Reflections on 'The Walking Dead' Season One


The grave is still fresh on The Walking Dead season one, but we are already jonesing for more. With only a six-episode season, can you blame us? While we have the next eleven months to speculate on what we can expect to see next season, we couldn't wait to share some thoughts. Like things we liked....

The gore. Oh the gore. Greg Nictoero and his team really outdid themselves on The Walking Dead. First off, the zombies in the show are top-notch. All practically done - not digitally - these zombies look real. But on top of that, the detail in these zombies is better than you can find in most high-budget feature films. Strips of dangling flesh slide away to reveal yellowing bone. Claret blood gurgles from fresh wounds. The camera doesn't shy away from an axe splitting open a head or a baseball bat knocking one clean off the shoulders. Bravo to AMC for not backing off on the gore.

But also the characters. It's not all blood and guts. A show like The Walking Dead could have easily been pure destruction. Fun, yes, but that doesn't make for a sustainable series. The series focuses on the human characters, their interactions with one another, and most importantly, how they are surviving in an apocalyptic landscape. And unlike blockbuster disaster films, you aren't actually rooting for these characters to die (well, not most of them, anyway).

The epic scope. This show is huge. The producers built an entire city in ruins. The mobs of zombies aren't just in the dozens, but in the hundreds. Rarely do you get such huge set pieces in television - basic cable television, no less.

The groundbreaking premise - and execution. Vampires are all the rage on television. It just takes a handful of brooding, muscley guys with pointy teeth and a couple pints of fake blood. Zombies are not so easy. They aren't sexy. They require a lot of makeup. While vampires fit into mainstream society very well, zombies stick out like a zit on the prom queen. They are harder to market, and that market is smaller. And yet The Walking Dead appeals to horror fans (like me) and horror ‘fraidy cats (like my husband).

The gall. The very first episode opens with a little girl. Rick desperately wants to help her, but when he catches up with her, he discovers that she is a gruesome, slavering zombie. What comes next is virtually unprecedented in the entertainment industry: Rick shoots the little girl in the face. Yes, she was undead. Yes, she only had half a face to begin with. But rarely do you see a dead child on television, let alone see one get killed on screen. Even a hardened gorehound like myself was a bit stunned - but in a good way.

And some of the things we didn't like...

Whiny characters. I would hope that in a new world order such as the zombie apocalypse, people would change their thinking. Andrea loses her sister - one who she wasn't that close with - and it is the end of the world for her. Did losing parents, cousins, BFFs not have that effect on her already? Shane thinks he is in love with Lori after a mere three weeks of playing house. Grow up. I can't imagine being a battered woman, but with the world in shambles, I would have hoped that Carol could stand up to her brute of a husband. Even in the face of a new world, people hold on to weird baggage.

That horrible episode five. It was such a wasted hour. The survivors spent most of the episode debating whether to stay or go. They were just attacked by a pack of zombies, and some people still wanted to stay? That seems like a no-brainer. It was pretty much an hour of weeding out the extraneous cast members.

Survivors who won't help each other. I know resources are scarce. But in a frightening apocalypse such as this, people still don't want to put aside their differences and band together for survival? In a landscape like The Walking Dead, do these lone wolves really think they can survive without help? And if you are going to fight for survival, it just seems like a sad existence to do it alone.

Inconsistent zombies. Episode one features mobs and mobs of "traditional" zombies. Slow, ambling sacks of rotting meat, propelled only by their need for food. Then by episode two, a zombie was able to climb the fence. Others managed to push it down. Which is it? Slow zombies or fast zombies? Pick a style and stick with it!

No dogs. I love dogs. What is the point of living without dogs? Season two needs some dogs.