Tomorrow night, AMC’s television version of The Walking Dead, based on the graphic novel series by Robert Kirkman, receives a Halloween debut. For fans of horror, zombies, and comic books, this is a much-anticipated and promising development. AMC has an excellent resume for developing intelligent TV drama, including Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and Rubicon (the latter is currently a Beemsville favorite show). High expectations are certainly in order.
We can tell you the graphic novels provide ample source material. Kirkman’s series is character driven, first and foremost. The tension of the survivors on the run from the planet’s newest alpha predators drives the interactions and speculation on the strength of the human psyche. It’s not about the blood and gore (though there’s plenty of that); it’s about adapting to an impossible situation – the good and the bad of people under extreme duress.
New viewers will immediately notice that the opening of Walking Dead appears to draw heavily from the film, 28 Days Later. No, not the turbo-zombies, but the device of a main character waking up after weeks in a coma. The world has shifted and he has to figure it all out. Kirkman did this in the book to avoid writing about the initial zombie outbreak, the subject of 90% of your zombie movies out there. Viewers will also notice there’s little to no explanation of the how’s and why’s of the outbreak, with almost no consideration of an organized response to the zombies by other governments, the military, etc. (A weakness that frustrated me over the years – like many science fiction readers, I like to have a theory of the situation in mind).
These observations aside, we’re really looking forward to this show. It’s been developed by Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption,The Green Mile) and Gale Anne Hurd (The Terminator, Aliens). Englishman Andrew Lincoln stars as Rick, the imminently decent and likable small-town deputy, with Sarah Callies as his wife, Lori. If those two actors can project the requisite fear, vulnerability, and stubborn strength, if the rest of the supporting cast is up to the current AMC standards, and if this trailer is any indication, we’re in for a gruesome treat.