Review: The Walking Dead ~ Season 1

I’d never heard of AMC’s The Walking Dead and must say I sat down to watch the first season with quite a few preconceived notions after reading “zombie epidemic” on the back of the box. It begins with police officer Rick Grimes waking up all alone in an abandoned hospital surrounded by dead bodies and evidence of chaos that happened while he was in a coma.  I immediately recalled the movie 28 Days Later which opened in much the same way.

What continues to make this concept work is having the viewer connect with one central character and we know just as much as he does, or just as little.  The elements of what have happened and what led up to this are completely void.

It’s the “not knowing” that kept me intrigued and kept me watching. Unfortunately, very little of what actually happened is revealed in the first season.  We get hints in conversation as to how the military lost control or how long its been since it all started, but that’s about it.

We also begin a little heavy on the gore side as Grimes encounters “the walkers” while leaving the hospital and trying to get back home to see if his family is still there.  The only way to kill them is with a gunshot blast or hard blow to the head, and you get to see quite a bit of this up close.

Grimes is assisted by a man and his son who tell him he needs to go toward Atlanta where an encampment has been set up. Here, Grimes discovers Atlanta is lost to the dead and he actually joins forces with a group who are surviving on the outskirts of town.  It is here that different obstacles, scenarios, and relationships are developed and played out which really gave the series depth.

At times, the show felt like the “reality” Discovery Channel show called “The Colony.”  Another great series about a group of people trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. The Walking Dead really starts to get you interested in the characters themselves and their personal struggles, and you almost forget about the zombies that are walking about.

Then, an attack happens or gunfire goes off and you find yourself just as startled as the characters themselves as they flee their camp and head toward the CDC for assistance.

Directed by Frank Darabont, who also directed The Shawshank Redemption, it’s very easy to see why this story becomes more about the characters and their survival and less about why this is happening or the flesh eating zombies that are walking about.  In the very beginning, Grimes even shows compassion toward a horribly wounded zombie.  He seeks her out and apologizes for what has happened to her before putting her out of her misery. By the end, the viewer has also taken a journey to many places including compassion, loss, sorry, love, and redemption right along with the cast.  But there are still questions that are left unanswered. Lots of them.  And that’s definitely enough to keep watching when the second season debuts this Fall.

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