Possibly the most eagerly awaited TV series debut of the year, certainly in dork circles, it’s The Walking Dead. Based on the popular Image Comics series by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard, it’s a classic zombie apocalypse chronicle.
And with showrunning by Frank Darabont (him of The Shawshank Redemption), the TV series itself has a decent pedigree as well. So the ingredients are certainly there, as well as the crushing weight of anticipation. And now that we’ve seen the first episode, how was it?
A Horrific Direction
What I didn’t quite expect from this series was how outright creepy it was. The quiet bits were the worst part, the sheer anticipation; much classier than constant explosions of gore. Oh, and Lennie James is fabulous in his supporting role as Morgan. I loved his scenes.
The story is eloquently laid out, a lot of beautifully framed shots. With a renowned director like Darabont at the helm, you might expect it, but some of them really are lovely. And it takes a lot for me to notice this stuff; as my other reviews suggest, I’m more of a writing/acting-focused critic.
But it is also properly horrible at times. Trailing intestines all over the shop. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Egg Versus Zombies
Leading the cast, and carrying the bulk of this episode, is British actor Andrew Lincoln. Known mostly for playing matey, relatable characters, he’s a stoic Southern police officer here, complete with American accent. He’s actually very good, and has the potential to be our biggest export since Hugh Laurie. The pacing is slow, reminding me of such dramas as Mad Men, but considering that’s a massive smash hit, this might be survivable.
The first episode treads a similar storyline to early issues of the comic, but does so with such atmosphere that I found myself jumping at the scary bits even when I knew roughly what was coming. It helps that although the broad outline is the same, details have changed. I didn’t appreciate it when the cat crept up on me and meowed when Rick was exploring the hospital.
What’s nice is that it feels like a thorough re-purposing of the story for television. I was immersed in it again, rather than watching some rushed adaptation. Rob Hinchcliffe wrote an excellent post on why you should read the Walking Dead comics first, and I’m not indifferent to that view, but based on this pilot, the TV show might be an excellent experience on its own.
Obviously, there is a whole series to come, and Darabont isn’t writing/directing them all, but there’s huge potential in this incarnation of The Walking Dead. Highly recommended so far, in my opinion.