Monday, November 28, 2011

Exfanding Review: The Walking Dead at Mid Season

First off, let me say that I hate "midseason finales." This was never a thing before. Apparently, this became a thing because of Lost.

I didn't watch Lost while it was on the air (I think my exact words when the pilot aired were, "This is going to be one those shows where they never get off the stupid island. Even Gilligan managed to get off the island inside of two seasons.")

Clearly, I was right. But that's another story.

Lost created the midseason finale and now all of the big, hit TV shows have to follow suit. AMC's The Walking Dead certainly falls into the category of big, hit TV show.

And as such, after seven stellar episodes in their second season, the show goes on a bit of a hiatus, resuming with episode eight sometime in February. Last night's episode marked the halfway point of season two and left things off on a nice (if predictable) cliffhanger.

Actually. Speaking of cliffhangers and predictability, this is probably a good time to mention that this review will contain minor SPOILERS. So if you're not caught up on the TV show and you'd like to not have some yahoo on the Internet ruin your everything, please STOP READING, as there will be minor SPOILERS AFTER THE BREAK.

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Okay. Now that that's out of the way.

Thus far, season two has been very enjoyable. I know a lot of folks who follow the comic series are a bit irked by the fact that the show isn't necessarily staying true to the Robert Kirkman book.

Personally, though, I like the fact that the series deviates from the book, because I can watch each episode and not know exactly what to expect. Otherwise, it would be just like watching the Cubs (sorry, Cubs fans...couldn't resist).

I am a(n absolutely) jaded comic book fan who reads Kirkman's book when it comes out in trade. As such, I have learned two things. First, don't grow attached to any of the characters.

And second, refer back to rule one at all times.

Things have happened in that book that just...defy all sorts of comic conventions. It truly is the zombie fan's zombie book, and I often read it with one eye closed, turning pages slowly and not really wanting to see what happens next.

Because it's usually pretty horrible.

The show, to its credit, has managed to incite the same don't-want-to-look-but-have-to feelings of the book. And in today's world of post-post modern zombie flicks, that's saying something.

Take the major events of this season, for example. Anyone who's read the book knew what to expect when Rick carried his wounded son to a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere.

Hershel's Farm is/was a major set piece in the comic series, and it's played just as big (if not bigger) a role in the show, as the entire first half has taken place there.

As a reader of the series, knowing what happens at the farm took away one big reveal. But last night's episode managed to bring to the TV series a great (read: horrifying) new twist on what was an already horrible situation in the comic.

Full disclosure here--I guessed the ending about five minutes before it happened, but I still dreaded the moment that it happened. And when the moment did come? Sure, it veered from the book. But who cares? The emotional gut punch was hefty and the episode left a major cliffhanger for the second half of the season.

So far I'm really enjoying season two. I just wish we didn't have to wait three months to find out what happens next.

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