Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Walking Dead: A Polar Bear's Review

When I was little, I was scared of two things: 1) waking up past 6:30 am on Saturday mornings, because that meant my sister was eating the last of the Pac-Man cereal and watching Care Bears shoot rainbows from their bellies through the Land Without Feelings, and 2) zombies, for obvious reasons. As a result of the latter unfounded anxiety, I've never been a fan of zombie fanfare... until I watched the first episode of The Walking Dead.

Over the years I've actually grown fond of waking up past 6:30 a.m. on Saturdays, and recently, I've become a fan of zombies, but I call them "walkers" effectively making them less like zombies and more like a collective infestation of racoons. Walkers mozy around downtown Atlanta not because of some voodoo magic poured out of a salt shaker in some backwoods bayou but as a result of some unexplained virus called TS-19, whose properties are explained in detail in The Walking Dead Season One Finale.

Walkers are stupid. They can't climb stairs, open a door, or run, but they will stop at nothing to feed, whether that means keeping the deer population down, cleaning the roadkill off the middle of the highway or chomping on the face of someone's grandpa. Sounds gross, yes, but that's only half of 3/4 of a percent of what this show has to offer. It's so much more than a plague of dead people traversing the globe in search of sustenance.

The Walking Dead is a production of AMC which has been hitting a lot of shows out of the park as of lately, with Mad Men (15 Emmy wins), and Breaking Bad (4 Emmy wins). The Walking Dead is another such show, and it brings a largely different fan base to it's channel surfing knees every Sunday evening. It breaks the mold on an otherwise well-known horror genre, and zombie fans are watching closely. I'm watching closely for different reasons... because it's a freaking awesome television show! Excuse my French or Haitian/Creole.

If you take the character development of Lost, the drama of ER, the intensity of 24, and the writing of the Sopranos, and throw them all into a Zombie Apocalypse then you've just scratched the surface of The Walking Dead. Be warned, it's not a family show, with all the intense language, nor is it a dinner time show, with all the eating people alive craziness, but it is entertaining.

Each episode confronts real issues we all face and then adds the elements of no electricity, no government, and no hope of rest from a constant onslaught of dead people. However, the constant onslaught isn't as constant as zombie fans prefer. It subsides now and then, just long enough for the plot to keep moving and some drama to work it's way through the many characters. It then continues for a few minutes only to tease another plot twist and keep viewers on the edge of their seat.
To be honest, The Walking Dead isn't horrifying, it's suspenseful and you don't have to like zombies to get sucked into it. But you do have to like good television.

Believe or not, other than good television and "a 'safe' and offbeat excuse for guys to horde guns, ammunition, tactical gear and other survival supplies without being tagged as being a member of a militia or other extremist group"* zombie apocalypses make for good CDC publicity. Yep, that's right folks, take it to the craps table and double down on the eights: the CDC actually has an official page on Zombie Preparedness. They claim "If you are generally well equipped to deal with a zombie apocalypse you will be prepared for a hurricane, pandemic, earthquake, or terrorist attack." There you have it. In the interest of disaster preparedness, you can't ignore AMC's The Walking Dead. Your very survival depends on it.

*Urban Dictionary: Definition 3 of Zombies

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