So, with season two moving into hiatus, let’s look back at the monumental return of AMC’s The Walking Dead. What worked? What was dead on arrival?

PRO: The cast has come into its own this season. Among the actors, there isn’t a weak one in the bunch. Think of the great ensemble shows of the past decade: The Sopranos, Lost, E.R. I’m sure there were a few actors that made you cringe. I can think of at least two on Lost alone. For The Walking Dead, the selection was perfect. Not all of the characters work flawlessly, but all of the actors are holding their own.

PRO: Robert Kirkman is God. This man, who created the original comic book series and serves as executive producer on the TV show, knows how to morph the written word into visual storytelling necessary for primetime television. Case in point: Kirkman wrote the season two debut, which was a well-balanced episode that set the action in motion. Sure, there was that annoying opening monologue, but after that trip-up, it was all gravy.

CON: Not all of the characters have received their time in the spotlight. Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) didn’t do much for the first few episodes. It took an extra long time for his character to show an arc and offer some softer scenes. In the last two episodes, he has rebounded, thanks to his burgeoning friendship with Carol Peletier (Melissa Suzanne McBride). IronE Singleton’s T-Dog is similarly wallowing in obscurity. There’s just not much for him to do, and I fear he may be next on the zombie hit-list.

PRO: I love the back-and-forth between Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Shane Walsh (Jon Bernthal). This is a well-handled relationship: It’s almost as if Rick is the president, focusing on negotiations and strategy, while Shane is the commander, ready to blow some zombies to smithereens.

CON: The relationship between Dale Horvath (Jeffrey DeMunn) and Andrea (Laurie Holden) is needlessly complex and not terribly fulfilling. In the comic books, there’s this odd love relationship between the two (Dale sees Andrea as his last chance at youth), but in the TV series, it all comes off unfocused. At one point, it’s as if they are father and daughter. At other times, they linger a few extra seconds like they are about to kiss. Given their age difference and Dale’s inherently protective ways, the show’s writers should go with the father-daughter storyline rather than lover-lover. Or, maybe I’m looking too much into this.

PRO: The special effects are tremendously satisfying. This is the most graphic show on television. Period. The makeup and visual effects are top-of-the-line and very cinematic in nature. When a zombie recently emerged from the bottom of a well, the display of ripped-apart, bloated flesh was disgusting — and real.

PRO: Hershel Greene (Scott Wilson) and company are great additions to season two. They add a much-needed new dynamic: The zombies are no longer the only group to be feared. Hershel has many secrets up his sleeve, and his unfailing dedication to the family of zombies in the barn may prove to be his downfall.

PRO: Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G. This sweet side plot is a great relief from all of the debauchery.

PRO: The child actors, including Chandler Riggs, are as good as their adult colleagues.

CON: The storytelling in small in scope, which I enjoy. We really get to know these people and their day-to-day activities. That said, they need to add in some special prizes for the loyal viewers. The few flashbacks were frustrating teases. There needs to be some inkling of how this virus spread and what the hell is going on.

By John Soltes / Publisher / John@HollywoodSoapbox.com

John Soltes

John Soltes is an award-winning journalist. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Earth Island Journal, The Hollywood Reporter, New Jersey Monthly and at Time.com, among other publications. E-mail him at john@hollywoodsoapbox.com

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