I don’t think this is going to be a review as much as a discussion. I watched the DVD set of Season Two of The Walking Dead a few weeks ago and some thoughts have been running around inside my head about it. I feel the need to share them with someone.
Let me start off by saying that I never intended to watch Season Two or even Season Three of The Walking Dead after the way the executives at AMC treated Frank Darabont. When Season Three comes out on DVD in 2013, I’ll definitely get it. Anyway, I was so mad about what they did to Frank that my eyes turned red and smoke was coming out of my ears for weeks after the tragedy.
Fortunately, I finally broke down and purchased the regular DVD set of the second season and began to watch it with perhaps a little trepidation. I already knew about the changes the executives at AMC wanted to make in the show, so I was expecting not to like the series, especially the first four-to-five episodes. Therefore, I was honestly surprised at how much I actually enjoyed it. You don’t know how much I hate to admit that but it’s true. Of course, each episode built upon the previous one, and they all kept getting better and better as the last one drew near.
I think what saved Season Two was the sheer acting ability of the entire cast, from Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes right down to the performers who played the zombies, or the walking dead. There was also the hard work of the crew, and it clearly shows in every episode and every scene shot. As far as the executives at AMC, the only decent thing I can say about them is that they know something good when they see it. After a show becomes a hit, however, it seems as though they do everything in their power to destroy it. Clear examples of this are the TV series Breaking Bad and Mad Men. If Sony hadn’t stepped in and purchased these two great shows, they probably would have ended after the second season on AMC. Sony gave them new life. In time, Sony may have to do the same thing to The Walking Dead. Only time will tell.
Now, I can’t comment on Robert Kirkman’s graphic comic book that the TV series is based on. I’ve never read it. The show, however, is something else.
In a nutshell, the story centers around the main survivors losing one of the children (Sophie) while hiding from an army of zombies. As everyone searches for the child, Carl Grimes (Rick’s son) is shot by a hunter in the woods. The hunter is the son-in-law of Hershel Greene, who is a vet and owns a farm not too far away. Rick takes his son to Herchel, who manages to save the boy’s life. Throughout the next few weeks, the people continue to search for Sophie as they settle in to living at the farm. Hershel, however, doesn’t want them there. The reason for this becomes evident down the road.
During the time the group spends at the farm, Glenn develops a romantic relationship with Maggie, Hershel’s oldest daughter. Shane refuses to accept that his relationship with Lori Grimes is finished as he fights Rick on every decision made. Rick soon learns about Shane’s affair with his wife. Carl Grimes, though still a boy, has to start acting like an adult in order to keep the others safe. Dale feels like the group is losing its humanity. Sophie is eventually found, but in the way everybody hoped. Daryl, though still an asshole, starts to bond with the group and to help them with different things. Ricks finally has a deadly confrontation with Shane, who wants to take over the group and resume his intimate relationship with Lori. Needless to say, he also wants Rick dead.
All the main performers from Andrew Lincoln as Rick, Jon Bernthal as Shane, Sarah Wayne Calles as Lori, Jeffrey DeMunn as Dale, Lori Holden as Andrea, Norman Reedus as Daryl, Steven Yeun a Glenn, Chandler Riggs as Carl, and Melissa McBride as Carol really bring their characters alive. In fact, the actors are truly excellent. You start caring for each member of the group as you learn more about what makes them tick. There were also a few new additions such as Scott Wilson as Hershel Greene and Lauren Cohan as his oldest daughter, Maggie, and Emily Kinney as his youngest daughter, Beth. All of the newest actors certainly rise to the occasion in meeting the quality of acting from the other regulars.
There were a lot of twists and turns I didn’t see coming in Season Two. That’s probably because I haven’t read the comics. Since Season Three is just about over, I feel it’s okay to mention a couple of these. The first is the fact that Dale doesn’t trust Shane any further than he can throw him. They have a confrontation, but Dale backs down at the last moment. Rick is definitely much stronger and meaner than he looks or appears. This becomes evident when he has an old-fashion shootout with two strangers in a bar. He pulls that Colt Python .357 magnum revolver with a six-inch barrel on it so fast out of his holster that it’s almost a blur. I went, “Wow!” I also thought things were being set up for Rick and Shane’s final fight. No matter how tough Shane seems to be, you now know that Rick is his match, but maybe more cunning. I will tell you that the ending is a real power house. A gazillion zombies show up, and then it’s a fight to the finish for everyone. The ending was such that it hooked me into wanting to see Season Three.
Do I recommend Season Two of The Walking Dead to viewers who haven’t seen it, but loved the first season? Yes, I do. You won’t be disappointed.
The featurettes are as numerous on the regular edition as are the deleted scenes. I didn’t watch any because I was primarily interested in seeing the show.
Another SPOILER ALERT!
Jon Bernthal and Jeffrey DeMunn are back with Frank Darabont. As the old saying goes, when one door closes, another one opens. Several months after leaving The Walking Dead, Darabont was approached by Ted Turner of TNT television about doing a crime noir series that takes place in Los Angeles during the forties and fifties. Ted Turner told the director of The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile that money wasn’t an object and that he would have full rein over the series. Since Frank Darabont is as big a fan of L.A. crime noir as he is of horror, he jumped at the opportunity. Jon Bernthal will play the lead police officer in this show and Jeffrey DeMunn will be one of his bosses. The series is titled L.A. Noir as it stands right now, and it will air on TNT during the fall of 2013. I, for one, am looking forward to it.
So, I guess The Walking Dead survived the loss of Frank Darabont. In fact, I think he would be proud of what’s been achieved in Season Two and in Season Three, from what I’ve heard. This is certainly the best horror show on television. Hopefully, it will inspire other networks to start new series in the horror genre.