With Season 2 of the Walking Dead premiering, I’m beside myself with excitement. I’m not entirely sure why I’m so pumped to watch a show that makes me feel such despair.
Very few shows have the kind of raw human emotion that the Walking Dead pulls off in almost every episode. No show on TV gives you the sense of hope and conversely hopelessness that Walking Dead does. The show let’s you know that at any given moment every single person on the show is not only likely to die, but they are going to die in a horrific way. The camp invasion scene in season one showed us just how terrible everything could get in just a few minutes. I don’t like to give away spoilers but that scene is the most terrifying and deadliest scene of the show to date. No show is like Walking Dead because no other show wants its audience to feel devastated, scared, hopeless, or down right depressed by the end of almost every episode. The story was picked from a great source material; the graphic novel of the same name and they stay very true to the story that was built for them. Graphic novels have been turned into movie after movie but never a successful TV show. I can think of a few graphic novels that I want to see get a shot at TV like Walking Dead did. Maybe now that Hollywood has seen graphic novels with long story arcs can work on TV we’ll get to see more and more of them. Here’s hoping my favorite graphic novel The Preacher gets its turn, but that would definitely need to be on HBO or Showtime for it to work. All I’m saying is some Hollywood executive needs to get on this.
AMC has taken a few risks before with Breaking Bad and Mad Men. Breaking Bad at times is tense, violent, and is pure raw human emotion. Not as intense as Walking Dead in my opinion but still very gripping and risky subject matter. Mad Men was risky because there was nothing like it on TV at the time. AMC is all about original storytelling and they hit homeruns more than anyone else on television today. Granted they take far fewer swings than say FX or a network channel but their success rate is still ridiculous. AMC has let the creators of Walking Dead create a show and world never seen on cable television before. The gritty, rawness of the zombies is enough to turn your stomach. In one scene we see a zombie cut in half, and crawling desperately across a field in search of food. The scene was saddening, like watching a wounded animal struggle to live when it was clearly going to die a painful death. It’s also Rick Grimes first face to face encounter with one of The Walkers, or I guess in this case it would be a Crawler (I’m sorry I had to make that joke and you can judge me all you want for making it). We get to see Rick’s compassion later on in the episode when he puts the poor thing out of its misery.
Others have no jaw, no arms, long claws, and other terrible things straight out of your nightmares. Also unlike every other zombie in movie history, these seem to retain a bit of a memory. Sure, AMC cashed in on the zombie craze we’ve seen grow over the past five years, but it was still a risky show to make. Huge set pieces, lots of actors to handle, difficult subject matters; something like this has never worked on TV before. I’d expect a show like this from HBO, or Showtime but not from a non-premium cable channel like AMC. I applaud AMC for putting a show like this out there and not neutering the story. They allowed the creators to create a world too intense for most viewers, most executives would have told them to tame it or they aren’t making it.
Now the show isn’t without problems, at times the dialogue is clunky. Some scenes seem like they want you to connect with the characters on a personal level and all you get is an awkward conversation between people who should already know each other intimately. Outside of one intense scene, sisters Andrea and Amy were always drawn out and the two had little to no chemistry. The (spoiler alert if you haven’t seen Season 1) story between Shane and Lori having an affair is played out. We have seen the love triangle so many times before that it now just comes off as a cheap easy go to story to cause tension that wouldn’t normally be there. The writers try hard to make you forgive Lori and feel mad but a little sad for Shane. The whole thing is just pointless story added in to pad tension, kill story time, and it falls flatter than Coyote chasing Roadrunner. The love triangle almost never works for me as a viewer, and I find that writers use it far too often and usually with little reward. The only time I’ve seen an affair really work on TV was on this past episode of Sons of Anarchy. Oppy had a reason to do what he did, or at least people could relate with him. Usually it’s a flimsy excuse or just an obvious ploy by the writer to create artificial tension.
If you haven’t seen Walking Dead, you can see the entire first season right now live streaming on Netflix. I recommend you do so but only if you don’t have a weak constitution, because this show will test you in ways others don’t. This show unlike most shows on TV makes you actually feel something as a viewer. It is an intense hour every week that you have to be ready to take in. It isn’t easy to watch by any means, but it is rewarding in its story. It makes you feel like if these characters can overcome this, then we are capable of anything. Like I said you’ll feel hopeless, but you’ll also feel hope.