Much like my first-Thursday-of-the-month movie reviews, I'm going to be doing a third-Thursday-of-the-month review of television shows. It'll be more of an overall series review, rather than something specific to an episode. Got it? Good. Enough formalities, on to the brain-eaters.
Here's the thing about zombies:
They're slow. They're stupid. They spend most of their time moaning and reaching and stumbling around.
Here's the other thing about zombies:
They scare the hell out of me.
Ever since I first watched a zombie moan its way towards a mouthful of brain matter during an HBO free preview viewing of Return of the Living Dead 3, I've been completely terrified by their shambling relentlessness. Which naturally means I sought out every zombie flick I could find. I would watch with cringing horror as the walking dead slowly but inevitably cornered their prey, nearly impossible to kill and utterly single-minded in their pursuit of BRAAAAAAAAINS. I even fell in love with the new “fast zombies” introduced primarily in Danny Boyle's brilliant 28 Days Later... after all, what's scarier than a horde of nearly unstoppable walking corpses intent on nothing in the world besides cracking your skull open and gobbling your gray matter? Answer: a horde of rage-fueled speed-demons intent on nothing more than killing you in the most violent manner possible.
When I heard there was going to be a television series taking place in the midst of a zombie apocalypse... well, needless to say, I was a tad bit excited.
“The Walking Dead” does not disappoint.
It opens on a deserted road. We are introduced to the main character, a uniformed cop in a police cruiser, as he searches for gas. Within moments, we've also met our first zombie: a little girl with half her face eaten away, keening and snarling as she runs at the hero... who is forced to shoot her in the head. Best first five minutes of television ever.
The iconic hero wakes up and realizes the world has ended scene is delightfully creepy and disturbing, as he stumbles on half-eaten corpses, moaning and bendy-fingered things barricaded behind doors, and carefully-stacked piles of dead bodies. That's before he even finds the still-smoking rubble surrounded by abandoned military vehicles and equipment. Even after all that, the crowning glory of the scene was the zombie who crawls desperately after him, gone below the waist.
And that was just the first episode.
There is nothing particularly original in the storytelling... the characters are fairly standard, but they nonetheless manage to surprise you at times. The show manages gives us just enough lightness and humor to cut the trauma and horror, which is as relentless as the title characters. The fascinating thing about zombie apocalypse movies is watching the haggard survivors fight to stay alive, and sane, and how they waver between ugliness and grace.
My only real complaint about the show is the truncated length of the season at only six episodes. This show is way too good to limit to six hours.
Now please excuse me, I have to make sure the shotgun under my bed is loaded before I go to sleep.