AMC should be pretty proud of themselves. With a back-catalogue of original programming consisting of Breaking Bad and Mad Men, they are soon becoming the new HBO. The Walking Dead is up there amongst the greats after a stunning second season, and I implore anyone who hasn’t seen it yet to do so as it is one of the best shows currently on TV.
For those not familiar with the programme, it follows a small band of survivors in a zombie apocalypse, in particular focusing on a young family who had previously been broken up. The show has taken the tired zombie-horror genre that has filled our silver screens for over 80 years and given it a sentimental, human quality. Take Night of the Living Dead’s zombies, Bridget Jones’ Diary‘s love-triangle, and the drama in Saving Private Ryan, and you essentially have The Walking Dead. For fans of the gore that has become synonymous with the genre, do not fear as The Walking Dead doesn’t disappoint (the hacking away of a zombie corpse in season one is a particular favourite of mine). But it is the characters you grow to love, not the zombies. Although there are a few racial stereotypes chucked in there (the black character is called T-Dog, and the rednecks act like… well, racist rednecks), the rest are engrossing and you soon forget that you haven’t seen a ‘walker’ (what the characters call the undead) in over 40 minutes. Some call it boring; I say innovative.
Although the show hasn’t quite lived up to what the pilot promised us, the second season has done one over on the six-episode first season. More drama, more worrying looks to the camera, and (the most desired change) more zombies. And there were definitely more zombies. However, for me, what makes the show special is the characters, and how they cope with the apocalypse. Atmosphere is another key aspect to the show’s success. The creators build up the suspense to levels that leave you hugging the pillow in anticipation (during one of the episodes early on in the season, we are treated to 30 minutes of the most dramatic television in history).
The development of favourite characters Rick (played by Andrew Lincoln from Love Actually) and Daryl (played by Norman Reedus who in my opinion receives too little screen time) in season two was needed to overcome Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) and Carl’s (Chandler Riggs) shortcomings. They are infuriating. Lori cannot keep track of her son and offers no solutions to any of the group’s problems, just stern looks followed by looking for her son (this is repeated most episodes, and I urge fans of the show to look at the memes created from the second series which are pure gold). The supporting cast are fantastic, and I look forward to hearing more of their backstories next year.
Overall, this still remains a brilliant series. The writing, direction and acting are all first class, and hopefully the bugs from the second season will be sorted in time for the new season next year. With the teaser of a prison in the background at the end of the finale, and the new ‘Ricktatorship’ in order, we’re set for one hell of a third season. But I’m sure Lori will find time to lose Carl every episode…