"When there's no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth..." a wise gentleman in a film once said. And when there's no more room on the silver screen for the oversaturated zombie genre, the dead will begin to shamble across cable television every Sunday night.
AMC's The Walking Dead is all the rage for some reason, and I'll be damned if I can come up with a good one except maybe it possesses the novelty of displaying a fairly high amount of gore and graphic violence -a staple of all zombie classics- on network tv.
When I heard this show was being developed by AMC I was pretty intrigued. I knew it was based upon a popular series of comics, and while I hadn't read them I am a self-professed comic geek. Add to this a fondness for good zombie movies and, suffice it to say, I was at least a little curious. Could this show live up to the standard set for it by the masters like Argento, or Fulcci? Furthermore, could it add anything new to a genre that even it's godfather George Romero seems to have beaten into the ground like a putrid corpse?
The answer? In a word...nope.
I know there are alot of people who've never seen an actual zombie film that probably think this show is the shit. There are also countless fanboys who would doubtlessly love to swarm me like an undead horde and rip me limb from limb for daring to criticize it. To all of the above I say this: EAT A DICK.
It's really not embarrassingly awful. Nor do I think it's a disaster beyond salvaging but to be truthful about it The Walking Dead -at least season one- is just kinda lame.
I'll give the show it's due first. I am pleasantly suprised with the amount of gore the network has allowed. And the show sets itself up to be really fucking hardcore in it's opening episode. I mean how could I not get excited watching the lead character shoot a 6 year old zombie girl right through the head in the first five minutes of the pilot? (I'm really not trying to be ironic about that. It was pretty awesome.) That let's you know you're entering a world of shit. There's also a badass guest appearance by Michael Rooker as a beligerent, white-trash-racist-asshole (kinda redundant I know) in the second episode. Rooker's performance is so head and shoulders above the acting that takes place during the rest of the first season that to say he pulled off the Ironside Agenda would be an embarassing overstatement. It would also imply the presence of other actors around him. And therein lies the real problem with the show to this point.
The central character is played by some British dickhead who apparently practiced his southern accent while studying Jeff fucking Foxworthy or watching Young Guns I and II. And the rest of the cast looks as if the bulk of their experience came in bit parts for dish detergent commercials. Note to AMC: if you're gonna make a show about a zombie apocalypse, YOU MIGHT WANNA HIRE ACTORS WHO ARE ACTUALLY ALIVE TO PLAY THE LIVING!
With that out of the way let me also complain about the "LOST-esque" nature of the story and it's progression. People basically just run back and forth between two locations with alot of whining and the occasional zombie confrontation thrown in. Wowee! What fun! I have always wanted to see a cluster of bitchy, confused people run to and fro between Atlanta and it's rural suburbs!
If that doesn't reek enough of LOST to you then there's the whole "woman torn between two lovers" thing. Jeezus. I guess this is AMC's strategy to get chicks in on the deal. Note #2 to AMC: YOU CAN'T TURN THE ZOMBIE HOLOCAUST INTO FUCKING LEGENDS OF THE FALL! This transgression is made all the worse by the fact that the woman in question has all the charisma of a sock puppet.
The season ends -lamely- with the survivors finding some kind of underground disease control center reminiscent of the hatch in -yep- LOST. It even comes complete with a cynical curmudgeon who despairs of life and wonders if going through the motions of his existence serves any purpose at all. Yeah that part sounds kinda familiar too doesn't it? In fact if LOST hadn't turned out to be a hideous six season-long joke I'd say J.J. Abrams and those other two assholes were owed a check.
I know I've been pretty rough on the show here. But hey, tearing other people and their efforts down makes me feel better about my life. And like I said earlier, I don't think it's a completely failed experiment. I'm sure AMC will spend more money for the next season, which hopefully means more locations, more interesting characters, and more Michael Rooker. In the meantime you can sate yourself with reruns of a season that was just...meh.
I'm not even gonna bless/burden it with any Hamlins. Instead I've chosen a more appropriate symbol for my feelings on the show's initial season: one confused looking "Bub" from George Romero's Day of the Dead.
Take it or leave it.
Hamlin Grade: one Bub
Everything you ever loved will be sodomized by Michael Bay,