Hey, we’re trying to complain over here…

For those who’ve managed to shamble over to the remote control and dodge one of Autumn’s biggest televisual letdowns, series 2 of The Walking Dead has thus far concerned itself with one storyline: the search for a missing girl. In some ways this is quite audacious: my worst memories caused by the magical flickering box in the corner of my room over the past few years have concerned storylines that are way past flat-lining and have done their best to tarnish what was thus far a fairly enjoyable journey. I’m thinking of Kim Bauer’s Groundhog/Mountain Lion Day in series 2 of 24, or the prolonged voyage of sexual discovery that Vito took in the last series of The Sopranos. Every-time I heard the roar of a big cat, or saw Vito divert his puzzled gaze from a plate of johnny cakes to an actual Jonny Cakes, I knew shit was about to get real, in the worst possible way.

Now, I don’t think The Walking Dead has scaled the heights of the former, so the fact that it’s basically spent seven weeks staring at its un-dead navel is less disappointing, but no less un-entertaining. The lack of storyline momentum may be fairly realistic – they are, after all, survivors from a zombo-apocalypse who’ve spent the previous few episodes doing a more than passable impression of the Littlest Hobo chasing his tail – but for some reason they seem posses completely inconsistent character traits. There’s one guy who’s gone from being an encyclopedic illustration of a ‘loose cannon’ (redneck sociopath, lost his brother due to the careless actions of the group, probably on ‘the meth’) to resembling a Care Bear with a crossbow in the space of a few weeks. In the last episode he actually went through this transformation and back again in the space of three scenes.

The only way I can explain this is that every scene in punctuated with an unseen blow to the head – perhaps from a series of carelessly discarded rakes left around Hershel’s farm – that wipes their collective memories. Or maybe they just got the script pages in the wrong order? Easily done when the scene headings only seem to consist of: ‘EXT. FARM – Complaining’ or ‘EXT. Woods – Looking for Sophia’. It’s hardly surprising that it’s come to this; there were rumours of budget cuts that suggested the new series would take place in static locations with fewer zombies. It’s a bit like the makers of The Cosby Show removing alpha-Huxtable, Cliff and replacing him with a few pre-recorded offstage soundbites and a body double in a terrible knitted sweater who leaps out of the pantry at irregular intervals to take the piss out of Theo.

Unfortunately, The Walking Dead series makers can’t fall back on their writers, since most of them have already been purged in the real-life climax of the first series, following a nadir that featured a talking computer. Unsurprisingly they decided to decapitate their writing team (figuratively, at least) but now, with a rumoured budget cut, they’ve had to attempt to re-attach the severed head and ask them to get them out of this mess. And with seemingly no money to make anything happen they’ve attempted to manufacture depth and pathos through a string of emotive scenes featuring dishevelled actors squinting at each other, or, in the case of Shane, a man attempting to knock his eyes out by stretching his eyelids and repeatedly hitting himself on the head. So far he’s failed. Sometimes these scenes will feature a single zombie appearing from stage left, sometimes they won’t.

It’s strange really; Shane wants to kill zombies and move on, which wouldn’t just good for the team, it would also be great for the viewer, but he’s portrayed as a bug-eyed loon (perhaps not unfairly). It seems everyone would rather just sit around and work out a way that will enable them to keep sitting around in the same place for the foreseeable future and not bother with the inconvenience of finding somewhere with no zombies and a warmer welcome. ┬áIt’s a bit like the end of Shaun of the Dead when they re-unite with the opposite group who’ve had a far more interesting and exciting journey than our heroes. But this has lasted for about 7 hours…and isn’t remotely funny – well except for the moment it seemed Carl had been shot by a deer, which would also offer a far more interesting twist than what was eventually revealed on Hershel’s farm*. There’s clearly a far more exciting tale out there, they just need to go and find it.

* For the record I thought they might turn out to be cannibals on the farm. SPOILERS: they weren’t.

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