Monday, November 12, 2012

The Walking Dead Season 2

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

The Walking Dead Season 2 – 5 out of 5

This summer, I made the decision to phase out the reviewing of television seasons released on DVD for numerous reasons. First and foremost, it’s harder to review a TV show because a season of a show has a lot more story and characters to follow than a single 90 minute movie. Since I don’t focus on a single shows like some other great blogs I follow, I found it to be too large of a headache jumping from reviewing something like Breaking Bad to something far more different like Kenny Hotz's Triumph of the Will. Not to mention by the time I review a show’s season that is released on DVD, the next season is already in full swing and I don’t feel my readers care what I think about a season that is already a year old. So, I decided to focus all my energies on movies and building a doomsday device. However, I recently received an email that allowed me to grant a single exception.

"Hey, this guy looks just like me..."

A friend of mine from college emailed me informing me that his wife works for The Walking Dead and could get me a Blu-Ray set of Season 2 on the cheap—my friend knew I was an obsessed fan of the show. After reading this, I immediately had 5 orgasms and passed out. When I came to (dirty pun thrown in for you perverts), I immediately replied with, “Yes, who do I have to kill to get it.” Thankfully, I didn’t have to kill anyone (but I would have, I think my friend wasted this offer) but for a cheaper price tag than what you would get at Best Buy, I got the 2nd Season of The Walking Dead…and on glorious, sexy Blu-Ray! And since I literally can’t thank him and his wife enough for supporting my geek/zombie habit (the offer of a free murder still stands), I granted him his request of giving him and his wife a shout out in my blog. Thanks Justin and Missy!!!! This blog’s for you!

"Help, I fell asleep in the bathtub."

I’ve mentioned previously that I’m a big fan of The Walking Dead. I’ve been reading the comics since their inception and was more than a little excited when the comic was adapted into a show (I’m still not allowed in the Wal-Mart where I first heard the news of the adaptation). When the first season aired, I was very pleased with how the show simultaneously honored the comic but forged its own story that kept hardcore fans of the books like me from knowing what was coming. This desire to create its own televised universe that paralleled but separated itself from the pages become abundantly apparent this season as it saw the death of characters that either died much earlier, much later or are still alive in the comics. These deaths, of course, belong to the selfishly evil; Shane, the only man with a true moral compass of the group of survivors; Dale and the innocent Sophia.

"Let's celebrate the little girl and old man's death with some good old fashion intercourse."

After Jenner destroyed the CDC building in the final moments of Season 1 (because of that whole “losing faith in humanity” business), the group of survivors see themselves wandering alone in a world of walkers. Finding themselves overrun on a highway, Carol’s daughter Sophia runs off and the group makes it their mission to find her—a mission they ultimately fail. They stumble on a farm run by Hershel and family that seems to be operating fine as they are seemingly forgotten by the walking dead. The Wolverine-like (but less predictable and containing more character and more bad-assery) Daryl takes it upon himself to find Sophia.

Spoiler alert:  She eats human flesh now.

After the horror of discovering that Hershel has been keeping walkers alive in his barn because he believes they are ill and a cure is being manufactured, the group is horrified to learn that Sophia was one of those in the barn and all their searching was for naught. The group tries to move on and establish a partnership with Hershel (and in the runner Glenn’s case, a VERY fulfilling partnership with Hershel’s daughter Maggie) but trouble haunts them as they discover there’s another group out there that may (or may not) be a threat to them and they have to debate if they should let the one member of this group they found go or kill him outright. Things get rougher when Shane snaps further and further into his own rage madness and wants Rick Grimes dead so he can claim ownership over Rick’s wife Lori and his son Carl (who is incapable of staying where he’s told to). Finally, the farther figure of the group; Dale, outraged with the debate over killing or letting their prisoner go ends up becoming zombie food—leaving the group without their voice of reason.

Rick looks badass holding a gun without the added effect of holding it sideways.

During the zombie apocalypse, a prison becomes a shelter...
not a cathedral for anal rape.
The season ends in one of the best season finales as Rick and Shane’s animosity come to a head, an orgy of zombies arrive on the farm, Hershel showcases a shotgun that offers up unlimited ammo and amazing accuracy with long distances and the quick taste of two aspects from the comics that I have been anticipating since the show’s first seconds in Season 1: The Prison and Michonne. Seriously, the season finale was so good that when I watched it when it aired on AMC, I stood up and cheered (and that is not a metaphor, I literally stood up and cheered) not once but twice: When I saw Michonne for the first time and during the final seconds when the camera pans up and you see the prison in the distance. In case you don’t watch the show or feel that reading comics is for dateless nerds (aka me), the prison because a central location for a great deal of the drama that is shown in the comics and (from the time of writing this) proves to be translating well to the series in the now airing of the third season.

This is what a badass looks like.

Robert Kirkman, the creator of The Walking Dead, has, in my opinion, created the single greatest piece of zombie fiction with the comics (which have had its greatness perfectly adapted for television) because he does what is needed for a great zombie story; he focuses on the survivors, not the gore. Seeing a zombie rip into human flesh is the icing on a very gory cake. To keep a zombie tale from becoming gratuitous and stop it from becoming unintentionally silly, you need survivors you become emotionally invested in. The survivors on The Walking Dead (both in the pages and on screen) are characters I have come to care about, sometimes even end up hating (like you Andrea! You were told by 5 people to not shoot and you ended up shooting anyway and nearly killed Daryl). I won’t lie too, I cried when Sophia’s zombie came ambling out of the barn and when Dale was ripped open by that walker.

Zombies don't fuck around when they want some sugar.
  The show isn’t about zombies; it’s about people living in a world thrown upside-down. It’s just in this new, upside-down world; the zombies are the ones that threw everything asunder. At its heart, The Walking Dead is less about the living dead and more about the living humans. It’s about character and their development through a post-apocalyptic world.  It's a character-driven story. It’s like Mad Men or The Sopranos but instead of 1950s era sexist, chain smoking drunks at an ad agency or a family man mobster, it’s about ordinary people trying to live through extraordinary times.

And they did absolutely nothing with T-Dog this season...but on the upside,
he's survived longer than most black men in a horror situation.

Kirkman, in my opinion, is the greatest man to create a piece of zombie fiction—yeah, even better than Romero. Even though George Romero created the zombie story as we know, he still made Diary of the Dead and undid all the amazing work he did with Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead. But even if that abortion of a zombie film Diary of the Dead wasn’t made, it wouldn’t change the fact that Kirkman made something amazing with the comics and was able to translate that amazingly to the screen.

Not pictured:  Being in the house.

While Season 2 aired, some folks criticized the slow moving story of trying to locate Sophia. Watching this on DVD where you see episode after episode in an immediate, “give it to me now” fashion (aka being an American) and not having to wait an entire week in-between episodes (or as I call it, a living hell for seven days) this storyline didn’t feel so long and drawn out but rather a great build up that established the characters and developed them to the point they should be evolving like they are Pok√©mon. And now that Season 3 is on the ground running, this development has paid off in spades.

Okay, the character development didn't pay off for Shane...

This DVD collection also brings in the webisodes directed by Greg Nicotero called Torn Apart:  which tells the story of the zombie Rick encounters in the park in the first episode.  Sadly, these webisodes are terribly acted and tell a story that didn't really need to be told with the exception it provided a chance to whet the appetite for Season 2 before it came out.  Also you get to see Squeak Scolari from BASEketball and Scott Ian from Anthrax as zombies.

Scott can still shred it on the guitar as a zombie...even though his fingers would
probably fall off in the process.

The Walking Dead is a terrifically acted, amazingly produced and fantastically told story about survival and one of the few truly great works of zombie fiction that exist to be well-made and not just an excuse to make money by slapping some zombies in it (this style of “creativity” is also done for vampires in order to get that sweet, sweet tween cash). The stories are horrifying, heart-felt, sad, happy, fun—literally every emotion in the spectrum with heaping helpings of gore piled on to make it a delightfully delicious show to watch. I admit, I’m a fanboy and the show would have to try really hard to disappointment with the direction they are going so my opinion is INCREDIBLY bias but I love The Walking Dead and it is, in my opinion, the best drama that is currently being aired. It just goes to show when there’s no more room on TV for another cop or doctor drama, the dead will dominate the earth.

Hershel's limitless and insanely accurate shotgun didn't seem to make it to Season 3.

And again, thank you Justin and Missy for getting me this season on the cheap…the offer still stands for one free, no questions asked, killing.

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