Dear AMC. Thank you so much for The Walking Dead. And thank you so much for not fucking it up. Sincerely, Alyse.
Yes friends, The Walking Dead is here, and it should appeal both to fans of Robert Kirkman’s comic, and fans of zombie culture. I will admit, I was not, at first, a huge fan of the original comic book. To be fair, before I read it I was under the impression that the comics were about a zombie rampage, and instead found a story of human struggle against an unconventional foe. But after watching Frank Darabont’s pilot, I am ready to give the comic another go. Based on what I have read, the show follows the comic pretty closely, with sheriff Rick Grimes waking after being shot in the line of duty, and discovering the world has fallen to zombies.
The show has a cinematic quality to it that few shows do. It is eerily “real.” The zombies feel organic, like they could be real creatures you would meet on the street. That’s not to say they aren’t monstrous. Greg Nicotero did a brilliant job creating grotesque - yet realistic - zombies. It’s like the corpses of CSI climbed off the table and started wandering around suburbia. AMC did not puss out on this series. Putrid flesh, dangling jaws, bloody entrails, and buckets and buckets of blood are all here. Cable television is a magical thing: aside from obscenity laws, cable networks are beholden only to advertisers. So if AMC says, “More blood please,” there's no one to tell them no.
The Walking Dead is not jump-out-of-your-seat scary. It is a slow, intense ride - just like the zombies within. There is a certain somberness to the series that seems to be a trademark of AMC shows. Mad Men has it. The sense of desolation is palpable. Shows like last summer’s Persons Unknown tried for that loneliness: a half-dozen people trapped in a ghost town. But it failed for a myriad of reasons, one of which was the overzealous acting of the largely unknown cast. British actor Andrew Lincoln plays Grimes quietly. He is horrified at what his town has become, but he doesn’t turn into a scream queen over it; nor does he spend an entire episode trying to deny it.
The Walking Dead is television gold. Well written, well acted, well directed, and well made up. I suspect even non-zom fans will enjoy the Dead. (The real test will be when my horror-indifferent husband sits down to watch it.) Perhaps this will be the first Emmy Award-winning batch of zombies. It’s good, folks. You don’t want to miss it.