The Walking Dud

It should come as no surprise that the enormously anticipated season two premier of AMC’s most highly rated show last season, The Walking Dead, drew a large audience. Recorded at 7.3 million viewers, it shattered the basic cable rating records for any season premier over the past 10 years (Figures from The Hollywood Reporter). Zombie fever has never been higher in North America, and TWD’s first season was well produced and directed, bringing an established comic successfully to the mainstream TV audience.

What is surprising about the second season of TWD so far is the low quality of story, plot and character development in each episode. I have been reading TWD comic since 2006, so, when I first heard about the series transferring to television my initial reaction was, “I really hope they don’t fuck it up.”

I’m happy to say I walked away from season one largely impressed. Though the show never really captured the constant tension that is present in the comic series, I was intrigued by the original story as well as the cinematography, direction and overall feel the series offered. Unfortunately, the current season has yet to impress me on any front.

The first scene of season one has the audience faced with the death of innocence as Rick blows a little zombie girl’s face off, inviting viewers into a world of survival and foggy morality. Season two has yet to provide any such shocking and powerful material. Characters have yet to be faced with any truly difficult decision that would challenge their ethical boundaries or further erode their connection to the moral world once inhabited. The character of Shane is the only one truly developing in this season. His mental decline, begun in the first season, has bled into his ethical decisions making him an increasingly dangerous person. In a world where common morality has been stripped away, Shane is the only one being confronted by difficult decisions, which reflect that void of ethical standards. The consequences of those choices and the harsh reality of survival is what makes The Walking Dead such a powerful comic story, however, this is a missing element in the television series.

Ultimately, the show is moving at a snail’s pace, dragging out plot threads that could be resolved or otherwise hastened. As well, filler sub plots like this week’s “zombie fishing” expedition, are both impractical and stupid, wasting the viewer’s time. Where is the action? Zombies don’t have to be spilling out of barrels or around every corner but a few would certainly help to build a sense of tension. Instead, each episode has been filled with bickering and the never-ending search for Sophia who blundered into the woods in episode one.

Deciding to shift its focus to a slower paced plot based on character development, it seems that the second season of TWD has lost its way. With a lack-luster season opener and successively uninteresting episodes, the future story arc for the remainder of this season looks bleak. The shift to the smaller scope thus far may have something to do with AMC’s aggressive proposed budget cuts, which included less zombies and more interior filming to save money. As well, the firing of writer, director and producer Frank Darabont who fought these cuts, has inevitably affected the quality of the final product.

While I appreciate the differences between the comic and television versions of The Walking Dead I feel I can sum the season thus far up in three words. It’s just boring.

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