TV Review: The Walking Dead reanimates AMC's Sunday 10 p.m. time slot

I'll skip the obligatory puns, but let me say I do agree with NPR in its assessment that the hour-long drama about an apocalyptic invasion of wandering corpses is a zombie show "with braiiins."

Let me also offer up the caveat that straight-up horror is not one of my favorite genres, but -- BUT  --when the gore comes with a tight story,  sympathetic characters and cheese-free allegorical subtext, then the blood-and-guts fest become something gutsier. Such is the case with this Emmy-buzz-worthy show.

The Walking Dead emphasizes the drama of human survival over corpse combat. Not only does it deal with the macro issue of fending off the deathly "walkers," but the viewer gets an intimate, believable look at the micro struggles of how the characters keep their family, community and psyche intact during such a doomsday scenario.

There are no sweeping statements, bloated action scenes or overly complicated explanations. The show gets down to a visceral, basic level, and its pathos is terrifically palpable, from a man crying at the prospect of shooting his reanimated dead wife to the undignified demise of a half-corpse come-back-to-life to the prospect of committing suicide to prevent a disgusting afterlife.

The show's absence of a soundtrack and deliberate pacing set a bone-chilling mood -- for me,  the most crucial virtue of a great horror drama. The Walking Dead's direction and cinematography help create the requisite unsettling mood.


That's not to say that there isn't a good measure of  suspenseful stalking, head bashing and gory carcass-devouring to get you jumping out of your seat and shuddering with disgust. This show is not for the squeamish.

Episode 1, "Days Gone Bye" (If you missed it catch it during one of AMC's several repeats throughout the week or On-Demand)  tells the story of a Georgia sheriff's deputy Rick Grimes who gets shot in the line of duty and wakes up months later to a greater-Atlanta area taken over by dead people who've come back to life. Grimes deals with the shock of the new nightmarish world around him and finds his way back to his house to find that his wife and son are gone. He befriends a father and son who bring him up to date and sets off on a quest to find his family.

The show's star Andrew Lincoln -- a British actor trained at Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and star of  Love Actually and the French film, Heartbreaker -- possesses a likable, understated sensitivity and steely Clint Eastwood resolve. His scenes of grief and shock in the first episode are some of the highlights of the episode.

Lincoln's performance, the stellar writing and high-caliber production of Walking Dead's premiere helped mark a memorable a Halloween 2010, one that included gorgeous Florida trick-or-treat weather and a back-from-the-near-dead Bucs win.

I thought I was going to have serious withdrawals after the Mad Men season finale, but AMC has given me and the bf a new juicy drama to cap off the weekend: AMC's The Walking Dead, adapted from the highly touted comic book series of the same name.


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