The Good, Bad, and Ugly of The Walking Dead: Days Gone By

1 11 2010

[Ed notes: Alec has left the site, but we do have the addition of Jackie Land. We’re looking forward to her contributions!]

See kids? The street signs never lie.

Last night, most of the people in America were dressing up as pirates, pumpkins, slutty pirates, and slutty pumpkins. Doorbells were rung, parties were thrown, and the candy and booze flowed freely. For most people it was just another Halloween. But for me? I finally got to watch the premiere of AMC’s The Walking Dead. I won’t go into details of exactly how many kids tried to ruin my TV viewing moment, but I will say that they all left my house either in tears or in pain; I’ve never been this excited about a TV show.

Luckily for me and all other TV fans, The Walking Dead did not disappoint me in any way that really mattered. In fact, it was one of the best damn things related to zombies that I’ve ever watched. Well deserving of a top 5 spot on my zombie list from last week. Anyways, follow me after the jump to see the best and worst (The worst is simply nitpicking) of AMC’s newest masterpiece. Some spoilers to follow.

The Good:

  • The acting: A lot of hype surrounded the cast of The Walking Dead, and even though the sample size was small for what’s going to be a pretty big group of characters, I was fairly impressed. Andrew Lincoln was simply great as the unsuspecting lead, Rick Grimes. Although 40% of his lines were hoarsely screamed (NURSE??? NURSE HELP!!! LORI?!?!? CAHRRL!!!), he played the part of seriously confused and frightened man very good. That said, the two people that stole the show were two people who won’t even be a part of the regular cast (likely). Lennie James and Adrian Turner played the father-son duo of Morgan and Duane, and both of them were spectacular. Unlike in the comic, where Morgan takes Rick in and simply helps him grab some weapons before Rick leaves for Atlanta, the show gave the two characters a lot of screen time, including an original back-story involving Morgan’s wife, who was turned into a zombie. James’ performance was excellent while depressing, and Turner gave a good turn as a little kid in a messed up world.
  • The atmosphere: Let me assure you, once I got to the hospital scene, the atmosphere of The Walking Dead really made the episode something special. A lot of films dealing with the “last man on Earth” aspect of waking up and finding the world around deserted is easy to pull off, but Frank Darabont and Co. did that and managed to make it incredibly terrifying. Combining eerie string music with flickering lights and death all around is always a must in the world of horror entertainment, and in The Walking Dead it was like a piece of art.
  • Character development not included in the comic: Said above, the story-line with Morgan’s wife was not in the comic book at all, and it was one of the best things about the episode. It also included a little banter between Rick and his partner, Shane, about wife troubles, although I wasn’t a big fan of that scene.This gives me a good feeling that a lot of interesting and original things will be happening in the show. Also, something tells me the incestuous zombie relationship from Collection 4 probably won’t be there. Yes, what I just said is in the graphic novel. Deal with it.
  • Badass head shots: Hopefully not many people were upset with the lack of the non-stop, in-your-face violence that has frequented recent zombie films, because (a) There will be plenty of that in the future, trust me (b) The story focuses more on the characters anyway, and (c) The head shots that we did get were f*cking awesome. From Morgan’s badass arrival (One step forward, head shot. I literally yelled BOOM at my TV) to a depressing scene ending abruptly with a bullet through the eye, the zombie kills of this premiere were very short, but very sweet. Hell, the first scene was Rick blowing a zombie child’s brains all the way to Canada… he’s in Georgia, that’s a pretty long distance.
  • Some powerful scenes: The hospital, the cyclist zombie, and Morgan’s wife. If you saw the premiere then you know what I’m talking about. The hospital scene was just tense as hell. Flickering lights, a skinless corpse, and a door locking in a room full of zombies didn’t make a dehydrated Rick Grimes any happier. It ends with a painfully long trip down a dark stairwell, where Rick only has matches to see the way. The cyclist zombie and Morgan’s wife happen simultaneously, cutting back and forth between Rick, showing pity over a woman who was eaten from the waist down, but zombified, and Morgan, who feels guilty that he should have ended his wife’s life before her wound turned her into a zombie. Rick stares at the helpless zombie before ending it at point-blank range, but Morgan simply can’t pull the trigger on his wife even as a zombie, walking outside of his shelter. These were arguably the two best parts of the whole premiere.

The Bad:

  • Bloody writing on the walls: I’ll have to check to see if this is in the graphic novel (I think it is), but I hated the bloody writing on the wall in a scene where Rick comes across a family of obviously religious people that commit suicide. I don’t care how madly religious you are, I don’t believe anyone in real life would write LORD FORGIVE US in their child’s own blood before killing themselves. It’s creepy, sure, but I don’t buy it. Also, the writing was way too neat. See, I told you I would be nitpicking.
  • The first few scenes: Maybe this was some clever ploy to portray boring, everyday suburbia before the shit hits the fan (Something I’ve always wanted to do), but the opening dialogue between Rick Grimes and his partner Shane seemed to drag on forever. It was pretty boring, pretty awkward, and drug on forevor before getting to the main point about Rick’s martial problems (SPOILER: Something that Shane takes advantage of later). Anyways, it’s followed by an epic gun battle, and then delves into Rick’s trek through the apocalyptic USA. Again, more nitpicking on what was a great premiere. That said…

The Ugly:

  • Trip-hop song to end the episode? Meh: The trailer for The Walking Dead included an epic choice of song. The end of the first episode featured some eerie hip-hop beats, and in my opinion is did not fit well at all. After spending one hour and twenty-eight minutes with either no music or subtle string music, you pull this move? Color me slightly upset. At least don’t do that for the freaking premiere. The only thing worse would be slam poetry (The dead, they walk! Ovah yo motha’s grave! Pray lahd that you don’ do tha same!)

Anyways, The Walking Dead was exactly what I had hoped it would be, and now I’m really looking forward to what the future holds for what will likely become my new favorite show. To the Trick-or-Treaters that swiftly threw candy and pennies, sorry about that. To the guy I tazed, screw you, it was a very important show. Watch The Walking Dead, end of story.

Episode Grade: A




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