The Walking Dead – season one, episode 1

4 stars


5th November 2010

AMC, the small channel who done good and gave us the brilliant Mad Men, have gone and created another masterpiece of original programming.
Where Mad Men made us want to wear hats and smoke long, sexy cigarettes, The Walking Dead will make you cry and pee yourself. It’s excellent.

Directed by Frank Darabont and based on the highly acclaimed series of comic books by the same name, The Walking Dead is a true horror series. The zombies aren’t funny, or cool, they don’t attend high school or date; they shuffle at a weird angle with rotten flesh and want to eat your brains. Particularly, in the case of The Walking Dead, they really want to eat Rick Grimes’ brains.

Grimes (played by the perennially confused looking Andrew Lincoln) is a Kentucky cop who, having been comatose for days after a gunfight, wakes to discover that there has been a zombie apocalypse, the hospital he is in is abandoned and almost everyone in the town has succumbed to the undead attack.

The series will follow Grimes as he searches for survivors, his family and ultimately a cure for the unexplained horror that has plagued the earth.

Only the debut episode is written and directed by Darabont, and it’s a doozie. The silence which pervades the opening sequence is so masterfully creepy that you jump at the slightest sound and hide your face in your hands every time a door opens or a sign creaks in the wind.

The zombies themselves are spectacularly rendered; so much so that I’d not be surprised to find the artistic team had been doing a spot of cadaver liberation from the local cemeteries. Darabont doesn’t shy away from showing them in all their deadly glory in the clear light of day, in fact his visual choices are very unusual for a horror series – all wide open spaces and daylight. This adds to the sense of lonely desolation and also the tingly cringing fear; knowing that all those ravenous undead are just as likely to jump our hero at noon as they are in the dark means nowhere is safe.

I thought Andrew Lincoln was a strange choice to play Grimes, and the opener hasn’t really changed my mind. No doubt he’s a fine actor, but his Kentucky accent is a bit shaky, and his character needs fleshing out. Heh.

FX are showing the series, and in a stroke of genius they are running the full 65 minute episode without ad breaks so there’s no danger of cartoon telephones or fat Egyptians ruining the atmosphere.

100% I recommend you blow off whatever fireworks display you were thinking about going to and stay in tonight to watch this. Careful though, errant loud bangs in the night may cause you to soil yourself.

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