The Walking Dead: Impressions (TV)

The Walking Dead, an AMC original series adapted from the graphic novel of the same name by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore, is roughly half done with it’s premiere season.   Capitalizing on the rampant success of the Zombie genre and headed up by the talented Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption) The Walking Dead tells the story of the reluctant leader, Rick Grimes, a Deputy Sheriff from a small town in Georgia.

Following the events of a high speed chase (ending with Deputy Grimes the victim of a serious gunshot wound) the series picks up very much in the same fashion that Danny Boyle’s 2002 28 Days Later began.  Grimes awakens after an uncertain amount of time from a coma to a world that has undergone a nightmarish change.  His hospital room, much like the entire hospital, is in disarray and empty of doctors and staff.  During his dream-like romp through the hospital’s hallways we are presented with images that heighten the sense of foreboding and isolation: blood on the walls, rooms chained shut and scrawled with ominous warnings (see above) and a parking lot littered with corpses.  Feeling lost and alone, disoriented from his long slumber, Grimes does the only thing he can think of – find his wife and son.

It is here that The Walking Dead takes a noticeable divergence from the format that has made the Zombie franchise so popular in recent years.  Looking back on some of the more recent movies and videogames (see our reviews of Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare and Dead Nation) the Undead have taken on a more prominent role than some of the other characters involved and the stories have generally been more action oriented.  The Walking Dead is much larger than a story of survival – it is a story of loss and betrayal, hope and dismay, morality and racism.  In hindsight of the first 3 episodes (which have been some of the best television in recent memory) The Walking Dead is reminiscent of how I felt after the first 3 episodes of the 2004 reboot of Battlestar Galactica – an incredible drama set within a science fiction backdrop.

The Walking Dead is just that, an incredible drama that tackles some troubling moral dilemmas.  Dilemmas like crossing the path of a child, a little girl no older than 6 or 7 years old, who has been afflicted with cannibalistic tendencies.  She makes a mad dash for you, hunger in her eyes and void of anything resembling human emotion; your only choice  – put a reluctant bullet in her head.  Dilemmas like barricading yourself in a house, trying to stay alive, while lining up your wife’s head in the cross-hair of a high powered rifle as she shambles her way toward you.  Could you pull the trigger?  Should you pull the trigger?

And this is all just in the first episode.

As a fan of the graphic novels, and an even bigger fan of the Zombie lore (Romero’s Day of the Dead remains as one of my favorite movies) I feel that AMC has set off on a journey that will be satisfying my Undead needs for the remainder of this season and, with any luck, many seasons to come.  It’s also important to point out that Frank Darabont has remained true to Robert Kirkman’s twisted view of the human condition.

In addition, the special effects team has, quite surprisingly, remained incredibly faithful to the overall gore that one would expect with any Zombie production.  One might even say that they ramped-up the gore – to a level that I was thrilled with.  The Walking Dead is by no means promoting the theory that it’s what you don’t see that scares and disturbs you – not even close.   Without revealing any spoilers, let’s just say that the second episode includes a scene that shocked even my 25+ years of Horror fandom.  Even as I write this article I remain amazed that this particular scene in question was not edited for content or completely pulled – I loved every minute of it!

If you’ve been on the fence about this show, if you think it’s just a lame attempt at televising an already overdone movie monster, think again.  The Walking Dead, at it’s heart, is so much more than that and if AMC and the show’s producers continue to stick closely to the original story’s path it will quickly fall into the category of another notable AMC original series.  If you haven’t started watching The Walking Dead I can’t recommend it enough.

Still not sure if it’ll be worth your time?  Ok . . . . fine.  I didn’t want to resort to this but if it’ll help with what should be a no-brainer, what if I told you that Michael Rooker (none other than Mr. Svenning) has a part to play in all this madness – would that do it for you?

Enjoy it – God knows I have!

***At the posting this article I have verified that AMC will be adding a second season of 13 all new episodes (in comparison to this season’s paltry 6)***

Written by Bill Braun

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook