GEEKtv: The Walking Dead
posted by GW Ponch
What you are looking at above is an image from the season premiere of The Walking Dead on AMC. Now, AMC is known for running a ton of hit shows most notably Mad Men and Breaking Bad. While I have never seen even a minute of Breaking Bad it gets rave reviews from people I trust. Mad Men on the other hand is brilliant. So it was with a great deal of excitement that I sat down to watch Episode 1 of The Walking Dead. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one as it is officially the highest rated debut for the network in its history! And it was more than worth it.
Zombies have invaded our pop culture like nothing else I can remember save Pokemon. The phenomena of the two is strikingly similar albeit at mostly different ends of the creative spectrum. Sears this year even transformed their online store into a zombie friendly site offering products for zombies and their specific needs. One of the areas most highly saturated with zombies has been Comics. There are many titles available featuring or dealing with zombies. Some are fantastic (Victorian Undead, I Zombie) some are utter schlock (Everything Marvel has done with them after Marvel Zombies). The most consistent however has always been Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead. (almost) Every month Kirkman delivers a roller-coaster of emotions to his readers. They story of a group of survivors living life after a zombie apocalypse is so simple it’s a wonder it wasn’t done previously. The books are available in trade format and I highly suggest getting them now.
But, how would Kirkman’s signature style translate to the small screen? Would the actors work? Would the script be good? Who would direct? The answer to those questions is, in a away that is actually better than the book, mostly, undoubtedly yes, and Frank Darnabont! This show worked on so many levels. The pacing was perfect. The isolation was crushing. The shock was terrifying. The zombies were scary. The emotion resonated. The only issue was the actor playing Shane. Shane is a relatively vital piece of the opening arc and the actor playing him just didn’t quite hit for me. But the rest was glorious.
The direction was flawless in this opening episode which should be expected from the man who gave us The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption. The tweaks made to the story were subtle enough that I actually found myself preferring them to the original. There is a particularly excellent scene featuring a father and his son who have taken residence in the house next door to the main character Rick’s. It is played beautifully and really drives home the point this story is trying to achieve. How would we survive an unimaginable horror? What would you do to save the one/s you loved?
Do yourself a favor an check this series out. It is well worth the effort and comes with my highest recommendation.