The Walking Dead—Season 1

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9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Great looking horror-drama

Might be too gory for some and non-zombie fans probably won't enjoy

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Stop by for a bite

Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) wakes up to a nightmare.  Shot by an escaping suspect, Rick discovers that the world has ended while he was in a coma.  The dead are now walking the Earth, and survivors are their prey.  Searching for his wife Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) and his son Carl (Chandler Riggs), Rick heads to Atlanta and danger.  When reunited with his family, Rick discovers he is the unlikely leader of a group of survivors…and remains unaware that something happened between Lori and his partner Shane Walsh (Jon Bernthal) while he was gone.  Searching for answers, the group fights to survive in the land of the dead.

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The worst part of being a zombie with braces is all the people that get caught in your teeth

The Walking Dead—Season 1 is a zombie horror survival series.  The show premiered on AMC on October 31, 2010 and ran six episodes until December 5, 2010.  The series was based on the comic book series by writer Robert Kirkman and artist Tony Moore and became a massive hit.  It received a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup for a Series, Miniseries, Movie or a Special (“Days Gone Bye”) with nominations for Outstanding Visual Effects for a Series (“Days Gone Bye”) and Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series (“Days Gone Bye”).

I had already read a chunk of The Walking Dead when The Walking Dead premiered and I was interested to see how it would be converted to TV.  The series is gruesome with a no-one gets out alive mentality and that can be difficult while trying to gain audience support for characters (who probably will not survive).  Though a short season, The Walking Dead shows promise.

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Rick starts his path…and nothing will be the same

The Walking Dead plays like a movie with a big story.  Unlike a regular zombie film that has a set ending (usually negative), this show has to present what comes after that ending…how do survivors continue to survive?  It is this aspect of the story that I like about The Walking Dead which makes it different from other zombie comics and movies.  There is no “out-time” so the series has to continuously reinvent itself.

Like most zombie stories, the series really isn’t about the zombies but how the people deal with the zombies.  This means that the series has to have a lot of characters, and just like the comic, they may or may not get their story told.  The characters end up exemplifying aspects of humans that manifest in bad situations.  You might have someone like Rick who is a cop and keeps his morals, but you also might have someone forced into a bad decision just to survive.  It is these high tension aspects that almost have the series bridging into ideas of science-fiction in addition to horror.

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All we need is a clever line like “Consider this a divorce!”

There are some big changes from the comic book.  Characters like T-Dog, Daryl Dixon, and Merle Dixon didn’t exist in the comic.  The basic starting structure of the story did occur (and as noted is a rip-off of 28 Days Later, but 28 Days Later essentially borrowed the opening framework from The Day of the Triffids).  Despite the big differences, once the survivors are introduced in the series everything has changed so fans of the comic and fans of the show can enjoy both versions.  One of the biggest obvious changes is that Shane is killed just a few issues into the comic book series…here, he’s developed as a friend but antagonist to Rick.

The Walking Dead is an entertaining show with a different and exciting concept.  In a world where zombies are becoming popular, The Walking Dead is one of the best presentations of the genre.  I feel that for the most part the zombie idea has been played out in pop-culture, but The Walking Dead continues to be original and inventive.  With a ton of issues and plotlines already developed in the comic book, there will be a long life…for the undead.

The Walking Dead—Season 1 Complete Episode Guide:

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“Days Gone Bye”

1.1       Days Gone Bye Airdate:  10/31/10

Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and his partner Shane Walsh (Jon Bernthal) respond to a police chase.  When Rick is shot, he is rushed to a hospital where he lies in a coma.  When he awakens, he wakes to a nightmare.  The dead are walking the earth and his wife Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) and his son Carl (Chandler Riggs) are both missing.  When he meets a man named Morgan (Lennie James) and his son Duane Jones (Adrian Kali Turner), he learns that the plague is wide spread and only the destruction of the brain will kill the zombies.  With hope of finding his family and answers at the CDC, Rick heads to Atlanta, but discovers his decision might not be the best move.

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1.2       Guts Airdate:  11/07/10

Rick’s wife Lori and his former partner Shane continue their secret affair at the survivor’s camp.  Rick finds himself trapped in a tank surrounded by the dead and is rescued by a young man named Glenn (Steven Yeun).  When Rick and Glenn reach Glenn’s safehouse in a department store, Rick and Glenn’s friends discover themselves trapped.  Now Rick must find a way to save the group, but a racial rift develops between T-Dog (IronE Singleton) and Merle Dixon (Michael Rooker) that could destroy the chances of everyone escaping alive.

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“Tell It to the Frogs”

1.3       Tell It to the Frogs Airdate:  11/14/10

Rick finds Lori and Carl at the camp but their reunion does cause problems with Shane.  Merle’s brother Daryl (Norman Reedus) learns of Merle’s fate and Rick, Daryl, T-Dog, and Glenn decide to return to the city to try to rescue them.  Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn) and Shane worry about the recent appearance of a zombie near the camp and wonder if the zombies are now leaving the city.  Lori breaks off her relationship with Shane, and Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride) finds Shane dealing with her abusive husband Ed (Adam Minarovich).

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1.4       Vatos Airdate:  11/21/10

The trip to the city reveals Merle escaped the roof by cutting off his hand and has disappeared.  When Rick, Glenn, Daryl, and T-Dog try to get the guns back, Glen is taken by the leader of a gang of survivors named Guillermo (Neil Brown, Jr.) and Guillermo wants the guns.  Shane deals with Jim (Andrew Rothenberg) cracking up, and Andrea (Laurie Holden) and Amy (Emma Bell) realize the plague has brought them closer together as sisters.

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1.5       Wildfire Airdate:  11/28/10

The camp tries to recover from the walker attack and learns that Jim has been bitten.  Andrea tries to say goodbye to Amy, and Dale tells her his reason for going on.  Shane continues to question Rick’s leadership and debates taking a drastic step to get him out of the picture.  Rick makes a big decision for the group which leads them on a quest back to Atlanta and the Center for Disease Control.

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1.6       TS-19 Airdate:  12/05/10

The Center for Disease Control in Atlanta has become a refuge for the survivors, but as they learn about the effects of the plague from the surviving doctor Edwin Jenner (Noah Emmerich), they learn that not all may be well at the CDC.  Shane confronts Lori about their relationship, and Andrea questions why she should continue on.  As a strange clock continues to countdown, the survivors must make a decision about their future.

Related Links:

The Walking Dead—Season 2 Review and Complete Episode Guide

The Walking Dead—Season 3 Review and Complete Episode Guide

The Walking Dead—Season 4 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Fear the Walking Dead—Season 1 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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