Monday, November 1, 2010

The Walking Dead pilot

For the uninitiated, AMC premiered The Walking Dead last night, a new TV series based off of Robert Kirkman's graphic novels of the same name. We did a book club back in August of 2009 for The Walking Dead, so I figured this is kind of appropriate. One of our gracious book clubbers offered to have a viewing party at her house, but sickness, scheduling problems, and children unfortunately got in the way. However, I'm willing to bet more than a few of us watched it last night, so I'd like to hear some of your thoughts.

Here are some of mine, spoiler-free:

-It feels slow-paced, or methodical you could call it. The first five pages of the first Walking Dead trade is covered in a half hour. I read in an interview with director Frank Darabont that he prefers this approach, and making a TV show allows for this. Judging from other AMC shows such as Breaking Bad and Mad Men, it seems this slow methodical approach is their m. o. I think of all TV shows, The Walking Dead could have benefited from a no-frills, fast-paced, this-dude-is-now-dead-even-though-we-just-met-him approach.

-The zombie effects are great. Maybe some of the other effects, like blood and the pretty obviously computer generated car-filled highway during Rick's lone horseman scene are TV-quality, but the zombies look amazing. The "I'm sorry this happened to you" legless zombie especially was horrifying in the best possible way.

-The dialogue isn't terribly clever. This is a problem in Kirkman's graphic novels, too, but whenever characters have to converse casually, it's painful. Shane and Rick's conversation about durn women who can't turn off the lights would make masters of conversational dialogue like Quentin Tarantino and Kevin Smith cringe.

-Will it follow the graphic novel exactly? The pilot felt pretty safe while Kirkman's graphic novel pulled no punches in any way, which was much of its appeal. Especially in later story arcs like with the Hunters or the Governor, I'm not seeing how AMC could pull those off in the same vein as the graphic novel. According to the previously mentioned interview, Darabont plans to use Kirkman's ideas as a framework, then go in a different direction, but the pilot's strict adherence to the first Walking Dead trade makes me wonder.


  1. Thanks for the write-up. I haven't actually watched this yet, but I likely won't. I've kept up on the Walking Dead issues since we read it in the club, and I thoroughly love it. Frank Darabont is already on my blacklist after he ruined The Mist, so I don't think I'll give him the opportunity to ruin something else that I love.

  2. I thought the pace (as well as the minimalist aesthetic context) aligned perfectly with the tenor of the books. This is what sets TWD apart in the horror genre. There are moments of in-your-face terror, but at its core TWD is drama above horror. Kirkman explores human nature and relationships with the Zombie Apocalypse as his backdrop. A fast-paced, action-driven horror show would betray Kirkman's work and be a major disappointment to long-time readers.

  3. For someone that did not like the graphic novel series, the tlelvision series is a lot more palpable. I think it is becuase I do not feel as if it is totally imposible to survive. As long as luck and your wits stay on your side, you might make it through. It also reminds me of the movie with Will Smith where he is living alone in New York issolated until he lets someone in...