[Editors' note: check out our ongoing TVGA Roundtable wrapping The Walking Dead as well as Mike Proper's weekly episode reviews. We got TWD covered from both alive and undead levels is what we're saying basically.]
A bit of business before I jump into my thoughts on the episode. Word came in last night that AMC has renewed The Walking Dead for a second season. Given the show's ratings record shattering premiere, this is about as surprising as the news that broke at about the same time regarding the Dallas Cowboys firing head coach Wade Phillips.
I know I'm probably going to catch a fair amount of flack for saying this, but I don't want to beat around any bushes so I'm just going to come right out with it; I wasn't really a big fan of "Guts." The episode wasn't bad, per se, and it certainly had its moments, but something about it rubbed me the wrong way. Maybe I was just distracted by Michael Rooker (I kept waiting for someone to try to give him a zombie "stinkpalm"), who I can't see in any role without picturing him licking chocolate and dingleberries off his fingers.
The episode started off strong, with a pretty racy sex scene between Shane and Lori during which Lori stares at her wedding ring but decides to keep going. After this, however, the tone of the episode shifts noticeably. The horror genre has always been known for being "campy" (which is not necessarily a bad thing), but for the most part "Days Gone Bye" avoided campiness. Not so in "Guts" (hell, even the episode title is a little campy).
While the first episode relied more on the use of the "less is more" philosophy to scare the viewer, episode two was full of loud cars and gross-out gags. Again, this isn't to say that I am always against the smearing of zombie guts and the revving of engines, I just mean that scenes like that didn't really jive with the mood the first episode seemed to establish. Here's an example that I think sums up the difference between the two episodes pretty succinctly; in episode one Morgan refers to the zombies as "walkers" which is cool and subtle, in episode two the survivors refer to them as "geeks" which is cheesy and a bit over-the-top.
The new characters that we meet this week didn't really help me take the episode seriously. I know that The Walking Dead is a comic book adaptation, and it definitely seems like a lot of new survivors are comic book characters or cartoons, not real people. Beyond that, some of them came off as lazy racial stereotypes.
I blame this partially on the wardrobe department. Glenn was wearing a logo-less baseball hat and jersey. No one wears jerseys without team names or logos on them. T-Dog was wearing a shirt that just said "Brooklyn" on it. Were all of the "Harlem World" shirts sold-out? Couldn't find any Platinum Fubu? And are you serious, the character's name is T-Dog? That's worse than U-Turn, and U-Turn was meant to be a joke!
Back to Glenn for a second, and then I promise I'll stop bitching. I don't know what it was (maybe it was the baseball hat) but I couldn't shake the "teenage Short Round" vibe I was getting from him. I couldn't be the only one that thought this, right? I just kept waiting for him to drop a "No time for love, Dr. Jones."
There were things, aside from the sex scene, in the episode that I liked. It's cool that Shane's group on the outskirts of town is really an extension of the group of survivors that Rick meets in Atlanta. I appreciate the way that the show let the audience in on that without Rick being aware of it yet. But, again, I was more distracted by the campiness of it all to really enjoy it. Here's hoping next week is a little more like the premiere.
Nice moves, Clint Eastwood!