Sunday, November 14, 2010

TV Pilots, Day 6 — The Walking Dead

Okay, I'm a little embarrassed. I said a month back when I posted my recaps and rankings of fall 2010's new TV series that I would wait a few weeks for the final batch of premieres then do a sixth days of pilot reviews. Soon after was the premiere of AMC's The Walking Dead, but I didn't want to do a post consisting of a single review, so I waited a couple weeks, sure that more pilots were on their way. Hell, I would've taken just one more. But nope (excepting TBS's Conan, but I'm only covering narrative fiction here), and now my Walking Dead writeup is not only alone but no longer even a pilot review so much as a "half of the season" review.

Now it looks (according to Wikipedia) like there will in fact be about twenty new series premieres beginning in early 2011, so I'll get back to doing multi-show pilot review extravaganzas then. But for now, enjoy this extremely lonely review of The Walking Dead and the revamped rankings I'll post soon after:


The premise in ten words or less? Zombies, zombies, zombies!

Any good? Yes, it's very cool, with terrific production values, great cinematography for television, lots of violence and intensity, and a strong sense of horror, and this is coming from someone who generally finds nerd culture's obsession with zombies to be a little overblown and embarrassing. The Walking Dead is a truly visual show, unafraid to dwell on long stretches of eerie silence (most notably the protagonist's slow horseback ride into the ruins of Atlanta in the pilot being drawn out for five tense, dialogue-free minutes) and with some impressively disgusting-looking zombies. It's also extremely tightly serialized up to this point, with the first three episodes stringing seamlessly together as what amounts to the first act of a really long zombie flick. This will probably make a great series to watch on DVD for anyone who's already too late to catch up on TV (though anyone can check out the pilot on Hulu).

The show's only glaring flaw is thus far hamfisted writing when it comes to intergroup conflict among the survivors. Now don't get me wrong — zombie survivor conflict is a good thing. Necessary, really, even at two hours, let alone for the dozens of hours this series will run. But so far the loose cannons of the group are incredibly overwritten as dangerous, gun-waving, wife-abusing racist lunatics to the degree that you wouldn't blame the survivors for one second if they just put bullets in their heads. However, I trust the show will be able to iron this out given time to feel out the group dynamics, and all pure zombie stuff so far is badass.

Will I watch again? I already have! Half the season, in fact, since this first season is only going to be six episodes, but in case my above enthusiasm isn't clear, yes, I'm looking forward to it.

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