The new season of The Walking Dead is merely weeks away, scheduled to air in the US on 11 October following in the UK shortly after. According to writer/producer Scott Gimple, this season continue to remix material from the comic as well as featuring flashback backstories for some of the characters. It’ll be interesting to find out more about certain characters and their adventures with those pesky biters.
I am a big fan of Michael Cudlitz (Abraham Ford) since seeing him in Band of Brothers and I’ve been keen to watch The Walking Dead but, since being traumatised by Michael Jackson’s Thriller as a young child, I have a very deep fear of zombies and so haven’t been able to watch anything with zombies. Except for Weekend at Bernie’s II. However, next February, Walker Stalker Con is coming to London and there’s a good chance that the fabulous Mr Cudlitz might attend so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity of being there too although I wasn’t sure how I was going to cope with the undead stalking the streets of Kensington.
To desensitise myself from my kinemortophobia (the real term for the fear of zombies I’ll have you know!) I decided to watch the boxsets of The Walking Dead from the beginning. With daylight in full swing (no night-time watching yet) and my thumb glued to the mute button, I sat down to see whether I could make it through without crying and also see what all the fuss was about.
I ended up watching all 67 episodes in two weeks. I think it’s safe to say that I’ve desensitised myself somewhat along the way and TWD has gained an additional superfan. I’ve now gone back to season 1 and am watching from the beginning so that I can avoid the mute button during bits I previously muted as well as seeing how the characters developed along the way. So, here’s my review of season 1 of The Walking Dead.
Warning: Contains spoilers.
The first appearance of a zombie is a little girl at a gas station in fluffy slippers carrying a stuffed toy. Ok, I can cope with this, I’m fine, I don’t need to mute – so far, so good. I had been warned that Andrew Lincoln’s Georgian drawl was a bit ropey but I thought he sounded genuine and it seemed natural to my untrained ear. After the opening sequence of him getting shot and waking up in the now-abandoned hospital, it was a great introduction to the confusion, isolation and ultimately the panic Rick Grimes felt with the wide shot of the hospital courtyard containing rows upon rows of bodies covered in sheets.
Re-watching from the beginning, I can see the improvement in the walkers – their appearance and their movements. The walkers outside the house where Rick is staying with Morgan and Duane don’t move as well as future episodes – they jerk too much and their eyes are too focused. I also I noticed that some of the walkers in Atlanta in the scene with the horse had been coloured blue and looked wrong compared to the others. I can’t believe I’m analysing the appearance of zombies when, prior to watching this, just the thought of one would bring me out in a cold sweat.
I also noticed that the survivors didn’t seem as bothered about making too much noise as in more recent episodes. Duane was an especially noise lad – shouting to his dad after he’d smacked Rick in the face with the shovel as well as crying rather noisily – and then Morgan hammering the nails into the door to keep out his lovely wife. Both of them would have attracted a lot of attention from walkers in later episodes if they’d made as much noise as that.
I’m glad the season was only 6 episodes as it eased me gently into the world of walkers. Sometimes I feel that US series are too long and stories drag but this was perfect. There haven’t been many programmes that have literally left me open-mouthed as I wasn’t expecting the storyline to go that way and, as I’ve ignored most talk of The Walking Dead, I didn’t really know much about it beforehand (except for an event in season 5 where the uproar was a bit hard to miss even for me).
Another point I liked was that there aren’t too many characters to get to know. I’m useless with names and remembering who’s who and who’s done what to whom (see Game of Thrones!) so this was a lot easier to follow for me even with all the deaths and the discovery of more survivors along the way. At this point I think I was most invested in Daryl. I was interested to see how the character would develop as I knew he was still in it and had heard some things about him from social media but in the beginning he didn’t seem like a very big character so I was looking forward to seeing what he got up to.
After episode 6 I was glad I had season 2 to go to straight away because I didn’t think this ending was very good. Although I was keen to find out what Dr Jenner had told Rick before the CDC building blew up and I wanted to know what the group did next, it wasn’t exactly a cliffhanger ending. So, my summary of season 1 is that it’s a good introduction to the series and the main characters. I very much enjoyed it and couldn’t wait to start on the next season. My fear was lessening with each episode and that’s the main point of watching.
The Walking Dead: Season 1 – I survived! 7/10