How Can The Walking Dead Save It’s Second Season? Get Lost

Posted by on February 10th, 2012

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The whole gang is back! After an inexcusable hiatus, breaking up the momentum just as the season got reasonably interesting we finally return to meet back up with Rick Grimes and company this Sunday on AMC.

Either the series rebounds to the form of the first season and the flickering promise of the final act of the mid-season finale. Or we return the plodding nonsense that was the heft of first half. In genre television, a realm where concepts and execution mean so much, you either pass or fail.

The Walking Dead is at the tipping point.

Two sides of a coin. Two paths in a wood. Is TWD ready to step up its game?

Let’s consider the possibilities.

Remember true believers, we’ve been here before. Worse even! It was late November, 2006. In order to avoid maddening rerun breaks in the schedule of their suddenly popular cult hit Lost, ABC came up with a brilliant plan. Run it with no repeats, but in two parts. One six-episode run in the fall and the bulk in the spring.

The results were awful. The six-episode arc plodded, new characters added nothing to the show and took away screen time from old favorites and at the end of six hours we got a tense yet predictable climax that delivered on none of the mind blowing awesomeness we’d come to expect from Lost.

Run Kate! Run (away from this show because it’s boring)!

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But something miraculous happened when the show returned in February of 2007. The creative spark was back. We got the first of what would become a trilogy of great episodes centered around Desmond’s time defying, reality hopping prowess. Our big bad Ben Linus became both more ruthless and sympathetic through an artfully told backstory. Found out why Locke was in a wheelchair. AND.. AND… AND they cleared the new character dead weight with a flourish. And Billy D. Williams.

Meanwhile, the season finale ended with perhaps the biggest sucker punch in a series known for sucker punches. A brilliant example of why you need to consistently blow up your mythology to keep things interesting.

We have to go back Kate! We have to go back (to watch this seasons again because it ruled)!

What can TWD learn?

skitched-20120210-180409.jpgDead isn’t Lost. But it is the most important show about zombies since… well… ever. The first season showed so much outside-the-box promise. The CDC and Merle Dixon explored concepts like global hope and power dynamics in a thrilling and exciting way. Although Herschel’s farm certainly gave us a careful examination of how to consider the humanity of the undead, it took it’s sweet time to do it and diluted the point like a homeopathic cold remedy.

In the second half of season three, Lost focused on telling great one episode stories. Some dealt with previous mythology but many (like Desmond’s Flashes Before Your Eyes) did not. Let’s get more of those! You have an endless possibility of character interaction in show about post-apocalyptic survivors. What strange people? Cultures?

Think about how many terrible episodes in the first half hung their entire dramatic arc on the search for a little girl they knew they weren’t going to find? The complications they found were either easily solvable or had no dramatic consequence.

Not to beat a dead horse, but the sure fire way to fowl this up is to follow the comic series closer than they have. Until we get to Woodbury and meet The Governor (whose casting rumors are quite juicy) there’s a whole lot of sloooooooooooow burn in this source material.

This is not a slow burn series, it’s a story about survival and the forces against it. Or at least it shouldn’t be if it wants to be watchable.

4 Responses to “How Can The Walking Dead Save It’s Second Season? Get Lost”

  1. Michael Thomas Says:

    I have to disagree a fair bit here.  Last season they had 6 episodes to get things going, set, and done.  This season they have more than double that to work with and now we get to sit back a bit and take in the characters, let them develop and grow.  In the comic books for the walking dead series we have tons of time to get to know the characters and like or dislike them for their choices. 

    Some have said that they saw the kid coming out of the barn a mile away, and to that I say who cares.  It wasn’t about knowing that fact, it was about the moment, the pureness of it, the horror, terror, realization, decisions and the perfect moment when the true leader was made, and ultimately the biggest threat to Shane.

    Other series like “Breaking Bad” have wasted a number of episodes with nothing but character development, so why can’t the Walking Dead?  I like the development, then haphazard way the characters seem to do everything, getting bogged down looking for a kid, to pulling a walker out of the well. 

    This is a group of people without a clear leader, with no direction, no future, no past, no idea.

    Now we have the shift, the leader has come forward, the one who would be leader, Shane, is now threatened, Rick is now his target.  You can’t have two Alpha Males in a group looking for survival.   Shane has played his aggressive  hand and it has backfired, Rick has let him play out his hand so that the others would see him for who he is, now Rick will step in and the group will follow.

    Shane will die, very soon, and the series will get back to where no one is safe.  Only a few days or weeks have really passed in the real time line, people need to remember that.

    I expect the next part of the season to be the downward run of the roller coaster, twists and turns await.

    I took the time to re-watch the first half of the season before the return on Sunday, and I love it.  You have to read between the lines, examine the context.

    This series is going to be fine, hell just look at the ratings, despite a few reviews by the unwashed masses the ratings for the series was higher than last year by far, and consistently great.

  2. JustinRYoung Says:

    The problem isn’t that they are “developing characters” it’s that the development is boring and repetitive. 

  3. mxyzptlk Says:

    “Character development” implies some sort of change in character. Something the comics do well is demonstrate that change through actions.

    The problem Walking Dead is facing is most characters aren’t really changing, except for Shane. (Andrea’s change to Annie Oakley was a little too sudden and not all that believable.) They’re trying to convey “character development,” but they’re usually doing it by telling us instead of showing us.

    Example: Lori told us Carl is getting cold, but Carl hasn’t done anything to show us how cold he’s becoming. In the comics we find out how cold Carl is becoming when he takes out the twin-murderer himself. That was a demonstration, and an effective one. The series has diverged from the books, but could take a cue from how Kirkman develops a character.

    I don’t think the show is all that bad, but there does seem to be a lot of unfulfilled potential being left on the table.

  4. Espa Says:

    I don’t like it anymore, I’ll probably stop watching. In the beggining I liked a lot because I wanted to see a horror/action show, that’s why I started watching in the first place. But now it became a boring drama all the time. I regret so much starting watching.

    The writers and directors can do whatever they want with the series of course, but I think they used the zombies just for making people watch in the beggining. They could have used any catastrophic thing for plot: a meteor hit the earth, a terrible disease kills 99% of the humans, or any another apocalyptic stuff. They only wanted to put some people togheter and make them live dramas.

    It’s always valid to make people think about the human behavior, but that’s not what I was searching in TWD, so I’m very, very disapointed.