The Walking Dead TV Show

So the finale of the Walking Dead Season 1 was on Sunday.  I watched it on pay-per-view last night.

For those of you who don’t know The Walking Dead is a comic following on Rick Grimes and his family surviving after a zombie apocalypse.  There was just a 6 episode TV series on AMC.

The horror in the comic doesn’t normally arise from surprise zombie attacks (although those do certainly happen), but from the following:

  1. No one gets out alive – Sooner or later everyone will die and when they do it will be ugly.  For those who have stuck with the series, we’ve learned that no one is safe.
  2. The dissolution of social and moral standards – If civilization is gone what will people do to survive and what horrible vices remain even when in survival mode?
  3. Despite points one and two what sacrifices will the characters make to stay alive and together.

The most horrifying scenes in the comics have always been man vs. man as opposed to man vs. zombie.  Without that the series could be almost life affirming as people band together to survive and to get the most out of life despite the impending doom.  However, the series is very dark.  Sometimes it is too dark for me.  What keeps me coming back is that they don’t give up.  They never give up.

With 6 episodes the TV show has covered most of the events of the first tpb.  Every episodes their ratings have improved and the show was renewed for a second longer season by the third episode.  In general the tv show has stuck pretty closely to the comic.  Now, the comic isn’t flawless and the first trade may be the weakest of the series, but the tv show goes astray most ofen when it strays from the source material.

Before I complain I should point out that the show is likely my favorite of the fall/winter.  They understand the core themes.  The acing is OK and the scripts are fairly tight.  The production is fairly awesome.  The mood and suspense works much the same as the source material.

They added some additional characters and modified some of the others.  There were two issues – many of the characters added were stereotypical and the additional cast diluted the opportunity for character development.  Some worked – Merle the hotheaded racist redneck was effective (mostly due to actions you never saw him perform), but his brother Daryl, the racist hotheaded redneck, just added conflict when none was needed.

Some of the pacing has changed – for instance the conflict between Shane and Rick is still just simmering

The biggest change is the addition of new material including the entire sixth episode.  The purpose was to provide a climatic capper to the season and to reinforce the hopelessness of the situation.  It did that effectively while also advancing some of the character subplot.  However the evil scientist riff was a bit much.  The biggest mistake they made was having Rick actually say the situation was hopeless.    Things haven’t even begun to go poorly for Rick yet and his biggest attribute is his unstoppable resolution to continue.

The end of the first trade is a surprise twist that really sets the tone for everything to come.  It is a plot element that they haven’t even foreshadowed yet.  I wonder if it is too dark for a tv show?

Anyway, I still recommend the tv show.  I also recommend the comics (except for the one trade with the escape from the Governor – that one is too much).  They are not exactly feel good Christmas fare though.

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