Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Walking Dead Season 1

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

The Walking Dead Season 1 - 5 out of 5

I love zombies! Everyday I wish for a real zombie apocalypse and while I wait for that day, I spend my time absorbing as much zombie fiction as I can. However, the sad thing about zombie fiction is that most of it is weak. The majority of zombie films, books or comics focus only on the gore factor and forget to include the one thing that makes zombie media work--The Human Factor. Few examples are able to perfectly achieve this. George Romero got it right in his early works but now fails miserably at it. Marvel screws the pooch with it by constantly regurgitating the same Marvel Zombie story over and over again and there are literally hundreds of poorly made zombie movies out there in the world or books that decided to take an already existing story and just add zombies to it (because they know that the majority of the fans won't realize the story sucks). However, some get it right. For example, Max Brooks with his books The Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z. But one man, above all others in the world of zombie fiction got it better than anyone. Robert Kirkman, the creator and writer of one of the best comic series to ever hit the stands; The Walking Dead.

Since comic books have FINALLY become a legitimate form of entertainment and is no longer considered only for geeks and dweebs by the mainstream society, it was no surprise that the acclaimed series would get a television or film treatment. It was AMC who was able to get their hands on the property and, when I heard this, a part of me was concerned. Yes, AMC brings us the AMAZING show Breaking Bad but I found myself wondering if they could do justice to the comic book I've come to know and love. Could they adequately bring the characters I've come to care about to the screen? Could they get away with the gore that was the icing on the cake on a series that was all about the human struggle in a zombie-run world?

And then the first episode aired on Halloween 2010 and all my fears were laid to rest.

Frank Darabont, director of The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption stepped in and said, "Don't worry, I got this!" Darabont enlisted extremely talented writers (even though he fired the writing staff and brought in freelancers) and directors to bring this show to the boob tube and give the show the same overwhelming emotions that are soaked into every page of the comic book. He said, "I will take Kirkman's awesome story about the cop named Grimes who wakes up in a zombie-infested world and leads a group composed of his family and other refuges as they try to survive and find a place they can call home where the undead ISN'T trying to gnaw their faces off and give it justice." And he did. And, to top it off, the creators of the show made sure that the characters we're perfectly cast.

Andrew Lincoln leads the show as Rick Grimes, the man who the stories revolve around and he is backed up by actors who did their jobs so well, you could easily believe that the comic book had come to life. Special mention has to be made to Jeffrey DeMunn as the wise old Dale and Steven Yeun as pizza delivery guy turned expert survival man that would be spending his time fleeing the zombies and living while men like Bear Grylls would be consumed for their tasty flesh while drinking their own piss; Glenn. Honestly, every actor who was cast as a character from the comic plays their part perfectly but that shouldn't be a surprise since there is already a treasure trove of backstory and source material for an actor to take in and study. Even some of the characters created just for the series are perfectly played--for example, the man who is having a better career than his Boondock Saints co-star; Norman Reedus as the white-trash Daryl Dixon and the special guest appearance of the very talented Noah Emmerich as CDC scientist; Dr. Edwin Jenner--a character who brings much context to the show and offers up a great ending to the first season.

The only real downfall the first season suffers from (other than the fact it was too short--only 6 episodes long but this is forgivable because of how expensive it is to produce) was the characters added to the show who WEREN'T in the comic book and lacked any real depth and were poorly acted. Characters like T-Dog (played by IronE Singleton--yes, that's really his acting name) and Jacqui (Jeryl Prescott) really brought nothing to the show and really seemed to only serve as human furniture to fill up scenes. However, with exceptional writing that focuses on human emotion and the struggle to survive (seriously, if you don't cry even once in this show, you're not human. You are a zombie!) these small short comings are not enough to stop this show from being cosmically epic for both fans of the comic series and those who aren't.

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