A Few Thoughts on The Walking Dead and Boardwalk Empire

I wasn’t as thrilled with the first season of ‘The Walking Dead’ as many other people. The pilot was excellent, but beyond that episode there wasn’t much plot. The suspense in scenes where the camp is about to come under attack are excellent if that’s the only thing you’re looking for. If you want storyline and character development to go along with your zombie maulings then season one wasn’t for you. However, the second season got off to a much better start.

The show has provided me with more interesting storylines in the first episode than it did all of last season: Where’s Sophia? Who shot Carl? Where is that warning bell coming from? Are Shane and Andrea really going to split from the group? Any one of those storylines would have been a significant upgrade from what season one gave us. The fact that they’re all involved in season two makes me more optimistic on the show’s creative future, since it certainly won’t have any ratings issues. It’s still a show that I don’t ever see myself reviewing as in depth as Breaking Bad, but this was a good start.

After coming out of the gates a bit slow, this past week’s Boardwalk Empire began to pick things up in a much needed way. The first few episodes were used to lay down new plot points for this season, and while I understand the need and the process it was somewhat frustrating to watch unfold. Now that we have a clearer indication of the direction of this season – we knew it would be Nucky vs Jimmy but weren’t sure of the specifics – the show can get back to being itself.

While the Nucky and Jimmy storyline is the lynchpin of the show, the more interesting development has been the increased role of Chalky White. Anything that gets Michael K. Williams gets more screen time is fine by me, and he’s really impressed this season. He hasn’t had another “bookcase” moment yet but he’s been phenomenal in his portrayal of the pressures of being the leader of the black community, and a prominent bootlegger, in 1920’sAtlantic City. Another character getting an expanded role, and excelling in said role, is Jack Huston as Richard Harrow. His scene last week with Jimmy’s wife, where he describes in beautiful detail the love he no longer feels for his sister while revealing his mutilated face for the first time, was the highlight of the season thus far for me.

I came into this fall TV season with lukewarm hopes for The Walking Dead and high ones for Boardwalk Empire. It looks like they’re off to a good start.

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