Come on, it’s the newest season of The Walking Dead to hit Blu-ray, do I really need to convince you to buy it or even warn you away from it? If you’re any kind of horror fan at all, and I can only assume that you are as you’re here reading this, then you have already seen this. That means you will either be in Group A, those who still love this show, or the disparagingly large minority in Group B that believe Season Two totally messed things up, became “The Boring Dead,” and otherwise ruined a once good show. Me, well I won’t tell you what group I fall into. You’re just going to have to read the review and decide for yourself.
Season Two starts off very strong, with our band of survivors running into their first ‘heard’ (read as: big roving band) of zombies out on a traffic snarled highway. Someone gets hurt, some zombies get killed real good, and a young girl runs off into the woods being chased by zombies. Oh and the episode ends with young Carl, the son to the lead couple, getting shot in the chest. Yep, fun times all around, and a hell of a way to start off a season.
Then things start to grind to a halt. Oh to be sure the slowdown happens, appropriately enough, slowly at first, but it is noticeable once our main survivors make it to a farmhouse filled with others. The farm has largely and miraculously escaped the ravages of the zombie apocalypse. A bunch of new characters are introduced and some are great, like the slow talking, country, and capable Hershal and his very cute daughter Maggie. Others are immediately recognizable as destined to become zombie snacks and get less screen time that T-Dog. Yeah, did you forget that he was in this show? Because it sure seems like the writers have.
Anyway, where Season Two really missteps are episodes three through seven, where large chunks of not a damn thing happening rears its ugly, boring head. Now before you jump to TWD’s defense, I know the strength of the show is its characters. If it was non-stop zombie gut munching and head bashing then it would get old fast. But stuff can happen without having to fall back on the ghouls and gore. And yet for the majority of the first half of this season you get navel gazing, hand wringing, and teeth gnashing from all the characters and VERY LITTLE ELSE. The same conversations of “this world sucks, doesn’t this world suck, boy do I hate this sucky world” are repeated over and over again.
The word through the grapevine was that the show runners wanted to make the show on the cheap, and sitting a bunch of people on a farm to just complain about things is a good way to save cash. Whether or not that was the reason for the Season Two morass, the end result was the same. By the time of the midseason break, the fans had spoken; they were getting bored. Very, very bored. Thankfully the head honchos over at AMC saw the writing on the wall, or make that the raging fanboys on the internet and the declining ratings, so that when The Walking Dead came back in episode seven, the remaining seven episodes moved briskly and was a return to form.
From episode seven on there’s lots of zombie action, the group’s first run in with other live survivors who aren’t the friendliest of people, and some tough decisions to make, such as when is it ok to outright execute someone. Before this season’s over some of the main cast will pay the price and the survivors’ little slice of paradise will be gone. Oh come on, don’t cry “spoliers” at me, you know it was only a matter of time. All this culminates in a great season finale that really sets things up wonderfully for season three including a new place and a new face.
The new Blu-ray set from Anchor Bay has a whole zombie horde of special features befitting of AMC’s most popular show. There are eleven short featurettes on a bunch of aspects from the show. Highlights for me are always the ones on the groovy, gory special effects and there are plenty of those here. There’s a spotlight on the zombie in the well, another on the zombie gutting scene, and another all about special effects guru (not to mention producer and director) Greg Nicotero. And that’s just three out of the eleven. There are also six ‘webisodes’ that together make a short film called “Torn Apart” about the famous torn in half lady zombie from the first season. These were very cool, and they also come with an audio commentary track.
Speaking of commentaries, five episodes have commentaries by a whole bunch of people connected to the show that were good fun, sometimes funny, and usually informative. However one thing I must point out is in the commentary for episode one of Season Two. There, all involved are either in deep denial or just towing the company line when they all express ignorance on why so many people thought the first half of Season Two dragged like hell. Uhm, sorry guys, but this season was dreadfully dull at times. That’s just a fact. That’s history. And you know what they say about people who forget history, right? Oh well, enough of me beating that (un)dead horse.
The final bit of goodies in this BD set are a collection of deleted scenes. And if that’s still not enough zombie love for you, and you’ve got some extra cash in your wallet, then you can pony up some more dough for the uber cool Limited Edition that comes with a zombie-with-a-screwdriver-in-its-eye holding case. Now that’s entertainment!
This second season to AMC’s The Walking Dead started off strong, lost its way for a few episodes and began to meander, but then came back swinging and ended on a high note. It is still the best zombie TV show on right now, not that it has a lot of competition. It’s often gory good fun, is usually well written, has a great look, interesting and believable characters, gorgeously gory splatter effects, and when it’s not trying to pad things out, it is thoroughly enjoyable. So consider The Walking Dead: Season Two a must buy. Dull parts aside, it’s still pretty awesome.