I hate being called an apologist for the show, as if all the specific criticisms in this thread are being applied fairly, or not in the slightest bit nitpicky. Yeah, I agree in general terms that the writing on the show does not knock it out of the park but to use that as a trap door to bitch about every single perceived flaw is exhausting. Calling the show out for what it actually is (as opposed to what a bunch of fans perceive it should be) is not somehow settling for mediocrity. Just the tone of that premise-- to pigeonhole people into 2 camps of fanboy vs apologist -- is irritating.
Your post is sorta weird and contradictory. First, you admit the show has major flaws. Then you saw we should love it for what it is, not what we want it to be.
I'm not expecting KING LEAR IN ZOMBIELAND. What I am expecting is good writing and plotting, which translates to good, consistent characterization (and well-done arcs for characters) as well as plotting which has a discernible purpose and moves the story forward. TWD is sadly lacking in these things; its good parts far outshine the sum, which is not good storytelling. If it had deeply compelling characters, we'd be more forgiving of the meandering, payoff-less plotting. If the events of the show unfurled with more energy and apparent smarts and planning, we could likely overlook bad and/or inconsistent characterization. But the show's consistently letting us down in both areas.
Kirkman and Co. may have great intentions, but it seems very obvious they don't know what they're doing - or that they're so deaf and blind to criticism that they're determined to continue making the same mistakes over and over again.
Episode 7 had a lot of problems, but I was willing to forgive most of them because the show finally fucking gave us some decent dialogue, confrontations, and movement. But taken as part of the whole - both this specific season and the entire show broadcast so far - the problems are much noisier than the parts that work. My problems with the show don't stem from it not being the SHAWSHANK of zombie stories or what I think it "should" be. They stem from some very basic problems with the show's writing and overall direction.