Posted on November 10, 2010 by Eric Pollarine
Days Go Bye
So I have waited to get this off the ground for a few good reasons, the first being that I am and will probably always be a very, very lazy individual. The second being that I wanted to give my initial awestruck impressions of AMC’s The Walking Dead a rest and see if I could realistically look at the show with a critical and more journalistic eye. Or at least if not a journalistic and critical eye, one that wasn’t covered in fan boy man happiness. Yes I said it fan-boy man happiness. don’t judge, it isn’t a very charming quality in a person.
Sunday October 31st 2010 will most likely go down as one of the most important dates in the history of zombie anything, outside of the original release of Night of The Living Dead. If you don’t believe me then you’re probably not as big a fan of the genre or you really have no idea of what I am talking about when I say “zombie” because you would have had to have been born circa 1949 to not understand the significance that the show represents for the horror community and the world of speculative fiction and/or maybe even the entire Media industry in and of itself. Looking back on it -the entire day, was at least for me, predicated around the premiere of AMC’s The Walking Dead. I know that , if you are reading this article, then it was probably the same way for you. I stocked up on goodies to eat, made sure I had enough cigarettes to last me through the whole hour and a half premiere, cleaned out some of the other junk on my DVR and then made absolutely sure that there would be no interruption’s while viewing.
So when the time came that the opening scene began to roll, I was completely ready for it. I was not disappointed.
I did however have my trepidations early on. especially when I first heard about the series being launched. And of course I’ll tell you why. You see kids, there’s been a pretty thorough amount of both disappointment and success concerning comic book properties coming to the small screen. I don’t think that I have to give too many examples of this, as we all, especially in the realm of general “geek-dom,” have our own favorite badness that we love. For me it was and will always be the 1960’s Batman starring the lovable but tragic Adam West. For you it may have been the 1990’s “The Flash,” or possibly even the late 70’s “Amazing Spiderman.” But my point is that, while being the poisons we love-they were poisons none the less. And yes, let me say this before any of you leave comments on how the source material for the above mentioned entities is vastly different from The Walking Dead comics, I know. So there.
One could even reasonably make the argument that the genre of Horror itself has been sullied and vindicated by television over the years as well, in the cases of such delightfully bad shows as Forever Knight and Dark Shadows ( though the 90’s remake/reboot of Dark Shadows really was pretty good) versus both critically and time honored programs such as The X Files and of course The Twilight Zone.
The real point is that I had deep and justified reservations about the series, I had real fears that, even though given AMC’s track record with ground breaking shows such as Breaking Bad and Mad Men, this series was not going to do the comics or graphic novels any justice. That the characters like Rick, Lori, Carl, Glenn and Shane, the ones we have come to love, loath, admire and flat out hate the crap out of would be somehow dehumanized by their humanization. And of course, I was wrong. Which in this case, if you haven’t been paying attention, is a good thing.
Plot Synopsis: Spoiler Alert ! Skip this section if you have yet to see the show.
Sheriff Deputy Rick Grimes, played by actor Andrew Lincoln, is mortally wounded after a high speed chase ends in a shoot out, only to reawaken after the initial stages of an all out zombie Apocalypse has torn the world to shreds. As he makes his way from the hospital to his old residence he sees disturbing images of what must have happened during the societal collapse. The horrors of what the world might actually look like after such an event were done with as much attention to detail as budget would allow and look absolutely fantastic. No expense was spared. The disturbing and painful images don’t stop there though, as Rick stumbles out of his house, still delusional from just waking up, only to be nearly assaulted by a “walker,” zombie. He is saved by the Father and son duo of Morgan and Duane Jones, played by actors Lennie James and Adrian Kali Turner. Rick is then given a crash course in what has happened while he was in his catatonic state and the story progresses from there. We also learn that Rick’s old partner Shane has survived along with Rick’s wife and son, and the two, Shane and Ricks wife that is, have started a romantic relationship together in the end times. The episode ends with Rick being stranded inside a tank while thousands upon thousands of zombies are moving towards his position, just before the scene breaks he hears someones voice call out to him over the tanks still functioning radio.
In the end what does it mean…
From that aforementioned opening scene where, Rick is hunting for gasoline and finds himself running into, honestly one of the creepiest zombies I’ve seen since I first saw Night of The Living Dead, to the wonderful ending where Rick is trapped inside the belly of a steal beast while the belly of his horse is being torn apart- I have to say that I was completely and totally speechless. I don’t think I said a word the entire episode. I was glued. I watched, I took in everything. the gore, which for those of you who enjoy a little punk with your splatter will have even you looking away, to the touching moment when Morgan Jones can’t bring himself to shoot his now zombied ex wife with a deer rifle. From the dialogue to the constant little pieces of scenery in the background. I watched and spoke not a word, for I was blown away. And for someone who is an opinion pusher and petty word thief such as, well, myself, this is an almost impossible feat to accomplish.
The series premiere was nearly perfect, alright, who am I kidding-it was perfect. If there was something that could be considered as a “drawback” then it would have to be that it was only an hour and a half long. Though AMC did run it two other times that evening/morning.
Yes justice was done, served and repeated several times over the hour and a half, zombie fans and comic nerds alike were given the treat of our lifetimes and even those who dislike the genre and zombies in general were given an emotional discourse that is seldom seen in modern media. Thus proving that 1. not all comic book or horror related properties are silly and simplistic and 2. The Walking Dead is going to become one of the next big things in pop culture.
So this is it. This is where Zombies come full circle. What started out as a nice little experiment in indie film has now become a cultural force to be reckoned with. Kudos to you Mr. Romero. This is the big cultural break for our flesh starved brethren and I couldn’t be more delighted with the results.
Review by Eric Pollarine