The new AMC series Walking Dead, all around did a pretty good job of setting the stage of the rest of the season. (Spoilers abound, by the way. Don’t continue if you haven’t seen the first episode yet, and we recommend you watch it spoiler-free the first time through) Being a zombie movie buff that we are, your very own Encrazed Crafts duo watched the episode late last-last night (that’s two nights ago, but we wanted to say “last night”) during a encore presentation.
The main faults with the pilot episode, is that by now everyone should know what a zombie movie is about, and this show is basically a very long zombie movie. In short, they are slow, fairly dumb, and like to gnaw on people’s anti-nether regions. The problem was that while the show is quick to throw you into the story, in this case the main character looking for gas at an ‘abandoned’ gas station…it’s a scary movie at heart. We are expecting to be scared, and as soon as we hear shuffling we know it is a zombie. It turns out to be a little girl, and even though we all know the girl has turned to the corpsatious side of life, he still calls out to her. And then kills her shortly after seeing what we all knew minutes ago.
The condensed issue here is two fold. First, as I stated above, we all know how this scenario was going to play out. Secondly, they used a child to attempt to hammer home “this stuff just got real” (to paraphrase Martin Lawrence). They used the same trite ‘technique’ in At World’s End, also just at the beginning of the story.
Shortly after we apparently go back in time to see the main character eventually get sent to a hospital, only to wake up from his drugged state some time later. The issue here is, this is far from original. Resident Evil, various gripes on those movies aside, did this years ago. Hell, 28 Days Later did it very well, and the movie was on just before this very encore presentation. Bad choice there.
These two glaring issues aside, they are minor and brief. Luckily everything else moves well enough to support the show, and by the end of the episode we really liked what could have easily been a boring cookie cutter of a genre. The characters have character, something so simple yet easily ignored in current shows and films, and especially early on there are some near-gut wrenching suspense moments. (Matches in a dark stairway scene; looking at you. Hinting at dead bodies within the area by making the main guy nearly gag as he entered was an evil tease of impending doom which caused the misses to cringe and block her view with a pillow until he made it into the sunlight)
I’d currently give the opening show to the series a solid A, even though the ending of the episode was kinda treading on rehashed “oh, his wife is alive! And his bud! Oh noes, they are kissing!” Really? Even if they honestly thought the main character is dead, it only took her a week to start making out with his apparent best friend? Fairly lame, and definitely heavy-handed on the forced-drama-o-meter, but as long as they can keep away from more of that and focus on the new ideas a la guy that just cannot shoot his unlivingly converted wife after several attempts, we’ll be tuning in each week.