And The Best TV Show Of Year Goes To…..
I am fully aware of all the heat I may catch for this, but I will stand by my decision, unabashedly. How can you pick a show that was only on for six episodes? Well, that’s easy. There was no show in 2012 that showed as much heart (and improvement over the last season) as season 3 of The Walking Dead on AMC. If you watch season 2 and season 3 back to back, they play out like different shows. While last season was plodding and slow, this season hits the viewers with a major loss and a major revelation per episode. Though I have already spent a great deal of time talking about how season 3 has redefined great television for me, I have no qualms about talking about this show a little more, especially considering they just lost showrunner, Glen Mazzara, which could spell real problems for the show in the forthcoming season. But for now, and without question, season 3 of The Walking Dead was the best show on TV in 2012.
The first thing this show did right, which I had predicted that it would not too long ago, was staying more true to the comic book. The Walking Dead comic is one of the most raw and unsettling things I have ever read, and as much as AMC has had fun deviating from that so trolls couldn’t spoil major plot points, let’s not forget, the only reason anyone watches this show is because the staggering source material, and just how consistently unsettling it is to read. For example, we will take Lori’s death. SPOILERS AHEAD FOR COMIC!
While Lori’s death was handled with great care on the show, and made for one of the most memorable and emotional television moments I have ever seen on TV, do you know how it played out in the comic book? Well, “brutal” is the word I would use.
Yes, I am sorry if that spoiled things for any of you reading the comic, but in the same breath, don’t blame me because you are fifty issues behind on the series. Point is, that panel sums up what The Walking Dead comic is like. Soul shattering. And that vein was nowhere to be found in season 2. Instead, we had rambling episodes of nothing happening. The whole of season was based around getting a little girl back that, frankly, no viewer really cared about in the first place. You add to that the whole farm setting, and you realize, The Walking Dead hit a real sophomore slump in season 2. And while it picked up a little at the end of last season, anyone who knew the comic, and saw the prison, knew, shit was about to get mad real, real fast, and in season 3, that is JUST what The Walking Dead did so effortlessly. And that’s a good thing, because if it kept the pace of last season, they would’ve inevitably lost some viewers that no amount of good writing could have brought back.
So what has been so exceptional about season 3? Well, honestly, everything.
From the spectacular speech Rick gave at the very start of the first episode (this is no longer a democracy), to how perfectly Michonne is being represented by actress Danai Gurira, season 3 is exactly what fans of the comic have been waiting for, and the kind of fan service we haven’t gotten since that (perfect) first episode. Also, season 3 started doing something awesome. It stopped killing off the “red shirts” (secondary characters who are not important to the plot, and whose loss impacts the group exactly zero percent) and started killing off titular characters, which is pretty much the whole idea of the comic. The idea that, in due time and from the result of this, we humans become the real monsters. And that is my segway into another reason that season three has been so utterly captivating. The uncompromising and unflinching performance of our hero, Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes.
Season 3 has been a showcase for Rick’s true descent into madness, where he slowly realizes that this world is destined to eat him and his son alive, pun intended, and he will do anything he has to in order to ensure that doesn’t happen. from the tragic loss of his wife, Lori, moments after giving birth to their child, to his act of burying the machete in the gang banger’s skull, we have seen Rick go from law-abiding Dad, to true end-of-the-world, anything-to-survive alpha male. And Andrew Lincoln’s performance as Rick in season 3 has been a true joy. Well, a painful joy, really. But even people who are not fans of the show would be hard pressed to walk by while this show is on, and NOT get caught up in it. It is everything good fiction needs to reel you in. It has action, and loss, and brutal moral decisions, and violence, and sex. Those are the building blocks of life, people.
Even some minor moments on the show have caused some real reactions in people. Take, for instance, when Daryl held Rick’s baby.
It was a brief moment on the show, but if you were on the web the next day, you could feel the collective arousal of every woman who has watched, and loved, this show since day one. Daryl is the ultimate man’s man, shooting zombies with a crossbow and wearing a vest. Do you know how many people would look silly doing that? I will give you a hint, every single person on Earth except for Daryl.
And the best part’s best part? Daryl is new to the show and non-existent on the comic book, which makes his impact resonate that much more. If I had one qualm with the show it would be how they handle their African-American male’s. No idea why, but the show has just tossed black people at us, and killed them off, one by one. While that is pretty common in fiction, unfortunately, if the show intends to keep the Michonne/Governor plot line from the comic, they had best be prepared to hear “racist” tossed around a bit. Slight spoiler alert here, so you may want to scroll down. The long and short is, you can’t have every black character get raped and/or killed. That might not sit well with some people. Is The Walking Dead racist? Not even remotely, but if I think it even as a passing thought, some fool on the web will definitely call it out, so be prepared for that.
Oh, and the final thing about season 3 that is owning life right now? Well, simply put, this guy:
His name is David Morrissey, and he plays the Governor. And while his tone and image are polar opposites of the comic, I feel like this is one section of the show that actually surpasses the comic. Wait, fan boys, hear me out. If the Governor was cast and played like he was written and drawn in the comic, there would have been no false sense of peace, that we ultimately needed to have in place for us to really fear this guy. You see, if they cast the show based on the comic book, Danny Trejo would have been the Governor. No, seriously, look!
You see, the whole thing that works about the Governor character on the show is just how charming and well spoken he is, with the simmering rage always detected, just under the surface. If the show had been cast how it was drawn, that false sense of peace would have never happened. We would have known he was a bad guy, just by looking at him. And the show knew that, and derailed that a bit, which in turn, has worked wonderfully for television.
If the Governor becomes as vile on the show as he does in the comic (which it is safe to say he will), you might want to put seat belts on your couch right now. This man does some truly terrible things. The kind of things bad guys just don’t do on TV. Stay tuned, and be prepared to be awed. I also really like the Andrea story line this season, and that is also 100% original to the show. The Andrea character goes in COMPLETELY different directions in the comic. I won’t spoil it for you guys, but it is safe to say they intend to take her to much darker places on the show. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were setting up Andrea as an enemy, who actually sides with the Governor. In the comic, the Governor was having sex with no one. Well, consensual sex, anyway. Andrea is the new female we hate this season (last season it was Lori, and minute we saw Rick’s reaction to her death on the show this season, we all realized how selfish we were), so having Andrea turn evil and side with the Gov could be a lot of fun to witness. Now that, my friends, is great television.
So, in closing, it is clear to me why The Walking Dead gets Best TV Show Of 2012, and I hope it is clear to you now, too. And with Rick’s slow descent into madness in full effect (the phone calls, anyone?) it is safe to say The Walking Dead is only set to get better and better. But with the loss of the Glen Mazzara, could it lose its footing like it did in season 2? Only time will tell, but I will sure as shit be tuning in to find out.