The Walking Dead: Season 1

The Walking Dead: Season 1
Not many TV shows would open their pilot episode with the protagonist graphically shooting a ten-year old girl in the head, even before the credits have rolled, but The Walking Dead is a very bold series, and that girl was a zombie. It's hard to believe it's taken this long for a zombie apocalypse TV show to hit the airwaves, and judging from The Walking Dead's auspicious debut season, the first may also be the definitive one. Based upon the comic book series by Robert Kirkman, and with The Shawshank Redemption director Frank Darabont serving as show runner, The Walking Dead doesn't try to reinvent the zombie story, it uses the same basic logic as George Romero's 1968 Night of the Living Dead, but by serializing and elongating it for television, Darabont breathes new life into a genre that had become stale. The hero of the show is Rick Grimes (played by Andrew Lincoln), a small-town police officer who's shot in the line of duty and falls into a coma. When he finally wakes up, he finds he's one of the few survivors of a full-fledged zombie apocalypse and goes in search of his wife and son. Character-driven drama is what propels the story, with the looming threat of zombies helping to punctuate the emotional beats and ratchet up the tension. The dialogue is, at times, a little awkward, and some of the characters feel forcibly written and unnatural, but most instances where the writing falters are soon glazed over by something exciting or terrifying. For those reading the still on-going comic book series, the show follows the basic path of the original plot, but takes liberties with characters and detours in the story, purportedly in hopes that the show will never be wholly predictable. The last two episodes, in particular, introduce an entirely new and exciting storyline that will catch a lot of viewers off guard. While the brevity of the first season (six episodes) may feel unwarranted, given how many characters and plot points are crammed into the story, AMC (also the network behind Mad Men and Breaking Bad) has announced that the second season will be the normal thirteen episodes, and judging from its early successes, The Walking Dead isn't going anywhere. The DVD contains a respectable amount of special features: there are a couple of making-of docs, the Comic-Con panel and a five-minute featurette for each episode, which serve as a concise substitute for audio commentaries. Also, we get a featurette about the terrific zombie make-up effects. (Anchor Bay)