When AMC first announced it was planning on turning the hit comic series THE WALKING DEAD into a television series, immediately I was on board. I was nervous of course, as for the most part adaptations never really seem to work. Luckily when the first episode aired, on Halloween, my fears were put to rest. Not only had the show gone above and beyond my expectations, it seemed to completely redefine how a comic should be adapted for television, or even the movies. This wasn’t just my opinion though; viewers around the country were happy with the series! In fact, the show managed gather the largest following for any new cable television series to date. Within a week Season 2 was a guarantee. Now, a year later, and ten episodes into this season, I have to admit; I have mixed feelings for the direction the show has taken. What started out as a great step into an almost Ultimate take on the comics, has just turned into a absolutely sour experience. Now; before I go on I should warn you that there is a good chance of SPOILERS ahead…so you’ve been warned. So, how did this all start? When did the show start to stray off course, and venture into some bizarre universe where the characters from the comic I loved have turned into a bunch of irredeemable, not to mention slightly idiotic antagonists? Well; it all started with a little girl getting lost in the woods.
Daryl Dixon, by far the most beloved character of the Walking Dead television series, defines what is good about this show. Not only is he a completely new character, he fills a role that was previously vacant in the early parts of the comic. Daryl is so loved that in a very Harley Quinn like situation, it is rumored that he will be making an appearance in the comics this year! He’s not on the top of the list just because he’s awesome, though. Yes, he’s an amazing character; and yes he does happen to be one of the brothers from the cult hit The Boondock Saints. However; it goes beyond just those two facts. This shows that the television series doesn’t have to be a carbon copy of the comic to do well. It just has to be something the viewers want, and make sense. We watch Daryl as he progresses from his original anti-group position, and became not only a valued member of the team, but one that actually cares what happens to those around him. Even after we find out what happened to Sophia, causing Daryl to revert back to his independent self, it still works for the show.
Another great aspect of this show is the zombies themselves. Gregory Nicotero and team have done an amazing job with the makeup throughout both seasons of The Walking Dead. Their work has allowed for each zombie to stand out, and not appear as just a horde. Each zombie seems to tell a story of how the character met their grizzly fate, providing a sense of immersion for the audience. Sadly, as of late, zombies have almost become a rare experience. We can blame budget cuts for that, however.
Speaking of budget cuts. Shortly after appearing at San Diego Comic-Con, former series writer/director Frank Darabont (The Green Mile, The Shawshank Redemption) announced that he would be stepping down from the show. It was shocking news for everyone, and really rattled the seemingly stable ground the show had built with its success from season one. Eventually, the truth emerged that Darabont had actually been fired! AMC provided little to no explanation to cast members other then, “This isn’t working,”. Turns out AMC had decided to cut the budget of the series down from $3.4 million to $2.7 million. As if that wasn’t bad enough, they also wanted to double the length of the series. Darabont did not take this news lightly. After confronting AMC directly they decided to go further and “advice” him on how to produce the show, suggesting he film half of it indoors and half out. They even asked him, ” Does the audience necessarily need to always see the zombies, can’t they just hear them?” . As a result, AMC decided to fire Darabont as his direction of the show (the one that made the first season such a hit) did not agree with AMC’s financial expectations.
The Walking Dead has always been more about human interaction then zombie slaughter-fest entertainment. So, it’s quite disappointing to see characters get thrown to the sidelines and almost forgotten on the television series. We all know who I’m talking about.T-Dog. In the opening episodes of season 2; he and Dale seemed to develop their own side story with T-dog starting to succumb to his injuries. He wanted to abandon the group, it was good drama! Fast-forward to the farm, and T-Dog barely manages to appear in every episode. Even fan favorite Dale seemingly vanished for some time, only making brief appearances to remind the group of their slowly diminishing morality. This show can’t afford to simply abandon characters. So when they introduce a character, just to ignore them it tends to leave a sour taste in viewers mouth.
Whenever the show focuses on the women of the group, I often find myself thinking I’ve stepped into The Housewives of the Zombie Apocalypse. This is something that has been around since season one, however; season two has gone way beyond naivety. The portrayal of Lori is really the only proof you need. The character has shown she has an almost 1950’s approach on what women should be doing during the Zombie Apocalypse. In one fight she expressed her anger toward Andrea for playing toy-solider while she and the other girls were doing the “real” work! Work like: cleaning, washing, and preparing meals. In one fight Lori managed to turn back equality among the sexes about sixty years. Still, Lori did have a point, just not the one she was trying to make. Andrea shouldn’t be allowed to patrol as the only person she has succeeded in shooting was one of her own allies. There is also the fact that the only reason she wants to go on patrol is because she’s always angry. The portrayal of the women are always on the extremes of female stereotypes, it’s almost insulting. Even Glenn crossed the line when he asked, “Are all the girls on their periods?” Perhaps if the series had more female producers, or writers, the women of this show wouldn’t be walking talking sexist caricatures.
We all know dumb people exist. However; in The Walking Dead, it would seem that the zombies aren’t the only ones constantly being bonked in the head. These are supposed to be the survivors of the apocalypse! Strong, and intelligent people. Yet most of the characters as of late have been acting more-or-less…dumb. The characters are constantly placing themselves in danger for no other reason then to provide dramatic scenes! One prime example of this is when they decided to use Glenn as walker bait. How anyone thought this was a good idea is beyond me, but there have been other examples as well. Currently we’re dealing with one such decision as Rick, Glenn and Hershel decided to save a boy from certain death, only to then decide he can’t be trusted and must be executed… Yes, it’s the end of the world. Yes, their basically in a 24/7 war zone, and under extreme stress! However, these decisions are just dumb no matter what the situation.
Maybe these things will change? Still, even with them not everything is terrible about this show. It has some real strong points, and could be an amazing series…however, season 2 seems to have solidified that The Walking Dead isn’t going to please everyone was hoped. Perhaps, with no knowledge of the characters from the comic series, one could enjoy this show. Having read the series though, I find myself ready to jump ship.