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The Walking Dead premiere lives up to the undead hype

There couldn't have been a better night for 'The Walking Dead' to have premiered than Halloween. Now that it's finally made its debut, can you see what all the hype was about?

- Season 1, Episode 1 - "Days Gone Bye"

The hype for this show has been overbearing, hasn’t it? And you know what? It’s been worth it.

As I said in my preview post for The Walking Dead, so far this show is everything I’ve hoped for and more. Initially I was a bit worried that the show might present the characters in a way that makes me not care one bit for them. Right from the get-go, though, I’m already feeling involved in these characters’ lives. Bringing them from book to screen has truly given them more dimensions than what the books had provided, and I’m seeing them in a completely new light.

I said earlier, in a comment to Bob’s post on his thoughts on the show, that what I believe makes Walking Dead stand out is its lack of clear endgame. In the books, at least, there’s no search for a cure for the zombie apocalypse. This is just a show about a group of people — a group that grows and sometimes shrinks in number — and what they do to survive not only “the walkers,” but other uninfected, crazy human beings. It’s not just what they do in general to survive, it’s what they are willing to do to each other and themselves to live.

For this episode in particular, the title itself lends from the first book of the series, “Days Gone Bye.” A lot of it is taken right from the first few issues of the comics, though there are definitely some things that weren’t so much changed as they were rearranged or given more detail. For example, Morgan Jones (Lennie James) and his son, Duane (Adrian Kali Turner) barely appeared in the books, though I really liked what they did with them here. The most powerful scenes of the episode were toward its end, Rick once again confronting the legless zombie from the side of the road, and Morgan Jones trying for the courage to put a bullet in his zombified wife’s head. Rick’s scene was in the books, but not Morgan’s.

Something you’ll come to learn about Rick (Andrew Lincoln) is that he’s a man who believes he knows what’s best for everyone. Already he starts off with trying to talk a horse into a “better” situation beyond its safe existence in a zombie-free, grassy field; look where that led. This had been the most frustrating and unlikable trait of Rick’s from the books for me, though somehow seeing it play out on TV makes me feel a bit better about his character. I only hope that continues.

Since I always seem to like to overly dissect a show like this, like with the books, I can’t help but wonder if everything comes down to that hospital where Rick woke up. I mean think about it. He woke up unharmed in a long-deserted hospital, yet had enough energy to get up and walk out of there unscathed. Was he really the only person left there? How could he have lived without food or water, not to mention his hospital gown not being completely, y’know, soiled? Was someone secretly taking care of him all that time, or is Rick special in some way? I really believe these are just issues one shouldn’t be concerned with, but, like I said, I tend to get too involved in these details.

So, for you, did this show live up to the hype? Trust me, if you’re not sure yet, stick around through the next episode at least; it’s a doozy.

Photo Credit: AMC

5 Responses to “The Walking Dead premiere lives up to the undead hype”

November 1, 2010 at 3:12 AM

. . . . .

That was the biggest problems for me with the premiere episode: The fact Rick was a bit too quick to come about for someone who was bedridden so long. He was pretty weak when he arose from his hospital bed. (Fell flat on the floor right off the bat.) And parched, too. (Remember all the water he drank in the restroom?) Not to mention we have no idea when his last meal was or how long he was actually hospitalized. His recovery was just this side of miraculous.

Other than that, this was nothing less than an outstanding first effort. The acting is clean … the story engaging … the interaction intelligent. Both Rick’s and Duane’s characters are heartfelt. (Duane just about brought tears to my eyes during the scene where he was trying to off his zombified wife once and for all.) Whoduh thunk that in a zombie piece?

I enjoyed watching this episode all over again.

Bring me more, please.

November 1, 2010 at 2:26 PM

The pilot had everything you expect in a zombie piece (gore, great apocalyptic imagery, etc.), but then added more to take it to another level. The acting was above the usual you see if horror fare and even the production value was better than most zombie films. Its by far the best new show this year, replacing Boardwalk Empire. BE matches your expectations, TWD exceeded them in 90 minutes.

The stand out was definitely the scenes with the father and son. The scene where the mother was clawing at the door was just downright creepy. It was like she knew her family was on the other side, like her memories from when she was alive was still in her. In fact I’ll ask anyone who read the comics if that is the case or not in this series.

November 1, 2010 at 2:40 PM

You want to know if the zombies retain memories? Honestly, the zombies aren’t discussed all that much in the books, as far as what makes them tick. The thing that does come up once in a while, though, is whether they should be considered “curable.” Is there anyone really inside there? Can they be reasoned with? Is that loved one really your loved one anymore? But, so far, they’re just corpses with no hint of emotion or reasoning. They don’t communicate and they don’t hesitate to think about what they’re doing.

If the show retains the themes from the books, it’s really all about the humans and what they do to stay alive. And what they’re willing to go through to survive.

November 1, 2010 at 4:43 PM

. . . . .

In part three of George Romero’s zombie series “Day Of The Dead”, memory retention was touched upon in a rather interesting manner.

Go grab a copy and see what I mean.

November 2, 2010 at 3:25 PM

This was a great beginning. I must admit I did get a little concerned when the beginning reminded me too much of 28 Days Later but as the episode progressed, that thought left me. Is it just me or did anyone else feel sorry for the zombie wife and the zombie in the field that was crawling on her hands?

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