Welcome back to another edition of TV Or Not TV where the only thing I really want to talk about is THE WALKING DEAD.
I’m sure that there are plenty of you out there right now that are sick and tired of hearing about THE WALKING DEAD. Your friends, loved ones, social media acquaintances and the like have been going on and on about it and you are just so sick of hearing about it you might be relieved that it has finally aired thinking this will quell the hype. After seeing the premiere last night I’m sorry to tell you that you will probably get not respite from THE WALKING DEAD until the last episode of the season airs.
Let me tell you in advance of my review that I did not read the comic at all. I know nothing of the story, had no idea what was going to happen last night, and I was completely glued to my television from the moment that RICK GRIMES steps out of his police cruiser until the mesmerizing final frames of the overhead shot at the episodes end. Every single moment captured my attention and I was very pleased to learn that THE WALKING DEAD is not a show about zombies.
I’m sure some of you, just as I was last night, would be surprised to learn that at the heart of THE WALKING DEAD we actually have is a story about the human condition and how it copes with surviving in the most dire situations. Yes, there are zombies walking around and yes they crave flesh for food, but they are merely an element of the environment and don’t drive the story. They are the desert that must be crossed, the snow storm that must be survived or the ocean in which our characters need to stay afloat. I will admit that there is a bit more gore than you would find in one of those other types of survival stories, but it isn’t done in a horrific way. The gore almost exists to accentuate a point or to set the dire tone of what this world has become.
One of the most engaging parts of the story that is told is near the beginning when Sheriff’s Deputy RICK GRIMES (ANDREW LINCOLN) awakes from a coma in a hospital. He is confused, he is weak, and he has no idea what awaits him outside of his hospital room. Even though we as the viewer are privy to the fact that the dead are walking the Earth for a few fleeting moments we all get to share this horrific discovery just as RICK GRIMES does. We do not know what has happened to the world and we discover it right alongside of RICK as he witnesses things unimaginable. The entire sequence had me questioning what I myself would do in the situation, while at the same time I was having flashbacks to STU REDMAN escaping the CDC in STEPHEN KING’S THE STAND, one of my favorite KING novels (I guess I have a taste for the apocalyptic).
Within the first seven minutes of this first episode we get to see just how desperate times have become. As a father the encounter that occurs in the opening was very shocking for me to see, however it too accentuated the macabre choices one has to make in this post-zombie apocalyptic world. RICK clearly is a compassionate man and it is reflected in the choices he makes throughout the episode, but in this very first exchange if you watch closely at the final moments that actor ANDREW LINCOLN’s face is in frame you can see a hint of the realization that his character comes to in the actions he has to take.
It’s no surprise that THE WALKING DEAD has a very cinematic feel to it considering the driving force behind the first episode was FRANK DARABONT. DARABONT’s work on THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION and THE GREEN MILE prove that he knows how to adapt a story and bring it to life. I’ve been told he’s done a wonderful job of staying true to his source material with THE WALKING DEAD even when needing to change things to bring the comic to the small screen. The visuals that are done in this series almost are as much a character as any of the actors we see on screen. If you want any confirmation, wait for that final overhead shot that I mentioned as the screen fades to black on this first episode. It is a thing of near-beauty as you watch the action that plays out before your eyes in a wonderful blend of chaos and choreography.
I can’t wait for more of this amazing show and if the subsequent episodes are even half as good as this pilot this show will prove once again that AMC is building more and more to an original programming power house.
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