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Old 10-13-2011, 10:07 AM   #1
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The Walking Dead Season 2 (Premieres Sunday 10/16 at 9PM ET on AMC)





















Here's a review from TV Critic Alan Sepinwall who has seen the first two episodes of Season 2. He provides a good introduction to those of you who are new to the series.

Review: AMC's 'The Walking Dead' returns strong for season 2


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When last we left Rick Grimes, the weary hero of AMC's zombie apocalypse drama "The Walking Dead," he and his friends and family had just escaped the exploding headquarters for the Centers for Disease Control, not long after learning that the odds of a cure for the zombie plague were somewhere between slim and none. Rick and company hit the road, uncertain of what to do next, or even if the fight to stay alive was still worth it.

Though the moment wasn't intended as a metaphor for the state of the series, it sure seemed like one during the long, strange hiatus between the end of season 1 and the season 2 premiere. (The 90-minute episode premieres Sunday night at 9.) That first season was run by Frank Darabont, who had spent years trying to turn Robert Kirkman's comic book into a TV series, who had written and directed the show's masterful pilot episode, and whose presence and creative influence was so important that AMC only produced six episodes in that first season because that was all the room Darabont had on his schedule. And then midway through production of season 2 - and only a few days after Darabont had represented the show in front of 4000 giddy fans at the San Diego Comic-Con - Darabont was out. Some reports suggested he quit, others said he was fired, and there were even conflicting accounts as to why in either case - with a fight over the show's budget being the most frequently-cited cause.

Regardless, here was a show that was the biggest hit in AMC history, one that seemed poised to do even better in its second season now that more episodes could be made and everyone knew how the material worked on-screen, and all of a sudden the whole thing blew up in the way that the CDC turned out not to be the perfect refuge Rick (Andrew Lincoln) was hoping for.

But whatever impact Darabont's absence will have on "The Walking Dead" - if any, given that the rest of his team (including Kirkman himself writing the season premiere, and former number two man Glen Mazzara taking the reins) is still in place - will come later in the season. I've seen the season's first two episodes, and even knowing what I know about the backstage issues, they left me feeling more confident about the series than I actually did for most of the first season.

Because the thing about that first season is this: the pilot was fantastic, and there were 2 or 3 other episodes that were solid but had problems, and then there were a few other episodes that were pretty lousy. Darabont wanted to deviate from the comics at times so hardcore fans wouldn't know exactly what to expect, but the new characters were either problematic (Michael Rooker's cartoonish backwoods bigot Merle) or forgettable (IroneE Singleton's T-Dog), and of the major plot detours, one (Rick comes across a nursing home being guarded by a Latino street gang) was silly and the other (Rick takes the survivors to the CDC) interesting but rushed. The zombie makeup work by Greg Nicotero and his team was incredible to look at, several of the performances were strong, as were some of the action sequences, but mostly what "The Walking Dead" had in its first season was a lot of unrealized potential traveling in many directions at once.

And the opening of season 2 seems more focused, and just plain stronger than the great bulk of that first batch of episodes.

We pick up not long after the CDC fiasco, and though Rick has plans on heading to Fort Benning to see what remains of the military, post-apocalyptic life - in this case, a highway traffic snarl of cars that were either abandoned or are still occupied by their dead, rotting drivers. The group tries to make the best of it, scavenging the cars for supplies, engine parts for the mobile home driven by Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn), but as with everything in their nightmarish new existence, nothing goes according to plan, and there's action, suspense, and plain old terror aplenty.

Thanks to our zombie friends, the group we're following is down to a manageable number now, and that allows the show to go a bit more in depth with whoever's left. The center of the show remains the awkward love triangle between Rick, wife Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) and Rick's cop partner Shane (Jon Bernthal) - the latter two hooked up when they thought Rick was dead - but we get more interaction between Dale and Andrea (Laurie Holden) as she grieves her dead sister, Merle's brother Daryl (Norman Reedus) becomes more character than caricature, and even Shane himself seems like a much more complicated person than he was throughout season 1. And though Lincoln's Southern accent remains the worst in an ensemble full of shaky ones (possibly because, as an Englishman, his has the furthest to travel?), his overall performance - the way his face captures the burden of not only living in this hellish existence, but having to be responsible for the survival of others - remains extremely strong.

Yet even as we get to know the characters better, the show itself seems as stripped-down as the group of survivors. With the CDC and a cure out of the picture, the show's now an unapologetic B-movie. The focus is entirely on whatever situation the group is facing at the moment - the unexpected arrival of a zombie "herd," a medical emergency or someone going lost in the woods - and everything else falls away. And that tunnel vision winds up making the show feel much richer than it did for much of the first season. If all anyone making or watching the show cares about is this situation, right here, right now, it becomes better-executed and more intense. There's no deeper meaning here most of the time - and, in fact, the handful of scenes where characters stand around and talk about civilization and faith and other big questions tend to be the weakest moments - and that's okay, because sometimes you just want to watch people hide from zombies.

Can the show maintain this level of execution once we get to the post-Darabont episodes? On the one hand, Darabont was responsible for by far the best episode of the series to date. On the other, he was also the man in charge for a lot of the bumpier parts of that first season. A TV show is a huge collaborative enterprise, and this isn't like trying to continue, say, "The Sopranos" without David Chase and his encyclopedic knowledge of the Jersey suburbs and all the family incidents that inspired the show. It's a toss-up.

Like Rick Grimes, all I can do is focus on what lies directly in front of me, and the here and now of "The Walking Dead" looks very good.
The Walking Dead Season 2 Premieres on AMC this Sunday 10/16 at 9 PM ET
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Old 10-13-2011, 10:29 AM   #2
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Re: The Walking Dead Season 2 (Premieres Sunday 10/16 at 9PM ET on AMC)

I'm a huge fan of all things zombie, but I had trouble getting into this series. I think I watched the first three episodes and felt that:

1. The characters were cookie-cutter and cliche'

2. The random zombie horde that appears out of nowhere numerous times was awful

3. Many of the "dead guy who's going to come to life right when hero is sitting right next to them" were predictable and not startling

4. Why people making a ton of noise around the alley in the back of the store would cause a horde of zombies to appear at the front of the store makes no sense.


I have friends who love the series and said it got better as it progressed, but I gave up after 3 episodes and haven't seen anything else.

Of course, Babylon 5 had a terribad first season, but if you can get through it, the rest of the series was great.

So, someone convince me why I should watch this?
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Old 10-13-2011, 10:36 AM   #3
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Re: The Walking Dead Season 2 (Premieres Sunday 10/16 at 9PM ET on AMC)

because its a brilliant series
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Old 10-13-2011, 11:15 AM   #4
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Re: The Walking Dead Season 2 (Premieres Sunday 10/16 at 9PM ET on AMC)

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Originally Posted by 97Suited View Post
because its a brilliant series
I could use some specifics here, what makes it so brilliant? Don't get me wrong, I loved the makeup work on the zombies. But the first three episodes I found to be a chore, filled with vapid characters that were too cliche, predictable moments, ridiculous insta-spawn hordes that took away from the immersion in a scene, etc.

Does it suddenly fix this after the first three episodes?
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Old 10-13-2011, 12:51 PM   #5
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Re: The Walking Dead Season 2 (Premieres Sunday 10/16 at 9PM ET on AMC)

I nearly quit season 1, but sepinwall's review implies that they address its problems well enough that I'll give it another shot. Hand on the plug tho.
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Old 10-13-2011, 12:53 PM   #6
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Re: The Walking Dead Season 2 (Premieres Sunday 10/16 at 9PM ET on AMC)

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Originally Posted by PokerNations View Post
Does it suddenly fix this after the first three episodes?
The first 2 eps were far and away the best last season. If you didn't like ep1, this show (and probably any other zombie based picture, for that matter) will never be for you.
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Old 10-13-2011, 12:55 PM   #7
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Re: The Walking Dead Season 2 (Premieres Sunday 10/16 at 9PM ET on AMC)

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The first 2 eps were far and away the best last season. If you didn't like ep1, this show (and probably any other zombie based picture, for that matter) will never be for you.
I loved zombie flicks growing up, and in more "recent" times one of my favorite was 28 days later because it changed up the genre.

The various remakes that came out after that (all seeming to star Ving Rhames or a likeness of him) fell relatively flat for me.

Not sure how you can say if I didn't like the first two episodes that were full of plot holes and cliche characters, that I won't like any other zombie based picture
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Old 10-13-2011, 05:13 PM   #8
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Re: The Walking Dead Season 2 (Premieres Sunday 10/16 at 9PM ET on AMC)

Probably gonna give this another shot too. Like most others here I loved the premiere and I even liked the 2nd episode, but 3-6 were so bad. Ill give the new season at least 2 episodes to change my mind.

People whine a lot about how pessimistic OOTV is, but in the Walking Deads case its refreshing to hear that other people think that the last 3/4 of season 1 were garbage as opposed to everywhere else where people give this show way too much love.
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Old 10-13-2011, 05:58 PM   #9
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Re: The Walking Dead Season 2 (Premieres Sunday 10/16 at 9PM ET on AMC)

Quote:
Originally Posted by PokerNations View Post
I'm a huge fan of all things zombie, but I had trouble getting into this series. I think I watched the first three episodes and felt that:

1. The characters were cookie-cutter and cliche'

2. The random zombie horde that appears out of nowhere numerous times was awful

3. Many of the "dead guy who's going to come to life right when hero is sitting right next to them" were predictable and not startling

4. Why people making a ton of noise around the alley in the back of the store would cause a horde of zombies to appear at the front of the store makes no sense.


I have friends who love the series and said it got better as it progressed, but I gave up after 3 episodes and haven't seen anything else.

Of course, Babylon 5 had a terribad first season, but if you can get through it, the rest of the series was great.

So, someone convince me why I should watch this?
Same exact feelings as this post except I like zombies enough to watch it regardless of how bad it got episodes 2-6. Also I absolutely loved the first episode.
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Old 10-13-2011, 07:07 PM   #10
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Re: The Walking Dead Season 2 (Premieres Sunday 10/16 at 9PM ET on AMC)

Will tune in again
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Old 10-13-2011, 11:56 PM   #11
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Re: The Walking Dead Season 2 (Premieres Sunday 10/16 at 9PM ET on AMC)

Will probably watch the entire season even if it gets (or stays technically) "last 4 episodes of season 2 lolbad" only because it's zombies. I reserve the right to complain about how much the show sucks ITT though.
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Old 10-14-2011, 02:44 AM   #12
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Re: The Walking Dead Season 2 (Premieres Sunday 10/16 at 9PM ET on AMC)

I can't help myself. I will have to watch this again.
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Old 10-14-2011, 04:58 AM   #13
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Re: The Walking Dead Season 2 (Premieres Sunday 10/16 at 9PM ET on AMC)

Yeah I think I will too. Like others have said, the last 3-4 episodes were pretty brutal, but if people who recognize that fact have gotten a sneak peak at S2 and think the show is headed in the right direction that's enough for me to come on board again, especially now that BB is over and I need another series to take it's place.
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Old 10-14-2011, 05:01 AM   #14
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Re: The Walking Dead Season 2 (Premieres Sunday 10/16 at 9PM ET on AMC)

same. at least that review gives me hope.
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Old 10-14-2011, 08:36 AM   #15
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Re: The Walking Dead Season 2 (Premieres Sunday 10/16 at 9PM ET on AMC)

Watched the trailer for Season 2 last night when I got home from work (no speakers on my work computer, wtf?) and still found it lolbad.

Once again, instaspawn zombie horde where all was quiet. And then, oh, let's hide under cars and let the zombie horde surround us instead of outrunning these slow, shambling creatures.

Looks like I'll be avoiding this like the rage virus.
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