THE WALKING DEAD Season 2.0: Rising From The Ashes

I love zombie flicks. They scare the bejeezus outta me. Earlier this year, I wrote about Season One of the Frank Darabont developed AMC show THE WALKING DEAD in a post I called THE WALKING DEAD: DEAD ON ARRIVAL. Despite my love of zombies, I found the show to be obvious and rather poorly written. The zombies weren’t scary to me; they felt like extras in makeup. The characters and their story lines felt more suited to BAYWATCH or MANIMAL than to a contemporary zombie drama. Sure, there were moments, but the over all effect was to me, despite its popularity, run of the mill. It seemed like a great idea that barely made good.

For reasons that have been speculated about across the web (I don’t know which tale to believe), it was announced that the Season One writing team would not return for Season Two.

This gave me hope.

Frank Darabont

After the dreadful Season One finale, I feared the Second Season would be more of the same. I thought my fears had been realized as I watched the Season Two premiere which began with one of the worst-written monologues I’ve heard in a while. My heart sank. But then something happened. It started to get better. And then… it started to get good. REALLY good. Now don’t misunderstand me, THE WALKING DEAD is not THE WIRE or THE SOPRANOS or DEADWOOD. The writing is simply NOT of that caliber. But I have now found myself engaged where before I hadn’t been. And I’m now left wanting more at the end of each episode. Which is a good thing. I find myself excited for the next. And while words like “brilliant” and “masterful” will never find themselves (appropriately) applied to this series, “damn entertaining” and “engrossing” are terms I’m more than comfortable using. And sure, I still have a couple of issues from Season One that weren’t completely addressed in Season Two, but with the boosted quality of writing and acting the show is now exhibiting, I find myself far more forgiving of what I may see as “imperfections.”

Interestingly, somewhere during the early days of shooting the Second Season, show runner Frank Darabont was let go. It’s not unheard of for the creator of a show to be let go, but one of Darabont’s stature? This sent out shock waves.

Now I can’t tell you if the first half of the Second Season is more a reflection of Darabont or new show runner Glen Mazzara (who had been Darabont’s no. 2), but I can tell you it’s night and day compared to Season One. Anyone interested in the future of this series is holding his/her breath for the second half of Season Two to see if the show will continue on as the very intense, well-written show it has been for the past 7 episodes, or fall flat on its own rotted face. I will say this, the mid-season finale was, to put it bluntly, fucking amazing. Is it possible that the show may actually benefit from Darabont’s departure, as has been suggested by some?

Glen Mazzara

Many reports I’ve read seem to hold AMC responsible for mismanaging this show and the behind-the-scenes circus that has developed. I’m not an insider, so I don’t know where the blame lies. All I know is I’m hoping like hell the series continues with this level of quality and doesn’t sink back down to the depths of ridiculousness it found itself mired in for much of the first season. And I’m keeping my fingers crossed that AMC doesn’t find a way to consume its own show until there’s nothing left worth my attention. And let’s hope Glen Mazzara’s influence will continue to be a plus. I’m certainly rooting for him. And for the show.

THE WALKING DEAD Season 2.0: Rising From The Ashes

5 thoughts on “THE WALKING DEAD Season 2.0: Rising From The Ashes

  1. I was still completely bored. It never drew me in. I don’t care about the characters and I feel like it’s missing an important element to this genre… it’s supposed to be fun! I find myself continually hurling insults at the writers and questioning why I still watch it. Truly disappointed with what could have been great show.

    1. halmasonberg says:

      Wow, that’s surprising to me. I really dug this season (so far). And as you know, I didn’t like Season 1 at all. I was ready to turn Season Two off, but I was almost instantly drawn in. And it kept me. I’m totally digging it. Season One and Season Two feel like completely different shows to me. The quality of the writing and the approach to characters feels VERY different to me. I loved the last episode, too. Thought it kicked ass. I feel the tension and conflicts in a big way. And keeping it bound to one location has really worked for me. Given them time to focus on character and story and less big “scene-stealers.” Sorry you’re not enjoying it. I would stop if I was you. If I felt like it hadn’t improved from Season One, I would have called it quits 5 episodes back. And I never think of this genre as “fun.” Some of the good ones can be, but my favorites don’t really have that as an element. The original NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD is still my fave and I wouldn’t categorize it as “fun.” I think DAWN OF THE DEAD is certainly fun, but I wouldn’t want all my zombie flicks to have that much tongue in cheek, though I thought it worked brilliantly in that. There are certainly zombie flicks like ZOMBIELAND that some would consider fun, but I thought that film was god-awful. I mean truly bad. Unwatchable bad. And SHAWN OF THE DEAD was incredibly fun, but that was meant to be a comedy. Otherwise, I like the apocalyptic nature of a good zombie film. And the ones that really get under my skin. I think THE WALKING DEAD is still missing the boat as far as the zombies themselves are concerned. They are still too generic. They rarely remind us of ourselves or the life we once led. They’re still a bit too “alien” for me. More about the physical effect than the emotional effect. That’s the only area that I think is lacking. Otherwise, it’s a vast improvement. And I’m bummed every time an episode ends now. I just want more.

      1. Well, to me, I think “fun” means that I’m enjoying watching something and this show I find myself rolling my eyes most of the time. I think Blade Runner is fun, so it’s not a lighthearted element that I’m referring to, I just feel like half the time people are talking about who’s sleeping with who and frankly I don’t care and it takes all the urgency out of the show and slows it down to a snails pace. It doesn’t feel like it’s driving anywhere, just meandering along. I agree that this season is better than the first, but in my opinion, not by much. It sucks because I really wanted to like this show, but it’s turned out to be a dull ride for me.

  2. halmasonberg says:

    Bummer, Gavin. Yeah, I’m not having that experience at all. And by that definition of fun, I am definitely having fun. Like I said, I’m bummed every time an episode ends. And I look forward to the next. I definitely feel forward momentum. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t THE WIRE or THE SOPRANOS, but I’m enjoying it. Sure, there are moments I don’t buy and still think are lazy (the attack in the pharmacy), but those don’t happen very often (unlike Season One which I felt was made up almost entirely of these moments). I can’t imagine the show’s gonna get much better. If you’re that bored still, I’d call it quits. Life’s too short, right?

  3. Randell J. says:

    While Season 1 offered more let-downs than surprises–I have never missed an episode since The Walking Dead debuted–and I also sensed the show was lagging until it suddenly picked up right in the middle of Season 2. I didn’t register Glen Mazzara’s influence until I read your blog, Hal. You nailed it. The season’s last few episodes built some terrific momentum, and breathed some new life into a show that was, unfortunately and inadvertently, living up to its own name. Suddenly, the show is good entertainment and I enjoyed the thoughtful Season 2 finale. Looking forward to Season 3.

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