Yes, the idea of zombies to most is an implausible situation. For a moment, let’s remove the zombies from the storyline of The Walking Dead. Maybe you can understand how I think it is actually an exploration of human nature. Good lord it feels like I’m writing a thesis. Instead, I’ll paint you a horrific word picture. WITH WORDS!
In the not so distant future, a catastrophe happens. You live in the suburbs. Your landlines, cell phones, television, and electricity stop working. You know very little about what happened, but you start to witness violent acts around you. People are rioting. They are breaking into homes and taking what they need. Those that have firearms have made it perfectly clear that they will use them if they have to.
You get word that there is a stronghold in a major city about twenty miles away. The problem is that you also get word that there is a group of people stronger and much more vicious than you headed your way. Somewhere along the way, you realize that you have three people and only one motorcycle. You demand that your family takes the motorcycle and you will find a way to get to them. You promise to find those you love so that you can continue your lives together.
Though my scenario is slightly skewed, I hope that it captures the mentality of a protagonist like Rick Grimes. In the post apocalyptic world forged from the brain of Robert Kirkman, Rick Grimes is a Sheriff that wakes from a coma. He finds out soon enough that this is not the world that he remembered.
The story begins with Rick struggling to regain some of the normalcy that existed prior to his hospitalization. He embarks upon a quest to find his family. Once he finds his wife Lori and son Carl, he meets a motley crew of survivors and believes that they need someone to take control of the situation. His long term goal is to find a place where the survivors can flourish. His short term goal is keeping everyone safe enough to reach that long term goal.
In the caravan, he finds that his best friend has currently been leading the group. Shane quietly relinquishes the role of leader to Rick, but you can sense the underlying hostility. Shane had fallen hard for Lori, and for a brief moment in time found true happiness in her arms.
The Walking Dead as a television show has done an amazing job of showcasing new talent and underutilized actors. Two of my LEAST favorite characters in the Graphic Novel actually have found a place in my morbid heart. Steven Yeun has tackled Glenn’s dialogue with a sardonic wit that is so deliciously bitter, it’s like he is my morning coffee. Lori Holden has turned a cookie cutter character like Andrea into a force of nature. She took a risk in sharing raw emotion in the episode “Vatos” and it still tugs at my heart when I see her during the scene with Amy.
I’m sure people are going to say “Norman Reedus and Michael Rooker aren’t underutilized actors!” and to a certain degree I can agree with you. Yes, we all know Reedus as “Murphy” from the Boondock Saints and Rooker from pretty much every movie in the last 20 years. Actually, not all of us can say that which is why I feel justified in saying that they are underutilized.
The Rooker/Reedus addition was a fantastic idea. Two criminal hick brothers are certain to be in the list of survivors. It also provides a look into the mind of a petty criminal. What happens when everyone realizes that the world is pure chaos and there is no higher executive power? There are many people that would assume that the government is going to step in and fix everything. Those whose morals are considered questionable would probably make a lot more sense if they were helping you stay alive.
Oh, and I know that I’m going on a slight rant, but what is it with directors constantly wanting to hurt Michael Rooker? Off of the top of my head, I can think of him getting his head bashed in, melding with a house, and LOSING A FRIGGIN HAND IN A ZOMBIE WASTELAND! Back to my train of thought. Ah yes.
Norman Reedus proves as Daryl that he is a lot more than a pretty face. In Boondock Saints he plays a jovial vigilante. In the Walking Dead, Reedus is handed a person that at first glance seems like an unredeemable human being. A racist, uneducated, and incredibly violent person. But we see during the TS-19 episode that he actually seems to have a softer, friendlier side. His portrayal of Dixon gives me a lot of hope for the development of that character. He has shown kindness to many of the characters, regardless of his upbringing. What is going to happen when Merle returns?
Personally, I think that Merle stole the moving truck and brought all of those walkers to the camp. That’s actually a bad ass idea for getting back at people that wronged you. Chuck a zombie at them.
Darabont’s decision to shift the storyline and add characters in theory had the makings of disaster. Graphic Novel nerds everywhere have a tendency to overreact when they think that something they love is being bastardized. They also have no problem in broadcasting their dislike for it. As I am a super nerd, I go into any comic book store that I can. You’d be amazed at how welcoming they are for such flawed characters to be introduced into the maelstrom of chaos that is Robert Kirkman’s world.
I do enjoy that they have created a partially parallel world between the television show and the graphic novel. The fan girl in me cannot wait until we get to see Michonne and the Governor. I really hope that they get included in future seasons.
The first season of The Walking Dead is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray. I know that I am not the only one chomping at the bit for the next season.