Monday, October 31, 2011

Zombtober, TV Show/Comic review - The Walking Dead

Season 2 of The Walking Dead is underway on AMC. Season 1 is out on DVD, so if you haven't seen it, do yourself a favor and get caught up!

The Walking Dead is an ongoing TV series that follows a Sheriff's Deputy who wakes up in the hospital after getting shot, only to find out....OMG Zombie Apocalypse! Sure, that scene is a complete rip-off from 28 Days Later. But, there's plenty of fresh zombie material in all the scenes that follow. The show takes a lot from the style of Lost in the way that it builds up the characters and will focus on who they are and how they interact with one another. There are all sorts of human issues to deal with- racism, coming of age, a love triangle. I really like how the character development drives the show, leaving the whole zombie issue to be a motivator for the plot, rather than the entire plot itself.

The handicap of zombie movies is that there is only about 2 hours to create the setting, introduce the characters, put them in a jam, and then see if they get out of it. The great thing about having a serialized zombie show is that you get to slow the pace down. Instead of having to end with a climax and a sense of accomplishment, you can keep adding plots twists, invite new characters, and then just when you get to really like a character...kill them off.

I read most of The Walking Dead comics (which is what the show is based on). It will be interesting to see how closely the show follows the comic. In a book, it's much easier to kill off a character. Robert Kirkman didn't pull any punches when it came to killing his characters in the comic, but in a show it gets a little hairier. You have actual human actors to deal with (and fire), and you don't want to abandon your audience by killing off a fan-favorite. Lost had to deal with this as well.

The visuals in the show are amazing. Some of the scenes are ripped directly from the comic, and they look nearly identical. That's even harder to pull off when you take into account that the comic was in black and white. The casting is great too- a few of the characters look exactly like their counterparts from the book.

The show is on its second season and has barely cracked the content of the comic, so there should be plenty of plot to keep it going for many more years. I don't think this zombie fad is dying down anytime soon, and it is AMC's highest rated show ever, so I would recommend watching the first season and watching the new episodes every Sunday. There is even a talk show at Midnight on AMC, Talk of the Dead, that reviews the show and has special guests. Chris Hardwick is the perfect Zombie Geek host.

Zombtober horror scale:

Slow (--3--) Fast: Stumbling, but they never tire.
Dumb (1----) Smart: Only smart enough to chase you.
Passive (--3--) Agressive: If they smell, hear, or see you, they will follow.
Fake (----5) Believable: Hundreds of zombie extras in every episode with great SFX
Method of spreading Zombism: A Bite (potentially more, if you've read the comic)
X-factors: Serialized is the way to go for a zombie story. You don't beat the zombies, you just try to survive.
Recommendation: Read the comic (on trade paperback), get caught up with season 1, and watch along with me as we ride through season 2!

- Samuel Frost