The Walking Dead was one of the great success stories of 2010, its six part opening salvo taking already high expectations and tearing them into shreds.
The biggest surprise of all though was how hard a fall from grace the second season had. Saved from mediocrity by its spectacular finale, the second series of The Walking Dead was a lesson in how to waste an open goal.
With series 3 of the show debuting this Sunday, we take a look how the show surprised us all and then let us all down in one fell swoop.
Horrifically tense, daring and with production values off the charts, The Walking Dead took what could have been an expensive disaster and made it into a triumph.
Making zombies appealing again was a massive mountain to climb for a start. Tired, overused and frankly rarely scary, zombies have become a bad trope throughout the media, be it in film, TV or videogames mainly due to their poor or thoughtless use.
The Walking Dead somehow managed to make zombies relevant again to the horror genre. Even in the daylight and shuffling along, the undead were used to brilliant effect, as an agent of chaos and impending doom.
It wasn’t just the zombies The Walking Dead did brilliantly; it was the atmosphere that was the cherry on the cake. No other zombie show or movie had encapsulated the feeling of isolation and dread better than The Walking Dead did throughout that first season.
With only six episodes too, the show never stood still, keeping an almost breathless pace all the way through the first series of the show.
Series two of the show nearly scuppered the ship though, with the added episodes, reduced budget and few locations taking away nearly everything that made the opening group of episodes such a stunning debut.
Gone was the relentless pace and hoards of horrifying creatures, in their place was sitting around on a farm and brooding over love triangles that have far outlasted their sell by dates.
The loss of creative director Frank Darabont was huge, as his masterful touch is not to be underestimated throughout the first season. Loosing anyone of the talent of the Shawshank Redemption and The Mist director is going to be felt.
Also, the move from a six episode run to a 13 episode run was a big factor, with the show often feeling like it was simply stalling for time at points and would have been far more effective in a shorter form.
The show having a major budget cut was also a decisive factor. Broadcaster AMC had decided that it was going to cut the show’s budget from $3.4 million to $2.7 million. Not that much of a drop it seems, until you remember that they also wanted more than double the episodes for that amount.
Series 3 is set to move the show on drastically and introduce new, human antagonists. It’s a gamble that could either pay off massively, giving the show an added dimension, and an enemy not able to be outsmarted by a tree.
After that exceptional trailer the show’s makers strutted out at Comic-Con this year we’re hopeful that this weekend sees the return of the tense, tight show we all grew to know in that first year.
FemaleFirst Cameron Smith