A Flesh-Chomping Success – DeadMan’s Review of The Walking Dead First Season (Probably A Comparison With Comic Too)
WARNING: THE FOLLOWING REVIEW PROBABLY HAS SPOILERS (I am kind of iffy on the finer points of “spoilers”)
So the first season of The Walking Dead is over and TV is worse for it. This series has been a pretty big breath of fresh air in pretty “meh” season of TV. While shows like No Ordinary Family and the new seasons of some of my old favorites are still decent enough for me to enjoy watching TV, The Walking Dead high above them all and I will be counting the days until season 2 comes out. Until then, here are some thoughts about what has happened so far.
Since this is based on a comic, not to mention one that I have follow and love very much, I am of course gonna start with comparisons to the source material. While the story does hit most of the same important notes as the comic (at least in the first couple of episodes), the writers of the show did go off in their direction with it. With new characters, new problems and some different development the writers managed to make their Walking Dead story a pretty good one.
So let’s start with Morgan and Duane, the first people Rick runs into the zombie apocalypse. In the comics they were there to explain what has happened and to take guns until later in the series. In the show both characters are given some depth to them right off the bat. There is a side bit with the two of them and Morgan’s wife who was turned in the early days of hell and keeps coming back to the house. I think I talked about this in my review of the first episode (I cannot really remember that far back) but I could have taken it or left it. While it was nice to give these characters, or at least Morgan, something to do other than feed Rick and take some guns I have never really been one for the super drama that happens when Rick leaves them. Morgan aiming right between the eyes of his wife’s shambling corpse is a heart-wrenching scene that was really well done, but it just really didn’t hit home for me. I actually found myself kind of laughing at it since I traded my soul for a Golden Oreo Cakester 2 years ago.
The next big thing to hit is the relationship between Shane, Rick’s best friend and Lori, Rick’s wife. In the comics, they share one night of passion and Lori realizes that it was a mistake. It is unclear about what happened after that night, but I am guessing it didn’t end well. After Rick comes back Shane starts to slip a bit, and it gets even worse as Lori gets pretty hostile towards him. This ultimately leads to him freaking the fuck out at Rick and almost shooting. This is also one of pivotal moments of character development for Carl, Rick’s young son. For the series, the relationship is intensified between the two of them. After the outbreak, Shane told Lori that Rick had died. They had their night on the way to Atlanta and quite a few nights after that, as well. This makes Shane’s descent into madness a little more plausible than in the comics. Here not only does he have the weight of guilt from leaving Rick behind on his conscience, but also the fact that he lied to Lori and had an actual relationship with her before he was told to fuck off. Also his madness is more of a slow burn than one bad look at Rick and then waving a gun in his face. After he is told off by Lori he almost beats Carol’s husband (whose name escapes me) to a bloody pulp after everyone finds out he was beating her. Also, when Rick and Shane go out hunting Shane trains his shotgun on Rick’s head and almost pulls the trigger. This is much more intense than the comics and I rather like this Shane. I cannot wait for the part in the next season (presumably) where he finally does goes over the cuckoo’s nest and do something retarded.
As I mentioned in the paragraph above Carl has a pretty important role to play in the Rick/Shane relationship, but for the season his character was scaled back to nothing more than motivation for Rick. The same thing can be said about Sophia, Carol’s daughter, and the complete absence of Ben and Billy (Allen and Donna, as well). In the early issues there is a relationship between Sophia and Carl that slowly grows over the course of the series, not to mention the degradation of Sophia’s mental state and Carl’s sense of moral ambiguity. There is one scene about 20 or so issues ago with Ben and Billy that was another big character moment for Carl, but with them not even being in the show I cannot really imagine what they are going to do for him or if he is going to be anything more than a shiny trinket for Rick to defend with his life.
At the point of the season finale, our survivors have left their camp outside of Atlanta. But instead of running into Tyreese, his daughter and her boyfriend and making it to the infected gated community they make their way to the nearest CDC building. Here we meet new character Dr. Jenner. Again, take him or leave him, he didn’t really have much of an impact on me. The whole CDC thing kind of feels like a surrogate gated community to me. The relationship between Andrea and Dale continues to grow, although at a much slower pace than in the comics, everyone gets a chance to settle down and think about some things before a life threatening situation presents itself and the survivors have to flee for their lives to the trusted and rusted RV with minimal casualties. But since Shane is still alive and now with access to alcohol, we see even more of seem ripping that is going on inside of Shane’s head.
Because this TV series is based on a comic book series with a sizable fan base (which includes myself) there is obviously going to be some flack from people who think the TV series should be a straight port of the comics and change nothing. While I do sometimes agree with those types of fans, I am open to some changes if they are done well. The writers of The Walking Dead TV series have done all the changes really well and still maintain the feel of the comic series that has kept me coming back. I cannot recommend this show enough. If you haven’t already watched it, go do it now. It’s only six episodes and you probably don’t have anything better to do if you’re reading this.
Final Score: 4/5