One of the most high profile shows to come out of last year was AMC’s adaptation of the hit Robert Kirkman comic book The Walking Dead. But depending on who you ask, the first season was either the greatest thing ever to grace television or an absolute waste of storytelling potential.
This past Saturday, one of the two most highly anticipated panels of the day was for The Walking Dead, mostly due to the fact that the second season of the show premieres tonight on AMC at 10pm.
To start, Chris Hardwick, who would later grace the crowd with his moderator awesomeness at the Avengers panel, came out on stage and introduced comic creator and Executive Producer Robert Kirkman, EP Gale Anne Heard and special effects artist Greg Nicotero.
Before getting into any footage, Anne spent a little time talking about the contributions Kirkman has been making to the series to date, one of which included Kirkman making a permanent move to Los Angeles so that he could work in the writer’s room of the series full time. Nicotero then went on to discuss how the six episodes from season one didn’t allow a lot of time to delve into what makes the characters tick, a problem that will be corrected in the 13-episode second season.
Nicotero also went on a ten minute rant about the special effects of the show. Some of the highlights included the fact that the zombie actors are still shocked by the effects being used to create the walkers and how he has a rule that the same walker design can’t be used more than once.
Nicotero also stated that he’s able to keep the zombie related moments fresh because he intentionally seeks out things to put into the show that he, as a zombie fan, would enjoy. Kirkman would later add to that when asked about the state of the zombies themselves in season two, saying that he has no intention of changing their personality (I.E. making them smarter) and that they look better than ever.
At this point a lengthy zombie filled scene from the season premiere was shown. However, it’s a scene I refuse to reveal in any way other than to say that it has slightly restored the faith in the show that season one killed. And perhaps also very surprising was that the show works so much better in the movie-like environment compared some some of the other shows screened earlier in the day, such as Terra Nova and Person of Interest. However, that might just be part of the show’s problem, but that’s another discussion for another day.
After the footage was shown, a hefty amount of the cast was brought out including Norman Reedus, Chandler Riggs, Lauren Cohen (a brand new addition in season 2), Steven Yeun, Laurie Holden and Jon Bernthal.
At that point, Nicotero talked about the sequence that was shown. It took the entire team four days to complete, a hefty amount of time for any television production.
Some of the cast then began discussing the state of their characters in season two, including Riggs, who says that 12 year old Carl will evolve from a scared kid hiding in the background to a much more mature and darker level. Holden also explained that her character evolves as well and is “no longer a victim” in the new season.
While talking about his character, Norman Reedus gave the audience a chuckle when he described Daryl as “the kind of guy that just needs a hug, but if you were to try, he would stab you.”
Bernthal said that he was happy during season two that the cast got to do what ever they wanted for the most part when it came to the gore related moments, but that things became very strict whenever scenes involving relationships were dealt with.
Yeun had little to say at the panel other than the fact that everyone in the cast brought their A game to the current season.
Cohen also talked about her experience on the show thus far, especially as the newest face on the cast list. She stated the thing that surprised her the most about the show is that “[she] never knew TV could feel so much like theater.”
When the floor was opened up to questions, the one moment that caused the crowd to swell up in joy was when Kirkman revealed that there are plans to bring the character of Michonne out of the comics and into the series at some point, but that it’ll likely not happen this season.
The panel for the The Walking Dead was by the far the most successful one of the day and with the season premiere set for tonight, it couldn’t have come at a better moment.
Stay tuned for more coverage from New York Comic-Con as the weekend rolls on…