It’s not the most original show on TV, but it certainly has the potential to explore questions of what it means to be human in a time when most of humanity has turned into flesh eating zombies. Yeah, I’m hooked on The Walking Dead – the newest series on AMC that has critics lauding the show for its unsparing look at an apocalypse where the fallout of the disaster continues to be a threat.
What I like about the show — well in the pilot, that is — is how little the zombies were seen on screen. Sure, the signs that they are there are well placed, but the makers of the show wisely chose to limit their screen time in order to develop the human charters in a very satisfying way. When the zombies are shown, they look more sad than threatening. But that’s not to say they aren’t dangerous. They’ll follow humans ’til they sink their jaws into their flesh because they are instinctively attracted to eat living things and won’t stop hunting ’til they have their prey. The good thing is that most of them are slow, so the characters can outrun them, but there are some who have some speed and catch people who aren’t fast enough. They mostly stagger around looking, well, zombie-like, but they are most lethal when they are in a large group.
So far, we know that some kind of virus spread throughout the country (and maybe the world). The virus starts with a very high fever that eventually kills the person. Once dead, the person comes back as a walking dead with only one instinct: to eat living beings. The only way to “kill” the dead walkers is to shoot or pummel them in the head — which means there are some very gory moments.
Okay, that’s the back story on the how the zombies came to be. What the show excels in (as I’ve already alluded to) is the story of the human survivors. The main character is Rick Grimes — a local Sheriff deputy who is wounded and goes into a coma before the outbreak, and awakens weeks after zombie invasion. Grimes is the anchor who represents the last gasp of civilization and order, but his character is flawed by the fact that he has marital troubles, is ignorant of what’s really going on, and is desperately trying to find his wife and kid. So, you have a conflicted guy who has a load of surprises waiting for him as he tries to reunite with his family (he’s certain they survived the virus — and really, the filmmakers make no secret that they did). Also, he eventually meets other survivors and helps they plot an escape out of Atlanta (which is zombie central), and in the course of their escape finds that those who have survived aren’t really all that wonderful. One of the characters (Michael Rooker) is a out and out racist who doesn’t hide his hatred for black people or the belief that he is the de facto leader of the group. In episode 2, it looked like his character was going to be zombie food, but his character was so well developed that I doubt they will off him since he’ll provide plenty of conflict as the series continues.
Now, I haven’t read the comic book the show is based on, but the Wiki on it helps explain a bit about the different kinds of zombies and what kind of plot developments are ahead. However, if you’re interested in a somewhat gross, but dramatically satisfying show, and don’t want to read the comic book series, I think you’ll like The Walking Dead on AMC.