I had been anxiously waiting for the second season of THE WALKING DEAD to begin since the moment the (too short) first season ended and in the first 16 or so minutes of the Second Season Premiere I was rewarded with a textbook example of how to make a suspenseful zombie apocalypse experience. The panic that came over the crew of survivors when they realized too late that they had stumbled into an oncoming herd of shuffling flesh-eating zombies was great and the tension as each character scrambled for a sufficient hiding place was palpable. Andrea being trapped and unarmed in the RV’s bathroom, Sophie being chased into the woods by two zombies, and Rick’s daring rescue were all edge of your seat moments.
And then it all went to hell.
To go from those tight and heightened 16 minutes of thrilling TV to what amounted to an Amber Alert crossed with a travelogue of the woods of rural Georgia was a major jolt to the senses. All of that anxiety and tension that was built up by the first 16 minutes of the show quickly turned into tedium and bordered on absolute boredom. The endless search for Sophie was bad enough but when coupled with an over abundance of furtive glances and pained conversations between Shane and Lori (two points of the most unappealing triangle in the history of TV) divided by the insufferable whining of Andrea and the mewling of Sophie’s mother…well I almost stopped the DVR and just deleted the episode before I was even done watching. I am aware that many of the people involved in this show tend to declare that it is more a show about the people surviving than about the zombies that surround them but if these people are going to continue to be so horrendously written then I’d prefer they spend the hour following a few of those zombies around as they look for their next meal.
Reflecting on what I think is wrong with this show can be narrowed down to three issues:
1. The majority of these characters are unlikable.
I get that they are all trying to cope during a pretty hellacious situation but that doesn’t mean they all have to be so wretched. The writers of this show have to figure out a way to make the characters anger and frustration known to the viewers without making the viewers hate the characters for being whiny douchebags.
2. Shane needs to die.
Spoiler Alert! for those who have not read the comic book that this show is based on but in the books Shane died pretty soon after Rick was reunited with his family. I won’t tell you how he died but that series of events created more of a compelling chunk of story than this dreadful triangle has done to this point or probably will in the future. Shane serves no purpose other than being a jackass who makes you wish he would be the main dish in a zombie buffet.
3. The show needs to stick closer to its source material.
I am not one of those sticklers for cinematic properties sticking religiously to the source material. While sometimes it can be a good thing (as evidenced by GAME OF THRONES which sticks very closely to events in the books) but veering off course can be just as entertaining (as TRUE BLOOD has shown by injecting original ideas into themes from the books) when done well. Sadly I am beginning to think that THE WALKING DEAD is going too far away from the source material to the detriment of the show. There are elements of the show that I like a lot…Daryl is a great character with tons of storyline potential. But there are some crucial elements of the comic that I think would help this show a lot and should be introduced as quickly as possible. The ones that I think are most needed in Season Two are the characters of Tyreese and Michonne and the setting of the prison. The storyline possibilities from those three additions would be just what this show needs to save it from what looks to me to be an inevitable descent into Dullsville.
I am hoping that next week’s episode picks up the pace and spares us anymore overwrought monologues and scene after scene of these characters wandering through the woods looking for annoying children. Because if not then I foresee bad things ahead for THE WALKING DEAD because Sunday nights are chock full of alternative viewing options. C