Frank Darabont’s The Walking Dead Airs

Having been shot in a gun fight and put into a coma, County Sheriff Rick Grimes wakes up in hospital to find the world around him significantly changed. The hospital has been trashed, corpses are everywhere and the streets are deserted. Sort of. Long story short, there are zombies. Lots of them. After an encounter with two survivors, Grimes determines to head for Atlanta to find his missing wife and son.

After all the hype surrounding Frank Darabont’s TV show The Walking Dead, the first episode, Days Gone Bye, finally aired to record numbers. Zombies, who have shuffled around cinemas for decades, have at last discovered television. Based on the Image comic books, and produced by Gale Anne Hurd (the Terminator movies), The Walking Dead is admittedly a very familiar story; world + zombies + survivors = horror fun!  But with Executive Producer Darabont, no stranger to horror, both writing and directing the pilot episode this was always going to be worth the time.

Truth be told, I don’t watch much television. I haven’t seen one episode of 24 or Lost, fell out of love with Star Trek years ago, and save my viewing time for movies. Then I read about The Walking Dead and, frankly, they had me at ‘Frank Darabont to make zombie television show’. Say no more. Having just watched the pilot episode, I’m glad I decided to set aside the 90 minutes. Okay, this is never going to win any originality awards (the genre is way past that) but all the ingredients are right there for something special. The set-up is similar to that of 28 Days Later, with the lead character waking up in hospital to find everyone gone. However, unlike the marathon runners of Danny Boyle’s infestation movie, the zombies of The Walking Dead are back to the classic shuffling undead in the Romero mould. Personally, I prefer them that way. Call me petty, but zombies should shuffle. It’s my thing.

Frank Darabont, who excelled with a TV production crew on The Mist, delivers an atmospheric and engaging pilot episode. The scenes in the hospital, as the bemused Grimes finds the first clues as to what happened while he slept, are spooky, haunting and will bring an approving smile to the face of even the most discerning zombie fan. As will the fact that television hasn’t dulled or restricted the icky factor. Darabont is incapable of overlooking the human element and there is a particularly moving scene involving a survivor and his wife. However, it was when the story moved to deserted, zombie infested, Atlanta that The Walking Dead really impressed, and I knew for certain that I was hooked. Damn you, Darabont! Now I’m one of those people desperate for the next episode! I’m a zombie!

Like a bad day, only worse.


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  1. Encrazed Crafts

    I like the classic shuffling zombies as well. That they have enough residual memory to, say, pick up a lost teddy bear or try to open a door, makes them even more of a threat. It also keeps the fear alive, as after awhile slow and shambling zombies can get stale if you just distance yourself from them. But ones that can think a bit…now that’s closer to a dark horse of luck than any actual survivor in that landscape would like. (Mind you, just simple thoughts. The latter Romero zombies could basically program computers and that got equally boring and just tore all believability from the films. Yes I said believability in the same sentence as the word zombie
    :D)

    Reply
  2. Richard

    Trust me, if you lived in the same area as me you’d find zombies totally believable. ;-)

    It’s bizarre, I know, but something that moves slowly is just a little more scary than something fast. But only according to horror movie physics, where it doesn’t matter how slow it moves, it will still get ya!

    Reply
  3. Encrazed Crafts

    Oh dude, I wasn’t saying they are not believable at all. Zombie movies are the worst/scariest because they *are* the most reasonably possible to happen. I live in Da ‘Burbs so everything around here is completely surrounded by windows, the amount of wooden boards I would need to bunker down in any nearby location is mind boggling. At least I’m not near cemeteries or too close to hospitals…but there is a pretty big mall a few miles away. Hopefully it will be a ‘dumb strain’ of zombie that spreads and not the ‘running’ type. If that’s the case, the Cardio Rule from Zombieland says I should invest in some type of ranged weaponry…

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    1. Richard

      I live about two minutes from a hospital, which is about an hour in zombie terms, in a country where gun ownership is illegal. And I have asthma. So I’m pretty low on the zombie survival scale. My only hope is the ease with which I might actually pass for a zombie. ;-)

      Reply
    1. Richard

      This would certainly be a good entry into the zombie genre. Don’t worry, you’ll soon be on your way to undead expertise, and then you too can discuss your ability to survive the zombie apocalypse. Yay! :-)

      Reply
  4. Castor

    I enjoyed the season premiere. The second episode wasn’t nearly as good though, but that’s to be expected since it is setting up the future events that will happen to each of the characters. Looking forward to episode 3!

    Reply
      1. Encrazed Crafts

        Aye, but the two problems they had with that is being creepy requires atmosphere and time to set that up. When you introduce a huge handful of new cast members to the stage you need to explain who they are and how they fit in so you can care when they get eaten by the undead masses. Also, this episode was an hour while the pilot was an additional half hour, so that’s a third of time lost right there that could have set the stage more…but I think episode 2 was mostly about action anyway so no harm no foul in my mind.

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