The highly anticipated second series of the hit AMC show The Walking Dead sees Rick and co. struggle on after the self-destruction of the CDC. On their travels for refuge they come to a halt due to an unforeseen road block and a herd of hostile ‘Walkers’, as they’ve become known (the word zombie is still never once uttered). This leads to the eventual discovery of a family ostensibly sheltered from danger in a farm house, which in these uncertain times is nothing short of a haven.
Developer Frank Darabont takes a more reserved role in this series, lending his hand as Executive Producer as with the first series but opting out of writing/directing duties. This news certainly dampened the spirits of fans, the pressure was on to retain the image the first series had presented to audiences. It’s safe to say this was achieved, and the filmic qualities continue, with the tone remaining so incredibly close to that of previous episodes you would think they never took a break in filming, let alone having the shows’ developer stepping down.
As the first series showed us, The Walking Dead is as much about the dramatic conflicts of a select group of people living
in such close proximity as it is a zombie TV program. The show manages to create tension out of a seemingly ordinary situation, and on occasion you forget that this is a post-apocalyptic world and not a plain and simple domestic drama. In most cases this genre hybridity is pulled off to perfection, although occasionally – as in the first series – certain monotonous elements present themselves. However, this doesn’t deter from the fact the show undoubtedly builds on the reputation it created one year earlier.
For the series’ entirety there is a status quo stance taken within the urban surroundings of the farm, and each episode brings us numerous surprises and efforts taken to survive further in this world presented to us. After the first half of the series – in which the writers seemed slightly unsure of what speed to allow each sub-plot to unfold – the pace really picks up. From episode 8 (Nebraska) onwards, the tone is intensified, with each episode unravelling non-stop action, and each plot point revealing a twist and turn that could never have been predicted.
The characters are as compelling as any within current TV series, quite the feat for such a large ensemble cast. The acting is top rate, and it’s hard not to become attached to certain characters and sympathise with them; while on the contrary build up a level of hatred towards the “bad guy”. With each sub-plot developing to a height of unbearable tension the show provides thrills and manages to close the series off with a finale that in no way disappoints, deserving the 9 million viewing figures (all time highest for the show) it achieved upon airing on AMC.
The second series manages to recapture the magic that made the first so captivating. It’s edge-of-your-seat viewing, watching in anticipation, not knowing whether your favourite character will be killed off by a ‘walker’ or another major character within the ensemble. The cinematic elements are portrayed as with series one, even without Darabont at the helm, and the second half in particular takes you on such a compelling journey it’s simply too hard not to enjoy.
A slightly slow first half aside, the second series of The Walking Dead demands attention from its viewers, so far managing to remain consistently entertaining to a standard to rival any of the great shows throughout TV history – long may it continue.
The Walking Dead aired on SFXUK on Sky. The Second Series will be released on DVD and Blu Ray on August 27th 2012
(Correct at time of publishing)