I have the ambiguous honor to wield the double-edged sword of having read the graphic novel on which this TV series is based. Why is this both a good and a bad thing? Well, bad I suppose because I already know some of the awesomely amazing stuff that’s going to go down over the course of the series. And the good? I know that there’s going to be some awesomely amazing stuff that’s going to go down over the course of the series!! Seriously, the graphic novel (fancy way of saying “comic book”) is powerful. It’s not the zombie infestation that compels the reader, it’s the human response to end of days that keeps you coming back for more. To see what people are capable of when they’ve lost everything, and the lengths they’ll go to hang on to those remaining shreds of humanity amongst so much death and suffering.
So how about the TV show? I mean, is there really anything left to be done with the zombie genre? The market has been nearly saturated with every kind of zombie story you can imagine. Fast zombies, slow zombies, zombies kept as pets… funny zombies, scary zombies, even zombie sports events (yes, that was an amour hot dog reference).
The answer is a resounding yes! Remember the question from like 10 seconds ago? “Is there really anything left to be done with the zombie genre?” You know a show is going to be intense when the first five minutes of the pilot features a fairly graphic scene of an 8 year old girl getting shot in the face. Don’t worry, don’t worry… she was a flesh eating monster at this point, so it’s fine. But the point is, this show doesn’t pull a lot of punches. AMC is getting away with some pretty striking images from zombie dismemberment to the occasion undead equine happy meal. And it’s all really well done. But still, why should the audience care? I mean, you’ve seen one rotting somnambulist get shot in the brain, you’ve seen them all, right?
It’s the human drama that drives this narrative. The story centers around Rick, a small town deputity sherriff who is hospitalized after getting shot in the line of duty. He wakes up to an abandoned hospital a la “28 Days Later,” unable to comprehend how and why the world has gone to hell in a handbag stitched together with human flesh. What drives a man to continue living where the dead roam the earth? His desire, his need, his thin hope to be reunited with his wife and son, presumably still alive somewhere out there amongst the post-Armageddon rubble. Modest dreams, but dreams that keep a man from collapsing into apocalyptic insansity.
Rick (played by Andrew Lincoln) makes for a compelling protagonist as he wanders the beautifully filmed rural and urban areas of Georgia, braving the elements, the zombies, and his fellow man. The supporting cast starts to get fleshed out (pun?) as his journey continues, discovering the best and worst that humanity has to offer when the chips are down. When there is no more law, no more rules of decorum, no more social norms, how would you expect people to act? Reactions run the gamut, and you get to see people acting on instinct and their most base desires.
And that’s all I’m gonna say about that. Watch this show. It’s gruesome, it’s dramatic, it’s clever, and it’s a wild ride through the psyche of mankind. It’s “Dawn of the Dead” meets “Homeward Bound.” Yeah, I went there. And for those who have read the graphic novel, there are still plenty of liberties taken with the storyline to keep you guessing. So eat up and enjoy.
Have you seen the show? What did you think about it? Let me know in the comments below!