• Walking Dead, The: Season One



    Released By: AMC and Anchor Bay Entertainment
    Released On: 03/08/2011
    Director: Frank Darabont
    Cast: Andrew Lincoln, John Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies, Michael Rooker
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Film:

    Few television shows, if any, have excited the horror community like The Walking Dead. With a huge amount of publicity and the reputation of Robert Kirkman’s highly-regarded comic of the same name preceding it, people all over the world tuned in to check out the premier episode on AMC, appropriately aired on Halloween of 2010. And with Director Frank Darabont at the helm, it seemed that the show would be an instant success, and it was….sort of.

    There is a lot to love about The Walking Dead in its 90-minute premiere. Remaining largely faithful to the comic, the first episode introduces us to Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and his partner Shane Walsh (John Bernthal), two cops on patrol in a small town. Responding to a call during their lunch, they end up in a high-speed chase and a shootout with a number of well-armed fugitives. While thanking his lucky stars for wearing a bullet-proof vest that day, Rick catches an unlucky round in the side and wakes up in the hospital. Sporting a beard and sharing the room with some dead flowers and a stopped clock, Rick slowly becomes aware that he has been in the room unattended for quite some time, and his suspicions are confirmed when he witnesses the remnants of some kind of chaotic event in the hallways. Bullet holes, empty shells, pools of blood, and a mysterious locked door labelled, “DON’T OPEN DEAD INSIDE” are just a few indications that something has gone wrong during his sleep, further confirmed outside the building by rows upon rows of corpses, burnt out vehicles, more blood, and, oh, a half corpse dragging itself by its hands.

    Returning to his home, Rick finds that his wife and son are missing and staggers back into the street to sit down and figure things out, a process that’s interrupted by a strange man lurching towards him and a sudden shovel in the head. Rick wakes in a house with the windows and doors boarded and covered, with a man named Morgan and his son intensely curious about his gunshot wound. Morgan explains to Rick that during his stay in the hospital some kind of illness affected the people of the town, an illness that caused them to die and then come back to life as “Walkers”, undead who attack the living for the sole purpose of eating their flesh. Obviously reluctant to accept this, Rick becomes an instant believer when a car alarm piques the interest of a massive horde of walking dead and brings them to the house. Returning to his lawman role, Rick leads Morgan and his son to the police station where they load up on guns and ammunition, and then head their separate ways; Rick heading towards Atlanta and the Center For Disease Control in hopes of finding his wife and son. Unfortunately, Atlanta is far more infected than Rick’s small town and he realizes fairly quickly that he’s going to need more than a bag of guns to stay alive.

    As mentioned, the first episode of The Walking Dead delivers everything that was expected and then some. Rick and Shane’s lunchtime dialogue about their home life does more to build character in five minutes than most films do in an hour and a half. Rick’s interaction with “Bicycle Girl”; the half-corpse in the park is an oddly sympathetic moment, and gently tugs on the heartstrings while maintaining a fairly uncommon grotesque entertainment factor. Not as effective but still getting an E for Effort is Morgan’s internal struggle as he watches his wife through the lens of rifle scope. A lot of this can be attributed to Kirkman’s comic, which was used as a storyboard for much of the filming, but owes as much to Darabont’s directorial prowess. The horrific and suspenseful moments are worthy of Romero-esque praise, and there are plenty to be found. Further, the lack of a significant score keeps it all very realistic….as realistic as a zombie attack can be, anyhow. The only complaint that has been voiced fairly often is that despite the excellent makeup effects created by the legendary Greg Nicotero and KNB, the CGI blood is TERRIBLE. CGI gore is usually something that can be looked past, but in The Walking Dead each blood spatter is almost a slap in the face that drags you right out of the realism of the story. The effects people would do well to beg for permission to use some corn syrup and food coloring in future seasons of the show.

    Unfortunately, where the first episode delivers, the rest of the season falls flat on its face. Granted, watching a zombie show requires a certain suspension of disbelief, but some of the plot holes are so massive they can’t be ignored. Whereas the first episode attempted a human connection with the actors, the latter episodes either don’t bother at all, or fail miserably when they do. Conversations that don’t appear to be delivered with any emotion run throughout the series, and the inclusion of far too many secondary characters bogs down the storyline with people you can’t care about because you don’t know anything about them. Some fantastically bad acting on the part of Sarah Wayne Callies doesn’t help, especially when she’s given so much screen time. Whittling down the cast to a few key players would’ve been far more effective, and perhaps given the always awesome Michael Rooker a little more action; though we can hope that he returns in later episodes.

    All in all, The Walking Dead still has a lot of promise. Darabont’s decision to allow different writers on board for future seasons has potential, and there’s a chance that he’s listened to complaints about the first season and remedied some of the more problematic issues. Despite all of the flaws, The Walking Dead already has a huge number of fans on board for Season Two, and it’ll be interesting to see where the characters journey to from here.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    The Walking Dead Season One features a 1.78:1 transfer that is faithful to the original broadcast and conveys the unique look of the show beautifully. There are no video issues to speak of. The Dolby True HD 5.1 track is equally as effective, playing in the front speakers for the most part, until the heavy action sequences when the surrounds get a lot of play time. Bass response is good as well, and dialogue is clear and evenly balanced with effects and the minimal score.

    The Walking Dead also comes with a good number of extra features that the fans will love. First up is The Making of The Walking Dead, a half-hour piece that interviews all of the major players in the show. Frank Darabont, Robert Kirkman, Greg Nicotero, and the actors discuss every aspect of the filming, from camera techniques to makeup, as well as the influence of George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead and the dedication to being faithful to the comic books. Not just comprised of talking heads, the featurette is intercut with plenty of on-the-set footage.

    Each episode is also complimented by an Inside the Walking Dead featurette, labelled Episode 1-6, in which Darabont and the actors briefly talk about what each episode entails and the character reactions to certain situations. Each episode runs approximately 5 minutes.

    Sneak Peak With Robert Kirkman runs almost 5 minutes, and is essentially a promotional video featuring Writer Robert Kirkman, as well as interviews with the cast and Frank Darabont. Though some of the footage is a retread from The Making Of, it’s still quirky and entertaining enough to check out.

    Behind The Scenes: Zombie Make-up Tips For Halloween features Greg Nicotero and Andy Schonenberg from KNB using household items to transform Greg’s cousin Mike into a zombie. It runs just over 6 minutes

    Convention Panel With Producers runs just over 11 minutes, and features the discussion panel from the San Diego Comic Con. All of the major players are here, including Executive Producer Gale Ann Hurd and Joel Stillerman from AMC. A number of topics already covered in the extra features are discussed here, including faithfulness to the comic books, dedication to the fans, and the actors discussing their respective characters.

    Zombie School is a 3 minute piece in which the actors on the show are trained to act like zombies by a “Zombie Choreographer”, which is something I would like on my resume.

    Bicycle Girl is a 5 minute piece featuring Greg Nicotero as they transform an actress into “Bicycle Girl”, the half-corpse Rick meets in the park during Episode 1. Time-lapsed photography is used to show the make-up process.

    On Set With Robert Kirkman features Writer Robert Kirkman on the set of the show, essentially getting in the way of the shots. It runs just over 3 minutes and is amusing to watch, but don’t count on a lot of replay value.

    Hanging with Steven Yeun is a 4 minute piece featuring the actor who plays Glenn on the show, as he conducts a walking tour of the Survivor Camp and talks about working with the other actors.

    Inside Dale’s RV is another tour conducted by Actor Jeffrey DeMunn, this time through a 1977 Winnebago. It runs 3 minutes, which is really all that you need to tour a Winnebago.

    On Set With Andrew Lincoln is an interview with the actor who plays Rick, at the quarry featured in the show. He discusses the originality of The Walking Dead and once again touches on the fanbase of the comic, and does so with his very charming accent that is nowhere to be found in the show itself.

    A Trailer for the series rounds out the extra features.

    The Final Word:

    Love it, hate it, or somewhere in between, The Walking Dead is one of the first television shows to cater specifically to the horror community. It has a good number of fans, and will probably be around for a long while. This blu-ray set is a great and cost-efficient way to check it out for your self.

    Click on the images below for full size Blu-ray screen caps!









    Comments 16 Comments
    1. Todd Jordan's Avatar
      Todd Jordan -
      I share the same opinion with you on this show. The first episode, with the exception of the horse deal, didn't produce much us zombie movie veterens hadn't seen but it was still pretty decent stuff. After that though, I really was just watching it to go through the motions and see how it all ended. I will not be going back for season two. And I didn't understand the praise the show got. Had none of these critics ever seen a classic Romero zombie film? I didn't think the show produced anything much different than one of his movies other than longer more dragged out dialogue scenes. And I didn't think it was something made to cater to horror fans, but rather cash in on the zombie craze and appeal to a mass audience. We horror fans were more anticipating a big budget horror television production for sure, but personally I was apprechensive about the show from the get go.

      I agree the make up was excellent. The biker girl you mention was really well done. ANd the acting was pretty wooden and many of the characters downright annoying. I don't recall caring for any of them. Even the old guy with the motor home seemed contrived to me. And the little love triangle they threw in there for the ladies can go fuck itself.

      Great review though.
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      Steve gave the first episode and extras 3/4 paws.
    1. Todd Jordan's Avatar
      Todd Jordan -
      what did Steve give the rest of the show?


      (Steve...such an awesome name for a dog...the last foster dog we had was named Beans but I called him Steve or Steven. He repsonded to it and the name cracked me up. Give him a cookie for me please).
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      Definitely agree that it was there to cash in on the zombie thing. But yeah, even though the second episode was still not bad, that's where the MAJOR plot holes started popping up, and when we started getting the rest of the cast. Why do we need SO many people?
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      Steve preferred to munch on a stuffed dog for the rest of the show. :-). He didn't care for the survivor camp people.

      But I'll pass the cookie on.
    1. Paul Casey's Avatar
      Paul Casey -
      I hear that. First ep was pretty decent, but the rest just ate it. I think I missed the fourth one and went to check OnDemand and it had 5 and 6. I said, "Screw it."
      I don't feel like I missed much. All the characters sucked and when you don't have likable characters in a zombie movie, you've got nothing.
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      I mentioned over on AVM that the problem was that i couldn't even name most of the main characters. For the review, i actually had to write down the names of the characters as i was watching the show, just to remember who was who. They really dropped the ball by bringing that many people into it. By the time they hit the Disease Control Center and they didn't have nearly the amount of people with them, I still didn't care, though, so maybe they were just shit characters.

      First episode was fantastic. Except for that CGI blood. Damn, was that distracting.
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      Here, Todd....despite the fact that Steve crapped on the carpet yesterday, I passed on your message in the form of Snausages.





      Steve was so excited for Snausages, he got propeller ears, and that's rare.




      Of course, he wanted another one. But dude crapped on the carpet...can't go spoiling him, he'll do that everyday for cookies.

    1. Todd Jordan's Avatar
      Todd Jordan -
      Steve looks awesome. And tough too.
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      He is pretty badass. My kid says he's like a dog limo. I agree.
    1. Nolando's Avatar
      Nolando -
      Well, perhaps your complaints will be addressed thanks to the producers firing the entire 1st season's writing staff?

      I think it still held closely enough to the comic to make it watchable for me. And I thought they did a good job with Lori, Rick and Shane even tho' it's treated dramatically different here. And I really like who they pegged for Dale (the old guy who owns the RV) and Danny (the young Asian guy).

      The point of the story is how people could actually survive in such an environment. The title doesn't refer to the zombies but, rather, the survivors. The zombies really become secondary. And, again, as much as I love the comic there's a point they get to that you just wouldn't be able to show on a channel like AMC so I'm interested to see where they take it.
    1. Horace Cordier's Avatar
      Horace Cordier -
      I enjoyed the series. Bought it on Blu - sight unseen but the price was right and I am glad I did.

      But I believe letting a known nit-picky HATER like Tolch loose on this review was a BIG mistake.
    1. Todd Jordan's Avatar
      Todd Jordan -
      I agree with lad on almost all points. If I were to have written that up, I wouldn't have been as polite as Mark was.
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      I had a whole response to Noland last night, but apparently it's not here. anyhoo, yeah, the firing of the writers was addressed in the review, I see it as a positive thing. Outside of the first episode, really, they couldn't do much worse than the first season writers did. I don't know how much of the shit that i hate can be attributed solely to the comic...i only read a couple of issues and wasn't impressed by it. Most of the people i've talked to, and i know that you're intelligent so i'm not naming YOU, Nolando, were impressed mainly by sex and violence and bad words. I read a panel where somebody was yelling "Drop that fucking gun before i blow your faggot son's brains all over you!", and suddenly realized that I didn't give a shit about it.

      Speaking of which, fuck everyone in that survival camp. that guy who plays Dale is about as contrived as they come, showing up in a Winnebago with his old man gut hanging out underneath his sunbrella. That actress that they got to play Lori has two fucking speeds, wide eyed and angry and wide eyed and scared. She's fucking terrible. I didn't list them in the review, but there are so many goddam major problems with the logic unfolding on screen, it's impossible to ignore...for me, anyhow. Things i remember off the top of my head...

      Morgan, the black dude, warning Rick about making noise and drawing the walkers in, and then going all sniper on the few that are out there, which would of course put them all in danger. Contradicts everything he's said thus far, and i'm not buying that he's all heartbroken over his wife and acting illogically.

      Rick can't get the truck started before he heads to Atlanta, so he takes a fucking HORSE, which i'm sure fits in with the vision of him as a cowboy, but later manages to start a brand new sportscar with a screwdriver.

      In GUTS, when they're smearing the blood all over themselves, Rick says not to get the blood on your skin or in your eyes, and then they all proceed to get it all over them, Rick included when he takes off a glove to do something, puts it in his gore-soaked jacket, and then pulls it out again. Right.

      Glenn says that he's "never been down there" in the drainage system under the building that they're all holed up in, but somehow gives tips to Rick on what to do and warns that he'll leave him behind. how do you know what to do if you've never been down there?

      The scene where Lori scratches whatshisnuts, and the conversation that follows the next morning was one of the dumbest things I've ever seen in my life.

      Not to mention bad cGI blood, bad CGI explosions, stilted dialogue and throwaway characters.....no, it's just bad writing.

      and the "We are the walking dead!" "revelation" that occurs in the comic and in the show..duh. that' about as subtle as "i wonder who the real cannibals are?".
    1. Nolando's Avatar
      Nolando -
      You are a sad, sad little man - and you have my pity.
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      Haha, nice.