Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Walking Dead Season 1 Review

Based on the successful comic series of the same name, The Walking Dead is the smash hit new series from AMC that, unlike the hordes of random zombie fiction out there, actually features strong character development and plot. At least, it did at first.

The series premiere was an hour and a half long, and I can honestly say that it is better than most zombie features that I have seen, strongly combining suspense, drama, and shock. In fact, it's one of the best zombie pieces I've seen/read period. The series opens after the apocalypse has happened. Rick (Andrew Lincoln), a police officer who's on his way to Atlanta, stops to try and find gas at what appears to be an abandoned station/survivor camp. He doesn't find any gas, but he does find one Walker, a little girl, whom he has to put down. Suffice it to say that even though the girl was a zombie it's a very serious way to begin any series, killing a kid.

An immediate attention grabber, the show then reverts to just before the apocalypse and introduces us to Shane (Jon Bernthal), Rick's partner, as they end up in a shoot-out against some thugs that lands Rick in a comma and in the hospital. When Rick awakens an undetermined amount of time later, the world he knew is dead, literally. The first episode focuses on Rick coming to terms with the zombie apocalypse, and he begins his search for his wife and son whom he believes survived, heading to Atlanta which was, at the time, a safe zone.

Along his journey, Rick meets many other survivors, and while they're beautifully acted and developed in the pilot and the second episode, the series' character development strength begins to falter afterwards. Originally meant to be only six episodes long, The Walking Dead falls into the trap of cramming to much in too short a time frame. Later survivors become the typical archetypes we've seen in other media, and the fates of some are completely unresolved by the season's end.

After only two episodes however, the show was so highly praised that it was immediately renewed for a second season (scheduled to begin airing on Halloween 2011), so hopefully many of these character issues will be resolved, but of course only time will tell.

The first few episodes of the series are excellent, however, and should most certainly not be missed. The Walking Dead not only features great zombie action and gore as fans of the genre would expect, but like any good fiction, the focus isn't on the zombies themselves but rather the human factor, the character interactions with one another, and though this falters in later episodes it's still good enough to entertain.

The first season represents a solid start to the series, and hopefully the show's strengths will fully resurface next year.

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