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Monday, November 8, 2010

AMC's "The Walking Dead" Television Series

Television Series: The Walking Dead (dystopian)
Ratings: V5, S4, H1
Seen on AMC, Sunday at 10:00 p.m., with several rebroadcasts (check your TV listings for exact times)

     If you love zombies, you won't want to miss this terrific new AMC series, which started two weeks ago (on Halloween, naturally).  The premise is that a scientific experiment has gone wrong and a zombie-producing plague has swept the nation.  The series follows a handful of survivors as they battle the Walkers and try to keep themselves alive.  

     In episode 1, policeman Rick Grimes, the series hero, is in a coma after being shot by a car-crashing scumbag. When Rick eventually awakens in the hospital, he is alone, the hospital has been trashed, and zombies have taken over his city. Rick sets out to find his wife and son, but soon gets trapped in Atlanta by a zombie mob.

     The story reminds me of the Odyssey, in that Rick (like Odysseus) must battle a series of monsters as he tries to get back to his wife (Lori) and child (Carl) before she marries someone else. Yes, Lori has survived, and she is having an affair with Rick's low-life partner (Shane) in a survival settlement in the countryside near Atlanta. Boo! Hiss! The poor guy has only been missing for a few weeks and already the wife has moved onbut wait, all is not as it seems. Would Shane give Lori some deliberately wrong info, leading her to believe that Rick is dead? You betcha! The Odyssey connection (please indulge me here) even extends to Rick's escape from the zombie mob at the end of episode 1 when he scurries down the hatch (eye?) of an army tank. Compare that one-eyed tank to the Cyclops and you've got yourself a metaphor!  

     In episode 2, Rick joins up with a group of survivors in Atlanta as they plan their escape from the city.  The remaining four episodes follow Rick to Shane's survivor group in the countryside near Atlanta, then back to Atlanta, and then off to find other survivors. The cinematography is great, and the zombie make-up is fantastic. The scene in which Rick rides a horse down an empty highway into Atlanta is haunting (see the image above), as is an overhead view of the Atlanta zombie mob, looking like monstrous ants as they chow down on that same horse (see the trailer).

     The series is based on the Robert Kirkman comic. Take a look at the official trailer to get a feel for the series. Check out The Walking Dead web site for videos of the most-talked-about scenes from the series. (If you've got a strong stomach, don't miss "The Smell of Death" from Guts, the second episode.) Be sure to check out the many WD videos on You Tube, especially the time lapse video of bicycle girl zombie (from episode one) where the actress is transformed from human girl to zombie by the make-up guys. The official trailer is also on You Tube.

     Click here if you'd like to see an animated version. And here's the first issue of the Walking Dead comic, originally published in October 2003 by Image comics.  This first season of Walking Dead has just six episodes, but the series has been renewed for 13 episodes beginning in October, 2011.  Yea!

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