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The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season

The first season of the acclaimed horror-drama TV series that aired on AMC.

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The Acclaimed Comic Book Series is "WALKING ALIVE" Under The AMC Flag!

  • Dec 30, 2010
Rating:
+4
Those of you who have read my review on the pilot episode (see my review here) of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” know that I was real impressed with the opening act. My hopes for a really engaging zombie survival-horror series was elevated that I followed the series on a weekly basis (yes, even my dates revolved around me viewing the latest episode from the DVR). The live action series was so successful that AMC is now committed to another 13 episodes for season 2.

Well, I have declared that I am a HUGE fan of the comic book series (see my review here and here) and so my review of the live-action series may be coming from someone who has the source material embedded in their DNA. Robert Kirkham, Tony Moore and Andrew Adlard had created something incredible; sure there were parts that were a little heavy-handed, but it was a brilliant, ambitious and a bold undertaking that defined “survival horror” that it proved a true ‘zombie epic‘. It revolved on its characters and the story was just full of surprises and bleakness, it revolutionized mature graphic storytelling.

                      



I guess I need to get real objective real fast if I am to write a review. I would not be able to present a fair analysis of the TV Series’ first season if I had hang ups of just how good the source material is. My mistake was loving the source material too much, that I delayed my review of this first season until I got my thoughts together. Anyway, the live action series was produced by Frank Darabont and unlike the pilot episode (which was also directed by Darabont himself), the 6 episode series had different directors at its helm (each episode had a different director that included Ernest Dickerson and Guy Ferland). I noticed some tonal shifts from time to time, but they weren’t enough to hurt the series.

Since I have reviewed the 70 minute pilot episode, I will just give a small summary of what the 6 episode series was all about. Much like the source material, “The Walking Dead” is a about a group of people who are trying to stay alive and sane after the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse. After the reunion of Rick’s family that produces friction between his family and his best friend, Shane (Jon Bernthal), the group try hard to hold on to their sanity and humanity. They face trials that test the boundaries of decency, morality and the need to survive, as they try to fend off the ‘walking dead’ and even the remaining vestiges of the human populace.

        

        

       

The series has the themes that made the first few volumes of the comic books brilliant. Yes, this TV series has been watered down to meets the standards of late night TV viewing, but I guess with Robert Kirkham as a consultant, the themes of ‘being human’ and how we struggle to work together in the face of an impossible situation remains strong in the series. Seems like humans pay less importance to co-existing than zombies (these are themes that have made Romero the maestro of zombie films) and the series makes it its primary ‘meat and potatoes’. The TV series does largely deviate from the comic series in the delivery of such themes, (I can understand it, since this isn’t HBO) especially in the introduction of new characters and certain outlines in the scheme of things.

Beloved characters from the comic series such as Andrea (Laurie Holden), Morgan, Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn), Glenn (Steven Yeun), Amy (Emma Bell), Sophia (Madison Lintz), Shane (maybe more but I didn't double-check) join Rick Grimes and his wife, Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) and their son Karl in the series’ focus. I loved that they were easily recognizable from the source material as they looked like their characters. There are several additions to the script as Merle Dixon and Daryl Dixon (played by Michael Rooker and Norman Reedus) play a significant part of the story’s outline. There are also several additional characters to season one that weren’t in the source material, some played a significant area of its themes while some just came and went. There is also a certain Dr. Edwin Jenner from the CDC (Noah Emmerich) who played a significant role in the series’ final episode. So are the additions and deviations fruitful in expanding the source material? Sometimes, yes, and then oftentimes no.

     

    

Much of the series is spent on Rick trying to do the decent thing as he tries to amend some of his mistakes. They travel back to Atlanta and they go back to the woods, they do their thing and then they try to take on new goals. I understand that much of season one is all about ‘building’ its characters but there were times that I felt that it also introduced characters who felt unnecessary to its premise. (But I reserve the right to change this statement since I still have to see if it goes anywhere in season two) I felt that there were some changes that dragged the series’ playbook and I felt that nothing much happens during the middle of season one. Sure, we see some surprising events such as the conversation between Lori and Shane. The two had become lovers (in the comic Lori only found comfort in Shane’s arms, an expression of the distracting/healing properties of sex and Lori‘s need for protection) and Lori fell to Shane’s arms since she was told that Rick was dead. The additions of Morales’ group in Atlanta was good but it was nothing surprising as it proved to be staples of zombie movies. (where are Tyrese and his group?) Don’t get wrong, season one had enough tribute sequences to keep the diehard fan happy. There’s Shane losing his temper, the leadership struggle between him and Rick, and the heart-breaking demise of Andrea’s sister (and that funeral) was one of the series’ high points.

       

       

      

I suppose one can say that while I liked some devices and elements, I just felt that they could’ve stuck to the original material and made a much more compelling 6-episode series. The series had a very strong 70 minute pilot and some good scenes in the 2nd and 5th episodes, then nothing much happens until the final episode. There were points that I felt that the series was rushed, and the pacing was a little uneven. But fortunately true to the spirit of the source material, this first season gives all the blood, violence and gore it could muster on late night cable TV. We’ve seen zombie fights and such and the series does do them right. There were some use of CGI (no more than a Romero flick would these days) in the scenes and they were quite violent for a TV series.

I suppose season one is a tad uneven. Despite its deviations, I was happy to see the scene in the CDC as it helped define what was going on in regards to the zombie transformation and the emotion in the final episode was truly heartfelt. It also manages to inject some questions to entice viewers to come back for season two. Given the huge budget AMC had invested in this series, I understand that they needed to do a ‘test run’ before committing with a limited number of episodes but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. I do hope it corrects some rough edges and come back stronger with a full 13 episode season two. Yes, while I am not entirely pleased with season one, I remain optimistic for season two.

I am still in for season two despite an uneven first season. That's a good thing.

Recommended! [3 ½ Out of 5 Stars]






 
 
3 ½ Stars: The Acclaimed Comic Book Series is 3 ½ Stars: The Acclaimed Comic Book Series is

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August 03, 2011
I can't wait for Season Two.
 
January 02, 2011
Nice review. Loved the Pilot, but it sort of goes downhill from there. Don't take that wrong I liked the series, but it just wasn't as good as it could have been. Too many characters for starters and none were very well developed at all except Rick and Shane; the rest were sort of there taking up space. Norman Reedus was good, but too cliched. But since I like the actor I didn't mind the character. There is a lot of potential for the series, but each week it got a little weaker. I'd give it 3 1/2 out of 5. I think they should have slowly introduced new characters since again there were just too many and outside of Rick and Shane none of the characters had depth. The pilot episode was brilliant and I think the 2nd season will be very good. Some shows are hit or miss during season 1, but the ones with potential normally reach it.
January 02, 2011
I am with you on the series having too many characters. They tried too much to be more and they tried to fix something that wasn't broken in the first place. The graphic novel series was more visceral and definitely more focused. If they don't develop Karl properly or introduce Tyrese, then I may stop watching the 2nd season.

I really do hope they make some major re-arranging and adapt the source material much more accurately. The pilot was great because it was 96 % accurate with some expanded scenes. You're right of course, first seasons are usually a trial and error bit so I hope for the best in season two. Seen my review on the pilot
 
January 02, 2011
I have skipped this show during the flicking of my remote; I have grown weary of zombies, but your take on this series has be interested. I may have to check this one out!
January 02, 2011
Hey! I would never get tired of zombies LOL! How was your New Year's, Brenda?
January 02, 2011
Zombies seem to be the same ole' thing in the movies and I get bored easily (you know, eat the flesh, and all that) - but this series may be something I may like. My New Years was uneventful; I am re cooperating from being sick (very rare for me to get sick) so I haven't had the energy to do anything exciting!! I hope yours was good Woo?!?!
January 02, 2011
I lke zombie lunch buffets LOL! My NYE was quiet but that's the way I prefer it. Glad you're getting over being sick, now I am the one who seems to have caught something, I have started getting the sniffles :(.
January 02, 2011
You poor sniffly thing - use some Vicks vapor rub - that'll ease the symptoms in no time (that's the only thing I can use, no cold medicine for me), and it works like a charm every time. Hope your sniffles get better! And watch those zombie lunch buffets LOL
January 02, 2011
I have hot chicken soup here. It should work wonders! Thanks, Brenda!
January 02, 2011
I forgot about the effects of chicken soup and it does work wonders!!
January 02, 2011
chicken soup..hmm..chicken porridge...hhmmmm.....what was we talking about now? LOL!
January 02, 2011
The ultimate guide to curing the common cold: homemade chicken soup, nice and hot, maybe a nice cup of hot tea, then Vicks vapor rub on the neck to ease the aches, sniffles and a cough - then relax in front of the TV with a comfy quilt while watching your beloved Zombies. Ease off into slumber and wha-la!! you'll feel better. (I am an expert in the field of feeling better since I take no medications) LOL
 
December 31, 2010
I know a lot of my buds were really stressing over the possibility of it not getting picked up for a second season. I know my own interest increased exponentially when I learned (from you) that the series is based on a comic book but of course by then, AMC had pretty much stopped showing the episodes in favor of Holiday classics. I'm going to have to watch em all before I can comment intelligently, but I do appreciate your acknowledging the shortcomings of the first season. Kudos my man!
December 31, 2010
Coming from someone who had adored the comic series, this had some missteps. While its deviations weren't bad, this is what happens when the source material itself hardly had anything worth expanding on or fixing, it stuck to its themes and it didn't relent. It was very BOLD in the portrayal of humanity's potential for despicable behavior. It had out-Romero'ed George Romero himself. It was an epic and the only way they could do such a TV series that never held back would be if it was in HBO or Showtime. Season one had a great pilot, some redeeming scenes (taken from the comic) and a good final episode, too bad the script was a little weak  and the direction had the occasional tonal shifts. You could actually observe that the TV series was trying very hard not to become too dark and depressing.

I heard a lot of the season one writers were fired for season two; I hope they really manage to get it right the 2nd try.
 
December 30, 2010
EXCELLENT review WP as always good Sir, I agree with you on everything but I may have liked it a bit more than you it seems. But like you said the test run is what may have made this feel uneven, I have no doubt that the next 13 episode seasons will improve upon it.
December 30, 2010
Thanks, Alex. AMC needs to step up a little bit more otherwise, fans may lose interest.
 
December 30, 2010
Yay! I've been waiting for this review lol...couldn't agree more with everything you said. I haven't read the comic book series but, I felt that most of the middle of the season was wasteful. I do hope that AMC has some confidence to make it a better series and work out all the kinks! Great review, Woo!
December 30, 2010
Thanks, Sam! I had to take a moment to allow myself time to take in the positives and the negatives of its deviations. I just loved the comic series and it made me want more. I reminded myself my own rules to reviewing, and it is not to rant about what I didn't see but tell what the series was about. I need to allow other people to make their own decisions. I almost rounded down the 3.5 point but the series had some strong redeeming factors going for it.

Oh, i have another one coming for your COL--as soon as I re-watch some episodes. Hey, docos are cool in "Pass the Remote" right?
December 30, 2010
Heck yes! You can write anything you darn well please here :)
 
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More The Walking Dead: The Complete... reviews
review by . October 10, 2011
posted in WHAT CAN I SAY?
LOVE THIS SHOW
      THE WALKING DEAD      I have been reading the comic since it was released and that is no lie. I am a big fan of zombies in any format mainly because my brother is literally scared of them. I can't help it but I love it. So when I first that the comic was being turned into a series I was super excited. I had always believed that this would be the right format for such a grand story. If this was made into a feature film there is no way it could fit …
Quick Tip by . October 10, 2011
posted in WHAT CAN I SAY?
Caption
The great first season was six episodes long with each paced very well and surprisingly kept in tact what the comic was about. That of course is the humans and not the zombies; it really is a character driven story. I knew with Frank Darabont on board this would be made right. He did a great job here has I really enjoyed this show, from TV all the way to DVD/Blu-Ray.
Quick Tip by . April 13, 2011
Caption
You know, I've got to say that I'm fairly impressed with this TV series so far. The show, which airs on basic cable channel AMC is pretty edgy and at times extremely gruesome. However, what makes this particular take on the zombie and post-apocalyptic sub-genres so entertaining and so engaging is that it's very much a character-driven series. Drama, horror, and science fiction collide this gritty adaptation of the comic book series of the same name. Highly recommended viewing for the …
Quick Tip by . November 22, 2010
posted in Pass The Remote!
I'm enjoying this series so far and just learned that it's based off of the comic book, The Walking Dead. I hope that sometime soon in the storyline we'll learn about what caused this deterioration of normal human beings.Until then, I'll sit back and enjoy a nice little zombie action on my Sunday evenings.
Quick Tip by . November 22, 2010
Caption
I'm the first to admit that zombie-based films, television shows, and books usually don't grab my attention. I see most of them (excepting comedies like Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland) as drab retellings of each other.  The Walking Dead, however, is a straight-up suspense-filled drama that focuses on the survivors and how they cope in their new world.  I've literally not missed an episode since seeing the mini-marathon a couple of weekends ago.  My Sunday nights are …
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About this tv show

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About the Show:

Waking up in an empty hospital after weeks in a coma, County Sheriff Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) finds himself utterly alone. The world as he knows it is gone, ravaged by a zombie epidemic. The Walking Dead tells the story of the weeks and months that follow after the apocalypse. Based on Robert Kirkman's hugely successful and popular comic book series, AMC's new original series, The Walking Dead, premieres with a 90-minute episode on Halloween night: Oct. 31 at 10/9c. Written and executive produced by three-time Academy® Award-nominee Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile), who also directs the pilot, and executive produced by Gale Anne Hurd (The Terminator, Aliens), the series debuts during AMC Fearfest, the network's annual blockbuster marathon of thriller and horror films.

The Walking Dead is an epic, edge-of-your-seat drama where personal struggles are magnified against a backdrop of moment-to-moment survival. A survivalist story at its core, the series explores how the living are changed by the overwhelming realization that those who survive can be far more dangerous than the mindless walkers roaming the earth. They themselves have become the walking dead.

Shot on location in Atlanta, The Walking Dead is led by a cast that includes Lincoln (Teachers, Love Actually) as Rick Grimes, Jon Bernthal (The Pacific, The Ghost Writer) as Shane Walsh, Sarah Wayne Callies (Prison Break) as Lori Grimes, Laurie Holden (The ...

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Details

Premiere Date: October 31, 2010
Description: A small town deputy wakes up from a coma to find that the world has been overrun by the walking dead.
Genre: Horror
Studio: AMC Studios, Valhalla Motion Pictures, Anchor Bay Home Entertainment, Starz / Anchor Bay
Original Air Date: October 31, 2010 - December 5, 2010
DVD Release Date: March 8, 2011
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