Once upon a time I collected comic books. Wednesday’s were a special day for me as I would head to my comic shop home and pick up my rather obnoxious collection of books for the week. Sadly time and monetary constraints forced me to alter my reading habits and ultimately stop reading comics nearly all together. However one book that I have kept up with is The Walking Dead, albeit via trade paperbacks and not individual issues, and you can imagine my excitement when AMC announced that the zombie comic would be getting a television adaptation.
When I sat down seven weeks ago to watch the series premiere on a cold Halloween night, I prepared myself for the worst. After all as a film and television viewer I have watched a great many media properties be adapted for the big or little screens only to see them amount to nothing more than broken dreams. However my fears were quickly allayed as the premiere episode was not only a great piece of horror television but a great piece of television in general. The next five episodes, while never quite as well put together, only amplified my feeling that this was the show I have long been waiting for.
The history of horror television is somewhat of a joke, nothing in my 32 years has stood out as fantastic horror storytelling. Sure singular episodes of The X-Files were great and other shows, be it Supernatural or True Blood, have done good things with the genre, I would not call any of them serious horror shows as there always seems to be a tinge of “isn’t this so absurd?” floating behind it all. The Walking Dead though pulled no punches, it was serious, made for adult type horror.
Where The Walking Dead succeeded is exactly where the book succeeds, the show is about the people struggling to survive. The show is not about the flesh eating zombies, they are just a catalyst for the situations. This was evident throughout the season from the much ballyhooed sequence in the premiere to the final episode where Dale sits with Andrea as certain doom approaches and it is exactly why I will be tuning in next season. Because even after only six episodes I am invested in these characters and I want to see where they are heading.
As a fan of the book, part of me was upset that I knew where the show was going to lead and that the surprises would be lost. Luckily the show moved in a different direction very early one. Sure things are still somewhat on the track set forth by writer Robert Kirkman but enough has changed that The Walking Dead television show feels like its own entity.
No one episode is going to please everyone and the season finale was no exception. I’ve heard the usual complaints (too predictable, too melodramatic, etc…) but those people are never going to be satisfied no matter what happens or how it plays out. For the most part the season finale was a solid piece of television. Did things get a little melodramatic with the unheard message passed by the crazy Dr. Jenner to Rick? Sure but it fit (and for the record my money is on Lori being pregnant and not by Rick).
As the final episode closed we are left to wonder what the future holds for the survivors just as they themselves must be wondering as they drive into the unknown. For me it was the prefect ending to a near perfect beginning. I can not wait for more.
5 out of 5