Thursday, 28 October 2010

The Walking Dead (pilot)


What can I say about The Walking Dead pilot? 

I shall heft upon it my highest praise and say it didn't suck.  Better still, it was actually pretty good.  And it made me dream I was tyring to survive a zompocalypse, so there's that.

Officer Grimes' day begins like any other, sitting in his squad car with his partner Shane.  Weeks later, Grimes wakes up in the hospital, disoriented and alone.  He learns he's one of the few survivors of a zompocalypse and decides to head to Atlanta in search of his wife and son.  This isn't such a good idea because Atlanta is overrun with "walkers" but Grimes doesn't know that.

I'm always impressed when genre films never say the name of the monster.  Like how Near Dark never mentions vampires.  Similarly, no one in The Walking Dead has yet said "zombie" preferring instead to refer to them as walkers.  There's something about saying the name out loud, speaking the word into being.  By avoiding saying zombie, characters are permitted to believe in the fantasy that it might be a dream.  That's not to suggest The Walking Dead is dream-like in its story or execution, but the show has managed to find a delicate balance between fantasy and reality.

The pilot is not without its faults.  The highly predictable union of two characters almost caused me physical pain, never mind the fact that the audience is already predisposed to dislike the woman half of the couple.  I do believe that love can blossom on the battlefield, but I simply don't care about this woman's happiness.  She's a bitch.  Stop wasting my time.

To end this review on a positive note, because the pilot was good and drew me in, the zombie effects are well done.  The dead are appropriately nasty, and run the gamut from recently deceased to partially decomposed.  The show is, unsurprisingly, light on gore, but the zombie hoard that inhabits Atlanta is impressive and suggests an underlying futility in survival. 

It is on this downer note the pilot ends, and I can only hope the show maintains the same tension and momentum over the next five episodes.

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