Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Pilot Review: The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead (AMC)
Premiered October 31 at 10pm

There’s plenty of hype to be had when a show gets renewed for a second season before its first run even premieres. From the looks of this pilot, however, there seems to have been good reason for an early renewal. AMC has encountered great success (and many awards) over the past couple of years with the launch of several hard-hitting, devastating dramas with complex characters and excellent writing. Now, AMC is foraying into a new genre, one which possesses few films that might traditionally be aired on the American Movie Classics channel. Yet AMC has found a way to make it work without it even being cheesy or campy, as many of the films that have made it onto AMC’s airing repertoire are. It’s even relatively accessible to non-fans of the genre, keeping both the horror and, at this point, the gore to a minimum in favor of strongly-directed and genuinely suspenseful scenes that pit our hero in the middle of a zombie-infested world he is not yet ready to encounter. The presence of Lennie James (“Jericho,” “Human Target”) in the pilot as Morgan, Rick’s introductory guide to the new world in which he lives, is a sign of expert casting and fits with an extraordinarily-written role. The scene where he can’t pull the trigger and kill his zombie wife was particularly affecting, and that’s not something you’d expect to find on a show like this. It’s pretty bleak, yet there is still room for humor. I would cite the last scene in particular: Rick is surrounded and trapped by a terrifying mob of zombies, and it seems as if he’s about to shoot himself and then he exits through the top of the tank. Once inside, he’s still trapped, but then there’s that voice on the radio, calling him an idiot and asking him if he’s comfortable. It shouldn’t be long before he comes face to face with his former partner and his wife, and that should prove interesting, though I’m sure he’ll get over it quickly in favor of them all killing some zombies together. The first scene was an extremely intriguing start, and I think this show has enormous potential. Fortunately, for fans of the show (and I imagine there are many), this series has its network behind it, and you can look forward to many days of the undead to come. I’ll be staying tuned. Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

How will it work as a series? This is an extraordinarily plot-driven series which will necessitate week-to-week viewing. It’s too early to tell exactly what the format of the show will be since Rick has yet to come into contact with his friends and family. Still, each hour of this show should feel like that AMC-HBO immersion in a world and characters, and that’s a very good thing.
How long will it last? A long, long time. The series premiere was a ratings explosion for AMC, and considering how much they love “Mad Men” and the fact that it only pulls in a small fraction of the audience, this show isn’t going anywhere. Positive critic reviews also help, and I think this one will be on just as long as the network and the creative people behind it want it to be.

Pilot review: A-

1 comment:

Greg Boyd said...

Thankfully, I have "The Shield" to keep me busy, otherwise I'd be tearing my hair out not being able to watch this. It looks so good.