Days Gone Bye
Tell It To The Frogs
In a genre full of tired, zombie cliches, The Walking Dead face-lifts the genre and delivers a debut season full of white knuckle tension, gritty realism and realistically depicted characters based on the comic book of the same name. Its plot is good and although it deviates from the source material, its the characters that drive the series forward and in this respect, The Walking Dead is fantastic even if it does fall into a few cliche traps along the way.
The story follows Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) a sheriff who awakens in a hospital after being shot during a shootout to find the place abandoned. As he begins to explore the dystopian future where remnants of humanity remain, he joins forces with other survivors and together they struggle to survive in a world inhabited by flesh eating zombies. On the surface, it appears like a cliched idea thats been done a million times before. Awakening from a coma to find zombies everywhere? 28 days later. Band of survivors struggling against zombies? Dawn Of The Dead and so on. Although the show does fall into cliches at times, where Walking Dead exceeds is with a show that focuses on its characters and building up the relationships whilst the impending threat or zombies hangs over them at all times. Its an interesting dynamic as this more character driven focus lends itself well to the serial format of the show with enough time to flesh out the characters, but also reinvents the genre making the show feel fresh.
Despite initial impressions that place most of the characters into generic stereotypes, thankfully as the season progresses the characters become more complex and fleshed out. There’s Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Merle (Michael Rooker), the redneck brothers who initially look like outsiders but eventually become central to the story, a band of ragtag survivors led by Rick’s best friend Shane (Jon Bernthal) and more. I won’t spoil anything else but suffice to say, the tensions do hit boiling point at times between the characters and the contrasting personalities clash well and with decent writing. The sporadic zombie attacks are really well done and although the show is sufficiently gory and rife with horror, its handled well without it falling into splatter porn.
If there’s one critique its the length of the season. Despite it being a clear pilot to test the waters, its still a relatively short season in comparison to other shows and although it does tell a coherent story and stays tense throughout, there are times where it feels like some of the subplots could have been fleshed out a bit more but it zips along at a decent pace nonetheless and is a minor gripe.
The season does leave it wide open for the second season and after a decent start, Walking Dead looks like a show that’s set to stay on our TV sets for a long time to come. Its well written, sufficiently gory and full of horror and its tense opening is relentless right up until its final frame. With memorable characters and an intriguing spin on a tired cliche, The Walking Dead is the perfect answer to the bloated zombie genre.