Review: AMC’s The Walking Dead – Cinematic and Compelling

No spoilers.

It really is a wonder how AMC has been able to produce some of television’s best or at least most creative and original series.

They do it again this weekend with the premiere of the new series The Walking Dead.

Based on the graphic novels of the same name, this new series on AMC tells the story of the world after a zombie apocalypse. A police officer, Rick Grimes, wakes up from a coma after being shot to a completely different world. He seems to be the only one left until he encounters the zombies.

Still a little weak, he goes to find his wife and son but their house is empty, as is the rest of the neighborhood. It is there he meets a human survivor, Morgan Jones who with his son, have holed themselves up in one of the abandoned homes. They tell him about “the walkers” and how they’ve become they way they are and how to stop them.

After Rick supplies them with ammo from the police station, he sets off to search for his family. They tell him about a safe zone in Atlanta and that’s where he’s about to head off to.

And so The Walking Dead begins. And what a beginning.

The series has a wonderful cinematic quality, it looks and feels like a feature film but it also feels very humble and down to earth. This is probably best exemplified in a scene where Rick, Morgan and his son sit quietly in the home as the zombies wander around outside at night. The scene is almost perfectly shot and it shows how much the series delivers in both the zombie and non-zombie scenes.

Zombie and horror fans have plenty to like with the scenes of the undead, some genuinely eerie scenes that do just enough to send chills up your spine.

But it is the many quiet moments that really surprise and may be the strength of the series. As with any post-apocalypse work, it is the fight for survival and the bonding together of survivors that drive story.

The Walking Dead does just that and they accomplish the difficult feat of actually having you care.

I am always amazed when new series are able to forge connections between the viewers and the characters in just the first episode. Very few series are able to do that, to make you care about these new people we are meeting. Many series can’t even do that after full seasons.

But you immediately sympathize with these characters, you feel their loss and a little bit of exasperation at the whole situation. Andrew Lincoln as Rick is a solid lead, but it was guest star (hopefully recurring!) Lennie James as Morgan who made the premiere with a very strong performance, very sincerely portraying a man who feels almost helpless, but wants to stay strong for his son.

The series as a whole feels a little melancholy though not depressing. It isn’t very hopeful either, but that kind of day-to-day fight to survive is very compelling. We don’t know who or what brought this all about. We don’t know what’s beyond the horizon yet or if there are other survivors. Maybe even safe havens perhaps?

The Walking Dead is very much a polished, well-done, and compelling new series. A welcome addition, different and refreshing. I’m definitely looking forward to more.

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