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May 20th, 2018

How to Improve The Walking Dead Season 2

Who else thought “TS-19,” the final episode of The Walking Dead Season One, was kind of terrible? I’m not going to complain about it too much, but it was like a preview of an alternate universe where The Walking Dead was on Fox network — a weirdly slick one-off episode where character development takes a backseat to high-concept tomfoolery. The Walking Dead as The Human Target.

Rather than write an entire essay about the myriad problems of this flawed but super-duper-popular TV show I’m going to look to the future: The Walking Dead Season Two, the season where they better get it right lest humanity has another Heroes on its hands. As a genre show in its infancy, there’s always room for improvement. Look at Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which followed a charming but not-so-good first season with a killer second season that revealed to us a Joss Whedon who was finally telling a story on his terms.

Here’s what the show needs to work on to make for a great second season.

Develop Maybe at Least a Few of Your Characters Before You Kill Them Did you know Black Lady’s name without Googling it? Did you know she was apparently in a relationship with T-Dog, one that was only acknowledged in the last 10 minutes of the last episode? I didn’t. I should have.

I know when you’re dealing with a big group like those of the zombie apocalypse survivors it’s hard to develop every single character. But give us something to work with here: some character trait or quirk or little moment to tell us who these people are before a monster eats them. Kirkman worked real hard to give Amy a bit of pathos before killing her off, but it was a case of too little, too late. Characters, not driving force, should be the show’s priority.

That’s the one thing The Walking Dead has over Lost. While viewers of Lost often put too much emphasis on the overarching mystery, writing off pure character development episodes as filler, The Walking Dead is mostly about these characters and how they interact. Survival is their main goal, but it’s not like they’re going to find what they’re looking for (if at all) until the series ends. There are no clues, only character. Use that.

It’s what Kirkman’s comic does best: when he makes the zombies disappear for issues on end, not only do you get to know the characters a bit better, but you get really, really nervous because there AREN’T any zombies around.

And when the zombies finally show up — hoo, boy.

Um, Give T-Dog a Name A REAL name, I mean.

Quit Dicking Around and Serialize the Thing The first season of The Walking Dead was only six episodes, which may seem like too little time to do anything, but for one thing it allows you to craft six really right, really well-constructed episodes. That’s why, among other reasons, shows like Mad Men and The Wire are so great. Given half the episode order of the average season of Law & Order, you not only gotta put a lot into your episodes, but you only get 12 chances to win over your audience, so you better make the best 12 episodes you can. What’s that, you have a six-episode season? Well you gotta work even harder, then.

After an ace pilot episode that signaled a potentially great season, The Walking Dead blew most of its goodwill in Episode 2 with characters that ranged from cartoonish to cipher and some horrendous dialogue and general character stupidity (Glenn driving all the way to camp with the car alarm blaring? Surely nobody’s that dumb) and slowly tried to recover it with decent episodes (“Tell It to the Frogs”), poorly-conceived episodes that somehow ended up pretty good (“Vatos”) and oh, hey — a near-great episode (“Wildfire”) before the aforementioned “TS-19.”

I wouldn’t say there were any “filler” episodes, but even “Vatos,” which I liked, felt like that alternate universe Fox network Walking Dead — “This week the survivors meet a group of urban Hispanics holing up in an old folks home! Next week the survivors come upon an elementary school where the kids rule over the adults!” I don’t think the material — which involves a group of people with no home and corpses eating them — really justifies an episodic structure.

So, serialize it. It worked for Lost, 24 and — more importantly — the Walking Dead comics. Have you read the single issues? Kirkman barely concerns himself with ending issues because he knows not only are people going to blow through them in trade form, but so it can flow seamlessly, too. We’re not READING STORIES, we’re FOLLOWING these characters’ LIVES.

Granted, a TV show you watch every week is different from a series of trade paperbacks, but the Walking Dead comic sold beautifully on its own for a reason. The show is going to be the sort of thing people follow from episode to episode, so reward them instead of attempting to court latecomers. If it’s good enough, they’ll jump in midstream and hang on for dear life.

If You Introduce Michonne, Maybe Downplay the Ninja Shit a Tad Fans of the comic know and quite possibly love Michonne, the zombie apocalypse’s very own Clint-Eastwood-if-he-had-a-katana (seriously). She works fairly well in the comic, especially once Kirkman gets her to open up a little and make her more than a cool idea.

Now, Walking Dead the TV show can’t-not introduce Michonne since (as I understand it) she’s a bit of a fan-favorite and the show is already straying from the comics already. However, a lone figure roaming the wasteland with a ninja sword and a pet zombie will seem oh-so-silly when made a physical reality with actors and props and stuff. So far in the series she’s been unkillable in a series where characters are extra death-prone. It’s fun, but hardly believable in a comic where we’re meant to believe things.

And even then I’d recommend waiting a while before introducing her. Especially since the season ended a season with a talking computer and an exploding building. I think the samurai thing will be the last straw for a lot of viewers. Give us some room to breathe in between ridiculous stuff. You’re not Community.

Keep Shane Around a While He’s not only a good foil to the do-gooder Rick, but unlike Rick, Shane is way more fun to watch. Right now they’re setting up for Shane to be a huge problem for the survivors, which is a shame because their method mostly involves making him seem as unnaturally crazy compared to the survivors when in fact he seems to be reacting fairly sensibly for someone trying to survive a world overrun with zombies.

He’s a good guy, and way more nuanced than the Shane of the comics. Let’s not waste him, huh?

Avoid CG AT ALL COSTS The big CGI explosion at the end “TS-19”? Yes, it was impressive and fairly well-rendered for something made on a TV budget, but a base exploding is not exactly what we signed up for, is it? Apparently the show’s budget is a problem, which it really shouldn’t be because it doesn’t NEED big explosions. This is a show about people trying to survive in the face of ongoing apocalypse, not high concepts and 007-esque command centers.

The Walking Dead should feel real, not artificial and computer generated.

Give Carl His Daddy’s Hat This is really just a personal thing. I always thought Carl wearing the cowboy hat was cute.


  1. Balls

    you people are dumb. the show is great. have to build up the plot. so what if you didnt know the black ladys name or that she had a relationship with t-dog… who cares. jesus.

    • Asavolume

      You’re an idiot. No one would give a fuck about the changes if they were actually better than the source material but they AREN’T.

    • Nick_avey

      none of you know the skill of writing screenplays, what this review states is entirely correct, strengthening a character rather than selling out with CGI allows an audience to feel more EMPATHY towards the shows characters, this rather than ur far fetched and entirely ludicrous scenarios keep a viewer hooked, so that when we do approach certain gory and bloodlustful scenes our thoughts are not just of carnage but of OH NO,if you understand this concept then you will realise that a more stronger background allows for a tension apparently lacking in the first season, but i still hold out hope as zombies and survivalist series rank among my favourites.

    • Jay Kyew

      I know that, personally, I like to feel some connection with the characters in a show I am watching. I mean I want to actually FEEL something when a character dies. Instead of focusing on Amy’s last moments in her sister’s arms, I’m busy focusing on the buckets of blood she’s pouring out because i don’t really KNOW her. The scene at the opening of the episode with the boat was good, but we need more of that. Oh and I wanna know what happened to Merle.

      • Zero_fatalframe

        to merle?? hmm that’s what u want to wait for the season two… if ure not fan of WD, then dont watch, nobody’s stoping u. anyways, this was the best of all films ever… from every tiny bit of scene is worth watching…

    • Godofkazaa77

      We care , we want a show to stick around for more than 2 seasons , we understand children who have only a few years growth of imagination would not understand but seeing series fail because of usless pandering to children and their short attention span is frustrating …

  2. lives in Evoc, 20960

    best show in world

  3. Hmm, I slightly disagree with some of your points. The black lady’s name is not important. I assumed they were in a relationship due to the previous episodes.

  4. Paledude45

    your right about the relationship… aside from that I cannot complain, this show is great! The last episode is leaving a lot of room for more things to happen, I hope it gets better.

    • Texaslow

      All I want to know is what the doc told the cop!!!!!!!!!

      • Texaslow

        I don’t know if you all read the interview with the AMC Pres, but this is the highest rated show within the 18-49 demographic, EVER. The show is outstanding and we deployed in Afghanistan say to leave it the way it is!

      • Evil_s2003

        It’s pretty much well known what he told Rick. But they need to get rid of a certain someone before they develop that story more.

      • Evil_s2003

        It’s pretty much well known what he told Rick. But they need to get rid of a certain someone before they develop that story more.

      • gonorrhea

        me too!!! Son of a bitch is holding out on them

  5. Anonymous

    I agree, mostly. It’s ok they kept Shane around, but it’s disappointing they’ve downplayed Carl’s role. Completely removed it, actually. As I said on this site’s review of episode 5, it appears whoever is calling the shots on this show is trying to turn it into mainstream crap. Episode six has confirmed this suspicion. It was terrible. There was no interesting or definitive conclusions to any threads of the story, such as Merle’s whereabouts or a confrontation between Rick and Shane. No nothin’. And it started out so good too…

  6. DOOM

    badly written, tonnes of grammar and spelling fuck-ups, how am I supposed to take the opinions about story and character structure seriously? I don’t.

  7. Shadow man

    will theres a sequal anyways so something to look forward too, and this show is f-ing awesome, can’t believe that no one did this or though about it before this show is gonna be a hit, either way if people like it or not . i think the doc told him theres a place they can head too but hes not sure if it s safe, but as long as you have hope then try it. the dic probly said. lol great show, i buy it from xbox live so im a huge fan just from watching epsode one i was hooked like milk on chezze.

  8. The best horror and zombie story I have ever watched, and I am still looking forward for greater season in the coming months.

  9. Texaslow

    I read that season 2 starts in fall of 2011. Don’t know how true but we can’t wait. I am sure that the story will unfold more as it moves along. I just hope that they don’t try and make it into one of these stupid shows like Buffy or Angel or whatever. Zombies are a scary subject because they don’t holding back. They consume, no matter what it is. Vampires and Werewolves have that love story behind them. There is nothing like that when it comes to zombies. Sure there some love between the characters but the only love shown to zombies is when it’s a loved one or friend that has fallen pray and become one. Some people are trying to read into it a little too much. Who cares what their names are. It’s what are they going to do next, where are they going to go now. How are they going to survive? There is no safe place. There is only safer. Sorry if I offend anyone. I think the story line is good and this series is filmed better than most zombie movies. And though we are the few voicing our opinions, the ratings are the true judge. The public has spoken and it’s saying MORE ZOMBIES! LOL!

  10. Cookiemonster4567

    who ever wrote this should shut there face! im only a kid, but i know my movies and tv shows! And
    “The walking dead” was epic! i read all the comics and books, they are flippin awesome! The show didnt follow the books alot, but what ever it was cool that the CDC thing blew up! but the ending could have been better! Any ways, you didnt say anything good about the show! ONLY STUPID BAD CRAP and I herd that the second season is coming out in october 2011 with a epic 13 episode series! and plan to make eight more seasons!!! whooo-hooo!

  11. Yingyang_420

    the comics are great, the show was terrible. I was disappointed at first when they went in a completely different story arc from the comics, then if figured it would be cool because it would be new. not only did they not do the comics justice but it is a character driven story and the complete lack of character development in the the show is its biggest failure. Frank Darabont should be ashamed for what he has done. BTW I am sure the CDC Doc told Rick Lori is preggers/the baby isnt his.

  12. Mikyd06

    yeah i agree with most of whats said, and allthough the first episode copied from other movies, it felt scary and tense i just feel its gone down hill from there, i reallyyyy want it to turn around because you see glimpses of what it could be!

  13. Erasedn4gotten

    This is a great show, and I don’t like your review. Let the writers and creators do their job, you don’t need to give any of your input.

  14. FC

    Your just flaming the show in random points. TS-19 was not a bad ending to the first “Pilot” season, it slowed down the pace of the show and allowed some more development for the characters. The characters in all the episodes where spot on to the comic?? They are all random people that banded together to survive its a great show and plot and of course theres gonna be some questionable actions and lines but the show still holds up on its own. It had 50+ million views and its growing so they did something right.
    oh by the way the point you made about CGI is false. The flames where real filmed with a propane explosion and the building collapsing was the only CGI not the entire explosion. Lastly don’t complain about the show and say it was not very good because you don’t like a character’s name. It’s the performance that counts.

  15. Walker

    you’re fucking stupid id like 2 see you do better than what this show has done….the show is awesome no one gives a damn about what you’re saying.

  16. Joe

    whoever made this article is a mental retard in some aspects but i do have to give it to him that they should develop the characters a little bit

  17. Mike

    in the episode with merle being handcuffed on the roof she showed she cared for him, She was the one who was behind t-dog when merle beat the shit out of him

  18. Jacktherussian

    I think it would be hella badass if they had a ninja and an assload of explosions. Bring it, I say.

  19. Rob

    I think most of the writer’s in the industry (myself included) agree with the points and contentions being raised by Danny here. No disprespect with the whole crew and production team of Season 1, I think they have done a superb job to present the story of Kirkman in a way that would not completely mirror a novel narrative. If that was the case, then what’s the point of watching it when you know what to expect already. So congratulations to the whole lot. This was a tremendous success. But let’s not quickly discard Danny’s points here also. His comments are very judicious and more than meritorious that I believe is to the best interest of the fans. The last thing we want to do is to turn a “pure” good story material such as this, and corrupt it with overly illogical ideas and/or “not-so well thought” of storyline for the whatever sake (not that I’m saying that this is the direction of the current season 1). Those who have a keen sense of understanding and knowlegde of writing/narrating stories, knows that this was the secret of Mr. Kirkman in writing his graphic novel. With that, I respect the views of Danny and hopes that this is given due consideration for the sake of not just the show, but to all the fans and writers like us as well. We have a promising show here and I wish everyone the best this new year! Have good one!!! :)

  20. Edward Taberner

    When you have only 6 episodes, character development can be tricky to pull off when there’s so many characters. I quite liked the fact you didn’t get to know people before they got killed or disappeared. It’s more realistic in the sense if some one dies after you’ve only known them a few days / hours etc then you won’t know that person. I also quite like that there’s lots of characters to get to know in future episodes with out the need to bring in a load of new characters.

    I agree the pilot episode was great and it would’ve been better for rick to maybe have been alone a bit longer and explored the walking dead world, instead of finding his family straight away.

    One of my main concerns with season 2 is what happens when they run out of zombie cliches. Each episode of season one had a standard zombie moment eg being surrounded without obvious escape, having to kill a loved one, a main character being bit and the wait before they ‘turn’ etc. Do they just repeat the ones they’ve done or do they create their own, new zombie moments (either could be good or bad).

    I agree that I do not want this to go the way of Heroes and what is concerning is super heroes offer a lot more scope then zombies. The writers will really need to be on top form.

    I guess my hope for season 2 and onwards is that they go a different route then expected. With the additional time provided by a series over a film (even if it is only 6 episodes) they should be able to provide character development as well as action and twists. I’d like it if they go the way of Spooks (bbc spy drama) where no character regardless of longevity or importance, is safe and could die any moment.

  21. I think because this is the first proper appearance of the Zombie genre on TV it was bound to create an instant interest, such as my own. I have to say I was a bit disappointed overall. It’s watchable and engaging to a point but it lacks punch. The characters are a bit predictable and dare I say clichéd. i totally agree about the point someone made about CGI. This genre doesn’t need it. I grew up in the 80s where animatronics and Z list make-up was the order of the day. The zombie genre exploits this the most. (Which leads me to my next point) The make-up looks budget man. Can anyone tell me if it’s an intentional homage to the 80s? The guts are convincing but the special effects make-up looks really amateurish. The other point I agree with is the first – on how disappointing the final episode was. I’m in Ireland so we’re used to shorter series’ here but I watched online and simply thought the 7th+ episodes had not been uploaded yet. Short series are perfectly fine if they offer up the meat. I do think the characters need more development (back stories etc) Generally EVERYONE dies in zombie flicks, if they do, i want to at least give a shit about them. It’s still enjoyable though!

  22. Saitek79

    With the black lady, and a few at the camp. I figured they was cannon-fodder for the zombies, a place hold for some gore. T-dog(didn’t know his name till now) now is he suppose to be tyros that we are suppose to meet soon. Cause if that is him bad portral, compared to the comic. And on michonne, I don’t agree with you on that, I say leave her alone. The fact she walks with 2 zombies as pets lends to her mystery. Plus In the comic they were functional, they kept other zombies from attacking her. Yeah Carl they really need to amp up his role, cause he was a little badass in the books. And I would like to see the dynamic between him and Sophia. I thought that was unbelievably cute. And what happen to Billy and Ben and there family, they was some great characters, and sophia’s mom.

  23. Leanne72001

    I disagree with most things you said…if it were as awful as your saying I don’t think so many people would have watched it!

  24. Kimmyhussey

    having been a horror fan for as long as i can remember — i just watched all of season 1 in one sitting and went searching for more — season one was phenomenal and downright true horror, a real high for those who truly enjoy watching all the zombies you can handle and far more than a two-hour movie could ever compare to. There’s no reason to know who some of these characters are as most of the ones we haven’t learned anything about were going to be killed early in the season, are already gone or will die very soon. The last episode had to be filmed the way it was to lead us to think and wonder what is going to happen next, who is still alive in the world and where this group should now head. I think the doc told the cop about the cop’s wife and his best friend in the reading room as every one of those rooms probably had videotaping capability. sorry, just watched all episodes and can’t remember names which, once again, shows that who these people are is so not important in order to enjoy the series. outstanding job to the writers and producers. totally loved it and can’t wait for more. p.s. the scene in episode four with the walkers attacking from the woods was epic!!!!!!!!!

  25. Sgerrels

    I fully agree with the author…… I love the Horror genre, and I am a fanatical zombie fan. However, in order to CAPTIVATE and draw in a much wider audience, you must, must, must have empathy for the characters.

    My wife, who despises horror movies generally, loved this show. She did not like the Day of the Dead and other movies (which I still love) but this show had enough personality and character to make her feel for the persons in this series. If you fail to keep that alive, you will completely destroy any chance of making a season 3. Zombies will get OLD for a regular non zombie loving audience.

  26. Sgerrels

    I fully agree with the author…… I love the Horror genre, and I am a fanatical zombie fan. However, in order to CAPTIVATE and draw in a much wider audience, you must, must, must have empathy for the characters.

    My wife, who despises horror movies generally, loved this show. She did not like the Day of the Dead and other movies (which I still love) but this show had enough personality and character to make her feel for the persons in this series. If you fail to keep that alive, you will completely destroy any chance of making a season 3. Zombies will get OLD for a regular non zombie loving audience.

  27. Dark-devil1995

    ————————————————–READ ME——————————————
    By the way the Show was So good

  28. JC

    “Especially since the season ended a season with a talking computer and an exploding building.”

    Who taught you how to write? I already didn’t agree with most of your points but then to read that. Having read some of your other articles it’s clear you lack certain basic abilities to write something that makes sense.

  29. Trust88

    Funny but the show is created for the “general” public to view, not a bunch of idiots who think they know what they are talking about, it’s about survival BUT most “survivors” wont “survive” for more than a few episodes and therefore building up character development is not needed too much because then the audience would not know who the main characters are and it leave less viewing time to focus on the main characters.
    If you think the last episode was unrealistic then your stupid because it explained so much and for your information there most obviously IS real buildings that are used for this kind of thing (not Zombies but biological research etc) ROFL.
    The last episode gave closure to viewers that enabled the first season to be a “one-off” season (only one season for the TV show) because the directors and even the TV networks do not know how ratings will look until the show is launched so therefore the show must be able to end but make sense in the first season but with the ability to carry on if ratings are good enough.
    TV networks only ever sign a one season deal at the most may be two seasons, until they have seen the potential on air.

    Oh and also work on your writing skills, you suck ya moron!

  30. Thesuperflow2011

    i think the show started off great i just didn’t like the last episode with the lab and stuff. i felt that was unnecessary and could have been saved for a later time. other than that…the show rocks!!

  31. Jasminecashull

    anyone else think sophia is stupid cuz a twelve i could double back and not get lost

  32. Hailfear

    I love the show and the way its heading. Leave it alone and roll with it

  33. Mray1112

    I have a sugggesion for travling from town to town you can hold up in the stores like sam s , no windows metal garage doors, food generaters and needed supplies and for extra security you could sleep in the cigerate area fenced and sucured for a safe night sleep.

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