The holiday season is a great time of the year to spend with family, and a terrible time of the year to watch television. Everything is a rerun!
But the hiatus at least gives us a chance to sit back and evaluate where various shows stand, something we've done so far via midseason report cards for: The Vampire Diaries; Parenthood; Fringe; and The Secret Circle.
Up now: The Walking Dead.
Best Episode: "What Lies Ahead." The season premiere packed nail bitting tension, great zombie gore, and fantastic pacing between action and drama. It was the perfect kick start to the second season and ended with a cliffhanger that led the way to the infamous Hershel farm.
Worst Episode: "Cherokee Rose." Sticking someone down a well with a zombie is a stupid and pointless idea. It makes zero sense unless you're trying to get killed. Utilizing zombie blood and guts for pure gratuitousness instead of an intriguing and plot moving storyline makes for a boring and yawn inducing episode. We want zombies but not at the cost of the main story. Plus, I don't want to watch anyone pee on a pregnancy stick for the closing scene. Next episode, please.
Best Character: Hands down, Daryl Dixon. He may not have been an original character of the graphic novel, but he's proven himself to be handy with a crossbow, quick with his wit, and intriguing to watch. He's been continuously growing and developing past his original racist redneck persona into one of my favorites. If Merle ever does return, it will be interesting to see their interaction and how he handles it. Just don't die, Daryl!
Worst Character: Andrea gets under my skin and I wish she would go away. She's constantly complaining about not carrying a gun or doing what the "boys" get to do. Andrea comes off less like a strong female character with a edge and more like a whiny, selfish, and foolhardy problem.
What worked: The season started with plenty of drama and tension as well as a nice setting change. The wide stretch of farm land contrasted with the season one concrete jungle of the city offered another take on dealing with the zombie apocalypse. Additionally, the mid season finale ended with a cinematically appealing bang by eliminating the barn zombies with a simple mow down, the revelation that Sophia was a walker, and Rick stepping up to take care of business.
What didn't work: With the magical safety bubble of Hershel's farm, there was a lack of urgency and desperation to survive, something that the show first thrived on. This meant that the characters found themselves making brainless decisions for the sake of attempting to create zombie action. Additionally, the one goal of finding Sophia, a character who we never really got a chance to invest in, felt too dragged on, meaning that a majority of episode plots involved many "talky" and often soap opera feeling scenes.
Hopes for 2012: The Walking Dead needs to re-find that urgency, that take on actually learning to survive a zombie apocalypse and dealing with a world without basic rules. I hope that the mid season finale ending will propel the show forward towards moving away from the farm and back towards dealing with danger around every corner whether it be human or zombie. And hopefully, a more enticing storyline than finding a little girl. Here's to bringing back the action packed, character driven, and heart stopping moments that made the show exciting in the first place.
Overall Grade: B-
Sean McKenna is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.