI, NCIS, etc.) about crime solvers catching crime doers in self-contained episodes, and that's not incorrect. Procedurals may have started as serious crime capers that could be watched in any order, but as is the case with the rest of television, its defining formula -- frequently derided by critics as simplistic -- has evolved, and now we're seeing more and more dramas that use procedural elements along with serialized arcs. Like most standard procedurals, The Walking Dead doesn't really have an overall plot, and this may be the best argument in favor of the show leaning procedural. The Walking Dead has nothing for its characters to do but survive (though that's divided into chapters of big bads), and creator Robert Kirkman always imagined the property as a never-ending zombie adventure where its characters -- you guessed it -- do whatever they can to survive. In CSI, we watch a group of crime scene investigators doing their jobs week in and week out. Procedural characters are largely defined by their jobs and procedurals are largely comprised of us watching those characters do their jobs, and though The Walk
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