Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Walking Dead - Season 2 Ramblings (So Far)

Well I started doing something that I know I probably shouldn’t have.  Yes, I started reading the comic book version of “The Walking Dead.”  As a fan of the show and an even bigger fan of the premise and all the ideas it had, it couldn’t be a bad idea to start reading it.  I was so thirsty for more plot and to find out where these characters were really going, I had to proceed.  This might have been a mistake.

This is definitely not to say that it’s not a good comic book.  Matter of fact, it has been and will continue to be one of the best comics going.  That is not the issue.  The issue is in comparing it to the TV show.  I am a firm believer in that a book (or comic book in this case) and a movie or tv show and can exist separately.  They do not have to affect each other and you can enjoy each on their own. 

The problem I run into here, is that it is human nature to compare things that we know are similar.  When you compare, you run the risk of ruining one of the mediums.  Either the comic book will pale in comparison to the moving pictures of the TV show, or the budgetary limitations of 13 episodes per season will make the show not live up to the comic book.  Further, there will be changes from one medium to the next, either due to money constraints or by choice.  However, how much this affects the viewer or their enjoyment of either medium is completely up to said viewer.

I have never been one to pull the “the book was way better than the movie” line out there.  I find that to be a pretentious and somewhat “humblebrag” way of talking about how cool you are because you read the book.  Both a book and a movie have good and bad things about them and can be enjoyed equally and separately.  ‘Jaws’ and ‘The Godfather’ are two examples of books and films that were extremely enjoyable and didn’t detract from either mediums greatness.  It can be done.

That was my choice when I started reading ‘The Walking Dead’ comic books.  The unfortunate reality is that the show wore thin at certain points in season two (so far).  Therefore, I found myself looking to the comic back to see what keeps me coming back through volume 14 and how that is making me a little weary about how season two is playing out on the screen.

The idea behind some of the changes in the TV show will definitely add an interesting dynamic that did not exist in the comic.  Take the Shane character for example.  Shane has so far provided an interesting counterpoint to Rick as the groups “second in command.”  In the comic book, Shane died in what would have been the end of season one.  His relationship with Lori prior to that was the same, as was his relevance to the group.  Keeping him alive added a wrinkle that is sure to change the course of the story in major ways.

The problem is I am not sure if the details they changed are for the better.  While the dynamic of having Shane alive is interesting, they way it’s been handled is not.  What made Shane a wild card in the comic, his disdain for Rick taking Lori back, his ridiculous temper, his desire to be the true leader of the group, all are the only focus of Shane in the TV show.  He does not appear to have much more depth than to play a counterpoint to the sensibilities of Rick.

Also, the much maligned Sophia storyline.  To me this plot point seems like a simple attempt to stretch out a couple of episodes and fill the season a bit more.  I have no problem with making TV specific plots and subplots, but a little more ingenuity would help.  While it did make for a solid mid-season finale, there were about two episodes where it fell a little stale.

Ultimately, I keep remind myself of my earlier point.  The TV show and the comic are two completely different entities.  Looking at them like that, I enjoy both to a great extent.  The second season so far has gotten itself off to a bit of a slower start, but if the show is anything like the comic, it’s going to pick up and fast.  There are some interesting dynamics at play here and there are a lot of avenues they can go.  With some of the changes they’ve made for the TV show, if they follow the path of the comic, there are a lot of different avenues to explore.  I look forward to seeing where they can take us.

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