Something is off about “Town of the Living Dead.” While I don’t typically watch reality television, the little I’ve seen of shows like “Dog the Bounty Hunter” and the odd episode of “The Bachelor” my girlfriends have made me sit through make it pretty obvious that a lot of the characters, situations, and dialogue are scripted. I always kind of appreciated the earnestness of shows like “Ghost Hunters,” which (at least in the early years) seemed much more about the job being done with only a smattering of character drama. Say what you will about the validity of their methods, but they were there to find ghosts, not talk about if Stacy is totally a bitch for sleeping with Tom after Kendal totally said she would ask him out if he would only break up with Jennifer. I mean, we get it Kendal; you just aren’t willing to understand him like Stacy does. Get over it.
“Town of the Living Dead” is a show that trades in all those interesting reality parts for characters so canned they would be edible decades after a real zombie apocalypse. The story revolves around Tina Teeter and her crew of misfits whose one dream is to just make a real zombie movie, titled Thr33 Days Dead. Sounds easy enough, but wait a minute! It takes place in Alabama! In Alabama people love Jesus and therefore hate zombies. What a dilemma! The show goes out of its way to paint each character as inept as possible, taking time to comedically juxtapose each and every crew member’s confidence that they are experts with the reality that they are not. On the public shaming scale, it’s somewhere between a “The Daily Show” interview and a public flogging.
The underdog crew trying to get something done isn’t a new concept, and documenting the difficulties of film production is something every special features menu has included since DVDs started giving people way too much disk space to fill up. The problem with the show is that it isn’t at all about the movie they are trying to make. It is about the “kooky” characters, who all come off as unbelievable.
For example, in the first episode, Terry shows his colors as the “token gay guy” on set by showing off his new nipple ring in a family restaurant. Wow, “Town of the Living Dead,” props on depicting a stereotype so offensively that even people in Alabama cringed.
The episodes seem to revolve around a problem that the show needs to solve. The first, “Jasper Needs Zombies,” is about how the show needs zombies. The second, “Premature Explosion,” is about how they want to blow up a boat. Considering both of these tasks, paperwork and all, can be summed up in about two sentences of explanation, the show becomes about how the crew just can’t get their shit together to get it done. I would understand this if the show were being shot in Cambodia and the shot they were trying to accomplish was an air raid on a Vietcong village with full napalm effects, but how hard is it to blow up a fucking boat?
The show realizes this so it pads it out with unfathomable screw-ups and even less fathomable dialogue. When Tina is trying to get a free boat to blow up, the boat owner is talked down from asking for money to accepting 8 t-shirts and free tickets to the premiere. Tina replies with something along the lines of, “Okay, we only have 6 shirts but we will get more printed up.” There are no actual real-life people who would have this exchange. I know reality TV is hammed up, but this is just unreal and that is just the tip of the iceberg.
“Town of the Living Dead” is a waste of time. I was wracking my brain trying to think of if I was missing something, as the two episodes I was sent don’t seem like they can be from a real green-lit television production. Maybe you will like this show if you too are part of a hodgepodge group of fuck-ups trying to make a movie, but if you are expecting to learn anything from their filmmaking tactics… this show would be actually counterproductive. I cannot in good conscience recommend this show to anyone. Next time I am flipping the channel to Syfy, I will pause out of horror should I see “Town of the Living Dead” again. Not only because of its sheer stupidity, but for its lack of any real life… living or dead.
“Town of the Living Dead” will premiere on October 7th when Syfy airs the first two episodes of the series back-to-back beginning at 10 PM. Should you tune in, you have my condolences.