Saturday 11 May 2013

Verdict: The Walking Dead Season 1

Soon to be into its fourth season, AMC's The Walking Dead is forever described as one of the best television shows currently being made in the States. Because of this, I got on-board with season one of The Walking Dead to see what all the fuss was about. 

Originally hitting television screens back in 2010, The Walking Dead follows a group of survivors, lead by police officer Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) who are have lived through a zombie epidemic that has left the world devastated. Now, living together in a camp outside of Atlanta, the group of need to survive one another as well as the strings of 'walkers' that stalk them.

Joining Andrew Lincoln's Rick Grimes in the main cast are Jon Bernthal, who plays Rick's best friend and former colleague Shane Walsh, Sarah Wayne Callies, who plays Lori, Rick's wife and Chandler Riggs, who plays Rick and Lori's son Carl.

The first thing to note about the show is the high production quality. It looks and feels like a film and not some cheap B-movie either. The only difference here is the longer run-time. Rather than a two hour film that zooms around and skips any characterisation in favour of blood, guts and shotguns.

The Walking Dead is less a show about zombies and more a show about survival, comradeship and hope with zombies added on. The focus here is very much on the human characters and how they learn to live with one another post-apocalypse.

Sure, there are some fantastic set-pieces that see Rick and the group battle against swarms of walkers (such as the the conclusion to the second episode 'Guts', pictured right), but the main draw here is the quieter, slower scenes that show off the cast's fantastic acting abilities.

I'll be honest here; there are some really emotional moments in the first season that tug at the heart strings. Without giving too much away, there are a couple of times in the brilliant first episode and then later on at the start of the third that had me on the verge of tears. By the time the season wraps up, you'll be blubbing your eyes out.

In terms of action, there are some really full-on and kick-ass action sequences in the show. A midnight raid at the group's camp in the fourth episode is really shocking and doesn't hold anything back. The character's mortality is never in doubt, which is a really big plus point.

The acting and characterisation really is top-notch in The Walking Dead. Each character feels fully fleshed out after a mere five minutes of screen time. A great example is Morgan from the first episode. In the one episode, he is given a fantastic amount of depth; struggling to keep himself and his son Duane alive, he also has to cope with coming to terms with his wife being taken by the hordes of zombies. He isn't just some character who comes into the show, moves the plot along and is quickly written out.

Laurie Holden was a stand-out performer as Andrea. Episode 4 in particular is a really gut-wrenching performance. Likewise, I also found that characters such as Shane (Jon Bernthal) were brilliantly three-dimensional and interesting.

If your a fan of apocalyptic/zombie show then The Walking Dead will have most definitely not escaped your notice. If you are like me and you are looking for a really interesting and deep drama that looks and feels like a movie, you should get on board. You don't have to be a Romero fan to enjoy the Walking Dead. I'm certainly not a zombie film fan, but I'm really glad I gave this brilliant show a chance.

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