Thoughts on The Walking Dead

Warning: a few minor spoilers (but it won’t completely ruin the show for you).

The Walking Dead is one of the few TV shows that I actually had the chance to follow in real time, as it aired last Fall while I was in Washington, DC and had ready access to cable TV. I witnessed part of AMC’s  advertising campaign for the show that involved a “zombie invasion” in 26 cities around the world (people dressed up as zombies took over one of the metro stops on the route to my internship). The Walking Dead is based on a monthly comic book series created by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore. I have not read any of the comics, but apparently the show takes a few critical diversions from the original story.

I’m not a big television guy. I’ve found a few that I like and will watch from time to time, but I’ve consciously made a point not to get sucked in to shows like LOST or 24. There’s something about zombie stories, though, that has always fascinated me, and the Walking Dead sucked me in. Seriously, the first season may have only had six episodes, but I have meditated on them to a degree that is probably unhealthy (I’ve had dreams about zombie invasions, for starters). It’s not a blood and gore slaughter fest like many zombie films. Sure, there’s plenty of violence–enough for a high PG-13 or probably an R rating in film–but that’s beside the point in this case. The violence is not an end in itself. The thing that’s compelling about the show is that it studies the zombie-apocalypse scenario. It throws us straight into the shoes of Sheriff Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) as he wakes up from a coma in a hospital. He calls for the nurse. No one responds. He stumbles into the hall. It’s torn apart. Only a few lights are flickering. We are with him as he stumbles outside to find rows and rows of dead bodies. We know, from the title of the show if nothing else, what is going on, but we can imagine what must be going through is head, and we sympathize with him as he comes to grips with the new world that he lives in and launches himself on a reckless quest into the heart of Atlanta to find his family. Continue reading →