Bring out your ‘Dead’

The long arm of the post apocalyptic law

Is anyone else at all disappointed with this season of The Walking Dead?

Don’t get me wrong: Slightly off WD is better than Two and a Half Men when it’s dead on … if Two and a Half Men has ever actually been dead on. I’m not saying The Walking Dead creates a vacuum or anything. It’s just not as good as I want it to be.

I’ve narrowed it to two issues: Pacing and my Child-In-Danger theory.

Pacing

The first season was very, very short, but the writers managed to really deliver a flood of character information and a menacing intensity that was the under the surface waiting to boil over. … And sometimes doing just that, boiling over, exploding in ways that both drove the story and served the characters. They had to trim all fat because there was simply no room for it. It reminds me of how concise BBC dramas (I’m thinking specifically of Luther) have to be because they have such short seasons. A BBC show may get eight episodes while mid-season replacements on the major America nets will get 11-13. There’s little fluff and navel gazing across the pond. It’s straight to what’s important, what drives the story. Walking Dead‘s first season had that compactness, and it’s part of what made it so great.

Now … there’s a lot of gazing. A gaggle. A plethora. A ton. It’s starting to remind of the worst aspects of Lost. I’m almost to the point where I wouldn’t be surprised if Jack and Sawyer show up to fight over/pine over Freckles. (Hopefully, should that happen, they’ll all be zombies. Fingers crossed.) I’m all for character development. And I realize part of what was happening in the first half of season two was a lulling of the characters (and viewers) into believing the farm was safe and permanent. But there were times I thought I was going to fall asleep. The writers now have more episodes, more screen time, yet if feels like rather than taking advantage of that, they’re just writing what they’ve would have written for a shorter season, only dragging it out. Maybe I’m overly sensitive and things will pick up now that Shane’s forced the issue. I hope so.

Child in danger

One of the things that drives me nuts about TV dramas is that they tend to want to put children in danger solely to play on the feelings of a viewer that should know that kid ain’t going nowhere. They may be hospitalized. Maybe even a coma to really drag the predictable boredom out. But they will not die.

Sure, you’re going to immediately point to the fact that Sophia ended up being as a zombie, then ended up as a dead zombie. Of course she did. Because when you put not one, not two, but THREE children in danger, one of them isn’t going to make it. And when one’s the son of the main character, and the other is a fetus that can stoke the tensions of an ill-fated love triangle, the daughter of the secondary character who ran off alone into the zombie-infested wild? She’s the one getting the bullet in the forehead. A terrific moment, dramatically, because it reinforced what makes the Rick character so vital: He’s the one who will do the dirty job when the time comes. He won’t put it on anyone else. He won’t hide it or hide from it. But I thought having all three of the pre-junior high age kids put in mortal danger was too over the top and came off in a soapy way.

All of that said, I’m not dumping The Walking Dead anytime soon. I often complained about the pacing of the final season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but when I reviewed it after the series ended, it worked much better than I’d believed at the time. I have a feeling, despite my uneasiness concerning the first half of season two, that I’m going to come to a similar conclusion in this instance.

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