Decapitation Capitivation: The Walking Dead

Decapitation Capitivation: The Walking Dead

By KiddoMonday - December 13th, 2010Categories: Uncategorized

Being a snob, I love to bitch and rant about how terrible the state of network television is and give myself a self-congratulatory pat on the back for being so above-it-all, a la, “you’re of the mindless masses  and I’m not! *takes bite from crumpet*”. That being said, I don’t watch much TV. In 2009 it was announced that AMC had picked up the rights to the cult zombie serial The Walking Dead and I, quite frankly, was right pumped. Yeah sure I’ll watch a TV show based on a graphic serial about a zombie apocalypse! Right out the gate I was more than willing to allot some “me” time to an hour a week of what I only assumed, given AMC’s track-record and the comics’ rep, would be some quality cable TV. Consequently, this would also mean that my usual Sunday evenings of putting on red lipstick and old records and crying through my false eyelashes would have to be cut short.

So, for several months I followed all the most recent news, watched the trailers and and if I had Twitter… well, I don’t and I never will. But for some reason, come October 2010 when the series premiered… I wasn’t watching.  Everyone else in North America was, but I wasn’t. What gives?

Here’s what happened: I read the first volume of the graphic novel. Well, about eighty-five percent of it, at least. And that was it, boom, interest lost. When the pilot finally aired and AMC posted it for free online I thought I’d give it a shot anyway, but I couldn’t even get through ten minutes.

Until the other night when I had absolutely nothing to do and noticed it was On Demand. So, I marathoned the shit out of that show and now I feel really confused. After all my disappointment I think… I really liked it?

I need to sort out my thoughts. Cue my personal The Walking Dead Timeline:

January 2010 – It’s all over the Interwebs; AMC announces they’ve picked up The Walking Dead. I familiar with the comic, I’ve heard good things, but it’s already a hulking 40-some-odd volumes and the task feels too ambitious. Regardless, I’m excited. Brraaiiinnss!

July 2010 – Footage airs at Comic Con. What I can see online is pretty grainy and I only watch a little for fear of spoiling too much. What I see looks good.

September 2010 – Need something to read on the plane. Nothing else is really calling to me – why not pick up the first volume of Walking Dead?

End up watching Karate Kid remake. New releases are 8 bucks on Virgin flights and it had the longest run-time, sue me. Couple days later will eventually read The Walking Dead. Or, rather, I partially read it, as in, left it unfinished and discarded in my boyfriend’s drawer. It’s his problem now.

October 2010 – Excitement wanes then disappears altogether. Still, I give it a chance: watch approximately ten minutes of the first episode online. Meh.

Of course, it’s around this time that the big hoopla starts; AMC’s most watched debut, 9.2/10 rating on IMDb, everyone’s loving it. Except me. And I blame it all on the poor start I had with the comic. Namely, Robert Kirkman, who, in his introduction (which he wrote himself)  shared with us readers that he wanted to flip the genre on its severed head and do something unlike any undead interpretation before it. However, reading the first volume I just couldn’t see how this was particularly reinventive or groundbreakingly original, or how Kirkman himself had the audacity to think it was. To start, a man (Officer Rick Grimes) awakens from a coma to find that the society and everyone and everything he once knew and held dear are gone and the world is now a desolate wasteland run amuck with the infested reanimated? I’ve seen 28 Days Later, or at least what I was able to through my fingers. Grimes then reunites with his family at an encampment in the woods? Well of course you’d imagine that faced with this kind of situation the only option would be flee from populated areas (where the infested still roam) and revert to a hunting / gathering self-sufficient system. I’ve never been crazy about a forest or woods as a setting (why the first half of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows book and movie dragged on so much for me), still, I was kind of expecting more. There was just nothing that stood out. I’ve plowed through some pretty bad books, nevertheless the motivation to finish just wasn’t there.

Cut to now, or rather, a few days ago. I see that The Walking Dead is On Demand. With nothing to do, I decide to check it out. But like the mysterious new kid who moves to a small town and teaches everyone that dancing is okay, I like to change it up a bit.

So I start watching at EPISODE THREE, ignoring the first two episodes entirely. I was captivated. Maybe this was how I needed to watch the show. Episode three begins with Merle handcuffed to a pipe on a rooftop. “Geeks” are forcing through the poorly locked door, un-dying to get themselves some beer-marinated redneck meat. Keep in mind, I have no idea why Merle is handcuffed on top of that roof – I’m intrigued. The scene when the men arrive at the rooftop and find his severed hand, is dripping with suspense that’s only heightened by the very stirring, charged score accompanying it. In fact, all the music used throughout the first season was great and I was pleasantly surprised to hear a personal favourite, John Murphy’s “Adagio in D Minor” (John Murphy also scored 28 Days Later, “hmmm…”).

But I digress; fact is, I really enjoyed watching The Walking Dead. Frank Darabont et al. make remarkable use of their cold open set-up and the concluding moments always pack a big payoff. It’s pretty fulfilling which means it’s unlikely that I will return to and reattempt to the comic. I’ve had monumental experiences with zombie literature, namely Max Brooks’ World War Z, which I read about four or five years ago and has been the gold standard ever since. This book to me was an original take on the genre, one I’d never seen or experienced before. Brooks presents the oral history of a fictional zombie world-wide epidemic that devolves into a war of the living vs. the not-so-living (which he does so well it feels like the real apocalypse is impending) by way of individual accounts and the geopolitical implications of such an event, something that is often overlooked in the genre. And, if you’re looking for some fun, mindless, good old zombie killin’, there’s always Left 4 Dead. Ninja sword here!

(To leave off, I know I read this somewhere, but I do concur: The Walking Dead definitely needs more Dale!)