TV Review: The Walking Dead

This review has been a long time in coming. When the show (based on the comic book series of the same name) first premiered on AMC on Halloween, 2010, I wasn't interested. I've never really warmed up to zombies, and I couldn't imagine watching an entire TV series about them. But I watched from the sidelines as the ratings went up and more of my friends were watching the show. Still, though, I resisted Season 2, which began in October of 2011. I just couldn't wrap my brain around a show that centered on zombies (by now I'm sure you've guessed that I have sorely misjudged this show!). With the start of this blog and my search for interesting content, I came back to The Walking Dead and decided to give it a go. I am so glad I did. I have watched Seasons 1 and 2 on Netflix streaming while my home DVR taped Season 3.

The Walking Dead isn't about zombies. Not really. Yes, zombies or "walkers" are everywhere in the show. But it's more complex than that. The show follows Rick Grimes (played by Andrew Lincoln), a sheriff's deputy that wakes up from a coma to find the world has been taken over by zombies. Imagine how frightening and disorienting that would be. In the first few episodes, we follow him as he slowly navigates his way through this new world. The images of mass casualties and destruction are startling as he makes his way out of the hospital and into his town. Luckily, he meets up with a man and his son who are healthy, and they give him some guidance before he leaves them to search for his wife and son.

Being from Atlanta, it was quite interesting to see a show about the zombie apocalypse filmed in and around the city. Rick soon finds his wife and son with a group of survivors, including his best friend Shane (played by Jon Bernthal). I don't want to give away too many plot points, so from this point on, I'm going to speak in generalities. The show does a beautiful job of developing the characters over the three seasons. No one gets through this crisis unscathed. Some people die, while others are forced to perform actions they would never have considered before. And after seeing so much death, fear, and the inhumanity of man, all of them become more jaded, hardened, suspicious, skeptical, and yes, even a little cold.

Group dynamics are also explored in the show, constantly testing the premise of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. The morals of each member are tested as they establish the roles of each person in the group. Of course, as with most groups, there can be tension if two or more members want to be the leader, and this is true of the main group in The Walking Dead. Rick and Shane struggle with one another for supremacy, often causing division within the group. The two men, once best friends, begin to go in opposite directions. Rick becomes a stronger man and a better decision maker, while Shane's mental state deteriorates into madness.

The question of staying true to one's moral compass is tested in this new world, and it seems that the old ways of thinking no longer apply. Death, murder, and even euthanasia become commonplace. "Trust no one" becomes an appropriate credo.

Season 3 is almost half over, and I've seen a few episodes. The beauty of the show is that there seems to be a never ending supply of plot twists. New characters are added as old ones go the way of the zombies. This season's addition of David Morrissey as the Governor has left me on the edge of my seat. He is a man full of secrets that will likely not be easily revealed.

Speaking of Morrissey, the show's acting is top-notch. Andrew Lincoln does a superb job taking Rick from the point where he is devoted family man sworn to uphold the law to making tough decisions that call on him to break the laws he knew before. The rest of the characters are too numerous to mention all of them, but this ensemble cast works together flawlessly. Some of the accents are slightly heavy handed, but I'm sensitive to that since I'm from the South. But overall, I'd say the producers of the show did an amazing job of casting.

As I mentioned before, the filming is shot mainly in Georgia and is entirely on 16mm film. The special effects are amazing in the show. The zombies are lifelike and scary. I'm not sure how they do it, and I don't really want to know. I find it very easy to suspend my disbelief while watching The Walking Dead.

I have also learned a few things, mainly about surviving a zombie apocalypse, that I'd like to share with you. Hopefully we won't need to call on them, but if we do, they might just save your life. Here they are:

1. You have to kill a zombie in the head. You can shoot them, spear them, axe them, or decapitate them. Any way you do it, you have to get them in the head.

2. You can use a zombie (or the scent of zombies) to camouflage yourself. Zombies are looking for the smell of healthy humans, so this can be used to mask your scent.

3. Noise attracts them so try to be as quiet as possible. Use quieter weapons, such as a bow and arrow, whenever possible, rather than a loud gun.

4. If you get bit, you're pretty much a goner unless it's on an extremity that can be immediately (and I mean immediately) amputated. And then you'd have to survive the amputation.

5. Don't wander off by yourself.

6. Try not to get pregnant.

7. Be prepared to kill someone you love if they "turn" into a walker.

8. Zombies are pretty dumb. They can't open doors, drive cars, or use weapons. They walk pretty slowly, but occasionally travel in herds. Even with all this, though, they still seem to be able to get the best of humans.

9. Just like other diseases, the one that is affecting the zombies develops and mutates. Therefore, the information that you have today might be obsolete tomorrow.

10. Trust no one, even yourself.

Here is a video to get you started:

Thanks for stopping by and getting buzzed! Let me know what you think of The Walking Dead.