*** Vague spoilers about Sunday night’s The Walking Dead “mid-season finale” are in here, so move on if you’ve yet to watch and give a crap. ***
First off, my real point here is that this new invention of mid-season finales is a load of crap. TV writers will tell you that it adds suspense and improves ratings (it also probably does legitimately increase ad sales), but it mostly seems to me a vehicle to sell more season box sets. Now, you don’t have DVD sets for Seasons 2, 3 and 4 available as Christmas gifts, you have Seasons 2, 2.5, 3, 3.5, 4 and 4.5. More crap to sell! Hooray for America! Call them Seasons 2 through 7, even if they’re just eight episodes each, and I’ll swallow it easier. This way it just feels like they’re trying to fool people, and I think it’s largely working.
The other problem, and here be your non-specific spoilers, is that writers are forced to come up with twice the number of cliffhangery ways to end a season, because now you need to shoot JR twice a year instead of just once. As a result, we’ve seen The Walking Dead have to come up with a major death and/or a huge cliffhanger at each half-season’s end, and we’ve seen the survivors have to high-tail it out of Dodge and leave some of their own behind to fend for themselves more than once. Eventually, all television shows run out of new ideas or they voluntarily call it quits before that happens (I’m looking at you, Breaking Bad, because you did it right). Under this new school, Fonzie has to jump that shark twice as soon as he would have before. It seems to me that they’re doing themselves a disservice here.