Chances are you are already watching The Walking Dead.
The season three premiere was watched by more than 10 million people and the second episode somehow only lost 500,000 of those viewers for a 9.5 ratings. The season premiere also drew 7.3 million viewers in the coveted 18-49 year old demographic, becoming the highest rated non-sporting event show on television. The Walking Dead did this all with AMC not being available on DISH Network.
So yeah, you’re probably watching it. But if by some miracle you haven’t yet today is your lucky day. The Walking Dead is a fairly good show for the most part. It’s not deserving of being the most watched show on cable but there are far worse shows that could claim the title. Unfortunately, however, it has suffered from some creative schizophrenia for the majority of its two-plus season run. After the stunning and nearly perfect series premiere “Days Gone Bye,” which merged brutal and exciting violence with excellent character work, each episode is a complete crapshoot.
The problem is that the show is unable to flesh out its characters beyond archetypes, which could be totally fine for a show about stabbing zombies through the eye socket with screwdrivers. But in its failing attempts to be about something MORE a la its AMC mates Breaking Bad and Mad Men, The Walking Dead can become a weirdly bloodless drag at times. Admittedly this hasn’t been as egregious since current showrunner Glen Mazzara took over for original adaptor Frank Darabont but the imbalance in tone during seasons one and two can be frustrating for someone trying to get into the show.
So with that in mind, I’ve gone back and done extensive research into The Walking Dead’s first two seasons (re: glanced at Wikipedia) and simply stripped out about half of its episodes that you don’t need to watch. Trust me: if you just watch these 11 episodes (cut down from 19), you will be 100% satisfied with your Walking Dead experience and not even realize you’ve missed anything of import at all…because really: you aren’t.
The Essential Walking Dead:
1. Days Gone Bye (season 1, episode 1)
2. Guts (season 1, episode 2) -3. TS-19 (season 1, episode 6)
4. What Lies Ahead (season 2, episode 1)
5. Bloodletting (season 2, episode 2)
6. Pretty Much Dead Already (season 2, episode 7)
7. Nebraska (season 2, episode 8)
8. 18 Miles Out (season 2, episode 10)
9. Judge, Jury, Executioner (season 2, episode 11)
10. Better Angels (season 2, episode 12)
11. Beside the Dying Fire (season 2, episode 13)
12. Seed (season 3, episode 1)
13. Sick (season 3, episode 2)
What you’ll miss in season one – One half-hearted zombie attack that harms no one of importance. The resolution to the Merle Dixon storyline that you might want to Google.
What you’ll miss in season two – Harvest Moon: Zombie Apocalypse edition. The survivors hang out on a farm for weeks and exhaust every possible trite domestic drama in the name of “character.” Google “Walker in a Well” for one of the series best zombies.
What you’ll miss in season three – Nothing so far. The first two episodes have been completely satisfying and season three looks like it might be the first season with no easily skippable episodes.
(photo via The Washington Post)