Technically, you expect to read about movies here, not TV shows. However, if you watched the AMC premiere of “The Walking Dead” last night, you know that this is definitely not a normal TV show. This show is about as hardcore gory as an TV show could possibly get. There were bloody rib cages, exposed femur bones, and entrails. All of this was brought to you by writer/director/producer Frank Darabont, who brings all the chills and creepy crawlies without going for cheap, jumpy scare tactics.
Before I get into the meat and potatoes of last night, let me just say that this show could easily become very, very addictive. Instead of coming up with several reasons, I’ll lay out one big huge one: it doesn’t have to end. When you see a zombie or horror movie, you know that there will be some sort of positive outcome after about 90 to 120 minutes. With a TV show, you can have zombies marauding around forever.
WARNING: If you have not seen this show and intend to watch it, do not read any further as I am going to spoil the hell out of it. So go watch the show, then read this, then tell me what you think.
While this is definitely a show about zombies, there’s no doubt that the true underlying theme is going to be the psychological trauma of being a survivor of mass zombie outbreak. The first episode followed Deputy Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) around after he awakes from a gunshot induced coma to find that he’s alone in a hospital and yes indeed, there are zombies locked in the cafeteria. The naysayers are already abuzz about how this is the exact beginning of “28 Days Later”, but I’m already past that. It’s a great way to thrust us (you know, the audience who are asking to be entertained) into the same new confusing world as Grimes: A world were his house is emptied, there are hundreds of dead bodies in the parking lot, and the undead are trying to eat you.
Most of last night’s psychological trauma comes from Morgan and Duane, a father and son who have survived in Grimes’ tiny Georgia town. They watched as Morgan’s wife took ill, became a zombie, then wandered around the streets, almost taunting her still living family. Morgan and Duane’s story is definitely tragic and I’m sure that we need to get used to seeing this sort of thing play out during the series. I mean, it was very difficult to watch Morgan put his zombie wife in the cross hairs of his rifle and struggle to pull the trigger.
Darabont and Co. wisely don’t pour on the tragedy too much in the first episode. We all need to adjust to zombie life and dishing out too much human sadness too soon just won’t register as much as it could later down the road. Let us get hooked on the characters first, then really put them through the ringer. That’s what registers with people. I mean, when Charlie died on “Lost”, why was that so brutal? It’s because we had grown accustomed to seeing him and taking him away from us was tough to watch. You could potentially see the same thing happen on “The Walking Dead”.
Here’s what could truly make this show addicting. It was the first thing I asked when the show ended. What the hell made people turn into zombies? Not one character brought it up, not even Grimes when he awoke from his coma. I guess you don’t get to why’s and what for’s until you find some shelter and see if your loved ones are alive, dead, or really, really dead. Bu at some point, people will get together. Once they are bored with playing cards or relaying distress calls via walkie talkie, someone will say, “So…anybody know how people became zombies and started eating horses in the first place?”
Yes. The zombies ate a horse. It was disgusting. Not only because of the gore, but…well…I love horses.
“The Walking Dead” seems like it’s going to be a great take on the overdone zombie genre. Like all zombie movies, this show is going to concentrate more on how the living interact with the living and the lengths they’ll go to survive. It’s going to be interesting because we don’t have to get up and leave the theater in 100 minutes. We could be watching a world overrun by zombies for three or four TV seasons. If it’s as creepy and intense as last night, I’m in for all of.