‘The Walking Dead’ Review & Discussion

Published 4 years ago by , Updated November 2nd, 2010 at 9:08 am,

walking dead 2 The Walking Dead Review & Discussion

AMC’s The Walking Dead is probably THE most anticipated new show of 2010 (besides HBO’s Boardwalk Empire). Based on the popular comic book series by Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead comes with the talent of show creator Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption), a cast of strong – if not yet widely recognizable – actors, some great makeup effects and a unique synthesis of horror and drama.

The show is also boldly attempting to add itself to the roster of AMC programs which have gained significant critical and popular acclaim in recent years – Mad Men, Breaking Bad – which is an ambition that I don’t think many zombie apocalypse TV shows (or movies) share.

So does The Walking Dead live up to the hype surrounding it – and is it another fine achievement for AMC TV? To both questions: Yes. How does this show about the world being overrun by zombies manage to be what so many other similar offering from the horror sub-genre cannot? By keeping a fine-tuned human drama at the center of all the monster madness.

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Episode Recap

In this pilot episode directed by Darabont and entitled “Days Gone Bye”, officer Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) is a mild-mannered man from a small town in Georgia who gets gunned down in the line of duty. When Rick awakens in the hospital weeks later, he finds himself alone and corpses scattered everywhere – some of them dead, others not as dead as they should be. After stumbling home, Rick finds his house vacant and his wife Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) and son Carl (Chandler Riggs) seemingly fled from all the horror and carnage outside.

Rick soon runs into Morgan Jones (Lennie James) and his son Duane (Adrian Kali Turner), two survivors who fill Rick in on the events and circumstances of the zombie apocalypse. Morgan informs Rick that Atlanta was the rallying point for survivors, and that if Rick wants to find his wife and son, that would be the place to look. Rick decides to head for Atlanta, unaware that the city has been overrun with “walkers.” When Rick arrives in the city, only the dead are waiting to greet him.

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Review (Contains SPOILERS!)

the walking dead 2 The Walking Dead Review & Discussion

“Days Gone Bye” was a great episode that made it crystal clear what The Walking Dead is all about: a balanced mixture of zombie horror and human drama. A lot of people who aren’t fans of the comic series are likely approaching this show with a wary sense of curiosity, wondering if it’s going to be a silly splatterfest of gore and jump scares, like so many other zombie apocalypse stories. However, few people today (outside of horror fans) remember that when George Romero made Dawn of the Dead in 1978, critics were impressed by that film’s ability to weave an insightful consumer culture subtext into its literal story about a group of survivors who hold up in a shopping mall to escape a legion of zombies. The zombies were not just a novelty, they were a metaphor; in that way, Dawn of the Dead was entertaining on levels that everyone – from the scholar to the layman – could enjoy.

Robert Kirkman took a different approach with his comic book series, and thankfully Darabont and the other Walking Dead showrunners have honed in on that core essence of Kirkman’s work and brought it, intact, to this TV series: namely that the title, “The Walking Dead” refers to the living as much as it does the zombies. This show examines that which is changed and exposed in those hearts still beating, as human beings are faced with hell on Earth.

This first episode hammered that theme home with a wonderful subplot about Morgan Jones. If you needed to find the human heart in all this zombie insanity, you needed look no further than Morgan and his internal struggle to let go of his wife (who was turned into a zombie) and do what is best for his son. As Morgan held that rifle aimed at his wife’s zombie face, you could feel the agony coursing through him, making his hand falter. More than feel it, you understood it: why even the hollow visage of a lost lover still has the power to move someone. We’ve seen such moments before in zombie lore, no doubt, but the strength of actor Lennie James gave it the emotional impact it needed to resonate.

Rick Grimes The Walking Dead The Walking Dead Review & Discussion

Andrew Lincoln also did a wonderful job of introducing us to Rick Grimes and making him a character we can root for. From the very opening of the episode – Rick and Shane (Jon Bernthal) discussing their different approaches to dealing with women – you instantly got the sense that Rick is a good guy. Sure, in the midst of this hell Rick will likely have to cross some dark moral thresholds and do some terrible things to survive – but at his core, it’s clear from the start that Rick is a thoughtful and compassionate version of the macho man archetype.

The scene where Rick returned to the park to send his condolences to that half-a-torso zombie woman was easily my favorite scene of the episode, followed closely by the opening encounter when Rick must set his humanity aside to shoot a little zombie girl in the face. Every zombie encounter Rick had foreshadowed the complexity of his character – I expect we’ll see a great arch for Rick over the course of this first season, and am now confident that Lincoln can shoulder any dramatic weight placed on his shoulders. The brief look we got at Rick’s wife Lori, partner Shane and the other survivors, immediately established some serious drama that will unfold all too soon.

the walking dead zombie The Walking Dead Review & Discussion

Finally, the closing minutes of the episode served to remind us that even in the midst of all this juicy drama, there’s also plenty of thrilling zombie-horror action to get our blood pumping. Seeing Rick enter Atlanta and nearly get torn to shreds was gripping – when he was under that tank, surrounded on all sides by walkers, I nearly jumped out of my seat in panic, even though I knew good and well that he would survive. That final aerial shot of the zombies baring down on Rick in the tank was gorgeous, and really spoke volumes about just how far up crap creek this character (and any others he’ll meet) really are. Human drama + zombie thrills… I couldn’t ask for more.

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All in all, I thought this initial episode of The Walking Dead was great, and have full confidence that the show will do for zombie-horror what The Sopranos did for mob drama and The Wire did for cops & robbers shows: elevate it to a level of prestige few thought possible for genre TV. I’ll be tuning in for the rest of the season – how about you?

UPDATE: To get you excited for the rest of The Walking Dead Season 1, check out this preview video below!

The Walking Dead airs on AMC Sundays (starting this Halloween) @ 10/9c

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  1. Perhaps you guys should spend less time commenting on something you hate and write something that you think people would rather see. Trolls anyone?

    • hm… I think this is the walking dead forum not the “boardwalk empire” forum. The real issue for those of us that critique this show, is that we liked it (in my case liked it a lot) and feel an obligation to point out it’s lesser episodes in hopes the’ll spend some money making it, hire some first class writers, and get it back to what it once was. A show that was then worth watching. It’s AMC’s decisions that led to this disastrous season, maybe they’ll find their way back if enough people point out we’re not fooled by their attitude of show them anything and they’ll watch it.

    • I love this show not only for the zombie violence. In fact, the violence has little to do with why I love it. This show, seemingly right away, reminded me of one of my favorite series “lost.” A group of stranded people do whatever they can to survive. That to me is the main reason why this show is such a success. People love watching other people succeed. Every ticking second that this group of people survive, builds that much more suspense and curiousity for what’s going to happen next. Also, the group’s great ability to get out of all the predicaments that they are faced by just a finger nail is an awesome added suspense.

  2. so ive kept up with this show from the beginning. ive have read the comics. i am not completely up to date with the comics (i think im at #88??), but lets say im waaay past where they are with the TV show. like dead mason above, instead of pointing out this shows shortcomings and blatant disregard to give a zombie enthusiast what he/she wants ill poke at ideas that could possibly improve a show that i long awaited and drooled over before the premiere back in 2010:

    1. more zombies. either it be attacks, hoards, gore. just do it. period. no, not walking around a neigborhood and then suddenly theres a bunch and our characters run away and thats really it. no, start an episode with some random shots of zombies! illustrate this outbreak to us. literally, id be happy to see an unrelated event where we encounter something of a failed last stand. people who barricaded themselves some where in, lets say delaware and simply lose. let your imagination run with that. then fade out – cue opening title music. now, i would call that an introduction.

    2. acting is good. not great, not dull, not marvelous. it just seems they are doing their jobs. i like glen, lori, andrea and most of the cast that people on here are dissing. im not an actor nor do i think i can give tips about it, but sometimes it seems to be a bit dry and all i can say about it is these actors can only work with the scripts theyre given which, by now i think is just average.

    3. dumb down on the sensationalism/epic scenes that should be anything but epic. for people who regularly watch tv shows they know writers will drag things out. thats something to expect, but not through a whole season (living at hershels, carls wound, kid getting lost)its just dragging on with seldom to no zombies. lets move on!

    4. stick to the comic. they should have done this from the start. im not saying word for word or scene for scene, like sin city, but the comic had depth and thats where its following came to be. adding in characters i think is cool, but what happened to the others? tyreese and his daughter? why kill of otis so quick? otis wasnt a prominent character, but still was a helping hand. i feel kirkman didnt waste any time when writing the comic. he kept it moving and improved on what took place before. for example, when angela’s sister gets bitten it didnt take a whole comic to look at her sister before she killed her, it took less than a page. now, yeah its a TV portrayal, but this is just one scene i felt went on waaay too long. get on with it! i truly thought the ending of season 2 they would leave hershel’s property and find their new home – the prison. however, i was mis-lead to find a drawn out gun blaze with the barn zombies. at least in comic a few people get attacked and (god forbid) get bitten in this scene. i literally cant remember one episode where a person get bitten in season 2. they made hershel the victim here, and dug into the trust issues between hershel and grimes, which is all good, all in all it just was anti climatic. so they killed a bunch of zombies in a barn whats so dramatic about this other than the damn music?! blarg.

    i could list more, but now this is just turning into a rant i guess. it would be cool if they take a different perspective. start an episode off with a new (and awesome) character- MICHONNE. yeah, she doesnt come in until they hit the prison, but lets “loosely” write her in. i think it would be superb starting an episode with a samurai sword to a zombie head, cut to a zoom out where we see a rugged, but beautiful, fit, woman in a poncho, with two grotesque, rotting, armless zombies in chains following her. this would ignite so much! but i can only dream.

    overall, like ive said i feel it lacks progression. its staying put and thats safe when writing for TV. you can also call it cowardly. yes, you can say this “safety” reflects the horrid life of grimes – the dreariness of a post-apocalyptic life, the stillness of the landscape, the dark future that lies ahead, but really i see no future, but just writers scrambling around, scratching their heads on what dialogue to write next. really, its frickin zombies guys. in some ways this should have written itself.

    • I think that it is carrying on way to long, I mean imagine there are zombies everywhere throughout the earth and your sitting at a barn and a little house and you get one or two crawlers, REALLY PEOPLE! and I know I know the walkers in the barn but still there should have been a lot more then that. And really are u guys that scared to end a character? Otis I know died but not all these people would survive in theses cases and by the way the little girl in the barn totaly predictable.

      • I dunno! I never saw Sophia being in the barn. Call me a bonehead but that one took me by surprise. :)

        Seems like the writers are either wrapping up the season or setting up a good third by killing off Dale. Didn’t see that one comming either.

        I thoroughly enjoy this show. I enjoy the blood and gore, the character developement, the drama, all of it.

  3. The last three episodes have been much better. The tension about new survivors. Shane bucking to be the Alpha male. Cast members acting stupid because they are people, instead of the writers being stupid.

    While Carl’s attitude change seems a little quick, it feels right and leaves so many doors open. He already got Dale killed off, and by dropping the gun in the swamp, does that mean Daryl is going to grab for it in a time of trouble and not have it?

    And Randal? Is Dale’s death might some how save him? Hope not, the kid is too stupid, he had it scot-free and then had to mention knowing Maggie and her father’s farm, then letting on about the rape his group was involved in. He doesn’t know how to protect himself, so how can he keep anyone safe?

    I don’t I mind a slow episode, but when it became repetitive and almost idyllic, the show had started to falter for me. If not much happens, it needs to at l;east keep the fear and dread alive.

  4. It is a great shoow!:) cant wait until next episode!

  5. what about jim the psychic ? will he be back a season after like
    mearl? well i think being a psychic jim must have some sort of brain damage
    immunity or something maybe jim has genetic cure of the disease/ that would
    be interesting

  6. The Walking Dead Series is the best ever show I’ve ever seen in my life. I think it should be an ongoing thing for many years to come.

  7. The walking dead is good enough to keep watching, but just barely.

    In the first season I would go to bed feeling like I needed to buy a gun and hoard food in case there was some sort of social meltdown. But the second season was more boring.

    However, even though the first season was more exciting, both seasons are full of story flaws. I know people will say, “its just a story, don’t be too critical and take it for what it is” but this is what I like to do. I like to critique shows.

    I think all shows should stick to the premise. Don’t write yourself in a corner and then change the premise just to get out of the corner. Nothing pisses me off more. The walking dead is full of premise breakers.

    For example, either the zombies are dead bodies possessed by evil spirits, or they are controlled by a virus. Which one is it? Because the walking dead tried to rationalize the zombies as some sort of virus, but yet the rest of the story would suggest otherwise.

    If the zombies are controlled by the virus, then they are limited to what the human body can or cannot do. A body needs cells to live. A body needs blood to feed those cells. The head cannot live without the body, and yet the walking dead has heads that continue to live without the body. The blood of the zombies is red whenever they attack a zombie and blood splatters, but it is grey and rotting when they cut open a freshly killed zombie. If the zombies are controlled by a virus, then the host needs to eat and if it doesn’t get food and water within a month or so, the host will die. So all those zombies that are locked in a room should be dead by the end of season 1.

    How come in the first season a group of zombies attacks with a frenzy, but when they are escaping the farm in the second season the zombies are so weak and slow?

    In season 2, when one of the characters is almost passing out from blood loss, there is a zombie attack. So what happens, another character shoots a zombie and throws his lifeless body on the bleeding man so the other zombies will see/smell the dead zombie and ignore the bleeding man. But if a man has a huge open wound, and zombie guts are bleeding all over him, shouldn’t the first guy become a zombie when their blood mixes? Oh wait, he didn’t get scratched or bit, so I guess he’s okay right? Weak!

    I could go on and on.

    It all amounts to weak story writing and if it doesn’t get better in season 3, I might just stop watching. So far though, they have attacked huge hoards of zombies in a prison, when they could have just sat back and patiently killed zombies they came toward the fence. Bad story writing once again.

  8. couldnt agree more, these people are so stupid by the law of evolution the should die..one bad decision after another. and btw lets just kill all the other humans we come across without even bothering to find out why their in prison,, unpaid parking fine ;DIE!!” come on HBO show these losers at AMC how its done and make a real zombie show , you’d instantly gain all their viewers and more!so we dont have to watch this crap anymore. i really held hi hope for s3 after the disaster of @ but it seems they have the same issues again. bad writing and no budget!

  9. the “Walking Dead ” doesen;t hold a candle to…..”Dawn of the Dead”, including cast members and story theme……AMC just copied it…..the series should have been made with original cast of “Dawn of the Dead”

  10. First off, let me say that the make-up in that show is AMAZING. It’s almost worth watching just for that. Almost… however…

    It really became comical after the first half-season.

    How long does it take a body to decompose in the Georgia heat anyway? A month or two? After that, the “undead” would just turn into piles of slime & bones.

    Why is their hair always freshly cut and styled and why are they always freshly shaved?

    Who cuts all of the lawns?

    How come they couldn’t just move into a two story house with a BIG rod iron fence, and get a ladder and live on the second story (zombies can’t climb ladders).

    Why don’t they get a backhoe and spend an afternoon digging a 10 foot deep moat around their house? They have an entire world of heavy equipment and building materials at their disposal now that everyone’s dead and all.

    Find a lake… and a houseboat… anyone… no?

    What I’m getting at is, it’s just getting harder and harder to suspend my disbelief since common sense is no longer at play. They’re just running around in circles and being dramatic now. LOOOOONG soapbox speeches about absolutely nothing and situations that are so unrealistic, they’ve become comical. It’s no longer a survival show. It’s the three stooges/as the world turns – set in zombie land.

    Maybe the next “epic” zombie show should just be a mini series. Or, maybe they should tweak the whole “undead zombie” shtick and make them infected junkies or something. You know, something BELIEVABLE. It’s getting really, really hard to route for people to survive a day to day battle with a bunch of corpses that just walk around in circles bumping into each other. The bottom line is, if you can’t outsmart a corpse, you deserve to die. Sorry…

    The series finale will be the ground shaking event where they figure out how to use a ladder and hide on the roof. I swear…

  11. can anyone out there tell me “WHY” the gov. is wearing his eye patch on the wrong eye——-he is wearing it on his right eye and he got stabed
    in the left one????????????????????????????????????????????????????

    • Randy,

      Michonne clearly stabs the Governor in the right eye with broken glass from the fish tank.

      In all the promo images abnd videos I have seen, the Governor has had an eyepatch over his right eye.

      Or are you confusing the TV series with the Comic Book? While the TV Series is based upon, and inspired by the Comic Book, the TV Series is not the Comic Book. So what happens in one does not mean it will even happen in the other.

  12. Just watched the previews for the 2/24 show and the Governors left eye is out. Also in the episode “Home” which aired 2/17 Daryl’s brother rips his shirt off to expose scars on his back. He has a large tattoo on the right side of his back and 30 seconds later the tattoo switched to the left side. You would think the director could keep track of left and right.

  13. I liked the second series best. I like to see the way the lead character is being brought down and down by by the situations he faces.

    Troy was picking holes in the plot. But the biggest fault of all zombie films is that all zombies could be killed easily by anyone who has an ounce of common sense!
    Just attach a sharp sheet of metal about 8 feet wide to the roof of a car. Adjust it to neck height, and just keep driving through the zombies – the metal will slice off all their heads. You could wipe out thousands in an hour. Problem solved!

  14. so i wrote a big rant up top over a year ago to comment on things that they needed and didnt need – (zombies, common knowledge, dragging story line on and on). after my rant and the break after the over the top barn scene some episodes were bitchin! they made the plot at least move better, more killings, eatings, and had a few more deaths that i was down for. season 4 couldnt be more soap operatic than days of our lives. its really the most contrived writing ive ever endured. andrea giving pep speeches? Tyrone coming to only leave an episode later? yeah, being black doesnt have to do with any of that. writing staff – i know this is loosely based, which pretty much means you can do what your heart desires. this doesnt make it good. seriously if you stuck at least 30% to the comic storyline the show would have been much more enjoyable! its really not that hard. rick goes crazy, but not like this… lets GET ON WITH IT YOU FOOLS! like i said this crap could have written itself…welcome to the talking dead everybody.

  15. Each episode is getting more boring! Losing interest. Becoming a soap opera. Sad!

  16. in the game walking dead (no time left ) episode 5 who are the people in the epilogue that clementine saw? this isn’t in the movie in walking dead !!!!!!!!!

  17. andrew lincold should stick to british acting his accent is awful His acting isnt so good either. When hes walking quickly hes like petulant
    child That hat that his son wears looks ridiculous. If it was true to life his hair would be crawling. youve go another british actor in the cast whose accent is just as bad. if youre going to cast brits leave them with their own accent. used to watch it butim afraid andrew lincoln is so irritating and i cant understand a word he says