Based on the comic book by Robert Kirkman, AMC’s “The Walking Dead” is the first zombie serial made for TV. The story begins with Andrew Lincoln playing Rick Grimes, a Sheriff Deputy who wakes up from a coma in the hospital and finds the zombie apocalypse has taken place around him. He attempts to heal and find his family though it is a struggle just to survive in this new world. The pilot is like a feature-length movie and takes its time setting up the story with amazing tension and visuals.
The opening scene is gripping as the Sheriff is attempting to maneuver through tons of abandoned cars as quietly as possible and sees a young blond girl holding a teddy bear walking barefoot. He calls out to her offering assistance and she slowly turns around to reveal wide blue-eyes and a missing bottom jaw, covered in blood. She begins to approach him and he gulps, steadies himself, and begrudgingly shoots her in the head and winces as he knows it will attract more zombies any second.
The first two episodes of the six are incredible. They are so suspenseful, the characters are exciting and interesting, and the people have common sense survival skills. Other main actors appearing in this series are Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies, Laurie Holden, Jeffrey DeMunn, and Steven Yeun. I won’t say who the characters they play are in relation to Rick to avoid spoilers. The zombies are very detailed and disgustingly cool. One memorable zombie only has an upper body and is dragging herself through the grass with entrails behind her. There’s a subplot of a father and son duo surviving day to day in the suburbs that can’t bring themselves to leave because the mother is wandering around outside as a zombie and they can’t leave her or bring themselves to kill her.
Rick Grimes once he has his bearings decides to head for the city where there are rumors of a safe zone where people have gathered. He hopes to find his family there but the city turns out to be completely overrun with a zombie infestation. Like I said, the first two episodes — fantastic! After that…it goes downhill a little bit. The group of characters you meet that have assembled together trying to survive begin to make really poor decisions. This just proves that in the zombie apocalypse scenario, the more people you have, the more danger you are in because someone is going to screw up in the name of being human. Oh, you can’t bear to leave the most ignorant, racist jerk on the planet stuck on a rooftop in the city because he’s a person? If you go back for him, he’ll probably kill you and you’ll lose members of your rescue party! It’s painful to watch people do stupid stuff and argue amongst themselves over unimportant things and endanger themselves and others around them in the process.
Aside from the stupidity of some characters, the production values are excellent. Every episode feels like part of a big budget movie that keeps going and going and you don’t really want it to stop. This show isn’t afraid to use silence to establish tension, eeriness, and realism. Then when the music comes in, it is quite a bit more effective.
The Blu-ray menu is SCARY. You see a skyline rotating across the screen and then that little blond girl’s back and she slowly turns around and moves toward you, eeeeeek! It makes me want to run right out of the room.
“The Making of The Walking Dead” explains the process of how creator Frank Darabont came across Robert Kirkman’s comic books and wanted to make them into a TV series. They strove to find the best actors for the roles but managed to find people who looked quite a deal like the illustrations in the books as well. This featurette goes into production values, makeup, editing and effects, sound, and how they decided to change some of the details of the comic book story in order to be able to surprise the audience.
“Inside The Walking Dead” goes behind the scenes with each individual episode and they talk about their characters, the breakdown of civilization, and the strenuous situations that they undergo. You also get “A Sneak Peek with Robert Kirkman” about how the series isn’t exactly like the book so that the audience could be kept off balance and there is a featurette on Zombie Makeup tips.
There are clips from the San Diego Comic Con Panel with the producers, but it also has the main cast members explaining their roles and the course of the story. Sarah Wayne Callies spends her time on the panel staring at Andrew Lincoln as if she has goo-goo eyes for his accent. They all say the bare minimum, look terrified at the sea of people, but are gracious to be there. Also, there’s a trailer on the Blu-ray. There are really good features here for a season with only six episodes and I think they knew that and beefed it up a bit for a better value. The Blu-ray quality is spectacular and it does make me want to tune in for the next season.