If it's crap ... We'll tell you
This show; for years we’ve been waiting for a television show about zombies. It seemed logical, you could have a rotating cast, the zombie effects didn’t have to be good to be frightening, and if you avoided abandoned cities, it would be cheap to make.
Well, despite critics saying for years that the zombie-subgenre was running out of momentum, this is a fad that refuses to die. With Max Brooks’ book World War Z paving the way for zombie stories to be considered literature, more people started to glance their eyes towards a little independent comic book called; The Walking Dead.
In all honesty, The Walking Dead was just good, not great until the series started to focus on a prison, then it became one of the best books on the stands. But I’ve already written my thoughts on the comic in past reviews, so please check those out.
All of a sudden, the book was being hailed as one of the greatest horror books of all time, and one of the greatest zombie stories ever. So it just made sense to make a show about it.
Enter the TV show. After being rejected from HBO, the series was picked up by AMC, which released other mature hits, like Mad Men and Breaking Bad.
Still, this show was a bit of a risk for the station, because no one had ever made a successful zombie series before, (and to fans of Dead Set, I’m not counting mini-series.) So the first season only got six episodes. That’s okay though, the first story arc only had six issues. It shouldn’t be too hard to adapt.
When the pilot aired, I was excited, it was fun, it was creepy, and it stayed very faithful to the book. It was like watching a very good direct to DVD movie and not having to pay for it. The zombie prosthetics were great, and the camera work was of a theatrical quality. Hell, with Frank Darabont, (the director of the Shawshank Redemption,) behind the camera, would you expect anything less?
But my gripes were small; overall, I enjoyed it and would recommend the pilot to any horror fan.
The second episode is where things really started to diverge from the book. New characters were introduced, the zombies became smarter and faster, (did I just see a zombie climb a fence?) and it prolonged Rick’s (the main character’s) inevitable reunion with his family.
Third episode, to me, was a time waster. It is just there to try and slowly develop the new characters in an attempt to make us feel for them. To fans of the book, we know they’re not going to last long. To people just tuning in, they don’t give enough info to make me care about these people. Over all, I felt this episode was a waste of time.
Episode four is where this series started to win me back. Off to retrieve some guns, a small group comes across survivors, and a Mexican standoff ensues. And just when you think the episode is over and they’ll coast through the remaining minutes, a major event happens, which takes out some of the cast. Finally, the zombies are shown as a threat again, and it’s pretty damn entertaining and suspenseful.
Episode five is about the fallout from the attack. The television show diverges heavily from the book at this point, characters that are dead in the book are still alive. Other characters that tag along in the book have set off on their own way. I don’t know what to expect, I don’t know if I’m enjoying it, but damn it, I am intrigued to see where this is going.
Episode six, oh, it went there. Meh. Human’s act crazy, people give up hope, dear god I wish this had been on HBO so that we’d have 13 episodes this season, and we could have seen the snow set it. Also, no conclusion or cliff-hanger on the finale is disappointing. It just expects you’ll tune in next week, except in this case, next week is next October. Jerks.
The character interactions are dumbed down for the television audience. There is an abusive husband, the producers are trying to make a romantic triangle between Rick, his ex-partner Shane, and Rick’s wife, which is doomed to fail. Who ends up with who is not important in this series, and the writers should focus on the survival aspect, and tough decisions that these people need to face.
But, in all fairness to The Walking Dead, it is just the first season in what will hopefully turn into an epically ambitious series. I was not initially a fan of the first season of The Shield, because I didn’t understand what they were setting up. Who knows, maybe a certain hillbilly who disappears, will come back to govern some vengeance. Or maybe that story arc will be as convincing as Rick’s chances for surviving this series.
Things to look forward to next season, a simple farmer, a ex-football player, a failed sanctuary (which is one of the comics quickest, but creepiest stops,) and if we have to wait yet another season to see the director of the Shawshank Redemption come to a certain penitentiary, I’m giving up on the show.
Until then, I’m going to keep watching the series, and hope that its pace starts to surpass that of the zombies in it.