October 16, 2011

The Walking Dead (Season 1): The Good, the Bad, and the Zombie

With the much-anticipated premiere of The Walking Dead's second season airing tonight, I thought it would be a good time to revisit the first season and lay out the things I liked and the things I didn't. 

  • Cinematic quality special effects courtesy of KNB
  • Some of the most amazing-looking zombies ever put on screen
  • Proved that slow-moving zombies can still be scary
  • A relatively strong cast and ensemble of supporting characters
  • Nobody's perfect: a focus on the noble, brave, stupid, and downright dangerous things we do as irrational and fearful human beings in crisis (a theme right out of George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead handbook)
  • Eager willingness to deviate from the comics (wouldn't be anything exciting about slavishly translating the comics to screen)
  • Episodes that focus on social problems such as abusive spouses and racism/prejudice
  • Michael Rooker

  • Not enough Michael Rooker
  • With only six episodes, the triangle between Rick, Lori, and Shane was not given due attention -- leading to an awkward and contrived sexual assault by Shane on Lori in episode six
  • The characters, main and supporting, were rarely more than character sketches. As a result, we had very few compelling moments in season one compared to a show like, say, Deadwood where I was riveted each episode by the characters alone
  • Bad CGI effects (grenade explosion, head shots, and blood spurts)
  • The CDC finale removed the characters from the show's successful real-world survival element and dropped them into a story verging on science fiction with voice-command virtual intelligence computers and elaborate and scientific computer graphics
 My hope for the new season is they keep advancing the special makeup effects and gore, but they amp up the horror and amp up the drama. The premise is compelling, but the characters need to be compelling in their own rights.