Great television, regardless of the setting and premise, puts you right behind the shoulders of the characters on the screen and makes you feel every single beat of their heart; if you want to feel it or not.
The first episode of AMC’s new series “The Walking Dead,” based on the Robert Kirkman-penned comic book, series lived up to this credo perhaps more than any show currently on television.
There are times during the show where you feel the pain of these characters so intensely that it’s almost too much to bear. Andrew Lincoln’s portrayal of small-town sheriff Rick Grimes is a wonderful tribute to the comic book character, who goes through seemingly life-altering moments every breath. From the outburst he has when he finds out his family has left town after zombies have attacked, leaving him in the hospital to heal from a horrific gunshot, to his first encounters with the undead, his performance is emotionally charged and realistic throughout.
While the end result of the show is one that isn’t based completely on the comic, it’s so close that you won’t mind the small changes. Most of all, the George Romero-inspired visuals and timbre are still present, as the director of this episode [Frank Darabont, director of The Shawshank Redemption] helps give the show a cinematic element that no other show on television currently has. In terms of scope and appeal, “The Walking Dead” has proven that you don’t even need to be a fan of horror or even zombies to love the show. Of course, fans of the comic will think their wildest dreams have come true when they see the end product, but truth be told, this show is about so much more than the undead taking over the United States.
Underneath a hearty and thick layer of blood, gore and action is a fantastic drama. Grimes and the people he encounters have been displaced by this epidemic and are desperate for some type of support. The support however, isn’t coming and they must make do anyway they can. A test of humanity, the atrocities they’ll encounter along the way will shock you, while the connections these people make too will prove that humanity has a fighting chance against any obstacle.
Grimes is no different from any of us and because of that, his experience is based so heavily in reality that watching him explore what his country, friends and family have become is almost as good as you doing it yourself. As a result, “The Walking Dead” will ultimately go down as the best comic book-inspired television show to ever be released and will be remembered for a lot more than flesh-eating ghouls and delirious Georgians trying to stay alive in the face of imminent danger.
Watch out all you vampire lovers, there’s a new trend in town, and this one has a lot more staying power, thanks to fantastic acting and production values that the television medium hasn’t seen before.