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The Walking Dead - Season 2 Premiere

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Scott Roberts
The Walking Dead - Season 2 Premiere
on Oct 19, 2011 at 3:53:06 pm


Last night I also got to watching the premiere of the new season of The Walking Dead. I thought it was a slight improvement over the weaker episodes of the first season. It did just enough to make me want to see where they are going with this, but overall, still pretty underwhelmed.

The pacing! Ohhhh, the pacing! I understand they are going more for a George Romero thing than a 28 Days later thing, but what is with the slow pacing? I consider Romero's original Dawn of the Dead to be one of the best horror movies ever made, and it seems to fly by at lightning pace compared to Walking Dead. And it came out in 1978.

This pacing seems to be the required style of AMC original series. It's why I gave up on Mad Men (in season 3) and The Killing (in episode 3). I never saw a minute of Rubicon, but I'm sure it's what got that show canceled. I'm still giving Breaking Bad the benefit of the doubt, but it's taking me forever to get through it because watching a single episode feels like it takes up my whole afternoon (just started season 3 over the weekend). AMC shows are weird; it's like you know that they are good, and they are a better standard of television than most, but it still feels like a chore to watch any of them. Very slow and dry television. AMC is like HBO's boring little brother.

But back to Walking Dead. My compliant has always been lack of zombies. I didn't just dislike the season one finale, I HATED it. There were 30 seconds of total screen time for zombies in the finale of an hour long show ABOUT ZOMBIES. I know the argument is that the show isn't really about zombies, it's about the human side. But the human side isn't compelling! It's a bunch of one-note cliche characters, very few of which are played by people who can act. The drama is corny. The dialogue isn't great. The best part of the whole episode was when the herd of zombies were walking through their convoy. Wow, the best part of a show about zombies was the scene with all the zombies! What a revelation!

It's supposed to be a "smart" zombie show, that doesn't need to focus on just the zombies to be successful. I would completely understand this theory if it were successful in practice. But I don't see any evidence of this being a particularly smart show. I've never bothered to memorize the character's names, but I mean this is what the dialogue is like (with bad acting):

[little boy finds satchel of weapons]

Little Boy: Oh wow, can I keep them!?
Annoying Woman: No! Now go give them to (the redneck guy)!
Little Boy: C'mon... Hey (meathead guy), can I keep them, please, tell her I can keep them!
Meathead Guy: (nonchalantly) Nah, go give them to (the redneck guy).
[Little Boy wanders off frustrated]
Annoying Woman: [to meathead guy] What's wrong with you, you didn't have to treat him so coldly!

...wait, what??

He agreed with you, lady! Oh, man, this dialogue is killing me. The characters are killing me. I wish these zombies would kill SOMETHING.

Coming from a guy who loves all things zombie (I own a direct-to-DVD movie called Vampires vs. Zombies, and have watched it more than once), I'm not digging how they are handling TV's lone zombie show. I'm excited that Zombieland appears to be getting made into a TV series instead of a film sequel. That should be more fun than Walking Dead. But in terms of Walking Dead, I'm giving it two more episodes to win me over. Do something Walking Dead. Do anything.

final random SPOILER note: what was that kid trying to do at the end of the episode with the deer? Why was he walking towards it? What was he hoping to accomplish? That was... stupid... Was he planning on just touching the deer? I'm like hurting my brain trying to fathom the justification of why he was doing what he was doing, and why the adults were just standing there gawking like mental patients. "Duhhh ohhhh wow, a deer! I'm gonna go try and touch the wild aminal, daahhhhhh". Was that supposed to be like a commentary of the beauty of nature in a destroyed world? Or an exploration of the innocence of a adolescent who's had his childhood robbed from him? Either way, The Walking Dead has once again failed to clearly communicate the message they want to get across. Whatever that message is supposed to be.

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Mark Suszko
Re: The Walking Dead - Season 2 Premiere
on Oct 19, 2011 at 9:27:46 pm

Well, this season they are doing without the services of Frank Darabont, for one thing. It is going to feel different. I really enjoyed last season but missed the last 2 episodes.

I think the zombie airtime ratio is about right, maybe you just need to decaffinate a litte wee bit before watching:-)

Not really a spoiler, but in the last season, the meathead guy you mention assumed the sheriff guy was dead, so was starting to work towards being a replacement husband and father to the Sheriff's wife and son. His yelling at the kid was called out by the mom as extra-harsh, and he explains the reasons pretty well. Why she's not okay with his reasons is something her husband should be asking HER.

When the Sheriff is reunited with his family unexpectedly, it is understandably ackward now between the 4 of them. Meathead guy is trying to gently start undoing the fatherly bonds he was establishing with the kid, and his guilt over unintentionally cuckholding his boss and friend/partner is destroying him from the inside. This is practically Shakespearian in terms of drama. Good stuff, especially when the ever-present survival pressure of the zombies interferes with plans.

The deer thing was, I think as you said, a magic moment where the three of them could forget about the hell of the world and just be deeply in the moment, as things used to be, when nature was pure and men were masters of it. I thought it was going to go another way, myself: instead of bolting as expected, I expected the deer to suddenly go all zombie on the kid, or for a zombie to jump the deer.

The shooting accident as seen is actually quite a common thing: I did a training vodeo about how hunters get tunnel vision when aiming and miss seeing pretty blatant things in danger right next to or beyond the target.

Nobody asked the question of how a remote church still has electrical power to run an automated church bell?

But what gets me is, the show's characters are doing stupid "Gilligan" things, they are making illogical choices that only exist to kick the story along. By now, the entire group should be very zombie-savvy, with instincts that preclude stupid things like wandering away without weapons, or without someone keeping surveillance, etc. And taking the kids along on a dangerous search, versus keeping them safe locked up and guarded and able to escape in the RV, well, those parents are idiots. SInce kids ARE the only future left, kids and women would be kept like ther most precious treasure, never risked out and about. When you sit and yell at the TV "that's a stupid thing to do, nobody would do that in real life" - you have a script and plotting problem.

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Scott Roberts
Re: The Walking Dead - Season 2 Premiere
on Oct 20, 2011 at 7:39:41 pm

[Mark Suszko] "
I think the zombie airtime ratio is about right, maybe you just need to decaffinate a litte wee bit before watching:-)"

Hahaha, I need this zombie show to work on a crazy level, Mark. I NEED IT.

Yeah, I kind of get the themes they are going for with the friend moving in on his friends wife and now they are trying to resolve the awkward conflict. But I just don't think they are executing it that well. It probably starts at the acting really (I'm sorry, I think this show has some of the worst acting ever for such a critically acclaimed show), and then falls onto the writers. It just seems so corny to me. You'd think in the face of a zombie apocalypse these idiots would be able to put some of their differences aside for a while.

Definitely a TON of 'Gilliganing' going on. Mom to son - "Don't wander out of my eyesight..." How about "don't move at all, kid!"? The fact that the kid was able to wander far enough away to find the satchel of weapons, and then climb INTO A CAR with a dead body to get it was insane. I bet the mom was busy bickering with the meathead guy because they are both annoying. Flawed characters everywhere! Their stupidity is scarier than the zombies!

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Tim Wilson
Re: The Walking Dead - Season 2 Premiere
on Oct 20, 2011 at 7:52:01 pm

I don't think that this is a "Where's Frank?" problem. The first episode was written by the same guys, including Frank, who was still the showrunner for that ep.

The problem is that the first one just wasn't very good. The trailer guy and the mom woman have always been the two least appealing characters for me, and their "please kill them already" quotient has gone through the roof.

I've seen a number of people saying that this was the best episode yet -- I think it's the worst. I LOVE that the show is so slowly paced...but this one was ridiculous.

For the record, my favorite is ep 4, Vatos, followed by the first one. I watched that again recently, and was blown away again at how good it was....

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