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Friday, November 18, 2011

RETURNING TV SERIES: The Walking Dead (Season 2 E01-E05)

The Walking Dead returns for a spectacular second season on AMC (Sunday 9pm EST). For those who aren't familiar, the show is based on a comic by Rober Kirkman, Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard. This zombie show's theme is similar to what you see in the movies: the world (or at least we assume) is overrun with some sort of virus that transforms the infected into the walking dead. Chaos ensues and survivors do what they can to live out their remaining days. Rick Grimes, the lead character, plays the role of the leader of a group of people struggling to flee Atlanta. The group meets other survivors along the way, many of which have become hardened and violent. The show portrays regular people acting out in extreme fashion because of the lack of societal rules and the mistrust of people who start off "good" but really have horrible intentions.

The Characters:

Rick (played by Andrew Lincoln), Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) and Carl (Chandler Riggs) Grimes: In the show premiere (season one) Rick, the sheriff of a small Georgia town, is shot while on duty. After a long while, he wakes up in a deserted hospital only to discover the world has changed. His wife Lori, and kid Carl, both think he's dead and are part of a group of survivors. Rick eventually meets up with his family and becomes the de facto leader.

Rick getting out of the hospital and back into uniform
Shane (Jon Bernthal): Rick's deputy sheriff who is present when Rick is shot. When the outbreak occurs, he tries to get a comatose Rick out of the hospital but is unable to do so. Instead he blocks the door to Rick's room with a gurney and takes off. As part of the group of survivors, he has an affair with Lori when everyone thinks that Rick is dead.  

Daryl (Norman Mark Reedus): A "redneck" who grew up either abused or neglected. His brother is handcuffed by Rick on a roof in Atlanta for endangering the group with his racist beliefs. Daryl is quiet and reserved and seems to be more cooperative with the group. He is good with weapons, particularly his cross bow.

(From Left to Right) Dale, T-Dog, Daryl, Carole & Glenn
Glenn (Steven Yeun): The nerdy Asian pizza deliveryman turned supply runner. He saves Rick's life in Atlanta and starts to boink Maggie (from the Greene clan, see below Season 2).  

Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn): The old wise man of the group who owns an RV that the group uses to travel with. He is in good shape and tries to emotionally help Andrea.

Andrea (Laurie Holden): Went into a depression after she is forced to kill her zombie sister. She wanted to kill herself in season one, but Dale convinced her otherwise. She now likes to shoot guns.

Season 2

The group heads towards Fort Benning in hopes of finding a safe haven, however the highway is blocked with deserted vehicles. As a "herd" of walkers approaches, the group is able to hide from them but a young girl, Sophia, runs off into the woods. Rick runs off after her and kills off some zombies but Sophia is no where to be seen. As the group tries to look for her, Carl sees a deer and is accidentally shot by Otis, a hunter (bullet went through the deer and into Carl). Otis tells them to bring Carl to Hershel Greene in order to tend to the bullet wound. The group eventually meets up with the Greene clan, another group of stragglers who live on a farm and fight to save Carl's life.

Greene Clan: Beth, Hershel, Jimmy, Maggie (Left) & Grimes family (Right)

Meanwhile, on a search for Sophia, Daryl falls off a horse and impales himself with an arrow as he falls into a ravine. Injured and faced with an impossible climb, he wards off some walkers and loses consciousness. He has illusions of his brother that taunt him into killing Rick. Daryl musters up the strength to climb the ravine, only to be shot as he reaches the farm by Andrea who thought he was a walker (despite Dale's advice not to shoot). Good job Andrea! To add to the drama, Lori thinks she is pregnant but doesn't know if it is Rick's or Shane's baby.

Andrea taking aim (Left) & Glenn, Dale, Rick, Daryl, Shane and Andrea (Right)

The one big difference with this show compared to say Resident Evil (more about the action) or Dawn of the Dead (which I thought was great) is that The Walking Dead has time to elaborate on story plots. This makes a huge difference because a show doesn't have to make everyone die after two hours nor does it have to make the ending vague enough for a potential sequel. Therefore, the character development is much richer and more engaging. 

We learn a lot about the different people and how they slowly do things that they would otherwise never do. A great example is seen in episode five, when Shane and Otis go on an emergency supply run for meds that Carl needs. With too many zombies to handle, Shane shoots Otis in the leg so that the zombies feast on Otis instead of himself and buying some time to escape. We see the angst in his face when he returns and tells no one about what he did. People's priorities become extreme and so do their actions. There are those who crack under the stress and others who act more diligently to rebuild a future. 

I've read almost all the comics up to date (issues #1-90) and I must say that the comics are very dark. Not to give away any spoilers but the comic is full of cannibals, mutilation and everything in between and it would be too gruesome for television.

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