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The Walking Dead Season 1 (DVD)
Member Name: caseybrady1992
The Walking Dead Season 1 (DVD)
Date: 13/06/12, updated on 14/09/12 (54 review reads)
Advantages: Massively entertaining, engaging and addictive
Disadvantages: A few irritating elements
-== Plot ==-
NOTE: there are pilot spoilers present here, but nothing beyond the first episode.
In the opening scene of the show, we see Rick in a squad car with his partner Shane (Jon Bernthal), before they are alerted to a chase occurring nearby. As the police neutralise the vehicle in question, the men in the car get out and bullets are exchanged, two of which hit Rick, which leads to his coma. From his hazy, drifting perspective, we catch glimpses of Shane by his bedside and sounds of commotion; and then nothing. Rick wakes to silence and a bunch of wilted flowers by his bed. Calling for a nurse to no avail, he stumbles out and into the corridors. Flickering lights, hospital furniture astray and blood smeared on the walls; a skeletal, rotting body lying in the middle of the hall; locked double doors rattling, something trying to get out. The scenes terrifically convey a sense of barrenness, confusion and desperation, as Rick is gradually exposed to horrors that await him in this new world.
He returns to his home to find the door unlocked and belongings gone. Lincoln is fantastic here as he pounds the floor crying out for his wife and son. But he notices that the family photos have been taken too, which he surmises would not have been taken by anybody other than his family. There is hope. Upon leaving the house, he comes across a father and son who have survived, from which he learns the true extent of the situation. By helping each other, they eventually part to make their own ways. Meanwhile, some miles away, Shane is amongst a group of survivors.
-== The Zombie Production Redefined ==-
Although there have been a few Zombie TV series (UK's Dead Set, for example), The Walking Dead is by far the most memorable, the highest achieving and...well, the best. There are a few elements that gave it a great credibility long before it graced our screens. Firstly, the fact that it is based on a popular comic book series automatically gives it a willing and ready audience, furthered by the inclusion of its writer Robert Kirkman as an overseer in the series' crew. Secondly, the TV series developer comes in the form of three-time Academy Award nominee Frank Darabont (the 'three' being The Mist, The Green Mile and most predominantly, The Shawshank Redemption!), and thirdly, there are zombies, which in itself would have attracted a fair few people. Despite all of these elements, the first series only featured 6 episodes - but what fantastic episodes they are!
One thing to note is that this is not a 'mindless' zombie production like others before it. There is depth in the plot, but more importantly, the characters. Naturally, some are killed off, some new ones arrive, but it is all done tastefully. You care about the characters, which I can't say for a lot of the zombie films I've seen before this. This is helped by some great performances from the main characters; namely Andrew Lincoln and Jon Bernthal. There is scope in the fact that it is a TV series; they are currently filming for a third season, and despite some naysayers, it is still going strong.
-== Everything Else ==-
There are a limited number of episodes in this first season, but a lot happens - and not in a hasty manner, either. The show is as much about the character's psyches as it is about zombies. Put yourself in their shoes, which you inevitably will whilst watching the show, and it is an overwhelming thought. What would you do? Would you survive? Would you even want to carry on? These ideas are handled well. The second season has been criticised for focusing more on this than the 'zombie' element, but while I disagree that this is a particularly bad thing, the first season finds a very effective balance.
The viewer involves themselves with the show by trying to relate to the characters (not that that is 100% possible!) and it causes you to care about the characters and ultimately feel what they feel. This is highlighted by various aspects. The sets and locations are great, especially the camp at which Shane is situated. Up in the mountains and surrounded by trees, a community has been created, but how can anybody possibly feel safe? One expects a zombie to appear at any moment, and that's a element of the show that requires little effort from the producers. The music consists of Bear McCreary's original score and some pre-existing music. On the whole, it is strong, with some very nice moments in particular. The theme music is far from melodic (you can sing along, but you sound like an idiot) but catchy nonetheless. The composer was aiming for an 'effect' rather than a 'tune', and it is more than appropriate. The scenes of the theme sequence itself are well arranged, and haunting.
Like with any show, there are inevitably flaws. I wouldn't say that all dramatic exchanges are executed perfectly, and with this comes a few characters that are likely to irritate. Moreover, there are some decisions within the storyline that irritate, or even bemuse. But these do not prevent The Walking Dead from being anything but a brilliant show. I have watched the six episodes quite a few times, and each has such a distinctive and unique style from the next that it rewards it great replay value. The DVD also features an array of extras, including behind the scenes featurettes, a 'Making Of' and much more. Unfortunately, the show itself has been cut slightly from what was originally shown on TV, which is a shame, especially for those of you who like your gore (as that is what has mainly been cut).
-== Accolades ==-
Although mainly referring to the Season 2, the first season was so impressive that the show has broken various cable records - the season 2 finale had 9 million viewers, which is a lot for cable! The series has also won and been nominated for numerous awards, most predominantly a (nomination for) Golden Globe for Best Television Series Drama.
-== Final Word ==-
It is very likely that you'll have heard at least a few words spoken about The Walking Dead before now. If not, I hope this review tempts you to try it. It is an excellent TV show. It's blood-pumping, edge-of-your-seat stuff and provides many shocks and thrills along the way. I would highly recommend it whether you're into your zombies - sorry, "walkers" - or not.
Summary: A super first season.