Day 77: The Walking Dead, season 1 (2010), or: How I Learned to Reanimate the Dead and Start Eating Brains


A few nights ago I was plagued by horrible nightmares (is it redundant to use “night” and “nightmares” in the same sentence? Oh well, I ‘m doing it anyway). In fact, the scary residual feelings still seem to cling to the insides of my eyeballs like shadows. I almost wonder if I could get Wendy to sever the troublesome shadowy apparitions from me—hey, she was able to sew a shadow onto Peter, so what’s so crazy about her removing one from me? Anyway, in this wretched dream, I was barricaded in a room with my three cats (I know, that is scary enough, right?). We had been there awhile. Although I didn’t see them upon entering the dreamworld, I knew I was surrounded by zombies. I fricking hate zombies. And these animated corpses were smart. Somehow, my three-legged cat, Chuck, escaped the room; so the zombies were holding her hostage until I surrendered. Trust me, it was pretty scary. Fricking zombies.

 

So I realize that some people will probably read stuff into the dream. If I have learned anything from Bones, it is that psychology isn’t really a science and should be viewed with mild distaste at best (OK, so I actually don’t share the same view as that show and am just being silly. But seriously, Bones is pretty hard on psychology). However, I am going to bypass all the psychoanalysis here and get straight to the heart of the cause of my dream: The Walking Dead. I don’t know why, but zombies rank right up there with dinosaurs and fish as far as my fears go. So, as can be expected, a television show about zombies scared the crap out of me.

 

The Walking Dead stars Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, a cop who awakes from a coma locked

in a room in an eerily empty hospital (I had flashbacks to 28 Days Later here). He is understandably confused, and as he makes his way through the hospital, he finds evidence of death and destruction. I don’t think zombies was the first conclusion he came to. However, soon he is confronted (and attacked) by the walking dead. Yikes! But Rick is a family man, and he decides to locate his wife and son who he is sure aren’t dead (or undead). Of course, the natural place to look in case of an all out zombie outbreak is Atlanta, so he heads there. In the capital of the peach state, he meets up with a small band of survivors (including his family); thus, they must deal with the zombie apocalypse and each other.

 

The Walking Dead has a higher production value than most zombie movies/shows. The makeup is brilliantly creepy and disgusting. It’s also disturbingly realistic (that is, if it is possible for zombies to look realistic). The landscape reeks of desolation. Abandoned cars litter the streets like beer cans on a gravel road, and decaying body parts are seemingly everywhere. As an audience, we are introduced to very few people and face the assumption that only a handful of humans are alive. The devastation is reflected in the tone of the show—the look seems muted, there aren’t any bright colors or rich hues. It just seems depleted and washed out. This only adds to the scariness of The Walking Dead. While it is extremely alarming that bloodthirsty zombies are constantly on the hunt for any living thing, it is even more chilling that there is just no one around.

 

Although there are a lot of zombies in the show initially, The Walking Dead eventually turns its focus inwardly and explores the dynamics within the group of survivors. At times, this may have a feel of a soap opera, but I found it to be quite interesting to see how these people react. They are thrown together, not by choice, but by necessity. In order to pull this off, the actors have to be believable. They are. Throughout this season, I have bought each one of them as their character without hesitation. It’s quite refreshing to have a solid cast and trust me, it is much appreciated.

 

I have always been intrigued by the public’s fascination with zombies. What about the walking dead appeal to us? Do we watch zombie shows because we fear death and the animated corpses are literal manifestations of death nipping at our heels? Or do we just like to be scared? Perhaps we cannot accept death as the ultimate end. To paraphrase Peter Pan (I think), “to die would be an awfully big adventure.” Maybe our intrigue with the undead is just an extension of this– a way to continue our adventure. Or maybe (and this is most likely) I have gone a bit off the philosophical deep end—well, way too deep for a Friday and zombies anyway.

 

Philosophical ramblings aside, I thought The Walking Dead was extremely well done. While it won’t appeal to all audiences because it is gory, violent, and scary; those who are the target market for zombie/horror/violent dramas should find this show to be well worth their time (plus, there are only 6 episodes).

 

Braaaaains!

 

Score: A-

Netflix Queue: This is just another preemptive review. Just let it slide—it’s the holidays! 🙂


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