This year’s products of Halloween weren’t that bad. My Soul to Take, Buried & Paranormal Activity 2 all making pretty decent showings at the box office. Case 39 filling the theaters and the final Saw, in 3D nonetheless, coming out swinging to make its’ case for 2010 horror champ. Not knocking any of these films but sometimes quantity over quality is a good thing. Hollywood was making sure there are more than enough of similar products out there to keep all of us satisfied until the Christmas season rolls around. But I was mainly impressed with another product. One that wasn’t included in the cinema Halloween slugfest.
The Walking Dead premiered on Halloween night on AMC of all channels. Not HBO, Showtime or even Starz. AMC which is cable but censored cable that doesn’t show content that would normally be contained on channels like Skine-Max. You know that kind of network that shows classic movies like all of the Halloweens and Friday the 13th’s but blocks out all of the good stuff. Like they do every October for their Fearfest horror movie marathon. Still great stuff to watch although it’s edited for network television. Their latest original series, The Walking Dead, does not fall into that category.
Based on a comic book series of the same name created by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard, the show follows main character Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) who is a deputy sheriff in King County, Georgia. The pilot begins with him and his partner/best friend, Shane Walsh (Jon Bernthal), getting into a gunfight with a couple of fleeing suspects. Grimes is shot during the skirmish and falls into a coma. When he finally awakes, everything as he knew it has been turned upside down. He snaps out of his coma and finds himself still in the hospital but alone, very alone.
After some strenuous investigating while trying to navigate his way around the hospital, he discovers why. He finds people or what he thinks might be people. That is until they try to bite his head off, literally. After escaping some pretty close calls early on, he sets out to learn just what happened during his gunshot induced cat-nap and find his wife and son as well. Along the way he meets other survivors and characters also trying to survive and make some sense of what has happened to their town.
The Walking Dead joins a pretty decent list of shows that have been birthed by AMC. Breaking Bad and Mad Men would probably be at the top of that list. The Walking Dead is just not simply another zombie sub-genre story. It has drama, suspense, emotion, some comedy and the will of the human spirit to survive to go along with the always entertaining slaughtering of the staggering undead. Despite being on network cable, developer Frank Darabont makes sure that the content is nowhere near intended for children.
There is the loss of body parts, the presence of internal organs and my favorite, the way blood splatters everywhere whenever one of the undead is slain. Especially when it finds its’ way onto the camera. There’s also the occasional curse word slipped in here and there but nothing too excessive. Nothing is safe, not even a horse who falls victim to a horde of zombies early in the series. It isn’t anything like the Saw franchise but it comes close so if you have a weak stomach, you might want to put down the bottle of Pepto Bismol and just don’t watch.
The character-building in the story line is great. You can see how almost every person is affected not only physically but emotionally and mentally as well by what seems to be a sort of apocalypse. No one is completely themselves as they have each lost something from within as a result of this dreadful occurrence. Either they have lost someone close, looking for someone close or just desperately want their life back.
The audience also gets a look in at how Grimes’ family is coping without him. His wife and son, Lori and Carl (Sarah Wayne Collins & Chandler Riggs) have no idea that their husband and father has survived his coma and is now looking for them. They have taken up with a group of survivors trying to stay alive and really not knowing what their next move is with Walsh as their potential leader and protector.
Disappointingly there were only 6 episodes in this opening season but happily the zombie-apocalypse series has been given the green light for a second one. Hopefully production will begin soon so we can get back to watching zombies brutally die. Sorry to sound so happy about seeing the undead meet their maker, again, but it’s very entertaining. This is my first time reviewing a television show and assigning one a rating but I think even George A. Romero has been curling up on his couch every Sunday night for the last month and flipping to AMC. I give The Walking Dead “4.5 ways to make a decent drama about zombies out of 5”.
-“You're surrounded by ‘Walkers’. That's the bad news.”
-“There’s good news?”