November 1, 2010

TV Reviews: The Walking Dead Series Premiere

Title: The Walking Dead
Written by: Frank Darabont (teleplay), Robert Kirkman (graphic novels)
Director: Frank Darabont
Company: Darwoods Productions
Original Air Date: October 31, 2010
Length: 90 min.
Rated: TV-14
Episode: “Days Gone By”


At long last the day comic book fans have been anticipating for months has finally arrived – it’s the premiere of The Walking Dead! The television show is based on the award winning comic series of the same name, created by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore. The show follows Rick Grimes, a small town deputy who is wounded in a gun fight trying to apprehend some criminals. Rick ends up in a coma for some time before awaking to a zombie filled post apocalyptic nightmare. With no living souls around, Rick leaves the hospital and attempts to make his way home. On the way, Rick finds the town pretty much deserted aside from all the dead bodies. When Rick reaches his home, he finds that it too is deserted and there is no sign of his wife or son.

After finding his family gone and with everything he experienced, Rick wonders if he is in fact dreaming. Rick’s wonder is put to rest as he is soon attacked by a young boy, Duane, and his father, Morgan. Though cautious of Rick at first, they soon become friends. Morgan explains to Rick about the zombies and gives him some tips on how to survive. The trio go back to Rick’s home and discover that Lori and Carl, Rick’s wife and son, had in fact packed up and left the house and may yet still be alive. Rick takes Morgan and Duane to the police station to pick up some weapons and supplies. Once they get what they need, Rick asks Duane to accompany him to Atlanta, the nearest big city where any survivors are likely to be, so he can search for his family, but Duane declines. Duane explains to Rick that he and his son are still not ready to move on and are still dealing with the fact that his wife died and became a zombie. They say their goodbyes and Rick sets off in his police car for whatever awaits him in Atlanta.

Judging by the premiere episode, “Days Gone By,” The Walking Dead TV show is equally as amazing as the comic book series. The television show is just plain brilliant. Frank Darabont’s take on Robert Kirkman’s genius work is a perfect fit. Darabont clearly understands that it is the characters and strong emotional ties in the stories that keep this zombie series so compelling. The creators did a great job casting actors that look remarkably like their comic book counterparts and that are actually good at their craft! With so much of this story being character driven, the acting level from the cast is an important factor. Andrew Lincoln in particular did an excellent job as Rick, and really has the potential to carry this series for the long haul.

While all the character stuff is important, let’s not forget about the zombies (that’s how folks end up dead). The make up  and special effects on this show are of movie level quality. Each zombie that appears on screen looks amazing, down to the smallest detail. The quality of the zombies definitely raises the creepy and gore factor to the show, but there is also this kind of beautiful sorrow to these zombies. One scene in particular that really evokes feelings of  sympathy for the zombies is when Rick goes back to find this half torso zombie that he had encountered earlier. As Rick watches this creature pull herself along through the grass, there is something almost heartbreaking about it. Rick finally puts her out of her misery, saying, “I’m sorry this happened to you,” and then shoots her in the head.

For all the waiting and anticipation, The Walking Dead does not disappoint. Long time readers of the series and people who have never been exposed to the source material can both enjoy the excellence of this series. As long as people get on board with this show, it has the creative power to be a long running, critically acclaimed success. So for all of you that have yet to watch this show or read the comic book, I highly recommend that you do. You can thank me later.

Nick Zamora