Let me start by saying that I love having this series on tv so it pains me to criticize it. If I were going to see a typical Romero-clone zombie story, this Walking Dead would get a very good rating. But I expect a lot more from the network that has produced Breaking Bad and Madmen (two of the best shows on TV). This show started with the promise of thoughtfully crafted horror series that would focus on the human trials that accompany an epic disaster such as a zombie apocalypse.
The first two episodes started to deliver on that promise for the most part, but the effort thinned and stalled by the season finale at the CDC. The search for a cure was an obvious dead end and the characters were getting stale and uninteresting. Enter the BIG EXPOLOSION to end the drag for the first season. A lazy and hackneyed plot device that signaled the series might continue slipping, but who doesn't love a big explosion right?
So the slate was clean for this new season. The producers cleaned house and got rid of the writers (and Darabont for some reason) leaving plenty of opportunity to craft the thoughtful zombie thriller as promised. Imagine my extreme disappointment when the premiere started with a pointless 2 minute monologue by Rick (backed by corny music) that didn't build suspense, didn't build character, didn't build atmosphere, and didn't develop the story. Then the actors muddle their way through bad dialogue and ridiculous activities (can someone explain to me why Daryl is scouting for the party on an extremely noisy hog when the zombies are drawn by sound?) until the driving plot point arrives...a little girl is lost in the woods! Really? That is what they are opening with? That is the most interesting plot they can come up with to drive a HORROR/THRILLER series? Really?!?
Why should I, as an audience member, have empathy for this girl at all considering this girl has said a total of 10 words so far and her mother is only slightly more developed as an emotional wreck/abused spouse? Why should I care about any of the characters for that matter? Other than Rick (who is the most developed due to majority of screen time) and Daryl (who is interesting because he seems to be the only character that is able to cope with his environment) I don't find any of the characters interesting or worthy of sympathy.
Just about every character could be killed off in the next episode and I would still be more interested in what obstacles lay ahead. Unfortunately, the story development so far doesn't even have me that interested in the future events at this point either. I fell in love with the Walking Dead comic because it is character-driven and unpredictable. Characters are well built and then can be torn away at any moment. Doing this in a believable way (for the Zombie universe) keeps it suspenseful and interesting. So far the show lacks both solid character development and solid horror/suspense plot development. I keep waiting for this show to surprise me, but judging by this first episode of season 2 its going to be another dumbed-down zombie slasher that uses gore and action devices to hold viewers. It will still be a good show, just not what it could have been.