Television Series DVD
The Walking Dead: Season 1
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
I first heard about The Walking Dead from my brother who was a big fan of the comic book series. When he found out that they were going to create a television series based on the comic book, he couldn’t wait to see it. Once the series started, he was hooked and, knowing that I enjoy some of the more unique zombie movies, video games and tales, he recommended it to me. Friends and co-workers told me that The Walking Dead was definitely a show I would enjoy and yet, four seasons have passed and I hadn’t watched a single episode…until now.
The Walking Dead stars Andrew Lincoln as Sheriff’s Deputy Rick Grimes, an amiable sort who admits to having a few marital issues just before he and his partner rush off to a call. Grimes is shot during the call, the injury bad enough to send him into a coma. When he awakens, he discovers that he is in the hospital alone, attached to machines that no longer work.
As he makes his way down the corridors of the empty hospital, he observes signs of a heavy duty firefight, but it’s what he finds at the end of one hallway that scares him out of his wits. A padlock and chained door with a warning that dead are inside. As he approaches, the door partially opens revealing decaying arms flailing for him as the owners of those arms moan in hunger. He takes off running for his home, finding it as empty as the hospital he just left.
Not understanding what is going on, Grimes is lucky to come along Morgan Jones (Lennie James) and his son Duane (Adrian Kali Turner), who explain the situation to him regarding some sort of illness that has spread throughout the community, causing extreme fever before killing its host. Afterwards, the corpse reanimates and all it was in its life is lost. These “Walkers” as Jones calls them want nothing more than to eat live human flesh.
Hoping that the rumors about a quarantined safe zone set up by the CDC in Atlanta are true, Grimes loads up on plenty of ammo from his former police department and heads out there. Unfortunately, he discovers that the city is anything but safe. The Walkers have overrun the military and are plenty hungry. Rescued by a young resource scrounger named Glenn (Steven Yeun), Grimes returns the favor by rescuing his fellow comrades who are now trapped inside of a department store surrounded by the walking dead.
For his efforts, Grimes is brought to a camp outside of the city where he discovers that his wife (Sarah Wayne Callies) and son (Chandler Riggs) are still alive. Little does he know that his wife has set up house with his former partner Shane Walsh (Jon Bernthal). Having thought her husband was dead, the shock of seeing him alive is enough to send her straight into his arms…and firmly set against returning to Shane’s bed.
Now that Grimes has found the group, it is imperative that they move on. The walking dead have entered the camp twice now and it is no longer safe. But where will they go? Who could possibly help them? Is this sickness stoppable? Is it isolated to only this part of the world?
I have to admit that my family, friends and co-workers were all correct in assuming that I would love The Walking Dead. I am not a fan of your everyday zombie fare. I like zombie tales that have a unique edge, like a zombie story that I once read that told the story in the viewpoint of one of the walking dead. That was pretty unique. I like the Resident Evil stories, which feature your everyday zombie caused by a government made disease, but there are variations on the different zombies encountered in Resident Evil thanks to experimentation, making them a tad unique.
So what is it about The Walking Dead that makes me want to keep watching? There is something intriguing about the zombies in this show, besides the fact that they are called anything but zombies in the first season. In the case of one zombie in particular, you realize that not everything inside that zombie is dead. Sure, there’s no pulse or heartbeat and, even if it knew you in its past life it will want to eat you. But there are certain memories in these dead minds that don’t go away. In the case of the zombie I am talking about, she remembered that she used to live in one particular house on the street and returned to that house every night, hoping to gain entry…actually knowing enough to head to the front door and turn the knob to attempt access. Cool!
Then there is the fact that we still have no clue where this disease came from or why it spread so quickly. But I think the most important factor is the live human factor. This is less of a story about the living fighting the dead as it is a tale about the living. The show focuses on the survivors - their hopes and dreams, the things they are running from, the drama in their lives, how they handle their survival and more. The characters are incredibly magnetic. You connect with them immediately and become invested in their survival and that leads to the other captivating thing about this show - no one is safe! You learn this in the very first season. Characters who you really make a connection with - perhaps believe can survive to the very end of the series - may not make it through the season. That’s enough to keep me watching as I guess who is going to survive and who is going to reach an interesting end…and will that end entail walking dead or something even worse?
The Walking Dead: Season 1 DVD that I borrowed from a friend was the Blu-ray version and I have to recommend it to any diehard zombie movie fan. The picture quality was crisp and clear, clearer than I had ever seen in a film before, having been foolishly resistant to Blu-ray technology over the years. The bloody scenes were that much bloodier. The action is that much more edge-of-your seat. The explosions are incredibly bright and colorful. The contrast of the decaying dead against the rich beauty of the town Grimes comes from is stunning in this format and brings an almost realistic edge to the whole thing.
The writing is excellent and the dialogue between characters alters between wit and grit depending upon the situation they find themselves in. The writers find a way to make the viewer relate to every character in the series. Even the less likeable ones are still important to viewers as they realize that these very people may mean the difference between total annihilation and the survival of the human race.
The questions posed by this series make it a thinking man’s zombie tale. Viewers will not only wonder about the disease - what it is and how it came to be, its various nuances, etc. They will also find themselves wondering what they would do if they were the survivors in the various circumstances they find themselves in. How would you act in this circumstance? Would you follow the same path as one character or the other? Would you follow your own path? I hear fans of the show debating things that have happened in various episodes, arguing about who was right and who was wrong and theorizing what actions should have been taken to bring about a different outcome.
I never had the opportunity to view the extras on The Walking Dead: Season 1 DVD that I borrowed - I didn’t want to hold onto it longer than I should - but I sure can’t wait to buy myself a copy to check them out. That’s right, I said I would buy Season 1 even though I have already watched it! That’s how good this show really is!