The Story So Far: The Walking Dead

Next up on our TV recap is AMC’s The Walking Dead, a series that on paper had no right to become as popular as it has, but has now consecutively broken all viewer ratings records two years in a row. Let’s see what makes it so good.

SOME SPOILERS FOR THE WALKING DEAD BELOW

In 2005 Robert Kirkman unleashed his seminal comic book series The Walking Dead on the world and it was instantly lauded with praise for its attempts to bring originality to the genre as well as the string focus put on the characters by the writer, usually preferring to give us scenarios of human survival rather than destruction. When Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption, The Mist) optioned it for a television series then there was hesitancy from fans as to whether or not he could pull it off, especially given the extremely envelope pushing nature of the series. Low and behold here we are now with a third season round the corner and, so far, no punches pulled.

We begin the series following police officer Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) who has been in a coma for the duration of the zombie outbreak after having been shot on the job. Straight away the viewer connects on a strong level as we know just as much (or little) as Rick does. It doesn’t take long for him to realise something horribly catastrophic has happened and thus sets out on his primary quest, to find some sort of safety and to hopefully find his wife and child in the process. Much like the comics, season 1 follows the trend of focus on family matters, mankind’s destructive tendencies and the logistics of survival and only sporadically intersperses these moments with gore filled scenes of undead carnage. This approach alienated some casual viewers however as many tuned in for just such moments, wanting to sherk character development in lieu of the more squeamish scenes. By the end of this pilot series it was a case of “job done, now do more”. It wasn’t a perfect start, but it assured the majority that this show could work.

Season 2 hit screens after a near year long wait and in the time that had passed, many things had changed. Behind the scenes of the show, Executive Producer and Showrunner Darabont was at odds with AMC, his grand vision for the show not sitting hand in hand with the networks grand vision of what cheques they wanted to write. It has now transpired that Darabont even had a more adventurous premiere episode for the season that would have flashed back to the outbreak and show any and all amounts of carnage, but he was not able to get the budget for it. Alas it would transpire that Darabont left the show before the first half of the season had aired, and many wondered what that would mean for the shows future. The first half of season 2 had brought about many elements from the comic that fans had screamed for, but had also taken a somewhat slow approach too, something that clearly fit into Darabont’s grand vision. Without him, could the show pick up again? As it happened, yes, yes it could.

Producer Glen Mazarra took over as Showrunner for the second portion of the season, and fast paced is the name of his game. The second portion of season 2 is so far, some of the best television ever seen. In The Walking Dead’s own unique style, characters are picked off mercilessly (seriously, if this continues to adhere to the formula of the comics, don’t get too attached to anyone!). This is the biggest selling point of the show, literally nobody is safe. The final two episodes of the season brought about a hectic finale full of loss and destruction, culminating with an ominous shot of a famous location from the books, the prison. In the original story, this is the setting for some of the series most intense and game changing moments. Hopefully RTE will pick up the new season soon enough so Irish viewers can join in but for now you would do yourself a disservice not to watch this fantastic two seasons of television.

The Walking Dead Season 1 + 2 are available now from all good retailers and Season 3 will hopefully kick off soon on terrestrial TV

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