Even little girls aren’t safe from the wrath of “The Walking Dead,” the first show in the history of cable programming to kick off by blowing the brains out of an innocent zombified child. With three episodes of the first season already aired on AMC, this zombie apocalypse series based on the monthly comic of the same name is pushing the boundaries of modern television and devouring my every thought.
Adapted from Robert Kirkman, “The Walking Dead” is a television show that plays like an epic movie. It’s deep, dark, thought provoking and even a little comedic. But what makes it so successful is that each episode puts you into the mind of its characters, focusing on the human side of a mythological tragedy. With intestines being slurped up like linguine, and hordes of monsters snacking on loved ones, the plot still manages to feel real and somewhat terrifying. The atmosphere is gloomy and perfectly crafted to keep you feeling tense and on edge.
Similar to fan favorites like “Battlestar Galactica,” “The Walking Dead” has taken a fantastical plot device and made it feel gritty and realistic. This is no easy task, but with Frank Darabont, director of “The Shawshank Redemption,” taking the helm as executive producer, director and writer for the series, it’s no surprise that the level of quality has been so monumental. Each character, major and minor, is portrayed beautifully by an amazing cast, and even some of the earliest scenes will tug at your heart strings.
Lead character Rick Grimes, played by Andrew Lincoln, is relatable because of his imperfections. He carries himself with confidence and is obviously a leader, but he struggles to understand his wife and be there for his son. When he wakes up in a hospital bed and is greeted by the end of the world, everything changes. His only goal is to survive long enough to find his family.
As he battles his way through Atlanta, G.a., you can’t help but feel claustrophobic. There are moments when I literally caught myself shouting at my television screen in complete shock. One vision in particular I can’t seem to wipe from my brain includes Rick’s horse being treated like a four course meal by a horde of zombies. And another when Rick and his new ally Glenn must cover themselves with the innards of a deceased zombie in order to smell dead enough to walk undetected through a crowded street of infected. Rick even dons the zombie’s feet as a necklace.
This show asks its audience to think. It doesn’t treat you like a brainless zombie, but rather poses questions like, how would you survive and who would you trust? There’s betrayal, there’s heartbreak and there are standalone stories that could exist with or without a zombie invasion. All three of the first batch of episodes have been perfect, interspersing long portions of dialogue with well-choreographed action sequences and haunting imagery. Another thing I thoroughly appreciate is that it’s shot on film, something long forgotten in the realm of science fiction television. Computer-generated images are also used sparingly and special effects are practical rather than Michael Bay-ified.
If you haven’t seen this show yet, stop what you’re doing immediately and get ready to be hooked. Even if you’ve read the graphic novel series, the creators have promised to keep things fresh, changing story arcs and even adding new characters. As I wait for the next episode with giddy anticipation, I can truly say “The Walking Dead” has the potential to rise from the grave that is television mediocrity. Eat your heart out “Two and a Half Men.”