Monday, April 29, 2013

A Case of the.... The Walking Dead - Season 1

I know I'm a bit late to the party, but man am I addicted to this show!  While in Texas last week, my friend (who has the entire series saved on his DVR) convinced me to give the show a shot.  Whenever we had spare time, we'd sit down and watch an episode.  I got there Wednesday afternoon and left early Sunday morning.  In that amount of time, we went through the entire first season (only six episodes) and the first two episodes of season two.  In the week since then, I've already finished the second and third season.  That speaks volumes of how addictive this series can be -- I managed to do this while working full time AND maintaining my regular television schedule.  There were many late nights and exhausting mornings.  But it was well worth it.

I initially intended on doing one post for all three seasons, but then I realized there might be people in similar situations.  Some people might not have seen all three seasons and might only want to read about specific seasons.  Therefore, over the course of this week, I'll post my thoughts on each season in its entirety.  This column is for season one.  So, be warned, there will be spoilers for anything that happened during the first season -- but ONLY for the first season.  Click the link below for my my thoughts on season one!

Continue reading "A Case of the....  The Walking Dead - Season 1"....

First and foremost, I've never read the comics.  And I have no intention of reading the comics.  To be perfectly frank, part of the thrill of this series, for me, is not knowing who's going to survive.  Even though these series tend to take their own path and aren't necessarily tied to the literature they're born out of, I still like viewing without any idea of what might happen.  So, please, refrain from telling me what happens in the comics.

So here's the story:
Season one, for the most part, takes place on camp and on the road (which actually turns out to be a departure from the other seasons).  The series protagonist, Sheriff's Deputy Rick Grimes, wakes up from a coma after being shot only to discover that the town has been overrun with apparent zombies.  We quickly learn that these "walkers," as they're typically known, cannot talk and can only be killed by piercing the brain with a blow to the head.  Rick eventually meets up with a group of survivors in Atlanta and is ultimately reunited with his son and wife, who has been carrying on an affair with his best friend (both believing he's dead), the hot headed Shane.  Following an attack from a herd of walkers, the group decides to venture out to the CDC in hopes of finding a cure.  They later discover that there is no cure.  The group (for the most part) escape the CDC before the building explodes, and the season ends with them back on the road.

Overall thoughts:
A rather thrilling start to the series.  Rick comes across as a likable hero who is trying to make sense of what is happening around him.  Plus, you can't help but feel bad for the guy.  He so desperately wants to be a good father and husband and to keep his family safe, meanwhile his best friend slept with his wife and is slowly losing his mind.  This season also does a great job of showing us the dangers of this world by actually killing off characters you begin to care about (or people related to characters you care about) instead of just constantly TELLING us it's dangerous (an approach many shows unfortunately take).

Overall, most of the characters are easy to like and root for.  Glenn makes a great introduction and acts as your viewers' typical and relate-able "every man."  He's not overtly brave but he's willing to put himself in dangerous situations for the sake of others.  And how could you not love Dale?  Many of the females, particularly Andrea, Amy, and Carol, are great as your fish out of water.  And while I didn't expect to like Lori because of the fact that she had (we come to learn unknowingly) cheated on Rick, I actually thought she came across quite positively.  Once she learned he was alive, she remained loyal to her husband -- both physically and emotionally.  In its own weird way, his "death" seemed to bring them together and reinvigorate their marriage.  She was completely faithful to Rick once they reunited.

Naturally, Shane came across mostly negatively.  Not so much because of the fact that he slept with Lori (he thought Rick was dead also -- and he tried to save Rick when he had the chance), but because of his behavior after Rick returned.  While he initially resisted, he continued to make advances on Lori and insisted that she was in love with him.  His vicious beatdown of Ed also revealed his short fuse and violent temper.  While he only appeared in one or two episodes, Merle was pretty villainous as well.  Most of the other characters, like Daryl, T-Dog, Jim, and Jacqui, didn't necessarily appear often enough to make much of an impact.

Breakout character:
Tough to say in just six episodes, especially when the characters haven't been completely fleshed out.  The easy pick is Rick, who immediately stood out as the moralistic hero.  However, right off the bat, I had a soft spot for Dale.  He was constantly the voice of reason and always said the right thing.  He was tough when necessary and sympathetic when it was needed.  He was seemingly the only character that didn't allow the madness of this new world to change him as a person.

Significant deaths:
What you'll quickly learn about this series is that nobody is safe.  Yes, shows like 24 and Lost have a reputation for killing off main characters, but by the end of season 3 you'll realize that this show takes the cake in that regard.  Since the first season is only six episodes, it's difficult to get a handle on which characters are truly significant and central.  Therefore, in my view, virtually every death is big  and surprising. The first season sees Amy, Ed, and Jim perish from the walker attack on the camp, while Jacqui decides to allow herself to die in the CDC explosion.

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