greg nicotero

The Walking Dead Season Two Retrospective

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So, the week after the season five finale, I started watching The Walking Dead again from episode one. Of course, season one being only seven episodes in length, I made short work of it. And then, as fans of the show might surmise, a bit of apprehension set in. After all, many fans consider the second season to be the worst. I have to admit, I did too.

But, I’ve never binge-watched season two. There are a couple of things that haven’t gotten better with age, like the well-walker and how few lines T-Dog got (he didn’t fare too poorly in season one, all things considered, but even Patricia got better screen time than him–remember the scene where she breaks the chicken’s legs before feeding the walkers in the barn?), but overall, I think watching it straight through is a big improvement in the pacing and story development.

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— The character growth was great, especially for characters that were written in season one with no way of knowing whether there’d be another season. Shane’s growing madness and Andrea, getting over her suicidal feelings from season one and anger at Dale over his intervention to become a “tough love” example to Beth are standout examples of this, as is “Don’t Kill the Living” Rick’s understandable change of heart while plucking Hershel out of an abandoned tavern.

— It was great to see the genesis of such current show staples as the relationship between Glenn and Maggie and that between Carol and Daryl (I wish to Bob those two would just “do it,” already!). I remember how boring and drawn-out the second season seemed, with the group staying on Hershel’s farm for the entire duration–and the first half was a bit slow, but like I said before, binging it is better, and I think watching a few seasons of what comes after can give one a better appreciation for season two.

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— The first full season, of course, begins the tradition of splitting each season into two parts. Episode seven’s barn shootout, with the killer reveal at the end, had me shitting bricks the first time it aired–then I had to wait two goddamn months until episode eight aired!

— The “Mazzara Era” (see what I did there?) seems to be a good transition between the Darabont-helmed first season and the Scott Gimple-ran show we have now. That’s not to say I wouldn’t mind a trip to an alternate Earth to watch five seasons of Darabont’s Walking Dead, mind you, but I enjoy the show as it is now, and Frank’s would be different.

I’m already a few episodes into my re-watch of season three at the time of this writing–holidays and all. Aw, hell, I should just dispense with the excuses–as much as I enjoyed my return to Hershel’s Farm as a long-time fan, I just couldn’t wait to get back to the prison–that’s where the fecal matter really starts impacting the ventilation unit!

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The Walking Dead Season One Retrospective

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Last week, I was doing a bit of Christmas shopping with the family, and came across a couple gifts for myself–Walmart had huge bins of television seasons on DVD for ten dollars, and unlike the hit-or-miss bullshit in most cheap bargain bins, this was all good stuff. So, I’m watching Walking Dead again from the beginning, the week after the season five mid-season finale.

I think this is actually my first time watching season one straight through, though I watched each episode as it aired in 2010 (I’m an old-school fan of the comic, since 2003). I find myself wondering all over again why AMC let Darabont go. Season one was a great, self-contained miniseries, that would have surely become an instant classic had additional seasons never been picked up. Instead of a huge essay, I’ll offer a few quick thoughts:

— T-Dog actually had a decent part in season one, for a supporting character. It’s all relative, of course, and I’d have rather seen IronE Singleton playing a more prominent character, but he did have speaking roles in more than one episode.

— Darabont Andrea was Best Andrea. She pulled a gun on Rick the first time she met him, and again when he tried to come between her and her dead sister–a far cry from the copious mistakes she made in season three. I honestly don’t remember much of her season two arc other than her being pissed at Dale and (I think) talking Beth (!!!) out of killing herself. I do know that Season Three Andrea is not much like Comic Andrea. The promise of Comic Andrea has been pretty much fulfilled in Show Carol, though.

— I did NOT know until today that Nicotero himself actually played the zombie who bit Amy. Yay for DVD bonus features, especially for the season that didn’t have the benefit of Talking Dead.

— Darabont zombies, though…not so much. Nicotero’s effects were great, but I wasn’t really down with the fast movements, the rock-wielding or the fence climbing the dead sometimes exhibited.

— His human threats, though, were spot on. We had Merle, a hint of the Shane-issues to come, and of course, Jenner. Jenner was a great warm-up for the likes of the Governor, the Claimers, Gareth and Officer Lerner.

— It’s been great to revisit all the characters who’ve been gone for the past few seasons, and to see the bright beginnings of the wonders that are Daryl and Carol, all over again.

Now, it’s time to dig into season two. Of all the seasons, it’s the one I like the least, but I’m sure I’ll find some gems in there. Most of all, I’m looking forward to revisiting the farm, and meeting the Greene clan again.

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